The world is built for small businesses. With the rise of the gig economy and emerging technology making it possible to work from anywhere, there’s no better time than now for aspiring entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality.
Whether you’re starting a new business to ring in the decade or revisiting your current strategy, get ahead of the competition with these ten small business tools for 2020.
Social Media Scheduling Platform
In the new decade, social media will become more critical than ever. This medium will be the most effective way to connect on an authentic level, building brand awareness, and trust. However, while the tried and true platforms like Facebook and Instagram will still have merit, new social media platforms are opening up opportunities to reach new markets.
TikTok is perhaps one of the most up-and-coming new social media platforms. This video-sharing platform is the key to Gen Z’s hearts. As sponsorship has yet to be developed on TikTok, businesses are faced with an exciting opportunity to start building an audience on the ground level.
It should come as no surprise that curating, creating, and scheduling content for social media can be a full-time job. If your business isn’t already using a content scheduling platform like Buffer or Hootsuite, it’s time to invest in a business subscription and capitalize on this growing opportunity.
The global community is becoming more aware of their impacts on the environment. Many countries have implemented legislation to reduce single-use plastics and are investing in renewable energy sources. Greta Thunberg, a youth activist whose primary focus is climate change, was named TIME’s Person of the Year.
Additionally, more businesses are shifting away from traditional business practices toward a remote model. The remote workforce will continue to grow in 2020 and beyond, which is primarily why there’s an increase in cloud-based tools. Rather than in-house hiring and the traditional 9-5 office life, more businesses are shifting to a flexible model. Small businesses are looking into outsourcing freelancers and contractors rather than hiring in-house employees.
According to eFax, two things will never die: faxing and zombies. Learning how to send a fax online can eliminate paper waste and ensure that everyone who needs access to important documents can get them, whether they’re in the office or with an important client.
The primary benefit of using cloud-based tools is efficiency. No more back and forth with document versions attached to emails or needing to print important contracts to sign. Now a team can work together from around the world in one document or share information with the click of a button. Not only is this approach more efficient, but it’s also more affordable.
Cybersecurity and Access Management Tools
Over the past couple of years, consumers have become more attuned to the idea of privacy protection and cybersecurity. Regulatory changes, like GDPR, have affected businesses at all levels and reshaped how we collect and store personal information.
Small businesses need to ensure that they’re in compliance with regulatory changes. Furthermore, being transparent and proactive in telling customers how their data is protected is imperative.
To be able to offer customers, employees, and shareholders the best possible experience, businesses need to invest in tools to keep their information secure. This best practice is a multi-faceted approach. Businesses should invest in software, such as malware detection, firewall implementation, and a private Wi-Fi network to protect the flow of information. Additionally, programs that limit access within the software to ensure that only the people who need control over the functionality have it.
It’s important for business owners to know that the majority of data loss and breach incidents are caused by employee error rather than a targeted external attack. It’s also worth noting that over half of small businesses that experience a data breach or loss go under within six months. As the world continues to move toward complete internet connectivity, having the right cybersecurity tools in place is a must.
AI-Integrated eCRM Systems
We live in a mass-produced world. Advertising from businesses has long been via messaging and convey the sense of being spoken at rather than spoken to. For 2020, personalization and customization will become more important to consumers.
For small businesses looking to get ahead of this trend, having the right strategies and tools in place will make all the difference. Using AI integrated email marketing software to pull data insights and offering a personalized approach to sales goes a long way.
There are numerous benefits to using an AI-integrated eCRM system. From the customer standpoint, it captures data about what the customer is doing on your site and allows you to use lifecycle email marketing to your advantage. This form of personalization takes data from the customer’s activity and uses it to trigger automated messages that connect with them at their phase of the customer lifecycle.
For example, if you have a lead who browses through a few products and then leaves, your system will trigger an email that reminds them of the products they looked at a few days later. Similarly, if they put items in a cart then fail to complete the transaction, they’ll receive an abandoned cart email that reminds them of the products they wanted. This improves the customer experience and your conversions.
From a business standpoint, this in-depth data collection and automated targeting not only reduces the human capital needed for implementing a strong email marketing strategy but also boosts conversions. Klaviyo is an up-and-coming eCRM tool for this purpose.
SEO Keyword and Competition Tools
The importance of SEO cannot be understated in 2020. However, the approach to this holy grail of content marketing is evolving. In the new decade, SEO will be less about typed queries and more about voice and local search.
Small businesses should frame their content around answering frequently asked questions. In addition to using keywords, using longtail answers will be paramount. Furthermore, each company needs to ensure that its Google My Business is optimized to compete in the local market.
To be truly competitive with SEO, your business needs to invest in tools that provide insights into which keywords and related words are trending, as well as what your competition is doing. Success often comes down to a few paragraphs here and there, or excellent local tagging and image use. Having a subscription to a tool like Ahrefs can help you create a robust SEO strategy that helps you with traditional SEO, voice SEO, and local SEO.
The overarching small business trends in 2020 and beyond are moving to a more flexible business model and using technology to create a human-centric culture. Investing in the right tools and the right people will set your small business up for success in 2020.