Businesses urged to increase online presence

HARARE - Zimbabwe's small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) have been urged to enhance online presence as a growth strategy.

This comes as research has shown that an online presence is important for outbound marketing because it reinforces your brand and what companies offer to their target market.

Social media strategist Marshall Malaba told delegates attending a  Building Customers for Life seminar in Bulawayo last week that most small businesses operating in the country do not have websites.

“80 to 88 percent of brands found online have high chances of their customers coming back for their brand, thus if customers look for you online and social media and you are not there, they will definitely switch to other brands that exist online,” he said.

Malaba noted that an online presence can maximise resources of a business, increasing sales and the marketing with very little expense.

Another marketing guru James Chapfiwa added that online platforms (Websites) are a reference point for new customers on verifying the legit business from the fly by night and build on customer confidence.

“Social media is the market place for online platforms to share the great products they have and may lead to new business deals,” he said.

Chapfiwa added that 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,” he said.

Customer Care Association of Zimbabwe (CCAZ) southern region spokesperson Benson Mukandiwa agreed with Chapfiwa and said it was a well-known fact that in the 21st Century online presence boosts brand awareness.

“How you introduce your image online in this technological age is equivalent of your first meeting with a customer.  In the aggressive age we live in, in order for your brand to succeed online, it must be highly recognisable, reliable, and authentic — consequently separating itself from the competition.

“High visibility of your brand increases credibility and customers will be more willing to retain your products,” he said.

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