OnFleek –thought station : Insights

Role of digital marketing in Start-ups and SMB – Today & Tomorrow

With the year 2020 coming to an end within a fortnight and giving way to a new year, as we take a look back we see that this year will go down in history for all the wrong reasons – the most appalling and fearsome one being the abhorrence – Ccvid-19 situation or Coronavirus as we call it. This is a bio-war situation and has left the whole world feeling abandoned and overwhelmed - about how one infection has brought everything to a standstill.

As a consequence to this, the economies of respective countries have been hit hard. The coronavirus pandemic has shaken the world economy and its marketplaces to the core as various developing nations are finding it hard to deal with the economic impact of this health emergency. The worst part is that such a situation has never happened before and that the start-ups & SMB sector, in particular, is facing the maximum repercussion till this date.

Though there are start-ups & SMB protecting laws, in many countries globally and subsidiaries & relief have been declared for them during this situation, smaller scale and medium enterprises are gazing at a sombre future in the wake of this Covid-19 emergency. According to Facebook’s survey, more than 31% of small and medium-sized businesses have shut down, particularly personal business like hotels, cafes, and restaurants & services like wellness, grooming, fitness or other professional services. As we all know, most start-ups rely on outside funding and from the investor’s point of view any start-up idea is a game of high risks.

So some of the major challenges that are commonly faced by the entrepreneurs, especially post Covid-19, are –

  • Low Budget - All start-ups & SMBs depends upon financing and post Covid-19 the biggest challenges for already running businesses are accessing the funds they require to stay afloat, maintaining their supply chains and making sure their employees can work remotely from home. Lockdowns, interruptions in the flexibility of supply chain and effects of already established corporate advances, incremented prompt misconducts in this section.
  • Monetary Crunch - Moreover till date, start-ups & SMBs have to face an intense money crunch because of a harsh descent in business and operational difficulties with low or zero labourers for months at a stretch as workers from other states or towns had migrated back home.
  • Employees Facing Grim Economic Conditions - Even when businesses, especially start-ups & SMBs remain open, employees are experiencing financial restraints from lost employment or fewer hours worked in order to minimize losses
  • Supply Chain Difficulties Hindering Operations – It may be safely said that small business struggles are linked to the Covid-19 virus span across all industries. However, some sectors such as hospitality, F&B, travel, etc. find themselves hit much harder than others.
  • Lack of Creativity in Marketing - As nobody recognises your brand; therefore this is the biggest challenge for any small & medium business in a condition of availability of fewer funds to boost business.

Having said that, as we all know the saying ‘Where there is a will there’s a way’ – Such is the case with start-ups & SMBs.

Digital Marketing, though not a new discovery, has become the new trend in the marketplace during Covid-19. Probably the most noteworthy pattern to develop during the Covid-19 pandemic is private ventures entering the digital marketing sphere. Undoubtedly, for several private companies, the internet remains a lifeguard, helping them to remain afloat - for example Grofers, Ola, Big basket, Amazon, etc. Digital marketing as a valuable tool may be used in different ways across the company. It could be leveraged while designing the product or for the online brand / product building. Again, when deeply analysing the key intentions of start-ups digital marketing or when, the focus is clearly to get conversion from customers.

Let’s take a look into the importance of ‘going digital’ and how it helps start-ups...

1. Cost Effective - Digital Marketing is cost-efficient. It helps the start-ups to boost their business even with a limited budget. As discussed earlier, small and new business usually does not have vast resources and capital. So using the traditional marketing will be expensive for them, particularly due to the Covid -19 situation. This makes Digital marketing a perfect marketing tool for start-ups and small businesses as compared to traditional Channels like electronic or print media. Digital marketing tools in social media marketing like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and more, where Google analytics turns out to be a substantially more reaching and accountable medium with PPC making the digital more performance and ROI based.

2. Amplifies Brand Visibility - Digital marketing not only fetches in new consumers but also increases the visibility of your brand on the internet. As a digital marketing campaign is run, new publics learn about the business. The more your business increases its visibility on the web, the better the chances that it will develop into a big enterprise with incredible returns on investment. Moreover, during Covid when the world went into a lockdown phase, digital marketing was really effective as it helped connect with diverse audience. As we all know, that with the advancements in digital marketing, there were so many stories and scattered content one could connect with or relate to. Brands became aware that their target audience was now captive online with more leisure time to spend, esp. with the Covid situation, as internet became a way of life. Social media platform like Facebook, Instagram stories and YouTube were sites where people were spending more time online. Though the brands were losing sales due to the recent economic meltdown, they were present in social media to build their audiences with the connect that created relatability as well as an opportunity to spend major time with.

3. Creates Brand Cognizance - Digital marketing, especially social media marketing is huge on brand awareness. Even if you do not mint money after a running marketing campaign, you can be assured that the brand campaign has increased your brand cognizance. Some people on the internet may not become your customers instantly, but as brand awareness grows, they might deliberate on your marque the next time they are buying something or are in need of a service that your business provides. This was the case with MSMe during Covid - people’s confinement to their home had increased the time spent online and thus using digital mediums helped them to not sink and keep running. Brands were finding ways through online tapping, the available consumers and were forced to think more digitally in this phase and ads run on a good number of digital platforms and thereby found their echo in a larger TG.

4. Helps to connect with Target Audience - Digital marketing is not only limited to promoting products and services but also to build a relationship or a connection with customers. The online market is swarming with high level competitors. It means retaining the customer’s interest in the brand and building long-term commitment is necessary. So Digital marketing will help SMEs in this section. Audience is present and are flooding the internet as well as the opportunity is vast but targeting the exact audience has become the most vital aspect of this arena of digital marketing brainacs. Targeting has become ever more acute and channelled, where the exact consumer behaviour and pattern of the target demography is studied and campaigns are skewed to reach the exact specific audience with the brand message or the campaign message. Data analytics,(social media like fb etc.) are used.

5. Accurate Engagement with Customers - Digital marketing has plethora of stratagems to appeal and engage customers. You can share your business content and general content and make them engage using different social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. through posting. This has worked well with SMB’s especially in E-commerce sector like Swiggy, etc., during Covid when more digital dependence is the need of the on-going times. Often this issue has plagued the brand of having a more interactive and engaged consumer and audience & not to have a monotone brand which is unable to fend for loyal consumers in this age of fast changing tastes and trends. Social media gives a platform for brands and brand personalities to fetch for its own community and loyal consumers. These consumers feel more and respond to the attitude of the brand -the connection is livelier. Like we say it is a great boon and a fragile sensitive aspect as well. Thus ORM has proved to be a more fast and prompt tool to show the brand response in real time by creating a platform for not just consumer relations to resolve grievances but also a space to pitch for the brand that speaks more to its audience in a connected manner.

6. Boosts Online Conversions - Digital marketing makes it easy to measure whether your marketing strategies are working or not. This is done by looking at the incoming traffic as well as reviewing the rate of conversions. This information is readily available for any business online. This piece of information is extremely vital towards understanding how to boost your business conversions. If you are observing low conversion rates, then you can modify your strategy from that point and implement an alternative one. SEO is one aspect that makes the brand to reach out to its audience online and that is an integral part of its conversions and herein the right content helps the leads be more funnelled towards conversions.

7. Tracks Return On Investment (ROI) - Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing makes it extremely easy to track return on investment. Instead of waiting for the present running campaign to end before you can assess it, digital marketing makes it possible to review the campaign while it runs, in real time. This allows companies, particularly, start-ups operating on a fixed budget, to make adjustments and go towards better ROI. If a digital marketing campaign is performing below expectations – lesser clicks, fewer conversions - you can stop it all together and avoid making losses. Over the period of time, customer acquisitions and retentions were never very measurable in the traditional and other alternative mediums but with digital - the click through rates and the performance based marketing of pay per click - makes it easier to not just reach the appropriate TG but also to pay for the right reasons. The business intelligence and data has become a key aspect of decision making and this is how the e-commerce segments sees more inflow of investors who know where exactly the investments is being channelled and what is the gain and plan for brand scalability.

As you can see, digital marketing is no more an unknown area or a new face in the marketing budgets of the brands. Rather it’s another powerful tool to grow the business in the right direction with absolute measurable and specified reach and understanding of the audience as thin timelines as daily. This has given marketers a more dynamic opportunity and access into the personal private world of the consumer where the consumer behaviour helps expand the brand into the lives of the consumer through content creation that would suit specifics of geography and demography. Thus, there are numerous reasons as to why you need to invest in digital marketing for your business. So, it is time to change your outlook and start using the latest technologies to boost up business growth.

By the way, do you need help with your digital marketing strategy? Contact today!