Digital Marketing is now a reality in Africa and more than ever before, it presents a revolutionary opportunity that businesses in Africa might find too tempting to ignore. In this exclusive interview with Bizrika, Gaita Wamucii, a Digital Marketing Strategist and head of Online Marketing at Africa Point-an African Safari Agency, shares important insights on Digital Marketing and explains why businesses in Africa and those intending to penetrate the African market must now integrate Digital Marketing into their overall marketing strategy.
Perhaps we should begin with a key preview of Digital Marketing. Kindly tell us what it’s all about, simply.
Thank you. It is true that Digital Marketing is still a mystery to many companies and organizations especially in Africa. In a nutshell, I would define it as the reaching out to a desired audience in both the Internet and Mobile media. This would include social media like twitter and Facebook, Search Engines like Google and Bing, Email, and Mobile devices e.g on Mobile apps – etc and a host of other related media.
Africa is not that advanced in as far as technology is concerned, at least when we compare it to the developed economies. So why should she bother with complicated concepts like Digital Marketing?
Complicated? No. I don’t agree with you. Africa is advanced in technology that supports digital marketing. The rate of internet penetration in Kenya for instance is at an all time high according to a recent TNS report. Mobile internet adoption and usage In Africa has been phenomenal. We have for instance over 1 million Kenyans on Facebook and growing. What does this mean? That more and more people that we want to target as marketers are spending more and more time online and on their phone screens. You remember that old aphorism that the Customer Is King? Well, the king has now changed his abode and we better take him the message there –be where your customers are. Simple.
What is the reality on the ground at the moment? Are businesses in Africa really ready to take up Digital Marketing?
As I mentioned earlier, Digital Marketing is still a mystery to many companies here in Africa – some think it is about creating a website-that is not enough. Others take it a step further to be Social Media presence on twitter and facebook or even building a visibility campaign via banner ads on Google Adwords Platform, and as far as I can tell, the most of what I see lacks an overall Digital Marketing Strategy with a deeper and holistic understanding of what digital presence should translate to as a marketing effort – the integration of the various channels of digital marketing.
It is understandable though. People are still trying to figure things out and the digital landscape is always evolving and it is hard to get a good grasp of the art and science of digital marketing.
Tell us, how do the businesses in Africa stand to benefit from Digital Marketing?
The opportunities presented are enormous – first it is the whole scalability aspect of digital marketing campaigns. This means that anybody, with whichever budget, can pull through a given set of digital marketing efforts and expect results. This is a huge opportunity for SME’s in Africa from whom I believe the economic renaissance for Africa will come.
Secondly, digital marketing is highly traceable – you can tell what sales from where and what is the ROI. I can’t imagine a better time for Henry Ford to have lived than now- if you remember his observation “I know HALF of my advertising budget is wasted…I just don’t know which HALF”
How about those businesses intending to penetrate the African Market? Is Digital Marketing something they should take seriously?
Certainly yes. The advantage point here is that most of them have digital marketing experience elsewhere and sometimes all they need to do is to start by optimizing their campaigns to fit the African Digital Landscape.
Is there sufficient professional support to enhance uptake of Digital Marketing in Africa?
No. Where do you learn digital marketing? Most digital marketers that I know of start as enthusiasts who learn on their own, from fellow practitioners and also on the job. They then narrow down to specialize on a given branch of digital marketing like Email, PPC, SEO, Social Media, Online PR or even Analytics. Given the will needed and also the aptitude for developing the skills, there are very few digital marketing specialists in Africa with Sub-Saharan Africa fairing the worst. If I was a business student in Campus right now, I would learn all there is to learn about digital marketing in the world – the possibilities are limitless.
Any key industries you think will gain most out of Digital Marketing in Africa?
All industries are bound to benefit from marketing. Digital Marketing is no different- it is all about connecting with people. Of course those bound to benefit most are the early entrants – those who position themselves now – before their competitors do.
Based on your analysis of the markets and trends, how long do you think it will take Africa to fully embrace Digital Marketing?
Things are happening very fast. Market dictates how the marketer approaches it and in this case, digital marketing is taking on an exponential curve and it will be hard to imagine the Africa we are living in, digitally, five years from now.
The role of African Governments?
It is all about infrastructure and policies adopted for digital progress. As for now am happy with the road taken.
Are you optimistic (or convinced); that time has finally come for Africa to rise and shine, using technology as a platform?
Trust me John, in Africa, the Industrial revolution may have passed us – but seems the gods knew that the digital revolution was on the way coming. To me, the web is the greatest equalizer to push for economic empowerment and social change in Africa. There is almost no barrier to starting a business online and the voice of one person can be heard by millions online. Trust me, lets seize the opportune moment, and Africa is rising.