With today’s tough global economy, it’s harder than ever to grow, especially if you are a Small and Medium Enterprise SME.

From productivity challenges combined with rising new business acquisition costs, it’s now both more difficult and costly to build your brand and secure valuable leads online from Google.

According to recent research by Zen internet to over 1,000 SMEs, results reveal many are also struggling with internet connections and technology issues which have an adverse effect on output.

 A visible digital presence

SME connectivity is key to growth.- reaching new customers online by promoting your services is a fundamental part of how any business needs to operate in order to be successful.

Digital Marketing actively connects you with customers and enables you to engage them at every stage of the sales cycle from awareness to long term loyalty. Having an easy to find set of services and products promoted online that addresses the needs of target customers and enables employees to service them quickly is no longer optional.  Having an digital presence is imperative.

SMEs need a visible digital presence that reaches new customers while streamlining core services and operations. Businesses need a fast, well-designed website and social media presence that shows they understand customers online behaviour.

How to get started with digital marketing ?

  • You need to put customers at the centre of your business and understand what they are interested in
  • Develop a strong digital marketing plan placed at the centre of the business strategy to maximise sales
  • Adapt and evolve with new marketing trends to stay competitive and retain high-quality customers.
  • Set an intention to learn and integrate new innovations to help set your company apart from the rest

There are lots of digital marketing, social media, search and online tools and trends that provide new opportunities to grow your business, but putting together a plan and understanding the latest SME digital marketing trends can be overwhelming. Until now: check out some of our top tips help you:

What actions do SMEs need to take to be successful online?

 1) Understand your customers’ needs and questions

70% of B2B customers define their needs online before engaging with a sales rep, for B2C, typically 100% the sales cycle is done online.

So, you need to know what your customers are searching for online, understand what questions they are asking and make sure you are answering. You can use analytics and harness online insights to drive business performance and optimise your digital marketing strategy. As artificial intelligence, influencer marketing and SEO dominate the online marketing space, it’s imperative for your business to be educated and prepared for upcoming shifts in marketing trends.

2) Increase your online visibility

Did you know, 63% of consumers need to hear company claims three to five times before they actually believe it? (Edelman Trust Barometer).

By expanding your presence and influence online, using SEO, PPC and multi-channel communication, you can ensure your brand and messages are reaching your audience at every touchpoint.

3) Join in the conversation

Today, conversations often start on social media, where customers share their needs, opinions, and join the debate. Use your web presence to share new insights and differentiate your website – excite your target audience with new ideas and refreshing content that stimulates conversation.

45.6% of B2B buyers want to hear new ideas at the beginning of a sales conversation. (CSO Insights)

4) Calls to action across the sales cycle

Today’s sales process takes 22% longer than five years ago, so to accelerate this use online experiences and engagement to accelerate the process. Consider content, promotions and offers that service each stage of the sales cycle online to attract, engage, and delight customers even past the point of purchase. This means you continue to interact with customers instead of treating them as one-time-only prospects.

5) Social media shopping 

With the click of a button, you can go from scrolling on Instagram to populating your credit card information and completing a purchase. Shoppable posts have significantly shortened the sales funnel by eliminating steps from awareness all the way to the point of purchase. E-commerce sites are taking advantage of this trend by using Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to take you from prospective buyer to customer in just a one swipe. This is a key trend for 2020 –  if you aren’t already doing this  –  make sure you are.

6) Personalisation 

Despite the growing surge of artificial intelligence in the digital space, customers still want to relate to a company. As automation continues to grow, it is still important to connect with your customers. Generic email blasts to a huge list of people won’t cut it in 2020. (Just ask Aviva) Personalised groupings of newsletter pushes based on customer history and data will outperform mass blasts. Segment your email lists into categories, and study consumer behaviours to personalise each mail out. The key is to make customers feel they are being treated as individuals.

7) Content marketing 

Content is still king will continue to be in 2020. However, quality over quantity and more diverse content are predicted to be consumer favourites. Take time to diversify your 2020 content strategy with content such as video and interactive content to attract customers.

However, regular blogging or longer forms of written content should not be forgotten as they are key contributors to driving visibility and strong SEO. The key is to use content strategically to attract and engage your audience, not to post every day and to annoy them with poor quality space fillers.

8) Conversational marketing

This is an exciting new trend in marketing, which combines the rapid adoption of smart speakers and innovation in search query processing, conversational interfaces and messaging.

“Six out of ten smart speaker owners (60%) have used them to make a purchase in the past year. In fact, nearly a quarter (22%) said they have done so within the past week”. (study of 2,000 British adults)

Not suitable for complex products purchases – yet – but it is predicted in the next 2 to 5 years, smart speakers will support the purchase journey and marketers will need to embrace conversational marketing opportunities.

 9) Data protection

Social media suffers from two major issues: data privacy and disinformation. If your brand has suffered a similar issue, your 2020 marketing strategy should tackle it, and centre on rebuilding brand trust. If your brand hasn’t suffered a data privacy issue, that certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be focusing on data privacy either.

 British Airways was issued with a proposed fine of £183m for a breach of customer data

Hotel chain Marriott received a £99 million fine for failing to protect personal data contained in approximately 339 million guest records.

Consumers have less trust in brands when it comes to data privacy but are still more likely to give companies data in exchange for a more personalised service. Harness the power of AI and advanced analytics when building your social media strategy to select relevant data that would resonate with your audience in a meaningful and non-intrusive manner.

10) Embrace emerging tech

We have seen a decreasing effectiveness of traditional identification methods such as cookies for tracking, which makes media ROI determination – supposedly one of the key benefits of digital channels – much more difficult.

Emerging technologies can potentially help with both of these challenges. New Identify Management or Know Your Customer solutions are being developed that can both improve security, reduce fraud and improve insight about customers across multiple devices.

11) Promotions and incentives

Building an engaged online community is only the first step and -arguably- the hardest one. Brands need to leverage that hard work by incentivising their communities to create content for them.

90% of purchasing decisions are led by user-generated content (UGC).

Consumers are more likely to trust a regular person that they can relate to more than the brand itself or a celebrity endorsing the brand.  I

It therefore comes as no surprise that UGC generates 6.9 times the engagement that brand-created content does. When putting together your marketing strategy, think about the incentives you can provide to your community to encourage them to create content. Whether it’s a product discount, a prize, an exclusive event invitation, or just the sense of community and belonging, make the incentive stand out, and make it shareable! Don’t forget to then use the content and share it effectively to further engage your online audience.