Digital Marketing Strategies for Malaysian SMEs in 2021

As the world is growing rapidly with technology enhancement, digital marketing plays a vital role in keeping SMEs alive. No matter what industry you’re in, digital marketing is the best way to grow your business in Malaysia. If you’re serious about growing your company and revenue, you need to implement the right digital marketing strategies.

Which digital marketing strategies are best for your company? Is it relevant to the potential customers you’re looking to reach?

Before moving on to the best digital marketing strategies for Malaysian SMEs in 2021, let’s learn more about digital marketing strategies and why you need them today to be successful with your business.

 

What is a Digital Marketing Strategy?

A digital marketing strategy is a systematic process on how your business will achieve its marketing goals and objectives via digital marketing channels like search engines and social media sites. A well-constructed digital marketing strategy will help you identify the best digital channels and the right digital marketing techniques to implement along with the cost involved.

 

Why SMEs in Malaysia Need Digital Marketing Strategies?

According to SME statistics published by SME Corp, 98.5% of established businesses are SMEs. And the breakdown of SMEs by sectors are as below:

  • Services: 89.2%
  • Manufacturing: 5.3%
  • Construction: 4.3%
  • Agriculture: 1.1%
  • Mining: 0.1%

On the other hand, the Department of Statistics of Malaysia (DOSM) has mentioned in the Media Release that SMEs contribution to Malaysian overall GDP has increased to 38.9% in 2019. However, the implementation of MCO in Malaysia is projected to impact the GDP growth for Malaysia downward to between -2.0% to 0.5%. Moreover, SME Corp Malaysia has indicated that 73% of SMEs are expected to register losses in 2020 and 2021.

As most SMEs in Malaysia heavily rely on traditional marketing strategies, they need to focus on adapting digital marketing to survive and stay relevant during this pandemic and post-pandemic.

Digital marketing is critical for your business’s success. Here are 10 reasons why.

 

Digital Marketing is Affordable

One of the top benefits of digital marketing is that it is affordable. In other words, they are cost-effective compared to traditional marketing. Digital marketing can help your business save money while generating more sales.

If you’re focused on traditional marketing strategies, small-medium businesses can’t compete with larger companies in Malaysia. Big brands often have the budget to allocate for traditional marketing channels like TV ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, magazine ads, and more. This is hard for SMEs to compete with large organizations when it comes to traditional marketing.

So, digital marketing puts businesses regardless of size on the same playing field. It is simply affordable to market your business and get in front of your potential customers. Most of the best digital marketing methods are budget-friendly.

For example, Google Advertising allows you to choose the budget that works best for you. You can spend RM500 or RM10,000. Just set the amount that you can afford. This is the advantage of digital marketing.

However, you also need to be aware that the amount you spend will heavily affect your digital marketing campaign’s success. This is just one example of a digital marketing strategy. When you hire an experienced digital marketer or digital marketing agency, they will help you work with your budget. However, be careful with the ones you work with.

Did you know that the real cost of digital marketing is time?

Successful digital marketing strategies will take time to work. You need consistent experiments and testing to come up with the most suitable strategies that work well with your business. But stay assured that the results from digital marketing will be worth your money and time.

 

Digital Marketing Results Are Measurable

Investing in marketing efforts should produce measurable results. You need to track the results of your marketing campaigns. The best part of digital marketing is the ability to measure the digital marketing results and determine whether it’s moving in the right direction.

Traditional marketing methods are effective but it’s hard to measure the results and you’re unable to determine whether the implemented strategy bringing the best results.

With digital marketing methods, you can use the right analytical tools to accurately track the results of your digital marketing campaigns.

To make your life easy, each digital marketing channel comes with its own in-built analytics. Whether you’re using Facebook Advertising or working on SEO for your website, you’ll be able to track the performance of your campaigns. For example, you can track the overall traffic to your website with Google Analytics.

There are various metrics you can track depending on your campaign. Metrics like clicks, impressions, conversions, comments and shares are some of the most common ones tracked in marketing campaigns. However, I consider these elements as vanity metrics. They may look good in your eyes but what matters the most is the conversion and revenue the marketing campaigns brings to the table.

Keeping track of the performance of your digital marketing campaigns while running will help you to make necessary changes to optimize them for better results. You want to get the most out of your marketing budget.

When you’re able to measure the performance of your marketing campaigns, you’ll be able to run the most effective and result-oriented campaigns for your business.

 

Digital Marketing Allows You to Reach the Right Audience

Your digital marketing campaigns become successful only when you reach the right audience. You need to get in front of the people who are interested in your business. One of the significant advantages of digital marketing is the ability to target people relevant to your business offerings.

With traditional marketing, you’ll face difficulties in targeting the right people. Your marketing message goes to everyone in the mass market with the hope of reaching the right people with traditional marketing. It’s hard to justify your results with the amount of money you’ll be spending on marketing.

On the other hand, digital marketing allows you to reach people that are interested in your business. For example, Facebook allows you to narrow down your audience using geographic, demographic, and interest to specifically target people that are interested in your products and services. You can’t do this with traditional marketing.

Whether you’re using social media advertising or search engine optimization (SEO), you need to come up with buyer personas. A buyer persona will identify your ideal customer. You will use these buyer personas in your digital marketing campaign to reach people that are most likely to want your products or services.

 

Digital Marketing Is Flexible and Enables You To Make Changes

One of the crucial advantages of digital marketing is that the flexibility it offers. You can easily make changes to your digital marketing campaigns as you go. This is something you can’t do with traditional marketing campaigns.

For example, once your billboard is up, you’re unable to make any changes unless you want to take down the current billboard and replace it with a new one. This will cost you a fortune. You won’t be able to optimize the performance of your marketing campaign to drive better results.

When you invest in digital marketing, you can make changes to your campaigns anytime you want.

When you’re running a Google Ads campaign, you can update your ad copies, make changes to the amount of bidding and add more relevant keywords that people are using to search for your business. This means you can continuously make changes to your campaign and drive the best results for your business. It surely does help you utilize your marketing budget to get the best ROI.

 

Digital Marketing Offers the Best ROI

Your business performance depends on your ROI. Especially from your marketing campaigns.

Some of the interesting stats you should know about digital marketing ROI:

  • The average return on investment from email marketing stands at 4,200%, Source: Litmus Report
  • Businesses that use blogging as a marketing tool are 13 times more likely to get positive ROI. Source: HubSpot
  • Companies generate an average of RM8 in earnings for every RM4 they spend on Google Ads: Source: Main Street ROI
  • 72% of companies attribute their success to keeping tabs on their content marketing ROI. Source: Content Marketing Institute

 

The above stats show that well-executed digital marketing campaigns can help your business get the results it deserves while getting the best ROI. It doesn’t mean that traditional marketing does not get you a positive ROI.

It’s all about the purpose of your marketing campaigns.

If you’re focused on improving your brand awareness and want people to recognize your brand, traditional marketing efforts will help you establish your brand reputation. In this scenario, the ROI is not determined by sales and revenue. Exposure and reach what matter for traditional marketing campaigns. But, SMEs in Malaysia don’t have enough marketing budget to invest in massive traditional marketing campaigns like TV Ads and Billboards. Moreover, some small-medium businesses have an ultra-niche audience and there’s no point working on traditional marketing campaigns.

When you use digital marketing, you can give importance to sales and revenue which indirectly shows you the effect on your brand awareness among your target audience. If you’re reaching the right target audience, you should be seeing growth in your sales and revenue.

But don’t ever assume that digital marketing is a magic button to take your business to the next level and guarantees the best ROI. It only happens when you do it right. If you’re implementing digital marketing strategies without the right planning and tools, you can easily empty your marketing budget without any results. So, just be careful!

 

Digital Marketing Gathers Valuable Data and Insights

Your customers control everything in your marketing campaigns. But the most important aspect of marketing is who is purchasing your products or services and your target audience.

You should stop thinking about yourself and your brand. It’s all about your customers. As mentioned earlier, customer personas have come a long way. But customer personas aren’t a one-and-done. You need to continuously analyze your customers and understand them better to provide the best solution to their problems.

And how do you do that?

Identify the types of data you need to amplify your digital marketing campaigns. You should be collecting data from the following sources:

  • Website (Google Analytics & Google Search Console)
  • Social media data (in-built social media analytics)
  • Email Marketing Data
  • Lead generation data (Google Analytics)
  • Blog and Content Creation (Google Analytics)

When you get deep down into the analytics of each source, you’ll be able to identify the ROI they are generating and how effective are your marketing efforts. If something is not working, you can analyze and see what has gone wrong and rectify them.

Moreover, the data you get from these sources will help you re-align your marketing goals and move in the right direction.

Data analysis will have a big impact on your business even if you’re not a large company. You need to understand your customer and data is the way to gain that particular insight. With data, you will know where exactly your target audience is spending most of their time online, what kind of websites they are visiting, their spending power, and more. With this information at your fingertips, you’ll be able to implement digital marketing strategies geared towards results.

Now you know why digital marketing is important for SMEs in Malaysia. You just can’t ignore the benefits it offers for your businesses to continuously grow for the years to come.

So, let’s move on to the next section where I’ll the types of digital marketing strategies Malaysian SMEs should focus on.

** Note: There is no magic bullet. The main goal of digital marketing is to get your business in front of your potential customers. It may look easy but requires tons of testing and experiments. It’s not about the digital marketing strategies you use. It’s all about how well you know your business and your customer base!

 

Let’s get started.

 

Local SEO

We understand that small businesses have a limited budget when it comes to competing with big brands. That’s why focusing on Local SEO can help small-medium businesses to gain the power to compete with big brands.

In addition to being cost-effective, local SEO is one of the best digital marketing strategies for generating qualified leads.

What is Local SEO?

Most businesses understand the concept of search engine optimization (SEO), but they don’t really understand what local SEO all is about.

Well, local SEO is the process of optimizing business websites to appear in local search results. It also focuses on getting the Google My Business page of businesses to the top ranking on Google Maps.

It’s all about getting your business website on top of local search result pages depending on the searcher’s location.

For example, you’re offering bakery services in Klang. And a searcher types in “cake delivery in Klang”. When your website comes up in search results and Google Map, it’s because of Local SEO.

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How Malaysian SMEs Improve Their Local SEO?

 

Create My Google Business Page

If you want your business to show up in a local search on both Google Search and Google Maps, you need to create Google My Business Page. Make sure to fill in the information accurately.

If you’re not sure about creating Google My Business Page, you can follow the guideline below:

Google My Business (GMB) Guide For Malaysian Businesses

Tips: Make sure to enter complete data, verify your business locations, add images relevant to your products and services, and respond to your reviews.

 

Embed Google Maps to Your Website

Here’s how to embed Google Map to your website

1. Go to GoogleMaps.com

2. Search for your business name in the “Search Google Maps” box. (your business will only show up if you’ve already verified your Google My Business Page)

3. You will see your local listing like the screenshot below. Click on the Share button and choose “Embed a Map”

4. Choose the size of the map you want to publish on your website and click on “Copy HTML”.

5. After you copy the HTML code, paste it into the HTML section of your Contact page or any pages you want to show the map.

 

Focus on On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is one of the most important elements of SEO and it helps in dominating local search results. For your website to appear on local searches you need to do your on-page SEO slightly differently compared to the general one.

You need to focus on the products and services you’re offering and the locations you want to rank for.

These are the on-page SEO elements that you should work on:

  • Title Tags: Include your business name and the location you’re serving
  • Meta Description: Indicate what your business is about and which location you’re operating.
  • Header Tags: Make sure to add your primary keywords and the location wherever possible. Don’t overdo it.
  • Page content: The content on your page should naturally include your keywords and the location you’re targeting. Avoid stuffing keywords and multiple locations into your content
  • Images: Include images related to your products and services
  • NAP: Include NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) with Schema Markup. You need to make sure the NAP to be consistent all over the web including your website, social media accounts, Google My Business page, and more.

 

Build Local Citations

The ranking of local businesses is influenced by local citations. Local citations are online votes or mentions of your business, including your business name, address, phone number, email, and website.

Here is an example of local citation:

Magnes Marketing, Lebuh Batu Nilam 1 9th Floor, BBT One- The Tower (South Tower, Bandar Bukit Tinggi 1, 41200 Klang, Selangor, [+601-1163 64654], [[email protected]], [https://magnesmarketing.com].

Search engines like Google consider location citations as an indicator to evaluate the relevancy and authority of your business.

These are some of the sites you can build local citations for Malaysian businesses:

A local citation is not only about sending signals to search engines about your business but also to improve your brand awareness. When you get your business listed on directories, your listing will get indexed on search engines which indirectly improves your target audience reach.

 

Develop Locally Focused Content Assets

The content you develop and publish on your sites is important in improving your local ranking.

For example, look at our article on “28 Best Digital Marketing Agencies in Malaysia 2021”. Go to Google and search for “digital marketing agency”, you will find the article on the 2nd spot of the search result pages. This is because you’ve conducted a local search on that keyword.

As Google has identified your geographic location, no matter if you’re using Google.com.au or another country’s Google search engine, you will still see local results (unless you’re using VPN).

If I choose to remove the word “Malaysia” from my title, meta description, and content, my article will not appear at the top of search results anymore because Google will give more preferences to localized content.

It is important to create locally focused content (blog posts, videos, guides, eBooks, etc.) and publish them on your website to attract a local audience while ranking high on local search results.

 

Build Local Links To Your Website

Link building is the core aspect of any SEO campaign. Even it plays an important role in local ranking.

Google considers backlinks as a powerful indicator to show that your website has the relevancy, authority, and quality to be positioned high on search result pages.

The fundamentals of link building remain the same. But you need to get links from local websites. For example, if you want to rank high on Malaysian search result pages, you need to gain quality links from other Malaysian sites.

If you want to know how to build quality backlinks for your website, you can check out the guide I’ve written:

Ultimate Guide to Link Building – Ways To Build Backlinks

 

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is important than ever for SMEs in Malaysia and it is a part of the inbound marketing strategy. Although SEO works well for small-medium businesses, it takes time for you to see the best results. Social media marketing will help you get your content out there to your potential customers and attract those that are interested in your products and services.

But make sure you’re sharing the right content on the right social media platforms. You can’t use the same strategy for all social media sites. It is important to analyze and find out the best social media marketing platform for your business.

There are 6 main social media platforms that you can focus on in Malaysia:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • YouTube

 

I won’t cover each of these social media platforms in this article. You can check out the following resources to learn and implement social media marketing strategies for your business:

 

Google Ads

Google Ads which was called Google AdWords, is one of the best digital marketing strategies that can help your small-medium businesses to appear in front of your target audience.

SEO helps your business website organically rank on search results for the keywords you’re targeting. Google Ads position your ads on top of search results for keywords relevant to your business. And you need to pay for every click which means you need to pay when someone clicks on your ad. If you have the budget to invest in Google Ads while working on your SEO strategy, take advantage of it.

With Google Ads, you’re consistently driving traffic to your business website from Google. It’s just that you need to bid for the keywords related to your business and sometimes the competition can be high which results in a higher cost for a click.

For example. Keywords like MBA can cost up to RM150 – RM240 per click. However, this keyword is used by colleges and institutes that have a huge marketing budget and they make good ROI even the cost per click is so high.

If you want to learn how you can use Google Ads for your small-medium businesses in Malaysia, read the following guide:

Ultimate Guide to Google Ads for Malaysian Businesses

 

Content Marketing

Content is crucial for any business to enhance its SEO strategy. But content marketing is more than doing keyword research and publishing content.

You need to focus on producing informational, relevant, authoritative, and attractive content to exhibit your brand identity. Content marketing requires systematic planning and content promotion strategies to generate results.

Having clear information about your potential customer base is crucial for you to get your content to the right people. If you don’t have the budget to invest in interactive content, you can start with a business blog.

When you have a blog section on your business website, you can share tips, guides, and everything valuable for your target audience. For example, Welnuts is an Ipoh Kacang Putih Snacks manufacturers and is currently focused on getting their food products to consumers through their eCommerce website. Recently they have published an article on “MCO 3.0: Malaysian Traditional Snacks You Should Be Buying During Lockdown”.

This is a list-type blog post which talks about the products they manufacture and sell on their website. Rather than being completely promotional, the blog post provides information about their products and what to expect when you purchase them.

Talking about blog posts, frequency and quality is important. I’ll suggest publishing at least 1 blog post per week. If you can do 2 or 3 please do it. You can share the published articles on your social media platforms. Continuously mix new pieces with old wants and repost them to get your audience engaged.

Even if your potential customers are not buying from you now, your brand will stick to their minds. If they need to purchase your products or services, you’re the first one to come to their mind.

You can check out the following resources to learn more about content marketing and how you can use it for your business:

 

Email Marketing

Email Marketing is one of the oldest digital marketing strategies. It remains one of the best digital marketing strategies that provide the best ROI. For every RM4 spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return of RM168.

Email marketing is not about purchasing an email list and blast emails with the hope to get people to purchase your products and services. These kinds of outdated tactics are a waste of money and time.

If you want to get the best results from your email marketing campaigns, you need to have a solid plan to build your email list and develop engaging email copies.

You need to improve your relationship with your potential customers to persuade them to purchase your products or services with email marketing. If you have a list of customers who are already associated with your business, you need to continuously engage them with email marketing to encourage them to make repetitive purchases.

Use tools like Mailchimp, Convert Kit, or SendinBlue to automate your email marketing strategy. Just set a sequence of emails to nurture your audience and let the tools do their job in converting them to paying customers.

The majority of small-medium businesses in Malaysia never had the chance of exploring email marketing as they are more concerned about other digital marketing strategies that get them instant results. As an SME in Malaysia, you should add email marketing to your existing digital marketing strategy.

You can check out the following resources to know more about email marketing and how to utilize it for your business:

 

Affiliate Marketing

You might wonder whether affiliate marketing is suitable for small-medium businesses? Well, it works perfectly fine!

Affiliate marketing is when someone promotes your products or services in exchange for a commission. This often occurs offline. When you have a digital marketing agency, you can have affiliates from printing industries or accounting industries you can refer you and get a commission for each customer.

And you can do it online as well.

For SMEs in Malaysia, affiliate marketing is the best way to increase your reach and improve your brand awareness without needing to invest a lot. There are two ways to incorporate affiliate marketing with your business:

  1. Develop a partnership with complementary businesses.
  2. Start an online affiliate program for your business.

If you want to learn how to integrate affiliate marketing with your existing digital marketing efforts, check out the following resources:

 

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a strategy leveraged by brands to encourage influencers (individuals with a huge following on social media platforms) to promote their products online. On many occasions, influencer marketing is often used as part of a brand awareness campaign. However, it can result in a good amount of conversions and sales.

According to a recent study, influencers with 1,000 to 5,000 followers can have higher engagement rates compared to the ones with hundreds of thousands of followers. Influencers with a huge following have an engagement rate close to 3.6% whereas the ones with 1000-5000 followers have an 8.8% engagement rate.

For small businesses, especially the ones in the B2C market should make use of influencer marketing. You should focus on micro-influencers and make sure to choose the one that offers unique content concepts. Don’t simply choose the ones that are unable to convey your brand message. They need to endorse your brand and create an everlasting impact among their followers. Influencer marketing is here to stay as more and more individuals are becoming influencers thanks to the power of social media. Grow your audience and social media following of your business by carefully choosing the right influencer to promote your products or services.

You can use the following tools to find influencers in Malaysia:

If you want to learn more about influencer marketing and ways to choose the right ones for your business, check out the following resources:

 

Conclusion

Well, now you know why you need digital marketing strategies for your SMEs and the types of digital marketing strategies you can use to take your business to the next level.

As a small-medium business owner, you want to focus on your business and what you’re good at. You may not have the time to learn and implement these strategies for your business. You can either hire someone to work on it or outsource it to Malaysia’s right digital marketing agencies.

Don’t try to do everything on your own. Just have professionals to help you out.

And don’t expect instant results from your digital marketing campaigns, it takes time to determine the strategy that works best for your business.

Are there any other digital marketing strategies that I’ve missed out on?

Please share it with us by commenting below.

Naven Pillai

An experienced digital marketing strategist with 8+ years of experience. Helped various small and medium businesses to generate massive traffic from digital marketing channels. In addition to digital marketing consulting work, Naven owns multiple authority sites that generates passive income.