Small traders urged to enhance online presence as growth strategyBy Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—If your company’s growth strategy does not involve building a strong online presence, then perhaps it is time to start changing directions.
Otherwise, your firm faces the very real possibility of eating the dust left behind by more aggressive competitors embracing the power of the worldwide web.
This was the prediction shared by top officials of Internet giant Google during a recent briefing in Singapore on connecting the next billion people to the Internet.
Google predicted that between 2012 and 2015, 500 million new users from emerging markets—including the Philippines—will go online, and they represent a potential market for all companies online.
Ghislain Le Chatelier, regional head for small and medium businesses in Southeast Asia, says during the briefing that the worldwide web was transforming small businesses as they now realize that their market can be quickly and affordably expanded beyond their home country by just being present online, thus they are diversifying their operations to include the Internet.
“Digital marketing helps small businesses look big. It allows them to scale, expand their reach and have access to new countries, new clients and markets. It also allows firms to be very efficient in terms of targeting customers,” says Le Chatelier.
He admits, however, that many companies are still wary about going online, partly because they have the mistaken notion that it is very expensive and difficult to build an online presence.
Le Chatelier says Google is thus on hand to show that going online is not as difficult as small and medium firms may think.
He says Google, for example, has a hotline that firms can call for help getting started on their journey to the online world.
“Once they are online, they can join a four-week success plan to build and grow their business. SMBs can reach out to business partner teams in their home country that will help them expand, optimize and grow their online presence,” says Le Chatelier.
For the Philippines, interested small and medium-scale enterprises can call 1800100466453 and pick a partner online at https://adwords.google.com/partnersearch/ to help them on their journey.
Le Chatelier says these partners can help address concerns of SMBs, such as how to advertise online, begin expanding to other markets and the best way to access potential markets through mobile presence.
Companies can also ask for help understanding online advertising, developing strategies to increase traffic on the website and formulating effective ads that will translate to increased sales and profit.
Le Chatelier adds that the partnership initiatives are part of Google’s aim to make it easy for these firms to transition from just having a brick-and-mortar presence to having both an online and offline presence.
“The takeaway here is that businesses who want to go digital can really do that. If you are not yet online, then go online now before competitors do,” says Le Chatelier.
MYTHS ABOUT SMES GETTING ONLINE
Getting online gives SMEs the opportunity to find new customers, increase sales and grow. Yet despite these obvious benefits, many SME owners are reluctant to take the digital plunge.
Here are a few myths about SMEs going online … and some facts to help set them straight.
Myth: Successful websites are high-traffic websites
1. Traffic is very important, but people clicking on an ad and visiting your website isn’t everything.
2. It’s what people do on a website that counts the most: purchasing an item, requesting a service or even joining a mailing list. In other words, it is about the right clicks from the right people.
3. Every decision you make should be focused on getting customers to spend money with you, not just clicking on your ad and visiting your website.
Myth: Digital marketing: you can set it, and forget it.
1. Digital marketing isn’t like billboards and television ads. You can’t just put creative out into the world and move on.
2. The Internet changes all the time, and so do your potential customers.
3. Just like you set aside time to pay your recurring bills, you should also monitor the performance of your keywords and make sure they’re doing well.
4. SMEs who feel they lack the time or resource to manage their digital campaigns actively can work with a Google-trained agency to help.
Myth: Mobile is nice to have, but it isn’t necessary
1. Mobile shouldn’t be an afterthought.
2. Even if you’re not ready to go for a mobile strategy, at bare minimum, make sure you’re found on a mobile device with a simple website that displays trading hours and location information.
3. We provide a quick and easy tool that shows you how your current site looks on mobile and provides a personalized report on what’s working and what’s not.
4. If you’re worried about the time or effort it takes to make your site mobile-friendly, don’t be. Use a free tool like Google’s mobile site builder, which lets you choose from six simple ready-for-mobile templates.
5. Finally, build your mobile ads strategy based on what your customers want. Getting started is easy: If you’re a Google AdWords customer, you’re automatically opted into mobile ads on smartphones.
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