SMEs Should Embrace Online Opportunities

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By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito

With an all-time highest of more than 98% mobile penetration rate and 35% internet penetration rate, buoyed by the completion of major fibre back bone, Zimbabwean enterprises need to take the advantage of the online world.

With the proliferation of connectivity, affordable means and ubiquity of mobile devices, start-ups and SMEs need to take advantage of the new phenomenon now than any other time before.

Mr Marshal Chiinze, the Marketing Director Of Zimhosts emphasised that this is the best time for Zimbabwean enterprises to embrace the vast online opportunities for the success of their own business.

Mr Chiinze said “the internet is borderless you are not confined by any physical barriers or limits that affects other conventional businesses, and you can go as much as you want at a cost effective manner while you build your brand identity”
Marshall Chiinze
The online opportunities are not only available for technologically related products or industries but virtually almost anything today can be traded online.

“A farmer should grow his crops with the whole world in mind as potential customers, imagine you are in horticulture and way before you even reap, you are processing online orders from the world for your harvest because you managed to reach out online” he added.

It takes basic knowledge advancement and training for almost everyone in Zimbabwe to grasp the fundamentals of online trading and its vast opportunities for every business sector.

While online presence is a fundamental aspect, it also takes serious marketing strategies to make sure that the product is also being marketed online and reach out to the right people. Having a website alone is not good enough to reach out but the same platform has to be used to push your product or services to the world.

“If you wink in the dark no one will see you, start by being much more aggressive, e-marketing is equally as important as having a fundamental marketing strategy that drives you revenue” said Mr Chiinze.

One of the best ways to make sure that you reach out using your website is by simply using a technique called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This makes it possible for anyone searching your products or services on the internet to easily locate you by simply typing words related to your products.

Lets say you are selling Smart Tvs and decoders, someone goes on Google to search for your products, what are the chances that of the millions of results, yours too will come up topping the list if at all it shows.

Basic search engine optimisation takes a certain level of creativity where you need to think like a client and imagine any words the client would actually use to search for your products online. The most likely used words are supposed to be at the top of your SEO keywords database.

For instance, in this particular case, someone will obviously search for the phrase” smart Tvs Zimbabwe, cheap decoders Zimbabwe, etc” and these are the keywords that search engines like Google and yahoo look for from your meta data table.

Just like what Mr Chiinze said, not having this simple technique activated on your website is honestly good as winking in the dark and expecting high hopes for attention. We have billions of websites online so SEOs are fundamental.

Of course besides searching for your products online, when some people are already aware of your website even via a business card, then you may need to also focus much on the website content and appearance too.

It does not serve any purpose to have the right products online but due to clutter, poor design and wrong colours, some viewers may end up missing the same data that they are visiting your website for.

Marshal Chiinze also urged business to seriously invest Social networking platforms as it is now a sure platform where billions spend their time online. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter need a professional corporate page to engage millions of people at once in a much more affordable manner.

Another element which people overlook online is that of choosing a domain name. A dot .com website and a dot.co.zw website say equally different things for your brand.

“A dot co.zw identifies you with a your country in this instance Zimbabwe, giving you a much more local appeal plus relevance but we advise our clients to secure other domains too in case someone misses the co.zw for a dot com, while it’s also important to guard against cyber-squatting,” added Marshal

Zimhosts are currently offering affordable basic websites for as low as $30 to start-ups making it virtually possible for everyone to have a website leaping over the financial barrier.

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