Have you ever tried to find a local service or product online? Chances are you were either disappointed that you couldn’t locate what you were looking for, were appalled by what you did find, or disgusted because no-one bothered to come back to you in response to your online query.
While some companies have catered for a positive online customer engagement and have employed the various internet marketing means to ensure this, the sad reality is that the large majority have not.
In this post, we uncover this topic a little and provide some suggestions so that you can ensure your customers can in addition to finding you online, also have the best possible experience with your company online.
Internet Marketing – The Misconception
1. Internet Marketing = Social Media: People are often under the mistaken impression that ‘Internet Marketing’ constitutes a couple of social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc., a website and perhaps some online advertising through Google Adwords, or Facebook ads. Internet marketing however is an approach that takes all marketing principles into account and adopts specific customer attraction and retention strategies.
2. The internet connection in South Africa is slow: While this may be true, connectivity speeds are on the increase, as is the number and diversity of people now accessing the internet. In addition, more people than ever before are shopping online.
3. We’re technologically backward: This is entirely untrue. While we may not rival countries such as China, we are mostly on a par with Europe and the US. Smartphone penetration for one is on the distinct increase in South Africa, with the country being targeted as a lucrative market by leading global tech brands.
4. Only established ‘bigger’ companies do internet marketing: Every company who is wanting to succeed in the future needs an online presence and activity that is appropriate to their target market. Internet marketing needn’t cost the earth.
Internet Marketing – The Current Reality
1. More consumers online: Studies reveal that locally, there are more prospects cruising the net than ever before and the figures continue to rise. As many as 14 million South Africans have access to the internet – that’s 39% of our adult population.
2. Increase in online purchasing: According to research by World Wide Worx, online retail is growing by an average of 30% per annum. This will naturally lead to more services and products being sought and procured online.
3. Print media and advertising on the decline: Traditional print media, including advertising within this format has seen a steady decline in recent years and a move to the online space. What this in conjunction with the general increase in the online retail market means, is that consumers are more inclined to search for goods and services online, as well as procure them through this channel.
4. Finding services and products online can be impossible: While bigger players such as Zando, Kalahari.com and Takealot.com are doing well, it remains extremely difficult to find the companies who offer services, let alone valuable information about those services online.
5. Company interaction online is virtually non-existent: Though not true of every company, the majority simply ignore a request logged through a website or social media, or take far too long to respond. Most of us therefore simply resort, in exasperation, to making a phone call.
Internet Marketing – Adopting the Correct Approach
With the telephone book and Yellow Pages in the printed form now virtually redundant, companies need to make more of an effort to market their services online.
By way of example, we tried searching for a ‘tailor’ in Cape Town through an online search. At the time of writing this post, we were met with just three results, yet there are many more tailors to be found in Cape Town that just those three! We used the same search term for tailors in New York, Amsterdam and London and were met with a far greater variety of suitable results.
Are companies missing out on an opportunity? Most definitely!
1. Consider the customer engagement / purchase journey: This requires planning and a solid online marketing strategy that is suitable to your business. As much as that may sound expensive, this process needn’t cost the earth. Rands spent well in this regard will yield profitable results. Your strategy needs to steer the prospect from their first touch (advert, social media etc.) through to a positive experience on your website which should entice them to contact you or make a purchase.
2. Make Internet Marketing part of your service strategy: Ensuring that your website, as well as your social media pages are monitored and managed at all times, and responding to requests quickly is essential to success. Up-to-date offers online in the form of advertising, as well as current information about products and services ensures that you are delivering a good service to customers. Providing customers with an online communication touch point can help to increase sales, engagement and retention.
3. Ensure accuracy and relevant information: ‘My customers don’t like to read’, or ‘don’t care’ are terms we hear often. You would be surprised at how many do indeed care and how many more prefer to read and know more before they contact or buy. Up-to-date and detailed specs of a product, as well as solid information that explains how a service solves a pain point are ways to ensure a satisfying online experience for clients.
4. Give them a reason to like you: All too often, companies are disinclined to offer their clients interesting or valuable information that can enrich them. Often termed ‘add value services’, this approach lies at the core of content marketing today and the manner in which consumers expect to be engaged. A simple blog and an effort to include interesting posts on social media that go beyond trying to sell a product or service, helps to let your customer know that you are interested in them over and above the sale.
South African businesses need to embrace the fact that consumers across the board, are relying increasingly on the internet to find and procure products and services. We therefore cannot ignore the need for a solid online marketing strategy. Though an online marketing strategy and presence can be simple and cost effective, it must deliver information and a positive experience that customers will remember.
For assistance in assessing, developing and rolling out your online marketing strategy, give Garth Dahl or Shiraz Khatib a call on 021 556 5661 or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our marketing consultations are always free because we thrive on being a part of your success!