For small to mid-sized businesses looking to grow, it’s important to make inventive use of tech. With a few innovative tools, you can optimize your processes, sharpen marketing efforts, automate menial tasks, and leverage data for long-term development. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these key strategies, presented by Mircic91.
We’re still not entirely sure just how drastically the advent of big data will change the world of business, but it’s increasingly clear that the answer is “a lot.” Large data sets can be used to build customer profiles, inform decision-making, drive risk-free innovation, provide market insights and even detect business opportunities before they have arisen.
In order to harness large sets, businesses are fighting over the talents of both scientists and analysts. These important team members are in charge of making sense of the raw numbers, then deciphering them into descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive information.
Thankfully, there are growing means to make use of data without hiring expensive personnel. It’s possible to download data mining tools, for example, that track behavior on websites and social channels to provide you with key insights. Take the time to understand the differences between customer, financial and operational data and see how these could align with your business’ wider OKRs.
One of the key applications of data is in the field of marketing, where successful application can help you to better understand your customers and target them more efficiently. McKinsey & Company reports that intensive use of customer analytics can make you 23 times more likely to acquire new customers. This means using data to gather and analyze consistent, personalized data from multiple sources, such as web and mobile applications, email, live chat, and in-store interactions.
Once you have a clearer insight into who your high-value customers are and how they spend their money, your next priority is to identify the most cost-efficient, effective way to get your services/products in front of them. In a world infatuated with screens, the answer is usually via the internet – social media marketing, for example, still represents one of the cheapest and most precise ways to promote a brand. You can work with a graphic designer to create quality posts and even an infographic to share engaging and relevant content with your target audience. Or you can avoid the professional and use great free resources that provide templates you can customize to meet your marketing needs.
Using audience controls, you can directly target those who you know will be most likely to buy in, or you can set limited run times to capitalize on the trends of the day. Remember, social media algorithms change regularly, and this means the nature of your content has relevance to its effectiveness – at the time of writing this, videos take precedence on feeds, but this could change on a dime.
Beyond social media, you may also want to explore search engine pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, content marketing (which could mean writing blog posts or creating a vlog series), or you might even want to make use of email chains. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to engaging with customers in the digital space – to ascertain the right channel for your business, think carefully about where prospective customers are most likely to spend their time and how they might be most likely to connect with your brand.
Another key use of data is within the field of artificial intelligence, where large data sets can be used to develop patterns of behavior. Machine learning is one area of high growth – this refers to a computer’s ability to act autonomously, predicting outcomes without programming and using historical data to predict new output values. With machine learning, hypothetically, a business is capable of growing with exponential possibilities as its computer assets become increasingly more intelligent and identify new opportunities on its behalf.
Artificial intelligence is also being implemented to automate a number of existing human roles. Conversational AI is one area, for example, that has seen widespread popularity, with chatbots providing a (sometimes cheaper) alternative to reps in customer service. Already we have seen use for this technology in consumer-facing assistance (Siri, Cortana, Google Now), and we are now seeing the uses of artificial intelligence in spam filters, process automation, sales, and business forecasting, security, and more. Even as a small business, there are a number of intelligent ways to implement it into your own processes.
As a small to medium-sized business, your greatest competitors will be the incumbent brands that dominate the industry. Taking down these conglomerates is not easy when you’re both using the same software and when you have fewer resources to attract key talent. The key, then, is to leverage innovation in order to outsmart and out-imagine your weighty opponents. For this reason, TechRepublic explains that proprietary development should be counted amongst your key areas of interest – the ability to create apps, websites, or digital tools from scratch means that, with the right idea, you possess the ability to disrupt the market at any given moment.
To accomplish your aims, you’ll first need to enlist skilled programmers. Finding capable talent can be hard work and expensive, but thanks to remote working, geographical barriers have been broken down entirely, and skilled workers are available on a freelance basis. Finding these individuals may take some effort – avoid cheap labor sites such as Fiverr and instead take the time to explore forums like GitHub where the community gathers to discuss their services.
The role of technology also extends to finances and financial management. If you haven’t already, it could be worth investing in some advanced accountancy software. These programs can help you to save time charting expenses, budget more effectively, and manage invoices/contracts with more ease. Just be certain that, before you invest in any kind of technology, there is adequate customer support available. Before subscribing/purchasing the technology, you can call support to see if help is available as promised.
Make Strides with Technology
There are unlimited applications for technological innovation within the business space. For small to mid-sized businesses, getting there first is important. For this reason, make sure you’re keeping on top of new trends and applications and thinking about how they might pertain to your own company.
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