Learn how ramping up your digital presence can help you improve the customer experience.

In this ever-evolving digital world, it continues to be essential for small- and mid-sized businesses to ensure their marketing, sales, and payment methods match the preferences of consumers. By the end of 2023, an estimated one in every five retail sales will be online. However a Digital.com survey found that about a quarter of small retail businesses don’t even have a website.

If that disconnect sounds familiar, it may be time to examine opportunities to improve your company’s digital marketing and social media presence, digital payment acceptance (which can account for anything from credit and debit cards to mobile wallet), and loyalty program strategies.

But don’t wait too long to boost your digital marketing efforts — you don’t want your competitors to get ahead of you on the digital learning curve. In a recent survey, more than half of businesses said they will introduce social commerce as a new sales channel in 2023. Here are three business opportunities to help you hone your digital strategy and improve customer relationships.

1. Sharpened marketing efforts

To better promote your goods and services, consider investigating, investing, and optimizing digital marketing tools, including:

  • Targeted email marketing, which allows you to send different information to unique groups of customers and measure the effectiveness of your messaging via open and click rates.
  • Engaging social media campaigns, which emphasize consumer engagement via shares and measurement of results.
  • A robust strategy for online customer reviews, including regular requests for customer feedback via pop-up surveys on your website (or in marketing emails) and timely personal follow-ups to reviews — both good and bad.
  • A thorough website renovation, including updating policies and products, adding personality and branding, taking down dated or broken pages, and adding more photos of you and your friendly team. Use this worksheet to help you set up an e-commerce site.

Whether it makes the most sense to outsource these tasks to a vendor or work them into daily responsibilities, that will depend on a business’s resources and capabilities. Conduct a thorough review of your current approach to marketing to begin assessing how digital improvements may fit into your strategy.

2. Lower-cost payment processing

Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business, but manually handling, processing, and dealing with cash, checks, and money orders can be costly and time-consuming.  To smooth the transition to accepting payments via mobile phones and wearable devices, consider investing in new payment systems that can accept contactless payments. Also consider setting up recurring digital payments to your suppliers, vendors, utilities, and others, which is also a time-saver.

3. Mutually rewarding loyalty programs

Loyalty programs have been found to strengthen bonds with existing customers and positively impact visit and sales figures: A recent survey from Ebbo found that 81% of consumers agree that brands with a loyalty program makes it more likely they’ll purchase from that brand. Since the vast majority of consumers prefer rewards apps over punch cards, this is a great place to digitize.

While loyalty programs do tend to require some maintenance, their advantages can make the effort worthwhile. Consider the following tips and tricks to help boost such a program’s impact:

  • Keep it simple. Put few limitations on program-eligible purchases and make the path to rewards short and clearly defined — especially for the first reward.
  • Make it valuable. A free item or discount reward should be worth working toward. Not sure what would be most motivating? Ask a few prospects or customers.
  • Spread the word. Commit to promoting the benefits via digital marketing channels and encourage program members to do the same.

As the digital marketplace increasingly becomes the norm, it’s worth taking into account the potential benefits of online enhancements such as digital marketing, digital payments, and loyalty programs, and finding tangible steps for implementing these strategies.

Digital marketing takes an investment of time and resources. Find out the different ways you can finance your digital marketing efforts. Make an appointment to talk to a banker.

Sources: Digital.com survey, ShopifyPlus, Ebbo