By Alice Williams
If you’re a small-business owner in a rural community, you know the struggles of staying up to date with current trends, maintaining your sales, and staying connected to the outside business world. The real issue, however, can be getting the technology you need in your area. This becomes even more inconvenient if cable internet is either unavailable or incredibly expensive. On top of that, there’s the fact that rurality can limit product awareness. The good news is that advances in technology are eliminating many roadblocks for business owners everywhere—even in the backcountry.
1. Satellite Internet Can Get You Connected Where Cable Can’t
Keeping up in the digital age without an online presence is almost impossible—especially if you run a rural small business. And maintaining that online presence becomes difficult when you can’t get online. If cable internet isn’t an option in your area, consider getting satellite internet instead. Though cable internet is reportedly faster, satellite internet doesn’t wire back to a provider, making it more readily available in rural areas. Satellite internet can also be a solid choice for small businesses because most providers offer packages at a range of prices, reducing your spending for a business necessity.
2. Mobile-Friendly Means Customer-Friendly
Social Media is the (not so) new marketing platform, and statistics show that mobile traffic has now surpassed desktop traffic. That means if you want your customers to know about your latest products and services, they need a way to find and interact with your business from their smartphones. You can make that easier by ensuring your website is as mobile friendly as possible. For existing websites, this means creating a mobile version or downloading and implementing plug-ins to your CMS that optimize your site for mobile users. Creating a mobile-friendly website from the ground up—or optimizing the site you have—will give your customers an effortless experience and, in turn, your business will thrive.
3. Marketing Automation Should Be Your Business Partner
Chances are, employing a full-time marketing manager isn’t in your budget. But just because you run a small business doesn’t mean your marketing should lag. Investing in the right marketing automation system for your business is like hiring the marketing manager you’ve always wanted. A marketing automation system can send automated emails based on the actions your customers make on your website and their responses to other emails you’ve sent. Don’t have time for regular updates on your social media accounts? Marketing automation can do that, too, keeping your customers and followers engaged. Setting up your automation and learning all of the functionalities can be time consuming, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can streamline your daily workflow and watch the conversions grow. Different systems offer different features, so make sure to do your homework before you invest. To get started, you can check out comparison charts like the one found on G2 Crowd.
4. Easier Payment Methods Create Happier Customers
Mobile card readers are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. They are versatile and user friendly, and they speed up transactions. If you want your business to keep up with the technological curve, then investing in smarter paying options is the way to go. A mobile card reader turns your phone or tablet into a cash register—just faster and smaller. Plus, there are a range of readers available, depending on your needs. A few of the most popular mobile card reader apps include Square, PayPal Here, and PayAnywhere. Gain flexibility and ease of use from the one-time investment of a mobile card reader.
Whether you sell fruit on the outskirts of town or own the fabric store on the main drag in a small community, the right technology can do wonders for your bottom line. If you’re a rural-small-business owner, browse the comments below and tell us what you’re using to boost sales and increase efficiency.
Alice Williams has written in-depth on a wide variety of topics which include business, technology and social media. She has a masters degree in Communication Studies from San Francisco State University. Follow her at @1alicehw.