The fast-changing nature of the online landscape means many businesses are still relying on online strategies that are no longer useful or effective.
Running a business with outdated strategies in today’s fast-changing market means your business is missing out in the competitive stakes, says serial entrepreneur, Teboho Mafodi.
Mafodi, is the founder and CEO of the TM Group which specialises in media production and IT.
He says technology has removed boundaries that previously limited business expansion, giving companies the ability to target a wider customer base and grow globally.
He says, “An effective online strategy gives a business the opportunity to expand quickly and efficiently.”
Mafodi lists 5 obsolete online practices he says you need to let go of in your business today AND 5 ideas for crafting a future-focused online strategy to keep your business ahead of the game.
Blogging with no promotion
The internet is a noisy place, says Mafodi. “If you haven’t noticed already, the amount of blogs out there is unfathomable. So if you are a company that is blogging or using the internet as part of their strategy make sure it’s with a purpose or an intention,” he says.
Using 100% automated, scheduled or outsourced social media
By doing this, Mofodi says you are missing out on the real benefit of social media – real-time interactions with your audience. He says treating your social media like a robot isn’t going to work, “Because guess who is also actually talking to your audience like a real human being? Your competitors.”
Only engaging on social media with no sales strategy
Mafodi says that while engaging on social media is important, it is easy, however, to lose sight of why you are there in the first place. “If you are just chatting and never actually moving people onto the buying stage – how is social media going to work for you?” he asks. He adds that there are a ton of businesses on social media now, so just being ‘nice’ (although extremely important), is not going to cut it without purpose behind it.
Designing a website via internal stakeholder committee
“The primary reason for the lack of user-centered design is that most websites are built by a host of departmental managers who have far too much say on colours, fonts, images, and copy,” Mafodi says.
The problem with committee based design, he adds, is that these representatives make decisions based on their personal tastes and preferences versus those of the site’s intended user.
“While this approach is increasingly uncommon, it is still a very real issue due to the groupthink inherent in corporations.”
Sending unsegmented or untargeted emails
Quoting a November eMarketer study, Mafodi says that only 5-10% of in-house marketers and agencies are using personalisation extensively.
“This validates my concern that businesses continue to send out unsegmented or untargeted emails, making this one of the most common of the obsolete strategies in use today,” he says.
Mafodi advises startups to take the time to understand their email list by digging deep into the analytics and contact profiles and then create and target content based on indicated preferences, as well as demographic and psychographic information. “Watch the value of each subscriber increase exponentially, with incremental effort.”
Adapt to new technologies
Speaking on the need to adapt to new technologies, Mafodi says these advancements have been on the rise in recent years and has laid the groundwork for many IT organizations to move from on-premise data centers to co-located environments and the cloud. “It’s far easier now to do business globally than before because of these technologies,” he says.
Rethink infrastructure outsourcing and security
According to Mafodi, new technologies encourage more outsourcing, and with legislation such as the POPI (Protection of Personal Information) Act, companies have to consider more security-focused technologies in their businesses.
“Unfortunately, that is not going to be cheap for most, hence outsourcing, and insurance of your data is going to be key for most SMEs. So this is a good time to start thinking hard about such solutions that will be suitable for your business and protecting your clients before you find yourself in the middle of a lawsuit,” Mafodi says.
Take advantage of your digital assets and presence
SMEs need to plan for maximizing the business benefits of data assets and technology-focused initiatives, says Mafodi.
He advises entrepreneurs to highlight important key points along the creative and strategic journey towards the brand’s desired goals.
“Whether it’s a social media campaign or a brand-new website, consider the larger business objectives and ensure that the end result exceeds your own expectations. It’s when you exceed your own expectations that you can easily exceed your clients’. Take advantage of being online by getting yourself out there and communicate with potential business.”
Invest in skills, empowerment and systems
While automation and standardisation may result in reduced overall headcount, Mafodi says they increase the demand for higher-skilled resources.
“It’s about quality, not quantity,” he says. “If you’ve got good skills, retain them, empower them with new technologies and methodologies that can take your company to greater heights while implementing the right systems. A lot of good companies these days have few people working there, but they invest in good systems,” he advises.
Understand your advanced analytics
Advanced analytics support operational business decisions by providing simulation, prediction, optimisation and other analytics – not simply information, Mafodi says.
“We are in an age where it is important to know where the market is heading and as companies or SME’s we need to be advanced enough to be coming up with solutions beforehand.”