Chambers in the digital age – the view from Finland

Chambers in the digital age – the view from Finalnd

By Christa Holmborg, General Manager, Finnish-British Chamber of Commerce 

Christa Holmborg, Two hours and 51 minutes. That is the average time people in the UK spent online every day in 2015 according to the Internet Advertising Bureau UK. This time is divided between PC’s, smartphones, and tablets, and for younger generations the Internet has overtaken TV when it comes to entertainment. In 2014, mobile usage surpassed desktop usage, and the use of smartphones and tablets is constantly increasing.

In today’s digital world, 76% of adults in the UK use the Internet every day, with 74% of adults in the UK buying goods and services online (Office for National Statistics, 2014). Companies that are not on digital platforms have a high risk of growing obsolete. 

Sometimes, chambers of commerce have an image of being slightly old-fashioned, especially when it comes to all things digital. Limited resources and time constraints often make digital change difficult. However, to keep up with current times and to attract a new generation of businesses, we need to keep up and we need to modernize our digital images. Although this might sound like a difficult (not to mention expensive) task, many platforms today can easily help us on our journey towards a modernized digital footprint.

Traditionally, renewing or building a website has been very time-consuming and expensive. Platforms like Wordpress or Wix offer a solution – simple and easy-to-use templates for websites. Often, these work on a drag-and-drop basis, and a developer might not even be needed to do the work. Wix and Wordpress are also optimized for both mobile and tablets, which today really is a necessity, and updates are made continuously so the website will keep up with digital developments.

When it comes to e-mail marketing, MailChimp is a great tool, especially for smaller chambers, as it can be used for free for up to 2,000 contacts and 12,000 e-mails a month. Subscription options are also available, and not too expensive.

When it comes to CRM, Zoho is also a platform that can be used for free, although many important features do require a paid version. For larger chambers, a company called Eudonet offers a CRM platform that is specifically designed for chambers of commerce, and offers many features related to event management, member acquisition and retention. Finally, social media can and should be used to engage with members and followers. When it comes to social media, however, there are so many platforms it is easy to become spread too thin on too many platforms. Therefore, it is recommended to do some research on which platforms the members use, and have a presence on those.

These are just a few suggestions of platforms that can help chambers modernize their digital image. Here at the Finnish-British Chamber, we began our digital journey in 2015. We moved to a cloud-based email and folder system through Microsoft 365, allowing us to work from anywhere. We also switched to MailChimp, which allowed us to automate and personalize invites and newsletters.

This summer, we launched a new website, which overwhelmingly received positive reviews. Today, we keep looking ahead and assessing our potential to improve on our digital footprint. By making our changes in steps, we have had time to adjust to the new platforms, and I couldn’t imagine ever going back to our old ways. Ultimately, the goal is to have a system of platforms that are all connected, which automates a lot of features including invoicing, sharing, and sending information. 

The time savings related to this automation allows us to spend more resources on connecting with our members and planning interesting events. At the end of the day, digital transformation is very interesting and quite fun to witness. Enjoy the progress that is made and the exciting new features that are launched. Good luck with your digital journey.

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