The simple answer is yes – online marketing is necessary in South Africa. Yes, it is true, we are a different country in terms of buying habits compared to the rest of the world. We like meeting people before doing business and therefore many businesses in South Africa do not deem it necessary to invest money in online marketing. Many businesses miss the entire point of marketing online. In a South African context it is not to generate sales automatically, yes that would be nice. In a South African context the goal of online marketing is to create leads and to build a brand. I have used various pay per click advertisers and campaigns for this very business, although we are relatively new to the industry I have closed some major contracts from leads generated by pay per click and other marketing campaigns. Here are a few options to look at when considering marketing online :
Google adwords is the pay per click option from google. When you search for a term on the google search engine you get ten organic results per page, the rest of the results on that page are all paid for. This is usually the first 3 results at the top of the results page and all the results to the right of the page. Almost anyone can advertise here barring some rated sites.
Google adwords is a great advertising tool and is used by most medium to large companies within their online marketing plan. For South African small businesses it tends to be a little on the expensive side however. The other setback is that most people have conditioned themselves to skip past the ads and click on the organic search results as these are often more relevant and closer to what they are actually searching for. Luckily there are various other cheap marketing options for small businesses that can convert into paying customers.
2. Local SEO
Organic search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your website for google within a certain area e.g. “Plumbers in Randburg” This is only relevant to people who stay in Randburg and plumbing companies that operate in Randburg. This is actaually quite easy and cheap to get done and has amazing results especially in the services based industry. Once optimized these are the results that appear in google search from 1 – 10. The click rate on these results are extremely high as they are relevant to what the searcher is looking for. Once you rank in the top 10 you will definitely get business from the internet. So how is this achieved?
This process increases the value of your website by adding content that is valuable to your readers. This is not an exact science but there are usually various factors that can be improved in order for your website to become more valuable and therefore rank higher in search engines such as google. In the past there were a lot of methods used to “cheat” the google algorithm, these practices are now forbidden and google is perfecting ranking by valuating the quality of your website content. We are using organic search engine optimization in this article.
Have a look at the first line, you will see I have “online marketing” in bold. This is to show google what the article is about. You will also see that the flow of this article is natural and I have not tried to force any key words into the article. Google is getting better at spotting cheats and it is therefore extremely important to only add content that is valuable to your readers, forget about adding certain words etc as rankings will come if you add high quality content.
3. Facebook Advertising
This is one of the best online marketing platforms in South Africa. As so many South Africans use Facebook daily it is a great place to advertise. The key advantage to Facebook advertising is that you can pinpoint your target market, target age, interests, gender and language. This eliminates wasteful clicks and you know exactly who the market is that will see your ad. I have used Facebook to find many of my own customers and with a little online research most people can do this on their own. Facebook is also cheap compared to other advertising options and because of it’s structure you gain an audience rather than adverting once. Here is a starters guide to advertising on Facebook : https://adespresso.com/academy/guides/facebook-ads-beginner/
4.Outsource your Online Marketing
In the past this was expensive to do but with all the competition in the market it has become increasingly affordable to outsource your entire online marketing process. I believe we, Rebrand Studio, offer one of the most affordable outsourcing packages in our small business package at only R1500 per month. The key to a successful online marketing campaign is that the returns should beat the costs. Even if you break even there is brand awareness value when thousands of people see your brand. You should really start looking at your online presence, soon this will be the only place people find businesses. Instead of it being scary turn it into an advantage. Whatever you do and whichever option you choose to go with, do it sooner rather than later. The internet is a great place to get customers, it is however like the real estate market. If you wait too long all the good spots will be taken.
Timo van Deventer is a SEO Expert in Johannesburg. He owns major ecommerce websites and businesses across the world in various industries. In 2016 TImo helped over 200 business rank on the first page of Google.