If they are to add value and record gains from employing digital marketing channels, especially as they eye post-COVID-19 recovery, business owners must prioritise their customers, Simon Alangde, Innovation & Partnership Manager at Wineloya Digital, a digital advertising agency, has said.
According to him, whilst employing technology is beneficial to businesses, it does not operate in a vacuum. Emphasis, he noted, must be placed on the quality and speed of delivery of services to gain and maintain an advantage over competitors.
Speaking on the theme ‘How can SMEs create value using digital channels at a webinar hosted by CalBank in Accra, Mr. Alangde suggested that business proprietors must be enlightened on the benefits of collecting and utilizing customer data to improve their delivery.
“Business owners need to understand that digital platforms allow them target specific demographics and this helps them narrow down their marketing. With analytic tools, they are able to do this from a point of verifiable data and this would help drive efficiency and save cost,” he argued.
He however cautioned owners of small businesses to be circumspect regarding what platforms they employ as the dynamics of one sector would vary from another. He noted that not streamlining their digital engagements would inevitably lead to inefficiency and can leave them open to impersonation.
“That we are saying make use of digital platforms doesn’t mean you must be on all of them; you must select what suits your brand and circumstances. The aim is to optimise your business so that when people search, they would find your business.”
Continuing, he said, “If you are actually everywhere, you’re in danger of engaging in brand inconsistency. It is better not to have a brand online than to have an inconsistent one as this might leave customers confused as to the authenticity of your online accounts. This can give opportunity to unscrupulous individuals to try to impersonate your brand online.”
Whilst there are free tools, he encouraged operators of SMEs to engage the services of professionals as unwillingness on their part presented the biggest barrier to the adoption of digital marketing channels. He added that although the initial cost of engagement might be seen as relatively high, the potential benefits outweigh the initial cost required
Data suggests a significant year-on-year growth in total amount spent in consumer e-commerce categories for 2019 against 2018. Fashion and beauty; food and personal care; furniture and appliances, and electronics and physical media saw a 45 percent; 45 percent; 38 percent and 31 percent appreciation respectively.
This was recorded from approximately 14 million persons, spending the equivalent of US$826 million and a 17 percent rise in digitally-enabled consumer payments year-on-year.
In his closing remarks, Group Head, Consumer and Retail banking, Joejo Wodow-Hammond stated that being fully aware of the significance of SMEs to the economy; the bank is committed to providing platforms to support business owners in their recovery and growth processes.