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Digitizing Your Business: A Guide on How to Stand Out

Online shopping photo by Wix

The modern, connected world as we know it has never faced a challenge on the scale of that COVID-19 has presented. Our lives are now so intertwined with the Internet and the digital economy has taken over as the new normal. What then, does this mean for businesses worldwide?

Across Southeast Asia, data from Criteo found that e-commerce sales between 1 January and 11 May 2020 have already far exceeded its 2019 figures for the same period. In the week ending 11 May, e-commerce sales grew by 96 percent year-on-year. Another study by Nielsen also expects consumer e-commerce penetration to continue growing in our region. Clearly, there’s a huge appetite for online shopping, but this might just be a classic case of too good to be true.

It’d seem to be the perfect time to venture or transition into an online model, but the landscape has become oversaturated as more businesses digitize. Additionally, starting a business will always be a daunting task with many risks, regardless of the situation.

For aspiring digital entrepreneurs, you have to play your cards right and leverage on the possibilities that can be achieved through digitizing a business. With that, we’ve put together a guide on how you can navigate starting or moving your business online while standing out from your competitors.

The House Is Only As Strong As Its Foundations

Website photo by Wix

The foundations of a successful business are built around developing and executing a sound plan. Start by asking yourself this: Why would anyone be interested in my product?

Many businesses have taken to online platforms, like Shopify, which are easy to navigate, to kick start their entrepreneurial dreams. However, it’s exactly because of this simplicity that you’ll likely find e-commerce sites by the thousands.

This is where defining precise target audiences helps you stand out and achieve conversions. It’s impractical to identify EVERYONE as a target simply because your product will be irrelevant to certain groups.

Think about the benefits of your products, and whom they’d best appeal to. Consider their age, gender, purchasing power, career path, and stage in life – these will guide your approach from price points to a willingness and ability to purchase.

As your business progresses, compile the statistics to refine and tweak your audiences regularly. Besides being free to use, Google Analytics allows users to generate custom reports and features easy integration with other tools.

Banking on Ranking

Image of "kids soccer lesson" keyword optimized in google search for Arrow Sports

These days, consumers can look up anything on Google and expect to receive results spanning tens of pages This is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes in - using the right keywords in your online content helps to direct that traffic to your platforms and keeping you ahead of your competitors.

Maximizing visibility means getting your brand to rank higher on search engines, while you can put spend behind your campaigns, organic traction should be your priority. Start by thinking about what solutions your products provide, and what people who’d be likely to purchase your product would most likely need. You can also leverage on free search engine keyword tools such as Ubersuggest to find out what people are searching for regarding similar products.

Additionally, given that humans are visual creatures, creating owned content such as videos to demonstrate how your product works or social posts with keywords within your captions will only increase your visitor count.

The Great Social Experiment

Social media apps on a mobile phone: Image by Wix

As part of our heavy reliance on the virtual tools these days, we’ve seen an increase in usage across various social media apps. A report by Hoot Suite and We Are Social recorded a 39% increase in social media use in Singapore in April 2020. With digital habits set to continue past Q2, social media marketing has just become more important to your business strategies.

Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter dominate the social media game but TikTok is fast emerging as a contender. It’s important to understand how penetration and usage of these apps across various age groups will differ. Anecdotally, I’ve found that people in my parents’ age group are more likely to use Facebook than millennials, while the reverse is true when comparing Instagram usage.

There’re tools available on each platform that allows advertisers to conduct marketing tailored to their desires. Working through Facebook Business Manager to manage ads, Facebook Ads offer users a great way to reach desired audiences through videos, posts, and stories. Publishing short videos on TikTok is also another way to reach your audience, all while working within their attention span. Each tool comes with its own complexities, so it’s important to have a full understanding before deciding on which to use.

Based on the consistent patterns of increased digital penetration cited throughout numerous reports, it’s clear that the future for businesses is online. Making intelligent use of the many tools and platforms available, aspiring entrepreneurs can distinguish themselves from competitors with the right steps. Current times may be uncertain, but one thing’s for sure, now is a very good time to digitize your business.

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