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Australian small business owners aren’t taking sufficient advantage of digital technologies to promote their business.
With Social Media, statistics show that almost two thirds of Australians are on Facebook, but only 36 per cent of small businesses have a social media presence (Yellow Social Media Report, 2014).
Other research shows that 92% of Australians use the internet to look for product/service information, but only 64% of SMEs have a website (Sensis eBusiness Report, 2014). These figures clearly show that SMEs are missing out on potential business by not having sufficient digital presence.
When used correctly, the digital space can be an incredibly effective tool for businesses within different industries. There are many different examples ranging from, training providers being able to reach far-away students through online learning tools, the accommodation industry allowing clients from all around the world to book accommodation at any time of day or night with online bookings.
Did you know that Alsco too has many products and services that are a great boon to the hospitality industry. Choose from Alsco’s smart-fit uniforms, crisp bright linen, safety welcoming mats, absorbent tea-towels and first aid kits.
What To Do?
While the idea of using the digital space to maximize your business sounds exciting, it is often hard to know where to start and who to turn to for answers.
Digital Ready, an Australian Government funded project, has put together a free and easy-to-use Digital Business Kit which takes you through everything you need to know about using the digital space to enhance your business.
So, how can the Digital Business Kit help your business? This article gives a brief summary of the topics covered.
Research shows that 95% of businesses surveyed are connected to the internet but 24% are dissatisfied with their broadband speed and 28% intend to increase next year (Sensis eBusiness Report, 2014).
You will need to choose an internet service provider that will understand your business needs, recommend the appropriate speed and be reliable enough to minimize any risk of going offline – leaving your business out of touch with your customers.
For example, if you’re a restaurant owner and you take most of your bookings online, you will need to make sure your broadband connection does not leave you in the l couldn’t access their reservation due to your broadband connection being down.
It is also very important to understand the different types of data plans and which one will be the best fit for your business. Arming yourself with knowledge on what fees your service provider will charge you for uploading and downloading can spare you from terrible surprises come bill time.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Once you are connected to fast broadband, your next step is to create a strategy that will help you reach your business goals and objectives in the most effective way. Only 19 percent of SME businesses surveyed had some form of strategy for their businesses digital activities (Sensis eBusiness Report, 2014).
Your online strategy should always compliment your business strategy and needs to be reviewed and refined according to any changes in your business circumstances. When setting goals for your business remember that they need to be SMART: Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
Once you are comfortable with your online strategy, keeping in mind that it doesn’t have to be perfect as you can always tweak it as you go along; the next step is to execute your campaign. Before pressing the go-button, you should make sure that you have considered factors such as:
- If you are using your website, what design, development and search engine optimisation will you be using?
- Have you created a posting schedule and regular review of content for currency/accuracy in your website and/or social media pages?
- What is the scope and cost of developing an online shopping cart?
- Have you set up accounts with PayPal/Banks to make it easy for your customers to make online payments?
When implemented, it is worthwhile to monitor the campaign and evaluate if it has produced the results you were aiming for. Understanding what aspects of your campaign were successful or not will help you when planning for future campaigns.
We’ve put together some great information on how to put together a great strategy for your web presence, getting the most out of your emails and understanding media rich websites.
Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram…. the list goes on and on. Did you know that social media can be a highly effective business tool? Social media platforms allow you to showcase your products, generate leads and listen directly to what your customers are saying about your products, services and brand.
Two main advantages of using social media to market your business are low cost and flexibility – you can change your message quickly and easily depending on what is going on in your business. For example, a restaurateur can generate traffic on a quiet night by creating a promotion specifically for that night and sharing it with their Facebook followers.
It’s important to be aware that different social media platforms attract different audiences so you need to pick the one that your customer base uses the most and would showcase your business best. We have listed the differences between the main social media platforms if you want further details on what social media suits your business.
The best way to stand out and show your brand’s personality on any social media platform is to use photos, graphics, personable and useful content. Your audience wants to go to you for useful information without having to go anywhere else; by doing this you are saving your customer’s time and they will refer your page to others.
A good example of this would be if you are using social media to promote your bed and breakfast venue. You could use your Facebook page for tips and ideas on what to do, where to eat and where to shop in the areas surrounding your venue making your page a one-stop information source.
Another really great way to stand out from the crowd and engage your audience is to run competitions and giveaways from your social media page -your customers are more likely to share your page with their friends, they will pay closer attention to your posts and engage with you in a fun and interactive way.
Using the cloud frightens many small business owners; it seems like a very confusing and unapproachable technology which is difficult to understand.
In reality, the cloud can be a great tool for small business owners in that it provides a way to share files, allows access to electronic mail, word processing, spreadsheets, and calendars, as well as customer relationship management facilities (amongst other capabilities). Visit our module for a more detailed look at what benefits you can gain from using cloud technology.
The main concern expressed by small business owners around using the cloud is the issue of security. Your cloud service provider needs to be able to have and maintain both physical and digital security measures to protect information stored in the cloud, as well as information that is transferred between your organisation and the cloud and should clearly explain to their customers the measures taken to provide protection in the security of data.
Using eCommerce creates a flexible, accurate and cost efficient way for your business to service your clients no matter what your product or service is by facilitating businesses to manage client/membership databases and merchant services such as payments, donations and similar transactions. You first need to have a web site.
Research also shows that only 54% of SMEs sell online, so we’ve created a checklist for small business owners to go through when designing an eCommerce site for their business. Some of the main things to consider are; have a simple checkout process, have a good payment gateway, look after your client’s information and take the opportunity to upsell.
With technology providing more and more flexible options for business owners and consumers it has been said that telework is the way of the future. Businesses are reducing their carbon footprint by turning to telework. For employees, telework is a great way of creating a much sought after work-life balance and there is no commuting.
It is important to assess whether your business is ready to move towards teleworking. If you are considering the move you should check if you have the following in place: infrastructure, processes, policies and people. For further details visit our How To Assess Your Workplace section in our Telework module.
Would you like free promotion for your business?
At Digital Ready we strongly believe that using digital media can lead to great results for small businesses in terms of growth, exposure and greater engagement with their customers. So we’ve decided to prove our point and partner with Australian small businesses to provide free promotion on our social media and website page in return for feedback on our Digital Ready Business Kit. We truly believe that the digital space can have a massive impact on your business and we are here to help you get the most out of the digital world.
Alsco would like to thank Digital Ready for this article. It equips small business owners, organisations and clubs with the skills to take advantage of digital technology in growing their business.
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