While the news may say there is a business crisis in Australia, as of June 2017, there were 3.1% more businesses trading than the year before. However, it’s not all blue skies and smooth sailing with a reported 742 Australian businesses claiming bankruptcy as of October 2018, which is 68.62 more businesses than the national average.
Being uncertain about the future is a normal concern for any business owner. So, it’s surprising to see only one in three businesses reportedly have a business strategy. If this is you, your business could be left vulnerable to the ever-changing digital landscape—but we’re here to help you get organised.
In 2019, there are three areas you should ensure you’re focusing on in your business strategy; customer experience, technology and digital marketing. Read on to find out how!
Customer Experience (CX)
At times, it can feel like customers are the root of your problems, forgetting they’re the reason you can do what we do. There’s a simple solution—listen to what your customers want. When it comes to focusing on your customers in your business strategy, keep it real. Put the human element back into your communications.
Focus on Your Customer’s Experience at Every Stage
As we know from our article 7 Ways to Improve Your Customer Experience, CX also includes user experience (UX) and customer service. By adding a workflow of every interaction point someone has with you to your business strategy, you can pinpoint where there is a problem.
For example, if you’re not receiving many new customers, it may indicate a problem with your awareness-building marketing. Or, if you find not many people return to your business, you could be missing a personalised touch somewhere in the transaction or post-transaction stage. Knowing exactly where people are dropping off will help you put a solid plan in place.
Take Control of Your Online Reputation
The Competition and Consumer Act 2019 prevents you from controlling the reviews you receive, however it doesn’t stop you from managing your online reputation. What’s the difference?
Everyone is entitled to their opinion (unless it’s for one of these reasons), so any of your customers, happy or not, can leave you a review. Managing your online reputation means you increase the number of positive reviews, take care of bad feedback before it goes online and effectively reply to the negative reviews already posted. This is going to be vital for your business strategy in the coming years.
We cover each of these steps in our article Online Reviews—Your Untapped Marketing Goldmine.
Scrap the Formalities
Nothing is more infuriating when you have a problem than knowing a customer service person is using a script. Whenever someone calls or emails your business, they should feel like they’re being heard and understood, even if things don’t go the way they planned.
Whether it’s you on the phone or behind the emails or a staff member, be real, helpful and transparent. Things happen. Apologise when something goes amiss and celebrate with the person when something goes incredibly right. Don’t be afraid to let your customers see there are real people behind your brand.
Technology may not trump personal connection, but it’s essential for finding more customers and getting closer to them. It’s how you use it that’s the difference between personal and impersonal.
Make Use of Enquiry & Bookings Forms & Chatbots
How many times have you heard someone groan about having to make a phone call? Roughly 29 emails are sent per day for every person on Earth, which is a whopping 205 billion digital messages. They’re quick, easy and whatever was said is in writing, if proof is ever needed. It’s easy to see why emails and text are the communication method of choice for many generations.
As a business, you want to cater for both voice-shy and chatty customers. A contact form (or two) on your website and a bot plugin for your Facebook should do the trick.
Bots can be programmed to mimic human responses. If you do it right, you’ll even have people thanking the bot at the end of the exchange. Booking and enquiry forms aren’t as techy as this, but customising your thank you page after they submit will also provide a good experience.
Learn more about booking systems.
Automate Processes to Save Yourself Time & Stress
Business owner? Don’t you mean busyness owner? Part of running a business is trying to find time to do it all. You may even be rolling your eyes at where you’ll find time to add working on your 2019 business strategy into the mix. But there are plenty of places you can save yourself time and money by automating a few processes, such as:
There could be multiple places your businesses has reviews online, including ones you don’t know about. Instead of spending time every day checking them, a review manager can automatically alert you to new reviews. All you need to do is reply to them when you get a moment.
Enquiry & Booking Forms & Chatbots
Yes, this again! A good booking system will automatically allocate times, even staff, to a customer so you simply have to show up. No back-and-forth emails and no time-consuming phone calls. Plus there’s all the benefits of chatbots we already mentioned above.
A CRM for Customer Management
A customer relationship management system is more than just a database for storing existing client data. When you find the right CRM, it will collect your follower information on social media, give you caller ID for your customer contacts and more.
Template Direct Marketing Tools
Keeping in touch with leads and customers is important. Unless you have design, content and, sometimes, coding skills, it can be difficult to send anything too creative by text or email—unless you have a direct marketing tool with your contact list AND ready-to-send templates.
Get Your Cyber Security in Check
The last thing you want is for someone to hack your website and steal you or your customers’ information, or lose your social media account to a cyber thief. Not only can poor security on your website affect your SEO, it can also get you in legal trouble too.
Your business strategy should include, if it doesn’t already, a plan for how to keep your business secure online. One of the first things on your list should be obtaining an SSL certificate for your website and transferring your HTTP to a HTTPS. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, a HTTP is the first part of your website address (http://yourbusiness.com.au) that tells the browser what to display. Not having an S at the end of the HTTP means your website is quite easy for people to hack and compromise your data. You’ll want to speak to a website professional to ensure this process is done right.
Take Action on Your Analytics & Feedback
Admitting something in your business strategy isn’t working may be a hit to the ego, but it’s essential for moving forward. Your analytics will tell you where you’re wasting time and where you should be investing more of it. But what analytics should you be keeping an eye on in 2019? All of them!
The online reviews you receive are direct statements of where your customers think your business is getting it right or wrong. While you can’t please everyone, if you’re hearing the same thing a few times, it may be time to look at where you can change up your processes.
Website & Search Engines
Having a website is super important, however it’s pointless if it’s hard to find and use, or isn’t converting visitors into leads. Connecting your website to Google Analytics will show you how many visitors you’re receiving, as well as any pages that aren’t performing. If you’re not too sure how to improve your search engine optimisation or user experience, we’re here to help.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms are very easy to get caught up in and to forget to manage. When you already have so much to do, keeping every channel alive is hard. Find out where you’re receiving the most engagement and have the most followers, and focus your attention there.
As of the 30th June, 2018, there were 4,208,571,287 internet users across the world. Having a billboard is all good and well, but it’s not available to literally millions of people using search engines and social media. However, the places and ways you market your business aren’t the only way digital marketing should be put into your business strategy in the new year.
Give Your Business a Personality
Technology will never trump personal connections—not in 2019, at least. Social media, websites, direct marketing and online advertising can help us reach more people but we often forget to make the connection that creates trust and loyalty.
Even when there is not a human behind the interaction (such as on your website) you can make it more personal. Your 2019 business strategy should include ways you can create those connections, such as the following simple approaches.
Strengthen Your Personal Brand
If social media influencers have taught us anything, it’s that people can trust people they don’t even know. When a connection is established, whatever that person says tends to go. Creating your own personal brand will help people connect with you, helping to create trust in your business.
Some personal brands to check out:
Jane Lu—Founder & CEO of Showpo
Richard Branson—Founder of Virgin Group
Lorna Jane Clarkson—Founder & CCO of Lorna Jane Activewear
Tim Costello—Chief Advocate of World Vision Australia
We speak more about creating a personal brand in our article The Future of Social Media in 2018.
Be Where Your Customers Are
You wouldn’t build a high-end fashion store in the middle of industrial section, so why would you be on a social platform your customers don’t use? It’s the same for where you put your business online.
In 2017, 90% of Australians had access to the internet but only 60% of small businesses had an online presence. Even though these numbers are quite low for how powerful the online world is at growing your business, it’s still a lot of competition for you to battle for a customer. One tactic could be to put yourself everywhere at once, including online business directories, social media and search engines, but you’ll end up wasting time, and therefore money.
Take a look at where your customers currently engage with you. Are you receiving enough leads to cover the cost of how much time you’re spending on the activity? If not, it could be that your business strategy needs to experience in some new online landscapes, such as the ones below.
Everyone’s potential customers are on search engines. More than 1.2 trillion searches are performed on Google worldwide every year, so there’s a lot of potential to be in a pretty big slice of them. But how?
Search engine marketing (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are two ways you can improve your visibility on Google, Bing and more. We have an interesting article about when to use both of these search engine activities, however, if done right, they’re both pretty effective. Of course, there’s always your Google Premier Partners at Localsearch to ensure you’re on the right track.
With Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, Tumblr and other social media platforms, there’s plenty of places for you to put your business. However, you’ll want to analyse your follower numbers and engagement to see which platforms are right for connecting with customers and finding new leads.
Online Business Listings
Having a listing on sites such as Localsearch is good for SEO and putting you in front of more people. Localsearch alone receives more than 1.95+ million monthly visitors. You can start with a free listing, and then upgrade your profile page to use more of the features, such as replying to reviews as the owner and adding photos.
Find more places to list your business here.
Optimise Your Website for Voice Assistants Devices
“Siri/Alexa, tell me where the nearest bottleshop is to me.” Search engines are pretty savvy to the fact that everyone is using voice commands to find out information. As technology advances, and we see more voice command products in the market, it will become more important than ever to ensure your website is optimised to suit.
This can get a little tricky if you’re not a search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist or trained copywriter. Your website content needs to balance using phrases people would ask a voice-first device without writing for search engines. There’s a fine art to including relevant questions and phases while not making the text look SEO-targeted. This is where a professional content writer and SEO expert can lend a hand.
Video Will Be Bigger Than Ever
64% of people say a video on social media has influenced what they’ve purchased in the near future. Before you rush off and hire a professional videographer or some high-tech camera equipment, see how easy it can be to do it yourself from a smartphone.
Use Social Media Stories & Live
Snapchat, Instagram (including IGTV) and Facebook all off some type of video stories or live video. These features are free, very easy to use and can be used in a number of ways.
- Behind the scenes of your business.
- Product releases and reviews.
- Product demonstrations.
- Q&A with an expert.
Like we said, they’re very easy to record. Nab a bright and bubbly staff member, a nice location, open the app and hit record. You can find more details instructions in our Facebook Business Page and Instagram Business Account best practice guides.