Interview with Dr. Norzalita Aziz from UKM Graduate School of Business

Dr. Norzalita Aziz is the associate professor of marketing in UKM (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia). Dr. Norzalita Aziz got into teaching after 6 years of experience in corporate marketing.

She spent her 6 years as part of a conglomerate that was in the finance, education and hospitality industry. Dr. Norzalita Aziz was also the visiting consultant in the German University of Technology and Sultan Qaboos University.

Dr Norzalita Aziz

What is the importance of digital marketing adoption for SMEs during covid19?

As we are aware that digital technology or digital marketing will give an impact to SEMs’ marketing capabilities. The marketing capabilities will influence the SMEs’ growth and development of their core competencies. SMEs can increase their knowledge as well as enhance their services or products to the market they served through utilization of digital marketing. However, managers of these SMEs should possess a good knowledge of all the business functions and master these elements to be successful in the current situations and future.

Current Digital technology or marketing will enhance learning among SMEs and is one of the most critical elements of creating ideas as well as innovation that focuses on developing new products and market segments. I believe that the current technology plays an important role in marketing whereby digital marketing will provide constant interaction and exchange of information with customers. Through digital marketing SMEs can support their capability to create awareness, interest, desire, and action to the right target segment by encouraging customers to purchase or consume their products and services. At the same time, digital marketing enables SMEs to monitor their market and its trends as well as to take the opportunities in the current Covid19 pandemic.

In order to attain a competitive advantage, SMEs must possess a full understanding of what establishes a core competence in their business that is influenced by the current digital technology-marketing, tangible/intangible assets that they have and their marketing capabilities to serve the current market needs.

In addition to it, the policy makers and the government need to support the SMEs in this digital era and to reduce the constraints faced by SMEs during the covid19 crisis:

  • To convince SMEs about the benefits coming from the adoption of digital marketing along with their business processes.
  • To strengthen and disseminate technology expertise especially in the field of Industry 4.0.
  • To provide support to the SMEs business orientation towards digital transformation and marketing.
  • To facilitate the technology transfer centres.
  • To stimulate the SMEs’ businesses and aid them in digital marketing.

I suggest that SMEs can outsource the utilization of social media tools which is a considered a good option to facilitate the digital marketing usage/adoption in the current situation.

As the current pandemic has led to the digitization of consumer behaviour that shows a strong progression in using digital media particularly social media, thus SMEs should follow to enhance their ability to compete in the market of the future. As customers expect to be heard, listened to, and taken notice of, which challenges SMEs to be genuinely customer centric. If a company can provide the best possible experience to its customers, those customers are likely to relate their experiences of dealing with the company on the web.

Advice for SMEs

Currently, the world is facing the pandemic covid19, people or consumers will try to connect with the outside or others through social media platforms. Thus, small medium enterprises need to be digitally savvy to take the opportunity to deliver meaningful engagement digital users in a time of this crisis.

Many previous and current studies showed that interactivity within the internet or digital marketing have a positive impact on a company’s performance by increasing customer’s attention, developing stronger relationships, and thereby increasing overall satisfaction.

Digital marketing is considered a successful tool for brand building as well as engaging customers and building unique customer relationships. If SMEs utilise the digital marketing tool, it increases straight sales-related outcomes. Moreover, customers who are committed through any digital marketing to the company are more profitable than those who are not committed to the brand on social media.

They should create or update websites or even if they do not have websites, they need to use some of new e-commerce channels and create social media campaigns that focus on home-workers and using influencers and SEO to reach new audiences. For those small medium enterprises who have no previous experience with digital marketing should reallocate their marketing budgets and to adopt digital marketing channels that are available today. The most important objective digital marketing tools are:

  • To facilitate sales
  • To facilitate communication
  • To enhance customer service

Basically, there two important classifications of digital marketing:

1) High company control

One-way: websites, email, online directories, banner advertising

Two-way: Company generated blogs and company own communities

2) Low company control

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEA (Search Engine Advertising)

Social Media: Instagram, Facebook, and many more

There are many ways SMEs can utilise digital marketing especially in the current IR 4.0. But I would like to suggest of using common digital marketing can be adopted by small companies such as:

1) Social media

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are among the most popular social media that SMES can use to engage their customers and share all kinds of information through many types of content, videos, pictures that intend to target the right market for their business.

2) Email

This is also one of the effective ways in digital marketing that SMEs can adopt. If they have a list of current customers, they can send their personalised information or message or any promotion directly to their customer. SMEs can inform their current customer with their latest products/services that are available to them. This will help to create a long-term relationship with their customers.

3) Paid search

Search engines like Google have become the entry points to the web, and any business can appear right at the top of the first search results page just by bidding on keywords relevant to the user’s search query.

4) SEO & content marketing

SMEs or any businesses can increase their visibility by using searching engine optimization (SEO). It is considered as effective when combined with content marketing. The aims are to create awareness and attract the right audience to the sites.

Even though, through SEO, it does not do show an immediate results in terms of marketing and sales but in the current covid19 crisis, many small businesses can help their customers or prospects by providing information through posted business blogs and sharing interesting content on their business in terms of products/services and by using this, SMEs can make themselves known to the market.

5) Webinars and podcasts

These will allow SMEs that are able to communicate with their customers and provide them with informative content. I think it is an effective way to market and engage for any type of business. Providing the right information or message or advertise about SMEs product/service to the right prospects.