Running online operations as a small and medium enterprise (SME) comes with its own set of challenges. While obstacles may vary based on factors such as market dynamics, regulatory environments, and infrastructure, there are some common and specific problems that SMEs face when operating an online business in the United States.
The landscape in the United States is highly competitive, with a multitude of established players and new entrants. SMEs often struggle to differentiate themselves and capture market share in a crowded environment. Acquiring customers can be a significant challenge due to the high cost of digital marketing, advertising, and search engine optimization. In addition to this, building brand awareness and driving traffic to their online platforms can be time-consuming and resource intensive.
The only way SMEs can stand out is by being authentic about who they are and what their products stand for. Videos and live commerce speak a thousand times louder than the text and image-driven web presence that SMEs are forced to adopt while using the standard CMS platforms in the market.
Authentic content, whether in the form of live videos or short videos, plays a crucial role in the success of SMEs on their websites and apps. In today’s digital landscape, where consumers seek genuine connections with brands, authenticity has become a key driver of engagement and conversion.
Original and unique content allows SMEs to highlight their brand values, personality, and expertise. By presenting real people, real experiences, and real stories, businesses can establish trust and credibility with their audience. When customers perceive a brand as authentic, they are more likely to engage with the content, believe in the value of the products or services offered, and develop long-term loyalty. An artisanal bakery could share behind-the-scenes footage of their bakers handcrafting each pastry, demonstrating their commitment to quality and artisanship. This unique content helps customers trust the brand and feel confident in their purchases. The head baker going live every weekend and taking questions from his customers forms a bond that ensures retention.
Genuine online material has the capacity to arouse feelings and create bonds with viewers. By sharing relatable and compelling stories, SMEs can tap into the emotions of their audience, resonating with their experiences, aspirations, and values. This emotional connection strengthens the bond between the brand and its customers, leading to increased engagement, brand advocacy, and repeat business. A sustainable fashion brand could feature real customers sharing their stories about why they choose ethically made clothing. These original videos create an emotional connection with potential customers who share similar values and are enthusiastic about supporting sustainable fashion.
Producing original content enables SMEs to highlight transparency in their operations, thereby instilling confidence in their customers. By offering a glimpse into their processes, sourcing methods, and company culture, businesses can address any concerns or doubts customers may have. Transparency builds trust and reassures customers that they are dealing with an honest and accountable brand. An eco-friendly skincare brand could create videos highlighting its sustainable packaging, natural ingredient sourcing, and ethical production practices. By sharing these true stories, they demonstrate their commitment to transparency and environmental responsibility, appealing to conscious consumers.
Digital strategies can also involve leveraging user-generated content, which adds a layer of credibility and authenticity to a brand’s online presence. Encouraging customers to share their experiences, testimonials, and reviews through videos or other forms of content not only increases engagement but also displays genuine interactions with the brand. A boutique hotel could invite guests to share their vacation experiences through short video clips, capturing their genuine excitement and satisfaction. These user-generated videos serve as powerful testimonials, influencing potential customers’ decisions to book a stay at the hotel.
Live streaming and short vertical videos on a brand’s website or apps have emerged as powerful tools that hold immense potential for SMEs to put out their stories and make lasting connections. This cutting-edge trend has revolutionized the marketing landscape, offering businesses unprecedented opportunities for growth and success.
The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into live streaming has unlocked a new era of possibilities for SMEs. Through AI-powered features such as real-time data analysis, personalized product recommendations, and chatbot interactions, businesses can elevate their live commerce experiences. AI algorithms provide valuable insights into consumer behavior, enabling small businesses to tailor their content and product offerings to meet individual preferences. This personalization fosters a stronger connection between businesses and consumers, enhancing engagement and increasing conversion rates. Furthermore, AI-based technologies have simplified and automated various aspects of live streaming, making it more accessible and cost-effective for SMEs to implement.
Consumers crave personalized shopping experiences that go beyond the traditional e-commerce model. Live streaming offers a unique platform where SMEs can engage with their audience in real-time, customized product demonstrations, Q&A sessions, and interactive discussions. By offering personalized content, businesses can build trust and loyalty, as consumers feel more connected to the brand. Live streaming allows SMEs to display the uniqueness and human side of their operations, creating a sense of community that resonates with customers. Furthermore, by leveraging customer data and insights, businesses can curate personalized product recommendations during live streams, boosting sales and customer satisfaction.
Live streaming enables businesses to reach wider audiences by leveraging the power of their content on their own websites and apps and enhancing it with social media platforms. It encourages real-time interactions, comments, and shares, fostering a sense of community and virality. The live nature of streaming builds a sense of urgency and excitement among viewers, resulting in higher conversion rates and a rise in purchases. It allows businesses to display product features and benefits while addressing customer concerns in real time.
Compared to traditional advertising methods, live streaming provides a cost-effective marketing solution for SMEs. It eliminates the need for elaborate production setups and allows businesses to deliver real-time content without the high production costs associated with other forms of media. Live streaming platforms provide valuable data and analytics that allow businesses to track viewer engagement, preferences, and purchasing patterns. This data-driven approach enables SMEs to make informed marketing decisions and optimize their strategies for better results.
To thrive in the online business landscape, SMEs must differentiate themselves through authenticity, personalized experiences, and transparency. Leveraging authentic content, such as live videos and short videos, on their websites and apps allows SMEs to build trust, forge emotional connections, and demonstrate transparency. By highlighting the human side of their operations, small businesses can create meaningful relationships with customers, drive engagement, and foster loyalty.
By adopting technology, understanding local market dynamics, and investing in customer-centric solutions, SMEs can carve out their place in the competitive online business environment. Through resilience, adaptability, and a deep understanding of their target markets, small businesses can overcome the hurdles they face and thrive in the digital age.
The success of SMEs in running online businesses lies in their ability to embrace authenticity, leverage technology, and adapt to the unique challenges of their respective regions. By doing so, they can seize the tremendous opportunities that online business offers and build a strong foundation for sustained growth and success in the dynamic global marketplace.