Market Overview

5 Ways to Use the Internet to Advance Your Business

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Unless you’re planning to open a lemonade stand in your front yard, your business is going to need the internet. These days, everyone is already connected via various social media and news sites. But in order for your business to make it in this cut-throat world, you can’t just rely on the internet to carry you along; you need to be on the cutting edge. Here are some simple ways to utilize the internet to the best of your ability, in order to advance your business.

Improved Efficiency: Streamlining Your Day-to-Day

With so many handy applications and websites to help you run your business, you’d be a fool not take advantage of as many as you can. If your site requires customers to fill out lengthy forms or complete difficult tasks, Walkme.com can create steps to help them along and keep them from getting frustrated. Another stress saver like 15Five allows employees to spend 15 minutes filling out a status report which can be condensed into a 5 minute summary for executives and manages to review. By allowing employees to gauge their own success on the job with sites like work.com, managers can spend more time taking care of bigger issues instead of micromanaging your employees. Streamlining your operations to be as fast and simple as possible should be your top priority. Ask yourself, “How can I make this easier for, me, my employees, and our clients?” and then go from there.

Mobile Optimized Ecommerce: Increased Customer Conversion

When users visit a high quality mobile-optimized site, 74% are more likely to return to the site, while 67% are more likely to purchase products and enlist services. B2B users regularly use mobile searches to read reviews of products and services, compare prices, and find coupons for tech products while on the go. While 53% of B2B customers have downloaded Ecommerce apps, a mobile optimized site is still the preferred route. By 2016, business mobile use is expected to be 13 times greater than it currently is. A properly mobilized Ecommerce site will have easy user interface, offer a lot of information, and be safe and secure. It’s a good idea to invest in companies like Lifelock, because they are designed to make sure you, and your consumers are fully protected. If users don’t feel like their information is secure when using your site, they will abandon it for one of your competitors.

Telecommuting: Increased Work Flow Automation

The internet is also useful for communicating with clients and employees. Internet calling and messaging, such as Skype, lets businesses talk with customers and clients remotely. It is convenient for the client, and your business gets more leads and potential sales. Remote employees can benefit from socially connected sites like Do.com, where they can exchange files through Dropbox and Google Docs, and sync their business contacts. Collaborative apps like Creately and Smartsheet allow employees to work together on spreadsheets and diagrams, even if they’re not in the office together. By giving your employees access to each other, to the clients, and to managers, work never has to be put on hold.

Cloud Services: Continuous Innovation and Business Agility

Utilizing the Cloud as a part of your business model can offer many benefits. 54% of Cloud users cited business agility as the main reason for moving to the Cloud, while 48% cited the low maintenance costs as their deciding factor. As Cloud technology increases, security is becoming less of an issue. Businesses are relying more and more on the Cloud for data storage, and mobile access between employees, managers and clients. As the Cloud grows, applications are emerging to incorporate it into all aspects of a business. ZenDesk is a Cloud based customer service application that helps track support calls, supply support staff with templates of appropriate responses, and can generate helpful reports for managers. The Cloud is also scalable, so small businesses can create a growth plan without the need to invest any money up front. You only pay incrementally for the service and access you need, and since your Cloud apps are self-managed, you can eliminate or increase services as your business grows.

Social Media Marketing: Manage Your Brand and Relate to Customers

Don’t just make a Facebook or Twitter account for your business and assume it’s going to gain a million followers overnight. Just because you’re at the party, doesn’t mean anyone is going to talk to you. You need to be an active member of the conversation. Reach out to other businesses similar to yours, respond to your customers, deal with issues head on, and show everyone that you’re a proactive company. Hire a fresh young face, with a quick wit, and nimble fingers, and put them in charge of your social media pages. Make sure they understand your business model, and have your company’s best interest at heart. Engagement and interaction with your audience is the most crucial aspect of having a successful social media strategy.

You are your brand, so if you don’t represent yourself properly, your brand will fail. Big companies like Starbucks and IBM take it a step further than just updating a Facebook status. Starbucks created a site just to handle customer feedback. Customers are able to submit their suggestions and others vote on the ones they think are most important. Starbucks then made a blog dedicated to implementing those ideas, to show that they take feedback seriously. IBM created an entire network of blogs that allows employees to write about what they’re working on, and their experiences. Consumers can gain valuable insight about the company, by hearing directly from the experts working there.

Whether you’re starting your own small business, or one of many working for a huge corporation, these tips can help you become even more efficient and cutting-edge. Take advantage of every technological advance available to you, and soon you’ll be at the top of your game.

The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

Posted-In: Success Stories Be Your Own Boss

 

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