It’s no secret that the current digital landscape continues to mould consumers’ preferences and demands. With cutting-edge brands such as Amazon, Uber, and Netflix offering convenient yet personalized customer experiences, your small business will not want to hide in their shadow. What is your small business doing to serve patrons efficiently, while making them feel like one-of-a-kind? With Millennials (the largest generation in the U.S.) entering their chief spending years, your brand will need to adjust to their smartphone standards. The following guidelines will ensure that your small business won’t be left in the keyboard dust.
No. 1: Implement a mobile payment service. According to a 2016 survey, 45 percent of Millennials have started to utilize mobile payment methods. By the end of this year, it’s estimated that 70 percent of mobile users will have used their smartphone for a transaction. To remain viable to consumers, your small business will need to cater to their mobile wallets. Mobile payments are not only much quicker and more convenient than chip cards, they are also the most secure payment type.
No. 2: Position your brand as a subject matter expert. These days, customers seek insider knowledge for purchases that are new to them. Offering guidance and information to your brand’s audience will establish confidence and credibility with your small business. Larger companies are starting to hire SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), but this is where your small business has an advantage. Having built a brand from scratch, your company already has extensive industry and product line knowledge, as well as the ability to directly share it with consumers. When creating informational content, think of tips or advice that are valuable to your audience, or questions that have not yet been addressed.
No. 3: Look for ways your content, products, and services can appeal to a niche. More and more consumers are turning away from the mass retailers of the past. With this in mind, your small business will need to play up its specialties and what makes it unique from others in your industry. This tip not only applies to products, but also services. For example, the Dollar Shave Club delivers its members a shaving kit complete with replacement cartridges every month once they sign up. Not only is this a niche for personal hygiene products, but it also creates loyal, returning customers from the get-go. Finding your small business’ niche will make it indispensable to your target market(s).
No. 4: Cultivate in-store customer experiences, also referred to as “retailtainment.” If your small business operates as a storefront, start to think of ways you can add entertaining elements to your location. Game-ifying the in-store experience will make your brand more memorable and also increase the amount of time customers spend at your business, thus increasing the probability of in-store purchases. These entertaining elements need not be flashy or expensive, either. Workshops, classes, and local events are all good opportunities to create a unique experience at your place of business while also building ties with your community. If your business solely operates online selling services, consider implementing a rewards program that allows loyal customers to earn points and statuses (tracked on an ultra-visual dashboard online), thus transforming their experience with your brand into a video game IRL.
No. 5: Personalize and segment your marketing message. Similar to how consumers have grown tired of mass-retailers, they are also no longer appealed to through mass email marketing. This approach comes off as impersonal, whereas more and more buyers are demanding customization. Your small business will also want to segment its marketing message via email, depending on the customer type (loyal, regular, or lapsed). The more personalized your emails, by individual or group, the better. The best way to engage consumers these days is to make them feel like you are speaking to them directly. Your small business can accomplish this just by sending a personalized birthday message to everyone in its contact list.
No. 6: Meet the demand for faster shipping rates. To keep up with accelerating technology, your small business’ marketing message will need to be directly targeted and well-timed, and its execution will need to compete with the speed of Wi-Fi. Eighty percent of online shoppers prefer same-day shipping, and a surprising 61 percent are starting to demand a one- to three-hour delivery time after placing an order. Even if your small business does not have the resources to cater to these consumer demands, now is the time to start finding ways to streamline service and operations for higher customer satisfaction.
No. 7: Provide educational content, especially videos. Long gone are the days where consumers want to be pitched a sale. Instead, your small business will need to create informational content related to its industry to resonate with your audience. This kind of content is great for your brand’s overall search engine optimization (SEO) and can be achieved through a consistently maintained blog or YouTube video blog. With live video capabilities now available on Instagram and Facebook, this medium will likely become the norm for sharing information on the Web.
No. 8: Optimize customer experience with omnichannel marketing. To stay ahead of the curve, your small business should experiment with offering customer service and taking customer orders over social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook Messenger. At its core, omnichannel marketing seeks to appeal to consumers from various online and mobile channels--not just a website. To appeal to more and more smartphone users, your small business will need to develop an online presence that’s approachable, transparent, and user-friendly.