If you’re running your own business, then you’re all too familiar with the trials and tribulations (and joy and satisfaction) that come from wearing multiple hats. You have to balance budgets, manage payroll, attend to your customers, think of ways to grow or improve your business, market and deliver your services, among countless other things, all with limited time and resources at your disposal. While you’re doing a great job juggling all these things, really you need all the help that you can get to ensure that all bases of your business operations are covered (we’re all only human after all).
Thankfully, entrepreneurs and business owners now have the ability to turn to technology to help improve and/or manage their business operations and investing in digital solutions for your business can indeed help you to run your business more efficiently, and to get the best possible outcomes.
There are two key areas of a business that stand to benefit the most from the use of digital tools and technology: operations management and marketing.
While the exact combination of business activities vary depending on the type and size of a business, common activities generally include legal, human resources, sales, marketing and security. A small business generally doesn’t have the resources available to have a dedicated department assigned to each area. however, there are a plethora of digital tools available on the market now that help make lighter work of many of the day-to-day tasks, such as printing, developing reports, organising and managing meetings, etc.
Some of the day-to-day benefits that can come from investing in digital tools include:
- Reduce cost and clutter – the use of digital tools for office tasks allows small businesses to save on operating expenses. For example, instead of printing, correspondences and memos can be sent electronically saving on the cost of paper and time. Investing in office tools can also mean not having to hire an additional employee to perform tasks that can be done by, or with the help of, digital tools. Tools such as cloud storage solutions, allow businesses to organise their important documents without having to print papers and file them away manually in bulky cabinets.
- Go green – investing in tools that allow business owners and/or employees to conduct business remotely can mean saving on travel costs and thus reducing the business’ carbon foot print.
- Improve timelines – using electronic mail versus snail mail enables correspondences to be delivered almost instantaneously. This enables the recipient to act on the information that they receive sooner.
- Improve employee productivity – some digital applications are designed specifically to help boost employee productivity. Tools such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs, social media management tools (i.e. Hootsuite), Google Analytics, content management platforms (i.e. CoSchedule) etc. have functions that enable colleagues to collaborate, manage their files and schedules, and keep track of their activities. As a result, employees have more time to work on other tasks and attend to other responsibilities.
- Improve customer service – digital applications allow businesses to reach out to their customers faster and easier, and allow for alternative methods of contact other than face-to-face or via phone. Digital tools also allow businesses to respond to customer service requests in a more timely manner.
More and more businesses are taking their marketing activities online because when done properly, online marketing can bring a multitude of benefits. Some of these include:
- Maximise marketing budgets – Marketing online is a more cost-effective way of reaching a broader audience. Many online marketing and advertising avenues are available to businesses for a significantly lower cost than advertising through traditional channels such as TV, radio or billboards.
- Easy to measure returns – Online marketing investments are easier and faster to track with the use of data analytics. Using data analytics not only helps businesses to see the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, it also allows them to gather important information about their customers that they can then draw from when planning their next campaign.
- Increase awareness – Having a good website establishes a business’ presence and credibility online. Further, being visible online increases the chances of more people learning about the business and it capturing their interest.
- Expand market reach – Businesses can reach a much broader audience through online advertisements and social networking. Being present in these channels can also help to drive traffic to a business’ website and towards conversion.
- Better engagement – Using digital tools can enable businesses to engage with their customers in a way that is convenient to both the customer and the business. It can also allow for faster response times to any enquiries, avoiding drawn out wait time and therefore decreasing chances of customers becoming frustrated.
- More segmented and personalised marketing – Through data analytics, a business owner can gain valuable insight into their target market’s preferences and activities. This means the ability to constantly be reviewing and improving online marketing efforts to get even better results, through more personalised and targeted marketing campaigns.
- Boost Sales – Ultimately, having an online presence and investing in online marketing activities can increase the chances of driving interest in your business. Further, with the right digital strategy and utilisation of the most suitable online marketing channels for your business and market, an increase in conversions and sales can be achieved.
Investing in digital solutions can provide numerous benefits for your business, especially in the areas of operations management and marketing. Investing in the right business tools and marketing channels is imperative and must be approached strategically and, when done in such a way, can result in your business operating more efficiently, seeing an increase in sales and revenue and ultimately, making a positive impact to a business’ bottom line.