Every new business owner has a checklist of items to be crossed off before opening their doors to customers. Even after you’ve been up and running, there are always things to do to keep things running smoothly and to stimulate rapid growth for your company. Specifically, there are a handful of important technology related tools you should be using every day to enhance your business in order to give it a runway for success. Here are 4 technology recommendations we suggest keeping in your small business “toolkit” to get your business off the ground.
Website & SEO
Does your business really exist if you don’t exist online? In this day and age, it’s vitally important to have your business front and center on the web so potential customers can easily access the information they need in order to make a purchasing decision. This usually comes in the form of a website, showcasing everything from your history and product/service descriptions to contact information, galleries and sometimes an online shopping cart. You may be thinking any website will do, just as long as your information is out there. Consider the overwhelming number of outdated websites that exist compared to the ones that have been specifically crafted to engage with end users, and you may rethink that statement. People are unimpressed if your information is slapped on a tacky website with blurry pictures and difficult navigation features. But they will keep coming back to your website if it’s user friendly, attractive, and presents the information they’re looking for with intention. Invest in a decent online presence, and you will gain the loyalty of many customers, whether you sell products online or not.
Just having a website that exists but can’t be found online isn’t a great strategy either. How do you make sure your site shows up when people are searching relevant key terms? Search Engine Optimization. There are a handful of simple SEO practices you can start doing yourself, like making sure all of your images have descriptive alt tags and appropriate file names. Some SEO work may be more than you want to take on personally, which is a great opportunity to outsource. Having a robust SEO game for your website will improve your search engine rankings and make you more discoverable by new customers.
Google reviews are another fantastic way to create an online presence that does the work for you. Encourage customers to leave reviews, telling other buyers about their experience and (hopefully) chalking you up to the excellent, no-brainer business that you are. If you receive an occasional bad review, don’t sweat it. Don’t delete it either! Respond to the frustrated reviewer with a professional, accommodating comment that solves their problem and exemplifies to readers that customer satisfaction is important to you. If you see a lot of bad reviews, it’s a good indication that there need to be a few adjustments made to your customer experience. Google reviews also improves your SEO and adding a reviews section to your website will help lend credibility to your business.
Payment Technology & Customer Data
Whether you’re a brick and mortar store owner or you conduct all of your sales online, having the right payment technology is key. It’s important when choosing a payments processor to know how well their customer service runs, whether they have the latest technology to offer, and if they can provide analytics based on customer data that comes through with every swipe. You can strategize ways to grow based on the information that you collect from your shoppers’ buying habits and trends, and most payment companies have the means to provide it. After you’ve strengthened your website presence, make sure you have a good payment gateway connected with which to take online payments securely. Security is a non-negotiable when it comes to handling people’s payment information, so do your research to choose the payments provider who has your back. Another important aspect of choosing a payments company is understanding their pricing method. There are many companies who are more interested in making money off of your transactions than they are setting up your business for success. Knowing your options empowers you to choose the company that offers the best deal with all the resources you need.
Next to having a great website, you need to actively engage with your customers on social media. This looks different for every business depending on your industry. A clothing boutique will find their social media niche on Instagram and Pinterest, while a software company may realize their bang zone is Reddit or YouTube. Research the best platforms for your business and strategize content your users want to interact with. This may not be your area of expertise, and that’s also a great opportunity to outsource to an individual or agency who know what they’re doing. It’s important to note that not just any content is good content. The point is to generate user interest and engage with an online community to build brand recognition and loyalty among your consumers. Get in their shoes, find out what they like, and be consistent. Social media is another great way to grow your email list by posting promotional or limited time offers. Again, this is different for every business, so don’t just hop on every social media platform and start throwing out content. Be intentional and remember that awareness is your end goal.
Every business owner has to start somewhere. After you’ve opened your doors for business and started taking on customers, what next? Maybe start with one or two of the tools mentioned here and see where it takes you. Don’t be afraid to try new things, even ones that stretch you and require a little outside help. Our goal is to grow your business, and these are simply a handful of easy steps to beef up our technology game. If you want to learn more about how to customize and implement these steps for your company, don’t hesitate to reach out! Your success as a business is a win in our book, and we’re here to help.