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Longtail: Ingrid Rubin

Integrating online strategy in the marketing communications mix.

Juliet Pitman



Ingrid Rubin of Longtail

When it comes to referrals, you don’t always have to rely ona happy customer to generate new leads. The world of digital marketing hasopened up a wealth of opportunities for companies to generate their ownreferrals – and it’s particularly effective for SMBs which don’t have largemarketing budgets to spend on brand building and lead generation.

One company that’s been using digital marketing to greateffect – in both its own business and that of its clients – is digital marketingagency, Longtail. With heavyweight clients like Unilever, Holiday Inn, HolidayInn Express and campaigns implemented for FujitsuSiemens, Tiger Brands andMercedes Benz, Longtail offers the full ambit of digital marketing, includingsearch engine optimisation (SEO), pay per click (PPC) advertising, social mediamarketing, web PR, media strategy and buying and reputation management. Thecreative design and development division was recently bolstered by a mergerwith Pixel8 Studios. “When used effectively, these are fantastic tools forcompanies to generate referrals that can lead to new business – no matter whatthe size of an organisation,” says managing director, Ingrid Rubin. She speaks from first-hand experience; Longtail not onlyimplements such referral-generating solutions for its clients but has alsobenefited directly from using them in its own business. “Our monthly emailnewsletter goes out to our database and a lot of people self-refer to us viathis medium,” but she adds that you can’t send out communication just for thesake of it and expect it to generate referrals; there has to be a call toaction and value in what you have to offer.

“We make sure that our newsletter contains a number ofplatforms that encourage people to interact with us. For example, providingfree advice and helpful tips not only establishes us as an expert in ourmarket, but some of the information we include might relate to a problem that areader is experiencing, and they’ll then email us for further advice or a quote.We also advertise events and positions available in the company and thisprovides a further call to action for people to engage with us,” she says. The same is true of Longtail’s internal social mediastrategy using WebPR and its blog,, Rubin explains,“For our WebPR articles we make sure that the content is relevant and valueadding and we’ve had a high hit rate of articles being published on sites like BizCommunity with incoming links to our site. From just one article publishedrecently we got six referrals, of enquires on our reputation management tool –saidWot (

“This online PR is vitally important because the first thingpeople do to research your company is to Google your company name and look atyour website which should reflect an accurate and up-to-date company offering.They will also read the articles you have posted that appear under the companyname when conducting this search on Google. The entire Longtail teamcontributes to the company blog which is linked to the website, The focus of the blog is on eMarketing trends which allowsfor two-way conversations with people who are interested in the services weprovide, and commenting on the articles we publish.”  Longtail also makes extensive use of search engineoptimisation to ensure that prospects who are actively looking for informationon their services, end up at their website. “These are people who want toself-refer to your company and you have to make sure that your web page isoptimised so that you come up near the top of their search list,” says searchmarketing manager, Melt du Plooy.

Longtail complements online tools with talks and workshops,which offer targeted networking opportunities and the chance for the company toposition itself as an industry expert. “What we’ve found works really well isto partner with a reputable person or brand. In our case we joined forces withjournalism legend, Tony Koenderman, to present three workshops called ‘Crackingthe Digital Code’ that focus on the tools required to put together an effectivedigital campaign,” explains Rubin. Both she and Du Plooy point out that it’s no good creatingthe opportunities for people to self-refer to your business if you don’t closethe loop by getting back to them quickly. Du Plooy says, “You can’t expect goodSEO to work if your website is not up to scratch. When people access your webpage, they should be presented with professional, up-to-date information andcontact details that are easy to find.” As Rubin adds, “You have to reply toevery query, email or blog posting – even if it’s just to say that you got theperson’s correspondence and will revert with an answer. And don’t leave it toolong – these leads are hottest when they’re new and you have to grab theopportunity.” Undoubtedly, creating opportunities for prospects toself-refer can be a time-consuming and labour intensive business – but Rubin isadamant that it’s worth it. “The beauty of digital marketing is that it’s easyto track and measure, so you can be sure of the exact return on investment thatyou’re getting,” she says. And that’s good news for SMBs with tight budgetsthat are looking to save money.
Contact: +27 11 465 6111;

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.


25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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