KAMPALA — The MUBS Entrepreneurship Centre recently organized a business startup training for both university youths and those currently waiting to join the university, where I tutored a group of young enthusiastic entrepreneurs in digital marketing strategies. During one of the engagements with participants, I realized that they intended to run businesses following the traditional way of getting a physical shop, a beautiful signpost and waiting for customers to come and check out their product. They hadn’t considered the change in needs and preferences of customers who now prefer to stay at home, check their social media for a product and engage a seller willing to deliver it to their doorstep.
According to the first 2021 quarter report by UCC, 21.5 million Ugandans have an internet connection, roughly translating into 50% of the total population. Therefore, the majority of the customer base and those willing to purchase a commodity are online. An upcoming entrepreneur might feel confident in the survival of their product through the traditional business route, but the vast opportunities that the digital world offers should not be overlooked.
Maya Balunywa, a proprietor of Maya’s gallery and influencer, says digital marketing gave life to her businesses. She adapted to the change after her customers and competitors shifted to online platforms. With digital marketing, she reaches a vast number of customers in different regions of the country and has built her online brand at a cheaper cost.
An entrepreneur needs to explore different digital marketing strategies for their business in order to have a competitive edge. Digital marketing encompasses various aspects of the online world which makes it tricky to choose the most appropriate digital strategy for a business.
The digital marketing strategies below are a few examples that can give your business a competitive edge.
Identifying the right social media channel best suited for your business
Entrepreneurs need to tap into the increasing usage of social media through vital tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram. According to the small business marketing statistics and trends, 74% of consumers make their purchase decisions on social media.
However, identifying the right social media channel is not easy. An entrepreneur needs to understand the target audience for his product and which tool they primarily use. For example, Instagram is the best platform for fashion, health, beauty, fitness, modelling, photography and other niche related business.
One of the free and yet most effective digital marketing tools. Encourage your customers to always offer product reviews. Have an option for reviews on your blog, website or social media channel to encourage feedback. The wins or positive reviews will attract more customers, and the negative reviews will enable you to make amends and retain customers. Ensure that you maintain a rating of four and above.
Another excellent strategy for digital marketing is email marketing. Everyone with a smartphone has access to their email at any time of the day. Generate a list of customers and potential customers that you periodically send emails to with digital newsletters about the different products available, sales, and special offers. Several free digital makerting tools can make this very effective, including Mailchimp, Sendinblue, benchmark email, among others
Build a website or Blog
This will attract customers when they visit your Blog or Website. The eCommerce blog or website can run period updates about the products and services you offer. To successfully attract traffic to your website or blog, you have to continuously create content, add pictures, have shareable links, and write better titles. There are several free tools that you can use to build a website free of charge, such as WordPress, Wix and web.com.
Use of an influencer
If you want to quickly garner traffic on your page and build a brand, use an influencer. People will more likely purchase a product that a familiar and relatable person promotes. Influencers have always used Instagram as the most critical tool for influencing, until recently when TikTok gained popularity. You need to know the different types of influencers before you choose the right one for your business. These include celebrity influencers with a large following like Ann Kansiime and Kenzo, brand influencers, micro-influencers, social media influencers and blog influencers like ItsMayaBee, who has many subscribers. Claire who runs a @beyourownbossbabe on Instagram is a renowned influencer with a large following. She testifies that businesses have worked with her received a following, and saw an increase in sales. This is because her following view her as a real person and have grown to trust her. As an upcoming entrepreneur, this could be your way of breaking through in the digital world.
The internet is a vast space that offers many opportunities but can also fail many businesses. The key take away points from digital marketing are; engage your clients, offer timely responses, and respond promptly to the disgruntled customer.
The writer is the Manager of the MUBS eLearning Centre, a lecturer in the MUBS Business Administration Department and a PhD Student at Nelson Mandela University