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The technology landscape is constantly evolving, clouding which choices are the best to focus on when it comes to your business.  Organizations of all sizes spend a lot of cash to keep pace with changing technology in an effort to stay ahead of their competition and ultimately grow. Whether you’re a startup trying to succeed or a Fortune 500 business, knowing the right areas of your business to invest in is just as important as knowing which tools to implement.

Take a look at these 5 critical investments every business should consider in 2017.

Mobile Focused Website

The most obvious shift in average consumer habits has been the exponential rise of the cell phone.  With the ease of having a computer at your fingertips, a business’s reach can be far greater, but there is also a higher risk of missing out on opportunities if your website is not optimized for mobile usage.  Google reports that 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing.  With the abundance of available information, it is harder than ever to stand out in the crowd.  Make sure that your website is compatible with mobile devices to avoid customers taking a quick jump over to your competitors.

Business tip: The key is to create a positive and seamless customer experience.  Luckily most programs and templates such as Webs.com, are designed with mobile in mind, but a few techniques can improve functionality.  Design with a fluid layout that is scalable to devices instead of fixed columns and widths.  Image compression can decrease load time and is easy with platforms such as Smush.it. And remember to install navigation that is designed for touch.  Sometimes clean and simple design is more effective.

Email Automation

One challenge that many companies encounter is keeping up with customer interaction and engagement without wasting valuable resources.  Email automation can be just the ticket to managing this task.  Email marketing platforms allow businesses to create customized customer journeys that automate the email marketing sales funnel. This means that subscribers and customers alike only receive email messages that they’ve shown interest in. For example, an automated email campaign can be set up to send all female customers that have purchased Nike shoes from your eCommerce site in the last three months a discount offer for similar shoes or female apparel. If it’s a male customer, they would receive a discount offer for male shoes or apparel. These custom automated email campaigns have been shown to increase email revenue by 760%.

Business tip: Use an email marketing platforms such as Vistaprint Digital to automate your email message to subscribers, prospects, and customers. Use email marketing platforms in conjunction with tools like HelloBar and Unbounce to grow your email list. By collecting data such as customer demographics and location, you can send personalized messages to be delivered to customers that make them more likely to open and respond.

Content Marketing

Your customers don’t want fluff.  It can be hard to with resonate prospective customers with the amount of competition online, but success rests in presenting high-value content that hits home.  Ask yourself, does my information solve a problem for my customer?  Does it educate them?  If you can’t say yes to these questions then you may have already lost their attention. If you don’t already have a blog then this is your first step but certainly not your last. Your businesses blog serves as an information hub for customers as well as a content distribution point. You can use your blog content in email and social media campaigns that reach your target audience directly. Not just any content will do either. Create in-depth articles and even videos that share strategies, how-to’s and industry research that can’t be found elsewhere online.

Business tip: An effective way to reach your audience is through social media and email.  Creating dynamic content and customer engagement can turn viewers into buyers.  Utilize analytics to track what content is producing the best results.  Email marketing platforms are great tools for producing and gauging effectiveness of campaigns

Security

Security should top your business mindset. The industry is seeing a record number of cyber security breaches, including big-name companies like LinkedIn and Yahoo. Juniper Research tells us the average cost of a data breach will be $150 million by 2020.  This is why it’s vital to plan for the future growth of mobile and cloud and understand that threats may come from both external sources and internal ones too.  You need to have insurance and put policies and training in place to learn how to prevent security breaches.

Business tip: In order to protect data that’s stored on your servers, ensure the servers have encryption enabled, strong passwords, an up-to-date operating system, virus/malware protection and two-factor authentication.

When it comes to investing in your business, you need to understand both what you need today and ensure you are poised for what is on the horizon. Take the time to map out which investments are the most valuable and worthwhile for your business and hone in on those in 2017.

About the Author: Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. As a small business expert, Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources, as well as providing small business advice. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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