13 Feb

How Your Business Can Benefit From Big Data

From humble beginning some years ago as a concept in the minds of scientists, big data has become a mainstream in the business world. As per the report by  Harvard Business Review, 99% of businesses surveyed reported that they intend to implement big data analytics and AI in the near future, in realty only around 30% have actually succeeded in doing that.

That mismatch shows that while many businesses have not acquired the technical capacity to implement big data analytics, most (73%) of the businesses that have are seeing significant ROI, with most of them being large companies.

Whether your business is big or small, big data has benefits for all them. In fact, SMEs would likely grow the most considering their starting point and how they’d be able to move ahead of competitors who delay in implementing big data solutions. If you’re considering taking the plunge into the big data pool, here are a few of the potential benefits of doing so.

It’s Cost Effective

A recent Tech Cocktail article looks at how Twiddy & Company Realtors cut their costs by 15%. The company compared maintenance charges for contractors against the average of its other vendors. Through this process, the company identified and eliminated invoice-processing errors and automated service schedules.

Greatly Increases Efficiency

Increase Efficiency

Using digital technology tools boosts your business efficiency. From using tools such as Google Maps, Google Earth, and social media, you can do many tasks right at your desk without having travel expenses. These tools save a great amount of time, too.

Greatly Improves Pricing

Use a business intelligence tool to evaluate your finances, which can give you a clearer picture of where your business stands.

Small Businesses Start To Compete With Big Corporations

Using the same tools that big businesses do allows you to be on the same playing field. Your business becomes more sophisticated by taking advantage of tools that are available for your use.

Allows You To Focus On Local Preferences

Small businesses should focus on the local environment they cater to. Big data allows you to zoom in on your local client’s likes/dislikes and preferences even more. When your business gets to know your customer’s preferences combined with a personal touch, you’ll have an advantage over your competition.

Helps In Increasing Sales And Loyalty

Increase Sales

The digital footprints that we leave behind, reveal a great deal of insight into our shopping preferences, beliefs, etc. This data allows businesses to tailor their products and services to exactly what the customer wants. A digital footprint is left behind when your customers are browsing online and posting to social media channels.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by all the data that’s out there. With the right tools and professional assistance like the one by Softsys Hosting, you can sift through the data to find out what you need to start growing your business today!

15 Jan

When Is The Best Time To Start Your Online Business?

They say “There’s a perfect timing for everything”, but is there the best time to start an online business?

Is there such a thing as the best time of a year to start new business? According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA), there are more than 30.2 million small businesses in the United States alone. While these businesses certainly didn’t start up at the exact same time, you’d wonder if there is a certain time where it’s more ideal to launch an online business.

Some would say, January sounds good, since it’s the beginning of the new year. Some say, start as young as you can because entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg did tremendously well in their young days. Perhaps you should wait until you’ve secured financing, or the kids are in school, or you’re vested in your pension at work. Or maybe, in fact, there’s no time like the present?

Successful entrepreneurs describe having an instinctive sense that it’s time to move from thinking about a business to actually launching one. Here are five signs you’re ready to open your online business.

Your Readiness To Become An Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, you can expect to put in long hours at all sorts of tasks, and it may be a while before you get rewarded. You’ll need to convince people to become your customers or invest in your idea. You’ll have doubters, naysayers, setbacks, and rejections.

Entrepreneurial Aspirations

You’ll overcome all of this far better if you are truly passionate about your business idea. Being unemployed isn’t a good enough reason to start a business, but feeling driven to provide a solution to a problem is.

Financial Stability

Your financial situation is a key consideration when determining whether to start a business. How much risk can you tolerate? If you are currently in a stable employment situation and have a family do you really want to strike out on your own? Starting a new online business can also take significant amounts of startup capital if you have to purchase equipment, rent/lease business space, and hire employees.

Your financial starting point is a business plan that shows—among other things—how much money you’ll need to start your business, where it will come from, and how long you expect it to take for your business to become profitable. And there are other financial issues to sort out before you take the leap. Ensure how you’ll keep your personal life afloat, whether that means accumulating a year’s worth of savings or relying on income from a job.

Do you have savings or access to funding from family, or the ability to secure debt financing from a lending institution or equity financing from angel investors?

Prepare Yourself

Not everyone has the required personality traits to thrive as a business owner. Aside from extensive knowledge of the particular industry, to be successful as a business owner requires self-motivation and a variety of organizational, management, and marketing skills, as well as the ability to deal with customers and vendors.

Business Plan

Think if you’re ready for starting a business, but are concerned about whether or not you have the “right” traits and attitudes to become an entrepreneur.

Time & Energy To Establish New Business

The best time to start a new online venture is when your life is otherwise relatively calm. If your current situation includes a new baby, a wedding, a divorce, caregiving for a sick family member, a big move, or any other major life stressors, it may be best to wait until things settle down a bit and you can devote your full attention to launching your new enterprise.

Effect On Family

If you are married, be aware that running a business is a family affair. Aside from the family financial considerations stated above, starting a business generally requires much more of your time than regular employment and will likely continue to do so for many years to come. The time commitment and the associated stresses and uncertainties of running a business can place an undue strain on family relationships. Note, however, that involving family members in your business can also be very beneficial. Aside from providing trusted help, employing your spouse and/or children has great tax advantages.

Your family may have to take financial or personal sacrifices to help your business succeed. Start your business after you’ve talked things through with them and resolved any major concerns.

Trust Your Inner Wisdom

Plenty of would-be entrepreneurs hesitate for months or years, waiting for all the stars to align. There’s a fine line between jumping in without adequate thought and overthinking everything to the point where your business never gets off the ground. Listen to your instincts. If you’ve thought through the practicalities and you feel you’re ready, it’s probably time to go for it.

Starting a business of your own – whether full-time or on the side – can be a great move, provided you do so when the timing is right.

Setting The Right Expectations

The key to running any successful business is to set the right expectations and the right level of commitment. Most people quit their businesses within their first year. If you aren’t willing to devote at least 3-5 years to your business, don’t even bother. Why? Because most of the wealth and the profits are to be had well after your first year. Expecting your business to be vastly profitable within a short time frame is a half assed way to think about your business.

Let’s be realistic as we at Softsys Hosting. During the first year of any online business, your website is probably not going to have superior search engine placement. Your business probably won’t have a large customer base. Your business probably won’t have much name recognition. It takes time for word of mouth to spread. It takes time for things to snowball. Be patient and results will come.

12 Jan

Major Web Hosting Trends Of 2020

There are lot of obstacles that a web hosting company has to overcome to become a reputable and reliable business. Most important among them is security as around 30,000 websites got hacked every single day. Offering 99% uptime level is good, but not enough in today’s world, especially with the big and leading players who are always ahead of competitors.

The ease of doing a business online, especially e-commerce one, is among important factors driving the growth of web hosting industry. E-commerce market needs reliable and always live website operations, maintenance of data on a regular basis, ultimate security, and these are some aspects where web hosting providers focus their product developments.

The growth of web hosting industry is not without issues.  The biggest threat today in web hosting is the changing user attitudes toward hosting. According to the Google Trends, the search term “web hosting” dropped by 60%. Apart from that, the gap between DIY and professional website creation continues to widen as many small business owners look for the ways to start a website without any decent IT skills. With so many advanced DIY applications covering a wide range of operations, it has become easy for small business owners to design and manage their own websites.

That being said, let’s take a closer look on the major web hosting trends of 2020.

Green Web Hosting

The Internet’s annual CO2 output is equal to 31 million cars driving around the world all at once.

How does it generate so much CO2?

Websites are stored on servers that are kept in facilities called data centers. Servers are expected to work 24/7 and like our daily gadgets such as phones and laptops, they get hot. Therefore, the hardware in data centers are stored in a cool and controlled environment. This, however, requires an incredibly energy-intensive cooling systems. End result is a significant increase of CO2 output.

Fortunately, as the concern for Global Warming are increasing every year, web hosting companies are now investing in carbon offsetting schemes. In green web hosting, web hosts actively participate in eco-friendly initiatives to reduce negative impacts on the environment. They do this by gaining renewable energy certificates (REC) or carbon offset certificates (VER).

RECs certify that a hosting company helped in generating renewable energy. Companies which specialize in creating renewable energy generate these RECs and sell them to a hosting provider. The money from this purchase then finances the operational costs for green energy initiatives. VERs, however, certify that a hosting company helped in reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that the certificate states.

Cloud Hosting

Ultimate cloud hosting is the future of web hosting. It has gained immense popularity in recent years with the range of services offered by companies like AWS, Google Cloud, Azure and many smaller companies like Jelastic which are ever evolving with lots of new services added every year.  Cloud hosting is a concept utilized in many areas of technology, and it has now entered the arena of web hosting. The cloud has no physical equivalent, and it doesn’t have a physical server. Instead, it stores data across multiple computers, which then provide access via network connection like the Internet. Unlike a single physical computer, it has endless processing power and storage space.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is a game-changer for many online businesses. Unlike the typical dedicated server configurations, cloud hosting is more affordable as it eliminates the constraints of physical servers. Much like cloud management software solutions, cloud hosting provides a more efficient platform for your data. In cloud hosting, your site’s resources can be pulled from multiple different virtual servers. It provides a hosting solution that is both scalable and reliable and has multiple payment options such as pay as you go, etc.

HTTPs As The Standard

Since July 2018, Google Chrome started to mark non-HTTPs websites as “not secure.” To understand this better, Chrome which is a cross platform browser from Google, has a 71% worldwide market share. To encourage sites to shift into HTTPs, Google Search even promised a fair rankings boost. This started offering of free HTTPs the norm in the web hosting arena with all major control panels having built in options to install free SSL certificates on the website.

There are many benefits of using HTTPs. It helps a website rank higher on search engines and protects sensitive data at the same time. This ensures that all information gathered on a website is secured and safe from most Internet thieves. For web hosting providers, offering customers HTTPs is not just something that’s nice to have but also a must-have these days. Not doing so can make you lag in the race, especially now that there are many web hosting companies offering free HTTPs.

Fewer Data Centers

A study by Gartner reports that worldwide spending on data centers will see a decline of 2.8 percent in the year 2019. This is the largest spending decline that data centers will experience, according to the Gartner research.

Cloud offering is also eliminating some of the data center roles. It is one of the main factors behind the declining number of data centers. With the number of enterprises now opting for cloud does not need infrastructures set up, which in turn affects the number of people needed to manage servers, storage, and networks.

Managed Web Hosting Services 

Managed web hosting has gained immense popularity in the hosting arena. It is also the main reason why customers stick with a hosting company for a long time. For growing websites or online businesses, managed hosting trends have become a great solution, especially if you don’t have much technical know-how in the aspects of performance optimization and security. With the increased complexities and regulatory requirements, it has become a norm even with companies that use cloud platforms to outsource their web hosting management needs.

Managed Hosting

Targeting Markets

Web hosting companies, like other businesses, run on continuous hard work and efforts of retaining old clients and attracting new ones. Nonetheless, not all market segments can be covered by a single web hosting provider. While large hosting companies rely on numbers through their marketing, smaller one’s may focus on a specific niche and offer a more personal service level.

07 Aug

10 Digital Marketing Trends For The 2nd Half Of 2019

As we round the corner toward the home stretch of 2019, it’s important to evaluate where you are in regards to the goals you set out at the beginning of the year. If your marketing initiatives are feeling a little stale, here are the top 10 marketing trends to explore, in accordance with the Softsys Hosting research:

1) Split Testing

With the amount of data currently available, there is no longer any room for guesswork in your marketing strategy. Utilize customer and sales data to determine several options for each aspect of your campaign. Then, test each component one at a time and let your consumers tell you which is most effective. While this is certainly not a new practice in digital marketing, it is now being applied more broadly than ever. What previously was used exclusively in digital advertising is now effective in testing digital assets of all kinds – including websites, emails, landing pages, and apps.

2) Personalization

More than ever, consumers have options. That means that broad-based marketing campaigns no longer catch their eye. Even targeting specific segments of your audience is becoming less and less effective. Brands need to personalize the customer experience to each specific person.

3) Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing

Over the last couple of years, influencer marketing has grown from a fledgling industry to a full-blown powerhouse. As consumers gain a more discerning eye for marketing messages, influencers offer a way for brands to humanize themselves and promote their products in a more organic way.

4) Voice Search And Smart Speakers

According to comScore, 50% of all digital searches will be initiated by voice by next year. Let that sink in for a moment. If you are not preparing for this inevitability as a retail brand, you will be missing out on half of your potential sales by 2020.

5) Social Commerce

With the introduction of shoppable posts on Instagram for key brands, other social channels will not be far behind. Once this rolls out to the broader business community, use this to your advantage to reduce your “Abandoned Cart” percentage. Instead of driving people from social to your website, enable them to complete the purchase within their social accounts and thereby reduce friction and increase conversions.

6) Chatbots

You may have noticed an uptick in chat-enabled functionality on websites recently. This trend will continue over the second half of the year and in 2020. Customers are no longer patient enough to send in a support ticket nor inclined to call a customer service line. Instead, they prefer addressing questions, issues, and concerns through instant messaging and chatbots. In fact, 63% of respondents prefer messaging an online chatbot to communicate with a business or brand.

7) User-Generated Content

Considering the overwhelming amount of content needed to personalize a customer experience, prudent brands will encourage and empower their audience to generate content and share how they are using and interacting with the products or services. In this way, companies can generate a widespread “sales force” comprised of happy customers.

8) Integrating Online And Offline Marketing

Don’t develop your digital strategies in a silo. Smart business owners are branching out and finding ways to connect with consumers online and in-person. A trend that started last year will continue to grow as online stores develop offline popups and brick and mortar stores expand their presence on the web. So, stop thinking on how to maximize clicks or foot traffic and start strengthen both.

9) Video And Social Media Stories

Not a new concept, but one that shows no sign of slowed growth, video is worth the investment in the second half of the year. Integrated into ads, used to tell the brand story, and sourced from users to share across social channels – the more video the better.

 10) Social Messaging Apps

Messaging Apps

The top three social messaging apps – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat – have more combined users than Facebook or YouTube. So, if we’re following the old adage of “be where your customers are”, high chances are that your customers are on one of these apps. So, use it to your advantage and connect with them to deliver information, provide support and assistance, or even boost sales.

04 Aug

Plan To Scale Or Plan To Fail

Businesses must be prepared to scale – up or down – to adapt to changes both internal and external. Scale does not solely mean growth. There could be instances where you need to quickly scale down operations in response to a slow sales season or sudden market shift. Scaling in either direction requires planning and acquiring the right systems, staff, processes, technology and partners.

Scale your business

Here’s how to make sure you’re prepared:

Plan Ahead

Scaling up doesn’t happen overnight. It’s crucial to lay out a roadmap for growth and invest in the resources necessary to make them happen. First, meet with stakeholders to determine the goals for scaling and identify potential areas of opportunity. Then, map out measured steps towards your end goal.

While strategic growth is a common reason to plan for scaling up, it’s equally important to plan for unexpected changes that may affect your business.

Sudden market shifts, unpredictable sales seasons, or technical disruptions can be cause for scaling your business both up and down. Take part in some predictive planning with hypothetical situations so your business is prepared should action need to be taken.

Keep It Simple

Most often, scaling your business can largely be achieved by finding efficiencies within your existing processes. Find the ways to simplify. Complexity slows businesses down. Look for areas of opportunity to streamline and expedite.

As you’re evaluating processes, it’s important to look at both the initial and secondary consequences. Consider how any changes you make will impact other areas of the business as well as your customers.

Focus On Customers

Throughout the scaling process – whether up or down – the key is to remain 100% focused on your customers. An unintended consequence of scale can be disruptive for customer experience. Make sure that your growth or downsizing doesn’t impact your clients as they are the fuel for your business. When you delight your customers, your business will grow.

Monitor – Grow By The Data

Stay in tune with your business. Consistently analyze key data points so you can better anticipate the need for change. This will allow you to pivot and make adjustments on the fly so ensure your scaling initiative goes smoothly.

Consistent data monitoring will also clue you into when it’s appropriate to scale and grow and when a slow down is necessary. Movement in either direction is not linear, so it’s important to be diligent and monitor key data points for guidance.

Ask For Help

Ask for Help

Driving an internal scaling initiative can feel like rolling a boulder up a hill. It’s crucial to have the right team on your side. Internal and external partners should be identified and empowered to take action. Make sure your IT infrastructure is flexible and scalable with a cloud hosting partner like Softsys Hosting.

17 Jul

Using Business Intelligence To Take Your Organization To The Next Level

By now, the importance of data analysis is old news. Providing integrated insight across all business functions can have a massive impact on your bottom line. But with the abundance of data available, how do you collect, sort, and analyze it to make real business decisions?

Effective Business Intelligence (BI) tools not only collect relevant data from internal and external sources, but also present them in a way that stakeholders can understand. This actionable insight is what allows BI to push your organization forward.

Business Intelligence

Set Benchmarks And Clear Goals

A successful Business Intelligence strategy uses historical, current, and predictive data to inform process improvements and achieve business goals. In order to track true change, it’s important to take benchmark data from your current state. Understanding your starting point should then inform the goals you’re looking to achieve through enhanced data analysis.

Most organizations break down their goals and Business Intelligence efforts into two categories – customer focused and process oriented.

Customer-Based Insights

Business Intelligence that is consumer-focused involves everything from purchase habits to marketing and sales efficiency. Imagine the impact that understanding your customer’s spending history and lifetime value would have on your bottom line.

Work with your internal marketing team to identify key indicators of success for each marketing campaign. Then, use analysis of market share, brand awareness, and sales to improve effectiveness. Organizations with several categories of products or inconsistent sales seasons can also benefit from category performance analysis and sales seasonality reports.

Ultimately, understanding conversion rates, cart abandonment, and online engagement will help your marketing and sales teams optimize their performance and drive business growth.

Process-Based Insights:

While Business Intelligence can have a tremendous impact on the revenue-generating functions of your business, it can also impact your bottom line through increased efficiency and process improvements.

For example, what is the benefit of setting targets if you’re unable to effectively monitor the progress towards them? Business Intelligence allows you to analyze department and employee performance and measure the KPI status versus targets.

In specific industrial organizations, BI can offer production forecasts, cost efficiency insights, and manage quality assurance more effectively. For HR teams, the ability to analyze payroll and compensation means you’re able to maximize your resources.

Determine Data Sources

Data Sources

Once you’ve identified the types of data that will most benefit your organization, work with stakeholders across your company to determine how best to collect data. Successful BI solutions analyze data from multiple sources to get a full picture of the company.

The good news is that you may already have several data sources integrated into your business. Website logs (for example, those at Softsys Hosting), Google Analytics, CRM systems, and even social media accounts can inform your Business Intelligence strategy. In addition, warehouse management systems, ecommerce reports, and call center records would be useful to implement. You can even integrate customer survey information and market research into your data sources.  

Implement

Your journey to a comprehensive Business Intelligence system is not a one-time initiative. A phased approach will allow you to take actionable steps and iterate as you go. Choose a few KPIs, develop a few sample dashboards, and determine what works best for your organization. Gather feedback from key stakeholders throughout the process to continually refine and improve.

15 Jul

5 Steps To Ensure A Successful Organization Wide Digital Transformation

While Digital Transformation is increasingly becoming a focus in organizations around the globe, studies conducted by McKinsey show that less than 30% of these initiatives succeed. As the result of limited buy-in from stakeholders, fragmented implementation strategies, and a lack of specific expertise, only 16% of respondents said that their Digital Transformations have improved performance. This is true even within digitally-savvy industries.

So, if Digital Transformation is important but difficult, how do you improve your chances of success?

Digital Transformation

Interview Stakeholders To Define Goals

Successful Digital Transformation requires full buy-in from all major stakeholders in your organization. As a result, it’s important to involve them in the early planning stages. Interview key team members in both leadership and implementation roles to understand their pain points and define their goals.

Working with stakeholders to visualize what success would look like will help you find the “why” behind your organization’s Digital Transformation. Common goals include enhancing the customer experience, improving organizational efficiency, increasing speed of delivery, or developing a competitive advantage.

Once your goals are defined, work to identify measures of success that are aligned to your “why.” This will enable you to streamline your efforts and resources into one strategic mission.

Review Case Studies

Now when the strategic goals are clear, the next step toward successful Digital Transformation is to analyze case studies and further outline your course of action. Many organizations overlook this analysis and immediately begin investing in technology. However, jumping straight to technology change before a clear strategy is developed will result in a piecemeal solution rather than an optimized system.

So, put strategy before technology by compiling case studies from organizations with similar business goals and learn from their experiences. Clearly document the key aspects of their transformation, with particular attention to any pain points to avoid. Beginning with the end in mind will help you complete your transformation on time and on budget.

Training

Digital Transformation is a misleading term because it implies that technology is the bulk of the focus. However, culture is consistently named the leading challenge to Digital Transformation and innovation according to Altimeter’s State of Digital Transformation Report. Investing in training your team and prioritizing the culture of innovation will help ensure that the upgraded technology is supported by those using and benefiting from it.

“We’re shifting from a ‘digital’-focused approach toward Digital Transformation to one where digital is an enabler for purposeful enterprise-wide transformation and innovation,” Altimeter principal analyst and report author Brian Solis told TechRepublic.

So, to make the most of your Digital Transformation, it’s crucial to prioritize investments in your organization’s culture.

Implementing

Once you have buy-in from stakeholders, have a clear strategy, and have invested in helping your organization’s culture become more adaptive, it’s time to implement. If you’ve followed the first three steps, you should have a unified and strategic approach to work towards your business goals.

In order to implement effectively, analyze your operations and work to find ways to streamline and optimize your human and technical resources. Audit your team’s abilities and invest in their strengths while outsourcing where they may come up short. Drive digital innovation by bringing in subject matter experts to augment your team’s knowledge.

Don’t get so caught up in implementing quickly that you forget to define and document. Plan carefully and provide clear procedures, but keep the line of communication open for your team to communicate when further innovation is beneficial.

Data Analysis And Continuous Monitoring

Analysis

Digital Transformation should be approached as a journey, rather than a project. Transformation itself is in the name, so change is inevitable. Access to data analysis and a continuous monitoring protocol will help your team judge the effectiveness of the strategy and identify areas where further improvement is necessary. We at Softsys Hosting have made (and continue!) this digital transformation during recent years and will be happy to assist you during your company’s changes.

12 Jun

Planning For The Unexpected

By its very nature, the unexpected is difficult to plan for. That makes it easy to push down to the bottom of the to-do list while there are more pressing, very real, issues to address.

Taking a few easy steps to help your business prepare for unexpected challenges like changes in the market or natural disasters will help minimize your exposure and give you the peace of mind you need to grow your business.

Unexpected Planning

So, we’ve compiled some tips to prepare for…

Economic Downturn

Economic downturn is inevitable. If you’re in business long enough, you’ll experience seasons of prosperity as well as leaner years. Take advantage of the prosperous times by preparing for a future downturn to protect your business from the whims of the market.

Start by establishing an emergency fund that can go towards essential expenses in the event that revenue starts to slow. Once you’ve begun contributing to that “insurance policy” of sorts, set aside time to develop a business plan based on reduced expenses. What functions could be reduced or eliminated? How would you maximize your marketing budget without compromising operations?

Planning ahead will help you avoid making knee jerk, and potentially detrimental, decisions when a downturn arrives.

Disaster Preparedness

While half of business owners own an insurance policy in case of natural disaster, far fewer have taken the additional steps necessary to ensure business continuity in the event of flood, fire, or other disaster.

While your technology partner can help with this, it’s important to understand your company’s process for backing up files and data. Replicated cloud services are a great start to avoid disaster.

You might also consider making structural updates to your physical location if you are more prone to certain disasters – for example those in a flood zone.

Cybersecurity

As high-profile cyber attacks have been featured in the press in recent years, most companies have taken some steps to secure their data. However, you might be shocked to learn that less than half have secured their customer data and consistently dispose of confidential documents securely. Even fewer (27%) have trained their employees on confidentiality protocols.

Those numbers are truly shocking when you consider the volume of sensitive data transmitted each day.

At Softsys Hosting, we recommend implementing a third-party security management program managed by our professional team that is dedicated to keeping your data secure. More best practices for data security can be found here.

Online Reviews

For a largely digital world, businesses are disproportionately prepared for online reputation management. In fact, only 24% have a crisis-management plan in place to address negativity online.

Online Reviews

That number makes sense when you consider that nearly a third of businesses who have had a negative review believe that it led to a loss of business.

Competition

Planning for competitors encroaching on your market share is the first step to winning in business. After all, keeping the customers you have is often much less expensive than acquiring new customers. Prepare for new competition by maintaining a high customer retention rate and constantly re-assessing the value you provide to your customers.

*All statistics pulled from the Bank of America Business Advantage Spring 2019 Small Business Owner Report
09 Jun

How To Increase Customer Retention: What Do Customers Really Want?

Have you ever been on the phone with your utilities company trying to report a service issue? Or, better yet, trying to correct a billing error? It’s nearly impossible. These companies know that, in most cases, they aren’t going to lose a customer over these issues. What are you going to do? Go without water or electricity in your home?

Unfortunately for anyone who doesn’t own a utility company, customer retention is increasingly crucial to sustainable business growth. In today’s hyper-competitive world, your customers have options. So, unless you have an unlimited marketing budget to continually find and convert new prospects, customer retention plays a big part in your growth plan. Thus, the million-dollar question: what do really customers want?

Customer Retention

In order to answer that question, it’s important to analyze your customer experience from beginning to end. Whether you go “undercover” as a client or hire a professional mystery shopper, getting a clear picture of your company’s service is the first step to improving your customer retention.

Ask yourself, is your customer experience:

Convenient

In a nutshell, do you make it easy for prospects to become customers? And, once they are customers, is it easy for them to contact you? This is especially important for businesses who have a low retention rate starting out. Each sign of inconvenience is another opportunity to lose customers.

Evaluate your processes, policies, customer-facing technology, and customer support functions to ensure each experience is as streamlined and simple as possible.

Approachable

Consider your own experience as a customer for other businesses. Which companies are you most adamant about using or recommending to others? Chances are, it’s those whose employees and team members are most helpful and approachable. An approachable experience not only makes each interaction more pleasant but also enables customers to get the most out of your product or service.

How to find an approach?

For example, customers who purchase hosting services from us are typically pleased with the level of service that they receive. However, when they contact us for any issue, we try to give examples for how they can get more for their money or other ways they can utilize our services. That extra level of approachability leads to higher customer retention.

Change is inevitable. So, don’t go through this process once and assume your company is in a good shape. Periodically review customer service logs, documenting any problems or hurdles that customers tend to face and determining a plan for addressing them.

Ultimately, customer retention is the basis for any company’s growth. If you’re confident that your current clients are happy and the revenue that they represent is steady, you are able to re-invest in growth strategies to target new clients.

15 May

3 Reasons To Add Value Through Strategic Partnerships

Identifying complementary businesses to partner with in an effort to add value to your customers and reach a larger audience is a great way to expand your brand awareness and gain exposure with your target markets.The key is to identify a niche of businesses that you can cultivate a relationship with to generate a long term partnership.

Business Partnership

Increase Revenue

Looking for ways to increase revenue efficiently, without a significant investment? Strategic partnerships offer small businesses the opportunity to grow revenue and add value for their clients through product bundles, referral or affiliate incentives, or even as a third party seller of a partner service.

For example, Softsys Hosting offers managed servers which are a bundle of infrastructure services, server management, backups and monitoring so that a single product includes everything your business needs from a cloud web hosting server.

When considering how to grow your revenue, it can be intimidating to take on full product development or offering brand new services. Creating product bundles or additional offerings through a strategic partnership is a great way to generate additional value for your clients, allows you to charge more for the bundle, and exposes you to your partner’s client base as well.

Customer Base Expansion

Expand Your Customer Base

Consider strategic partnerships as an advertising channel where your direct costs are limited. If you can provide value to your partner’s audience and client list, the likelihood of them sharing information about your products and services is exponentially higher.

Not only is this exposure much less expensive than it would cost through traditional advertising, the conversion rate will be higher because the “ad” will be coming from a trusted source.

Focus on how you can provide value to their client base (not just how they can appeal to yours) and work with your partner to create an outreach campaign that introduces you to their audience.

Avoid Being Turned Into A Commodity

Partnering with businesses that add exceptional value to your clients helps increase client retention and customer satisfaction. This is a massive competitive advantage for your business and enables you to compete on value rather than price.

When considering potential partners, identify complementary services and products that your clients are already searching for once they purchase a service from you.

This will allow you to avoid being commoditized and stabilize your position in the market.