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Driving Business with Digital

Bottom line: the biggest reason why your business needs digital is because you want to make money – and as more people come online, the opportunities grow exponentially.

Monique Verduyn




Are you still asking why you should get social? South Africa’s top digital gurus make the business case for why you should be using digital platforms to communicate with your customers and business partners.

Digital media and marketing can best be described as a multi-platform communication form spanning everything from web-based platforms like websites and social media to mobile platforms such as cellphones and tablets.

“The important thing about digital is that it’s not about technology, it’s about people and relationships,” says Kate Elphick, MD of Digital Bridges. “The medium is just a way of exposing them to the world around them.”

“It’s communication on steroids and serves the ‘instant gratification generation’ by always being relevant,” says Shelli Nurcombe-Thorne, MD of online publishing company Velocity Media. “Users want access to the latest information as quickly and easily as possible. The digital space is very much controlled by content quality – without great content for web users to consume, your influence and presence in the digital space is nowhere.

“Remember that digital is a form of two-way communication. Instead of just pumping out information, you are providing a platform for customers (or potential customers) to engage with you instantly. This becomes a conversation, and the usual rules apply: listen actively and respond immediately, and with care.”

Digital allows companies to gauge customer response to a product, service or advert, allowing them to evolve with the customer rather than dictate to them. If there’s a special happening in two days, you can immediately Tweet, blog and Facebook about it. Compare that to the turnaround times on print, radio or TV advertising.

“Digital also calls for more transparency than traditional media,” says Nurcombe-Thorne. “Bad reviews, for example, are very common and there’s no way for organisations to counter them, other than simply maintaining a high level of service and quality.

However, many of these sites, like Hellopeter, for example, allow the business to resolve the matter publicly and show how it intends to improve in the future. Companies also need to be very careful how they manage their social media interactions, especially where negative feedback is concerned.”

The mobile revolution

Importantly, digital is also a different way of thinking about business. “It’s the new way society connects and communicates and it signifies a big shift in how people make buying decisions,” says Mike Stopforth, CEO of integrated communication agency Cerebra.

“And if the number of digital marketing conferences designed for the SME market is anything to go by, there is no doubt that there’s a big focus on how to make digital platforms work in the sector.”

Prakash Patel, CEO of mobile solutions and digital brand strategist Prezence Digital, says that just three years ago no one really understood digital. “Now people in all sectors of the market are talking about how to monetise digital strategies.

We’ve seen a big growth in social media marketing, website and mobile site budgets. With the huge growth in mobile, it’s as important now to have a mobile presence as it is to have a regular website. Consumers everywhere are using their smartphones and tablets to look for local services – from plumbers to restaurants to car dealers. If you’re not online, you’re lost.”

Justin Spratt, CEO of digital marketing agency Quirk, agrees. “According to Google, 97% of people are searching for businesses on their mobile phones. Google Places for Business is a free local platform that allows you to add photos, update your address and trading hours, or promote your business with ads.

Places for Business lets you make the most of your listing and shows customers why they want to choose you.”

Being on Google Places for Business helps people find, share, rate, and recommend your business to their friends and people across the web. It also lets you see what people are saying, and respond to customer

“The fact that Google is spending a lot of money on location-based search should give you an idea of how important it is,” adds Spratt.

How SMEs can leverage digital

Because it’s still early days, there are so many opportunities for SMEs that it’s scary, says Michael Balkind of digital strategy agency Content Bar. “If you’re going to build your Facebook page, spend money providing your community with content that interests them.

Brands are spending budgets on ‘likes’ but not much on original content. Paying traditional agencies to produce engaging digital content is like paying a digital agency to craft a TV commercial. Go with the people who have the right skill set.”

Balkind offers this advice to SMEs: “Create a digital strategy that outlines the content offering and communication strategy. This should be workshopped by the content team and the brand managers to identify a content offering that will appeal to the community while also ensuring the brand’s core values are reflected.

By identifying the community needs, brands can offer content that relates to the audience. Use content to promote content. Don’t take ads, but rather let the great content be used to promote your business.

He also notes that it’s important to identify distribution channels for the content. Is Facebook where the content will sit, or will it go on the business’s website or on third-party portals?

Mike Sharman, owner of digital agency Retroviral, says strategy is always the most important element of a brand’s communication. “It must support business objectives. Only then is it possible to fine-tune the necessary tactics. Facebook isn’t relevant for all brands, nor is Twitter.

It’s important to understand what your customers want from you and to tailor the communication accordingly. Budget considerations as well as target market are very important.

Spending hundreds of thousands on a Facebook app, for example, when you’re talking to a market accessing Facebook from a mobile phone is a waste as these apps are not yet designed for mobile browsing. Marketers are keen to jump on the social media bandwagon but considerations for SMS, email, and search engine optimisation must be made – these are still some of the most successful tactics in a digital marketer’s armoury.

Nurcombe-Thorne says the problem is that businesses that don’t have a lot of experience with digital strategies tend to go for the first thing they recognise, without realising that there are lots of different approaches that can be taken.

“The best strategy is ‘trial and error’. Try something. If that doesn’t work, try something else. With digital, you know immediately whether your customers have responded well. You can measure how many people have seen your ad, and how many people clicked on it. There are also ad serving systems that can track a user to the advertisers’ website and report back on their activity – did they merely show an interest or did they proceed and make a purchase?”

Sharman says that SMEs must develop a digital strategy, but also be open to changing tactical direction if need be. “Constantly assess and redirect. Set benchmarks. Listen to what your customers want. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing.

The research is out there and it’s free because your competitors are tweeting, Facebooking and blogging it. Use this to your advantage. It’s also important to identify brand ambassadors and influencers relevant to your industry. Find those people and nurture them.”

Stopforth says the beauty of digital is that it allows SMEs to dabble. “You can spend R100 on Google, see the returns and measure them, and then choose to spend R1 000 or R10 000, depending on what works for your business.

The other really cool thing is that from a PR perspective, digital marketing enables you to create a larger than life perception of your brand, even if you’re operating from a garage.”

Because production costs are cheaper, you can punch above your weight, adds Sharman. A great example is in the US. The company, which sells razor blades for a dollar, produced a transparent, simple message using video. It was so successful that  it went viral and global with over six million views.

Sharman makes the point that the Internet generation is more forgiving of user generated content than its predecessors. “That means home video style content is acceptable. Added to that, the costs of placing your message on a variety of platforms such as social media ads, blog ads, and banner ads is a lot cheaper, so your buck goes much further.”

Dollarshaveclub’s f**king great video

Here’s what makes this video so successful. First company founder, Mike tells us what Dollar Shave Club is and what they do in the first ten seconds. “What is Dollar Shave Well, for a dollar a month we’ll send  you high quality razors right to your door.”

Then Mike tells us about his company and what they do; he informs us that his blades are, “F**king Great!”  The YouTube video too is called “ – Our Blades are F**king Great.” It’s a catchy title and one that makes people laugh. “The number one rule in the digital age is don’t be boring. Boring sucks, and it fails. Rather take a risk and be interesting,” says Sharman.

Keeping your message alive

Many businesses seem to think that having one or two social media pages is all they need to be ‘digital’. In fact, every page created needs to be built and managed with a clear focus and with the intention of interacting with consumers.

Creating a Facebook page and never updating it, never commenting, never taking in information from your fans, and never informing consumers of ‘what’s new’ with the brand is worthless to the business. “Don’t give customers a voice if you’re not going to listen,” says Nurcombe-Thorne.

Elphick agrees that a social media presence is not sufficient. “It’s important to be there, but we need to recognise that engagement is critical. It’s incumbent on the people behind the business to entertain their audiences or provide a reason for people to give their attention to the SME. Time is precious. Make sure that you give people value in exchange for their attention.”

Patel says it’s important to go back to the basics of marketing when it comes to the digital space. “What is your brand, product or service? What are the benefits of being on Facebook or Twitter? The point is to reach your target market, recruit them and retain them.

The ‘retain’ part is key, and you can only do that by engaging customers in a conversation. Whatever you do, don’t do it half-heartedly, and make sure you are giving the customer value, such as useful information or a discount voucher that they can redeem in-store or online. There has to be some benefit and value for them or they’ll cease to engage.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.


Online Marketing

10 Online Marketers To Watch In 2018

The more diverse your sources of news and inspiration, the better. These ten people can help get you there.

Jayson Demers



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Online marketing requires experience, creativity and a working knowledge of the latest trends and technologies necessary to stay competitive in the modern landscape. And while there aren’t any shortcuts to gain more experience, there is a convenient way to stay up to date on the latest marketing trends and get inspiration for your creative campaigns.

That way? Following and paying attention to the best, smartest marketers in the industry.

With 2018 just getting started, I wanted to list some of my favourite marketing influencers, some of the most influential experts in the industry and some of the most promising creative minds to pay attention to this year:

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The Best Conversion Rate Optimisation Tips To Help You Grow Your Business

Whether you’re the owner of a company, or an online blogger, knowing conversion rate optimisation techniques will help you immensely.




Conversion rate optimisation, otherwise known as CRO, is a 21st-century way to turn visitors to your website or blog into followers of your information or customers of your product or service.

Therefore, whether you’re the owner of a company, or an online blogger, knowing conversion rate optimisation techniques will help you immensely.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO?

Internet marketing, or what some people call online marketing, is promoting your product or service on the Internet through the digital channels available. Driving traffic is to your website or blog is hard, but it’s something you need to do in order to sell your product or service, so the last thing you want is to leave money on the table.

Traditionally, from the traffic you drive to your blog or website, a percentage of that traffic will become your customers or followers.

CRO is conversion optimisation strategies that puts a focus on your blog or website to determine what small or big changes need to be made to convert as many of your visitors as possible.

It’s the classic case of not working harder, but smarter.

Changes such as a new headline, new sales copy, a different coloured CTA (Call-to-Action) button, and more, are tested for effectiveness. This helps you take out all the guesswork and make changes that are proven to convert more sales.

Techniques such as A/B testing, where you create two different landing pages and send the same amount of traffic to each, is one example.

At the end of the day, the version that receives the most conversion is the one you would choose. A site with significant traffic may successfully test over a shorter time. On the other hand, in order to get accurate data, a site with a smaller amount of traffic will likely need more time than a larger one for testing.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

What Happens When You Convert More Visitors Into Customers?

It’s a no brainer, when you convert visitors into clients and customers, your sales increase, and that’s the number one goal of any company or business. CRO can help you grow your business by receiving the same amount of traffic that you’re currently receiving.

Technically that means that you can make more sales without having to spend more money on marketing.

That also means that you’re not focused on the number of traffic you pull in with a mind on percentages, but rather focused on making the most of the traffic you currently have which makes the most of your marketing efforts.

Not Utilising CRO Means You Are Leaving Money on The Table

money-on-tableLet’s say you’re a small company with a goal of R50,000 a month in revenue. Your job is to turn a percentage of your visitors into customers. Without the correct conversion rate optimisation strategies, you’re looking strictly at numbers. You find that 1,000 visitors turn into 50 customers with a revenue of R20,000, which is R30,000 away from your goal.

Without the correct CRO strategies in place, you would work to increase the number of visitors to your site. However, with CRO, you implement e-commerce CRO tips that result in those 1,000 visitors turning into 125 customers.  That brings you to your R50,000 goal.  Without performing conversion rate optimisation, you’ve left R30,000 on the table.

Now that you’ve reduced your cost per acquisition, or what you pay per sale or click or form submit, you can either invest more in advertising or just bank the profits. Now that you understand what conversion rate optimisation is all about, let’s have a look at some of the best strategies that can help you take your business to a whole new level.

20 Of The Best CRO Strategies

You can spend loads of money on a fancy website or blog, but if it isn’t converting correctly, you’re losing customers and sales. That’s why conversion rate optimisation is becoming the number one priority with websites and blogs in the 21st-century.

1. Create an Effective Headline

If you are trying to convert visitors into followers or customers from a specific post, then your headline is one of the most important elements. It’s not there for a hard sell; it’s there to draw your potential customers to your site so that they’ll check out your product or service.

Your headline must show people what benefit they will receive from using what you have to offer.

Keep changing up those headlines till you find a strategy that works.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 2)

2. Reduce Huge Blocks of Text with Bullet Points

The way you present the content on your website is crucial. Give a potential customer too much information, and they’ll leave your site with eyes glazed over. Any material you present should be not only easy to understand but short and to the point.  One of the best ways to do that is with bullet points.

Bullet points create an organised presentation that keeps potential customers interested.

3. Include Your Contact Information

Significant changes can be done to your website or blog to increase conversions, but so can small ones. Include your contact information on your site or blog. This shows that you’re accountable and don’t mind being contacted, which can lead to customer trust and eventually sales. Include your phone number, email address, and even your mailing address.

4. Replace Phony Stock Photos

Stock PhotosYou know what a phony stock photo looks like. It’s the kind that you purchase from stock photo sites, and they’re the kind that you often see at more than one website. These types of photos look phony, and they reduce your credibility. Replace fake-looking stock photos with professional, unique photos or good quality photos that you’ve taken.

For example, instead of using a stock photo model with a cheesy grin, use a picture of one of your employees.

5. Use a Pop-Up Form

One effective way to convert visitors into followers and subscribers is a pop-up form. When visitors come to your side, a form pops up that encourages them to leave their name and email address, or just their email address, to become a subscriber. When you have a list of subscribers, you can then turn them into customers through newsletters, emails, etc.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 3)

6. Eliminate Unneeded Form Fields

A website or blog that is not user-friendly when it comes to form fields may not translate to customer conversion. A form field is where your customers type in their information.  What is the bare minimum of customer information that you need? You ask for the name, but do you also need the company name, for example, or can you do without having a customer type that in?

7. Remove Automatic Image Sliders

Images that flash before your eyes automatically may look attractive, but automatic image sliders have been proven to create banner blindness and therefore, reduce conversion. Use static images instead.

8. Include Videos

Videos have proven to be effective in drawing visitors and turning them into customers. If your site sells fishing products, for example, include a video of an expert fisherman using one of your fishing poles. Make sure the video is no more than two to three minutes long and be sure to put one on your landing page.

9. Make Your Call-To-Action Button Pop

Here is another strategy that seems small but that may prove to be very effective. Alter your call-to-action or CTA button. For example, is it more efficient for your button to say “Download Now” rather than “Buy Now”?  Is it better for your CTA button to be a bright red rather than a navy blue? By testing changes to your call-to-action button, you can determine if such a change will be effective.

10. Limit Your Call-To-Actions

If you have one call-to-action button on your website, that’s a wise choice. Too many call-to-actions can confuse potential customers and turn them off from your site. Put your focus on one effective call-to-action.

11. Have You Included the Word “Free”?

If there’s one thing that people love, it’s free stuff. What can you offer potential customers that are free?

For example, let’s say you sell psychic readings. Offer your potential clients a 10-minute free reading and display the offer prominently on the front page of your site. Chances are you’ll get a lot of conversions for your niche. Once you’ve drawn in customers with the free deal, you can better bring them to your paid services.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 4)

12. Match Your Landing Page to Your Ad

When your ad matches your landing page, the colour co-ordination and organisation can translate to conversions. In addition to the colour, the copy you use on your ad should match, in some way, with your landing page. So, when you draw potential customers to your ad, you gently move them to your landing page with no sharp differences.

13. Incorporate Trust Seals on Your Checkout Page

If there’s one thing that draws customers to a product or service, it’s trust. Incorporating trust seals on your checkout page and other places on your website is an excellent way to show that you are legitimate and to increase conversions.

For example, if you are offering dental products, a seal from a trusted dental association helps with customer trust.

14. Convey a Sense of Urgency

When you are promoting a product or service letting your potential customers know that a particular price will end soon, or that a product or service will only be offered for a limited, time greatly helps with conversion.

For example, let’s say yours is a site that sells cookware and you’re providing a crock-pot at a temporarily discounted price.

You would display on your blog or website a photo of the crock pot, along with content and possibly a video, and you would show the price and when the price ends.

15. Give Them a Money-Back Guarantee

There will always be a percentage of customers who are on the fence about your product or service. So how do you get them over that hump and create a conversion?  One way is to offer a money-back guarantee and to display it where it can be seen.

Keep in mind that it’s good to put a time limit on the money-back guarantee to something like 30 days or 60 days.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 5)

16. Include Live Chats

live-chatsMany companies are adding live chat prominently on their websites to answer customer’s questions in real-time. This is an effective solution that can lead to conversions. It allows you to take care of all a client’s issues to lead them into a sale. Many companies utilise chat apps to help with this process.

17. Retarget Your Ads

There are large and small changes that can be made to your website to increase conversions, but changes to the way you’re handling your ads could be done as well. Retargeting customers, can help increase conversions period.

When visitors come to your site, you create a customised targeted ad to get to them as soon as they leave.

If a visitor has come to your cosmetic store looking for an eye shadow, when they leave your site you target them with an ad for a different eye shadow in your line. The goal is to keep a visitor engaged with your product or service while staying top of mind.

18. Give Them Free Shipping

Shipping costs for a product can often make or break a sale. So, if there’s one thing that can contribute to conversion, it’s free shipping. Let your customers know that shipping is not a cost that they have to concern themselves with.

If free shipping seems unaffordable for your company, work with ways to cover shipping costs with your product prices.

19. Include Real Testimonials With Photos

One of the best ways to instill confidence in your product or service is with real testimonials. Have customers write testimonials of 50 to 100 words about your product or service and include a photo of the customers next to their testimonials. Include their full name with their picture.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 6)

20. Get Customers to Share Their Purchases on Social Media

These days, almost all of your clients are likely to be on at least one social media site. Encourage them to share the purchases they’ve made of your products on social media, such as Instagram.

Every time a customer buys one of your products or your services, automatically give them an opportunity to share and talk about what they’ve bought with a user-friendly share process included on your site.

The sooner you work on conversion rate optimisation tips on your blog or website, the sooner you’ll be bringing in customers in the most efficient way.

Customers translate to profits and profits translate to a successful company or business. CRO takes time, but with patience, your website or blog will see vast improvement in conversions.

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Implementing 2 Advanced Google AdWords Strategies

Find out how Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only Campaigns can give you that competitive edge you need on Google AdWords.

Perry Marshall




Let’s explore two advanced Google AdWords campaign types: Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only campaigns. Give these two campaign types a try. They’ll let you squeeze even more from your AdWords account.

Dynamic search ads (DSAS)

Dynamic search ads are magical keys to reaching your customers. And the best part? Using them is easy once you master the setup.

What Are DSAs?

Google knows it’s hard to keep your campaigns perfectly in sync with your website. If you have an e-commerce site with thousands of products changing regularly, it’s a chore to be constantly creating new keywords, new ad groups and new ads inside your AdWords account.

DSAs were created to fill this gap. They let you show ads to excellent prospects who might be searching for items you sell on your site even if you don’t have a corresponding keyword for them in your account.

Related: The Secret to Building A Profitable AdWords Campaign

Why should you set up a DSA?

As long as you set a low cost-per-click, dynamic search ads typically have a decent CPA and provide additional relevant traffic. They’re also great for research as you get to uncover new search terms that people are using to find your site. (You can use this intelligence after the fact to add new keywords to your account.)

Let’s say you’ve just started selling wrought-iron fire pits on your e-commerce site but you don’t have the keywords for them yet in your AdWords account. A new prospect – we’ll call her Kim – is currently online searching for this by name. Kim types it in verbatim: “wrought iron fire pits.”

If you have a DSA campaign set up, you’re in luck: Google instantly recognises that you sell these but don’t yet have keywords for the purpose. Thankfully, you don’t miss a beat with Kim – Google shows her your Dynamic ad, then she clicks, comes to your website and makes a purchase.

How do they work?

It starts with Google regularly scanning your website and keeping an index of all its pages. When you’re starting out, you can choose to point Google to your entire site – we recommend this for your first DSA campaign – although later on you can target specific categories within your site.

Google knows what keywords are in your account and, more importantly, what keywords are not there. This means they can make accurate judgments about when to step in and show your DSA ads.

When setting up DSAs, Google creates the headline and you write the description. They choose the final URL and you set the bid.

Related: 7 Questions To Ask Before Hiring An Adwords Agency

Here’s how to set up a DSA:

  • Create a new campaign. One of the options you’ll see is to create a DSA campaign. We suggest not using that as it would limit your options further along. Instead, create a new Search campaign with “all features.” Your plan will be to only use DSAs inside that campaign.
  • You’ll need at least one ad group to hold your DSAs, and one is typically enough if you’re just starting out.
  • You still want to be split-testing, even though Google chooses your headline for you. So, create two different DSA ads with different body copy in each.
  • Choose the target. Start with the “all webpages” default. Save the advanced target­ing for later.
  • Add in ad extensions just as you would for a regular campaign.

Ongoing management of your DSA


Review your data. Keep an eye on the search queries Google chooses, particularly in the first few days. This lets you add any new negative keywords that you don’t want your ads shown for. And it’s a good way to identify and add new keywords you hadn’t yet thought of for other functioning campaigns. (You can add these new keywords as negatives in your DSA campaign, which forces that keyword traffic over to new campaigns in your account. Your DSA campaigns won’t be affected.)

Call-only campaigns

These allow you to create search ads where Google shows your phone number rather than a headline. As such, they only show on mobile devices capable of making calls.

A person clicks on your ad, which starts the process of calling your business directly from their mobile, rather than taking them to your site.

Related: 3 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Google Adwords

Why use call-only?

Call-only campaigns force people to call your phone number rather than visit your site. If generating more phone calls is high priority for your business, call-only campaigns are worth testing.

How to set up call-only campaigns

Setup is simple. You can create a new campaign from scratch or just copy your existing search campaigns and change the ad type. Replace regular ads with call-only ads.

Tip: Google wants to see individual ad groups with a reasonable number of impressions at the ad group level. So a small number of ad groups with more keywords in each one – generating more impressions per ad group – will work better for call-only campaigns.

This article was originally posted here on

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