The world is becoming ever more digitalized, especially after the recent COVID-19 pandemic forced us to conduct more and more aspects of our lives online. The majority of people in the US have a smartphone, enabling us to enjoy instant access to the internet wherever we are and whatever we’re doing. This in turn has changed so much about the way that we get our news, do our shopping, entertain ourselves, and access key services.
It’s not only our personal lives that have been changed though, it’s also our businesses. Aside from a few very niche areas, it’s critical for companies to have an online presence these days if they want to not only survive but thrive. So, if you’re a small business owner, you should definitely be giving serious consideration to using digital services if you aren’t already. This will help ensure that you remain competitive and successful, no matter what industry you work in.
Should you outsource your IT?
Before we look at our four suggestions for digital services that your business should be using, let’s talk about outsourcing. For those who are not very computer literate, the idea of running a wide range of IT services in a professional capacity can seem overwhelming. If that sounds like you, outsourcing your computing needs to the experts could be the perfect solution.
Going down the outsourcing route can bring you a number of benefits. Firstly, it gives you access to an extremely knowledgeable and experienced team of specialist staff. They will know exactly what steps to take in order to meet your specific needs, and also deal with any unexpected problems that arise. This is especially important when it comes to issues such as cybersecurity, as indicated by leading experts at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which states that small businesses are “often unprepared to respond to cyberattacks”.
Another advantage of outsourcing is that it saves you time. Rather than having to learn how to handle all your IT services yourself – and then continue to do so on a regular basis – you can simply hand over the tasks to the professionals. This frees up your day to focus on the aspects of running a business that you love, or that only you can do. Thus you’ll be boosting your productivity without compromising on the quality of your digital services, which is a true win-win situation.
Finally, and perhaps counterintuitively, outsourcing your digital services can actually save you money, too. Although of course it isn’t free, it can be cheaper than hiring and training your own full-time employees to handle your IT in-house. Plus, you’ll save on computing infrastructure costs, because the company you outsource to will take care of all the technical aspects.
Four key digital services for your business
Regardless of whether you decide to outsource your IT or handle your computing needs yourself, here are four key digital services your small business should definitely be considering.
1. A top-quality website
This is probably the most obvious digital asset your company needs. It doesn’t matter which industry you operate in or how many employees you have, without a website you are practically invisible in the online world. This isn’t only true for those businesses which sell their products and services online either. Potential customers tend to look up bars, restaurants, shops, salons and pretty much every other type of company on the internet before they decide whether to go there. If you don’t have a website, people might be suspicious of the quality of your business or think that it’s not worth taking a gamble on. Having a professional website shows that you are a credible and authoritative company, and gives people the chance to browse your products and services at any time of day or night. Just make sure the design is perfect, because first impressions are everything!
2. An interesting and informative blog
Once your website is up and running, a good feature to add to it is a blog. This can be a powerful tool for a number of reasons. Firstly, it can provide potential customers with a lot of useful or entertaining content. This is an effective way to generate repeat visits to your page, demonstrate your company’s expertise in its field, and also boost interest in your products and services. Secondly, it’s a well-established method of improving the SEO (search engine optimization) of your website, which in turn ensures that more people find it. Lastly, a blog can be a fantastic way to show a more unique side to your brand. That’s because blog posts can have a more personal and conversational tone in comparison to areas such as product description, and they don’t simply feel as though you’re trying to sell something.
3. A large email list
One of the most effective forms of marketing is through email. Subscribers to your mailing list have a high chance of becoming paying customers if they’re not already, and emails are more likely to be noticed and read in comparison to paid adverts. If you’re struggling to get people to sign up, try offering an incentive such as a 10% discount code or a free digital resource. You can also experiment with different types of content, subject lines, tones of voice and special offers to see what works best. In addition, email is a great way to communicate with your customers, as many people prefer it to phone calls these days.
4. Awesome social media
Social media can be intimidating, but people use it all the time to connect with brands they’re interested in. As a small business, you should definitely utilize free tools like these to drive traffic to your website and engage with potential customers.
It’s a particularly effective way to humanize your brand, allowing your individual personality to shine through and generate positive feelings towards your company. Do some research to find out what your competitors are doing on Twitter, Instagram and other sites, then brainstorm how you can improve on it. Once you know your way around and have established your brand’s tone, you might just find that you enjoy it!