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Paola Bergamini
11 May 2021
Reading time: 4 min.

Digitalization and SMEs: here is where we are

The pandemic has completely thrown SMEs off balance, urging them to enter the digital world in order to survive. Over a year later, where has the digitalization process gotten us? We’ll try to find out.

Let’s drop in again on SMEs and digitalization. Over the last year, this topic has often captured our attention and that of many MailUp customers who’ve joined us in the process of going digital.

Here on the blog, we’ve already talked about how much the pandemic has made entry into the digital universe both urgent and necessary. Such a move ensures a reboot for all those SMEs which, until recently, were unfamiliar with strategies, tools, and channels of digital communication.

Today, let’s take stock of the current situation to understand the state of digitalization of SMEs and see if an effective post-COVID reboot did take place

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The state of SME digitalization

Digitalizing businesses right after the pandemic

Two main considerations emerge from the various studies on the state of digitalizing businesses in the first months after COVID: an improvement compared to previous years and a readiness for a positive response—yet still insufficient to guarantee a solid basis for survival in the new normal.

According to GoDaddy’s SME Digital Index 2020, carried out last July on a sample of 4,000 SMEs, the aggregate degree of digitalization is 56/100, two points up from 2019. More than anything, improvements emerged in online presence, which grew from 45% to 56%. Further, companies’ digital visibility actions grew by 10 percentage points.

The various MailUp studies also show that companies didn’t skimp on digital actions like sending an SMS to communicate information on the emergency or mass COVID-themed emails to subscribers. Some customers quintupled their mailings during the first lockdown—a sign that the need to harness available digital tools are far from absent.

These data are an evidence that companies have responded to the disastrous impacts of the pandemic. This highlights their awareness when it comes to reviewing objectives and priorities, and directing strategies toward the digital world. But are these post-COVID reboot strategies and digital resources enough?

According to DESI 2020 (Digital Economy and Society Index), all European countries are generally improving. However, countries that exhibited key gaps in the digitalization process still have a lot of ground to get back. One example comes from Italy: despite companies’ positive responses, Italy lags digitally at 26th—anything but positive.

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SMEs and digital, one year after COVID

Almost a year later, the new post-COVID normal continues to show how going digital is more urgent than ever. Fortunately, this priority is also becoming clear to governments, including Europe: the 2021–2027 Digital Europe Programme has provided new funds to foster the digital transformation of businesses and finance the integration of new technologies and digital tools. Support funding includes resources to develop e-commerce and boost websites—survival tools that have set themselves apart during the pandemic, while also being SMEs’ weak points.

Today, the exponential growth of platforms like WooCommerce and Shopify makes us understand how companies are quickly running for cover, grasping the irreversibility of this scenario. Recent news on the new market expansion of the partnership between Shopify and Pinterest leaves no room for excuses: companies will have an even more immediate tool and concrete help to reach new audiences and effectively advertise their own online shop.

So there’s no lack of funding and tools to facilitate SMEs’ entry into the digital world: what companies must add is the intention to change their mindset and want to rely on all available allies to make the definitive leap. 

According to Innovation People’s Research on the Digitalization of Companies in 2021, 83% of SMEs say they’ve accelerated and are investing a large part of their budget in implementing new digital strategiesThe most used channels for this goal were mainly social media (77%) and email marketing (68%).

More than 80% of companies are also well aware of the importance of creating a personalized omnichannel strategy to satisfy the user in an increasingly competitive market. To achieve this goal, about 50% say they want to start relying on a marketing automation platform to make their digital strategies effective.


Companies are very aware of the importance of digital. Then, there’s the financial support that comes with it. Platforms, training, and assistance services make this step even more concrete. This can only mean positive future forecasts.

Around 11,000 customers have already chosen to be supported in this digitalization process by MailUp’s resources and experience. So what are you waiting for? Request a free consultation with no obligations, and start experiencing the platform’s potential!

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Paola Bergamini

I was born in 1993 in Como and I escaped from this little town to study in Milan, where I graduated in 2017 in philosophy. I've always been interested in marketing and communication and I love writing and reading. As Content Editor at MailUp, I try to keep up to date with Email and Digital Marketing news, in order to share trends, theories and tools about this constantly evolving sector.

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