Zimbabwean entrepreneurs are not doing enough when it comes to using technology to grow their businesses.
There was a time (especially from the mid-’90s to the mid-00’s) when the statement ‘Zimbabwe is ten years behind technology’ was common. The statement grew out a realisation that the latest technological developments took a long time before they were fully grasped by the people of Zimbabwe.
However, it would seem that Zimbabweans on the social front have taken great strides in keeping up with the latest technological trends. They are using the latest gadgets, apps and popular social media platforms and seem to be keeping up just fine.
The story seems to be different when it comes to Zimbabwean entrepreneurs who are lagging behind. These businesses are not taking advantage of the latest technological developments to boost their businesses.
For example, most of the Zimbabwean businesses are invisible online i.e. they do not have a digital presence. The bulk of the businesses do not even have a Google maps listing.
This means that prospective customers cannot find them when they search on Google. This is a big deal because nowadays customers turn to Google when they want to search for goods and services. In fact, according to this report, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying.
The implication is that if your business is not visible online when customers are searching then you will miss out on a lot of potential business. Your competitor who has a vibrant online presence will get the business.
Something that happened to me recently can help put this into perspective. I wanted to buy fitted sheets and I went on Google to search for sellers. Below is a screenshot of the results page I got.
I clicked on the first result and landed on the Facebook page of a business called ‘Bed Linen and more’. Their phone number was easily visible on their page and the number was available on WhatsApp too. I sent them a message and they responded and I ended up buying from them.
In this instance, they got the sale because they were visible online and they appeared as the first result in Google search. Appearing at the top of search results critical because according to Search Engine Watch, the first result gets 33% of the clicks and the top three results get over 60% of clicks.
If you look at your own browsing history I am sure you will agree that you mostly click on the top 3 results when you conduct a Google search.
Down the results page, there were other companies who also sell the fitted sheets but I did not bother following up on them after I got a response from the first one.
There are a few important takeaways here.
- It’s important to be found online as your visibility can get you customers 24/7
- It’s even more important to get found high up in search results as they get more clicks
- Where possible have a WhatsApp number to make it easy for customers to get in touch with you. This is so important that I wrote an article titled Seven Ways To Use WhatsApp To Grow Your Business.
I would assume that if our local entrepreneurs were moving with technology and aware of the benefits that they can accrue from it they would make having a vibrant digital presence a top priority.
Could it be that some of these businesses are run by people who ‘are not into technology’?
Listing on Google maps is a great way to be found by local customers but again most businesses are not taking advantage of this great feature from Google. Not having a digital presence is the major reason why sometimes you can get results of overseas companies when you are searching for local companies.
As I was writing this article I did a search for ‘landscaping services’ and these are the results I got.
As I did the search from Harare (& Google knows this from my IP Address), I was supposed to get localised results. However, Google showed me results from America because local landscaping companies have not optimised their websites for such searches.
The only result from Zimbabwe in that screenshot is from a classifieds website and it wasn’t even the first one.
The majority of the businesses that have websites and/social media pages are not using these effectively to grow their businesses. For example, some businesses can go for more than 3 months without putting up a post on their social media pages i.e. they do not keep their fans engaged.
Such businesses seem to lack the need to grow their social media and use social media ads to widen their reach. Could it be that they are not aware of how they can use social media to grow their businesses? I won’t even discuss the use of bots on social media.
The majority of businesses that have websites do not seem to be faring any better on the digital landscape either. My assessment suggests that the bulk (over 90%) of websites by Zimbabwean entrepreneurs are pretty much ineffective and they do not contribute to the growth of their brands.
Many sites do not have the information that clients are interested in (eg you find the company homepage filled with information about the company instead of using that space to highlight the goods and services provided, as that is what the client will be more interested in).
Many Zimbabwean entrepreneurs with websites do not even have the basic knowledge of how to update their websites and have to rely on their developers for simple changes like correction of a spelling error.
Most websites are not tracked to see where traffic is coming from and neither are the websites advertised on Google.
It’s common to have business owners who can go for months without visiting their own website!
If it was a significant part of their marketing efforts do you think they would be so lax about it?
The websites are also not updated regularly through blog posts that offer value and build relationships with customers. If you want to understand in-depth how regular content updates can boost your business you can visit my other website www.contentforgrowth.net/blog.
These and other reasons show that entrepreneurs are ‘still behind technology’ when it comes to their digital presence management.
You can read my other article on how to make your website more effective.
The use of email marketing, which is a great and cost-effective way to engage with customers, is terribly low amongst most businesses in Zimbabwe. These Zimbabwean entrepreneurs do not make an effort to grow their email database as is the standard operating procedure in other countries.
I can spend the whole day showing you ways in which local entrepreneurs are lagging behind technology but I’m sure I have made it clear that there are serious shortcomings.
Are You Keeping up With Technology as an Entrepreneur?
If you are a Zimbabwean entrepreneur I have some questions for you. Are you keeping up with technology in your business? If you are how are you doing it? Have you realised some shortcomings from this article?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you are not happy with your digital presence you can get in touch with me and I can help you get your business visible online. You can send me a quick email using the form below.