Digital Transformation Roadmap for Small Business
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has revealed some hard truths about our society, our economy, our communities and our businesses. While we could debate these truths and what they mean for the future, one thing cannot be denied.
The age of coronavirus has highlighted, beyond a doubt, the importance of digital transformation for every small business owner.
Pre-coronavirus, retail stores, food and beverage outlets and providers of professional services had the luxury of free movement and foot traffic to drive sales. While you may have dabbled in a website and social media, the real action was in person, where your sales would come via traditional face-to-face interaction.
With ongoing social distancing rules and restrictions on movement, that traditional sales avenue has been disrupted. While you may eventually return to in-person interactions, COVID-19 has accelerated the push for digital transformation, changing customer expectations and reshaping the small business landscape.
In this new world of disruption and change, it’s vital to find a way to adapt or your business will not survive. The fact is, if you weren’t working on digital transformation before the pandemic hit, you have no choice but to do so now.
What does digital transformation mean?
When you think of digital transformation, you might think of it in the literal sense, with a focus on technology. In reality, technology is just a tool used in digital transformation – it’s not the answer or the solution on its own. Digital transformation is about looking at every facet of your business to identify how you can adapt to improve efficiency and better the customer journey.
Focused on adapting your business for the future, digital transformation is about taking a hard look at your business plan, processes and strategy to identify how you can improve your operations and tailor the customer experience, using technology. At its core, digital transformation is about solving problems – for you and for your customers.
What does digital transformation look like?
Digital transformation isn’t a single process with a single outcome. It’s an ongoing process to help solve the unique issues you and your customers face. That’s why digital transformation will look different in every business and will even look different in yours over time.
For brick & mortar retailers, digital transformation may involve streamlining the online sales process to create more memorable experiences for your customers.
For food & beverage outlets, digital transformation might see you use consumer research to better understand customer behaviour to improve the dining experience.
For professional service providers, digital transformation may involve reviewing your business model, evaluating your existing services and productising your offerings.
As we’ve seen in this current pandemic, change is a constant. To survive and thrive as a small business owner, you need to become agile and adaptable which is why it’s time to embrace the process of digital transformation.
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How Do You Begin The Process Of Digital Transformation?
All digital transformation needs to start with a solid strategy. In this rapidly changing world, it’s important to understand the basics – who you serve, what you provide and what makes you different from your competitors – to steer your business in the right direction,
From there, you can examine the technology you can use to deliver your products and services to your customers. This stage is all about aligning your business and marketing strategy with the right platform and tools, to deliver the best possible experience for your customers.
Once you have your strategy and technology in place, it’s time to harness the true potential of digital transformation through optimisation. Gathering information, undertaking analytics and tweaking your systems and processes are the key to a successful transformation.
A Roadmap For Digital Transformation
Digital transformation gives you the chance to review your entire business model, whether you’re in retail, food & beverage or professional services. You can look at what’s working, what’s not and see how you can improve your operations to benefit your customers and your business. To fully embrace digital transformation, examine everything from the ground up, including:
- getting back to basics to understand your purpose, the problems you solve, the benefits of your product or service and how you can help customers
- mapping out the customer journey to identify opportunities to enhance interactions and create experiences
- evaluating your operations to find ways to create efficiencies to benefit you, your staff and your customers
- analysing your marketing approach, evaluating what works and investigating new ways to package your products and services to engage with customers
This back to basics approach will guide you on the path to digital transformation and feed into your overall business strategies, including your:
- Business plan (which should be regularly updated and reflect the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business)
- Brand statement (which should clearly and succinctly summarise what you do and why your target audience should choose your product or service)
- Marketing strategy (which should set out your marketing goals and map out the tools and techniques to guide your marketing efforts)
Ultimately, transformation is about reviewing your current processes and identifying how they can be improved. It’s about evaluating the journey your customers take when they buy from you, dine with you or engage your services to make it a more memorable experience. In the end, transformation can only occur when you know where you are heading and know how to bring your customers along with you.
With a strategy in place, technology can be used to execute your plan and guide you on the path to digital transformation. Once you know what your customers value (whether that’s timely delivery, convenience, expertise or personal service) you can then use technology as a tool to give them what they most value in every interaction.
Your choice of platform, tool or technology should always be chosen to align with your overall strategy. An example of this is deciding on your online platform as breaking things down to align with your business model and overall strategy actually makes the decision easy.
If you’re a retail business, an eCommerce platform designed for selling products (e.g. Shopify) will be your best bet. Likewise, a restaurant or professional services business (such as accountants, architects and lawyers) will benefit from the extra features that WordPress provides. You can integrate sales and marketing automation, blogs, membership platform, bookings and calendars – the list is endless if you’re on WordPress. That’s why it’s vital to understand your overall strategy before choosing any technology.
Here’s a quick checklist for any business looking to set up an online presence and harness technology in their digital transformation:
- Register your domain name & organise website hosting
- Create an account with your chosen website platform
- Plan out your website to identify purpose, functionality, target audience, keywords, pages
- Develop branding materials, including logo, fonts, colours
- Create quality content for each page (minimum of 300 words per page)
- Source photos and/or graphics using professional or stock photography
- Build your pages and menus
- Install plugins and products
- Complete onsite SEO (metadata, image alt tags)
- Develop policies for shipping, returns, privacy and terms of service
- Install Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel to understand customer behaviour and collect data for advertising campaigns
- Integrate your email marketing program with your website to build a subscriber list and automate email marketing (such as welcome emails and abandoned cart reminders)
- Submit your site to Google Search Console for indexing to search engines
- Test, test and test again before launch!
When chosen wisely, technology can make all the difference to your operations and to the experience of your customers. While technology on its own won’t drive your digital transformation, it can be a powerful tool to help your business move forward.
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The next step in digital transformation is optimising your strategy, tools and processes to get the most from your online operations. Digital transformation is not a set and forget exercise – it’s a process of continual adjustment as your business evolves to meet the changing needs of your customers.
Regularly reviewing and optimising your strategies and technology will help your business stay competitive and give you the opportunity to improve your processes. From a marketing perspective, optimisation is a journey, rather than a single process, designed to help you get the most from your marketing investment.
This means, some things may not work or won’t deliver the benefits you seek – it really is a case of trial and error. Optimisation is all about researching, analysing and investigating information and data, to identify the best way to find your ideal customer, understand their actions and set up your operations and offerings to increase leads and sales.
Optimisation includes a range of actions including:
- Testing your site speed and reducing image size to speed up page loading
- Analysing search engine optimisation (SEO) to improve organic marketing
- Investigating where customers are coming from and how they are browsing your site with Google Analytics
- Using behaviour analytics tools, such as HotJar or Lucky Orange, to map user interactions and identify potential improvements
- Introducing experiences into your sales process to increase engagement
- Checking out the competition to enhance your processes
- Talking to your customers to understand their changing needs
- Productising services to deliver more value for users
- Better understanding the user journey using tools like Google Optimize
- Reviewing all links (internal and external) to make sure none are broken
- Updating content to include keywords and clear calls to action for SEO
- Offering a lead magnet (free resource) to build your email subscriber list
- Ensuring page metadata is complete (page title, meta description, image alt tags)
- Installing Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress websites to optimise each page
- Writing keyword-optimised guest posts on high authority sites with a backlink
- Automating site growth and your sales process with Sumo and Hubspot
- Analysing eCommerce functions and the shopping experience in Metorik
Taking the time to optimise your website, marketing and business processes will yield big results and give you maximum ROI. Optimisation will also ensure a successful digital transformation, putting your business on the path for future success.
Get Help With Your Digital Transformation
With over 25 years’ experience working across all industries, Marketing Sense supports small business owners through digital transformation by recommending the right approach, based on your goals. Aligning strategy, technology and optimisation, we help businesses make real and lasting change, not only increasing sales but also enriching customer engagement.
Marketing Sense is here to guide you toward marketing success. Give us a call to discuss your needs and make sure you download your FREE copy of our Brand Statement Worksheet to get crystal clear on your business, your offering, your audience and your competition.
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