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5 things to consider to help enhance your online business

This article was originally created by Insider Studios in collaboration with Mastercard.

The pandemic has changed the way we live, work, and operate — and small businesses are no exception. More than 163,000 small businesses in the US have closed since March, with many more struggling to stay afloat during the crisis.

That's why it's important that small businesses arm themselves with the tools they need, and this means developing a strategy that considers all fronts, including a robust online footprint. In fact, 76% of small businesses in North America say the pandemic prompted them to become more digital.

"For business owners today, it's important to remember they are there today because of their customers, and so they have to be very aware of their customers' behavior and how their customers' behavior is changing," says Ginger Siegel, Mastercard's North America Small Business Lead.

In July 2020, Mastercard rolled out its Digital Doors program, which is designed to help small businesses get online, protect their business, and adapt to their customers' evolving needs. As you consider a digital strategy for your business in the weeks and months to come, here are five key areas to consider.

Understand what your digital needs are

Setting up shop online is sometimes easier said than done. But Mastercard's free online tool, the Small Business Digital Readiness Diagnostic, helps business owners assess their online presence and understand what their digital needs are. It helps analyze a small business across six dimensions: business strategy, management and operations, growth and marketing, accept/receive payments, making payments, and business security. In addition to offering clarity on how well-equipped the business is digitally, the tool also offers customized, expert recommendations for consideration to help drive greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Detect and protect against cybersecurity threats.

According to a recent report, 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, yet only 14% have the protection to defend themselves. To help small businesses protect their operations, cybersecurity assessments from RiskRecon, a Mastercard-owned company, analyzes a business's cybersecurity based on 40 different factors, and Mastercard ID Theft Protection offers a service that tracks your identity level and detects possible fraud early on.

Use digital tools that make transactions easy and safe

With the pandemic, people are much more careful about where they go and what they touch. "A lot of people don't want to go somewhere if they have to give someone cash or hand them their credit card," says Siegel. That makes contactless payments, like Mastercard's Tap & Go payments, a must-have for any business that wants to continue physical sales over the next several months while prioritizing the safety of both employees and customers. With Tap & Go, shoppers can speed through checkout with just a touch of their credit card, key fob, or phone. Now more than ever, consumers are shopping digitally, and with Mastercard Click to Pay, small businesses can reinvent their ecommerce experience making passwords a thing of the past by allowing their customers to speed through a secured checkout, paying in just a few clicks.

Lean on tried-and-true ecommerce tools

A number of Mastercard partners make it easy to quickly get up and running. Squarespace offers an easy-to-use platform and hundreds of elegant designs to build a website; Shopify provides a powerful set of marketing tools to create and analyze digital marketing campaigns; and Facebook for Business suggests valuable tips and training programs to help you stay open.

Make your business easy to find

Setting up a solid presence online doesn't mean anything if shoppers can't quickly locate it. Make sure your bases are covered, including a catchy domain name that isn't already taken and create an authentic social media presence for your brand that can help grow your business effectively. On the physical retail front, Mastercard's online search tool automatically pulls and updates data on stores that accept Mastercard on a daily basis. Not only does the site indicate to consumers which local shops and businesses are open, but it also notes which ones accept contactless payments.

While the pandemic has surprised everyone, one thing is clear: there are organizations and resources available to better position your business for success in the months to come — and better yet, many of those tools are free.

"It may be pretty easy for a small business to just get overwhelmed," says Siegel, "but if anything positive has happened during this terrible pandemic, it's that small businesses have really come to the forefront."

We’re partnering with Mastercard to help you save as you grow your business. Get US $500 back on your seller membership when you use your Mastercard Small Business card. Terms and conditions apply. Find out more.

Wondering what’s in store for small businesses in 2021? Watch our fireside chat with Ginger Siegel, North America Small Business Lead at Mastercard, to learn how you can face the challenges of 2021 by adopting digital channels.

This week's #B2BTuesday Tip:

There’s a lot of components to successfully getting your business online. In addition to adopting ecommerce channels and creating a digital storefront, make sure you understand and use SEO, build a social media strategy, and develop an email marketing plan.

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