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Expert Digital Marketing Best Practices For SMEs During COVID-19

By Dennis Velasco | May 11, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect businesses worldwide. Here’s why upgrading your digital marketing strategy can help your business thrive and survive.

The times sure have changed. Meeting people face-to-face has become limited due to lockdown restrictions and social distancing protocols. While this means fewer opportunities for brick-and-mortar businesses to make a sale in-store, it also presents immense potential for businesses to grow online – far beyond their domestic territories.

Having come to rely on its speed and convenience, consumer demand for virtual technology will continue to grow even after the pandemic has diminished.

In the past, it was easier for established, bigger companies to invest in high-tech tools because they have more resources. Today, technology is democratized and has become more accessible for all. With that said, what can SMEs do to level the playing field when it comes to growing their brand online?

Here are my top 3 digital marketing strategies (that won’t break the bank):

1. Establish your E-A-T and propagate!

When you built your startup, you already figured out what to sell, why you started, and who your customers are. That’s enough knowledge to get your campaigns started, too. To succeed in the world of digital marketing, you need two things: (1) content and (2) propagation.

Use the E-A-T approach to create valuable content, which comes from sharing your Expertise, showing Authority (or influence), and building Trust with your audience.

65% of customers consume effective content from a brand before they make any purchase.

When they become educated, they feel empowered because of you. In turn, they are more inclined to trust and do business with a company who knows and understands their needs over competitors.

The impact of COVID-19 on digital marketing shows that content needs to be more targeted now than ever before; it must have substance and provide true value – and that makes content even more expensive. But you don’t have to create your content alone – there’s also a shared economy in digital marketing. Reaching out to your business partners to exchange content is one of the most cost effective and easiest ways to start.

You can start making connections via professional networks like LinkedIn, or approaching long-time peers for a collaboration that is beneficial for both parties.

Once you’re done with content creation, next is distribution! This is when you leverage Google and social media. To help you save time and money, determine where your target market is most active and focus your efforts there. If you’re just starting, you can create your online presence by registering on Google My Business, Facebook Business Page, or an Instagram Professional account. But if you already know your branding and target audience, you can jump right in and set up profiles on platforms like Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, WeChat or even TikTok just to see what works best for your business.
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2. Build referrals with REAL connections

Aside from creating valuable content, SMEs need to be proactive in networking with other brands and influential people who share the same values. Connecting with others and forming partnerships creates opportunities to expose your brand to other networks and audiences. Wondering where to start?

Get involved with local communities in your area and collaborate with other businesses within your industry on how to adapt to the effects of COVID-19. Something as simple as knowing the charity events or hosting local expos to empower other small businesses. From there, you can make real connections with professionals and leaders that will help you grow in the long run.

Did you know that despite the millions of dollars spent sponsoring online content, organic endorsements – such as those by micro-influencers or ‘KOCs’ (key opinion consumers) - are proven to be more effective due to their authenticity. Speaking of shoutouts, the most effective form of advertising is still word-of-mouth referrals from people who know you and your audience.

Consumers trust customer testimonials and people they know more than brands and companies that make it sound like an “ad.” Post-pandemic, people have more loyalty towards brands that were proactive during their time of need and tuned in to what’s happening in the community at large.

Reviews published on social media and your online store serves as proof of how well you serve your customers. Use these to give potential new customers a taste of the experience and satisfaction that comes with trying your products for themselves.
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3. The key role of e-commerce

Many SMEs were forced to close down their physical stores and offices because of implemented quarantine lockdowns, so having an active online presence served as their virtual workplace.

For digital marketing campaigns to become successful, you need a call-to-action prompt that funnels your target audience to where you want them to go.

An e-commerce website serves as more than just your online store where customers can make purchases. It’s also your “digital address” that people can keep on visiting to stay connected with you. And letting your customers know who will fulfill their orders on the logistical side can also instill trust and cultivate loyalty.

Many SMEs were forced to close down their physical stores and offices because of implemented quarantine lockdowns, so having an active online presence served as their virtual workplace.

Thanks to the advancement of technology, businesses can save on operational costs with an e-commerce website through:

  • Accepting online orders and offering safe, digital payments to provide a positive customer experience
  • A blog page that can be shared across social media in one click
  • Your official page containing detailed information about your business
  • One platform that customers and referrals can direct people to visit

Understandably, starting a business takes a lot of courage and requires many areas of expertise. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do everything on your own!

Partnering up with professionals skilled in helping SMEs can help. This could be an e-commerce platform that helps you sell and showcase your product or a trusted logistics provider that can help your business grow cross-border. And at those touchpoints where online meets offline – such as the delivery process – there’s a lot to think about.
Many SMEs were forced to close down their physical stores and offices because of implemented quarantine lockdowns, so having an active online presence served as their virtual workplace.

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According to statistics, more and more shoppers are demanding a seamless online shopping experience. The key to good customer service is making everything as easy as possible. An inconvenient returns policy deters 80% of shoppers, while 74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too cumbersome.

An online store allows you to manage that traffic and direct potential customers towards your brand. Fast and secure delivery is the final touch and the most important part of the customer experience. When your business grows rapidly, delegation becomes more important than ever so you can focus on what you do best to keep customers coming back.

Small steps can lead to big wins

There are endless tactics to choose from when it comes to digital marketing for SMEs, but these top 3 tips will help your business navigate the e-commerce environment. Of course, it’s ideal to implement all these strategies right away, but there’s no need to over-stretch when your business is already juggling multiple priorities. I recommend starting with at least one that works with your budget and ability before adding more.

Want to stay updated with how SMEs can thrive with e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic? Check more of the latest insights and business tips for SMEs here.
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About the Author
the author bio

Dennis Velasco

CEO & Founder, Prosperna

Featured on CNN Philippines', "The Final Pitch", Dennis is a technology evangelist on a mission to empower 100,000 Philippine SMEs with a simple, affordable e-commerce software platform, Prosperna.

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