Not enough money, not enough time, and not enough in-house expertise: those are the three main excuses SMEs usually have for postponing their digital transformation. So why should SMEs stop putting it off and how should they go about this transformation?

SMEs and the digital transformation

The figures at least have the advantage of clearly highlighting the problem: 50% of SMEs in France have a website, and 84% of them believe that digital technologies are a means of optimizing performance. The findings are somewhat cruel. On the one hand, digital technologies are seen as growth opportunities for these companies (provided they are appropriately managed), and conversely as a disruptive risk if they are unable to adapt to their markets. And on the other hand, SMEs still have doubts and are reluctant to invest in them. The reasons for their being apprehensive are down to the costs involved in developing mobile apps and the lack of guarantees they have as far as return on investment is concerned.

Following clients wherever they are

To return to the role that the mobile phone has in today’s consumer world, you only need to remember one figure: mobile phone penetration in France is around 110%. Nowadays, the mobile phone is everybody’s favorite tool for finding out about a particular product, sharing things with one’s friends, working while on the move, killing time, tracking alerts from an app, or even just accessing local information.

Implementing a mobile marketing strategy involves knowing your clients’ each and every move. First of all, they’ll look for information about the range of services you provide, your product, and your company on the Internet. Being available and visible involves supporting the multichannel purchase pathway that your clients follow by maximizing your presence across all of the digital channels available – the Internet, social networks, mobile, etc. And then by the time they reach the end of this pathway, you’ll have made the purchase easier for them and so increased your sales.

Clients’ expectations and habits are changing. It is therefore in SMEs interests to support their clients wherever they may be and help them enter into relationships with their products.

Decide on your aims

You know about the emergence of digital technologies and of how they are being incorporated into the relationships you have with your clients, but you’re not sure how to manage them. Before embarking on a digital strategy, you need to decide what its aims are:

  • Ensure that your client is central to everything you do
  • Support your purchase pathway
  • Rethink your working methods
  • Raise your company’s profile and enhance the prestige of its content
  • Professionalize your digital presence
  • Inform your clients so they can be redirected to a store


The reasons for using digital technologies can vary: generating traffic, being seen, increasing sales, etc. Obviously these aims should factor in clients’ and users’ expectations. Many mobile solutions are improperly sized: either they’re just a sample of what the company website has, or they contain too much information which overloads the browsing experience, or the offering is not appropriate for the platform. A mobile strategy should complement a global strategy. It should form part of an overall scheme in which digital technologies play a particular, complementary role.

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Responsive site or application?

Once you have decided what your aims are, you need to define the tool that will help you meet them. SMEs have two options: they can either create a responsive design website, or they can develop an app.

A responsive design website is a site that adapts its display to the dimensions of the screen on which it is being viewed. Adopting a “mobile first” approach means taking the view that the website will first be viewed on a mobile device. So that means designing a website for mobile platforms and then creating a desktop version of it. Mobile websites – just like traditional websites – are showcases. They provide clients on the move with information, but not with more services.

SMEs can use a mobile app to win over new clients and to develop their loyalty, or as a means of sharing information. And if consumers are on the lookout for local information, a geo-localized campaign can be launched that provides them with information about a local product or service. The application can be used to let clients know about a new product that has just arrived, or an event or special offer. It’s also possible to use the app to provide simple information content as a means of maintaining the client relationship, as well as raising your SME’s profile. Whatever the aim or aims on which you decide, an SME which implements this kind of mobile strategy shores up its brand image and enables it to increase its reach. Most importantly, it provides an SME with a means of keeping pace with its clients’ changing habits. It should be specified that the app is not a means of converting leads. Although m-commerce (commerce via mobile devices) is growing rapidly, consumers in France are still rather reluctant to make purchases via their smart phones.

Managing costs and investments

Now that you have set your aims and decided whether you are going to develop an app or a website, there are still two hurdles to overcome: what will your ROI be for an investment which is often quite considerable in terms of your company’s budget? How can you acquire the expertise needed in order to manage your company’s digital strategy? This will be tackled in the second section: SMEs: how can you implement your digital strategy now?