The Internet gave us digital marketing.

The ability of a business in South Africa to have clients around the world without even leaving the country and being able to make a sale around the world using digital marketing is a game changer.

Digital marketing makes it a snap to raise awareness about your brand. Choose your marketing channels, create some content and voilà — you're in the business of being in business.

This post will cover everything you need to know about digital marketing — including its benefits, the various types and how to embrace it in your own business.

Okay, what is digital marketing?

Digital marketing, also known as online marketing, encompasses all marketing efforts conducted on the Internet. Businesses utilise various digital channels to engage with both existing and potential customers. These channels include:
  • search engines
  • social media platforms
  • email, and
  • other websites.

Additionally, digital marketing extends to communication through text or multimedia messages.

Imagine you want to promote your business on Google and are willing to pay to secure a top spot in search results for relevant keywords. Alternatively, you might choose to send persuasive emails to your customer list, encouraging them to try a new product or take advantage of an exclusive discount.

Another approach could involve content marketing, where you aim to attract potential customers by offering educational resources.

The popularity of digital marketing has surged to such an extent that one of the biggest challenges today is figuring out how to distinguish your brand and message amidst the vast online crowd.

The benefit of using digital marketing in South Africa

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, having an online presence for your business is not just a need; it's an absolute necessity.

Let's delve into some compelling facts that emphasise the significance of embracing digital marketing:

In 2022, people around the world spent just over 400 minutes on the web every day. (That's more than six hours daily — that is a lot.)

E-commerce sales recently eclipsed USD$1-trillion globally — for the first time in history.

It's expected that 24% of all retail purchases will take place online by 2026. If you are into the e-commerce business, you need to bulk up. 

Regardless of whether your business operates in the B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer), digital marketing helps South African businesses with invaluable tools to understand their customers better and provide tailored experiences across various channels.

Here are some compelling benefits of digital marketing over traditional methods:

Reach a large demographic

Digital marketing enables you to connect with a vast and diverse customer base with ease.

When you post an ad online, it can reach anyone — regardless of their location. You can connect with customers on the other side of the world, in multiple time zones, as seamlessly as though you were taking out an ad in the local newspaper.

You can expand your market reach and grow your business in ways that would have seemed impossible before.

It's pretty affordable

That depends on the type of digital marketing, of course — but compared to traditional media, it's a steal. According to a quick web search, wide-reach television ads cost hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Rands, and it's tough to determine whether they've even worked.

By advertising on Facebook, you can get people straight to your website for close to nothing.

Digital marketing is measurable

Measuring the impact of your marketing efforts is critical for success. This is one of the biggest benefits of digital marketing, as it can give you a start-to-finish view of all the metrics that matter to your company — including:
  • impressions
  • shares
  • views
  • clicks, and
  • time on the page.

Unlike most offline marketing efforts, digital marketing allows marketers to see accurate results in real-time.

Easier personalisation for customers

Customer data is the foundation of digital marketing.

Because it requires so much data, businesses naturally learn a lot about their ideal customers during a digital marketing campaign. Thanks to this data, it's never been easier to personalise your marketing campaigns.

For instance:
  • Businesses can monitor the behaviour of their social media followers to identify preferred content types and post formats.
  • Segment customers based on their demographics, which makes it easier to personalise messaging based on their pain points.
  • You can address customers by name in email campaigns.
  • Acknowledge key events like customer birthdays and anniversaries.

Eight types of digital marketing for small business

There's no shortage of ways you can market your business online. Here are some of the most common types of digital marketing:

1. Content marketing

Content marketing is a strategic approach that seeks to educate and provide value to readers rather than overtly promoting products or services. It isn't outwardly promotional in nature but establishes your business as a thought leader and a trustworthy source of information.

Businesses use content marketing to attract leads and convert them into loyal customers. It's also an effective strategy because it offers potential customers something for free, which entices them into (hopefully) making a purchase at some point.

Content marketing is everywhere (look at you experiencing it right now).

Here are a few key examples of types of digital marketing tactics:

Blogs allow brands to demonstrate their expertise by sharing valuable information and insights with their audience. Additionally, blogs are easy to share and can be optimised for search engines, making them a great way to drive traffic to your website and improve its search rankings.

Ebooks and whitepapers
Ebooks, whitepapers and similar long-form content help further educate website visitors. It also allows you to exchange content for a reader's contact information, generating leads for your company and moving people through the buyer's journey.

Podcasts are particularly effective for businesses that want to establish themselves as thought leaders, as they allow hosts to share their expertise and engage in conversations with industry experts. Podcasts can also be listened to on the go and offer a unique and intimate way to connect with your audience.
Audio or visual content
Television and radio are popular channels for digital marketing. Creating content that can be shared online as a video or heard on the radio by listeners can greatly broaden your potential audience.

Sometimes, readers want you to show, not tell. Infographics are a form of visual content that helps website visitors visualise a concept you want to help them learn.

Social posts
Social posts are ideal for creating engagement and fostering relationships with an audience. They're great for sharing news, promotions and updates with your followers, and can be used to drive traffic to a website or landing page. And with the wide-reaching nature of social media, they give you a way to expose your brand to new audiences.

Content marketing
Content marketing is not only affordable, but it's also effective. In 2022, 80% of marketers thought their content marketing strategy was very successful. It's no wonder why the content marketing industry is projected to be worth USD$107-billion by 2026.

2. Search engine optimisation (SEO)

SEO involves optimising your website's content, technical aspects and visibility to ensure it ranks prominently in search engine results for specific keywords. This process involves:
  • analysing website performance
  • comparing it to competitors, and
  • devising data-driven strategies to enhance rankings.

The 'art and science' part of SEO is what's most important. SEO is a science because it requires you to research and weigh different contributing factors to achieve the highest possible ranking on a search engine results page (SERP).

There are a number of ways to approach SEO in order to generate qualified traffic to your website. These include:

Technical optimisations
You can improve a website's backend infrastructure to make indexing its content easier for search engines. Common technical fixes include optimising load speed, implementing structured data markup, minimising downtime with a top-rated web host, fixing broken links, and ensuring the website is mobile-friendly. 

On-page SEO
This type of SEO focuses on all of the content that exists 'on the page' when looking at a website. By researching keywords for their search volume and intent (or meaning), you can answer questions for readers and rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs) those questions produce.

Off-page optimisations
Building external links to a website improves its credibility with search engines. Building external links, creating high-quality content and engaging in online communities.

Search engines will always try to highlight the best result for any given search query — so first and foremost, create digital content that provides value to your target audience. Make sure you're addressing the needs of your visitors, then focus on optimising your headlines and meta information to make Google especially happy. 

3. Social media marketing (SMM)

SMM promotes your brand and content across various social media channels to boost brand awareness, drive traffic and generate leads.

Some of the most common channels for social media marketing include:
  • Facebook
  • X (Twitter)
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • TikTok, and
  • Pinterest.

You probably already use these sites pretty regularly, don't you? Social media marketing is about connecting with people where they're already spending time in order to create brand awareness and drive value for your business.

To create an effective social media marketing strategy, it's crucial to follow best practices. Here are a few of the most important social media marketing best practices:

  • Craft high-quality and engaging content.
  • Reply to comments and questions in a professional manner.
  • Create a social media posting schedule.
  • Post at the right time.
  • Hire social media managers to support your marketing efforts.
  • Know your audience and which social media channels they're most active on.

4. Native advertising

Native advertising involves creating and placing ads that seamlessly blend with the user experience on the platform where they appear. These ads are less disruptive and more engaging, enhancing the user experience.

Many people also consider social media advertising to be 'native — Facebook advertising and Instagram advertising, for example.

5. Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing

PPC is a form of digital marketing where you pay a fee each time someone clicks on your digital ads. It's a cost-effective way to drive traffic and can be targeted based on keywords, location, demographics and retargeting.

When people talk about PPC, they usually mean paying to have their ads show up at the top of the SERP on Google or Bing. Although PPC is definitely a thing on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, too.

When you set up a PPC ad campaign, you can target customers based on things like:

Search engine PPC ads require you to choose the keywords that will show your ads to your audience. Pick keywords related to your product and your customer's intentions when they’re looking for your product. (And don't forget to do keyword research.)

If you have a local business or seasonal product, you can advertise to specific countries, states, cities or even ZIP / postal codes.

Since everybody's online behaviour is being tracked extensively, PPC platforms usually have a good sense of who they're showing ads to. (This is doubly true on social media.) You can set your PPC campaign to target folks of a particular gender, age, income and more.

In a retargeting campaign, you show PPC ads to customers who've already interacted with your website. You can set campaigns to advertise to people who abandoned their shopping cart on your site or visited a specific page.

6. Influencer or affiliate marketing

Influencer marketing partners with influential figures in your niche to promote your brand to their audience. This strategy can leverage existing audiences to drive product or service awareness.

Affiliate marketing channels include hosting video ads through the YouTube Partner Programme or posting affiliate links from your social media accounts.

This is part of the relatively new wave of influencer marketing. Creating a campaign using influencers can be a highly effective form of affiliate marketing. Finding the right content creators can take your digital campaign to the next level.

7. Email marketing

Email marketing involves reaching out to customers through strategic email messages. It remains one of the quickest and most direct ways to connect with your audience, and it can be highly effective when used to maintain relationships, build loyalty and increase retention.

However, to avoid getting buried by competing content in your subscribers' inboxes, your content needs to be incredibly engaging, relevant, informative and entertaining.

Email marketing is a proven, effective technique all on its own: 89% of surveyed professionals named it as their most effective lead generator.

By segmenting your audience into different groups — say, depending on how they've previously engaged with your business — you can send targeted messages that are more likely to lead to conversions. Once somebody has converted, email can help you maintain relationships, build loyalty and increase retention.

8. Mobile marketing

Mobile marketing, also known as SMS marketing, targets users on mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and wearables. It's crucial to optimise content for mobile screens, considering that the majority of consumers use mobile devices.

So, how do you create a digital marketing strategy for a small business?

Building a successful digital marketing strategy for a small business requires a deep understanding of your product or service, your target audience and the digital marketing channels that will best connect you with your customers.

Whether you decide to take on digital marketing yourself or hire a digital marketing agency, here are essential steps and tips to guide you:

1. Know your product / service

You need to know your offering inside and out before trying to market it. After all, if you don't know your product or service, how can you explain it to your customers?

Before you try your hand at digital marketing, make sure you've got a thorough understanding of these aspects of your product or service:

Value proposition

Understand your brand's value proposition and how your product or service contributes to it. Your value proposition communicates your brand's core value and should emphasise the ways your offerings deliver that value.

Features and benefits
Distinguish between product or service features (what it does) and benefits (how it solves customer problems). Emphasise benefits when discussing your business, as they resonate more with customers.

2. Identify your target audience

Now that we've got the product or service you're trying to sell, spend some time thinking about your customers (or potential customers). It's easier to make engaging, persuasive digital content when you know how your audience thinks and behaves.

Every audience is different, so it's critical to understand the people consuming your messaging. Plus, the target audience varies from channel to channel, so put in the effort to understand your followers on every platform.

If you want to dig a little deeper, you can perform more in-depth audience research using some of these methods:
  • surveys (try a free platform like Google Forms)
  • social media audience analysis
  • analysis of your competitor's audience
  • Google Analytics demographic info, and
  • audience research tools like BuzzSumo or SparkToro.

Once you've got some audience data, look it over for patterns in demographics, interests and online behaviour. Put those trends together to create marketing personas — profiles of your typical customers that'll help you visualise who you're talking to in your campaigns.

3. Know your digital marketing channels

Digital marketing happens across a wide range of channels—places where you market your products or services. Marketers use an average of 7.2 channels, so you should use at least a couple to keep up with the industry, like your:
  • website
  • list of email subscribers
  • social media channels (e.g., Facebook)
  • video platforms (e.g., YouTube), and
  • search engine rankings and ads.

What channels will work best for your brand? The answer will depend on your audience.

As you research your customers, look at where they spend time online. Investigate the sorts of content they like to engage with. And — importantly — figure out how much time and money you can invest in a particular channel before you use it.

Creating your digital marketing strategy

Once you have a clear understanding of your product, audience, and channels, you can create a comprehensive digital marketing strategy tailored to your small business:

Set clear goals
Define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals for your digital marketing efforts. Examples include increasing website traffic, generating leads, or boosting sales by a certain percentage.

Content strategy
Develop a content strategy that aligns with your value proposition and audience needs. Create valuable content that educates, entertains, or solves problems for your customers.

Content calendar
Create a content calendar to plan and schedule your content across various channels. Consistency is key to maintaining audience engagement.

Budget allocation
Allocate your budget wisely based on the channels that offer the best ROI for your business. Monitor your spending and adjust as needed.

Performance tracking
Implement tools and analytics to monitor the performance of your digital marketing campaigns. Regularly review and adjust your strategy based on data and insights.

Testing and optimisation
Continuously test different approaches, messages and channels to identify what works best for your business. Optimise your strategy based on the results of these tests.

Stay informed
Keep up with industry trends and changes in digital marketing platforms. Adapt your strategy to take advantage of new opportunities and stay competitive.

By following these steps and tips, you can create a digital marketing strategy that effectively connects your small business with its target audience, drives engagement, and helps you achieve your goals in the digital landscape.

What does a digital marketer do?

Now that you have learned how to create a digital marketing strategy for your small business in South Africa, it's essential to understand the role of a digital marketer and how they can impact your business or brand.

When selecting a digital marketing company or agency, it's crucial to choose one that specialises in your field, such as 11th House Digital Marketing Company, which focuses on retail and event marketing.

A digital marketer plays a pivotal role in helping your business thrive in the online landscape. Here's what a digital marketer does: 

1. Research and analysis

Digital marketers conduct thorough research to understand your business, industry, competitors and target audience. They use data-driven insights to inform marketing strategies.

2. Campaign creation

Digital marketers design and execute marketing campaigns tailored to your business goals. These campaigns can include various tactics such as content marketing, social media advertising, PPC, email marketing and more.

3. Content strategy

Marketers develop engaging and relevant content that resonates with their audience. They create blog posts, videos, infographics and other content types to attract and retain customers.

4. Topic trending

Staying updated with industry trends, digital marketers identify and leverage trending topics to enhance your content strategy and keep your brand relevant.

5. Analytics and data management

Marketers monitor and analyse website and campaign analytics. They track key performance indicators (KPIs), measure ROI and adjust strategies based on data-driven insights.

6. Social media management

Digital marketers manage your social media accounts, creating and curating content, engaging with followers and running paid advertising campaigns to increase brand visibility and engagement.

7. Email marketing

They create and manage email marketing campaigns, nurturing leads, promoting products or services and maintaining customer relationships through personalised email content.

8. Design and marketing collateral

Marketers oversee the creation of marketing collateral, such as graphics, banners and advertisements, to maintain a cohesive and visually appealing brand presence.

9. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

They optimise your website and content for search engines to improve your organic search rankings and drive organic traffic.

10. Paid advertising

Digital marketers manage pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns on platforms like Google Ads and social media. They create and optimise ad content to reach your target audience effectively.

11. Lead generation

Marketers work on strategies to generate and nurture leads, converting them into customers through various digital marketing tactics.

12. Online reputation management

They monitor and manage online reviews and feedback to maintain a positive online reputation for your brand.

13. E-commerce marketing

For businesses selling products online, digital marketers can optimise product listings, create effective e-commerce marketing strategies and improve the overall online shopping experience.

Does digital marketing work for small businesses?

So, you have a small local shop where you sell unique handmade items, but why do you need digital marketing? What are the benefits of this investment? 

First, you have to remember that digital marketing includes a few tactics to connect your brand with your potential customers. And if you run a small business, it's a challenge to understand how to make it work for you.

However, you can easily tackle that challenge by hiring a professional digital marketer or an outsourcing digital marketing company in South Africa that can help you build the right marketing strategy.

Your Landing page needs traffic and digital marketing is the way

Converting visitors into customers is the ultimate goal of digital marketing.

To achieve this, you need to create landing pages. Landing pages are standalone web pages that are designed to drive a specific action — such as making a purchase, signing up for a service or downloading an ebook.

Landing pages are different from regular website pages in that they are focused on a single task. They don't have any distractions, such as navigation bars or sidebars. This makes it easier for visitors to focus on your call to action and complete the desired action.

If you're serious about driving more conversions from your digital marketing campaigns, then you need to start using landing pages. They're an essential tool for any business that wants to succeed online.

Here are a few tips for creating effective landing pages:

    • Make sure your landing page is relevant to the ad or email that brought the visitor there. The landing page should match the visitor's expectations, or they'll quickly leave.
    • Have a clear and concise call to action (CTA). Tell the visitor what you want them to do, and make it easy for them to do it.
    • Use persuasive copywriting to convince the visitor to take action. Highlight the benefits of your product or service, and address any potential objections.
    • Test and optimise your landing pages. Try different versions of your landing page to see what works best for your audience.

By following these tips, you can create landing pages that will help you convert more visitors into customers.

Ready to get started with digital marketing? Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you grow your business.

Digital marketing creates growth

In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, digital marketing stands out as a powerful force for growth and success. It should be a central pillar of any business's marketing strategy.

The reasons are clear: Digital marketing enables businesses to maintain consistent contact with customers and provides unmatched levels of personalisation through data-driven insights.

As you embrace the possibilities of digital marketing, you unlock your company's full growth potential. It's a journey of reaching wider audiences, engaging with them effectively and achieving your business goals.

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