There’s no denying; we are in a digital age and it has changed the world. In 2007, when the iPhone was released, few people foresaw the transformative impact it would have on our daily lives and on business.
At the launch, Steve Jobs quoted Alan Kay, who said, ‘People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.’ Apple had taken this 30-year-old quote to heart, but things have moved on since then. The serious software people – app developers – are managing just fine with the amazing hardware that phone and tablet manufacturers are putting on the market.
Without the digital tools that we have at our fingertips, keeping in touch and carrying on working during the coronavirus would have been very difficult. Zoom and Teams have really been invaluable for us. As this BBC article says, it’s hard to imagine how different things would have been if this had happened in 2005! And COVID-19 has definitely prompted many companies to accelerate their digital transformation projects.
An explosion in app uses
In 2019, 204 billion apps were downloaded worldwide. We use apps like Just Eat, Spotify and Facebook daily for leisure and pleasure, and many of us use apps like Mailchimp, sendinblue, Harvest and Slack for business. We’ve also been testing Notion and Twist as alternatives to Slack. We live in a hyper-connected world where we are ‘always on’; people use their devices not just to stay in touch, but to book meals out, get recommendations on books to read, organise weekend bike rides, book yoga classes, and leave reviews of places they’ve visited.
Like it or not, the longer your business avoids opting into this digital world, the quicker it will be replaced by competitors eager to disrupt your sector and deliver better service.
Keeping up to stay ahead
We believe that while having a great website generates leads, sales or bookings, that is not enough anymore; a great website is standard practice. To truly adopt digital – and stay ahead of your competitors – you need to constantly be on the lookout for new ways to improve your customers’ experience of your business.
This might be by developing an out-of-hours ‘chatbot’ to help visitors when you are not able to answer questions by phone or email or using Monday or Dropbox to share files with clients. Or perhaps a live chat using something like Intercom that allows your customer to have a similar experience to Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp; they can contact you about a problem they are experiencing right then. Or how about using an app like Calend.ly to schedule meetings or appointments between your team and customers to avoid that annoying email ping pong? If you have a large team, an app like Doodle can help get consensus on a place or event.
Iron out the ‘friction’
Imagine you have a membership business; instead of manually emailing invoices and waiting for payment, why not automate the process by setting up an invoice system connected to PayPal or Stripe so that your customers can pay instantly? Reminders are built into the system, so you don’t have to spend time chasing payment. The ultimate aim is to remove ‘friction’. And the ultimate result is to save money, time and resources.
The list of great new tools goes on and gets longer all the time as app developers find ways to improve the efficiency of your business or to simply make life easier.
Start small and simple
Digitally transforming your business needn’t be a large, complex undertaking. You can start by signing up to a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system like SharpSpring, Salesforce, Pipedrive, Zoho or Hubspot and ensure all your web enquiries are directed efficiently and track sales.
You could then move on by automating your email marketing; instead of sending out sporadic emails when you have the odd moment, create a campaign with multiple, well-thought-out emails that are sent automatically via auto-responders. If that sounds too much, set up multiple templates for your different seasons, populate them in advance and set a date for auto-sending.
Our recommended CRM
If you haven’t already noticed, we are SharpSpring partners. This CRM integrates with WordPress, automatically taking contacts from your website forms into the sales CRM, where you can then nurture the prospect until they convert using marketing automation. Read more here about SharpSpring and inbound marketing.
Digital is here to stay
If you don’t take advantage of the ideas the digital industry is coming up with, you are signing up to continued, unnecessary stress. Small businesses are already hard enough to run, when you’re wearing multiple hats at the same time. If you can offload and automate some of your tasks and responsibilities, you can save money and time, and be better able to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Steer your ship in the right direction; away from competition and towards superior customer service that will win and keep customers. Take a look at our blog about how digital marketing can help SMEs right now.
Happy to help with your digital transformation
If you don’t know where to start and are wondering how digitising your Surrey business processes can give your business a real boost, Preface Studios is happy to offer advice on the myriad of apps and services that can be integrated into your website. Please just give us a shout or call – 01252 820022.