Every business in the world starts small. However, the history of some of the largest, multi-billion dollar businesses prove that digital platforms can help grow small businesses.
Actually, that’s not something new. Bill Gates famously stated: “If your business is not on the Internet, soon your business will be out of business.”
What Does This Mean for Small Businesses?
In these few words, the Microsoft founder aptly emphasizes the significance of how digital platforms can help small businesses to grow. Though Bill Gates made this famous quote some years ago, it’s even more relevant now with the importance of online business growth and today's "quarantined" environment.
And what’s the proof of his axiom? Successful multi-billion dollar businesses such as Amazon and Airbnb are just a few. They started as small, fledgling businesses with tiny budgets. Using digital platforms, they are modern day giants and success stories of the Internet age.
If you’re an entrepreneur, a digital platform can also help your small business to grow in 2020.
How can these digital platforms help your small business? I’ll explain as best as possible over the course of this blog post in simple words and avoid technical jargon as much as possible. Let’s start by looking at some facts and figures.
Facts & Figures
To understand how digital platforms can help small businesses grow in 2020, here are some facts and figures.
Global ecommerce or online business stands at about $3.53 trillion in 2019. Projections indicate, global ecommerce will touch or cross the $42.06 trillion mark in 2020, growing to $4.92 trillion in 2021, about $5.69 trillion in 2022 and crossing the $6.54 trillion landmark in 2023 - or about three years from now.
These figures, from German statistics portal Statista, clearly prove that digital platforms will play a key role to help small businesses to grow.
Now, to touch on how digital platforms can help your small business to grow in 2020 and beyond, here are some simple explanations:
How Digital Platforms Will Help Small Business Growth
Here I will list some of the key factors and elements in regards to how digital platforms will be helping small businesses to grow in 2020.
Higher Internet Proliferation
There’s no denying that Internet proliferation around the world is on the rise. About 52.4 percent of the world will be connected to the Internet by the end of 2020, and that number will rise to about 54 percent in 2021. The reason for this growth is because telecom service providers are launching affordable mobile Internet packages. At the same time, the cost of smartphones has also been dropping, with excellent, cheaper but wonderful models entering the market.
As a result, the digital divide is narrowing rapidly. Depending upon where you live, between 50 percent and 70 percent of all B2B and especially B2C sales now occur online over mobile devices - especially smartphones. Unless you’re on a digital platform, your small business will lose out on this growing market. Therefore, the first thing to do is get on the Internet in every possible manner. It can be through a basic but excellent website or maximizing a service like Google My Business.
Online marketplaces are very popular nowadays because online marketplaces help your small business to reach out to distant markets. Of course you can decide which is the target clientele for your small business. However, including an online marketplace as a digital platform makes excellent sense to grow your small business in 2020.
There’re several distinct advantages with an online marketplace as digital platform.
- They don’t cost as much as setting up an entire eCommerce portal.
- You can opt for monthly or even annual subscriptions depending on your budget.
- People that visit online marketplaces on Shopify, Etsy or Facebook Marketplace are usually looking for something that’s not commonly available.
This means that your business can get ahead of other rivals by using the online marketplace digital platform. Whether you have a small, home-based business or you make stuff to order using your skills and art, an online marketplace is one of the best digital platforms for a small business because of their wide reach and niche clientele.
The very fact that some of the largest companies in the world advertise on YouTube and have a dedicated channel speaks volumes of the importance of this video sharing portal. In fact, you can start a YouTube channel for free. All you need to do is upload excellent, engaging, and relevant videos that attract people to your small business.
YouTube allows you to upload real-life stories and interviews with your clients. You can showcase your company’s practices to clients to develop confidence and creating a YouTube video is possible for anyone with basic video and editing skills.
Videos with real-life stories will compel others to try your small business and its offerings at least once. And when satisfied, they’ll return as loyal customers while bringing in others too.
Blogs are a highly neglected digital platform given their success in driving new business. In fact, blogs are a superb digital platform that can help your small business grow in 2020. Nowadays, most people read blogs and reviews before finalizing a purchase and some also make decisions to buy something if the review or blog is appealing enough.
Furthermore, a blog enables small businesses to engage in affiliate marketing and tap into the vast market that makes purchases after reading positive reviews and articles. You can have a blog for your small business and encourage other bloggers to provide affiliate links to your business by offering them a small commission on confirmed sales.
Amazon, the world’s single largest online retailer, offers an amazing affiliate marketing program for bloggers and website owners.
As a small business owner, you’ll definitely be aware that you can’t afford high advertising and marketing budgets. That’s the problem that every small business faces. Digital marketing provides a very efficient and cost effective solution to conventional advertising.
For example, you can use various digital platforms by deploying digital marketing. These include Search Engine Optimization for the website of your small business and its blog. Nowadays, a website and an excellent blog don’t cost much: you can launch both for as little as $49 per year if you are able to handle the technical aspects.
However, launching a website and blog as digital platforms for your small business aren’t enough on their own merit. You need to promote them to ensure they reach the right audience and in a cost effective manner.
Digital marketing consists of several processes. These include SEO, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Video Marketing through YouTube, as well as, Search Engine Marketing. These can be effectively used to grow your small business at a fraction of the cost of conventional marketing.
The global affiliate marketing industry stood at $12 billion by mid-2020, according to HostingTribunal.com. There’re several other indicators that prove affiliate marketing is a superb digital platform to grow your small business. In fact, the largest online store in the world, Amazon, records about 37 percent of its sales through affiliate marketing.
To grow your small business, consider launching an affiliate marketing program. This means that you’ll have to provide a small commission to independent bloggers and affiliate marketing websites that drive traffic to your business as potential leads or confirmed customers.
You’ll have to provide an online dashboard on your business website for affiliate marketers to create ads and affiliate links from where people can buy your products or services.
Apps and Couponing
There are countless apps that would be willing to advertise your business for a small fee. Some of these apps will flash your ads only at a specific location or in a particular zone. Working with these app owners enables you to provide discount coupons and promotions on the spot.
Couponing and apps are time tested and proven digital platforms that help every business to grow. Look for good apps that’re popular in your area and find if they accept ads from third parties. If so, you can launch daily promotions or special offers through these apps that attract people to your business.
You can also utilize the Google Ad network to place ads on many different apps that are in the Google Ad Network. Be sure to work with a Google Ads Partner to get the best results for your campaign.
Other Digital Platforms
Nowadays, Instant Messengers including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, micro-blogging sites like Twitter and professional networking portal LinkedIn are also fast emerging as digital platforms of choice for small and large businesses.
These platforms are not only cost effective but also help you to connect with potential and existing clients on the move.
Apps are another excellent digital platform for your small business. They help your business grow either by creating awareness about your brand and by helping people make purchases through their mobile devices.
The paragraphs above are how digital platforms can help your small business grow in 2020. These trends are here to stay well beyond 2020 as well.
The time has never been better for your small business to utilize these digital platforms to grow. These facts clearly highlight what Bill Gates meant when he spoke about businesses being on the Internet to survive and flourish.
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Robb Fahrion is a Co-Founder and Partner of Flying V Group. He is passionate about helping businesses grow using the power of the internet. Robb graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA and currently resides in Costa Mesa, CA. Robb enjoys writing about digital marketing, helping his clients turn their dreams into reality, and he is a HUGE Mike Trout fan.