A smart use of technology can make all the difference in keeping up with corporate competitors and even other small businesses. Considering that technology can either be devastatingly expensive or completely free, smart use of tech strategies is definitely the key word here.
It’s not about how much money you do or don’t spend, but the types and ways in which your tech strategies can help promote your business and maybe even expand it.
1. Use Gamification
Adding games to your e-commerce site or business website is one of the best new ways to engage website visitors and create loyal customers. There are a whole range of options, from turning the whole website into a video game-like experience, to simply adding random game-like features as rewards.
Skeptical? Think about it this way: with discounts and other short-term incentives, games provide self-motivated incentives and on-going rewards. For example, Nike created an online game wherein gamers helped to keep athletes warm while they ran outside – this was to promote their new winter sportswear line.
2. Be Mobile-Friendly
It goes without saying that mobile devices have pretty much replaced desktop computers. Especially for consumers 18-40, which make up most of the demographics of online buyers, mobile availability is imperative. When I say mobile-friendly, I mean that in every way possible.
Provide the option of pre-pay and instant pick-up for products or food services. Customize your own QR codes that create incentives. That being said, being mobile-friendly may not be enough in and of itself.
3. Create a Mobile App
Mobile apps provide a ton of advantages for your business. Not only can you customize a customer’s experience, get direct feedback and engage users, but mobile apps provide a way for your business to be shared with the world. With the click of a social media button, users can share their purchase with an entire network of people, spreading your brand and credibility with them.
4. Use the Cloud to Its Full Advantage
There are many advantages to using the cloud to replace local database options. The cloud can provide a place for everything from team project management to accounting, and drive collaboration with your staff, your customers and vendors. Cloud security businesses are also handy to have around because they can monitor any potential threats to your cloud, without the need to add extra in-house IT staff.
The cloud can also protect your data in case of crashes or disasters. Depending upon your data needs, you have the option to create your own private cloud as an alternative to cloud services, allowing for higher customization.
5. Outsource Administrative Tasks, But Not Tech Support
You can get inexpensive rates from freelance admins for tasks like information organization, copywriting, blog posts, and use video or Skype conferencing to correspond and collaborate. On the contrary, you don’t want your tech support to be located in Bali if your business is in Raleigh, VA.
If possible, get tech support that is available 24/7. If your system goes down during peak hours and it’s 3 a.m. in Bali, chances are you’re not going to get a hold of your tech support guy before you lose a bunch of money and gain a bunch of frustrated customers.
Other good ideas for tech hacks as a small business include social media management tools, such as Hootsuite or SproutSocial and social media analytics tools – there are platforms that offer both, which is the wisest way to go. Again, weigh your advantages for outsourcing social media management, instead of either hiring more staff or slowing productivity by delegating it to current staff.
It’s also very important to evaluate and pinpoint your business needs before investing in any new or additional technology. A lot of tech tools are thrown at us when they provide no real long term solution. You want to be sure that your tech solutions have at least a three-year longevity and that they satisfy a clearly defined business need.