As new digital platforms and software emerges, small businesses are able to accomplish feats that were previously only an option for fortune 500 companies. These technologies are shaping the leaderboards in the small business arena. Below are some key elements successful small businesses are implementing in 2012 to stay at the top of their industry.
Analytics, CRM, mobile sites, and other technologies required a specialist or very large budget in the past, but this no longer holds true. Thanks to the growth of technology systems over the past couple years these projects can be taken on by companies of nearly any size and successful small businesses are fully aware of this.
Analytics. What good are company goals, marketing strategies, and SWOT analysis without analytics? With such a multitude of marketing channels it is vital to track all advertising efforts and know what customers are responding, why they are responding to it, and where they are coming from. Google analytics has been around for a very long time but has only recently been able to function to the degree it does today. Not only will it track all internet traffic, social media efforts, and PPC campaigns but can also monitor all offline efforts as well. Using Google Voice in collaboration with analytics business owners can now determine how many responses they received from the bumper sticker on a car if they wish. Analytics are vital to any successful business and should be a determining factor in all future affairs. If reports determine there is an area that is lacking, let’s say website conversions, then look at the five biggest competitors and determine who you would buy from and why. Prosperous companies in today’s business world track any possible variable, so that can know rather than guess what is working and what needs to be fixed.
Social. If it has not already become blatantly apparent then realize now that social media will play a large role in sales figures over the coming years. Mashable, Inc., SEOmoz and hundreds of other reputable companies have all provided metrics on the importance and value of having business pages on these networks. Social media affects everything from SEO efforts to brand trust, and with Google+ at more than 60 million users this is something that cannot be considered a trend. If nothing else start an industry related blog that others can share. Companies engaging in social media in 2012 by regularly providing stimulating/interactive content will not only grow traffic but will also develop trust and familiarity through peer reference.
CRM. Not to downplay the rolodex but the current CRM platforms available are astounding. In the past there were filing systems, then software packages (this is still used by many businesses), and now companies can simply log onto a cloud based system. SalesForce SalesCloud service offers editions starting at a meager $24 a year. Nurturing phone leads and staying attentive with clients can be an extremely taxing process but the companies who do so display professionalism that consumers trust. CRM systems can undoubtedly benefit any company and are now affordable for all entrepreneurs.
Mobile & App. According to Microsoft Tag, of the 4+ billion cell phones in the world 1.08 billion are smartphones and more than 50% of local searches are done on mobile devices. Efficient Frontier estimated that 22% of all search in 2012 will be mobile and it is predicted that in 2014 mobile internet usage will overtake desktop usage. Pew Research claims that more than 11% of Americans owned a tablet device as of August 2011 and iPad users have downloaded 3 billion apps since its release in 2010. The iPhone took two years to accomplish that same feat. Plain and simple business owners will highly benefit from having mobile friendly sites and web applications in 2012.
Along with all of the technological advances over the past couple years came information. There are more whitepapers, research journals, blogs, help sites, guides, infographics, web tools, instructional videos, and learning resources than any one person could ever examine. With a little tenacity and delegation business owners can accomplish all of the tactics above with little to moderate resource expenditure. Business will forever be organic in nature and those who choose to adapt with their environment rather than to their environment will end up on top.