Top trends we’re seeing for UK SMEs in 2022 (SMEs) make up 99% of the UK’s total business population. This puts them at the forefront of our economy and means they were perhaps the sector hit hardest by the Covid pandemic.
As the dust begins to settle and businesses start returning to normal, the question that remains is how many SMEs survived? And how did they survive?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest trends we can expect to see amongst UK SMEs this year, including increased spending, a customer-centric approach, and an even larger focus on sustainability.
Digitisation for survival
There’s no doubt the pandemic has significantly impacted SMEs in the past two years. However, as several lockdowns forced businesses to adopt working from home as a standard, the use of technology is what has helped them survive.
In a recent survey, it was found that 71% of SMEs in the UK said that their businesses survived the pandemic due to digitisation. Another 53% said their investment in technology in sales has increased, and 50% of SMEs said they had enhanced their technology investment in marketing. In fact, 56% of SMEs have reported that they have now invested in a CRM system, indicating an improved focus on using digital tools to better customer relations.
Bouncing back to the new normal
Businesses have hit the ground running in 2022 with the hope of returning to normal – or a new normal, at least – and bouncing back from the effects of Covid over the past two years.
Because SMEs have had to work hard to stay afloat through trying times, they are more resilient than ever before. As a result, we can expect to see them securing more inventory, rehiring staff, and setting up new processes to accommodate new ways of working, such as hybrid business models and working from home.
As the economy rebounds and demand increases, we should see SMEs recover and possibly even see more success than ever before.
The customer at the heart of it all
Increasingly, UK SMEs are putting the customer at the heart of all they do. They’re doing this by placing a heavy focus on providing excellent customer service and emphasising personalisation.
A recent report revealed that 83% of customers expect to engage with a human immediately when they contact a company. SMEs are taking this seriously with over 42% of them expanding how customers can contact them.
Businesses are also finding new ways to position themselves to personalise their services and marketing messages.
Spending for growth
The past two years have seen SMEs in the UK tighten their purse strings and become increasingly frugal to ensure they can cover operating expenses and keep staff employed. It’s fair to say that businesses have spent the duration of the pandemic cutting costs and becoming hesitant to spend.
However, as most entrepreneurs know, sometimes spending is needed to facilitate growth. And, although 40% of SMEs are still on a cost-cutting spree, the remainder is becoming more open to investing in marketing and business technologies to drive sales and new opportunities.
Looking towards a flexible future
With lockdowns forcing many people to work from home, as mentioned above, many SMEs have now realised that they can have an entirely remote team and still function successfully.
According to a recent report, 50% of SMEs offered flexible working arrangements during the pandemic, leading to 51% of top employees expecting companies to allow for flexible scheduling.
It is unclear whether work from home, and hybrid models will continue to prevail in the coming years. Still, it has certainly become a large consideration for many businesses, especially regarding how they can offer flexible working opportunities and maintain consistent productivity levels.
Sustainable business practices
As we’re sure you know, the UK has a target to reach net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050, and small businesses around the country are now making the commitment to help reach this goal.
However, while many businesses want to help achieve net zero, many are not sure how viable it will be for them to shift to sustainable practices.
A study has shown that 56% of SMEs believe that the planet is amid a climate crisis, but 28% of small businesses have expressed that it would be increasingly difficult to transition to a net zero economy.
On a positive note, 36% of SMEs have a plan to combat climate change. However, 69% of small businesses are unsure how to measure their carbon emissions.
A crash course in digital marketing
While many businesses were given no choice but to move online to survive the pandemic, SME leaders have had to learn about digital marketing very quickly to keep up.
SMEs are joining the great digital marketing experiment with a specific focus on paid advertising. As a result, many businesses have quickly learned the value of digital marketing and just how quickly and easily a return on investment (ROI) can be achieved.
It’s fair to say that SMEs in the UK were hit hard by the Covid pandemic. But the top trends we see in 2022 all point to a collective bounce back. If you are interested in using digital marketing to give your small business a boost, contact us.