With the internet taking the marketing world by storm, retailers everywhere took to the web believing a killer home page would transform their business. But it wasn’t long before the commercial reality dawned and marketers began to realise they could not rely on big flashy websites alone to draw in and keep customers. Here, I give my thoughts on the common mistakes made by SMEs in trying to compete with the mega brands.

1. An elegant website is the ‘be all and end all’

While design and usability is important, Amazon did not reach the top of its game for its beautifully designed website. Customers will spend hours on poorly designed sites because they simply want the product. Basket abandonment is part and parcel of online shopping, think of it as digital window shopping, so continued expenditure to suppress it, is money down the drain. Take a more creative approach and continue to communicate with these customers by email and online. You know what they looked at so why not show them some similar products or tempt them with an offer. Keep communicating and keep your brand in the front of their minds.

2. Technology is ‘the fix’

Unsupervised technology cannot make the right decisions for your business. Marketing teams and customer analytics teams can add value from their knowledge of their businesses and audience and can drive personalisation technology from this tailored expertise.

3. Customers can be treated as one amorphous mass

It’s all about the customer and they should be placed at the centre of any marketing campaign. Switched on retailers focus on the customer as an individual and personalise their experience, in turn delivering improved results. For years, companies with loyalty card schemes have been exploiting this method. Dunnhumby used personalised marketing to transform Tesco into the online and offline retailing giant it is today.

4. Simple campaigns are the best

Whilst mega brands have the big budgets to create and execute highly complex and expensive campaigns, SMEs can equally deliver excellent results with real-time, trigger based campaigns that deliver the right message at the right time. By combining the marketing team’s experience with the latest technology, simple ideas are all that is required.

5. Focusing on hits rather than conversion

As the customers are feeling the squeeze, marketers need to sharpen their focus and shift investment into conversion rather than acquisition. By doing this, retailers and businesses can free up the cash needed to participate in the marketing arms race against marketing giants.

Through using these approaches, small-to-medium business can compete with the more advanced solutions deployed by the mega brands. The way forward is clear: personalise, be relevant and succeed like the mega brands.