Many small businesses moved their marketing operations online to attract more customers, here’s why you should too.

Written by: Dineo Cynthia


Since the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdowns that followed throughout 2020, many small businesses have been moving their business operations online. The pandemic induced lockdowns by governments worldwide. Thus the restrictions of these lockdowns only allowed businesses with a digital existence to thrive. This caused traditional brick and mortar enterprises to struggle to attract customers. In this post, we will be looking at how you can get your small business online and attract more customers.

We will be analyzing:

  1. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small South African businesses
  2. Big companies that have failed due to the pandemic
  3. Why it is now necessary to start marketing your business online
  4. And lastly, How you can have your business online in six easy steps


Over 42% of businesses were forced to close down


Over 42% of businesses opted to closed their doors forever as they were struggling to keep afloat. Because of this, the South African government introduced a stimulus package to help boost the economy in these trying times. A portion of that stimulus was aimed at assisting small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Unfortunately, a lot of SMEs did not receive relief from the stimulus as they did not meet the requirements to qualify for relief.


Even some of the biggest industry giants went out of business


COVID-19 didn’t only affect SMEs. Many big businesses also felt the pinch. In a single week in February 2021, two big businesses announced that they would be closing their doors and halting operations permanently. These were the music and DVD giant Musica and the bus transporter Greyhound. The cinema chain Sterkinekor entered business rescue in January 2021.



If you look closely you will notice that both Musica and Sterkinekor have been undercut by stronger and more popular digital platforms that provide the same products such as Spotify, Netflix and DSTV. Many other industry giants fell as well, this list includes EDCON (Edgars Group), Comair (owner of, Associated Media (publisher of Cosmopolitan Magazine) and a host of other companies that have filed for bankruptcy.


Why you should move your business online


If for some reason you are still not convinced that you need to migrate to the digital sector, here are a few more reasons why you should.

  • online businesses do not pay rent or electricity
  • online advertising is cheaper than traditional posters, flyers and billboards
  • more customers are online that outside (COVID-19 lockdown)
  • online businesses require less staff



How to move your business online


Now that you are convinced, here is a step by step guide to successfully move your business operations online.



Step 1 – Establish your business online.



Step 2 – Register or list your business on local and regional business directories such as Yellow pages and the likes.


  • Here is a list of the top business directories that offer free listings.
  • Explore paid options to increase visibility. Here is a list of the top paid South African directories.


Step 3 – Explore paid advertising on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ads) and Google Adwords by promoting posts.


  • Very few businesses are actually advertising online the right way in South Africa. Most business owners keep posting product brochures and running boost ads on Facebook. While this is not a bad thing, it can often lead to your Facebook page becoming spammy. This will cause Facebook to reduce the number of people who see your Facebook page organically. Set up strategic ads that allow you to build relationships with your clients. If you find it hard contact us and we will run strategic ad campaigns that build relationships with your customers and keep you top of their minds.
  • Use boost post sparingly and only for promotions or competitions that you are running. DO NOT OVERDO IT!


Step 4 – Create content and post consistently to increase engagement.


  • Post engaging content on your social media sites. 
  • Run competitions, promotions and discount campaigns regularly.
  • Consistently engage with customers.
  • Post solutions to your customer’s problems, not only products and services ( you should try to get your customers trust by offering them valuable information and not only trying to sell to them). If you would like to try our content marketing package, click here to sign up and we will contact you


Step 5 – Improve search engine optimization (SEO)


  • Start a blog and write content that relates to your business.
  • Answer popular questions, use sites like
  • Use popular keywords in your industry/niche in all social media posts and blog posts. You can find these keywords by using keyword tools such as and google trends when writing content.
  • Post consistently on social media and use hashtags of your popular keywords.


Step 6 – Test, fail and improve your strategy


  •  Test which social media works best for your business, which times and posts get the most engagements and keep updating your marketing strategy.


These six steps will have your business online and running in no time. Keeping working to reach more people and increase engagements on all your platforms. For more tips and tricks about marking online in South Africa, check out our Facebook group where you will find loads of like-minded South African entrepreneurs who help each other with marketing ideas.

Wishing you the best of luck!

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