To say that the pandemic has been a game-changer for small businesses in Australia would be one helluva understatement. Not only is a small business playing by a whole new set of rules; they are stepping out onto a new field: online, writes Erica Jolly, digital marketing expert and delivery manager at MI Academy.
According to recent research by Australia Post, four in five (82 per cent) Australian households made an online purchase in 2020, up from 75 per cent in 2019.
A welcome change for eCommerce enthusiasts, but a drastic shift for those just finding their feet online. If that’s you, try these four strategies to help to stay open and operating in the new online battleground.
4 online strategies for small business
1. A holistic plan aligned to customer goals
For those new to online, it’s only natural to search for a shining star to guide the way into the unknown. For many, these stars are the likes of The Iconic, Appliances Online or Adore Beauty. All HUGE names that are nailing online sales.
However, it’s important to remember that for these pioneers, online retail is their bread and butter so that benchmark is quite high.
While it’s great to look to these brands for inspiration, it’s easy to become disheartened and hung up on all the things you aren’t, and realistically, can’t do yourself.
As our Prime Minister said, businesses moved fast, “undergoing a decade of change in months, finding new customers or new ways of doing things.”
Business owners already wear so many hats. So, when considering your strategy to shift to or step up online, don’t focus on everything you could possibly do. Think about exactly what your customers need from you today.
A welcome strategy for many busy busy owners is one of targetted simplicity. Considering precisely,
- What value do you deliver to your customers?
- Who are your customers, precisely?
- Why do they pick you over your competitors?
- How and where do they prefer to buy and engage? You don’t need to be on every platform!
Starting here you can build a holistic game-plan to make the shift. Nailing the basics, learning, optimising and growing from there.
Remember, how do you eat an elephant? Bite by bite!
A consistent digital presence is an important strategy
Although customers are quite forgiving of those fresh to the digital space, there are some preconceived notions of trust that are crucial to your success. One key strategy here is brand presence and consistency.
Approximately 90 per cent of customers expect brands to be consistent across all platforms and channels of interacting with the brand (Fit Small Business).
For brands like Apple or Nike, brand presence is the be-all and end-all of their success. They have built brands that are instantly recognisable, and at times, unforgettable.
And don’t get us wrong, millions, if not billions of dollars have been funnelled into this undeniable brand presence. But! There’s a lesson to be learned here.
Consumers value brands that show up consistently online. Brands that look a certain way and engage in a certain way: it’s what makes you uniquely you.
It doesn’t take a great deal to stick to this strategy,
- Do you have a logo and branding colours?
- Have you defined your brand language? How do you write and speak?
- Is your website, social and email footer consistent?
Your brand doesn’t need to be polished and perfect, it just needs to be consistent!
3 An Authentic Social Presence
Social media may seem like a piranha pool to newcomers, but in truth, it is unrivalled in its ability to help you connect to customers. So having a social media strategy is essential.
Surface trends would have you believe that to smash social media you need to do EVERYTHING. Instagram Reels, TikTok, YouTube, you name it!
But, if we really boil it down, customers really want authenticity.
In fact, according to Sprout Social’s #BrandsGetReal survey, 65 per cent of consumers feel more connected to brands that have a robust presence on social media. That means brands that pay attention to the consistency and quality of their content.
More specifically, consumers want content that humanises an otherwise faceless brand – they want to an authentic social presence.
According to Sprout Social, customers feel more connected to businesses that share content about,
- Social good initiatives (46%)
- Customers or fans (46%)
- Business performance (45%)
- Important issues facing society (40%)
- Employee features (39%)
So, is social feeling forced for you? Might be time to amp up the authenticity!
4. Time-Saving Automation
With every man and his dog personally on social media, marketing on the platform doesn’t feel all too foreign. In comparison, email marketing can feel like a leap. Email automation? Not a chance!
Today’s consumer expects some degree of engagement on email, and for busy business owners, automation is the obvious answer.
This trend is about getting the foundations of a solid email automation strategy set out. Start with,
- A welcome email
- An order confirmation email
- An abandoned cart email
Take some time to plan, build and schedule these emails and you will be well on your way to online success!
In this crazy online world, you don’t need to do it all. You just need to do a few key things right.
While navigating this change, take some time to pause, consider your customer and business goals, and develop a holistic strategy to keep you open and operating online.
MI Academy’s next 21 Day Challenge: Recharge Your Marketing begins October 7th, 2021.
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