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Five of the latest technology must-haves for a successful business

Sarah Akwisombe, Editor of Britain’s most trusted small business resource, Smarta.com, advocates that the world of tech doesn’t need to be as, well, techy, as it sounds!

In fact, using the latest technology both in online and software form can really help to propel your business to the next level and streamline processes. Here’s our guide to the technology that we see and hear small business owners using to transform their businesses.

1. Mobile and tablet optimisation

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s the biggest thing you can do for your business right now. Around 72% of tablet owners purchase directly from their tablets around once a week! That’s a huge market you could be missing out on. It doesn’t need to have all of the bells and whistles that your main site does, but it should allow simple browsing with a text size that’s large enough to read on a smartphone or tablet, and the ability to purchase and check out online if your business is selling a product of service.

“Many experts predict mobile usage to actually overtake desktop usage this year. If your website is not optimised for mobile, it’s not going to be long before more than half of your visitors will struggle to use it. Worse still, Google will be favouring your competitors who do have mobile optimised sites.” – Steven Oddy, Director of So Technology.

2. Chip & Pin on the go

There’s nothing more frustrating than entering a shop or restaurant in 2014 than having someone tell you they ‘only take cash’ and having to wander around aimlessly while you find a cashpoint. In fact, most of the time I’ll choose certain shops or restaurants over others purely because I know they will accept cards.

Chip & Pin machines are ridiculously easy to come by now, and aren’t that expensive to run. I really like the PayPal chip and pin machine which costs £99.95 to buy, then the app is free and can be operated from your phone or tablet.

“I want to give my customers as many options as possible, and I don’t want to lose business because I can’t take their preferred choice of payment. As a catering company without a permanent base, being able to take card payments wherever I am has been invaluable.” – Ruth Barry, Founder of Black Isle Bakery.

3. Strong social media strategy

It’s not good enough to just tweet when you feel like it anymore. A business needs a solid social media strategy that cuts right down to how often you post, which days of the week, and what times. No-one wants to follow a company that constantly tweets about its products or services. That’s like meeting someone at a party and having to listen to them tell you about their amazing new boyfriend or where they went shopping on the weekend. It’s boring.

Spend time engaging with your potential customers. Talk about things that are relevant to your brand, but not about your brand all the time. There are brilliant freelance digital and social media strategists out there who will help you come up with a solid strategy that you can use from here on out.

“Social media is a great tool for businesses, whether you’re an SME or a large blue chip. Done well, it allows you to interact with you customer base on a one-to-one level, helps grow word of mouth and create brand advocates which in turn builds trust and attracts new customers.”Milly Cundall, Digital Strategy Consultant.

4. Using insights to shape your business model

I meet business owners all the time that can’t understand why their product isn’t selling, or their advertising budget is being used up with no return. More often than not, it’s because they don’t know what their audience likes or how they behave. For instance, if 80% of your customers click on the ‘red’ option, then maybe you should think about making more red products. This is obviously just scratching the surface of how much you can do with customer insights, but there are amazing technologies out there that can really help you gain some data around your customers.

Google Analytics is the best place to start and it’s free. It’s hard to accept change sometimes, or that your customers may love you for something other than you had originally hoped, but if they’re buying you have something to work with.

 

“What do you know about the people you’re designing for? How do they engage with you, what journey do they take and does that experience reflect your values? Being able to answer those questions with compelling stories and insights can translate into opportunities that can inform design, innovation and strategy in a way that really has impact.” – Kate Burn, Service design lead at Participle.

5. Being Search Engine Optimised

SEO. Essentially, it’s how to get people searching on Google or other search engines to land on your page. This usually means doing everything you can to end up on the first page of a search engine’s listings. This doesn’t come easily; it takes a fair bit of research and hard work.

Search engines aren’t stupid, they can tell if you’re writing boring content with keywords littered throughout in an attempt to rank. They can also tell which links to your site are genuine and which have been bought. There are plenty of online sites and YouTube videos to learn more about SEO, or you can hire in a specialised SEO agency to take the hassle out of your everyday life.

“There are still massive opportunities out there for those that take the time to educate themselves on how the web actually works. What SEO means in real terms is getting more eyeballs on your products and services so you can get more leads and make more sales for less money.” – Mark Attwood, Founder of Attwood Digital.

Articles are written by independent journalists and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of O2.

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