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Using Online Marketing in SA

What can online advertising really offer your business, and how should you go about putting together a game-changing campaign?

Juliet Pitman

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Adrian Hewlett, chairman of the Online Publishers Association and MD of Habari Group, South Africa’s largest online media sales house, sheds some light on how different companies can use online media to generate leads, grow their business and build their brand – no matter what their size.

In the UK in 2008, companies spent 21% more on online advertising than the previous year. A year later, online adspend exceeded that of advertising spend on TV. The US shows similar trends, withonline advertising growing by around 8% at a time when all other ad spend plunged by 14%. This in spite of the UK and US being two of the countries hardest hit by the global recession – or perhaps it’s because of it. At a time when companies are looking for more bang for their advertising buck, online advertising is coming up trumps.

South Africa experienced similarly robust growth; according to a study by World Wide Worx and the Online Publishers Association(OPA), online ad spend increased by 38% in 2008 and is expected to rise by 32% in 2009.

What’s in it for me?

So if you haven’t already joined the online advertising trend, the question you should be asking yourself is “Why not?”

“Many companies will tell you they’ve tried online advertising and it didn’t work, that they got no return,” says Hewlett, adding, “And in many instances they are absolutely right. But the reason that online advertising didn’t work for them is not because the medium isn’t valuable or can’t deliver results, but rather because what was sold to them was probably not appropriate to their business or relevant for their marketing needs.”

It’s a topic that gets Hewlett hot under the collar. The OPA, he points out, is about to publish a new code of conduct that aims to stamp out the practice of unscrupulous advertising repsselling inappropriate online packages to unsuspecting businesses. “It gives the industry and the medium a bad name,” he says. When done correctly online advertising can be extremely effective, delivering better and more measurable return on investment than other forms of advertising. Hewlett explains: “Thereis a lot of research comparing groups that have been exposed to a brand with no online campaign, with those that have been exposed to brands that do have an online campaign. The brand recall was 30% higher for the brands that dedicated 20% of their marketing spend on online advertising.” He adds that online advertising is able to engage customers for longer – up to eight minutes in some cases – a powerful differentiator when compared to a 30-second television spot, particularly when you take into account the relative cost of each.

Get The Basics Right

“But, like any marketing or advertising campaign, you need to get the basics right if you want it to succeed,” says Hewlett.

The most important thing is to set your objectives. Ask yourself:

  • Why you want to advertise: is to build brand awareness, promote a particular product or service, generate new business leads, grow your footprint or increase your existing customer base?
  • Who you are trying to target: existing customers, new customers, competitors’ customers, suppliers, partners, media
  • What message you want to send them: do you want to tell them about a great new addition to your product line-up, or remind them to come to you whenever they are looking for a service provider in your industry?
  • How your online campaign will fit in with the rest of your marketing strategy: failing to integrate your online campaign with your marketing strategy and other advertising activities will drastically reduce your chances of success.

“The answers to these questions will inform how you advertise online and help you to choose an appropriate campaign that will deliver results within your budget,” Hewlett says.

Spend & Size

The next step is to look at your budget and the size and footprint of your company. “Many small companies think that online advertising is not relevant to them, but whatever the size of your company, there is an online advertising campaign to match. The key is to match it to your budget and the objective set-up front,” Hewlett explains. He outlines possible online advertising scenarios for three companies of different sizes and in different industries:

Scenario 1:
Pool cleaning SME with localised market in Bedfordview area

Traditionally, this type of business would have taken out classified ads, advertised in the local community paper and maybe handed out flyers. The owner might have a limited marketing budget of around R10 000, or less. His objective is to generate new leads that convert to new customers, but only in a very specific geographical area because his business is located in Bedfordview, and that’s what he can manage.

1:Spend some money building a decent website.
Don’t make the mistake of using your cousin’s brother to do it – all too often you will spend more money fixing what is wrong with the website. Your online presence is vitally important so it’s worth spending money on. It’s very important that your website is search engine optimised (SEO), so that it comes up when a customer searches for “Bedfordview pool cleaning” on the Internet. On this point a word to the wise. Many agencies claim to understand SEO but there are only a few in South Africa that are really good at it, so find a specialist. If it hasn’t been properly SEOd when it was built, it’s often not possible to fix it later on and you may end up having to pay another agency to redo the site from scratch. But remember that Google can take up to nine months to find your site even with SEO, so be patient. State your objectives upfront and be clear about what you can spend.

2: Invest in a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign.
This is a paid search option where you pay a search engine a certain amount, agreed upfront, every time a user clicks onto a link to your site. The beauty of PPC is that it is highly targeted to a specific audience and you can cap the amount you want to spend each month. It won’t necessarily build your brand but it will generate leads that are likely to convert into customers. It is also easy to measure. Assume the pool cleaning guy sells his service for R1 000, every new customer is worth R1 000 to him. If he spends R10 per click and for every ten clicks, one converts to a customer, he’s spent R100 to get a lead customer. This is a 10% marketing cost. It’s a simple formula – click, enquiries, sales.

This is all Hewlett would advise our pool-cleaning business owner to do on the Internet. It meets his need to generate new leads, and it’s targeted towards his specific market. If he buys abanner ad on MSN he will be reaching more people, but only a tiny percentage of them will be in his market, so he’d be wasting his money.

Scenario 2:
Medium- to large-sized travel agency with national footprint

This business has a bigger marketing budget which it currently spends in weekend print press ads and some billboards. They have a website but it’s not interactive and acts more as a “shop front”, providing a telephone number and maybe a list of specials for the month. It doesn’t allow people to book online. This company’s objective is to build its brand and increase its customer base on a national level. It wants more customers to be taking it up on the specials and promotions on offer.

1. Invest in improving your website.
Most people book travel online so this business shouldbe building that capability. They should be including travel reviews, customer feedback links, daily and monthly specials, competitions.

2. Invest inongoing SEO.
Because the content is continually being updated, this business needs to make sure that someone searching for “travel Tahiti” will get sent to their website in the month that they are offering a special on flights to Tahiti. To do this, they need to include “Tahiti” in their SEO for the month.

3. Invest in aPPC campaign.
This works in the same way as it does for the pool cleaning business, but it helps you to segment your spend according to your most lucrative market. If the travel agency might make a bigger profit sending customers to Mauritius than to New York, it would be able to spend more per click for people interested in Mauritius than those that convert to customers who book a trip to New York.

4. Invest in display advertising on national search engines. This can be divided into:

  • Brand-building: generic display adverts on the front page of search engines.
  • Promotion-specific: promotional ads on the travel sections of all major portals to highlight the latest specials.

Scenario 3:
Large corporate organisation with national footprint

Typically, large corporates have a large marketing budget with a highly sophisticated marketing strategy. They will be spending on print, radio, television and outdoor ads, but their webpresence is frequently lacking, or not integrated with the rest of their campaign. The large corporate usually wants to interact with its customer base, build its brand and direct attention to certain campaigns and promotions.

  1. Invest between 15% and 20% of marketing budget in online advertising. This is in line with best practice the world over.
  2. Integrate your online activity with the rest of your marketing campaign.
  3. Separate your online media budget from your online production budget.
  4. Invest in PPC, display advertising and a differentiated website offering. An example of a company that does this really well is FNB. It has a great Internet banking offering, a How Can We Help You? site, and a site for eBucks, among others. These promote each of the bank’s different activities to specific audiences.
  5. Employ an in-house digital media team or engage the services of a heavyweight digital media expert to help ensure that all the different sites are SEOd, and have PPC and display campaigns appropriate to their specific markets.

Get in Now

Hewlett adds a point about the importance of starting to advertise online sooner rather than later: “The major advantage of doing so is that the local space is relatively uncluttered and there is an opportunity to do exciting stuff with the buy-in and assistance of publishers. They are hungry for advertisers now, but this won’t always be the case. In the US, companiesneed to book premium spaces a year in advance sometimes, and South Africa will go the same way. If you get in early, you can start to build relationships and negotiate to your advantage, before everyone jumps on the bandwagon.”

A common misconception is that the South African online community is small and that penetration is very low. It’s a reason many people give for not advertising online. However, the reality is that South Africa has 5, 3 million tax payers and 6, 4 million online users (which includes the youth market who are not yet paying tax). So while the online community is still a small percentage of the overall population of 48 million, the people online are the ones with disposable income and therefore, the ones that you want to talk to. It’s a highly targeted market.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

Online Marketing

Everything You Need To Know About Instagram’s New Shopping Features

The app is giving influencers and brands new channels on which consumers can discover them.

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Influencers and brands have two new ways to sell products to users scrolling and tapping through their Instagram feeds. After a summer of testing shopping buttons that drive purchases via Stories, the Facebook-owned app has launched them for businesses in 46 countries.

It’s also begun rolling out a personalised shopping section in the Explore tab, which Instagram redesigned earlier this year to feature AI-powered channels categorising content based on topic (e.g. travel, art, decor).

The shopping tab will be a place for users who know they want to browse and potentially buy, with Instagram’s algorithm serving up brands the user already follows or would likely be into, based on past activity on the app. Meanwhile, the shopping bag stickers in Stories will give users a chance to not just admire their favourite influencers’ outfits, but actually click through and learn more about promoted items.

Since Instagram began testing the feature in June, more than 90 million users per month have tapped to reveal tags in shopping posts, according to a Sept. 17 Instagram blog post. The app already allows brands to purchase ads in the form of Stories.

More than 400 million accounts watch Stories daily, and one-third of the most-viewed Stories are from businesses, Instagram also reports.

Instagram has been testing shopping in feeds for nearly two years.

Related: Creating Power Digital Campaigns

Back in November 2016, the company explained on its Business blog that online shopping often involves research and deliberation, rather than impulse purchases, which is what led Instagram to build out shopping posts that would provide consumers with information about products without having to leave the app until they’d made a purchase decision.

Salesforce has forecasted that the referral traffic Instagram drives to retailer websites will increase by 51 percent between the 2017 and 2018 holiday seasons, according to Adweek.

Speaking of leaving the app, Instagram is rumored to be developing a standalone shopping app, according to The Verge, but the company declined to comment on these reports to both The Verge and Entrepreneur.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Social Media Marketing For Start-ups: Essential Tips

There are plenty of ways to get the leads your start-up needs, but only a few tactics you’ll need in your arsenal to get the job done at a limited cost to your burgeoning business.

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Social media marketing, when you’re short on funds, can seem like an intimidating prospect. If you and your team aren’t already knowledgeable about digital marketing strategy, you may think it’s impossible for you to manage marketing campaigns yourself. With a bit of determination and a great deal of studying, however, your startup will be able to successfully launch, direct, and refine your own digital marketing strategies.

What things can you do to help your start-up get more press, attract more customers, and get more brand awareness? There are plenty of ways to get the leads your start-up needs, but only a few tactics you’ll need in your arsenal to get the job done at a limited cost to your burgeoning business.

Get to know your niche

Many young companies adopt random acts of internet marketing. They’ll throw a few hundred dollars into promoting Facebook posts without necessarily understanding how to communicate to their audience.

Before you dive into advertising and promotion platforms, you should spend some time to define – and to get to know – your niche.

To help define your target market, use questions like:

  • Who are your existing customers?
    • How would you group them?
  • Who does your product or service help?
    • Does your product help business owners, stay-at-home parents, college students, or someone else?
  • Who are you looking to reach out to?
    • That is, are you looking to refine your target market or expand it?

Once you’ve answered a few questions like the ones listed above, you should be able to get a better idea of who you’re marketing to. With an understanding of who you’re communicating with, you should be able to craft a tailored message about your brand.

Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing

Choose social media platforms wisely

Many start-ups try to master as many social media platforms right at the start. Instead of dividing your attention between Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you should identify one or two social media platforms that will help you market your product or service. This is why defining your target market at the beginning is so very important.

You must first decide who your message is intended for before writing, editing, and positioning that message. After you’ve got your target market down, you’ll be able to pinpoint which social media platforms can serve you best.

Here are a few examples to give you an idea of which social media platforms are best suited for your needs:

Twitter

  • Best for blog links
  • Frequent posts: 1-4 posts every few hours is the most effective
  • The community is open to businesses promotion

Facebook

  • Best for communicating to existing customers
  • Daily posts: 1 post every 2 days is the most effective
  • Users respond best to images, videos, and clips

Reddit

  • Strictly promotional posts are undesirable
  • Building readership and/or a following is slow
  • Better suited for long-term growth strategy

Do your social media research

Start conducting some preliminary research about social media platforms. Build a profile of each, listing their pros and cons. Try investigating other social media platforms such as GitHub, Stack Overflow, and Quora. While these aren’t platforms as large as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, they could have a far greater impact on your start-up.

Answering questions on Quora and interacting with other users on GitHub, for example, could help you build genuine business and customer relationships.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

Concentrate on mastering a few channels

Ultimately, it’s important to concentrate on one or two social media platforms based on your target market and your goals. Attempting to have a significant presence on all of them will prove expensive, time-consuming, and, at worst, counterproductive.

Focusing on one platform will allow you to track your marketing efforts with greater precision, revise your marketing strategy more easily, and help you speak more directly to your target audience.

Digital marketing, while best left to a team of experienced marketers, content creators, and creative designers can be done by your team.

Start-ups tight on cash don’t need to fret, they only need to do a bit of market research and direct their energy accordingly. After narrowing down your audience and performing some preliminary research on social media platforms, you can start working on your social media marketing strategy.

Master a few channels rather than trying to dominate all of the social media space. Keep conducting research as you start your marketing campaigns. Each community naturally changes so you’ll want to keep up-to-date. Leverage your research and dedication to get the most out of your startup marketing.

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How To Create The Best Small Business Website: 5 Easy And Effective Steps

Check the steps below and get ready to create a successful small business website.

Ethan Dunwill

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It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is. If you don’t have online presence, it will become difficult to obtain the results you expect. Your target audience is using the internet nowadays for almost anything. So, if you want to attract more customers and build your brand reputation, you need to build a website. This is how you will be able to expand your business in an easy and not so expensive way.

On the other hand, you don’t have to be a savvy web developer to create a basic website and let the others know about you. Web development and design software have evolved a lot and now you can use several website builders to develop a functional site. You will have plenty of templates to choose from to increase your business’ visibility.

Check the steps below and get ready to create a successful small business website.

Easy and Effective Steps to Create a Website for Your Business

1. What is the purpose of your website?

It doesn’t matter if you develop a simple or a more complex website. Before you start working on anything related to your website, you should start with saying what your company does. Your customers need to understand from the first minute they access your homepage what is your mission and vision. They don’t have too much time to invest when they enter on a website. So, you can make their journey smoother by telling them from the beginning about you. In case you are not so talented at writing, you can use writing companies like RewardedEssays or SupremeDissertations to give you a hand.

Related: 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Website For Your Business

2. Choose a domain name and a web host

Even though many think they shouldn’t focus too much on it, the domain name is an important feature of your website. You will use the URL to promote your business to existing and future clients. So, this means that your domain name should be explicit and talk about your business to anyone who wants to find more about you. A domain name should be short, clear, without acronyms or numbers. What is more, you shouldn’t forget to check if your domain name isn’t already taken by someone else.

Apart from a domain name, your website will also need a server where all your data is stored. When you own a small business, creating your own web host will represent a serious financial effort. So, it would be more cost-wise to choose an external host.

As your business grows, you can choose a different host, or you can ask several providers to work on a personalised solution.

3. Build your website’s pages

website-pages-build

You will need more than a homepage to create a good website. If you want your customers to understand that you are a professional in what you do, you will create several pages dedicated to different elements of your business. For example, you can include a catalog with your products or a blog.

Natalie Andersen, CEO of GetGoodGrade mentions that “It is obligatory that apart from the homepage, a website should have at least a page with the products’ catalog and a Contact Us page.”

Below you can find a list with the minimum number of pages a professional website should have:

  • Homepage – here you will include details about your business, making sure that you also talk about your mission and vision.
  • List of products and services – your customers need to know what are the products and services you offer. This will help them decide whether you can answer their questions and provide a solution to their problems.
  • About Us – “About Us page is the place where you talk about your story. Your target audience wants to know more about yourself. This is how you will create a connection with your customers and let them know more about you”, says James Daily, Head of content department at FlashEssay.
  • Contact Us – it should include your address, email, phone number and working hours. You can also include the links for your social media profiles.

Furthermore, if you want to achieve an international presence, you can also use the translation services offered by IsAccurate. Thus, you will be able to address your message to a wider group of people and expand your business on new markets.

Related: How To Secure Your SME Website

4. Test if your website works properly

Christopher K. Mercer, CEO of Citatior recommends that “before you launch a website, you should first test whether it works. You cannot tell your future customers about your website without knowing for sure that it will work without problems once you launch it”. Therefore, you should click on each page and check whether it has any errors. You still have time to fix something if necessary.

Once you have launched your website and something goes wrong, it will become more difficult to do any change. Plus, always remember that the first impression matters. So, you need to be perfect in the eyes of your customers.

5. Maintain your website

After you launched your website, this doesn’t mean that your work is done. You will need to keep your customers engaged and curious about your business. Therefore, updating the products’ catalog constantly or producing content for your blog will keep your audience informed about what you can offer and the latest trends in the industry. Plus, you should also check if your website is up to date with the latest add-ons. If you don’t know how to produce new content for your website or you feel that you are not talented enough, you can collaborate with HotEssayService or RatedByStudents for professional writing services.

It shouldn’t be complicated to create a website for your small business. As long as you keep a clear structure and create a story around your business, you don’t have anything to worry about. It is very important to understand that a website is very important for your business visibility. Thus, you should put all your efforts into it.

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