What Does It Mean to Digitize Your Small Business
Digitizing your business is simple. Get with the times. Sounds easy, but there’s a lot of barriers that are faced by small business owners.
Barriers to Digitize a Small Business
- Lack of knowledge of technological landscape. Small businesses rarely have employees or management that have spent considerable time in large or nimble organizations. Because of this, most inside small businesses don’t know where to start.
- Complacent employees or a culture of “this is how it’s always been done”.
- Lack of belief or understanding in the power of digital.
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Why Bringing Your Business Into the 21st Century Matters – The Why to Digitization
In one word. Efficiency. Even with all of the technical glitches, technology allows you to do more with less. Which means less work or more money for the same amount of work.
You might argue that updating your email from @gmail to @yourdomain doesn’t allow you to do more with less. Well you’d be wrong. A @gmail domain screams illegitimate business which forces you to spend more time building trust with your customers.
Below are a few of the reasons why you need to digitize your business to stay relevant in the 21st century.
Digital Customer Acquisition
When people are looking for your service, you need to be everywhere they are looking. As a business owner or manager, you need to be constantly looking at and mapping the customer acquisition journey.
What I mean by the customer acquisition journey is how your customers find out about you.
- Do a Google search?
- Search Google maps?
- Word of mouth?
- Directed from other websites?
Now that you know how customers find out about your business, the next step is to help optimize that journey. Below are a few doors in the digital customer journey that you should consider. It’s not inclusive, but it’s a good start.
If your main customer acquisition channel is Google Search, here’s a few things that you’re going to want to optimize and digitize about your business.
- Update your website to a mobile friendly website.
- Hire an SEO expert to optimize your website and build backlinks. PR is your friend here.
- Hire an SEO writer to write highly relevant, high intent articles to direct people to your website.
Google maps is an under utilized marketing channel for a lot of small businesses.
- Claim your Google My Business profile. Covered below.
- Optimize said profile.
- Focus on getting good customer reviews and responding to customers. Watch these like a hawk.
- Build local citations and work on local SEO.
Word of Mouth
I can’t help you here. This is an article about digitizing your business. Good luck!
Directed From Other Websites
If your industry relies on content written on other websites to garner user attention, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of yourself.
- Partner with other websites to have them link back to your website.
- Partner with and incentive website to write about your business.
- Negotiate affiliate or lead generation agreements for sites to pass you business.
- Pull PR stunts that force other websites to write about you.
Increase Customer Retention
It’s one thing to acquire customers. It another thing to retain them.
Since it’s easier to make a customer a repeat customer than it is to convert new customers, special attention should be paid to the repeat buying cycle.
Do you make it easy to reorder products that a customer has already purchased?
First Impressions Matter
For many people, this will be the first impression of your business. If you don’t have a website or you have a bad website, they will think you have a low quality business.
We’ve all been taught that first impressions matter in life. Many times, the norms around business and technology change over time. Management of small, medium, and large businesses often don’t realize that the norms around digital has changed.
Digital Demand Generation
I shouldn’t need to tell you that creating more demand for your product or service is a good thing.
Even if you have a limited supply of product, like an apartment complex that’s already full. The more demand you have for your service/product, the more you can charge.
Go back to the old supply and demand curve.
The digital age has caused people to do more research before they buy. They go online to figure out whether they want to buy your product.
Here’s a short list of what your customers are searching for. Your business needs to have an easily accessible way to answer all of these questions on your website and Google My Business profile.
Are you the type of business that hides prices so that you can overcharge consumers? This might have worked 10 years ago but consumers have caught on.
If your competitors mention their price ranges, you should too. Even if they don’t, it might give you a competitive advantage.
Quality of Work
The era of trust is over. The digital landscape has made proof of quality mandatory. Consumers want to see positive reviews, case studies, and before and after pictures.
“Trust me I’m a professional” no longer flies.
Are You Open?
Are you open right now? This is the most frustrating experiences from a consumer’s point of view. If you don’t have hours listed on your website or Google My Business, most consumers aren’t going to waste their time calling.
They’ll just go to your competitor.
How to Digitize Your Small Business
There are an almost infinite number of ways to digitize your business. We’ll touch on the most common.
Updating Internal Processes
Updating internal processes is one of the best things that you can do for your sanity and pocketbook. Technology has come a long way and I guarantee you still have internal process that can me done in 1/100th of the time using a free or very cheap program.
Zapier is an amazing tool that can automate a lot of low level tasks. The only constraint is your imagination. You should head to Zapier and discover all of the ways to automate your life.
There’s almost a limitless amount of processes that can be updated in businesses. Below are a few of the more glaring examples that many businesses have yet to automate.
How many times is someone in your company going to build the same spreadsheet week after week. There’s countless tools to automate reporting if you’re willing to spend the time to build out the infrastructure.
Recommendations: Google Data Studio, Looker
If you really want to supercharge your digitization efforts, move all of your data to the cloud. From there, automating reporting, processes, and the rest of your business becomes easy. This is the infrastructure piece from the above section.
I’m extremely bias towards Google.
Recommendations: Google Cloud
Order Entry Automation
I’m still surprised how many companies only take orders over the phone or in person. Stop it. Just build a form and be done with it.
Automate Your Marketing Campaigns
There’s quite a few ways to integrate this into your business. It all depends on how you’re marketing to your customers.
Contact Us Forms – Send out an auto-reply immediately to acknowledge your customer and let them know when you’ll be reaching out.
Email Marketing Campaigns – Someone gave you their email? Put a multiple email campaign together to nurture the relationship with your new contact that may not be ready to buy yet.
Common bills should be automatically withdrawn.
Receipts should then be sent to your email that then automatically gets forwarded to quickbooks and attached to the expenses.
If any of this process is manual for you, start automating or reach out to a specialist to help you with this.
Automate Your Scheduling
Instead of the back and forth of figuring out a good time to meet, include a calendly link to save time.
Don’t forget to set up appointment reminders. As opposed to you sending the “Are we still good for 5?” message.
Mobile Friendly Website
Unless you’re in the business of secrecy, a good mobile friendly website is imperative.
Your website will be the first thing your potential customers see. It needs to tell them why they should pick you over your competitor.
There’s 3 main options you have here. Your level of investment and technical knowledge will decide which route you should take.
This should also be the first thing you do when digitizing your business.
Outsource The Build of Your Website
If you have the budget but don’t have the technical knowledge, this is the best option. Hire a company to do it for you and keep them on your payroll to maintain and make improvements.
Build Your Website Yourself with WordPress
If you’re technically inclined and have the time. This is the route to go. You can get everything set up for less than $100 a year with WordPress and a cheap host like Bluehost.
If you’re going to build it yourself, don’t skimp on the User Experience. I’ve seen a lot of good programmers build atrocious websites due to design not being in their wheelhouse.
Build Your Website Yourself with SquareSpace
If you’re not extremely technically inclined but design is your thing. SquareSpace is great for you. It’s a bit limited but the User Interface is simple and easy to use.
Google Analytics will allow you to see a ton of information on who is viewing your website and where you are getting your viewers from.
- Go here and sign in with your email account.
- Start Googling how to place the tracking code on your website. This is highly dependent on the platform that you built it with.
Google My Business
If you are a business that serves a local area, this is a must. This will put you right in front of your customers when they’re searching for a service that you provide. It will also tell your customers what your hours are, and any other information that you want to show them.
Have you every wondered why some businesses show up on Google maps or Google search and others never seem to? It’s because the company’s that don’t show up, have never signed up for Google My Business. You’re essentially proving to Google that you have a physical location.
- Go here and click “Manage Now”.
- Sign into your account and follow the steps.
- Google will send you a postcard to your physical address to prove that your business is located there.
- Download the Google My Business App and input the code on the postcard.
Professional Email Address
It’s 2021 already. There is no reason for any business to have an @yahoo.com or @gmail.com address.
Once you have your website and domain name, go Here and click “Get Started”.
Your email should be firstname.lastname@example.org. Anything else screams amateur hour.
It’s simple and will cost you $72 a year. If you can’t be bothered with the time to do this or afford the $72 a year, you have a hobby and not a business.