There is no denying the fact that 2020 has not been a good year for small businesses – not just in the US, but in many countries around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which broke out at the start of this year, has delivered a body blow to small businesses, as a result of which we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in the unemployment rate.
The good news is that the government-imposed lockdowns in most parts of the country have been lifted and most small businesses have already partially or fully reopened. A poll conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows that over 50% of small businesses in the country are happy with their cash flow and expect their revenues to increase in 2021.
Now, the question is – what can you do as a small business owner to increase your sales and revenue in 2021? Let us take a look.
Expand Your Online Presence
Research shows that a vast majority of consumers tend to go through user reviews before making a purchase. In fact, a study conducted by Fan & Fuel in 2016 revealed that nearly 92% of consumers hesitate to buy a product if there are no user reviews available online.
This is because consumers feel comfortable about buying a product or using a service only when they know that other people have also bought and used the same product without any complaints. This is why it is critical for you to expand your online presence considerably.
Ideally, you should have a strong presence on notable social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Also, encourage your consumers to rate and review your products. If someone is critical of your products, get in touch with them immediately and rectify the problem. These measures – simple as they might seem – can not only help you build a significant online presence, but also generate a lot of goodwill among your online consumer base.
Be Responsive to Your Customers’ Needs
One of the worst mistakes that you can make as a small business owner is to offer products and services that are not aligned with the interests and needs of your customer base.
Studies show that understanding and responding to the demands of customers is one of the keys to increasing sales and boosting revenue. So, make sure you have a robust system in place for receiving feedback from customers.
More importantly, respond positively to their feedback, understand what they are looking for, and update your products and services as and when needed to address their changing needs.
Invest in E-Commerce
If there is one thing we learned from the coronavirus pandemic, it is that small business owners – particularly retailers – should invest in e-commerce. Even before the pandemic, the number of people who bought from brick-and-mortar stores was declining steadily, while the number of online shoppers kept increasing by leaps and bounds.
Now that we are in the midst of a pandemic, people are even more hesitant to go out and prefer to buy everything they need on the internet. So, set up an online store (if you already have one, make it better) so that your customers can buy what they need using their smartphone, tablet, or computer without leaving the comfort of their home.
Leverage your social media presence to direct more people to your online store and make sure you have a reliable delivery mechanism in place to ship your products to your customers quickly.
Encourage Remote Work
The novel coronavirus pandemic has made everyone realize the advantages of remote working. Studies show that employees are more productive and happier when they are allowed to work from home.
Moreover, remote work can help you reduce your business expenses considerably. Commercial real estate in major cities can be prohibitively expensive. By encouraging your employees to work from home on a full-time basis, you might be able to move to a smaller place and save a lot of money.
Leverage the Power of Big Data
We live in the digital age where business owners have access to more data than they ever had before. Every action that a person takes on the internet – clicking on a link, visiting a website, sending an email, uploading a photo, or writing a review – creates a digital footprint that can be stored and retrieved whenever needed.
By analyzing big data, you can not only understand but also predict the behavior of potential customers and cater to their needs accordingly. You can use data analytical tools to figure out what people are talking about online, what they are searching for, what they like, and what they do not like.
You can use CRM tools and other analytical tools to track, analyze, and identify the most relevant user data you need and use it to fine-tune your marketing campaigns.
Social Media Marketing
If you are a small business owner who is looking to expand your consumer base, increase your sales, and boost your revenue, social media marketing is undoubtedly the strategy you should focus on.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which used to be dominated by young users up until a decade ago, are now popular with people from all age groups. So, your presence on these platforms is absolutely vital.
Instead of focusing on traditional online marketing strategies like articles and blog posts, focus more on multimedia content – particularly short videos that can be uploaded on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook stories.
Social media influencers can also play an important role in marketing your products and services to your target customer base. The key is to use micro-influencers, who have a small but dedicated following on social media, rather than influencers with a large following. Micro-influencers do not charge a fortune and the average user is more likely to relate to them and trust them compared to social media superstars who charge large fees.
The bottom line is that a carefully devised social media marketing strategy can help you expand your online presence and influence, increase sales, and boost revenue – irrespective of the niche you operate in.