03 08 2013

03 08 2013

Small Businesses Focused on Boosting Customer Engagement Online

The relationship between a small business and its customer has always been integral to the success of an enterprise. Historically, small businesses have maintained a more vested interest in the well-being and satisfaction of customers than large, multinational corporations. Small businesses usually operate on a more personal level when it comes to customer relations. That sentiment hasn’t changed a bit amidst the rising proliferation and heightened use of technology. While face-to-face engagement may be a thing of the past, face time is not. As such, the more small businesses implement technological solutions, the more they focus on actively engaging customers, a new survey revealed.

Technology helps small firms keep customers

A survey by Constant Contact, a marketing service provider, found a majority of small businesses are increasingly gearing their technology tools and capabilities toward managing customer relations.

Some of the most common technological innovations small businesses cited as being crucial to their engagement goals include: online surveys (60 percent), online loyalty and frequent shopper tracking systems (56 percent), customer relationship management programs (46 percent), email marketing (45 percent) and contact management systems (38 percent).

“Email consistently ranks high as an effective marketing tool for small businesses,” said Joel Hughes, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development for Constant Contact. “It’s interesting to see how small businesses are now successfully integrating it with emerging social platforms to strengthen customer engagement.”

However, while small business use of technology has certainly ramped up recently, entrepreneurs can’t lose sight of the fact that such equipment becomes outdated, and quick. To avoid being stuck with obsolete tools, firms should investigate technology procurement through a small business equipment lease.

Small businesses head online for new customers

Advances in technology have not only enabled small-business owners to gain a better perspective on how best to serve customers, but has helped them find new ones.

When asked which tools are most effective in helping small businesses recruit new customers, 53 percent cited daily deals. 51 percent said internet ads helped, 38 percent pointed to web-listing sites, 37 percent said social media ads and 29 percent favored online coupons.

The survey also asked small-business respondents which tools most efficiently help them accomplish both attracting and engaging. In that case, 71 percent said websites; 69 percent, blogs; 60 percent, social media; 59 percent, video sites like YouTube; 52 percent, event management tools; and 50 percent said email marketing.

“To succeed, small-business owners have the difficult task of keeping pace with a rapidly evolving technology landscape,” Hughes said. “When you consider that they now see digital loyalty, which was not even on the horizon a few years ago, as the second most effective way to engage customers, I think they’re up to the challenge.”

Small business owners are certainly up to the challenge, but their efforts can be hindered by outdated technology equipment that lets competitors get ahead of them. In order to boost their tech capacity, entrepreneurs can look to National Funding for equipment leasing options that can help owners stay current, while also enabling them to upgrade equipment as soon as the lease term ends; all while taking advantage of $500,000 in tax deductions through Section 179 of the tax code.

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