Digital upskilling for smaller businesses – where to focus your time and money
It doesn’t really matter what sector your core business is in, it’s highly likely that your ultimate success will rely heavily on your customers finding you in the first place and the experience they have when they do.
And the facilitator for both is technology. It’s the expertly-executed digital marketing strategy, the perfectly-timed emails, the smooth booking or buying journey, the automation that’s enabled you to do something better and faster than the next company.
But when your core business isn’t digital marketing and CRM systems, and you don’t have an in-house team dedicated to it, it’s easy to get left behind.
To compound the problem, there’s constantly a new skill to learn, new technology to master and new platforms to navigate. Not to mention the added burden of ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’.
So how do you decide where to focus your time and money when it comes to digital skills for your business?
Meeting customer expectations
Most businesses have probably by now accepted the need to embrace technology – the ones which do will almost certainly reap the rewards.
It’s not only a case of saving time and becoming more modern and efficient internally, customers are also pushing for a more digital experience, driven by intuitive touch points and seamless interactions.
As just one example, think about when you’re looking for somewhere to eat out. Are you likely to grab a phone book and ring round all the restaurants in a given area to ask them what they do, when they’re open, what their hygiene rating is and what their reviews are like? Or search online? And in that online search, are you likely to choose the restaurant that has a user-friendly website, good reviews, nice pictures and the ability to reserve your table online, or the one that only has a name and phone number next to its Google listing?
But as we say, most businesses know this.
There was a recent piece of research from Econsultancy on ‘Winning the race for digital skills’ which had some interesting figures, including:
- Only 27% of businesses feel they currently have the digital skills needed to achieve their goals
- 83% of executives say their organisation’s growth depends on rapidly evolving employees’ skills/capabilities
- Over half say a shortage of digital talent has led to the loss of a competitive advantage
- A lack of skills in digital, marketing and e-commerce is a top three challenge to improving customer experience
- 27% of UK businesses have vacancies for workers with digital skills and 68% are having trouble finding them
Investing in digital
There are various ways you might approach the bridging of any digital skills gap, which could be recruiting (notwithstanding the potential challenges as highlighted by the research), outsourcing to a partner, such as an agency like EBY, or upskilling existing team members.
While the approach will depend on the pros and cons of each as relating to your own business situation, the first step must be to know exactly what you need to invest in.
If you have a CRM system (every business needs one!), you’ll at least have valuable data and insights you can draw upon that tells you who your customers are, what their problems are, where you can reach them, how they want to interact with you and so on.
If you don’t have a CRM, it’s well worth doing this piece of work – it’s something we do with businesses as part of their marketing or branding strategies.
Once you have genuine insights, you can figure out what you need to improve on and where skills need to be added. This could be nurture campaigns, paid advertising, social media campaigns, creating content, video skills, or even implementing the CRM system that is going to support you to do all of the above.
How we can help businesses close the digital gap
Whatever stage of the process you’re at, we’re here to help if needed. Whether you need help defining where to focus your efforts, a digital partner to do the operational work so you don’t have to worry about it at all, or someone to support your team in gaining the necessary skills and knowledge.
For example, we recently implemented a new CRM system at a solicitors’ firm and then based a member of our team in their office one day a week on an interim basis to get it implemented, and to make sure everyone understood how to use the system to its full potential. Learning by doing regularly is often key to the successful integration of new digital tools – there’s nothing worse than investing in a system that doesn’t get used because people aren’t comfortable with it.
Fancy a chat to find out more? Get in touch with the team today.