Build it and they will come.
This is a fantasy that many founders and startups believe in. And for good reason. It is beautiful story about customers that are waiting impatiently so they can get rid of their money once the product is built by buying it.
For those of us who are not fortunate enough to start the next Facebook or Google this is a fantasy that will not come true by itself.
For this reason, in order to build a successful business we need to craft a winning digital marketing strategy. It is in the building of a digital marketing strategy that will win the hearts of our customers where our fantasy can be unleashed. For it is through the realms of fantasy and creativity where competitive edges in marketing and business are gained.
Yet building a winning digital marketing strategy is not an easy task as so many different factors need to be taken into account. So let us take a look at how you can design a winning digital marketing strategy for your business.
Marketing Manager @ Yoco
" Digital moves blazingly fast and having a simple process and framework that you can use again and again, gives you the ability to tackle seemingly daunting tasks that are technical, and let's you focus on what's important."
Every successful digital marketing strategy needs to have objectives. These objectives generally are one of the following:
Generate Brand awareness
Lead & User generation
What objective to choose depends on your company, what stage your company is at and a variety of other variables. If your company is a startup, for example, you might be inclined to think that your most important objective is to generate revenue as fast as possible given how fast you are likely burning cash every month and facing pressures from investors.
Whether that is the right objective though is difficult to answer. It is hard to generate revenue without having brand awareness or users. Plus, it is important to carefully evaluate whether it is important to focus first on generating as many users as possible and figure out a way to monetize them later.
The objective of generating revenue now might hinder or at the very least slow down your objective of generating users. And this is another important point about carefully selecting your objectives for your digital marketing strategy. Ideally, the objectives you select do not contradict each other.
As shown above, marketing objectives can contradict each other faster than you might think. So put some thought into them as they are an important part of a winning your digital marketing strategy.
Once you have decided what objectives you want to achieve with your digital marketing strategy it is important to select key performance indicators so you know whether or not your efforts are in fact bearing fruit.
There are a huge variety of different key performance indicators or metrics you can choose. Often they depend also on what digital marketing channel you choose as part of your strategy. Here we present some of the most important ones.
Brand awareness metrics
Number of impressions
No of inbound links
Brand mentions on social media
Lead & User generation metrics
Number of new leads or users
daily active users (DAU)
monthly active users (MAU)
Cost per lead or user (CPL)
Churn or user retention
Revenue generation metrics
Amount of revenue
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Return on advertising spend (ROAS)
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Cost per revenue
Once you have selected your key performance indicators it is important that you work with a dashboard to hold your team accountable and to keep your digital marketing efforts within close sight at all times.
In the era of Big Data, it is very easy to get lost in mountains of data and then not knowing what to do. That is why it is imperative to make use of data visualization tools that help you visualize the most important data about your business so you can make the best decisions to grow your business.
Google Data Studio is a free Google product that turns your data into informative reports and dashboards that are easy to read, easy to share, and fully custom.
Supermetrics is a reporting automation tool for PPC, SEO, Social and Web analytics. Get any metric you need, combine them with any dimensions and visualize them in any form you want. Integrates with Google Data Studio, Google Analytics and 40+ marketing platforms.
Build world-class dashboards for your company and integrate it with 100+ other technologies. Supports more than 400 individual metrics and visualizations.
After you have determined your digital marketing objectives and decided on the key performance indicators that you will measure your success by, the next important step is to make sure your tracking is set up properly.
If your tracking is setup incorrectly it is very hard to know whether you are on track to achieve your objectives or whether you are completely off track. It is a step that can easily be overlooked by many eager startups and founders as the exciting part is to acquire new users and generate revenue.
However, here it is also important to make sure you stay up to date with changing regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which applies to you if European users exchange data with your business.
Don't make the mistake of taking tracking lightly. You will regret it dearly later.
Your audience is probably THE most important element of a winning digital marketing strategy. If you target your product or service at the wrong audience you will fail no matter how good your product is or how sexy your ad copy.
That is why you need to think very carefully about what kind of audience you want to target for your business. Understanding your audience is absolutely critical. Luckily, today there is a lot of information out there that you can use to choose the best audience for you.
We recommend starting by using Facebook Audience Insights as they have so much valuable information on most people on the internet. It is a very powerful tool.
Let's assume we would be crafting a digital marketing strategy for Nigerian fintech company Piggybank and our objective would be to gather insights about our target audience so we could use those to grow our business.
As the company's goal is to make savings possible by combining discipline plus flexibility to make you grow your savings & better manage your finances it would make sense to gather Facebook insights on audiences with the following characteristics:
Of course, you can be a lot more specific about the audience that you want to target and in many cases that makes sense. However, keep in mind that Facebook's data is not as strong for African audiences as it is for American audiences. Also the more elements you specify the smaller your target audience can become which can be good or bad depending on what you want.
In any case, here is some of the interesting insights you get about Piggybank's audience in Nigeria.
Just by briefly looking into Facebook Audience insights we got a ton of valuable information that could be used in crafting a winning digital marketing strategy for Piggybank. Insights such as those on gender, age and interests could be used in crafting the copy on the website, promotional message where as the categories insights could give one some interesting ideas for strategic partnerships.
While Facebook Audience insights is very powerful, keep in mind it does not necessarily provide you with representative data as many people, particularly in Africa, are still not online or not connected to Facebook and the internet. In those cases, you need to rely on your own market experience, intuition and other ways to uncover valuable insights.
One way in which you could further supplement the insights about your audience is via Similarweb. Given that we know from Facebook Audience insights (Top Categories Finance company) our audience has a very high affinity for Diamond Bank we could plug their website into Similarweb and see what insights we can gather.
These Similarweb insights also start you to give a sense of what channels may be important to focus on and what partnerships to consider. In the case for Diamond Bank it also shows that Email marketing continues to be a very important source of traffic.
Finally, given that Piggybank offers an app it would make sense to check out the Google Play Store and search for similar apps. In this case, we take a look at Thriv which is not necessarily a Nigerian app but can still give one valuable insights into what people expect from a saving apps in the digital age.
By looking at the reviews, you can get a sense of what people love and what needs improvement which can be very valuable insights for the further development of your product and thus customer retention.
Generating revenue through ads seems to be a very delicate issue. As Kesang Shrestha mentions in the review those ads annoy him and a large percentage of users feel the same way then it could be an insight showing that monetizing the app through ads may not be the best option.
As you can see, in the 21st century there countless ways in which you can find valuable information on your audience that you can use to craft a winning digital marketing strategy. So use them.
The number of marketing channels have exploded in the last two decades with the arrival of the internet. As such it is impossible, for us to cover all the different marketing channels in existence today, also because new ones keep emerging all the time.
Below we cover the most important marketing channels that will help your business win customers if your execution is as good as theory behind it:-).
In any case, as a good entrepreneur and digital marketer it is your job to scan the environment to see whether interesting new digital marketing channels should be exploited for the benefit of your business. As Brian Balfour argues, finding your product/channel fit is extremely important.
Riding the wave of new channels can be extremely lucrative as there is very little competition and you can use that time to build up authority and skills to stay ahead of the curve.
In any case, without further ado a brief overview of powerful marketing channels to scale your business:
Affiliate marketing in Africa is not yet as well established as it is in other parts in the world. Yet many global brands and dominant tech players like Amazon as well as smaller tech companies like Livechat use affiliate marketing as part of their digital marketing strategy.
Affiliate marketing may have a shady reputation online, but it also comes with many benefits that are particularly well suited for cash strapped startups and small businesses. Seeing that affiliate marketing is pure performance marketing, you only need to pay a pre-defined commission upon a pre-defined conversion like generating a new lead or sale.
This means that when someone clicks on an affiliate link to arrive at your website or app, but does not convert you do not need to pay anything, unlike when you deploy pay-per-click marketing through Google or Bing.
At the same time, your company is still increasing brand awareness and you are generating pixels for your retargeting list from which you can still drive conversions at a later stage.
The other option is to go through an affiliate marketing network where your company basically outsources the running of an affiliate programme to a company like Admarula, Awin, Shareasale or CJ. In this case, you will need to have a bigger budget as in addition to the affiliate commission you will also need to pay the affiliate network for their work.
As an alternative to Tapfiliate you can also choose to go with Post Affiliate Pro. Integrate Post Affiliate Pro with any website or shopping cart yourself, or use on of their 170+ pre-made connectors.
An industry leading affiliate software since 1999 iDev offers competitive pricing and is very startup friendly. Allows you to design your own pay-out structure while fraud prevention is built into the product.
When it comes to paid advertising the two main options are generally Google and Facebook. According to a report by the Financial Times Facebook and Google account for 84% of online spending in 2017 and for the time being there is no sign that the duopoly will be displaced anytime soon.
Of course, there are still other options like Twitter, Linkedin, Snapchat and others but they tend to be very niche specific. For example, Linkedin can still be a good choice if you are in the B2B space.
The advantages of paid advertising are many. If you know how to use either Google or Facebook you can scale your business really fast, because you can control who to target at what time with what message. To learn about advertising on Facebook go to facebook blueprint, while the equivalent for Google is Google Academy.
Given Google and Facebook's huge market share, they can also offer massive reach so that you can reach almost anyone that is connected to internet.
Furthermore, apart from email marketing, paid advertising is the only channel where you can engage in retargeting visitors. Considering how hard it is to build brand awareness or to acquire a customer you need visitors coming to your site repeatedly.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most popular ways to generate traffic. In fact, 51% of all website traffic comes from organic search. This goes to show how important this marketing channel is.
It is often described as being able to generate "free" traffic. In our view this is not entirely true as you still need to pay your team or an agency to do SEO for you. What is free is the clicks that SEO generates, but not the work that goes into it.
SEO can really be divided into two sections:
To succeed with SEO you need to get both right. Technical SEO is concerned with increasing the visibility of your digital property in search engine results, site speed, indexing and crawling. On and Off Page SEO which form part of the content aspect of SEO is focused on link building, keyword research, producing high quality content, UX and more.
Like with other digital channels, SEO is a channel that requires constant work for it to grow your business. Search Engines are constantly changing, algorithms are always getting better and as a consequence the rules of SEO keep changing too.
One thing to keep in mind though is that SEO is not only about Google. Depending on your market you may also need to consider doing SEO for Tripadvisor, Pinterest, YouTube, Amazon and others. Remember that there is less competition on these search engines and as a result it may be easier to get traffic.
As the move to a digital society accelerates and more businesses are waking up to the importance of SEO it is getting more competitive and thus difficult to achieve good rankings. This is especially true for competitive industries such as travel or finance.
However, if you produce local content that caters towards an African audience you still have a good chance in many industries to produce exceptional content that ranks high in search engines as not many industries are bursting at their seems with mind-blowing content.
For example, in our view there is not yet that much great content on digital strategies for African tech businesses out there yet. This is one of the reasons why we are writing this in-depth piece of content. While it is a competitive space with companies like Hubspot producing high-quality content, most of that content is focused on a global audience and not so much an African one.
A free tool by Google to monitor your site’s performance, identify issues, submit content for crawling, remove content you don’t want indexed, view the search queries that brought visitors to your site and more.
An all-in-one Marketing toolkit for SEO, PPC, Social Media, Content & PR. Includes technical SEO audit, backlink analytics and competitor analysis. One of the few products that has a data intelligence on African markets including Angola, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and more.
Similar tool to SEMrush but more budget-friendly. Also, database on African markets is not as strong as on SEMrush. Do Keyword & Competitor Research, Rank Tracking and much more.
The importance of content marketing has grown dramatically in the past few years. As the New York Times reported, the use of ad blockers has risen by 30% globally as people are getting tired of being interrupted by marketing messages all the time.
One approach to overcoming this is to deliver compelling ad experiences that consumers won't want to block. One way of doing this is to create helpful and educational content that people want to pay attention to, because it delivers massive value.
Keep in mind that content does not only refer to written text. In fact, content can include video, music and photos. According to a Techcrunch article 82% of Internet traffic by 2021 will be coming from video. So one way to take advantage of this is to provide educational video content around the focus of your daily business. In the case of Piggybank they could produce engaging videos around personal saving tips.
A company that does this really great is Leadpages. They offer a variety of online courses on how landing pages can be used as part of a successful digital marketing strategy. You too can do something similar by, for example, using Teachable to create online courses and hosting your video while using a tool like Grammarly to ensure your grammar and spelling of any text is error-free.
In general, it is a good idea to study the content marketing practices of marketing software companies, because many of them do it really well. SEMrush, an all in-one marketing tool for digital marketers, hosts webinars on a variety of different topics such as "what makes a bad link?". Through educating webinar attendees on good digital marketing practices they add value up-front while using their own product to teach on topics like keyword research, link-building and doing competitive research.
Ontraport is a marketing automation company that went all out in providing entrepreneurs and small business owners tons of value through their content. They offer highly valuable free guides on topics like gathering customer data, mapping and personalizing your customer journey and the guide to product launches amongst many others. Beyond that they also offer useful free tools like the software comparison tool, an online podcast that features great entrepreneurs and marketers sharing key insights on how to grow your business which is exactly what their target markets wants to know.
Beyond this, content marketing offers many advantages for businesses that are willing to take it serious.
Grammarly's free writing app makes sure your messages, documents, and social media posts are clear, mistake-free, and effective.
A content intelligence tool that allows you to analyze what content works best for any topic and your competitors. Find key influencers to promote your content.
One of the best ways to do content marketing is through teaching. Let Teachable do the heavy lifting so you can focus on what matters - creating courses with their user-friendly interface.
Email marketing is dead. Email marketing is spam. Email marketing is outdated. How many times have you heard this before?
Yet Email marketing is still very important. We are still of the opinion that Email marketing should be the crown jewel in your digital marketing strategy. According to Salesforce, the average return for every dollar invested in email marketing is $38 giving you an ROI of 3800%! In addition, by 2020 there will be 3 billion email users worldwide showing that the user base is still growing strong.
Email can be used for a wide variety of purposes and at different stages of the customer journey. Email can be used to sell, onboard new customers, send newsletters, generate traffic to your digital properties, create referrals, help with branding, reactivate churned customers and much more. That is what makes it so powerful.
Many companies across Africa use Email as an important building block of their digital marketing strategy. Beyond the reasons mentioned above, there are more good reasons why your business should also use Email marketing to grow your business.
One of the most important ones is that you own your access to your Email audience, while you do not own the access to your Facebook, Google or other types of audiences. Facebook, Google and co are constantly changing their rules and algorithms which can have a detrimental impact on your business. If they change the rules so that you have to pay more to reach your audience what can you do about it?
As such, Email is the ultimate defense against digital sharecropping. Google, Facebook and other platforms have been built only to serve the stakeholders that profit off them. Social networks come and go, search engines evolve. If you put all your eggs in one basket that you don’t own, your risk losing that basket and with it years of time, energy and money spent if that platform changes its rules or shuts its doors.
Moreover, it is not like Email marketing is standing still while other channels keep evolving and new channels arrive on the marketing landscape. In the last few years, Email marketing has evolved quite dramatically making it much easier to succeed with Email marketing in the process.
Nowadays, Email marketing and marketing automation go and in hand as you can automate a number of different digital marketing tasks across your business from onboarding new email subscribers to segmenting and scoring your sales leads. Good email marketing companies aim to offer you a unified view your customers and their behaviour across the digital properties of your business and that is important for the quality of your customer data.
Mailchimp provides marketing automation software that makes it easy to create email campaigns. It is very startup-friendly as it has free starter plan up to 2'000 subscribers and 12'000 sent emails per month.
Did you know that YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world and that by 2019 video will constitute up to 80% of global internet traffic?
So is YouTube part of your digital marketing strategy yet?
Your customer's return path to your product should be a core part of your digital marketing strategy. After all, if you can't keep users and customers coming back you can't build a successful business.
According to Localytics, 23% of users abandon an app after - wait for it - 1 use, while Salesforce says it takes at least 6 - 8 touches to generate a sale. With the rise of new technologies and marketing channels, customer journey's have grown more complex which means building a return path is essential.
Having a well designed return path boosts your brand awareness, revenue, customer retention and can act as a key competitive advantage over your competitors. Therefore, it is well worth it to invest some time, money and resources into designing an enticing return path for your product.
There are many ways in which you can design a return path for your users and customers. You will have to take into account many different factors such as the type of your product, usage intervals, customer needs and others.
However, here are some ways that you can use to build a return path:
If you do not focus on having a compelling return path, retention will become your company's silent killer. Make sure you make retention a fundamental building block of your digital marketing strategy - otherwise all the hard work you and your team put into executing your strategy will be futile.
Your digital marketing strategy is obviously going to heavily depend on the type of budget you have available. If you have a lot of budget available then you can invest in paid traffic on Google or Facebook and start seeing fast results.
Whether those are the results that are congruent with your marketing objectives is another question, but at the very least with traffic you can starting testing your funnels, offers, ad copies and more.
If you are on a tight budget a good practice can be to invest some money upfront in paid advertising to create a seed list of say 1000 - 10'000 Email subscribers which you can then use to generate referrals, increase brand awareness and generate more subscribers and customers from the initial seed list.
Just as the number of digital marketing channels have and continue to grow exponentially, so do the tools that you can use to implement a winning digital marketing strategy. As such, it is important to have marketing stack that fits your strategy and objectives. Here is a small selection of powerful digital marketing tools that you can use to dominate your market and delight your customers.
Wrike is an online project management software that allows you to collaborate with your team on your digital marketing campaigns. See the big picture of project progress with real-time updates and cross-project reports and newsfeed.
Chat to people who are visiting your website and point them in the right direction. Eliminate long queues and answer questions instantly. Great for converting customers and also for retention. Test LiveChat with a free 30 day trial.
Learning how other companies successfully execute their digital marketing strategy can teach you important digital marketing lessons that improve your own digital marketing strategy for your own business. Here are some highly recommended case studies from successful tech companies.
Unfortunately, we could not find any detailed digital marketing case studies of African companies. Should you know of any please let us know in the comments section.
How Grammarly Bootstrapped It's Way To 6.9 Million Daily Users without Venture Capital funding. A very detailed analysis of Grammarly's Digital Marketing strategy by Australian Digital Marketing Agency King Kong.
From Zero to $13 Million in 12 months is another detailed digital marketing strategy analysis of Australia's highest rated mattress Koala. This time the analysis is done by another Aussie Digital Marketing Agency Webprofits.
Congratulations. You have shown tremendous determination to make it this far to the end. This determination will serve you well in crafting a winning digital marketing strategy that grows your business.
Digital marketing can be fun, but it is also very challenging and fast paced. You have to keep testing new approaches, methodologies, tools and strategies to succeed and stay ahead of the competition. Underlying all of this is a lot of determination.
So keep up the determination and let us know in the comments how you are building a world-class digital marketing strategy to grow your business.
Rise Africa Rise is your online guide to tech entrepreneurship and (social) innovation for African entrepreneurs, startups and businesses. Our aim is to provide you with valuable digital strategies, tools and insights to support you in building a world-class and competitive business in the 21st century.