The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing in South Africa
You’ve probably heard the term ‘digital marketing’ and wondered what it was all about. You might even be in business and realise that digital is becoming increasingly important for your customers to engage with you, but you’re unsure how to implement a strategy to ensure you meet your goals. This article will take a deeper look at this constantly evolving industry and how it’s changing the way businesses sell their products and services to consumers.
The need for a digital strategy is directly related to the strategic goals of an organisation. It also depends on what stage an organisation or brand is in, whether it’s just starting out or whether competition is rife with big players who are making it difficult for small businesses to compete. The most important thing to consider is that an effective digital strategy doesn’t happen overnight; it can take months, sometimes years, to see results.
Marketing in the Digital Age
Once you’ve determined which strategies are right for your brand and how they’ll integrate with the rest of your marketing efforts, it’s time to get started. The first step here is to determine what tools you’ll use to successfully implement your marketing strategy online. This should be easy as there are plenty of digital platforms from which to choose, such as mobile apps and social media interaction.
While the number of available platforms continues to grow as more businesses jump on the bandwagon, you can’t just work with any and every platform. You’ll need to determine where your customers are spending their time online and how they interact with the platforms available. The only way to do this is by understanding your customer demographic. What age group? What gender? What income level? Once you understand what makes up your target market, you can take active steps to interact with them where you know they’ll be looking.
Educating the Market
To gain a competitive advantage, you need to provide real value to your customers every time they engage with your brand. Sure, you might offer great deals on products or services, but that won’t always keep them coming back for more.
The best way to gain customer loyalty is through education, which means sharing any and all information you can with your target audience. This could mean hosting free webinars that talk about how to use your products or services effectively (and safely); blogging about topics related to your industry, or offering tips and tricks on using social media platforms in the most efficient ways.
Don’t worry about how much it costs you to share this information; the long-term benefits to your brand will far outweigh any short-term investments you make now.
Making Connections Online
Now that you’ve educated your market, it’s time to start connecting with them on a personal level. This doesn’t mean selling your products or services directly to them, although that can be part of the process. Focusing solely on selling will only get you so far; the people who are most likely to become loyal customers are those who feel they’re being heard by your brand.
This means you need to ensure every interaction with your target market is an authentic one. If you’re in retail, offer them honest opinions about the products you sell in your store; ask for their input on how to improve or expand your offerings so they can get exactly what they need from you.
If someone leaves a comment on your blog, respond with helpful information that will help them solve whatever problem got them there in the first place. The next step is building trust between you and your customers; this is an integral part of any digital marketing strategy, but it takes time to see results.
You will face criticism while running a business in the digital space, especially if connectivity with your core customer base is one of your main objectives. This can come in the form of negative comments on your blog or Facebook page, or it could be accusations about how you run your business on consumer review sites.
No matter where this criticism originates from, there is a right and wrong way to respond. The key here is to remember that everyone is a potential customer first and foremost, regardless of where they might be in the sales funnel.
When presented with criticism online, many people will try to argue their point instead of listening to what the other party has to say. This is a surefire way to push customers away and close them off from ever purchasing anything from your brand again.
Instead, avoid trying to correct these people in your responses; simply thank them for their input and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. By taking the high road when it comes to these interactions, you’ll end up gaining more respect from your customers (which will result in positive word of mouth).
On top of that, you could even turn these situations around by using them as a marketing opportunity. In the case of negative comments, you might want to ask your fans if they have any advice on how you can address these issues with future customers.
If someone is accusing your brand of being fake on a consumer review site, consider responding in a public post on social media or on that site directly. This will show your customers that you’re willing to face any criticism head-on, which will help them feel better about doing business with your brand.
However, there are some instances when it’s appropriate to ignore these types of criticisms; if someone is leaving a one-star review on Amazon because they didn’t like the book you published or an eBay buyer is leaving negative feedback because they didn’t receive the item they ordered on time, there’s not much you can do about it.
It might be best to let these instances slide so your customers don’t think you’re being defensive instead of taking their concerns seriously. However, if someone is trying to slander your brand or misrepresent information that directly affects your bottom line, it’s important to respond immediately.
Remember that these interactions are opportunities for you to further connect with your customers; be sincere, but remember that people can see through canned responses too. If there’s anything good about the digital space, it’s that it gives businesses like yours an opportunity to engage directly with your customers like never before (which is good for business).
Getting the Word Out
The whole reason you’re running your eCommerce business is to increase brand awareness and generate more revenue, right? After all, this is what digital marketing should be about. That means it’s important to make sure that other people are talking about you online. This can be anything from receiving positive comments and reviews from your customers on sites like eBay and Amazon to earning mentions on social media networks.
Take a look at some of the biggest companies in the world and you’ll notice they own most of their digital real estate; whenever we search for something online, we’re likely to see Facebook or Google features in our results before we see a result from Bing or Yahoo.
This is what we call search engine optimisation (SEO) and it’s one of the most important strategies in digital marketing today. It’s all about positioning your brand in such a way that when people search for certain key phrases on Google, you’re the first thing that comes up when they look for similar products or services.
In other words, you want to be the authoritative authority on your topic as determined by search engine algorithms. When executed properly, SEO can have a significant impact on your brand’s visibility and revenue potential. The truth is that the very best SEO company will know how to find those hidden opportunities with keyword research so you can take advantage of all the opportunities available to you.
But while SEO is still a very important part of digital marketing, social media has taken over as one of the most powerful and direct forms of marketing. While SEO mostly focuses on your brand (and hopefully not too much on how other sites are linking back to yours), social media is all about engagement and facilitating a conversation.
You don’t even have to own a Twitter handle or Facebook page to take advantage of social media; you can simply use their feeds and hashtags to reach new customers who might be just browsing the web on any given day.
Getting started with social media isn’t so easy, though. You need to know how many channels you should be on (hint: at least the biggest ones), how often you should post new content, and what kind of tone you should strike with your followers.
More than Technology
Many people think that digital marketing is all about technology—that it’s something that can be managed via an algorithm or by automated emails like those found in autoresponders.
But while it might be true that today’s digital marketing landscape is built on technology, that presents a sort of catch-22: if you want to take advantage of all that rich and highly relevant data we talked about earlier, then you need to start with the people who are interested in your brand and your products or services.
This is where the whole idea of inbound marketing comes into play. Since so much of digital marketing revolves around algorithms, many marketers think that they’re not playing fair unless they somehow game the system to always put their brand at the top every time.
If you look at your social media feeds or search engine results, you’ll probably see a lot of posts and suggestions that look the same because there are only so many ways to get on your customers’ radar.
That’s where inbound marketing comes into play: it helps you find new customers who are already looking for what you have to offer, instead of tricking people into thinking they want your brand even when they don’t.
More than Messages
It’s also worth noting that digital marketing is more than just sending messages to your customers—after all, many of today’s most successful marketers are using their social media presence as a way to communicate with the world engagingly and authentically.
For example, take Gary Vaynerchuk, a social media mogul who built his entire brand off the back of Twitter and YouTube. He would live-tweet award shows and sports events (he’s partial to hockey) to gain hundreds of thousands of new followers every time—and even more impressively, he built up an engaged following who hung on his every word.
Although Gary is a prime example, social media marketing is inherently more personal than just about any other form of digital marketing you might practice. It’s all about transparency and building a relationship with your customers—and people respond to that in ways they never have before.
More than Conversion
Inbound marketing isn’t just about conversions or sales—it’s about opening a direct line of communication between you and your customers so you can find out what they want from your brand, and how to better serve their needs.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that most people don’t like ads—they’re annoying, intrusive, and often irrelevant. If you rely on digital marketing strategies that revolve around the use of ads, you’ll find that your customers are more likely to leave due to annoyance than anything else.
But what do people love? They love being able to communicate with each other, whether about brands or just about random topics they’re interested in. And social media campaigns that revolve around customer engagement will almost always be far more successful than simply using digital marketing to present ads.
The Right to Calls to Action
When it comes down to it, inbound marketing is about providing customers with the right content at the right time—and that starts by finding out exactly who your customer is. If you’re not sure whether or not your audience is aware of what’s going on with your brand or what they want from you, then you need to start doing some research.
This is the type of information that will generate more than just a single result in search engines: it’s going to lead to a much stronger connection with customers and create a far better user experience. Inbound marketing isn’t limited to Google either—it’s about reaching out to your customers wherever they are. And that is the biggest difference between traditional marketing and inbound marketing: it’s not just about driving people to a website but engaging with them there.
The beauty of content marketing strategies is that you can put them into practice on nearly any social network or even through email marketing, which allows you to create a direct connection with potential customers. You can’t do that with traditional marketing—it’s all about pushing the same message out over and over again, regardless of whether or not someone wants to engage with your brand. If you want to see better results from digital marketing, then inbound is the way to go. Scepticism might result at first about the tactics employed by many inbound marketers, but after diving in and getting a feel for the process, it’s a really smart way of doing things.
As long as you’re not spamming your customers or creating content that isn’t relevant to them, then you have nothing to worry about—and you’ll get much better results from taking this approach than any form of banner ad you might run.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide. Hopefully, you now have the knowledge and confidence to put these strategies into your digital marketing plan for high ROI results. Let us know how we can help with all stages of creating an effective strategy that will bring measurable success to your business or organiSation!