How MSMEs can grow their customer base and generate leads digitally
Digital strategies that growing businesses can employ, to widen reach and create access to customers across new markets.
Article at a glance
Strong customer understanding is key for business growth online
From effective digital marketing to establishing partnerships, there are several ways to widen your customer base.
Every method of online growth may not be applicable for your business. Choose wisely.
Businesses whether big or small, aim to grow and expand their reach. One of the ways in which many businesses, particularly MSMEs, can look to drive growth is through digital marketing. Whether your business is B2B (business conducted between one business and another, such as a wholesaler and retailer) or B2C (a direct-to-retail or customer facing business, such as a storefront), you can use digital to build your brand, reach new customers and generate more business. Here is a roadmap to getting your business to grow and generate leads via digital:
Is your customer online?
It might seem fairly obvious. However, there is a strong reason why you should think long and hard about the answer. The number of active internet users in 2020 was about 300 million plus. That means a large population isn’t active on the internet. If your potential customer is not among the 300 million active internet users, you may want to consider more traditional approaches. You must understand who your customer is, what she does online and what her interests are before formulating your digital strategy.
Push versus pull
If your customer is active online, there are two ways you can reach them: pushing your content to them (targeted advertising) or pulling them to your content (content and search marketing). Platforms such as Google and Facebook allow you to target specific sets of audiences and pull them to your content, website or online store. You can target audiences by interest, location, keywords and many other factors. A more organic way of reaching potential customers is through creating content that people can find search engines. Search engines like Google drive anywhere between 60-90% of a website’s traffic. Search engine optimization is the art and science of creating content that ranks on sites like Google. For example, if you are a manufacturer of surgical instruments, you would want to rank among the top three results when users search for surgical instrument manufacturers on Google.
Targeting the elusive one
If your customer does not use the internet heavily or if their interests are not known, then previously collected customer data can be used to reach them. Social media platforms allow you to leverage existing customer databases. Phone numbers, names, email addresses and other data can help you directly target your customers. Some online advertising platforms such as Facebook and Google even allow for ‘lookalike audiences’ where potential new customers with similar profiles to those of your existing customers can be targeted.
CRM to the rescue
Customer databases can also be leveraged to reach out to customers directly. Since you have a means to reach out to them - email addresses, phone numbers etc., can all be fed into CRM (customer relationship management) tools that are available via the internet. These tools allow you to send marketing content directly to your customers. Powerful analytics and reports help you understand what appeals to them, and what does not, helping you hone your marketing strategy. You could always reach out to them directly via email or messages, however the chances of success would most definitely be much lower. Too many messages and emails may lead to frustrated customers; irrelevant content on the other hand may confuse them about your intentions.
Rewarding loyalty and digital referrals
Do you have repeat customers who prefer doing business with you? You can grow your database (and potential leads) by incentivising these existing customers to share information about their network via referrals. From discounts on purchases, to rewards such as bonuses, vacations, and cashbacks etc., there are many new and innovative ways to reach potential new customers. The best part? Quality leads are often easily sourced, and sometimes at fractional costs versus just running ads on the internet.
Final note: The key to unlocking strong digital outcomes for your business is understanding your customers and their behaviour on the internet. If you know what they do, where they go, and what kind of content they consume, you can easily find ways to reach them. The final step relies on your ability to persuade them, and make the sale.
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