Why Digital Marketing is Important for SMEs

The rise of the Internet has brought the world closer together. In the world of business, this presents a golden opportunity for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to level the playing ground against their bigger competitors.

How so?

By going online, SMEs can overcome the challenge of tight budgets and limited resources as well. It is an excellent tool to drive engagement and generate new leads. More importantly, digital marketing allows businesses to target and track results of their marketing spend, and that includes returns-on-investment (ROI), more accurately than traditional forms of marketing.

Perhaps more convincing is the rate of online adoption everywhere in the world. Digital media is so pervasive that most consumers in Singapore today have access to information any time and place they want, commonly through their smart phones, tablets or laptops. It is also likelier than ever for people to research on a service or product online before making a purchase. Moreover, consumers are paying close attention to what their peers are saying, more so than what you say about your own brand. These conversations typically happen online, hence having your brand out there actively in the digital sphere is crucial.

That said businesses setting up digital presence may face some tough challenges reaching and engaging the desired audience. Even with the use of search engine optimisation tools and social media tags, one cannot guarantee a captivated audience. Users are getting fickle with alarmingly short attention spans. The avalanche of competing content also makes for a challenging job to ‘cut through the clutter’.

Here are three tips that SMEs should consider when going digital:

Go Mobile

Mobile usage, especially in Singapore, has experienced robust growth over the years. In the last quarter of 2014, mobile phone penetration rate reached 148.0 per cent*. More and more people are using their phones to surf the web pushing web traffic.

Ensure your digital platforms are as mobile-friendly as possible. Think mobile-optimised layouts, short concise messages, ease of navigation and speed of loading. When users have a good user experience, they are more likely to stick around and pick up on your messages instead of closing the window on you.

Leverage Content Marketing

Even in the digital age, content remains a highly effective method of marketing. Create content that is relevant and appealing to your target audience. Content no longer just refers to the written word: it can come in the form of videos, infographics, webinars or podcasts.

No matter the media, invest in time and effort to produce educational and entertaining content that the public will be interested in. When you present enriching and uplifting content, people will be more inclined to share them in their personal network. And take note that when writing, it is best to write in short sentences with an active voice.

Engage Your Customers

Digital marketing reaches out to your customers and is a valuable asset for developing good customer relations. It is important not just to know who these customers are, but also to understand them well so that you can engage them with the appropriate interactions. To do that, marketers should have some insights into customer preferences and the type of content or messages they expect to receive on the various digital channels.

Still remember the black/blue or white/gold dress debate that went viral across the world and even earned a mention by our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong? While audiences were in extended debates on the actual colour of the dress, some clever brands were quick to capitalise on the hot topic of the moment to do some good old marketing. The result? Increased engagement.

Keep abreast of what gets people talking and join in the social conversation when relevant. Your active participation projects your brand as fun and approachable which will in turn create interest to connect with you. This raises the possibility of higher engagement too.

As with traditional media, it is important that you embark to create your online business persona with clear objectives, strategies and business goals in mind. The wide variety of social media platforms may be overwhelming sometimes, but the key is to research and determine the best platforms to reach your target audience. When done right, you will soon be able to reap the benefits of digital.

*Data retrieved from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

- Florence Fang, Managing Director of Flame Communications Pte Ltd -