Understanding how the Internet is shaping your business is essential to business growth and making use of this powerful tool. Here are five ways the internet is affecting your business and how you can harness it:

  1. All sales are (somewhat) online
    You might think a sale took place when your customer walked into your store, but chances are it started when they investigated your company online. Don’t fool yourself—all sales are somewhat online and you need to make sure customers can find what they’re looking for on your website or they will look and go elsewhere.

  2. Many aspects of business are online
    Even if you offer terrific phone support and live customer service; many customers prefer to make quick inquiries online. They might go to your site to download a manual or to find your store hours. Providing this sort of content on your website helps your business grow; business owners who don’t recognize this are probably missing the boat.

  3. Show me
    Video is the fastest growing segment of the Internet, with more than one billion different users logging on to YouTube each month. Your customers are increasingly looking for quick videos to show them how to use or assemble a product, and they’re responding to video testimonials from your clients. There’s a lot of “noise” on the Internet: if you can cut through the clutter to respond to what customers really want, you are providing the kind of customer service that will bring them back.

  4. The Internet creates mobility
    Whether this means reaching potential customers in another city—or even on a different continent—or employing staff or contractors who work from home, the Internet has changed the shape of business. This provides opportunities for business owners and CEOs to hire the best people, instead of simply the best local people. It also means that the sky is the limit when it comes to your market.

  5. Smartphones are everywhere
    By 2017, estimates say that 68 percent of Americans will have smartphones. This means customers are making increasing demands for information throughout daily life. They expect your company to respond quickly and for your website to perform well on their mobile device. Businesses, on the other hand, are using geotargeting to offer specific sales and deals to clients based on their location. Online coupons, especially through social media, encourage sales and are easily tracked for effectiveness.

It’s helpful to step back and look at how technology affects your business so you can leverage it to enhance your brand and grow your business. You don’t need to follow every single trend but staying aware of new opportunities for communication and marketing will harness the power of technology for your business growth.