According to Paypal co-founder and famous venture capitalist Peter Thiel “poor distribution - not product - is the number one cause of failure.”
Many tech entrepreneurs often believe that all they need to do is to build an amazing product and the customers will beat a path to their doors.
The reality is usually far from it. Distributing and marketing your product is an essential part of any successful company.
So how do you successfully market your business?
Besides having a compelling marketing strategy, it starts with having the right marketing stack. A marketing stack is a group of technologies that entrepreneurs and marketers use to execute their marketing.
With so many new technologies and digital marketing channels continuously emerging it can be difficult to decide which marketing technologies are the best to build your business.
Don’t worry. Here you will find the essential marketing stack successful African tech businesses need to succeed:
Analytics should be the first tool in your marketing stack. Without analytics you do not know whether your marketing activities are having any impact or what audience you are attracting to your business. Therefore, having analytics is a no-brainer.
Google Analytics is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to analytics. While you can use alternatives like Clicky or Adobe Analytics most business use Google Analytics. In fact, Google Analytics is so important that we have even included it in our essential tools list for African entrepreneurs.
Google Analytics is a free product by Google and allows you to analyze your audience, how you acquired your audience, your audience’s behaviour and any conversions you set up.
While Google Analytics will give you basic insight such as the ones mentioned above, you can do a lot more if you know how to set it up to serve your needs.
In comparison to Google Analytics, Amplitude is more focused on product analytics and as such is great for tech businesses. It is valuable particularly for web and mobile products.
Amplitude can help you answer questions which Google Analytics is not like how users are navigating through your product, which features are the most engaging or how to improve long-term user retention. According to builtwith Amplitude is used by some of the leading African tech business like Yoco.
Another essential tool that should be in your marketing stack is a data visualization tool where you can get an easy overview of all your marketing activities in one place.
Not only does it save a ton of time of having all the important marketing key performance indicators in one place but it is also more motivating if you can see your progress beautifully visualized on impactful graphs.
Google Data Studio is another free product that enables you to turn data into informative reports and dashboards that are easy to read, easy to share, and fully custom.
While you can’t connect all marketing channels to Google Data Studio you can use a tool like Supermetrics to close that gap. Supermetrics allows you to connect the data from across different marketing channels including social media, email marketing and even payment platforms.
For many businesses search engine optimization remains one of the most important ways to drive traffic and ultimately acquire customers. According to the Search Engine Journal, 93% of online experiences start with a search engine. If you consider that there are now over 3.58 billion people online who could be potential customers then you understand how important SEO is.
As SEO is such a big and important marketing channel there are an overwhelming number of products you can use to optimize your web presence for search engines. Therefore, it is highly recommend that you do further research to choose the one that is best for your business.
SEMrush is one an all-in one SEO platform that you can use to do many of the important SEO tasks such as keyword research, backlink analysis, a website audit, rank tracking, link building, competitor analysis and more. Their keyword research tool is one of the best available to research keywords in African markets like Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Angola, South Africa and more. To our knowledge SEMrush has the most robust keyword database on African markets of any digital marketing software available.
Google Search Console is another free and valuable good product. It allows you 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.
Moreover, Google Search Console will alert you should there be any issues with your site such as crawling error, manual penalties, increase in 404 pages and malware. As such it is very important for successful marketing that you address these issues when they come up. For that reason, Google Search Console should be a key component of your marketing stack.
If you are looking to grow your business fast one of the best ways to do so is through paid advertising. The fact that you can get instant traffic is one of the big advantages of paid advertising. In comparison to organic traffic you also have much more control with paid advertising in that you decide who to target, how much money you are prepared to invest and for how long.
At the time of writing Google's market share in Africa stands 95.04% which means that paying for your ads on Google Adwords to be shown for relevant keywords can be a great investment as it hard to find the kind of reach Google has anywhere else. Furthermore, Google owns the world's largest display network reaching nearly 80% of all internet users globally.
This alone shows you why your business cannot afford to miss out on Adwords as a tool in your marketing stack. In comparison, to the many other Google products Adwords is obviously not free as it operates on a pay-per-click model.
Of course the other paid tool to grow your business should be facebook. Like google, facebook has a massive reach with over 170 million users across the African continent alone. If you are just starting out with your business or your brand is not well known facebook is even better at creating brand awareness for your company.
One of Facebook's great strengths is the sophisticated targeting options that you get. For example, you can target your ads to 25-45 year old tech enthusiasts based in Kigali, Rwanda on their mobile phone if you wanted to. That kind of granularity is unmatched and one of the key reasons why facebook should be an essential tool in your marketing stack.
Despite the many claims that Email is dead it is actually far from it. It remains one of the most profitable marketing channels for businesses. Just like technology in general, email continues to evolve and its capabilities are becoming ever more powerful with features such as marketing automation.
In fact, if you have been following this blog for a while you should know that many of the most successful African companies use email marketing to drive sales. If you envision your business taking its place amongst the continent's most successful ones maybe email technology should be a core part of your marketing stack.
When it comes to email marketing technology there is an abundance of tools out there you can choose from such as GetResponse or Mailchimp. However, one of the best and most sophisticated ones is Ontraport as it includes powerful visual marketing automation and reporting features.
In fact, Ontraport is much more than just an email marketing tool as it also comes with comes with powerful lead capture tools, file sharing capabilities, CRM, split testing, marketing features and automation, social media integration. If you are serious about scaling your business then these are things you need to succeed in the digital economy of today.
Affiliate marketing in Africa is not yet as popular as it is in other parts of the world. Many tech companies like booking.com, Livechat, online project management software company Wrike or Uber have their own affiliate programmes.
If affiliate marketing is working for many companies around the world, why should it not work for tech companies in Africa? It offers so many advantages including only paying affiliates based on performance, reaching audiences that your company may not have access to or building your retargeting list.
If you want to benefit from the advantages of affiliate marketing and you have decided the best solution for your business is to host an in-house affiliate programme then you need an affiliate tracking software like Tapfiliate.
Tapfiliate helps you to track affiliate sales, detect fraud and integrates with many popular platforms such as WordPress, paypal, stripe or segment.
After the comment below, we decided to update this list with more essential tools that should be part of your marketing stack. If you feel more are missing do not hesitate to list them in the comments.
Grammarly ensures that everything you write is free of errors, clear and effective. You can use it to write blog posts:-), social media updates, emails and anything that you want to ensure is error free. As a lot of marketing activities involves a lot writing it makes sense to use a tool which you can install for free as a chrome extension.
Speaking of Grammarly, you may also be interested to read this very in-depth case study on how Grammarly bootstrapped it's way to 6.9 m users through great digital marketing. You will learn a great deal about how to do digital marketing the right way so we highly recommend it.
Canva is a brilliant tool that makes it really easy to create great visuals that you can use for your blog posts, social media updates, product launches and much more. Canva have really found a way to democratize great design. Visuals play a very important role in marketing so making them high-quality is really important. For this reason, your marketing stack should definitely include canva.
There you have the essential marketing stack for African businesses. Given the vast array of marketing technologies it is not always easy to make the right choice. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with some valuable technologies that you can add to your marketing stack to help take your business to the next level.
Which marketing technologies do you consider to be essential to succeed for African businesses in Africa and beyond? Let us know in the comments.
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.