Enterprises survive not only on the quality of their business ideas but their ability to create a market base for their ideas. Whether it is the products or services, businesses need a market for selling. The moot question is how a business is going to sell its products or services? Whether it is small or big, every business has to shell out some money for advertising and marketing. Advertising and promotion on different platforms increase better reach to the target audience and that, in turn, would lead to increased sales generation: this is a thumb rule for the entrepreneurs if they are planning to take a plunge in the world of business.
Marketing is an important area of focus for the companies. But in a dynamic business universe, the mode of marketing is equally critical along with the need for marketing. The traditional platforms for marketing, such as electronic and print media, have long served the businesses in reaching out to their target audience. Now those modes are facing stiff challenge from a new marketing method, called digital marketing. A fairly new entrant on the marketing landscape, digital marketing has got a high traction with the business community for its ability to reach a wider audience in a cost-effective way. So, what is digital marketing? In layman’s term, digital marketing is the type of marketing done online. In more elaborate terms, digital marketing encompasses all those marketing activities of a business entity that are done using the internet to reach out to the audience present online. On the digital platform, the companies employ different strategies to establish connection with its customers.
The Significance of Digital Marketing
Undoubtedly, digital marketing enables companies to reach wider audience by spending less in comparison to conventional marketing method. But before taking the deep dive into the digital world it is worth taking a look at the promise of online marketing and whether that promise has translated into the intended success.
Digital marketing, however, is an overarching term that encompasses various modes of marketing, such as social media marketing, email marketing, mobile marketing, search engine marketing, affiliate marketing, content marketing and internet marketing. For reaping the benefits of marketing, a company needs to develop a digital marketing strategy; it is not something that works on a one-size-fit-all principle. Strategies are framed based on a company’s business type – B2B or B2C. In this article, the importance of digital marketing for small businesses will be discussed in depth.
In India, small businesses come under the umbrella term MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises). These enterprises are part of the B2B landscape where they target their customers who want to purchase products in bulk. In other words, the enterprises sell their products to buyers who are engaged in product reselling business in their local markets. Companies also target institutional buyers that want certain products in bulk quantity. For instance, hospital requiring medical supplies, universities requiring furniture, railways requiring bedrolls, offices requiring table and chairs, and so on and so forth. But before discussing the framework for digital marketing let’s take a look at the significance of online business promotion of SMEs.
The Importance of Online Presence for the SMEs
Businesses around the world are fast migrating to the online world for marketing their products and services. It is not a rocket science to understand the importance of online presence of a company looking forward to make a customer base. In contemporary ties, more and more companies are utilizing the digital platform to increase its visibility. In recent years, the world has seen drastic increase in the number of internet users. According to Statista.com, as of January 2021, there were around 4.66 billion internet users, almost 60% of the global population. This number is growing every day, and today the users would have been even more.
As per a report published by a digital marketing firm, nearly 82% people use their mobile phone for searching online prior to shopping from a store. Therefore, online presence today, is crucial for small businesses if they want to connect with a larger market base for their products. In India, as of 2020 there were 622 million internet users which are expected to increase by 45% to reach 900 million users landmark in 2025. Despite the promise of digitalisation and the ecommerce platform, a large number of SMEs are still not present online. A Google’s research in collaboration with India’s leading consultancy firm KPMG revealed that 68% of the 51 million SMEs are still away from the internet. It infers that only 32% of the Indian SMEs are using digital technology to grow their business.
Advantages of Digital Marketing for Small Business
Businesses, small or big, thrive on the market they create for themselves. Companies spend money to showcase their products to their target audience. Big companies allocate big chunk of their operating costs on advertising and media spends. They give ads and promotional pitches on television, national newspapers, news-magazine, big advertising billboards at strategic locations around cities, and FM channels. Small businesses do not have such luxuries of advertising expenditures. Their reach is limited because of the financial constraints. At the maximum, they can give small ads in local newspapers or local satellite channels.
The crux of digital marketing is that it astronomically increases the market reach of companies that they hardly can achieve through the conventional marketing modes. Digital marketing puts small businesses at par with the big corporations in terms of market reach. They can literally go global from local by connecting to customer base in all parts of the world. Digital marketing has various advantages for the small businesses.
i. Wider Reach -
Digital marketing expands the market reach of individual companies. There are billions of people present online out of which there would be those whom the companies can reach with their businesses. Using digital marketing strategy, the companies can reach from few to a few thousands in a very short of span of time. It also breaks the geographical barriers for the companies. Hoardings and billboards are only visible to a limited audience whereas an ad on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other similar platforms can attract millions of views.
ii. Cost-effective -
Small businesses can benefit from digital marketing by advertising on a very cost-effective way. Marketing on digital platform does not require heavy investment as compared to electronic or print media.
iii. Brand Building -
Digital marketing enables the companies in brand building by connecting with the prospective clients. By sustained efforts they can showcase the value of their products or the utility of their services.
iv. Innovative Ways to Attract Customers’ Attention -
On the digital platform, companies can adopt innovative techniques of connecting with the customers. For instance, giving them a brief about the quality of their products through a graphical representation or user feedback sends across a positive message about the utility of their products.
v. Level Playing Field -
Digital marketing offers a level playing field to small businesses at par with the corporate giants. This marketing platform erodes the disadvantage small businesses face due to financial constraints that limit their presence on other advertising media, such as television or the print.
vi. Increased Conversions -
Since digital marketing augments customer reach, there is increased chances of conversions of business leads.
vii. Higher Revenue Generation -
High conversions will inevitably lead to high revenue generation for the small businesses. With low investments on product advertising and brand promotion start-ups can generate high revenue earning in the very early days of their establishment.
viii. Target The Right Audience -
Through digital marketing, businesses can reach the right audience at the right place. Digital marketing employs Google analytics that help in filtering data about customers’ preferences. Companies can use the data to reach out to customers showing their proclivity towards certain products. They can get in touch with such customers through email. Therefore, they can use the email marketing tool to directly reach individual clients.
Methods of Digital Marketing in India
Under digital marketing, there are various methods that small businesses can use to advertise their products and services. These methods are:
· Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
· Search engine optimization (SEO)
· Content marketing
· Affiliate marketing
· Social media marketing (SMM)
· Email marketing
Small businesses in India can utilize the above methods to advertise their products and services. Companies can use all or combination of these marketing methods to advertise on the digital platform. These marketing methods, however, can be availed of as a package offered by established business to business (B2B) companies, such as Tradeindia.com. This B2B marketplace offers a complete services package to generate business leads for its member clients. Platforms like Tradeindia employ all or combination of the aforementioned digital marketing techniques to generate business leads for the clients. Such business leads generally have high conversion rates. In a very short span of time, small businesses can develop a pool of clients through the B2B marketing platforms by spending much less in comparison to the conventional marketing methods.