Cypriot companies are not riding the digitalisation train, missing out on opportunities created by the exciting new world of online marketing and social media, remaining stuck in the past.
As people spend more time working from home, using their mobile phones and social media for entertainment and information, businesses have turned to digital platforms to market products and services.
Keeping up with the trends is a task on its own, one which Cypriot companies seem to be failing miserably, say digital marketing experts.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures imposed forced businesses across the globe to go online, making the best out of communication platforms and social media to reach an audience that has developed new consumer habits.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, George Petrakides, CEO and trainer at the Social Space Academy, said he felt disappointed that Cypriot companies have yet to leap into the digital era, despite coronavirus.
“Digital marketing and marketing on social media have really taken off in the COVID era, and one would expect Cypriot companies to be more active on the internet during lockdowns; however, the trend seems to have reversed,” said Petrakides.
He argued the volume of digital ads and content on digital platforms and social media has significantly decreased during the 19 months under COVID restrictions.
“As a direct result, the cost of advertising online for Cypriot companies has dropped significantly, but still only a handful of companies are taking advantage of the low cost of marketing their products on digital platforms.”
He argued that with the exemption of food delivery services such as Foody, Volt and the odd supermarket, no companies have turned to market on social media.
Smaller companies seem to have given up entirely on their digitalisation.
“Digital marketing and social media for business are no longer optional. It’s an essential way to reach your customers, gain valuable insights, and grow your brand”.
With over half of the world’s population using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, they are a natural place to reach new and highly targeted potential customers.
He argued that people are looking to brands for insights and information.
“There’s no better place to share that than on social media. Surveys show that a consumer is more likely to start their journey to buying a product from social media”.
Digital marketing offers a variety of tools.
Consumer analytics is probably one of the most underrated and underutilised marketing methods.
“By thoroughly understanding what consumers in your industry are doing, you gain an insight on what your clients are looking for, helping you to target your digital and social media campaign better.”
Petrakides also said that social media allows connecting with fans and followers every time they log in.
“Keep your social posts entertaining and informative, and your followers will be glad to see your new content in their feeds, keeping you in mind, so you’re their first stop when they’re ready to make a purchase.”
He said one of the best ways to do so is to raise awareness for the product through content generation.
“What better way than having satisfied customers get the message out there for you? This is where teaming up with influencers comes in.”
Petrakides said this could be done organically to encourage satisfied customers to post content, a photo or a short video of them telling the world their experience with the company.
“These are what we call nano influencers, which usually are satisfied customers going online to share a good experience with the company.”
A trend in social media marketing is to team up with influencers, paying them to build awareness of their product by the content they make themselves.
“Digital marketing and social media tools can help a company build awareness…However, Cypriot companies are looking for a quick sale rather than building a name for themselves.”
Digital marketing expert Theodoros Dionisiou, CEO of Novel Marketing Agency, believes local firms are still stuck in the previous century.
“To be honest, it is not only the companies that are at fault but also advertising firms who do not lead their clients down the road of digital marketing,” said Dionisiou.
Many agencies ignore the potential of digital marketing and social platforms, as they are not staffed with experts in the field.
Not all businesses need an online campaign, but those going online should design a proper marketing strategy.
“It is no different than opening and advertising a new shop.
“One will need to identify what the target group is and where they will be able to find them in the digital world.”
He added that a clothes shop appealing to more hip youngsters would more likely find them on the newest social media platform, Tik Tok.
“Some businesses have found themselves in a position of needing to rebrand their product or target another group and do not know how to go about it.
“Social media is a great tool in these cases.
“For example, our agency represents a hotel which traditionally relies on the Russian market, from which tourists had a hard time coming this year due to restrictions.
“At the agency, we decided that one of our marketing tools would be to team up with Tik Tok influencers to promote the hotel to younger Cypriots.”
Dionisiou said campaigns on social media could perform wonders for a product or service.
Still, companies must be willing to listen to experts, while all other marketing rules must apply, including that the product is ripe for marketing.
“An area where digital marketing has been thriving in recent months is the food delivery sector, with online application based platforms making a killing.
“These companies rely solely on digital marketing, taking to social media platforms.”
Another sector benefiting from digital marketing is the real estate sector, especially young couples looking to buy a home.
“Studies have shown that people looking for a home will start searching online and are drawn by ads on Facebook or other organic or sponsored ads.
“A sector that should take digital marketing more seriously in Cyprus is the healthcare industry.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth usage surged as consumers and providers sought ways to safely access and deliver healthcare.
“One of our clients, a Cypriot doctor who is a specialist orthopaedic, has increased his outreach to people from across the globe through digital marketing and the use of social media.
“The doctor offers face to face and online consultations, with his webpage recording 15,000 unique visits every month.”