What would happen if the Internet were to disappear tomorrow? If you’re a business owner that answer would probably include the words “catastrophic”, “disruptive” and “devastating”. The vast majority of U.S. businesses would be impacted in some way, even if they don’t have a website.
Reliable internet service is an absolute necessity for today’s businesses. Email communication and using a website as a virtual storefront or office are obvious ways that the Internet has been a business gamechanger. But in actuality, businesses rely on the internet for many more day-to-day operations that make or break profitability.
The reason the number of freelance workers is increasing dramatically is directly due to the advent of the Internet. Forbes recently reported that the U.S. workforce is on track to become 50% freelance by 2027. The rise in freelance workers, who often work remotely, is deepening the dependence businesses have on the internet.
Online project collaboration tools are the key. They make it easy for people around the world to world together. They can share documents, message one another and add project updates to keep everyone on the same page. Cloud computing has really helped catapult this technology forward by allowing everyone to access documents that are updated in real time using any Internet-connected device.
The internet has really leveled the playing field in terms of affordable, effective marketing. Unlike television and print advertising, most digital marketing is based on clicks. That means a business doesn’t pay unless someone clicks on a link to their ad or website.
Digital marketing can also be highly targeted, measurable and can be optimized. Business owners can get daily reports showing how well a marketing campaign is performing. They can then use that information to adjust and optimize the campaigns. With traditional marketing methods, it would require a lot more work and money to change an ad.
Social media marketing is another way that businesses can market to a target audience online, often for free. Social media platforms allow businesses to share content, promote new products or services and develop relationships with their customer base. It’s also an effective way to capitalize on current events that are capturing people’s attention.
One of the first things that most consumers do when they need a product or service is research their options on Google. In addition to finding options, 91% consumers also read reviews left by other customers. It’s the modern-day version of word of mouth marketing.
The majority of consumers (84%) trust online reviews as much as advice from friends and family. So, even if a business doesn’t have a website there’s a good chance they have online reviews on Google, Yelp, the Better Business Bureau and more.
Brick-and-mortar businesses also rely on the Internet to direct customers to their door. Trying to find a business’ location before the Internet was a chore that involved breaking out the phone book or calling the business if you had their number.
Now all consumers have to do is search for the business online to get all the contact info including a map with directions. But in order to get real benefit businesses need to set up a Google My Business listing and keep it updated with accurate information.
Businesses need goods and services too. The expense of those services and supplies directly affects overall operating costs and in turn profitability. Like consumers, businesses also use the internet to find the best deals on everything from packing materials to internet service. Internet comparison shopping can also be used as a way to get a local service provider to match a better deal online.
As we progressively move towards the Internet of Things (IoT) era businesses are bound to become even more reliant on the internet. Big data alone has already become a bountiful source of information for marketing and product development. Companies are also better equipped to track inventory and shorten shipping schedules. IoT promises to be the one thing that can increase productivity and efficiency when all other means have been exhausted.
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