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Is Digital Best Practice Achievable for Small Businesses?

In the competitive and rapidly evolving world of digital, the bar for "good practice" is set pretty high. But do the boundaries of what constitutes good and bad practice create an exclusive club within "digital", accessed only by companies armed with big budgets and cutting edge technology? Does an industry that points firmly at "best practice" send the message: if you can't do it right, don't even go there?

To give you an example, in summer 2017 a renowned digital player blogged that a successful "Influencer Marketing" strategy requires up to seven individuals - each with a specific skill set. And this for Influencer Marketing alone: one niche, albeit important, area of Digital.

For many small businesses, the available resources, budgets and technology to deliver digital best practice are vastly different compared to larger organisations. In established companies, online and digital are staffed by dozens of people, each with specialist skills and experience; in small companies one person might be responsible for all Sales and Marketing. He hasn't looked at the company website for months, and he doesn't really know where to start. 


Small Businesses should embrace digital to deliver better customer experiences 

Even if true digital best practice is out of reach for a small businesses, there remains a fantastic opportunity to improve customer experience and business performance through digital. There's a standard that's within reach for any company that ensures website content is fresh and relevant, and that user journeys are analysed and optimised. There's a social media strategy for everyone that focuses on the most relevant channels, and which uses them to develop mutually profitable relationships with customers. And there's a cost effective approach that ties online content and technical SEO, without relying on expensive specialist agencies.

No-one is arguing here that shoddy practice is ever acceptable. Nor is anyone advocating corner cutting as a means of achieving stellar results. In an ideal world, companies should employ experts and use the best available technology - getting this right is key to driving growth, relevance and market share through digital. 

However, what's clear is that "good" practice for a small businesses might look very different, and far more modest, versus good practice for a large corporation. As any good practitioner (whether that's UX, Marketing or IT) will tell you, it's all about relevance and context for the customer. The "customer" in this instance is the company looking to adopt digital - in whatever form - to drive customer experience and business improvement. By taking a pragmatic approach that borrows from good practice and recognises specific constraints, the gains from digital are both real and significant. 

Just as it's important to master any discipline and digital toolset in order to extract maximum value, there is undoubtedly a skill to analysing the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities facing a small business;  in assessing all available means and resources; then planning and delivering a programme of work that exploits (relatively and in context) the very best digital practice. 

> Read our article: "Digital for Small Businesses: what to focus on"


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