These days simply having one of the optimum packages of internet connection in your office won’t cut it. Digital businesses are the future of the commercial world. They are thriving and will continue to thrive in the foreseeable future. If your business is not digital yet, you really need to consider moving towards it. Why? Because you’re missing out a lot and may lag behind.
Why Go Digital?
Consider this for a moment: at this point in human development, everything is being done on the internet. From a consumer perspective, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished through a laptop or smartphone connected to the internet. Search engines generate significant portions of their income through ad revenue. Last year, Google earned ad revenue amounting to more than $95 billion! Similarly, social media platforms earn revenue through advertising as well. In 2018, Facebook has earned a worldwide ad revenue figure of $33 billion so far. So, as far as your prospects and customers are concerned, they are constantly online. Getting your business digital is just one way to start growing revenue streams. But going digital doesn’t just involve getting an aesthetic website or flashy graphics. There is much more involved in the process, including creating a digital strategy.
Key Components of a Digital Strategy
There are no cut and dry methods to get your business digital and optimize your processes. But having a digital strategy can go a long way to getting you on the right track. Depending on the nature, size, specifics, and industry of your business, some components may be more relevant to you. But generally speaking, a comprehensive digital strategy revolves around 9 key components. Bear in mind, when formulating your digital strategy, it is a good idea to research on what the competition is doing. Competition is healthy for businesses, so make sure you’re at least on level footing with your immediate competitors. Your digital strategy will help your business achieve that footing. Here are the 9 key components of a successful digital strategy:
- Online Presence
- Online Selling
- Online/Digital Marketing
- Interaction with Customers
- Data and System Security
- Interaction with Vendors
- Technology-based Process Efficiencies
- Cloud Technology
Without beating around the bush, let’s dive right into them.
So, the first and most obvious part of your online presence is your website. It should have been created before you even put your business out there, as it is the primary source of knowledge for your customers. Every year or so you should update it to make sure that the theme and information is correct. Spreading from that, you should definitely have social media accounts as another way for your customers to contact you, and as a way for you to market your products. These should be updated regularly, perhaps every day to make sure your customers know that you’re a highly active business. Finally, you should also try and set up a blog. You don’t have to post about your own business here, you can post about absolutely anything. But the blogging world is huge, and this is again, a perfect way to build your digital presence.
Your online presence means where and how your business is seen online by other businesses as well as the online community. A digital business has to maintain a strong online presence relative to its competitors to attract more customers and recognition. The online presence of any digital business includes the following:
- Your business website
- Your social media handles (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest etc.)
- Websites where you advertise your product/service like Yellow Pages Online etc.
- Content citing your brand or business on other websites like blogs, reviews etc.
One of the most important digital investments you can make is in your business’ online presence. Create, curate and cultivate a positive online presence for your business for a more favorable business image.
If you are not selling your product or service online, you are missing out on a huge chunk of potential customers. Using online sales in your business process enables incoming revenue even when your physical location is not open. Online selling not only adds revenue in a cost-effective way, but it also reduces average order processing time. This lets you allocate time and resources to other aspects of your business. Online selling can both be a supplement to your normal course of sales, or it can become your main source of revenue. That depends on the nature of your specific business, but there is no doubt that selling online opens up new avenues for you to get revenue.
Digital marketing is a field that has gained a lot of traction over recent years. In fact, many businesses follow the 10% rule: investing 10% of their revenues back into marketing budgets. On average, these businesses tend to see growth over a measurable period of time. At the same time, there are businesses in the billion-dollar revenue range that plow back 50% of revenues into marketing. And most of it is digital! Digital marketing makes use of online tools and resources to promote your brand, product or service or even all three. Some of the common tools used in digital marketing include:
- Social media
- Mobile Apps
Digital marketing involves the use of ads on social media, search engine marketing, blog content, email marketing, mobile marketing etc. A successful digital marketing strategy involves a lot of trial-and-error, but the optimal strategy will really boost your business.
Interaction with Customers
Managing your interaction with your customers is crucial to your overall digital strategy. Customer interaction is all about access to your business. This should be equally easy through any means they prefer, whether mobile, pc, phone or social platforms. Each medium should require the minimum effort on the customer’s part to give the relevant information. Customers should have minimal difficulty in locating the product, service or information they need from your business. One way to effectively manage customers is through the use of a Customer Relationship Management system or CRM. A typical CRM system should ideally:
- Track calls, contacts, and leads
- Capture and sort customer information
- Link this information to other management systems like accounting software
- Track digital and conventional marketing success in a measurable way
By using a CRM system, you can get a better idea of what your customers need. You also get to know what strategies are working to meet these needs and what isn’t. This helps put a correcting mechanism on your digital policy.
Data and System Security
If you want your business to be digital, you’re obviously going to have to have the right technology to be able to get you there. For one, you need a decent set of laptops or computers in your office, so that the whole team can help to maintain that digital presence. If your office is only small, you could have one managing the blog, one doing the social media, and one suggesting improvements to the website. The right technology should be quick, easy to use, and allows marketing software to be downloaded or installed to help maintain the presence. Marketing is such a huge part of it, so always make sure your utilising software through your computer.
Online security should be a huge concern when formulating your digital strategy. This is equally important for both small businesses as well as large ones. For a digital business, the most important assets are virtual. They are the information and data you have on your servers and computers. These virtual assets are not only very valuable but also irreplaceable. Therefore, it is important to take steps to protect these virtual assets. Online security will generally involve:
- System security policies for staff accessing and using information and customer data
- Backups, either physically in separate locations or on cloud systems
- Security software and secure payment gateways
- Extra layers of security for sensitive information
Interaction with Vendors
The digital business is not only digital within itself, but also with interactions with third parties, including its vendors. In today’s digital landscape, any business can gain access to both national and international markets. This helps to create opportunities to find reputable suppliers. It also opens up efficient ways to interact with these suppliers. Most businesses source their suppliers online these days because it is fast and cost-effective. This is particularly true when the suppliers themselves are digital. This makes it much easier for you to access their products, services or information.
Digital businesses are nothing if not mobile friendly. Smartphones are common across a huge chunk of demographics, with people of all incomes and ages. Therefore it makes sense to have your business compatible with mobile, and so your strategies must be mobile-friendly. Mobile friendly mobile strategies include:
- Mobile-responsive websites that are compatible with all or most mobile devices
- Mobile commerce that allows for transactions online through a mobile device
- Mobile applications like iOS or Android apps that are specifically built for customers or staff
Being mobile-friendly is not a matter of choice anymore, it is a necessity. Your digital strategy should reflect that.
Technology-based Process Efficiencies
Improvements in your business processes based on technology, whether hardware or software, can really cut down your overheads. It also improves your staff’s capability to efficiently carry out tasks. Some efficiency improvements that should be a part of your digital strategy include:
- Faster data processing
- Easier data retrieval
- Automation of specific tasks
Many overheads can be cut down simply by moving processes like HR or Finance online. This reduces the resources your business is burning on these business processes. It also engages your employees and makes for a better sharing of information. Managing timesheets, payrolls, workflows, administrative tasks can all be automated and significantly reduce your overhead.
Cloud technology mostly involves systems that store data and information on the internet, as opposed to on your hard drive. This can also include programs that are essential to your business process. The cloud is essentially just another word for the internet. Cloud-based systems are getting popular because it is an efficient way to enhance your business capacity or even add capabilities. You won’t need a significant infrastructural investment either. Cloud computing eliminates the need for training new personnel or getting new software licensed. It’s a quick and easy solution to your business process management problems.
If you’re a business owner, chances are you have gained something from reading this blog. Whether you want to continue operating your business with optimum internet plans or fiber-based solutions is up to you. The most important thing is to be able to operate competitively. You need to be better than your competition in all the relevant areas listed above. Without a solid digital strategy to make bring your business into the 21st Century, it’s just a shot in a dark. Let us know if you have any other components of a digital strategy that should be on this list.
The final piece of the puzzle, and often the most difficult. As the web is so vast, you’re always going to have competition. The best way that we can advise that you beat it is through the use of constant marketing. When one campaign ends, begin another, and so on. Use a variety of different methods to judge which one is going to work best for you. SEO is a great place to start!