Digital marketing has already proved an important partner for SMEs aiming to sustain—and grow—their businesses. Social media offers the chance to reach incredibly targeted audiences for incredibly reasonable prices. Email marketing allows you to personalize and engage with customers on regular—automated—terms. And SEO / GoogleAds have both helped even the smallest SME bump higher in search engine rankings. As we head closer to 2020, the only question remains: what else does technology have to offer? The following tools stand out as the most promising when it comes to risk, ease of use, and ROI for the SME market.
Smart beacons use Bluetooth technology to broadcast data from one’s mobile device outward to the physical environment—similar to the way a lighthouse shines light into the darkness. They use physical proximity to allow stores, restaurants, and other businesses to connect in real-time with customers who are near them. For instance, a bakery could automatically text a coupon to a customer’s phone as he or she walks past the physical establishment—and then see in real time if the marketing was effective in drawing the customer inside. Talk about targeted marketing!
Beacons are ideal in helping companies automate loyalty programs, as well. Rather than worrying about punching or swiping loyalty cards, beacons can track customer visits virtually and automatically reward customers for their number of visits, total spending, or any other milestone your company might imagine. In that sense, it’s not just fun and engaging; it helps save time and money, as well.
Another exciting technology being utilized by SMEs is virtual reality (VR). While some may still associate VR with the gaming industry, it’s come a long way in becoming an important marketing tool worldwide. With VR, companies can build virtual tours of their hotels, restaurants, or resorts. They can allow potential customers to experience a preview of their services—be it bungee jumping or a beauty makeover. Companies like The North Face have even enabled customers to experience what it’s like to wear their clothing and equipment in locations like Yosemite National Park and the Himalayas via in-store VR stations. Far more than a fun experience, VR allows your customers to engage and understand your company and your brand far better than an ad or product description. And, it allows for buzz-worthy sharing on social media channels, which can lead to even wider customer engagement.
Digital signage is a great alternative to traditional billboards, posters, and email, especially when connecting with customers in a set geographic space (such as a store, restaurant, train, etc.) This could be anything from a new sale, product, or dinner special, to product recalls, industry news, and travel warnings. They’re affordable, eye-catching, and allow you to add or change information in real-time. Even better, they’re proven to be effective. In one study, video was used to record the number of people who noticed static and digital signage at numerous places. For the static sign, the number of people paying attention to the sign peaked on its first day. However, for the digital sign, the number remained consistently high every day—almost as high as the very first day of the study. It was also shown that of those who saw digital billboards, 55 percent of participants could remember the exact message it displayed every time they passed by one. That’s an uncanny level of penetration. While it might seem less exciting than smart beacons and VR, the case remains: if you are still using poster board and push pins to communicate to your customers, you’re missing out.
No matter how promising digital marketing is for SMEs, the truth remains: diversification is key. Multi-channel marketing has become the name of the game in creating brand awareness. Print, web, and live events and promotions all hold a place in one’s overall marketing plan. Neglecting those audiences, or failing to add fresh content to your web site to focus on other new, sexier technology options is simply not an option. SMEs need a strong presence across all channels to hold a strong presence in today’s world.
In the end, no single new technology will make or break your business. But utilizing relevant technologies in ways that are exciting and relevant to your customer base will go a long way in building brand awareness, engagement, and buzz worldwide.