In today’s connected world, having a digital strategy is necessary for businesses of all sizes. It can be overwhelming, though, to know where to start.

There are many tactics small businesses can employ in executing an effective digital strategy but using these five steps will help create a strong digital foundation:

  1. Maintain an email marketing list.
  2. Leverage social media.
  3. Optimize your website.
  4. Make it easy for customers to pay.
  5. Build and respond to online reviews.

These are low cost/high reward tactics and can result in big payoffs for small businesses.

1. Maintain an email marketing list

Maintaining an up-to-date email marketing list should be the first item on your digital strategy to-do list. Your list will consist mainly of customers who have used your product or service, and thus are familiar with your brand and may purchase again in the future—if you stay top-of-mind.

Many businesses find that using an email service to help execute campaigns, manage subscriptions, and provide analytics is well worth the cost.

2) Leverage social media

Having an active presence on social media is a must for today’s businesses. Post regularly to your social channels with company news, announcements, new products, and discounts. Be sure to interact with customers and respond to comments to create loyalty and stimulate sales. Don’t forget to include photos and videos to increase engagement among users.

If you’re ready to take your social media marketing to the next level, consider using paid advertising campaigns within social platforms. These campaigns can be very targeted and affordable, even for the smallest business.

3) Optimize your website

When was the last time you updated your website? Is your content fresh and relevant or stale and outdated?

One important way to drive more traffic to your site is to update the content with words and phrases that help with search engine optimization (SEO). This is especially important if you don’t have budget for paid advertising campaigns. There are many free SEO tools available online that will analyze your site and provide recommendations for optimization.

One way to improve SEO is with a blog. Blogs allow you to strategically incorporate words and phrases into content that will improve your search rankings, educate readers, and give you something to post about on social media.

As you’re updating your website, make sure it is optimized for mobile, as more and more consumers research products and shop from their phones.

4) Make it easy for customers to pay

Whether customers are shopping from their phones, computers or some other device, they expect a smooth checkout process without any unnecessary steps or distractions. Your shopping cart checkout should offer multiple payment methods, such as credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, ACH or eCheck payments, and buy now, pay later options to encourage completion of the purchase.

Another vital part of the checkout process is having a robust payment gateway. Payment gateways, like Authorize.net, handle the complex mechanics of processing transactions and moving money safely from customers’ bank accounts into yours. It’s one step you need to get right to turn the transaction into a positive experience for both your business and the customer.

5) Build and respond to online reviews

Consumers generally trust online reviews. For some, its, the first thing they check when considering a new business. They want to know how other customers feel about your products, services, hours, locations, and other features of your business. 86 percent of customers say they are influenced by online reviews*.

Not all reviews will be glowing, but be sure not to respond nastily to negative reviews. Remember, you’re showing the customer you provide great, responsive service, and you’re also demonstrating that to everyone else who researches your company online. 

 

* Insights listed above are from Visa’s Digital Transformation Research, 2018 Maru/Matchbox survey.