In his 2017 autumn Budget the Chancellor announced a £500 million investment in technological initiatives, stating that technology is the key to growth in the UK.
Mobile technology is driving much of this growth. According to the Ofcom Communications Market Report 2017 66% of people in the UK use their mobiles to access the internet. It’s no coincidence then that the amount spent on mobile advertising has also increased.
Mobile advertising expenditure grew by 44% to £3.9 billion in 2016, amounting to 38% of all internet advertising
The figure for mobile display ads was even higher, representing over half of all internet display advertising (55%).
So as a small business owner, how can you take advantage of mobile technology?
Superfast Business Wales has compiled ten ways mobile technology can make running your business easier and give it a competitive edge.
As a small business, the ability to adapt and respond quickly is in your DNA; this gives you an advantage over larger competitors. These days you don’t have to be tied down to a desk in the office to work effectively. Make use of tools like Skype for Business, and instant messaging to stay connected to your customers and your employees and do business when you’re on the go.
Improved customer service
Customers nowadays expect businesses to be available 24/7, so if you’re sticking rigidly to the 9 to 5 – you could be left behind. Social media is one of the easiest and most popular ways customers choose to connect with businesses, with 90% of all age groups using social and communication apps (Ofcom). Find out which social media platforms are preferred by your target audience and make sure your business has a presence on these.
Make your website accessible
It doesn’t matter how good you think your website looks, if your customers can’t access it on their mobile or tablet, they won’t bother to return. With 66% of people accessing the internet via a smartphone, you need to ensure that your website is not only fully optimised for mobile, but has a responsive design which resizes to fit any screen.
Don’t underestimate the importance of local
Google reported in 2016 that local searches had grown 50% faster than other searches, with nearly one-third of all mobile searches related to location. Despite this, many businesses are not listed on Google Maps. The Google My Business app is a free and easy way to give your business a public identity and a presence on Google, making it easy for customers to find information about your business online, and for you to keep track of your reviews.
A mobile POS (point of sale) will allow your customers the option of paying by card anywhere, meaning faster payments for you and an improved service for your customers. Mobile payments systems such as iZettle and SumUp offer an inexpensive option for small businesses, as they have a low initial set-up cost and no monthly fees. Before you sign up remember to check that your device is compatible.
There are some great tools out there to aid collaboration between team members. Slack is one of the fastest growing with 6 million daily users. As well as instant messaging, it lets you share files, search, send notifications, and enables integration with other platforms such as Twitter, Google Drive, MailChimp and more. It offers a basic version which has free unlimited use.
Get in the Cloud
88% of UK businesses are now using the Cloud according to a 2017 Cloud Industry Forum report. What is the Cloud? If you do mobile banking, use Gmail, or check your Facebook status, you’re in the Cloud. For a small business looking for a cost-friendly IT solution, cloud computing has so many benefits. One of the most popular office tools is Microsoft Office 365. Access files and documents from anywhere, work on shared files remotely, sync emails, contacts and calendars, keep control of your data, and there’s no downtime - all you need is the internet. Office 365 offers three pricing options on a pay-as-you-go basis (starting at £3.80 per month) which includes all the main Microsoft office applications such as Outlook, Word, Excel, etc., as well as Skype for Business, SharePoint and OneDrive.
Accounting and bookkeeping software such as Kashflow, and its mobile app Kashflow Go, can help take the stress out of doing your accounts; saving you considerable time and helping you to easily control your business finances whether in the office or on the move. Designed specifically for UK small businesses, Kashflow links to your bank accounts and lets you manage invoicing, quotes, cash flow, payroll, and VAT returns.
With 90% of text messages being read within three minutes, and 32% of consumers responding to promotional texts, SMS messaging represents one of the cheapest and most effective ways to reach out to customers. It’s also one of the fastest growing marketing channels in the UK with just shy of 50 million opt-ins forecasted by 2020 (according to a 2017 report commissioned by Text Local). If you do decide to take advantage of SMS marketing, make sure you stay within legal guidelines. Read our GDPR article for more information.
As a small business owner it can be a challenge to keep on top of the day-to-day running of the business when you’re being pulled in so many different directions. The good news is that there are online tools such as Evernote which will help you to file, save, and organise all of your information and keep it accessible. File and save anything from handwritten scribbled notes, images and emails, to texts and web articles, and easily search for them when you need them. Evernote offers paid-for options and has a free basic version.
For more information about specific software that is available, download the Superfast Business Wales Software Directory.
Register onto the Superfast Business Wales digital support service to access free 1-1 digital business advice, local workshops, website review, and online tools and guides.