Digital Marketing for SMEs in Malaysia

9 min read|Last Updated: April 15, 2024|

In the 21st century, most small & medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia are still relying on traditional methods to market their businesses. According to AmBank group CEO, Datuk Sulaiman, only 20% of the total SMEs in Malaysia have implemented digital marketing to improve their market base.

After incorporating your company, it is wise to set up an online presence.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing a.k.a. online marketing is when a Company promotes their services, brands, or products on online platforms in order to connect with their potential customers or target audience. This applies to every business entities in Malaysia.

The mean of digital technologies and media includes:

  • Company websites
  • Mobile apps
  • Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn
  • Digital partnerships with other digital Companies

Why Digital Marketing is Important in Malaysia?

Malaysia has a high internet and smartphone penetration rate. The extensive use of the Internet and the availability of gadgets like personal computers and smartphones make accessing the online market easy, especially during the pandemic.

Productivity increases since digital operations play a vital role in management that includes the ability to manage and manipulate a large volume of data. The factors of production like material and labour would be easier to control and manage using the digital production method, thus increasing the production volume.

Although not many SMEs in Malaysia have implemented digital marketing in their business, nearly 80% of SMEs in Malaysia have started to recognise the benefits of taking the business online. Some of the benefits of digital marketing include:

Reaching out to a broader market

Taking advantage of Digital Marketing will help SMEs to reach out to a broader market base that would otherwise not be possible. Malaysians prefer to find essential information from the internet. When a business utilises the Internet, their market base would increase.

For example, if Ali wants to have a coffee in Kepong, he will google ‘best cafes in Kepong’. If the café is listed on Google Business or have a Facebook/ Instagram page, it has a better chance to stand out and out beat its competitors.

Same goes to SMEs that are selling products. For instance, If Ali wants to buy a watch / some pants, he will google “watch less than RM XXX” / “RM 50 khaki pants”. If the SME has an online presence and is doing digital marketing, it has better chance to sell the products as compared to the competitors that do not take their business online.

The shift of the shopping behaviour

A lot of Malaysians are shifting their shopping behaviour and routine. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping is the new norm for Malaysians. Even without the pandemic, Malaysia’s Internet economy has already shown a steady growth at a 21% annualised rate.

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71% of Malaysians will also compare reviews from various social media sites before settling on the company that they would like to work with or buy its services. As a result, only those businesses that maximise on making their online presence will likely see more conversions.

Therefore, it would be an excellent opportunity for SMEs to have their online presence as well as to improve their general ability to convince their viewers that they are the best company or site to work with. To start, create an official Facebook Page will be a good initiative for SMEs to take their business online.

Cost Effectiveness

By utilising the digital marketing tool, it is more cost effective compared to traditional marketing. SMEs should be fully utilising the digital marketing as it does not need a high usage of capital and it can be done almost immediately.

By engaging the right team, your product, services, and brand can quickly gain the awareness from your targeted audience.

Earn higher revenues and return on investment (ROI)

Many SMEs claim that by utilising the digital marketing base, in return it can generate better return on investment. It is also likely to have higher conversion rate because the target audience is online.

This will directly attribute to higher revenues for the SMEs. They pay lesser cost and earn more profit.

How Digital Marketing Helps Businesses?

There are several ways in which digital marketing in Malaysia is useful over traditional marketing.

Facilitate Communication

The most advantageous factor that digital marketing has is the ease of communication. Digital platforms enable SMEs business owners to communicate with their clients and customers, making them receive quick feedback. The faster they receive feedback from the customers, the faster they can improve their services or even the quality of the products.

Digital marketing also plays a vital role in creating a unique environment for businesses to improve their prospective market base. It does so by increasing the market base and offer closer customer relationship management.

Global reach

Digital marketing helps companies to increase their market base by reaching a relatively large number of people at once. Besides, digital marketing is cost-friendly and can reach a relatively large number of people across the globe. Malaysia is one of the Asian countries leading in technology, taking your business online is one of the ways that it can capture the global market.

An instrument that Malaysian digital marketers frequently use is email marketing. One main reason that email marketing is so impactful, is because it provides a global reach at a low cost. The average email open rate for Malaysians is 16.52%. This allows businesses to keep close contact with the customers by providing relevant information through this platform.

Digital marketing is Measurable

Unlike with traditional marketing, digital marketing is measurable. A company can know the level of their success using analytics, which is not always the case with traditional marketing. These will be important as the management of the company will know what to improve and how to make those improvements and the areas that require immediate attention to enable the company to perform better.

What is Local SEO?

Here is where the analytics come in handy. After obtaining data such as traffic flow and search terms (keywords) from customer’s queries, companies can utilise this knowledge and translate them into more customers and digital footfall—and thus, higher revenues. This is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

SEO serves to optimise articles and websites to appear in local search results, and focuses on ranking it near the top. That is, after all, the first result most searchers click.

Take for example a banana cake bakery in Johor Bahru. When consumers google “Johor Bahru banana cakes” and the search result appears, that is because of SEO.

How can SMEs in Malaysia Improve Local SEO?

Knowing this benefit, how does one go about implementing this “SEO”? A good starting point would be Google Business. With a Google Business page, it can help you build a presence in your local area. This is especially helpful as people typically search for products and services near them (for convenience sake!).

Of course, important details such as your location needs to be complete, accurate and optimised for ranking. Be sure to furnish your page with multimedia content relevant to your products as well!

Focus on On-Page SEO

Another important detail is more implicit. Here in lies the technical bit: Your website’s “code” matters too. This is for communicating with “crawlers”, which search engines use to index and rank your website. In the markup code, there are several elements you need to focus on:

  • Title Tags: The business name and location
  • Meta Description: Include information about the page such as the industry your business is in and operating location.
  • Header Tags: This demarcates the sections of your site. Make sure to include primary keywords where possible.
  • Page Content: Where the content of your page goes. While keywords can be naturally included, remember not to overdo it! Search engines penalise such behaviour if it comes across as “spammy”.
  • Images and other forms of multimedia: Relevant media to your content.
  • NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number): Make sure that this crucial information is consistent across the internet from social media to your website.

Other SEO Tips

Now that the technical bit is over (phew!) we can talk about alternative methods of boosting your rankings even further:

  • Building local backlinks: Increase the number of times your page is linked to, by other relevant, related sites.
  • Locally focused content: Localised content is key to improve local SEO. Otherwise, your search result may not be ranked highly as search engines prefer specific content!
  • References: Positive reviews and feedback about your services and products

Targeting your ideal buyers

With traditional marketing methods like buying billboards, it is like taking a shot in the dark in terms of finding your audience. Digital marketing, on the other hand, will enable you to hit your target audience by enriching your website with relevant SEO articles. By increasing the size of your audience, your business is most likely to get more clients, leading to its success.

For example, a recent survey reported that 87% of Malaysians had purchased goods through social media platforms like Facebook, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp. This report shows that these channels are worth exploring for Malaysian consumers. Thus, it’s worth allocating the marketing fund to these platforms instead of other social media platforms.

So, what’s the use of buyer persona? It’s very useful after understanding your buyers and where they are based when they go online; you’ll get a better sense of the channels that will work the best in advertising or marketing your products to the targeted groups. For example, if your buyers are young ladies aged 20-30+ in Malaysia; Instagram is a good platform to reach them effectively.

To know more about the Malaysian consumer’s demography, you can visit the Department of Statistics Malaysia official website to obtain more relevant information to support your digital marketing campaigns or strategies such as:

  • Population & Demography
  • Household Income & Expenditure
  • ICT Use and Access by Individuals and Households

In a nutshell, digital marketing does not only assist companies in earning greater revenue with low costs but also enables them to improve their products and services via the quick feedback they’re able to retrieve from their consumer. It is what we call a win-win situation for the consumer as well as the provider.

Looking to incorporate a company in Malaysia? Reach out to us to see how we can help with your incorporation process!


Come down to our office or connect with us virtually to discuss your company incorporation, and other corporate services today.


What is the most important element I should know about digital marketing?2024-04-15T18:10:24+08:00

One thing you should focus on digital marketing is your content. Content is the king, if you have the right content, you can reach out to more potential customers, which can result in building more brand awareness or closing more deals.

Do I have to hire a professional to handle my digital marketing platforms?2024-04-15T18:46:41+08:00

While you can pick up digital marketing on your own, it is advisable to engage a professional with relevant market insights. This enables you to target your target market easier, as professionals have experience when pin-pointing the right clients for you.

How do I find the right target audience online?2024-04-15T18:47:30+08:00

Understanding where your targeted audience frequent online and focus on targeting them through these platforms. (e.g. social media, newsletters, websites)

Is it better to engage traditional marketing or digital marketing?2024-04-15T18:47:35+08:00

By understanding who you are selling your business to, you can weigh the differences based on your target market. This gives you a better insight when choosing between traditional or digital marketing.

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