Although small businesses are facing some of their biggest challenges in recent times, many are also learning how to re-engage with their customers and adapt to new demands in the marketplace. We see this first hand every day and there are many businesses that are thriving, which is encouraging.
As a result, business owners are beginning to explore more of their industry’s trends to assist them in planning for the future and create new opportunities. From a website that meets customers’ needs better, to taking up ecological and societal responsibilities. With this in mind, here's 8 essential small business trends to understand where your customers’ interests lie and remain ahead of the curve. 8 essential small business trends to know and implement:
Shifting towards digital
Using mobile marketing
Rolling out your app
Personalising customer service
Rise of remote work
Growing an online community
Promoting data transparency
Being eco-friendly and socially responsible
1. Shifting towards digital In the past years, there’s been a steady shift of brick and mortar stores taking their businesses and services online, or a combination of both. In the current climate, most small businesses are looking online to create new opportunities through selling their products and services, either as their main source of income or in combination with additional practices. If you’re a business owner and want to bring your traditional line of work online, you may find that offering your wares online can actually improve your operations in ways you hadn’t thought were possible. Say you have a brick and mortar shop and are ready to expand your brand beyond what you produce yourself. You can do so by adding dropshipping to your online store, which helps you sell merchandise without paying for inventory. Using print-on-demand, items will be created on the spot only after they’ve been ordered.
Equally, service providers have found innovative ways to get seen and be seen in their customers lives. An example that springs to mind is bridal shops. Part of the special nature of these boutiques is to offer a personal, in person experiential service. In lockdown, some have adapted to enable brides to be try on gowns from home and meet with their bridal consultant via Zoom. It keeps that bridal boutique front of mind and seen as proactive and caring.
2. Using mobile marketing Mobile marketing is one of the biggest small business trends to take over the global stage with no indication of slowing down. It means marketing your business to your mobile user audience by reaching them via their smartphones or tablets. After all, as smartphone ownership continues to grow rapidly around the world - with an estimated 5 billion people carrying mobile devices. The most direct channel to your audience is very likely through their phone. However, bear in mind they are in fact less likely to complete transactions by phone for more valuable items. In addition to using apps to manage your business, you can also use an app to connect with customers and cater to users on-the-go. For example, you can keep your customers up-to-date by sending text messages of your latest promotion or updates with consent. You can also use geo-targeting to reach out to potential clients who are in your area using Google Ads, which allows advertisers to target mobile users in specific geographical locations.
3. Rolling out your app More people are using their mobile devices to conduct daily transactions than ever before, from doing groceries to booking fitness classes. As a result, it might be time to pair your small business website with a mobile app of your own. You can invite customers to download your app so that they can connect with your business on mobile. This lets them book services, purchase products and stay connected via chat, groups and forums. Create a mobile community with your app and invite customers to become members to better engage with your business and stay up to date with your latest offerings. An app isn't right for every business, but at least explore what opportunities an app can create for your business and your customer.
04. Personalising customer service It’s more important than ever to clearly define your target audience. Through understanding your customers’ behavior you’ll be better equipped to market your business or brand directly to them. Personalised customer service is about adapting services to the specific needs and wants of each of your customers. People today do not want to be bombarded with too many options and prefer a personal touch instead, expecting more businesses to know precisely what they want. By taking a couple of simple steps, your business can offer personal service, thus strengthening your customer engagement. Fully engaged customers are 23% more likely than average customers to spend with your business, which may also help increase your long-term profit. One way to learn more about your customers is through developing a buyer persona to gather some invaluable data about who your clients are. Explore web analytics tools such as Google Analytics for gathering insights about your visitors, including the number of people to your site, how they got to there (i.e. search engine, social media, or other), which products and services are best sellers and what’s driving users’ purchase decisions. You can even view the journey customers take on your website and where they drop off. Invaluable for maximising what works and getting rid of what doesn't. Using the knowledge you’ve gathered, track strategic points as your customer navigates your site and tailor their personal experience by automating marketing tasks and better customise them. For example, you can set up automated email marketing campaigns with a welcome email for each new subscriber, or with a custom coupon based on their buying history or interests. Finally, by learning more about your customers’ past purchasing behavior, you’ll then be able to recommend other products or services that they might like, such as sending an email marketing campaign of your products or customised coupons. You can also take it up a notch and create a VIP or members area, where you’d be offering a dedicated space for your most loyal customers. Here, site visitors can log into their personal account to manage their order status or appointments, chat with other members and access other types of gated, exclusive content.
05. Rise of remote work Another important small business trend is the surge in remote work and freelancing. While these provide unique benefits such as flexible scheduling and ditching the long commute, many who are operating outside of a traditional office space may face additional challenges, such as maintaining a work-life balance. If you're a small business that depends on freelancers and remote workers, there are several ways to keep the work environment professional while making your staff feel supported. Remember that you can still foster a strong sense of team motivation without sharing a physical space. Be sure to check in on your employees regularly using communication platforms such as Zoom or Google Meets.
06. Growing an online community Creating an online community of like-minded individuals can foster valuable connections around your brand. By sharing quality content about your field of expertise, from webinars to blogs, you'll be able to establish yourself as an authority in your industry and gain the trust of your audience. Webinars are professional classes, workshops or presentations delivered online, while continually engaging a larger audience. Other forms of video content you can create in share includes live streaming, a live Q&A or an online course. Creating a blog can also help solidify your voice in your field of business and continuously link you to your audience. This is also great for SEO! Sometimes your online community needs extra support. Don’t let them get left behind. Allow site visitors to reach you instantaneously by adding a live chat app to your site and help guide them through any queries they might have.
08. Being eco-friendly and socially responsible Consumers, especially younger ones, are demanding companies step up to the plate and tackle in some shape or form social and environmental issues such as climate change, species extinction, and more. Whether you're just starting a business or looking to grow and adapt, social responsibility is critical part of business management. Businesses are taking action in a number of ways, such as improving work culture, donating to causes, supporting them on social media and becoming more sustainable within their own operations. If you choose to take steps such as cutting down on packaging waste or diversifying your workforce, be sure to notify your customers. Companies of all stripes and sizes are beginning to perceive that business as usual is not the only option and in turn have begun embracing change. Multiple causes around the world are able to raise awareness and make a difference with strong nonprofit websites, petition websites and other forms of supporting their cause, both online and off.
For expert help growing your small business, arrange a chat with Purple Accounts on 01925 268753 or email email@example.com.