Affordable digital marketing tips for MSMEs amidst the COVID pandemic

Authored by Nikhil Arora, Managing Director and Vice President, GoDaddy India 

Driven by rapid digital adoption and accelerated surge in internet penetration, online content consumption has seen a stark rise amidst the pandemic. People are spending more time consuming content on mobile phones, OTT (Over the Top) platforms and other forms of digital media.

The impact of the pandemic has significantly impacted the cash flows for both small and large businesses and has increased the momentum to embrace the use of digital media. According to a report by Dun & Bradstreet’s 2021 around 77 percent of the CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) agree that there has been an increase in digital engagement. Additionally, one in five companies generates 30-40 percent of their sales through use of digital channels. Brands have realized the effect of digital marketing on their growth, and the importance of connecting with the audience on an intrinsic level. With an increase in awareness, small businesses are now looking at growing their online presence through a cost-effective strategy to reach more of their potential customers.  

Here are five cost-effective tips for help promoting your business digitally and optimizing limited budgets.

Interactive Email Marketing

Email as a marketing and communication channel is known to be one of the most professional and organic mediums to reach prospective customers. While other marketing techniques have gained in precedence, email continues to contribute to the overall growth  cost-effectively. With the emergence of new technologies like API (application programming interface), businesses can leverage email marketing software to create unique interactive app-like widgets inside the email to gauge attention and create a lasting impression for improved ROI (Return of Investment). Interactive email can further be customized to different demographics to help increase user engagement. Emails can be used for sending out information on targeted campaigns and other brand communications. One such example is Apple while launching iPhone SE, the brand produced a beautiful newsletter that captivated viewers..

Customer loyalty programs and incentives 

Citing 2020 Deloitte’s retail survey, “Businesses with loyalty programs are 88% more profitable on an average as compared to their competitors who do not.” While COVID has required businesses to make adjustments to their marketing expenses, marketing activities such as loyalty programs and incentives have become more popular to help intrigue the consumers and strengthen existing customer relationships. Loyalty programs can help create a unique experience and target customers with personalized offers and discounts. In current times, businesses should think of digitally first, which can be a viable solution to help keep a business active. For instance, PayU, a payment gateway for online merchants, has come up with an initiative ‘Pay with Rewards’ where customers can use their aggregated loyalty points as alternate currencies for multiple brands on a single platform, through rewards and loyalty points. This one click single platform has increased the ease of transactions and has been a feasible option for the brand.

Content marketing

With alteration in consumer preferences and attitude shifts towards digital content, businesses today are required to come up with unique and innovative content that makes them stand out and builds brand recall.  Brands are now capitalizing on the current consumer mind set by creating more relevant and contextual content that resonates with its target audience. Brands have been seen crafting content around topical moments to help increase engagement and showcase brand resonance. Quoting a recent example of Dettol that gave a tribute to COVID-19 warriors by replacing its iconic logo with an image of a COVID protector. Additionally, brands are also leveraging relevant themes in the form of memes. For example, a trending meme around new series on OTT platforms is an effective way for business to participate in the ongoing conversation and stay relevant.

Micro- Influencers 

Influencer marketing has become is an essential component in today’s marketing strategy for a brand.  According to the latest report from, the Indian AI-driven influencer marketing platform, almost 87% of CMOs prefer to conduct up to 25% of their influencer campaigns with micro-influencers. Micro-influencers have limited followers as compared to big influencers, however provide effective communication, and a small group of loyal and authentic audience, perfect for small-sized businesses. These influencers are closer to the consumers and know the relevant material that  works for their audience. Their consumer understanding can be advantageous to the brand and can relay more useful ways of marketing through effective storytelling. Businesses with more limited budgets can also look at ways to share brand products for promotional activity. 

Social media marketing

According to a report by Dentsu India 2020, advertising on social media platforms is expected to drive the growth of the country's digital advertising industry. With the emergence of a variety of social media platforms, brands can find a platform that is right for them and which targets the right set of audiences to promote their content. For businesses to promote their brand across channels, they can opt for linking websites to the social media platform that offers direct post publishing, enabling them to easily create and manage all of their social media sites from one place.

Additionally, as videos are becoming more central to marketers' outreach, businesses also need to start investing in short-form video for its quick message delivery, gaining eyeballs and offering maximum engagement. A recent report by Octane Research and DMAasia  2021 mentions a video by “Nutrela” titled #AcchaKyaHua, which was promoted with minimal budget and managed to receive over half a million views on social media during the lockdown. Along with this, businesses can also explore regional and vernacular content to help reach people across tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Looking at a wide array of affordable marketing options, a limited budget should no longer stop small businesses to effectively connect with their audiences digitally. Brands must evolve with changing times and adopt the ongoing trends. In today’s digital and mobile environment, by creating personalized and creative content with digital marketing strategies, businesses can further engage with customers to help their business grow.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it. 


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