Best Foot Forward: Using mobile marketing to drive your SMEs post-covid growth on a shoestring budget
According to McKinsey, SMEs have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and its remote working implications. So, with SMEs being the backbone of the UAE’s economy, contributing just over half (52 percent) of the country’s non-oil GDP, it’s no surprise that the Dubai government announced a Dh6.3 billion stimulus package for businesses. Measures such as this, and the fact that their size and singular focus affords them the ability to be agile and flexible, have meant that despite the challenges of the past year, opportunity is still rife for small businesses with the right mindset.
With social distancing becoming a part and parcel of everyday life, consumers are increasingly looking for businesses to engage with them in new and creative ways. Digital services have taken priority as is evident from a Nielsen report which highlighted that before COVID-19 only 21 percent of UAE consumers shopped online, compared to 41 percent today. As this digital migration of consumers continues to accelerate, SMEs can take advantages of opportunities that new customer priorities and preferences present.
For several small and medium businesses across the Middle East, navigating the mobile commerce space is unchartered territory, but one that can be mastered fairly quickly and relatively painlessly. What most small businesses also have in common is a very limited budget to communicate and engage with their existing or target customers. So how can these organizations conduct business in the mobile ecosystem, without earmarking a large portion of their revenue to marketing budgets?
Manage the digital marketing mix
The good news for businesses that find themselves operating in the mobile commerce space, ensuring customers can find and buy their products with ease doesn’t require too much technical know-how. A great digital marketing mix blends paid, owned, and earned media into one comprehensive strategy. Mobile web-to-app journeys, emails, and social media are all marketing channels that can significantly grow your customer base when used together optimally. This can result in getting customers to where you need them to find your goods or services without any friction, helping you achieve your customer acquisition goals at little to no cost.
Convert web users into loyal app users
Smartphone penetration figures in the Middle East rank among the highest globally. Consequently, apps are an integral part of the mobile experience for many users. Tapping into this could open up a world of new opportunities for your business. For SMEs with a website and a mobile app, it’s worth noting that nearly 90 percent of users discover brands on the web, while 70 percent of digital revenues occur in apps. So, it makes sense to focus on attracting users to your website, and then creatively and seamlessly routing that traffic to your app.
One proven way of moving users from web to app is by prominently displaying banners on your home page and on key product and category pages. Another creative way some mobile commerce businesses ensure customers are attracted to downloading their mobile app is by offering services or functionality which is only found on the app. However, it is essential to ensure that the app is easy to download, navigate and ultimately offers a better user experience, overall, than the website. In a Middle East market where data is expensive and competition for engagement is high, an app that takes up too much space or uses too much data will be deleted very quickly to make room for something else.
Raise customer acquisition and visibility with social channels
The use of social channels is deeply integrated into the culture of the region, and in the UAE, a staggering 98.98 percent of the population is active on social media. Social platforms are just as, if not more, important than websites in providing brand visibility and awareness. Optimizing the use of your owned media can yield great results.
Facebook, Twitter and even TikTok continue to rank as top channels for user acquisition and engagement, with most people accessing their social networks on mobile, on the go. So, whether you’re intent on growing your app user base or engaging with existing customers, it’s important to make sure that your social channels shine with up to date, relevant, engaging, and exciting content.
Analyzing effectiveness of mobile marketing
Whether using email marketing, a targeted SMS campaign or social media marketing, understanding how effective each campaign has been is essential to achieving real customer growth and optimizing marketing ROI. It may be that your customer base responds best to SMS campaigns or that you operate in a sector where customers spend more time on social media. How likely are your customers to open your emails and what is it about each campaign that motivates recipients to take action? To answer all these questions, you need a good system in place that can provide data and analytics that helps you make sense of your digital marketing efforts.
Opportunities on mobile
Whatever your business field or expertise, you need to be able to connect with the right customers for your goods or services. While print advertising, TV and especially radio are all very effective in the Middle East market, these means of marketing to your audiences come with a cost that most SME businesses can’t afford. The Middle East boasts some of the world’s highest rates of users online and on mobile devices. This presents a great, affordable avenue to use smart, targeted digital marketing approaches to find new customers as well as retain valuable loyal ones.
It’s also relatively straightforward, requiring just a few clicks, planning and continual review to ensure the campaigns are effective.