By William Buist, CEO, Abelard, and Founder, xTEN Club
It’s the start of a new year – and traditionally it’s the time to make some resolutions for the months ahead. This year make sure you also commit to some New Year’s resolutions for your businesses. Here are five resolutions for 2015 that will help every small business streamline operations, improve customer/client service and save money:
1. Implement a strategic content marketing plan
2014 was the year major brands got serious about content marketing. Now it’s time for small business to do the same. Start with a content calendar that maps out the over-arching strategy. It keeps you consistently publishing original content, establishes clear deadlines for drafts and posts, organises your ideas for future content into a coherent plan, and keeps track of holidays/major events (e.g. industry awards), around which you may want to offer customised content.
2. Revamp your social media strategy
While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn continue to dominate it’s also worth considering Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr and SlideShare. An effective strategy starts with a clear understanding of which networks are most relevant for your customers. Social media marketing requires a clear plan-of-action.
Look beyond the number of Twitter followers and Facebook likes and focus on engagement and amplification metrics. What makes content “go viral” or generate leads? Social media marketing drives leads by building awareness, attracting interest, and cultivating relationships. Potential customers are more likely to favourite and re-tweet your posts when you share information that’s relevant and meaningful to their daily life.
3. Improve website call-to-action
SEO has been one of the hottest, must-do marketing tactics recently. However, great SEO won’t do your business any good if visitors don’t actually convert into customers. When it comes to improving your call-to-action (CTA), most businesses don’t need a dramatic overhaul; it could be as simple as tweaking the size, colour and location of your CTA button or slightly altering your messaging.
Look at your click-through rates (CTR), bounce rates and page views to determine where in the sales process potential customers are leaving your website. Can customers find the information they need? Do they start to buy but not complete? Do you have subscribers but no conversations or engagement? Improving your calls to action is the first step to addressing these problems and converting more prospects into customers.
4. Use mobile payment for more secure (and affordable) transactions
With Apple finally introducing its long-awaited Apple Pay to the UK in 2015 it’s likely we’ll see a lot of changes, 2015 may even be the year of the digital wallet.
Apple Pay, and other payment solutions that will follow, will disrupt the payment markets. Why? Because encrypted digital wallets are the solution. These authorise payments for a specific amount and are available anywhere, thanks to smartphones. Plus, mobile payments allow in-the-field employees to complete sales on the spot.
2015 means changing and expanding your customers’ payment options so that you can work their way.
5. Make your life easier with free apps and cloud collaboration tools
Starting and running a small business has never been cheap or easy, and these apps make the process a bit simpler and more affordable. Accounting (Xero, Freshbooks, Sage), CRM (Capsule, Nimble), Marketing automation (Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, etc), Documents, Presentations etc. (Office365, Google Apps), Mobile video chats (Hangouts, Facetime, Skype).
Planning what you use and why, who else needs access and when, are key strategic questions. 2015 is the year these tools really deliver directly to your bottom line.
The new year can be a time when people make (and then break) resolutions. Often by Easter we look back with a tinge of regret for not having achieved what we committed to in January. So, find a group or an ally to hold you accountable, and be strategic, not reactive. Then 2015 could be your best year ever. It’s up to you.