With the year drawing to a close, business owners – as is their wont – look towards the New Year and the opportunities it may bring. While it’s always tempting to cast a wistful eye back over the previous twelve months, what really matters is the events looming on the horizon: the coming trials, challenges and openings.
In this article, I’m going to share 4 practical tips to get your small or medium business ready for next year. After all, you’ll be better placed to take advantage of the next golden opportunity if you’ve already invested in modernizing and improving your processes ahead of time. It’s time to up your game.
- AI-powered chatbots help improve customer service, qualify sales leads, and define the customer journey.
- Businesses will need to optimize their sites for voice search.
- Make video a core part of your marketing strategy, if you haven’t yet.
- Set quantifiable and measurable monthly and quarterly business goals.
Invest in Chatbots & Voice Tech
If you’ve never given much thought to chatbots and voice technology, perhaps it’s time you mulled them over. Because these developing techs could help you improve your customer service and yield impressive ROI next year.
Businesses have been using AI to engage with customers and simplify or otherwise improve processes (and in doing so, drive sales) for a number of years now, and AI-powered chatbots which utilize pre-programmed scripts are definitely among the most effective tools. These nifty bots help to answer your web visitors’ queries, qualify sales leads and improve the basket journey for customers craving convenience and ease of use.
Voice tech, of course, is even more sophisticated. Did you know, for instance, that you can tailor your special ‘virtual agent’ to speak in such a way as to align with your company’s brand? And if you suspect this is just fancy technology for fancy technology’s sake, you would be quite mistaken. AI-powered customer service meets burgeoning demand: a survey by Bright Local suggests that 58% of consumers have utilized voice search to locate local businesses in the past year.
All indications are that voice search, far from being a flash in the pan, is here to stay. And according to Emarketer, 66.6 million Americans will use speech or voice recognition tech next year. So optimizing your site content for voice search is something you need to think about, and the sooner the better.
Both chatbots and voice AI have developed expeditiously in recent years, helping to resolve countless consumer queries without burdening or bogging down we fallible humans. Adding one or both to your arsenal will surely help to cut down on delays and furnish customers with the peace of mind and convenience they crave.
Prioritize Video Content
Video marketing is becoming more important, it seems, every day. Consider these stats:
- Twitter claims that 82% of its users view video content on the app.
- A HubSpot survey found that nearly half (45%) of individuals watch over an hour of video content on Facebook or YouTube each week.
You may be thinking, “Well, that’s social media – and social media isn’t my game.” But the trend is not exclusive to the realm of social channels. According to Cisco, by next year online videos will constitute over 80% of all consumer internet traffic. Just cogitate upon that for a second: more than four-fifths of internet traffic will be to videos.
Our expectations of what makes a satisfying browsing experience are changing. As a savvy business owner you would do well to respond to the flux of consumer expectations and deliver slick, professional video content that reinforces your brand and strikes a chord with your audience.
Not only will this keep you relevant in a fast-changing landscape, but it will get your message across more effectively. A Forbes article states that viewers retain 95% of a message when they observe it in a video – compared to just 10% when reading it in a text.
So yes, there might just be some utility in embedding a nicely-shot video to your product or category page, building up your YouTube channel and sharing relevant videos on social media. This includes live videos – which are growing in popularity – for breaking news or behind-the-scenes content.
You could spend all day reading surprising video marketing statistics, but you’d be better off addressing your aversion to stepping in front of the camera and making video a pillar of your strategy next year. Who knows, you might just be a natural!
Set Clearly Defined Goals
This one sounds pretty simple, but you’d be surprised at the number of businesses – even successful ones – who don’t clearly outline their objectives. If you want to make next year your most successful year, learn to set meaningful and, most importantly, quantifiable business goals. And not just for the year, but on a monthly and quarterly basis.
Plodding forward without a clear strategy in mind could actually work, but without numerical goals and time frames in mind, how will you know whether you maximized your success? How do you measure that success if you do not have the staging posts by which to gauge your performance or progression?
If you make one pledge for next year, it should be to apply purpose to your plans: to note milestones in advance, to reflect on the success or failure of various processes, and to properly identify whether you’re on the right track. That way, you’ll know when to switch things up.
Over to You
With a bit of luck, these tips will prove useful to you. Grasp the needle with new tech, slicker content, improved communication and structured goal setting. You’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish.