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The Mega Online Marketing Guide for Entrepreneurs

The best online marketing options for getting your business off to a flying start.

Casandra Visser




The typical consumer spends five or more hours online every day and for some age groups, this number is even higher.

We turn to the internet for nearly everything, whether it’s researching a company and ordering books to finding accommodation and interacting with family and friends so it only makes sense for your business to have some sort of online presence to avoid losing out on potential customers.

Not every online platform is going to be the best option for your business though so taking the time to understand where your business fits in, in the online space is going to save you tons of time and money.

Choosing Your Online Marketing Mix

Marketing does tend to involve a bit of trial and error but taking the time to make informed decisions about your online marketing avenues is going to save you some unnecessary hassles.

There are three points that you need to take into consideration when developing your digital marketing mix:

  1. Target Audience. Think about how your customers spend their time, how they search for information and also how they shop. Their age groups will also play a big role in how they spend their time online
  2. Budget. Many entrepreneurs don’t have a huge marketing budget to play with but luckily there are a number of affordable or even free digital options available to them. Decide how much you want to spend on digital marketing activities, look at the options that you jotted down based on your market and then decide which of those fit into your budget.
  3. Tactics. The online platforms that you choose will also depend on when you want to reach your customers. Would you want them to see an advert on their way from work and then be able to find your website or do you want to target them on weekends when they are most active on social media.  Having your goals set out will help you to develop your online marketing tactics.

Online Marketing Options for Your Business

There are many different options available to you when it comes to your digital marketing strategy. You should know that there are very few brands that use all available options as it thins out their marketing message, especially if they are attempting to target a very specific audience. Below are the five main categories for you to consider:


Create a website for your business or brand. There is no need to hire a web designer for this process if you are comfortable with designing it yourself with the assistance of an online programme. You might have to consider hiring a third party if what you want is a bit more complex, for example

running an online store. Whatever route you decide to go, make sure that you have a plan for your site first.

Dos and Don’ts

  1. Do match your website to the rest of your branding such as brochures, street pole ads and business cards
  2. Don’t choose a website address that is hard to remember or doesn’t fit your business
  3. Do use a layout, images and colours that are appealing to your specific market/customers
  4. Don’t make your site too complex. Getting a user to your site is great but they might just leave if they get frustrated trying to navigate the site

Extra Resources


Your business is now online but ideally you also want to be found by search engines such as Google. There are a number of things you can do to show up on Google’s search result pages, the first one being website optimisation. By having an SEO (search engine optimisation) plan in place you can use the content on your site as keywords to give Google an idea of what your site is all about and when they should display your website in their search results. This digital marketing option is free and quite simple to implement if you understand the basics.

The second option is to use Google Adwords. This platform allows you to bid on keywords that you would like to rank for in search engine results. Depending on the competition of the keyword, your text advert will show up in the search results in the ad boxes at the top of the page. You will require a budget to use this marketing option and you should be aware that this method can result in trial and error approach when you first start out.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Don’t use black hat SEO tactics to try and get your website to page 1 of Google. You will be penalised.
  • Do write the content on your website for your audience and not for the robots that will crawl your site
  • If possible, do update your site on a regular basis with interesting content, competitions or special offers
  • Don’t go in blind when using Google AdWords. Use their keyword research tool to find out if the keywords you have in mind would be worth your money by looking at the number of monthly searches and the level of competition around the keyword
  • Do hire a reputable SEO specialist if you decide that you want an expert to optimise your website content

Extra Resources


You’ll be pressed to find someone who isn’t registered on one or other social media site. The options for socialising and sharing are endless and this is an opportunity that businesses shouldn’t miss out on.

Deciding on a social media platform will again depend on your specific market. Find out how they spend their time on the social sphere, when they’re online and what their interests are so that you can find a way to speak to them the same as one of their friends would. Social media users don’t want to follow a brand that simply punts their own products and gives them nothing of value back so keep this in mind when you develop the social media section of your marketing strategy.

Below is a list of popular social media platforms in South Africa and how you can make the best of them.


This fast-paced microblogging site is busy so your tweets need to be catchy and to the point in order to get the user to click through to the rest of your content or your website. The users on this platform tend to be younger (18-29 years old) but there are other age groups participating in conversations too.  (Source:

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do follow the right kind of users
  • Do reply to tweets directed at you within 24 hours
  • Don’t ignore or delete bad publicity
  • Do reply to and start a conversation with your users where relevant
  • Don’t use Twitter to spam users. Provide them with interesting content too
  • Do use Twitter to track what your competitors are doing
  • Don’t leave your avatar blank. Make sure your profile is complete
  • Do use Twitter as a networking tool
  • Don’t overuse hashtags, users might get annoyed and unfollow you


This is a personal space for most users so you need to post one to two posts per day and make them good in order to capture their attention and prevent them from blocking your brand from their news feed. Most Facebook users are women between 18 and 29 years of age. (Source:

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do invite friends, family and employees to like the Facebook page while you build up your online community
  • Don’t spam users with promotions and product/service information. They are looking for a reason to affiliate themselves with your brand
  • Do give users a reason to share your posts with their family and friends
  • Don’t post brand related content on users’ walls, they will unlike your page
  • Do make your posts visual, Facebook was made for this
  • Do use this platform to keep track of what your competitors are doing


This professional platform is great for networking as well as creating a professional brand following so keep this in mind when you develop content for this platform. LinkedIn is most popular amongst users aged 25-34. (Source:

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do make sure that your group is complete in terms of a profile and logo
  • Don’t delete any bad publicity that might be posted on your group page
  • Do make a point of updating your page on a regular basis with content that your users would find interesting
  • Be careful about not allowing users to join your group without being approved first as this might drive them away
  • Do make the time to clean up any spam or pending comments/posts. Users want a pleasant experience
  • Do interact with your audience where relevant
  • Do share content from other pages with your users


This platform is all about images so make sure that your website has the best quality content and visual elements in order to make it worth sharing. Pinterest usually works well for ecommerce sites. This platform mostly has female users of 50 years or younger. (Source:

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do position your brand as an authority on a topic
  • Don’t spam users with product promotions
  • Do partner with top Pinterest users to promote your pins
  • Do make a point of choosing the very best images for your pins in order to attract users


Google Plus is a platform that is still growing and slowly gaining momentum in South Africa but unless you are an established brand it might be better to leave this platform out of your social media mix until a later date. At the moment there are only around half a million SA users on Google+.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do complete your Google+ page and use eye-catching images
  • Do comment on user posts and interact where necessary
  • Don’t spam users by replying to posts with product information
  • Do create your own circles and add industry experts to them
  • Do create communities where you can provide users with very specific content around your brand and industry

Extra Resources


Research shows that the average South African user uses their mobile device to access 30% of the online content they consume, which means you are losing out on a large potential client base if you aren’t providing a mobile friendly experience. (Source:

Your first step should be to make sure that your website is responsive, in other words it needs to be able to adapt to different screen sizes and still be user friendly. This is something that you can ask your web designer to implement.

Some brands even choose to have a separate mobi site that users are redirected to if they access a website from a mobile device. This way they can develop a separate design and content strategy around these users. If this is the route you are choosing to go then you should pay close attention to your mobi site visitors’ habits so that you can create content that fits in with that.

When it comes to mobile content, headlines are everything. You have very little space to grab the attention of users so graphics don’t need to be your biggest concern. You need to create the most attention grabbing headline possible and make sure that your content delivers on it. Linking to video content and integrating your mobile platform with social media will increase your chances of online exposure.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Don’t automatically assume that you don’t need a mobile strategy. Your market research will play an important role here
  • Do vary the length of your content to see what works for your mobile users
  • Don’t think that format isn’t important on a mobile site
  • Do look into developing an app for your business if there is an opportunity to benefit from it
  • Do take the size of mobile phone and tablet screens into consideration when developing a mobile site

Extra Resources


Email marketing is the perfect platform for promoting your products and services as well as providing readers with excellent content but the problem is that online users are so used to spam popping into their inboxes that you really have to be outstanding for them to sit up and take notice.

The first step in developing an email marketing strategy is to decide what you want to achieve. Do you want to generate more sales, increase website visitors or get users to answer a survey? Once you’ve established this you can decide on the content of your mailer.

By researching your market you can decide what the best time would be to send the newsletter and also how often you should email them. Unsubscribes should be avoided at all costs. Another important point is to get your readers to want to open your email and this is done with a superb headline so give this loads of thought and ensure that the content in your newsletter delivers on it.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do keep your layout clean and easy to read
  • Do make sure that the look and feel of your newsletter match your brand and website
  • Don’t make it difficult for users to unsubscribe from your mailers
  • Do use a call to action in your newsletters. Examples would be: “Click Here to Read More”; “Click Here to Receive Your Discount Code” or “Enter Our Competition Here.”
  • Don’t rent or buy email lists. Let users opt in on their own
  • Don’t forget to add a subscribe box on your website

Extra Resources

Casandra Visser is a Digital Marketing & Content Strategist and writes for Entrepreneur Media SA.

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  1. SpitBraaiSA

    Jun 3, 2014 at 20:19

    Some great tips! Gonna work through these tips with our campaign. Cheers!

  2. Devin - WD Cape Town

    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:04

    You made a great point about Google Adwords – new users should really
    be careful as it’s very easy to burn through your budget if you don’t
    plan your advertising campaign correctly (depending on the industry
    you’re in).
    Enlisting the help of a professional is advised but if
    you have the time then there are plenty of resources to learn from on
    the Internet.Thanks,

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Online Marketing

The Launch Of Instagram TV

Giving a run to other institutions for their money, Instagram today has launched IGTV, a new application that will allow users to upload videos on its Instagram facility.

Jandre de Beer




Commencing with one minute long videos, speaking at the launch today, Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, announced that users can now upload up-to an hour long video. This application will allow famous videos from celebrities. However, with IGTV, one does not necessarily need to be a big-name or famous, since creative individuals and groups can upload videos.

For now, everyone who enjoys the clutter free, easy to navigate Instagram, will be able to upload an hour-long video, except the smaller and new accounts that will enjoy this application after the expansion of the facility. This application will be globally available on Android and IOS and will allow viewers to browse through many longer videos, as well as visit the browse tabloids or suggest followed videos.

Furthermore, viewers will have the choice to watch ‘old’ videos and also get notifications on recent uploads. IGTV will also allow creators and inventors to develop Instagram Channels with various videos that other viewers can subscribe to, drive traffic of viewers to particular videos, granting the inventors the capability of uploading clear links of the video.

Related: The Insta-Evolution: 5 Years of Selfies, Hashtags and #TBTs

Systrom confirmed that there will be no advertisements on IGTV for the meanwhile. He added that this is still a great platform to put up advertisements at a later stage, as creators or inventors put in more time into videos for IGTV. This translates into an opportunity to make money. Instagram will not pay creators for the IGTV videos at this stage. IGTV has so much potential since creators will be from the over 1 billion current Instagram subscribers. At the same time, this could be big business, since the number of subscribers may rise.

Expectations are there to add to the monetisation option, and these include the potential of Instagram getting profits close to $5.5 billion in 2018, as compared to Facebook, which is just above $202 billion.

Moving up from just filtering and sharing photos, today Instagram has advanced from mobile networks, screens, and cameras, of which neither the longer videos could be supported. This has opened a new mobile TV for teens and families.

Additionally, Instagram can become the dependable place to view something on that small screen via creators’ and publisher video content curation, as opposed to YouTube, which always has a wider breadth of content.

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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




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,, 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. knows what we’re talking about.

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


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?


It’s Expedia! In organic search it stands further down from 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.


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 by solely analysing the keywords for which it was showing up in paid search and the CPC values of those keywords.


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.


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 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.


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.


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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




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!


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


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.


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


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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