Top digital trends for SMEs to adopt in 2021

Digital trends have the potential to create significant disruption, drive consumer behaviour, and deliver important opportunities, especially for small and mid-sized businesses that stay on top of the digital landscape.

However, it evolves so fast that it can be hard to keep up with, so let me help you make sense of it all with an in-depth look at a few of the digital trends coming out which you can implement in your business to achieve results.

Small-business automation 

Take the manual component out of simple operations, and increase efficiency by automating repetitive, daily tasks. Areas that can be easily automated include online forms, payment gateways, and drip email campaigns. 

Digital automation not only enables a business to streamline its workflow but also help to identify areas that can also be automated to increase efficiency or even reduce cost. 

5G will become a mainstream service

As more businesses continue to work remotely in 2021, some even making a permanent switch, the use of video conferencing platforms like zoom and Google Hangouts, and participation in webinars is increasing. And while 4G speeds are enough to get regular work done, 5G speeds will take productivity to another level by providing faster downloads and uploads for videos and conferencing tools. 

This is a big advantage for businesses, especially small and mid-sized businesses, who cannot afford to be disconnected. The faster the internet speed for your business, the more you are able to get done.

Voice search for SEO 

According to research by VERSA, over two million Australian households own a smart speaker, and one of three searches happen on a smartphone. A key focus for your business should be getting search engine optimisation (SEO) for voice search right. Factor in the differences in the use of language and words when people type and verbally interact.

To take advantage of voice search, list your business on all the relevant platforms including Google My Business, Apple Maps, Bing and Yelp. This will help voice assistants such as Google search, Siri, Alexa, and Cortana find you during a search query. 

WhatsApp for business 

Instant messaging is one of the fastest ways of disseminating information – whether its videos or flyers and with over 2 billion active WhatsApp users, the potential to drive small business through the platform in 2021 is infinite. The platform’s latest feature “WhatsApp Business” is an all-in-one marketing solution designed exclusively for small businesses. The app allows you to connect with your customers, promote products and services, and answer customer inquiries while they shop. The app also features several automation functions to sort and quickly respond to messages. 

*Note: WhatsApp’s change of privacy policy on 8 February may impact its popularity, and cause users to migrate off the platform.

AI in every industry 

Machine learning and AI will be playing an increasing role in businesses this year. As a business owner, you need to understand what impact it will have in your industry. An easy way to do this is by going to YouTube and searching for use of artificial intelligence in your industry, eg: architecture, fashion, building construction or even law. You’ll be able to see how it’s used in business productivity, and how you can implement it in your area of business.

With so many businesses pivoting in 2020, we can expect to see more changes taking place online in 2021. Preparing your business for this by staying on top of digital trends is important to increase the visibility of your business, create a better customer experience and win leads.

Dinesh De Silva, Founder and CEO, NetStripes