Being a small business has its advantages. Still, no business wants to appear too small, lest prospective clients doubt its experience or capacities. Fortunately, today’s entrepreneurs have access to enterprise-level technologies that can position their company favorably against larger competitors.
1. Bring automation and analysis to marketing campaigns.
From email marketing to website content to blog posts, marketing automation software offers the ability to create customized outreach. Companies like GetResponse or ActiveCampaign provide a robust suite of services that help small businesses do everything from test the effectiveness of calls-to-action to analyze the engagement levels of an email program. “This tells you which customers are connecting with your communications and how to nurture and convert them,” says Eric Hobbs, president of Technology Associates, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based IT consulting firm.
2. Bolster your workforce using the gig economy.
In the past, a business may have hired a freelancer to, say, produce a company logo. But now a small company can use sites like Upwork, Catalant or Fiverr to find seasoned professionals to handle anything from building a sales plan to running a marketing program. “The experience and level of competency among the freelancers on these sites has really grown over the past couple years,” Hobbs says.
3. Provide online scheduling to clients.
Any time you can automate a procedure and add convenience to your customer experience, your company’s image will get a boost. Letting your clients schedule time with your business through an online scheduling tool is an easy way to achieve this goal. Tools to check out include Calendly, AppointmentPlus and Acuity Scheduling.
4. Upgrade your web meeting capabilities.
Many very small companies rely on free or low-cost web-based tools—but while that’s attractive from an affordability standpoint, they often look or sound cheap and don’t offer a professional range of features. By spending a little money, you can often get more robust and customized versions of popular software programs, including GoToMeeting and Cisco WebEx.
5. Get a phone system with more features and functionality.
Your phone system should have all the features that people would expect when calling an established business, such as easy call transfers between various lines, separate phone lines for employees, and the ability to leave a message whenever the business is closed. A cloud-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system such as RingCentral or Vonage can offer small businesses all that functionality at an affordable cost.
6. Use your domain name in your email address.
Many small companies still use the email suffix of their email provider, whether Gmail or Yahoo. Over the past few years, it’s become very cheap to upgrade to an email provider that includes your website domain name in your company email addresses. Check with your email provider or web hosting service to find out how.
7. Make your website mobile-friendly.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure your website design is responsive, meaning it will be sized appropriately on a variety of devices from phones to tablets to laptops. Mobile now accounts for more than 50% of overall web traffic, a figure that is only expected to grow in 2018 and beyond.
The kicker to all of these efforts: Adopting leading-edge technology can help a company get bigger not only in appearance, but in reality. “Digitally advanced” small companies—those that utilize more sophisticated digital tools such as analytics and mobile apps—saw 4 times as much revenue growth and 6 times as much employee growth as companies with basic digital engagement, according to a 2017 survey by Deloitte.
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