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Go Digital

In today’s marketing world, establishing a digital presence is vitally important, whether you plan to grow an online community or not.

Nadine Todd

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Digital strategies are not just about going online because that’s where everyone else is. Digital and traditional campaigns work together as part of a larger marketing plan. “A lot of ‘traditional’ advertising campaigns have a call to action that is based on an online interaction,” says Chris Calitz, director of online agency SABest.
“While this works very well in more advanced markets, in South Africa the market is still maturing. My best advice for synergy would be to make sure your online marketing efforts support what you are communicating through traditional media. It forms part of a holistic marketing strategy, so make sure you use the extra exposure to reach customers with something along the same lines of your current traditional campaign, but which adds more value to your proposal.”

Plan your online presence

Before you even attempt to move your brand online however, there are a few important questions you need to ask yourself. “An online strategy will help you determine what your online presence should look like,” explains Jason Warner, a researcher at Quirk Education, a subsidiary of Quirk specialising in training material.

“Objectives are vital for any planned expansion,” he says. “For example, one objective could be to grow a community of fans around your brand. Your key performance indicator will then be fan numbers, and you could set a target of 5 000 fans over six months.”

Perhaps your main objective is simply to be the first company that pops up in a Google search – it’s all about what you do and who you are targeting. For example, a plumber is generally called in an emergency. The person looking for a plumber will Google plumber and possibly their location – a good online presence will mean your plumbing company is at the top of Google’s search list. But a Facebook page with fans might not achieve any of your objectives.

“It’s important to differentiate between what different online presences can achieve,” says Grant Leishman, CEO of marketing strategist PenQuin International. “People go to social networking sites for content and conversations. They go to websites for product and service information and contact details. Don’t think a Facebook account means you have an online presence — you have one piece of a presence.”

Integrate online into your marketing strategy

A true online presence is based on objectives and a firm digital strategy that works hand in hand with the overall marketing strategy. “A website is the first and most important step in an online strategy, but it’s not the be-all and end-all,” says Lechelle van Staden, marketing and sales manager at online agency, SABest.

“For example, a local supplier of under-floor heating and solar panels used Facebook exceptionally well to create a fan base. This doesn’t sound like the kind of exciting product that people would discuss on Facebook, but the company realised that their core market is higher LSM families in which many of the wives do not work. They created a Facebook group where these women could chat to each other about their homes and what they are doing for the environment through solar heating options. It was a great success, simply because they knew who their audience was and what they wanted to speak about.”

First and foremost, online marketing should be done for brand, product and services awareness and sales. “Remember that an online presence is instant, flexible, completely trackable and measurable,” she adds.

Reassess your objectives

Before you go further, Warner suggests you answer these questions:

  1. Who are you and what is it about your identity that makes you useful?
  2. Would it be suited to the online world?
  3. What would your brand gain from going digital?
  4. How much time and money can you invest?
  5. How does online marketing tie in with your overall marketing and business objectives?
  6. Who are your competitors? These might extend beyond organisations that compete with you on the basis of price and product and could also be competition in the form of abstracts, such as time and mindshare.

Launching an online presence

Jason Warner offers three simple steps to launching an online presence:

1. Create your own space

The first thing you will need to do as a business without an online presence is to stake out your base. This should be the first port of call for any consumer wanting to know more about your brand or hoping to get in touch.

Register for a domain in line with your brand identity. To put it more clearly, register a domain that actually ties in with your business. Choose something that is easy to remember and relatively short — long URLs or ones with unusual characters are likely to either be forgotten or entered incorrectly.

Be prepared to invest money in your website. This is the one section where you shouldn’t skimp. A proper base of operations, with all the relevant information and an easy to use content management system will go a long way in turning your offline brand digital. A website serves two purposes. First, it informs consumers about your company — what it offers, its history, how to get in touch and any other information you’d like to share. Second, it acts as a platform to give your brand exposure and credibility. For example, a bed and breakfast without a website might look untrustworthy or shabby, while one with a relatively simple website would use it to showcase great reviews and testimonials.

2. Getting social

After you’ve gone about giving your brand an Internet home, it’s time to move onto the ever-popular social networking aspect of eMarketing.

Social media has changed the way we go about our lives. Never before have so many people, from so many different places, had the opportunity to communicate so easily and at no cost (besides an actual Internet connection). This has changed the way brands behave, both online and off. Consumers are now able to interact with brands completely in the public eye; whether they’re attacking or complimenting it, the brand still has the chance of being seen by scores of users.

From a strategic perspective, social media is useful for branding, raising awareness of the brand story and allowing the consumer to become involved in the story through collaboration. Social media platforms also play a role in building awareness due to their shareable, viral nature. They can also provide crowdsourced feedback via open graphs and social analytics systems.

Choose a social network where you think your consumers will feel most comfortable interacting with you. Remember, social spaces are owned by people, not brands.

Consider establishing a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter — the two most popular social networking platforms in the Western world. Both of these networks are free to use, so go ahead and create a Facebook page and a Twitter handle. Start by inviting friends and family members, drive traffic from your (new and snazzy) website by inserting icons representing these platforms (called chiclets), and include links to your pages in email signatures. Don’t spam people with messages, but use your already existing network of contacts to get the ball rolling.

3. Getting a newsletter out there

Newsletters offer a great way of informing your customers while retaining a community. And even better, they’re relatively cheap for small businesses to create and send.

Services like Mailchimp and Graphic Mail offer incredibly cheap (and sometimes free) services and tools including templates, training courses, graphic designs and even content.

Using a neat template, clever branding and well-written copy can go a long way in promoting a brand. Again, ask yourself a few questions: How many times should I send the newsletter? What will I offer?

What do I want to achieve via my newsletter?

Make an effort to offer valuable content in your newsletter. This could be anything from a discount to an article on tips or tricks relevant to your services. Another perk of an email newsletter is that it will inevitably drive traffic to your other platforms.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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Online Marketing

5 Steps In Adwords Competitor Analysis: A Practical Case Study

In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.

Steven Slotow

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adwords

In PART ONE of this article on the importance of competitor analysis in an Adwords campaign, we demonstrated to you the value that can be uncovered by performing a proper analysis of what your foe is up to on Adwords and how they can actually help you do better.

In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.

Pens sharpened? Batteries charged? Lets go!

As a case study of a local Adwords campaign, we’ll be taking a look at one of the main spenders on PPC in South Africa, booking.com, and see what information can be gathered about their competition in paid search results.

Step 1. Find out who your client’s true competitors in paid search are

First of all, let’s get on the same page, by stating that your organic and paid search competition is not the same thing. If you know who you share the SERPs with, it doesn’t mean that you’ll share the paid ads section with the same set of companies.

Booking.com knows what we’re talking about.

Here’s the organic part of the SERP for ‘book a hotel’. Booking.com shares it with Trivago, hotels.com and Agoda.

serp

They could have thought: Okay, so these are my competitors, I know what they’re up to, I’ll look into their strategies and I’ll be fine in both organic and paid search. But wait, what is happening there at the top of the SERPs? Who is this dark horse?

hotel-booking-serp

It’s Expedia! In organic search it stands further down from booking.com than the rest of the domains from the first page, yet in paid results Booking and Expedia are the closest rivals.

Related: 16-Step Blueprint to Master Your Digital Marketing

But that is just one keyword. There are many other keywords for which the companies want to advertise in Google, so to know whether you’re actually competing with them, you need to evaluate your competition level.

It’s a simple process of comparing the number of keywords you have in common versus the number that are unique with that competitor.

paid-keywords

By estimating this value, you can distinguish your true competitors from big generic brands, niche competition and temporary distractions in the paid search.

Jokes aside, Booking and Expedia share a relatively similar online presence and are, of course, familiar with each other’s PPC strategy. That said, if you’re not a huge domain and know your usual competitors, it is even more frustrating to miss an audacious market newcomer or an organic outsider trying to cut the line and get to the top of the SERPs with an aggressive PPC campaign. So, the analysis of your true competition should be performed regularly. For the agencies that we support, we usually revise the competitors list once every quarter.

Step 2. Estimate your competition PPC budgets

Now that you know who you are rubbing elbows with in paid search, try figuring out how much they spend on PPC. There’s no way to know exactly what their budgets are (except for corporate espionage, but we don’t recommend that), but you can still make use of an estimation.

For that, you need to know how many keywords they target in paid search, what their cost-per-click values are, as well as their estimated search volumes. That is practically impossible to reveal manually, but the competitor analysis tool in SEMrush for example provides you with an estimation of the company’s PPC budget based on the data from their keyword database. Similar tools should be found in whatever quality software you’ve opted for.

Here’s the info we could gather about Booking.com by solely analysing the keywords for which it was showing up in paid search and the CPC values of those keywords.

booking-com

Though it is a rough estimation, this info is helpful in planning your PPC campaigns in a way that meets with market trends.

Step 3. Find out your competitor’s unique keywords

What’s even better about competitor analysis is that it will help you save time by not needing to do the tough jobs yourself by letting you (legally) steal the best ideas from your competition and dwell on them. Remember, if you’re doing it to them, they’re probably doing it to you as well! All’s fair in love, war and paid advertising!

What’s the practical value of this? Well, your competitor’s unique keywords can be your missed opportunity.

keywords-match

By comparing the keywords that Booking and Expedia are bidding on, we see that there are a lot of keywords related to means of travelling and travelling companies in Expedia’s portfolio, but they are missing in the Booking.com set. It is obviously just another tactic for such a big brand, but for a smaller company, this comparison list could be a golden goose of new ideas.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

Step 4. Research your competitor’s ads and banners

If you have ever been online, you know that the SERPs are crowded. The served results in both organic and paid search have to constantly overcome the viewer’s lack of attention, so the message in your ads should be short, clear, and actionable.

Your competitor’s copy can be a  great source of information.

competitor-adverts-and-banner

Comparing your ads to your competitor’s allows you to see the context and the standards of messaging in your niche and adjust your voice to or diversify from the usual tone.

Also, sometimes you need to develop multiple ad copies with similar content. Whenever creativity abandons you, you can look into your competitor’s copy and borrow a few ideas from them.

Step 5. Check your competitor’s target URLs

Imagine running an online retail business. Summer sales are coming, and you want to promote your goods with an AdWords campaign. Apart from the keywords that you want to bid on and creating appealing ad copy, you also need to think about the page which your ads are going to take your leads to.

Is it common in your client’s niche to have a specific landing page for a promo like this? Or is it enough to have banners on the home page? Take a look at your client’s competitor’s target pages and find out.

seasonal-sale

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Online Marketing

The Value Of Competitor Analysis On A South African Adwords Campaign

If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you.

Steven Slotow

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south-african-adwords-campaign

Running a successful AdWords campaign can sometimes be like trying to understand the maths that Elon Musk is using to put a human being on Mars: you’re pretty sure it will work, but trying to figure how and why burns too many brain cells.

Well, help is at hand! In this TWO PART article, we’re going to demonstrate to you the value of performing a competitor analysis on an Adwords campaign, and show you just how and what you should be looking for.

As a digital marketer of any kind, you’ve probably had a crack at running and managing an AdWords campaign. Let me guess:

  • Predicting the results and outcomes was impossible;
  • You outsourced to an agency this one time. It cost you a fortune and they kept asking questions you couldn’t possibly have answers to;
  • Setting the budget was more complicated than understanding the nature and purpose of Snapchat;
  • And speaking of budget…it’s NEVER enough and always runs out too quickly.

Nobody is arguing with the fact that AdWords is one of the most complicated digital marketing efforts that you can undertake on behalf of a client or yourself. However, if done right, it could also be one of the most rewarding, effective and business-altering activities you could do.

Related: How to Use Pay Per Click Using Google Adwords

If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you:

South African PPC market in numbers

In 2017 the total spending on Google ads in South Africa across all industries reached $30 million. The market’s thriving!

google-ads-spend

And these websites were the most generous spenders on Google ads. If only your budgets could compete, right?

top-advertisers-in-google

However, these were the industry’s spendaholics.

Generally, businesses are way more careful with their PPC budgets: only 3.8% of all the companies spend more than R50 000 monthly, and the majority of 34.1% is just indulging their curiosity with somewhere around 1000 bucks a month.

percent-of-advertisers

And if you worry about your ad copy, take a look at the most popular phrases and CTAs used in South African ads:

top-phrases-in-adverts

Related: Implementing 2 Advanced Google AdWords Strategies

So, how do you enter that market AND, at the same time, save your money?

Well, that’s like eating an elephant — get help and do it in pieces.

If you thought that running and managing an AdWords campaign was complicated, try getting advice from the pros on best practices to net best results. Just like deciphering that Musk math again.

  • Split test your copy
  • Use different ad extensions… or all of them
  • Try out different calls to action
  • Manage and track your budget daily
  • Get your targeting on point

But also don’t forget about the foundation of any marketing campaign, digital or not: research your competition.

As wholesalers of digital marketing services to South African digital agencies, by far one of the most important and most advised best practices we suggest to the agencies that we support when running an AdWords digital marketing campaign is to ensure that they practice comprehensive and thorough competitor analysis.

What is competitor analysis for your Adwords campaign and how do you streamline it?

adwords-competitor-analysisRunning a competitor analysis during an AdWords campaign is like having a video camera in your competitions training session. It’ll help you pull back the curtain, see what they’re up to and adjust your efforts accordingly to ensure optimum results from your AdWords campaigns.

In our experience, many companies do not perform PPC competitive research, or don’t do it as often as they should. However, not having the full picture about your PPC competition is risky and can result in running ineffective campaigns. That means wasting your or your client’s budget without netting tangible results or missing the opportunities available to your client by underinvesting.

But recognising the difference that competitor analysis can make in your AdWords campaigns is only the first step. The next step is to find the right tool to help you perform your competitor analysis on a regular basis. The stats and data provided in this article were pulled by our team using SEMrush. It’s a software that we have found invaluable in helping us to provide white label, wholesale digital marketing services to the South African and international digital agencies that we support.

That being said, there are a wealth of similarly effective and powerful digital marketing tracking tools on the market worth investigating. We encourage you to get out there and see what works best for you.

Related: 16-Step Blueprint to Master Your Digital Marketing in 2016

The data that you should drill out of your competitor analysis

On all the levels of digital marketing, there’s a constant rivalry between best practice and revolutionary ideas. The question of whether to follow a well-trodden path or to do things differently in an effort to distinguish the brand you’re working on is always on the table. Or desktop in the case of digital marketing.

However, to make an informed decision you need to know the niche you are playing in as well as its main players. These questions will help you gather that information:

  • Who is your true competitor in paid search?
  • How much do they spend on PPC?
  • What are their most profitable keywords?
  • What do their ads and banners look like?
  • What URLs should your ads target?

Now you know WHAT to ask. But what do you do with the answers and how do you use them to improve your own Adwords performance.

In PART TWO of this blog, we’ll be diving into just that. CLICK HERE TO READ ON!

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There Is No Silencing The ‘Chatter’ Bots

In a world governed by technological advances, it is no surprise that the business world has adopted technology of their own to better their processes.

Jandre de Beer

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chatbot

There has been a strong movement in the business environment towards automated processes through the use of Chatbots, introduced in order to support business teams in their relations with customers.

Chatbots are essentially personal assistants developed to assist you. They are artificial intelligence systems that we can interact via text or even voice interface. In the business world the idea is to automate repetitive tasks in order to lighten the workload for employees, allowing them more time to concentrate on more important tasks at hand.

As futuristic as this all sounds, the reality is that this is something that businesses are already using and the benefits are definitely worth mentioning.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Business With Google PPC Ads

Chatbots in Business

The main aim of any business is to keep the customer happy – that’s where the money comes from after all. In such a fast-paced, technologically advanced world, customers are expecting so much more from businesses in terms of service delivery, so this is where Chatbots come in.

Unlike humans, Chatbots can work 24/7 without a break and without the added expense, two factors that will definitely benefit any business, never mind the improved customer satisfaction that comes with that.

Customers no longer have to wait to be put through to the next available operator; Chatbots are replacing live chat with other forms of contact such as text and emails, ensuring that customers are dealt with faster than was previously possible.

Chatbots can have conversations with thousands of people simultaneously, something that humans just can’t do.

Dealing with difficult customers is also a thing of the past. Chatbots are bound by rules and specific instructions so they will always deal with customers in a polite and professional manner, another positive for customer satisfaction.

In the travel and hospitality industry, dealing with customers that speak other languages is also a possibility with a Chatbot trained in different languages.

The Long-Term Cost Saving

There is major movement in all businesses to keep costs down, especially as the business grows. A major monthly expense for businesses is the paying of salaries. Although it isn’t possible to completely cut out this expense, Chatbots can help businesses reduce the amount of staff needed.

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

Chatbots can deal with simpler customer queries and only escalate more complex queries to agents. Chatbots can also lighten the workload of a sales team by engaging with customers and gathering information about what the customers want, supplying the sales team with valuable information to help in the sales process.

Chatbots are a one-time investment, and any company with a website can make use of them – simple and cost-effective in the long term.

There are so many benefits to using Chatbots, and as technology continues to advance, who knows what these bots will be capable of in the future.

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