Do you want to run a successful SME marketing campaign?
Are you stuck on where to start, which strategies to use, and how to sustain a marketing campaign’s success?
If youanswer yes to any of those, then you’re in the right place.
In this guide, I'll talk about the nitty-gritty of SME marketing. But before we even talk about the strategies, let’s start with the basics.
What is SME marketing?
Just because your business is a small or a medium-sized enterprise doesn’t mean you should do any less than big brands. In fact, depending on your SME marketing strategy, you might need to spend more time and attention to detail—from inbound marketing to audience research and content tracking.
You see, SME digital marketing covers a lot of ground.
It involves everything that can help small business owners reach their target audience through marketing channels, like:
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Conversion rate optimisation
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- ...And lots more
Unlike large enterprises, you probably don’t have millions to burn on campaigns involving A-list influencers or celebrities. But you can’t handle your digital marketing like a solo entrepreneur, either.
Rather, you need a team of specialists to handle every area of your digital marketing strategy. That’s what other SMEs in the competition are doing, and that’s how you’ll achieve measurable business growth.
SME marketing trends
Now that you’re familiar with SME digital marketing, let’s look at trends that will shape the industry this 2022.
Trend 1: The rise of video marketing
During the lockdown, everyone suddenly had enough free time to create and consume boatloads of videos.
TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube—video consumption on the internet is at an all-time high, particularly short-form videos.
Cisco states that 82% of all online traffic in 2022 will move through video. That’s 15 times higher than the traffic share of video back in 2017.
It comes as no surprise that SMEs are doubling down on their video content strategy.
The State of Video Marketing 2021 report from Wyzowl revealed that 86% of businesses use video for digital marketing. And if you want your SME to be relevant and visible, you’d follow suit.
Image Source: TikTok.com, @Vessi
Trend 2: Instant messaging for direct marketing
Businesses used to rely on SMS and phone calls as traditional digital marketing channels. They’re quick, convenient, and guaranteed to reach potential customers regardless of where they are and what they’re doing.
However, they have since been replaced by OTT (Over-The-Top) chat apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
Unlike SMS, OTT chat apps boast features that take mobile messaging to a whole new level. Users can form group chats, send animated stickers, and complete self-guided experiences through chatbots.
That’s why businesses have been migrating their sales and customer service experiences from SMS to OTT chat in recent years.
Chat apps also hold the position as the most popular mobile app category on the internet.
Data from Statista shows that a staggering 90.7% of internet users access chat apps regularly.
Image Source: Statista.com
Trend 3: Digital marketing being dominated by tools
According to the 2022 State of Content Marketing, “content marketing tools” have been the most popular topic in the marketing landscape. It is even ahead of other major topics, including “corporate content marketing” and “social media content marketing.”
Image Source: SEMrush.com
A good reason to invest more in content marketing tools is the ever-growing need for automation.
As SMEs’ marketing stack keep up with rising customer expectations, businesses start depending more on automation tools to boost efficiency. These help marketers save time on repetitive tasks while also taking the unpredictability of human error out of the equation.
Trend 4: Virtual events are here for good
In the early years of the pandemic, small businesses that launched physical events had no choice but to go digital.
Thankfully, there was an abundance of video streaming platforms that established the practicality of virtual events. Even social media networks like Facebook and Instagram had streaming features, allowing businesses to connect with their audience in real-time.
In 2022, pandemic restrictions have eased, and people are coming back to offices, shopping centres, and other public accommodations. However, 75% of event attendees prefer to attend virtually even after in-person events have returned.
Image Source: Kaltura.com, The State of Virtual Events 2022
Trend 5: A/B test or lose
At this point, every self-respecting marketer should know that there’s no such thing as an overnight success.
To have a winning SME digital marketing strategy, you should expect to only establish baselines in your first campaign. What you do from there, including content engagement and conversion rate optimisation, will take you on the path to victory.
To help you reach important milestones faster, you need to add A/B testing to your SME digital marketing mix.
In simple terms, A/B testing involves simultaneously testing multiple versions of the same asset. It can be an ad, videos, website content, and even individual page elements—from headers to CTA buttons.
As a result, brands will be able to test strategies and gather actionable data significantly faster.
Trend 6: Social media advertising for quicker wins
When asked about their SME digital marketing priorities, small business owners are no longer tunnel-visioned on blog content development.
While important, inbound content marketing strategies simply aren’t fast enough for SMEs that need to make every bit of spend count. This is especially true if they put all their spend into a single channel.
To support the growth pains of a budding business, marketers have turned to social media advertising to gain instant exposure.
A study by Visual Objects found that 70% of small businesses now invest in paid ads on social media platforms. That’s surprisingly much higher than the 31% of businesses that invest in PPC and search ads. This is likely due to a lower barrier-to-entry, rather than better performance.
Trend 7: Influencer marketing is MASSIVE
Apart from social media ads, more and more brands leverage the power of influencers to win at online marketing.
According to a report by Influencer Marketing Hub, the size of influencer marketing ballooned to $16.4 billion in 2022. That’s more than double its market size in 2019, which sits at a modest $6.5 billion.
Image Source: InfluencerMarketingHub.com
Influencer marketing allows brands to leverage the social media presence of popular content creators to boost online reach.
Top influencers on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook can promote your brand to hundreds of thousands of followers in one post. You just need to set a budget, find the right influencer, and develop campaigns that align with your marketing objectives.
SME marketing tips and strategies
Now that we’ve covered the most important SME digital marketing trends, it’s time to plan your next move.
Here are some of the best tips and strategies that will help augment your SME digital marketing:
Tip 1: Review your target audience
Video marketing, instant messaging, virtual events—nearly all the latest trends in SME digital marketing affect how brands connect with customers.
Remember, user experience is paramount in all aspects of online marketing.
Before committing to a new strategy, make sure it taps into a platform your target audience uses.
In addition to deciding which digital marketing trend to pursue, revisiting your audience research has a slew of other benefits:
- Fine-tune your brand’s messaging
- Identify what a prospective buyer looks like
- Discover conversations and queries that ultimately lead to sales
- Explore opportunities to improve your products
Tip 2: Use short-form videos to ramp up engagement
The world of social media marketing is undeniably heading towards videos.
They’re impactful, memorable, and can be spread in several engaging ways.
Believe it or not, you also don’t need expensive video production to captivate social media users. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram have built-in tools to help SMEs create share-worthy and searchable videos.
Of course, there are also cost-effective tools like Canva that simplify the video creation process. You can trim videos, stitch together multiple clips, and create simple animations that can pique the interest of users.
Image Source: Canva.com
Tip 3: Focus on storytelling
In an age where everyone spends absurd amounts of time online, users are better at spotting branded content than ever.
The number of potential customers who can be wowed by professional-looking infographics or explainer videos is diminishing. Today, they’re looking for authentic and relatable storytelling experiences.
A lot of customers have also stopped caring whether they’re watching paid video ads or organic content. If your story is delivered in a non-intrusive way and provides a worthwhile experience, users will respond positively.
Some actual use cases of storytelling for SME digital marketing are:
- Highlight success stories of past customers or clients
- Establish relatability by hammering down on their pain points
- Deliver stories through short-form videos to maximise watch time
- Show your team at work to build buyer confidence
- Use relatable formats for social media posts (Stories, memes, etc.)
It’s also important to spread your stories on channels where potential customers expect them.
For example, KMS Auto Repair publishes Instagram Stories that give their audience a “behind-the-scenes” look at the business.
Image Source: Instagram.com, @kmsautorepair
Tip 4: Align emails with the customer journey
Speaking of storytelling, there’s another channel medium sized companies can’t afford to miss.
Yes—I’m talking about emails.
In email marketing, medium enterprises know that it’s not about flashy images or visual templates. It’s all about taking readers on a journey that winds down the path to conversion.
For example, you can start an email series with an introduction that calibrates the audience’s expectations. From there, you can start following up with meatier messages with CTAs that drive web traffic.
If necessary, your SME can also send reminder emails in case the customer chose not to take action.
Below are a few tips to help you develop an effective email marketing strategy:
- Automate your emails: There are loads of email marketing platforms that let you plan and send automated campaigns. This allows you to focus on other aspects of your digital marketing while your email front works in the background.
- Use plain text emails for drip campaigns: There are reasons why plain text emails have a higher click-through rate than HTML messages filled with unnecessary visuals. Aside from being more readable, they look significantly more authentic than branded emails laden with graphics.
- Schedule timely emails: Take note that plenty of customers wait for the right time before they take the next step. Don’t forget to automate emails on your customers’ birthdays, holidays, and other relevant dates.
Tip 5: Combine organic and paid campaigns
Focusing solely on either organic or paid digital marketing campaigns may work, but the results might not always be favourable when done individually.
Building organic traffic channels is a solid long-term strategy that can keep SMEs afloat for years. Paid channels, however, can help them acquire new leads in the short term.
Let’s step into the world of a B2B SEO agency, for example.
By prioritising both raising search engine rankings and paid ad rankings, brands can rake in up to 29% more profits.
Other than increasing your SME’s profit potential, combining organic and paid marketing initiatives allows for sustainable growth.
Remember that organic campaigns like SEO take some time to generate results. More importantly, it takes money to keep SEO campaigns running.
While waiting for your search engine rankings to come through, consider taking advantage of paid channels to fund your growth.
Tip 6: Streamline analytics tracking
Here’s the thing: SMEs need to invest in platforms that will help them track key growth metrics.
After all, there’s no way to determine if your marketing strategy is working unless you measure your results.
An all-in-one online marketing platform like SEMrush, combined with Google Analytics and your favourite A/B testing tools should have all your analytics needs covered.
It will help you stay on top of important metrics that gauge digital marketing success, like unique visitors, session duration, and keyword rankings.
Image Source: SEMrush.com
To gain a competitive edge, SEMrush also lets you analyse every single facet of your top competitor’s digital marketing strategy.
SEMrush can help you dissect their top keywords, most popular pages, best backlink sources, and more.
Finally, SMEs also need to track the impact of their digital marketing initiatives on their bottom line. A proven way to do this is to use Google Analytics to track goals like sales, page visits, and downloads.
Work with an SME marketing agency now
I know—SME marketing may seem too big and complicated to wrap your head around after reading just one post.
Just take one step at a time and focus on a clear direction.
You may not notice huge progress in your online marketing journey as it happens. But, over time, small wins will eventually add up and help small businesses make a dent in their industries.
An SME marketing agency can help you see the big picture and build your roadmap to online marketing success. Contact me here, and let’s get to planning right now!