The introduction of E-Marketing has changed the corporate sector by shifting the strategic methods of product promotion to the behaviors of the targeted customers in line with their technology adaptations. The size of the firm regarding the capital of operation as well as the market coverage defines the extent to which the business can adopt and accrue the advantages of E-Marketing. One such example includes the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). However, since the needs of a business organization are similar across the divide, approaches that have worked for large-scale firms can be adopted and necessary transformations made in line with the specific needs of the SMEs. Although the theoretical framework associated with marketing methodologies ascertain the correlation between marketing and success of the firm, a critical and scholarly assessment of literature and field data is needed to prove the nature of real implication of the use of E-Marketing among SMEs. Therefore, there is the need for further investigation on the subject to assist in advancing the knowledge in this subfield of strategic business management. This paper outlines a proposed study that will help in unraveling the actual impacts of E-Marketing on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the West Africa from the case study perspective of Cote d'Ivoire.
The role of marketing in the success of the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises is a concept that has been widely examined. The desire to achieve high revenue target among these business units has created a fundamental concern on how to balance the available resources and adopt the relevant marketing approach. The nature of the competition in the industry of operation has exerted pressure on the management of the SMEs. In fact, Simpson and Taylor (2002) points out that two dimensions associated with marketing define the accrued impacts from the adopted strategy. The approach used by a firm could reflect the objectives of the business and the nature of segment control within the market of operation. On the other hand, the need to attain the relevance of the techniques employed in marketing the brands provides a different perspective where the aim of the business becomes secondary. Therefore, the process of marketing among SMEs has been a difficult decision in line with the required sustainability that will incorporate both the needs of the firm and relevance of the methodologies (Simpson and Taylor, 2002).
Moreover, researchers have been concerned with the changing approaches to marketing and their impact on business success. The enterprises operating on limited capital and market have been forced to transform their marketing strategies especially by incorporating technology. The results is a managerial complexity among the SMEs, which require scholarly review and corporate expertise to determine the precise phenomenon and the best models that will satisfy the targets of the business, the relevance of the techniques, and the advancing technology. ODwyer (2009) carried out a critical analysis of the external and internal SMEs environment to ascertain the concept of innovation and creativity in these businesses from the marketing perspective. The published book revealed that the complexity associated with marketing decision for SMEs emanates from stiff competition, limited capital, small customer acquisition rates, and other diseconomies of scale (ODwyer, 2009). Therefore, what remains clear is the possible limitations that could characterize inappropriate marketing implementations as well as the sustainability and growth that is guaranteed when adequate research and planning is carried out to inform the marketing choices. An expounded scholarly and corporate review that acquaints this research proposal is discussed in the literature review section in this paper.
1.3: Research Problem
The success of SMEs across the globe is tied to several socioeconomic and geopolitical factors. The management of the organization depends on the scale of operation and capital of investment. In many cases, the implementation of changes that emanate from the external environment affects the rate of growth and development. The use of technology to improve the effectiveness of market control, customer satisfaction, and product improvement has a direct influence on the anticipated revenue. The use of E-Marketing to enhance the success of SMEs in Cote DIvoire is limited because of the area of specialization, accessibility to funds, government support, and desire to grow (Ardjouman and Shanghai, 2014). However, several opportunities exist for the enterprises to acquire and retain more customers through online marketing. The knowledge regarding the impact of E-Marketing on SMEs in the country is required. Therefore, this study proposal highlights a study that seeks to fill the gap in corporate sectors forming the baseline for transformed strategic marketing for SMEs to drive profitability.
1.4 Research Justification
One of the fundamental approaches undertaken by most SMEs in Cote DIvoire is the adoption of E-Marketing to sustain their customer acquisition and retention trends for maximum returns. Creating brand awareness guarantee increased sales when characterized by appropriateness and relevance. A transformational change associated with most SMEs in the country is not limited to access to funds but also the adoption of modern marketing techniques. However, the development and growth are skewed which calls for the evaluation of the impacts as well as the causative agents relating to the disparity. An appeal to a succinct assessment of the positive and negative implications of the E-Marketing approaches adopted in the sector emanates from the performance shifts and the skewed development that characterize the SMEs in Cote DIvoire. Therefore, this proposal outlines a study that will assist to unravel the related implications by examining the benefits and cost of incorporating E-Marketing in SMEs management. The justification of this study, as outlined in this proposal, is focused on the advantages that will accrue when more knowledge regarding E-Marketing and SMEs success is presented from the perspective of sustainability and relevance.
1.5 Research Objectives
The study will examine the impact of e-marketing on small and medium-sized enterprises in brand promotion and production of services. The proposed research will focus on the benefits of E-Marketing on customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction. The following objectives will inform the research.
Objective 1: To determine to what extent the SMEs in Cote DIvoire are adopting E-Marketing strategies to enhance business-customer integration, growth and development, and market competitive advantages
Objective 2: To highlight the short-term and long-term benefits of E-Marketingfor the SMEs in Cote DIvoire
Objective 3: To evaluate the barriers and challenges associated with Cote DIvoire SMEs adopting E-Marketing strategies to enhance performance
Objective 4: To present necessary recommendations for SMEs in Cote DIvoire that will ensure effective and sustainable E-Marketing implementations
1.6 Research Questions The research questions that will guide the study are developed from the four objectives stated above. The following questions and proposed hypothesis will guide the study process.
RQ1: To what extent have the SMEs in Cote DIvoire adopting E-Marketing strategies to enhance business-customer integration, growth, development, and market competitive advantages?
RQ2: What are the short-term and long-term benefits of E-Marketing for the SMEs in Cote DIvoire?
RQ3: What are the barriers and challenges associated with Cote DIvoire SMEs adopting E-Marketing strategies to enhance performance?
RQ4: What necessary recommendations for SMEs in Cote DIvoire will ensure effective and sustainable E-Marketing implementations?
2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Major Concepts and Definitions
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are business ventures that operate below some corporate limits as compared to large companies. Comparatively, SMEs are associated with a limited capital of operation but contribute to the highest percentage of business entities in any economy. Firms that are categorized as SMEs offer employment opportunities, especially in a developing economy. Through innovation and creativity, SMEs drive the process of growth and economic development. Organizations such as the World Bank and the European Union have used the potential of the small business to transform the GDP of most countries in the Asian and African regions. In most cases, the SMEs have been used to diversify production processes and encourage aggressive competition to enhance the quality of goods and services.
Changes in technology to improve access to information and people have affected the socioeconomic and geopolitical dimensions of the global interaction. The business sector is one of the areas where technology has changed the execution of activities and decision. Through technology advancement, the E-Marketing approach was formulated. E-Marketing involves all the product or service promotion techniques used to enhance sales, create awareness, communicate changes, and collect feedback in corporate sector through web platforms, email, mobile texts, social media, sharing of videos, and linked images. Although the level at which organizations adopt E-Marketing is different, the central concept is the adoption of online-based communication and interaction to enhance the customer-business relationship. The shift to E-Marketing has been encouraged by the changes in customer and suppliers behavior where the number of those who embrace internet and technology is increasing every moment. Therefore, most businesses are forced to change their marketing tactics to incorporate online accessibility.
2.1.3 Traditional Marketing Verses E-Marketing
Traditional marketing is the ancient but common method used in the corporate sector to improve customer sensitization and sales through direct engagement with clients and print media. The method requires more time and resources, which increases the cost of operation. The platforms used to communicate to the customer in traditional marketing include the use of radios, television, newspapers, posters, magazines, and billboards. The focus of the traditional marketing is to stress on the uniqueness of the brands and services from the complimentary and substitutes available in the market. The level to which organizations employ the traditional tools of marketing is associated with the degree of industry competition, the capital of operation, and the nature of the products. On the other hand, E-Marketing involves technology-based approaches such as the use of social media, websites, blogs, emails, texting, image sharing, and viral videos to communicate to customers across the targeted niche. Therefore, the flexibility of the method complimented traditional marketing.
2.1.4 SMEs and E-Marketing in Cote DIvoire
The SMEs environment in Cote DIvoire is similar to most of the African developing and emerging markets where the informal sector forms the greatest percentage of the firms under this category. The distribution of the enterprises is biased to urban centers, but the rural areas also offer investment avenues; therefore, some businesses are also located outside the metropolitan circles. The employment opportunities in the country majorly emanate from the increasing number of SMEs, which assist in increasing the rate of production and innovation. Although the firms are different from incorporated and manufacturing companies using modern technology, the SMEs i...
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