As you work through your marketing strategy, decide on hiring and onboarding practices, and make accounting and finance plans, you have likely seen the need for technology tools. Technology is not a cure-all, but it can help you take care of mundane or complex tasks that would otherwise take you away from making a living.
As a small business owner, it is likely you are working with a small team and could use some extra resources to help feel the gap. Well, Capterra, a review site for business software buyers, recently conducted a study to see what small businesses are using to make their entrepreneurial efforts move smoothly. Here are five takeaways from the study that can help you get a leg up on the competition.
Data Security and Website Enhancement are all the Rage
When asked about which category of software tools they were currently using, 68 percent and 59 percent said data and information security and website implementation respectively. This reveals that businesses have paid attention to the latest increase in data breaches that have occurred at larger companies, and want to safeguard their customers from the same fate. Small business owners also want to ensure their websites are an attractive source of marketing as many have also invested in website enhancement platforms. So, if you do not already have a robust information security system or website implementation system, these should be next on the list.
Get a Step Up on Competitors by Investing in CRM
We hear a lot about the impact of CRM, but many small business owners are not getting the message as only 56 percent said they are currently using a CRM tool even though 73 percent cited it as a critical business tool. This means there are 44 percent of small businesses who do not have a means of tracking customer interactions and do not have the tools in place to increase engagement through marketing automation. It is a good chance your competitors may not have invested in this tool, so beat them to the punch and invest in a CRM system.
The Rise of Cryptocurrency
Change is never easy, but it looks as if small business owners understand the incoming prevalence of Blockchain currencies. During the Capterra survey, 54 percent of the respondents felt Blockchain was beneficial but not necessary to conduct business. This means two things, even though it may not be a massive demand for it at this time, business owners currently are seeing an uptick in customers using it. Second, as the ease and comfort of using cryptocurrency increases the future will bring more customers to small business owners who use it. It is not a bad idea to become familiar with cryptocurrency and experiment with being an early adopter.
The Future is Now
While cryptocurrency is a step toward the future, small business owners are also identifying other technologies that are beneficial to business development. Artificial and Machine Learning, Drones, and 3D printing were also tools owners cited as useful but not necessary. These tools are becoming more commonplace in various industries, and it might not be long before they are seen as a requirement for customer engagement and satisfaction.
Invest in a Chatbot
Respondents were asked which technology options could be necessary to conduct business in the future. The top two responses were chatbots and drones. We live in a world where newer generations are used to using nontraditional means to communicate. The days of phone calls and emails being the primary means of communicating with businesses are over, as social media and online chatbots become more common options for millennials and Gen Z. Chatbots improve customer engagement and increase lead generation. It would make sense for owners to see how they can incorporate this technology into their website, especially since it is still an emerging technology and many competitors probably do not have it.
The Wrap Up
Likely less than five years ago, social media and email marketing tools could have easily been on this list. Now, these platforms are commonplace for business owners. Today, we are contemplating how AI, automation, enhanced business analytics, and cloud computing software move small business owners toward their success goals. So, we have come a long way.
However, the lens with which we assess these tools should always be through the eyes of the customer. If the tools mentioned bring you closer to your target audience and increases their engagement, then it is likely you are moving on the right path. Discuss these options with your team, and take time to experiment. You never know what will turn your efforts into success.