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The Ins And Outs Of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing can improve your brand reputation, increase the visibility of your content, support new product releases or drive traffic to your website.

Monique Verduyn




The voice of the customer is louder than ever, thanks to that giant global PA system called social media.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Using Influencer Marketing

If you need a quick reminder of the power of social media, cast your mind back to Women’s Day when pen manufacturer Bic posted this celebratory message on its Facebook page: “Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss #HappyWomensDay.”

The ad was swiftly condemned by South African tweeters and attracted global news coverage for its unfortunate messaging.

The incident highlights how the balance of power between brands and customers has been upended because consumers are paying more attention to peer reviews than marketing messages.

BIC-south-africa-think-like-a-girl-campaignA McKinsey study has shown that marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and there is a 37% higher customer retention rate.

Simply, when a customer has a positive experience with your brand, that word-of-mouth can influence purchasing decisions for other consumers.

Imagine what happens then, if that person is an influencer – a person who has above-average impact on a specific niche, such as consumer groups, industry associations or community tribes?

Defining influencer marketing

Mike StopforthInfluencer marketing is not a new thing; in the past, companies paid celebrities to endorse their products. “With the explosion of social media over the last decade, ordinary people have suddenly become ‘pseulebrities’,” says Mike Stopforth, CEO of communications agency Cerebra.

“It’s thanks to their ability to create and share content, and build audiences around that content on blogs, YouTube, SnapChat and Twitter. Companies of all sizes are seeing this relatively new channel as a cost-effective, highly measurable way to market themselves.”

Stopforth warns that social media audiences are smart, informed, and incredibly sceptical. They quickly switch off to messages that are clearly insincere or inauthentic.

Effective influencer marketing happens, Stopforth says, when a company:

  • Identifies existing and potential customers with a genuine interest in the product and a degree of authority as a social influencer on topics relating to that product.
  • Builds meaningful relationships with those customers, understanding their specific needs and requirements which extends beyond giving them free stuff.
  • Links those relationship-building efforts to measurable business objectives so that efficacy can be tracked and reported on.

Monetising social influence

Murray LeggMaking money from having built an audience is an influencer’s right. The trick, for both the influencer and the brand, is to ensure that the authenticity and credibility of both parties remain intact.

Murray Legg, co-founder of Webfluential, which connects influencers with brands and agencies to promote campaigns, takes the guesswork out of influencer marketing by linking popular influencers on a single platform, and then tracks and analyses traffic data from active social media accounts to connect them with marketing agencies.

It’s not an entirely new concept, but provides a portal for both influencers and marketers to connect.

How it works

Legg says people who have built a solid online community and are trusted by their followers deserve fair reward for giving brands leverage.

“It’s an opportunity for people to turn their passion for social media into a revenue stream, depending on how much time they have to devote to being an influencer. We give influencers the ability to accept or reject projects and brands according to their suitability. Detailed reports are provided for marketers so they can accurately measure ROI.”

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The key element is symbiosis between the company and the influencer. As Legg puts it, “One of our influencers reviewed the speed of an SD card in a high-end camera for a small niche audience of gadget freaks. As an expert user, the influencer maintains credibility, while the client gets to interact with exactly the right target market.”

Jacqui Mackway-WilsonJacqui Mackway-Wilson, MD of GoSocialSA, stresses that influence is not about how many followers you have.

“An avid fly fisher who has a few hundred followers who share that interest, is far more valuable to a specialist fly fishing retailer than a celebrity with thousands of fans. It’s a question of alignment, authenticity and credibility. As US social media marketing strategist Ted Rubin says, reputation is what people remember; it’s the trust you build that leads to loyalty. That is the ROI of social media.”

So where to for traditional marketing?

Companies that see influencers as a genuine opportunity for sincere dialogue and value exchange, are shifting traditional approaches to marketing.

“For them it’s changing marketing principles from broadcast to conversation, from prescription to inclusion, and from targeting to participation,” says Stopforth.

“It forces the entire business, from your most junior customer-facing staff to your most senior executive, to think about the impact of the customer’s voice on the organisation. Brands such as Amazon, Starbucks and Zappos show us every day just how effective this mentality can be.”

Does that signal the death knell for traditional marketing? Not at all. The key is to make sure that all budget spent has some measurable objective attached to it, and that all those different channels – print, TV, radio, digital, social – are working towards the same goal, with the same aligned brand message, and the same tone.

What about SMEs?

Legg sees the successes influencer marketing has achieved for big brands as a proving ground for SMEs.

“Smaller businesses are able to choose how much they are willing to invest in influencer marketing and tailor their campaigns in line with their budget.”

By building relationships and interacting with people who are influential in the online space, SMEs can get exposure to the markets they want to reach, says Mackway-Wilson. “It’s a lot like making friends with people, because in the online world reciprocity is key.”

She adds that although influencer marketing provides SMEs with an opportunity to reach large audiences with smaller budgets, the myth that social media is free must be dispelled. A campaign does not need to break the bank, but there are costs involved.

“Any social media campaign must be integrated into an overarching PR strategy,” she adds.

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“Whether you want to build brand awareness or increase foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store will determine how much you have to spend. If you are targeting the upper LSMs, a digital campaign is great. If your target market is township-based, traditional media will be far more effective.”

Be in it for the long-haul

Reputation building is a marathon, not a sprint. Just as in the offline world, people have many facets to them. The only way to find out if you or your brand will resonate with an influencer is to strike up a conversation.

If you’re a florist, engage with influencers in the wedding space. Liron Segey, TheTechieGuy, has a mere
5 600 followers on Twitter, but if you run an IT business, he’s a specialist you’ll want on your side.

Mackway-Wilson cautions against using the same people over and over.

“There’s a limited number of influencers because we are a small market, but it’s advisable for businesses to engage with people that really fit into their niche.”

And one more word of advice: She’s come across quite a few celebrity accounts where a large number of followers have been purchased and are fake.

“We wondered why we were not getting the reach and impressions we expected after engaging with some sports celebrities, so we ran a Twitter audit, which can be done free, and found that half the followers were fake. If you are going to pay influencers for a campaign, make sure that you are getting what you pay for.”

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

How To Market Your Hotel

An integrated digital marketing strategy that provides multiple channels to communicate on will help you to reach more potential customers.





It’s imperative these days to enable customers and guests to interact directly with your brand in real time – and your ROI will reflect this success. To achieve this, your marketing team should utilise a number of different channels in order to achieve an integrated digital marketing strategy.

Why? When potential customers are only able to use one means of communication or booking platform, such as a hotel’s website or blog, Facebook, Twitter or a third-party booking site, their frustration could cause you to lose their business.

Your digital strategy


By engaging in an integrated digital marketing strategy and addressing multiple channels with a clear, consistent message, you are bound to reach the maximum number of potential customers. Through the creation of a larger online presence, your engagement reach will be far higher, solidifying your company’s brand in the best possible manner.

Related: 5 Marketing Missteps That Make Cash Flow And Business Growth Stumble

Your first step in achieving an integrated campaign is to determine your target market. The second step according to Robert Nienaber, managing director of Suiteres, is to “create a message – tell a story about your product or service and what makes it unique.

For instance, the history of your establishment’s location, the nature/wildlife, your amazing food or historical rooms or perhaps the owner’s unique story. Tailor that story for your target market to captivate them – they will buy into your brand as a result.” Be sure to keep your message consistent across all mediums, be it written, photographic or video.

According to Ivo Kittel, head of Development & Design at Suiteres, different channels can be described as such: ‘These consist of website and online booking systems, third-party channels – such as online travel agents or your global distributions systems – and social media platforms that support the aforementioned and drive traffic to them.

‘Print media, events and other offline techniques can also assist by driving clients to visit your website or to engage with you on social media. All these channels should be strategically linked for best effect.’

Online marketing

An unusual hero in the travel market? Smart phones and tablets, on-the-go devices that allow users to review and recommend hotels on social media profiles, as well as third-party sites. Together with the integrated digital marketing strategy, this increases potential customers’ connections to hotels, airlines, car hire companies or event organisers.

What’s more, a key driver in drawing in new customers and causing previous ones to return, is the offer of regular perks, benefits, freebies and discounts via a newsletter.

Bear in mind though, that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Each company will have differing concerns and requirements, and these are what you should use to build an effective marketing campaign. The following should be noted:

  • Effective communication between marketing team members is essential. There needs to be collaboration across the multiple channels you’re utilising. In doing so, your overall offering will be streamlined and have maximum effect.
  • Choose your key channels, those that will receive the most attention and marketing spend. These need to be the channels that garner the most hits or collect the most bookings – also known as ‘converting’.
  • Determine your target market and get as much information as you can on them, over time. For instance, which platform do they opt for first? Do specials lead them to make a booking, and if so, what are they? This and any other informative data assists you in your decisions and allows you to use your marketing funds in the best manner possible.

According to Vanessa Rogers, head of Communications at Suiteres, ‘The above-mentioned strategy should ideally be supported by a skilfully crafted PR campaign – one designed to complement and support your marketing message.’

Related: 3 Ways To Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing

Taking this into account, you should consider having relevant articles published on third-party websites and print media or arrange for a client to be interviewed on radio or a streaming site. These forms of PR are more cost-effective then an advertising campaign.

The details matter

Importantly, customers need to know they can contact you quickly and easily, whether they are making a booking or requesting additional information. One thing you can be certain of: if a customer is unable to communicate efficiently with you, they are very likely to book elsewhere.

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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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Online Marketing

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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