How IT can help your marketing

IT

IT plays significant role in providing business owners with unprecedented capabilities to grow their business.

When business owners think of strategic business functions that contribute to growth and bottom line, few people consider information technology (IT). More glamorous strategies such as marketing, public relations and advertising come to mind.

But even within these more attractive strategies, IT has a strong presence to help businesses become bigger and better.

In fact, IT is assimilating so much into marketing strategies that sometimes it is hard to define what belongs to marketing and what belongs to IT. But despite this blurring, one thing is for sure: IT is providing business owners with unprecedented capabilities to help their businesses grow.

Here are three ways IT can enhance your marketing efforts.

  1. Create a better customer experience

The Saying ‘Customer is king’ holds true; however, the characterisation of the customer is changing. That’s why it is important to create a good customer experience.

IT makes a difference when it comes to creating an engaging, mobile-friendly website that can be accessed from a PC, mobile phone, smart television, watch or tablet. Your customer’s experience must be enjoyable from any of these devices. The way to do this is to make your website ‘responsive’, which ensures the display and navigation adjusts to the type of device used.

Creating a better experience also encourages visitors to stay on your website longer, which increases the chance of converting visitors to customers (and isn’t that exactly what a business wants?).

A free tool by Google helps you find out if your website is mobile-friendly.

Implementing e-commerce in your website is another great way to enhance a customer’s online experience. Usually when a consumer decides they want to make a purchase, you want them make it straight away. E-commerce facilitates this, ensuring you don’t lose any prospective sales to competitors. Shopify is just one of many e-commerce providers that are affordable for small businesses.

  1. Nurture customer relationships

Before the pervasive use of IT and the Internet, most businesses primarily communicated with customers face-to-face. This meant fostering relationships was controlled and feedback was visual and immediate. But as technology has become more ubiquitous customers can communicate with your business in an ever-growing number of ways. This includes your website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, phone and email. All these communication touch points need to be captured and managed to ensure you deliver superior customer service. If you are not using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, then you should look into one that is suitable for your business.

As technology has become more ubiquitous customers can communicate with your business in an ever-growing number of ways. All these communication touch points need to be captured and managed.

A plethora of available CRM providers offer everything from basic services to marketing strategies. The more holistic providers allow you to capture and store customer information, create lead magnets and landing pages and capture who is saying what about you on social media. Some even allow you to see someone’s entire history with your business, including social-media interactions, website page views, and emails they have received and opened.

This insight is vital for most organisations as it allows them to better serve their customers. One holistic CRM provider is HubSpot. If your budget doesn’t yet allow for a marketing tool like HubSpot, Hootsuite is a great free tool to manage your social-media accounts from one place. Making some effort to find the right tool for your budget and needs is well worth the investment.

  1. Increase business intelligence

One of the biggest benefits of implementing IT strategies in your marketing efforts is the business intelligence you will gain. For example, consider Google Analytics – a free web tool that tracks and analyses your website traffic.

It provides you with valuable information about your website visitors, such as what webpages people are most interested in, what people aren’t interested in, whether people view your website on a mobile device or PC, and what country and state your visitors are from. This information can then be fed back into your product development and advertising strategies to better target your visitors and customers.

Social media also gives you great insight into your customer base, particularly around the demographics of your customers and how they feel about your business. Email marketing is another tool that will provide you with great insights.

These insights are vital for small businesses to better understand the customer/prospect needs, which could contribute to business growth.

IT plays a significant role in any business. When considered strategically, IT can provide the right tools so your business can better understand your customers, create a better customer experience, and nurture relationships so customers continue to do business with you for a long time.

Zarthost Boman, Director of Operations, F1 Solutions

This article first appeared in issue 10 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine