The Netstripes Digital Bootcamp assists small business with digital readiness in a world that is constantly evolving. These days, it is not enough just to be on social media or to have an active website. Instead, businesses need to focus on their action and ability to have their unique voice heard above the din of the rest of the business world.

    1. Becoming digitally advanced

With 50% of the world’s population now digitally connected, it’s an important focus to have mutual connectivity, even to the point of using artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) - as the main drivers of the digital world. AI technology takes the guesswork out of business, giving people a greater understanding and knowledge of the product - it will change the way people work forever.

The advances in digital technology are astounding, and driven towards meeting buyer needs and desires, with the aim of making it as simple as possible to purchase and consume particular products. Sophisticated tech tools have the ability to recognise and retain customer likes and dislikes, with online marketing also targeting consumer behaviours. Frequenting of particular websites for social, retail or entertainment purposes allows savvy companies to direct their advertising in that direction. This is aided by the presence of home digital devices offering virtual assistance. It might seem slightly paranoid to think of society in this fashion, but the future is gearing towards this manner of doing business.

2. The power of presence

Digital Disruptors such as Skype, AirBnB and Netflix are leading the change using the Internet of Things as the level of interconnectivity continues to build, providing convenience and predictability of needs for consumers.

These days, there is no need to rebuild technology platforms or reinvent digital strategy. Smart disruptors are redefining the customer experience using the infrastructure of others.

There is ample economic opportunity involved in this method of operating. Possibilities include international reach, expansion of knowledge and helping people. Follow the process by valuing feedback, building a brand and making innovation a priority which will equate to rich returns. Think like a big business; imagine the possibilities and consider a Digital Accelerator Program.

3. Making technology work

Product innovation helps to make the visitor experience unique by offering them what they need. Using technology will assist with the advancement of marketing processes. In particular, use of lean methods reduces workflow waste and ensures better efficiency. Lean tools include mistake-proofing, value stream mapping and visual management. Technology platforms involve creating products and processes that support development. Adjacent growth avenue is another means of business growth, by developing multiple streams of support to achieve desired outcomes. Having a strong website is the foundation of a digital presence. Its design needs to embody brand essence, strategy and unique selling proposition.

4. Marketing tools

Successful marketing relies on having the right tools to deliver results. Many business owners fall into the trap of not having a digital strategy or the time and knowledge to implement. Having the right information, staff and resources to assist with what the business wants to deliver and actually knowing rather than assuming the customer’s needs and then having the right products in place are the initial steps. Further that with a strong digital presence which incorporates strategic branding and website, online advertising, social media marketing, email marketing and search engine marketing.

Having the right strategy means targeting products and services to customers using brand positioning, online branding and website development. Building a brand and having a strong web presence is essential, as is developing unique selling representation using navigation and search engine optimisation.

5. Strategy making

Making a strategy is about understanding customer needs. What are people searching for? What works and what doesn’t? Consider customer needs, products and services, clarify your business model and develop a unique selling proposition and positioning strategy.

A data-driven strategy uses digital feedback to enhance future online activity. Analytics of web visitation and online behaviour, social media tools such as email marketing and online ads are paramount to success. Track client satisfaction by measuring Net Promoter Score - a management tool that can be used to gauge the loyalty of a firm's customer relationships. It serves as an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research and claims to be correlated with revenue growth.

6. Understanding Customer Personas

When you know who your customers are, you can speak their language. The most fundamental aspect of designing a successful strategy is understanding customers and their needs. Know your customers in detail before you start marketing to them. Focus on resources. Concentration is the key to economic success.

Who is your ideal customer?

What do they value?

How does the solution fit into their lives?

Customer segmentation can be broken into:

  • age
  • gender
  • geography
  • occupation
  • income
  • buyer spend
  • volume

7. Deliver to demand

There are many more facets to individuals than is immediately evident.

Fictional representations of customers are based on real data: it’s about demographics, personal history, motivation, concerns and triggers.

Conduct market testing to discover who’s engaging and target them.Talk to customers through research, interviews and surveys, gather qualitative and quantitative data.

8. Being human-centric

A human-centred approach is about empathising to dig deeper and capture findings. Define goals and wishes and use consumer point of view to gather insights and learnings. Share solutions and iterate using feedback then reflect and generate new solutions. Find the right model, target those customers and focus on their needs through test and pivot methodology. It often helps to put yourself into the customer’s shoes. Use strategy, positioning, branding and trust to build a rapport, use influencers and email strategically, consider the buying cycle and upselling.

9. Measuring results

Measure results using the Minimum Success Criterion. This is the breakpoint at which you define your hypothesis. Define the problem, not the solution.

Consider the use of Pirate Metrics:

Acquisition - how do users find you?

Activation - did users have a great experience?

Retention - Do they keep coming back?

Revenue - How will you make money?

Referral - Will your clients tell others?

What customer experience boils down to is happiness. If the customer has convenience and availability paired with good service, those factors will often outweigh concerns over price or product features.

10. Social media strategy

The most common mistake made by companies is making their social media too generalised. It is impossible to understand actual needs and desires using generic ads. The fundamentals of social media include building an audience based on wants, developing intimacy, value adding, using a professional approach, maximising the quality of video and imagery along with optimising timing to increase engagement. Use testing to iterate connectivity and track results, followed by a call to action. Using the right terminology and compelling copy will really help in adding credibility.