In our post Digital Marketing: 10 lessons African entrepreneurs can learn from fintech startup Yoco we took a look at selected parts of Yoco's digital marketing strategy and what African entrepreneurs could possibly learn from South Africa's innovative fintech business try out for their own business.
If your companies aim is to succeed in the digital space you need a compelling digital marketing strategy that attracts customers and scales your revenue. In crafting a compelling digital marketing strategy for your business it can help to get some inspiration from how other companies execute on their strategy.
That's why we talked to Nicholas Soper, Marketing Manager at Yoco, on his and Yoco's philosophy regarding digital marketing, processes, Key Performance Indicators and tools. Hopefully, you can pick up some new tips, tricks and tools which to apply to grow your business.
1) On your blog you talk about the importance of frameworks and processes as a tool for informed decision making. What would you say are the key frameworks and processes for succeeding in digital marketing today?
I normally start presentations with "digital is not quick, easy or cheap". It's a great way to frame digital as something that should be considered carefully each and every time you enter a new project. This is because digital marketing is complicated, always changing and the further you get into the project the harder things are to change. In other words, it's much easier to change the layout on a website when it is still a scribble in a notebook than when it is coded on a page.
Digital is not quick, easy or cheap
When I started my career digital marketing consisted of websites, emailers and banner ads. The options we have today have grown considerably and the playbook that worked last year won't today. 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.
The process I use for all my projects are incredibly simple. In fact many people I share it with seem to glaze over when I explain it, but it's helped me again and again to drive results as well as transformation.
Each of the steps in the process have much more detail and end up having their own set of sub processes, but these 5 steps are what it all boils down to. In my experience most people, especially those with traditional sales or advertising background, put more value in very developed or well developed ideas rather than a rigorous process that generates results. It's much easier to get buy in when you include stakeholders in the process where as big ideas need a great sales pitch.
2) With the explosion of different marketing channels over the last 2 decades and limited resources what criteria do you to decide which channels to focus on?
The digital process I follow is to try a multitude of messaging and creatives that are limited to the relevant step in the marketing funnel, that are segmented as (realistically) possible, across as many digital marketing channels as resources allow.
We set up campaigns across every single digital channel available and measure KPI's daily. That means reporting on
across every channel we use. Whenever things don't perform we cut them and try to improve what is working. The caveat is that there are ebbs and flows, seasonal changes and monthly cycles, so it is also important not to react with too much frequency but to identify the best messaging that works in your best channels, stick with them and keep optimizing.
Yoco is currently in a growth stage which means our commercial efforts will boil down to the number of new businesses signing up, as well as the cost to acquire these customers. This means we have to be careful not to focus only on customer acquisition but also on growing a brand even though that does not directly result in customer acquisition. Finding the balance is difficult and our targets change frequently so it's something we have to keep on top of.
3) What do you think are the most important metrics to measure in a successful digital marketing strategy?
Ultimately it boils down to new customers and new leads, but in order to grow these numbers we need to create:
For awareness we look at things like our social media audience size, new web mentions (inbound links) and social mentions. We also keep on top off offline measurements.
Then we look at things like new visitors to our website, number of engaged new website visitors, people that download a brochure and other actions that isn’t high intent.
The next level is things like number of call back requests, contact forms, demo requests, people who start signing up and people who finish signing up for Yoco.
We don’t just look at the volume of KPI’s, but the overall cost and the overall cost per channel. Attribution modeling makes the channel success a little tricky as most of our signups will touch on several channels along the path to signing up but our data team and insights from Google Analytics give us a fairly clear picture.
4) Seeing that Yoco has worked with a digital agency (for the video) and also has an in-house team, what are the factors to think about when deciding to let an agency do the digital marketing work vs doing it in-house?
We enjoy working with lots of people and value the individuality and creativity lots of different people can bring. When it comes to choosing who we work with growing our internal capacity is a priority, but we do use external agencies and freelancers as needed.
We value the individuality and creativity lots of different people can bring.
5) In your experience, what is the best way to build and structure a digital marketing team? (e.g. structure according to channel vs structure according to funnel stage etc.)
Yoco encourages team structure and growth revolves around personal strengths. Everyone who works at Yoco has done a Gallop Strengthfinder and soon we’ll be doing Myer Briggs personality test. This means we know with a high degree of certainty what value everyone brings to a project and we can plan accordingly. It’s essential to get a good mix of strategic/ideation/analytical minds with executor/achievers to ensure your great ideas actually come to life and the company achieves its goals.
Growth revolves around personal strengths
6) How does the hiring process at Yoco (including identifying the necessary position to be filled) look for marketing positions? Do you hire generalists that can do a bit of everything or do you go for specialists (e.g. ppc specialist) and why?
The underlying thread of every employee is Yoco’s employee values. You have to be a self-starter, who doesn’t need to be managed but rather supported or unlocked, doesn’t see limits only a blank canvas and possibility, inquisitive, accountable, responsible, not afraid to fail and push new boundaries and appreciate the value of specialisation.
7) With digital marketing channels changing and innovating all the time, how do you ensure your team keeps up with all those changes?
It’s not easy, but it’s essential. We are lucky enough to have some consulting agencies, a client partner, Facebook, group podcast learning sessions and a lot of smart people to bounce ideas off. We do a lot of reading, experiments and analyzing results and bringing it back to our process that enables us to prioritize the best solutions.
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8) Many online channels work more or less the same around the world while we often hear that “Africa is not a country” meaning there are huge differences between the different countries in terms of culture, behaviour and language. Given Yoco’s expansion plans, what impact do you expect this to have on the digital marketing strategy? What factors are important to consider when expanding to other countries in Africa?
We are very much doubling down on South Africa for the time being. When we do expand into a new territory we’ll use the same process we have to date and test all the channels, get some help from a local expert and scale accordingly.
9) An area that often does not get as much attention as acquisition is retention. In your experience, what is the best way to approach retention of customers through digital channels?
Yoco’s customer retention strategy includes several internal departments that starts with the product which undergoes continuous improvement, support when people need help, and proactively speaking to customers and solving problems before things get any worse. For example if a merchant has more than 3 failed transactions in a row there is an automated alert and our team jump on it to figure out what the problem is.
10) In your experience, what is the best way to approach optimizing digital marketing campaigns? What are the elements you look to optimize first (e.g. Call to Action vs adjusting targeting vs improving the offer etc.?)
We spent a lot of time optimizing the messaging in our ads for various segments. Whether it was how we presented the product, what benefits we included in the text, to how we placed logos, we go into tiny detail on what helped get more people to sign up. We are forever optimizing everything, from open graph images, to SERP titles and descriptions. The biggest impact for signups to date was understanding what the right message is that helps people realize Yoco is the right solution for them.
11) According to numerous studies email marketing is the most profitable online channel there is. Yet at Yoco, email marketing does not seem to be an important element of the company's digital marketing strategy. Why?
Up until recently we have been focusing on communicating to our merchant base and keeping our email frequency to about once a month. This has resulted in an open rate of over 50% which we are really happy with. Recently we have been working on building an email database to share meaningful content with people who are not our customers. In other words email hasn’t been a channel we have been using much so far, but it is becoming a priority channel for customer acquisition.
12) What are your 3 favourite Digital Marketing tools and why?
Zapier - The ability to set up a landing page and send data to a Google Sheet and our CRM in just a few minutes is fantastic.
Thanks Nicholas for taking the time to answer these questions and sharing your experience and knowledge with our readers. This is much appreciated.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts!
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.