Digital marketing represents transformational opportunities for African companies. Businesses in Africa should grab digital marketing opportunities head on if they are to create competitive edge in local and global markets.
Businesses in Africa and those intending to penetrate African market must now focus on integrating Digital Marketing into their overall marketing strategies. That is the opportunity and those who seize it will reap handsome rewards.
Digital marketing simplified
While definitions vary, digital marketing can be defined as reaching out to an identified audience with a targeted marketing message via the internet and Mobile media to conduct profitable business. Indeed, increasingly the web is Mobile and people are accessing it via tablets and smartphones rather than desktop machines. This definition of Digital would include online display advertising, social media like Twitter and Facebook, Search Engines like Google and Yahoo/Bing, Email, and Mobile apps and most of all Web Analytics to tie it all together and calculate the all-important return on investment (ROI).
So why is Africa lagging behind in Digital Marketing?
- Advancement in technology is lagging behind other more developed countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
- The proportion of urban versus rural populations is still relatively skewed towards rural populations in many Africa nations and internet reach in rural areas remains low.
- Internet and mobile services are still relatively expensive, compared to costs of the same services in developed countries.
- Smart phones and mobile devices are expensive and out of reach for many people in Africa although this trend is changing in urban areas.
- Companies are sceptical about how to use digital marketing.
- Many marketing and IT personnel do not know how to use Digital marketing.
- Because Marketing personnel do not know how to use digital marketing, CEOs remain unconvinced and are not willing to spend on digital marketing initiatives.
- There is little or no Digital marketing training and education in most African countries.
- Marketing executives are often reluctant to use Digital marketing consultants for fear of loosing their jobs or of being seen as not knowledgeable.
- There is a misconception that Digital marketing is for big corporations that have huge budgets.
- Company executives are failing to and or reluctant learn from other companies and global brands about the huge opportunities that digital marketing presents to their businesses.
- Advertising agencies often know as little as their clients when it comes to digital marketing.
- The evolving and changing digital marketing landscape needs executives who are dedicated to continuous learning and this can be frustrating and time consuming.
- Many people think that digital marketing is about creating good looking website. Its so much more.
The Digital Marketing Environment in Africa: It is not all bad news
The rate of internet penetration in many Africa countries is growing exponentially. There are now over 48 million Internet users in Nigeria; 10 years ago that figure was less than 200,000 (worldinternetstats). What does all this mean? In a nutshell, more and more people that we as marketers want to target are spending more and more time online and on their tablets and mobile phones.
We know that the customer must always be the focus of our marketing efforts. It is clear that the customer is changing and marketers need to change too. In other words, we must “fish where the fish are” and the fish are swimming more and more in the digital lake right now!
So what do businesses in Africa stand to benefit from Digital Marketing?
- Anybody, even companies with the lowest budget, can do some Digital Marketing and have a chance of getting good results. From then on it’s a matter of testing, learning and development. This is a huge opportunity for SMEs who are driving the economic renaissance of Africa.
- Digital marketing is highly measurable – you can tell what sales came from where and what is the Return On Investment. In the Digital world, things are more measurable than ever before which means companies can test, learn and improve.
- It’s now easier than ever to target a niche market with digital marketing. For example you can send your emails newsletters directly to your customers, or a segment of them.
- You can target your customers wherever they may be found, be it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ etc
- You can network with influencers all over the planet. This is great for companies and executives that want to share ideas and find business opportunities across the world.
- You can compete with anyone. Digital marketing creates a level playing field for companies to compete because you are all competing on the web and it’s your strategy that will count.
- It is so much easier to hone in your marketing message when you use digital marketing because unlike outbound marketing, you are actually speaking to your customers and interacting with them online.
- You are able to develop your brand locally and globally.
- Using social media can make your marketing messages go viral and significantly increase your sales.
- Unlike adverts other media , Digital market is not intrusive. The customer cannot control a radio or TV advert, but they can choose to look at or not look at your website , Facebook post or read your e-newsletter if it does not interest them.
- You can talk to your customers on line and sell them your services and products too.
Signs of the Times: What company executives need to know about digital marketing
- Company executives must understand all they can about Digital, including learning what has worked and not worked in more developed Digital markets, in order to drive their own Digital education and progress.
- Things are happening very fast. The market is driving growth. Consumers are embracing digital media and so are business decision-makers. As a result, brands and their agencies have no option but to jump on the Digital bandwagon and to learn all they can and integrate digital with their offline activities which are still very important in Africa.
- The growth of the usage of social networks and consumer culture in Africa means that SMEs , local and global brand need to change the way that they engage their customers. No matter how much brands try to ignore digital , it is clear that Mobile and Digital marketing will continue to become more relevant and will drive growth in marketing on the Africa continent.
- Digital Revolution has been building for some time now. It’s no exaggeration to say that the web is the greatest driver for economic empowerment and social change in the world. There is virtually no barrier to starting a business online and the voice of one person can be heard by millions online, almost instantly. This is a great time to be in business in Africa.
- The emerging economies will play an increasingly important role in the future development of Digital Marketing throughout the world. Already, the ways people consume information, share content and make purchasing decisions in these markets are leapfrogging older, more developed economies.
- African executives should grab the opportunity to embrace the role of technology. Historically, low growth rates ,coupled with low levels of investment on the continent have meant that brands have been slow to innovate and embrace new technologies, but now this is changing – rapidly. Technology is a key area for economic growth in Africa and Mobile phone penetration demonstrates that there is a large untapped consumer market in Africa.
For Digital Marketing training, contact Chipo at firstname.lastname@example.org