If you are a MSME owner looking for growth and expansion, it is essential for you to consider digital marketing services to get your business noticed online.
It’s the digital-first era, and online channels are the most popular means for brands to connect and interact with their audiences. With the right digital marketing strategy in place, it is possible for your MSME to compete and stand out in the evolving digital era marked by global competition.
And while theoretically it sounds straight forward, it is not something that can be done casually without a plan.
- There are different types of digital marketing services that businesses can avail, such as social media marketing, SEM and SEO, email marketing, content marketing etc. As a business, you need to identify the right strategy and services for you.
- Not all businesses have in-house digital marketing capabilities and often must hire digital marketing agencies for guidance and advice. Selecting the right agency to work with is the first step for success.
- It is not entirely organic and at times requires investments. Allocating a budget and planning how to use it is required.
As an emerging business in India, you can leverage digital marketing services for your business. It is a myth that only large businesses gain from online marketing initiatives. In this article, we discuss how MSMEs can benefit from digital marketing strategies for their business.
Digital marketing strategies for MSMEs in 2022
An interesting aspect of online marketing is that it has wide reach. A single social media post, an email, a video, or a blog when targeted appropriately can reach thousands of viewers. The ability to reach and connect with thousands, across geographies is what gives digital marketing an edge over traditional channels (e.g., newspaper ads, flyers, brochures etc.). As a MSME owner, this is something you can leverage from and work to your advantage.
Listed below is a stepwise MSME digital marketing plan to help you plan a digital marketing strategy to accelerate business growth, in a cost-effective way.
1. Define your business goals and target audience
The first thing you need to do is define your business goals or objectives and your audience. This will help you plan how to take forward the initiatives. For instance, if your goal is to generate B2B sales leads, a paid social media or search ad campaign (SEM) would be most effective. If your goal is to engage existing users, email newsletters, website pop-ups (MarTech), and content marketing would be a more powerful approach.
Let us look at a couple of examples:
|Business goals||Digital marketing strategy|
|Increase online visibility||
|Rank higher on search engine results||
|Increase mobile traffic||
Pro tip: List short- and long-term business goals. The idea is simple – your goal will determine your strategy. Identify the goal, plan the strategy.
2 . Identify digital marketing solutions aligned to your goals
Once your business goals have been listed, the next step is to identify the right digital strategies for it. This is when you check your team’s capabilities to identify if you have the in-house skills and expertise required for the job. You can also check with your associates and colleagues for consultation and advice.
An alternative solution however is to find a digital marketing agency for your business. They know the job better, have the skills and resources required, and can do the job more efficiently and effectively than you can. (More on that later).
Let us look at how digital marketing services can be mapped to your business goals:
|Business goals||Digital marketing services|
|Increase online visibility||
|Rank higher on search engine results||
|Generate B2B leads for sales||
Pro-tip: Your short-term and long-term goals should be aligned and complementing each other. Also, if you have similar goals for both periods, consider breaking it by quarters, measuring performance, and implementing change in approach as required.
3. Plan a budget for digital marketing
This is a given. You need a budget to execute a strategy. There are certain activities that require minimum investments, and while the organic approach is recommended, it’s returns are for the long-term.
If you are working with an agency, there are two approaches you can adopt:
- Define a budget and let them share an execution plan that fits it
- Define your goals and let them strategize and share the expected cost
Understand that both approaches have its advantages and challenges. You select the approach that works best for your MSME and is aligned to its overall objectives.
Let us understand this with an example:
|Approach 1||Approach 2|
|Goal: Generate B2B leads for business||Goal: Generate B2B leads for business|
|Budget: Rs. 50 thousand/month for 3 months||Budget: Not defined|
|Proposed strategy (monthly):
||Proposed strategy (monthly):
Tentative cost: Rs. 2+ lakh/month (approx.)
As can be understood, the goal-based approach leaves room to experiment with different content and campaign styles but comes with significantly higher expenses. A low-cost digital marketing strategy on the other hand will ensure that you start with a basic plan, evaluate what is working and what is not, and modify plans accordingly.
4. Study the market and competition
The next step would be to study the market and what your competitors are doing. For instance:
- Who are your customers? (persona)
- Are they digitally active or prefer conventional marketing channels?
- What are their preferred digital marketing channels for buying, communication, and engagement?
- Which platforms are they most active on? (e.g., email, WhatsApp, social media etc.)
- What is the general purchasing habit for your products/sector?
- Who are your competitors?
- What digital marketing activities are they engaging in?
While there is no end to how much research you can do for learning about your customers, markets, and competitors, these questions will give you visibility and data to get started. Once you have clarity on the best practices for digital marketing and how your competitors are marketing, modify your strategy to reap the maximum returns.
Alternatively, you can also consider market research services for deeper data and insights. This will help you gather in-depth information to build future plans and strategies for growing your business.
5. Find a digital marketing specialist
And finally, the crucial part of every digital marketing strategy for small businesses – finding the right digital marketing agency or freelance specialist to run the show. This is an important decision as the success and failure of your initiatives will depend significantly on the agency you hire. Consider the following questions before hiring a digital marketing agency:
- Their experience in working with MSMEs in India
- The sector/industry they specialise in i.e., the clients they work with
- Their expertise in digital marketing for B2B and/or B2C
- The team size, skills and expertise, and experience
- Digital marketing services offered and the cost
- Review, references, and testimonials
Whether you work with a digital marketing company or a freelancer, there are pros and cons. Consider what works for your business. For example:
|Working with a Digital Marketing Agency||Working with a freelance Digital Marketing Specialist|
|Larger team; can provide end-to-end digital marketing services under one roof; also has backup resources to cover urgent requirements||Individual contributor; will have to collaborate with others to offer complete digital marketing suite; might not be able to accommodate urgent work requests|
|More expensive than a freelancer||Comparatively lesser expensive|
|Likely to meet timelines and provide instant support when required||May not be able to provide instant customer support due to lack of resources|
|Not very flexible to make change in plans||Flexible to accommodate client requirements|
|Has access to multiple tools and software to deliver better services e.g., reports and analytics||Has subscription to important digital marketing tools only|
Digital marketing services in 2022 for MSMEs
To put it simply, it is no longer about whether or not your business needs digital marketing solutions; the question is when do you start and how do you plan it.
As an emerging business, understand your challenges and opportunities and seek help to build a strategy that will help you to accelerate growth. Contrary to popular belief, digital marketing when planned and executed, is not expensive, and there are several inexpensive digital marketing strategies that MSMEs can adopt to reap positive ROIs every time.