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SMBs in India tread the mobile route carefully

Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), also called small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), are on their path to becoming large players in their respective industries securing large portion of the market share. If experts are to be believed, mobile marketing is going to play a critical role in turning this vision to a reality.

Over the last few years, mobile has become the first piece of individual technology owned device in India. The enthusiasm of Giraj Sharma, Founder of Behind the Moon was clearly visible when he said, “Everybody in India is actually waking to mobile first and devising strategies to leverage on this marketing trend in the industry. They do not only have apps but their websites are also totally compatible with mobiles.”

All the marketing related interaction is taking place on the handheld device these days whether a smartphone or a tablet. Further, the affordability of smartphones has fuelled the mobile growth in India, he added.

SMBs have adopted mobile growth in India and are not shying away from experimenting with the medium, some even exploring to start a business with a mobile first approach. At the same time, SMBs are conscious about the audiences that are looking at mobile for productive reasons like online transactions amongst others.

“We have a large consumer base as mobile users in India but if you look closely there are just 20-25 million who actually transact online via ecommerce,” pointed out Rohan Bhargava, Co-Founder of Cashkaro.com

Also, the target audience of the SMB is a major factor in determining the digital marketing strategy of the business. They need to locate the target group and then accordingly decide on the quantum of mobile marketing as a part of their digital marketing strategy. Else, industry experts suggest that the SMB should just make its presence in the market and park themselves there, but refrain from doing anything too expansive without studying the target audience.

The flip side
On the flip side, mobile marketing by SMBs have a few challenges too. Their advertising expenditure is not as extravagant as of the other big players in the industry. In such a setup, it depends more on the preferences and choices of the entrepreneur than the marketing strategy.

“The strength underneath the mobile marketing campaign is missing because it lacks the resources for an impactful campaign. So, for some it ends up becoming one addition with marginal benefits as consumer market in India has not matured enough for the industry,” said Satish Jha, Chairman of ECCO Electronics Pvt. Ltd.

“Mobile marketing does not mean just having a mobile optimised website. When you are interacting with your consumer you need to give them a shopping platform too. This leads to ecommerce which requires a lot more planning and structuring,” added Madhukar Rajagopal, Director of Industry strategy and Insight at Oracle India as a challenge to marketing on the handheld device.

Therefore, the kind of investments you need for good mobile marketing and resources to make it functional are imperative and if not implemented properly, it may turn out to be unsuccessful. “It is like a hot plate on which you want to boil a cup of water but if you adding water with a spoon, it will just evaporate,” said Mr Jha.

The experts were speaking to DMA on the sidelines of a SME event by Businessworld on October 30 in India.