Social media is no longer just for keeping in touch, boasting about what you had for breakfast and posting artfully filtered pics of your hols. It’s now a bona-fide mainstream marketing tool. Our digital marketing expert Michael Richards tells us what’s coming down the wire in 2017.
When it comes to digital marketing, “Data is king,” says digital marketing expert Michael Richards. “Marketers need to take an interest in what data is telling them. Through conversion tracking, they can see how the user flow progresses, enabling them to effectively refine their digital-marketing strategies. And as technology evolves, we’ll see further ways to communicate to a more refined target audience, measured more accurately.”
So what is digital marketing?
“Digital marketing isn’t one form of marketing but a cohesion of multiple marketing strategies,” Michael explains. “This covers campaigning on social-media platforms, search campaigns, automation and remarketing, along with a well organised website that upsells and cross-sells. And there should, of course, always be excellent customer support and communication.”
Remarketing is a way to connect with previous visitors to your website who may not have made an immediate purchase by positioning ads targeted at them as they browse the net.
Upselling is persuading customers to buy something in addition to whatever they’ve already bought, while cross-selling is selling another, different product to existing customers.
What are some of the current trends in digital marketing?
“Content marketing, online PR, automation and mobile marketing are all trends that have been with us for some time and are continuing to evolve,” Michael says.
Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of videos, blogs and social-media posts that don’t explicitly promote a product or service but are intended to stimulate interest in it.
Online PR aims to improve results from other digital-marketing channels, such as social media.
Marketing automation allows companies to automate repetitive tasks such as emails and social-media posts, so that they can increase efficiency and grow revenue faster.
Mobile marketing is promotional content designed for delivery to handheld devices such as cellphones.
Michael singles out virtual reality as a trend in the United States that’s slowly filtering into South Africa. “It will be exciting to see how effective this could be in an e-commerce environment but I think we need the full year to see what creations developers come up with,” he says.
Looking forward, what should we be taking note of in South Africa this year?
“Local companies should take more interest in automation,” says Michael. “We’ll continue to see further mobile refinement to look after the mobile industry. And search is still top in South Africa, so pay-per-click [PPC] campaigning, in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked, and search-engine optimisation [SEO], which ensures your website can be found in search engines via words and phrases relevant to whatever product or service you’re offering, are still high-priority requirements for businesses looking to attract their market online.”