The adoption of digital marketing in businesses is becoming a prerequisite for business survival. More people are using online platforms to authenticate and validate service and product providers.
Everyone wants the best value for money. With the exponential adoption of smartphones, cheaper, and faster internet, people are relying more on online social proof to find the best and most reliable product and service providers.
In this article, we'll briefly introduce Digital Marketing channels and strategies to use for each channel to succeed in Uganda.
Digital Marketing Strategy
A digital marketing strategy is a series of clearly defined modular steps that help you archive clearly defined goals. Based on the goals, you need to identify the digital channels that will be most effective in achieving those goals and create strategies for each of these channels.
Digital Marketing Channels & and their Strategies.
There are a couple of digital marketing channels popular in Uganda today. The biggest challenge is for marketers to determine what digital channel is best for their business.
We'll identify 8 digital channels that are relevant to most businesses, how they work and strategies to employ to achieve local success.
#1 Social Media as a Digital Marketing Channel
Social media platforms are digital avenues that facilitate the creation and sharing of information interests, feelings, and ideas via online communities and networks.
The secret to breaking through on social media is having great content. In the early days, we talked about calendars and frequency of content but these days, quality is more important.
According to gs.statcounter.com, the most popular social media platforms in Uganda are Facebook which enjoys 53.27% usage, Pinterest at 20.99%, Twitter at 16.82%, Instagram at 5.27%, Youtube at 3.34% and LinkedIn at 0.11%
Your efforts should be concentrated on one or two social media channels where the majority of your audience is.
Tips for succeeding with social media.
- Use Videos: a few years back most social networks announced that they do encourage the use of videos. Videos tend to get more views than text images. You also get higher quality engagement and impressions. See the guide for successful youtube video marketing.
- Paid Approach: It may not be easy to get traction with organic content. Social media advertising is cheap and when done properly, you can beat multimillion companies with huge advertising budgets.
- Community Approach: This is follower activation. Here the approach is to empower users to create and share posts. Influencers come in handy in this strategy and the use of hashtags helps make campaigns trackable.
- Stories: The use of stories is gaining popularity and growing pretty fast. Stories are a form of social media posts on Facebook and Instagram that use full-screen news feeds where the featured image takes over the entire screen.
Power tip: If you are planning to create profiles on multiple social networks, create a central email account to register all of your profiles. This way all accounts are tied to an email that can be accessed by multiple people in the organization vs. an individual (who may leave).
#2 Digital Advertising as a Digital Marketing channel
Online advertising is a form of marketing and advertising which uses mediums that run on the internet to deliver promotional marketing messages to consumers.
Any business can get started on any budget with paid advertising also, the results are instantly available as soon as the ad starts running.
There are four primary types of digital advertising:
- Search ads; These are ads that appear alongside search results. To improve ad relevancy, a searcher is shown ads that have a relationship to what they are searching for. Google is the biggest search ad vendor followed by Bing.
- Social Ads: These are ads on social media platforms. They are the most popular because they allow high targeting audience metrics and are very cheap. These allow targeting based on Location, Gender, Interests, Behaviours e.ct.
- Video Ads: These are ads that appear before during or after a video. Streaming platforms like youtube and Vimeo provide this kind of ad. Video ads are good at the top of the sales funnel i.e attract and nature but are generally not good at driving people to action.
- Display Ads: These are ads displayed around content. These can be between content or on side rails depending on the slot offered by a web page. These are usually served through ad networks with Google being one of the most popular ones.
Ads take on different formats, video, image, lead, collections ads e.tc
#3 Search Engine Optimization as a Digital Marketing Channel
Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving a website's visibility in organic search engine results.
Since Google is the most popular Search Engine in Uganda, it will be our focus for this digital marketing channel. The principles that work for Google generally work for other search engines.
For most search terms, there are millions of potential websites google could show you so google has the hard task of deciding which ones to show you first. With 60-80% of web traffic coming from search, this is a battle you need to win to reap the fruits of your website.
The key elements to focus on to get better ranking in Google search.
There are three basic elements Google looks at when determining the position a page should hold in search results.
- Authority: This is how important Google thinks your page is. There are several factors Google looks at to determine authority. These include, age of the domain, how many other sites link back to your content, type of domain e.g government .go domains are considered to be more authoritative.
- Relevance: This refers to how relevant your website is to a search term. Relevance comes down to the content on a site. This is the reason why you should have a blog for your websites. Blogs allow you to have lots of content relevant to your industry.
- Site structure: Your website should be set up in such a way that it's easy for google to find the content on it. Google is not only keen on content but also on how the content is organized. Content should be organized with proper headings that are marked as such in the HTML structure as well. The keyword distribution is an indicator of the page's dominant subject and affects page ranking. Tools such as Google's keyword planner can be used to get better search rankings. Properly labeled images in the HTML markup and small things like title tags, metatags e.t.c play a vital role in improving a site's ranking.
#4 Websites as Digital Marketing Channels
A website when carefully crafted and skillfully run and maintained can be your most powerful digital marketing tool.
Like everything else, determine your strategy before building a website. Here is a checklist non-technical persons can use when procuring a data-driven website. What is it that you want your website to do? Who do you intend to target with your website? What's their age group? Why should people visit your website and with what objective?
Most people focus on having a great looking website and end up with something that looks nice but unable to accomplish any of its set objectives.
Here are the current website trends that yield results.
Optimize Websites for Mobile
According to ciodive.com, Over 70% of website traffic comes from mobile. This means optimizing your website for mobile should be first priority. In Uganda itself, the Jumia report shows that mobile subscription penetration is currently at 80%, with about 25 million Ugandans having a mobile device on their own. As a matter of fact, the current situation calls for mobile-first development. This means building for mobile then optimizing for desktop.
Power tip: Google has a mobile test that can let you know if your website has issues on mobile. Common issues are buttons being too close or unreadable text.
Optimize website for Speed
Website load speed is fast becoming critical in the overall digital success of websites. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Google uses website load speed as a ranking signal. Slow-loading sites get a lower ranking in search results compared to faster sites holding all other factors constant.
- Slow-loading websites result in very poor user experience. The average person waits for about 3 seconds for a website to load. The slow the site, the higher the bounce rate. A high bounce rate is a signal to Google that content is of poor quality.
- Facebook reduces the visibility of links to slow websites.
Go for a clean and simple design
Website design trends have been changing over time. People spend under 8 seconds on the home page. In this time the web page should have put its most important point across. You need to grab the attention of the site visitor and have them focused on your main goal quickly taking them through important message highlights. Decide the most important thing for a page and focus.
Nothing can substitute a website.
With Facebook pages and eCommerce listings sites like Jumia and Jiji becoming more robust and feature-filled, some marketers feel they can do without a website.
You always need a website as a business. A website is still one of the most trusted sources of consumer information. All these other platforms keep changing, and you have no control over what gets you banned, and how much information you can collect from users. At the moment, nothing is a good substitute for a website.
#5 Conversational Marketing as a digital marketing Channel
Conversation marketing is marketing focused on driving conversations to promote your business. This can be done by using influencers to spark conversations around your business, Chatbots, and Chat support tools e.t.c
In most studies, word of mouth is the most trusted and biggest driver of conversations and yet it's rarely included in digital marketing plans.
Power tip: People are more trusting of recommendations from strangers than they are of most marketing methods.
Here are the core digital strategies of conversational marketing.
Influencer Marketing is where a popular person with a big following or fan-base promotes the products or services of a business to their following in exchange for some kind of compensation agreed upon. There are two types of influencers, micro, and macro-influencers.
Why are influencers important?
- These allow businesses to reach new audiences in a way that is trusted by the audience.
- Influencers provide a great way for your posts to reach multitudes organically. This is because they are already favored by digital platform algorithms and thus their posts are more likely to be listed in the feeds of their followers organically.
- Influencers especially niche influencers know how to craft content in a way that is liked and received by their audiences a skill that most businesses don't have.
- Influencers enjoy a high level of trust from their audiences. When they speak favorably about your products or services, its a form of endorsement their audience takes more seriously than traditional advertising.
A famous book marketer Godin once said: When he promotes his own books, he generates only a few sales, when he promotes other peoples books, he generates a lot of sales. This shows that endorsement generates a lot more sales than promoting your own products.
Ratings and reviews
Ratings and reviews are highly trusted by consumers and are one of the key drivers for conversions. 84% of consumers give reviews the same consideration as a personal recommendation. 74% of people trust a business more based on positive reviews
Your business should include a strategy to actively collect reviews. Based on your industry, here are a few platforms where reviews will have an impact on your business.
- On your website: You should have a separate page on your website for reviews and testimonials. If you are into e-commerce, then each product should have reviews. If you are into the service industry, a separate page for success stories would go a long way in boosting customer confidence. Adding a review just before a call to action or a signup page often boosts conversion.
- Facebook Reviews: When people search for your company, your Facebook page reviews often show up on top of search results. If you have a star rating, this will show up in search engines as well. At the moment, Google also uses positive Facebook reviews as a ranking signal. In other words, companies with many positive Facebook reviews stand a better chance of performing well in search.
- Google Reviews: If you have a Google My Business page, you should be able to collect reviews. Every business should subscribe to this platform as it provides huge local search advantages. Companies with the most positive reviews will have a better ranking for local searches.
- Industry-Specific Sites: There are several local inches directories out there that list companies that provide a specific service. Some of these directories really perform well in Google search. Look out for these directory sites, add your company and solicit for reviews on these pages as well.
Community and Management
Community management is the process of building, cultivating, and growing an online community around your business or brand on one or more digital platforms.
The Idea behind community management is that by engaging in conversations and participating in discussions, you will build a relationship with your audience. This tends to build trust, loyalty, increase sales, and ultimately activate your audience to promote you.
Community management involves the following activities.
- Monitoring: This involves monitoring and tracking conversations around your business.
- Engaging: This involves joining in on the conversation with the aim of contributing, correcting, and building a positive reputation around the brand.
- Moderating: This is especially important if you have active social media channels and groups. This involves encouraging conversation, removing comments that hurt the business, providing correction, guidance, and promoting helpful posts.
- Measuring: This involves measuring performance based on set goals. This involves quantitative and qualitative measurements. Some measurable items are sentiment, impact, mentions e.t.c
Online public relations
There are two major areas to consider when it comes to online PR. Make sure that your PR assets and presentation are suitable for online mentions. The second is to make use of the opportunities available for mentions, these include: working with bloggers, open publishing sites, and smaller publications.
Here are trends to follow to boost your PR efforts.
- Contributing Writers: Several small news sites allow contributing writers. This provides PR opportunities online. Search out for these contributors. They are usually easier to pitch than full-time journalists.
- Smaller Niche sites: These tend to have relevant and more engaged audiences.
- More News: Today journalists are required to write 3-5 articles a day. This means they are always on the lookout for news. This presents an opportunity for you when you make it easier for them to create more.
- Digital Press ready: If you want your press release to be ready to travel digitally, consider including downloadable high-resolution images, Info-graphics, a short video, screenshots, or short format content.
- SEO: Your SEO strategy should include building content that journalists can pick up on via search. This should go beyond press-releases and include profiles of key executives.
Online word of mouth
Social media provides a great opportunity to extend your reach of word of mouth. Online one can share an experience to thousands of people by posting only once.
Power tip: Word of mouth just doesn't happen. One must have a strategy in place to make it happen
Here are some online word of mouth strategies you should consider activating for your business.
This is when people create and share content related to your business. One has to find creative ways of encouraging people to create and promote their business content e.g create likable experiences and shareable moments e.g Vintage cars lined up in front of Kampala's club that makes for a great shearable photo moment,
Promote a Hashtag
You want to make sure your business is mentioned when your shearable moment is put out there. One of the ways of achieving this is by creating a hashtag. Hashtags are used to tag a business or conversation theme in a social media post.
Contests or Promotions
Contests are a great way of getting people to share your content. A participant's drive comes from the possibility of getting something out of the experience. Many contests require sharing content online or voting so they also drive word of mouth.
#6 Email Marketing as a Digital Marketing Channel
Email marketing has been around for a while and is still an effective digital marketing channel.
While social media posts and ads are usually viewed passively, users usually actively engage with emails. Consider some statistics:
58% of adults check their emails every morning, 64% of people open an email because of the subject line, 95% of online consumers use emails!
Emails can be used to drive users through almost every stage of the marketing funnel. Your email strategy can be used to effectively target customers at a particular stage of the funnel and therefore your strategy should be built around this. Here are the objectives your email campaign should achieve.
Attract or reach
- Here use emails to educate leads about your business or brand.
- Share thaughts and leadership content in your field.
- Welcome new members to your online community.
- Personalize your content for your audience
- Build trust
- Position your brand as experts by sharing important and relevant content.
- Help your audience make decisions by providing valuable information.
- Have a clear call to action in your email
- Show clear benefits by providing irresistible offers.
Retain and Grow
- Make your clients feel special and exclusive to build royalty.
- Create content that is a good fit for your readers.
- Solicit for reviews
- Encourage shares with friends.
Emails can be used at every stage of the marketing funnel but are not the best tool for building awareness. The assumption is that all the emails you have are from people who are already aware of you.
There is a lot more that needs to be done to create a foolproof digital marketing strategy that cannot be covered in a single article, but this will surely get you started with the basics for your digital marketing journey.
Ayebare is the Chief Digital Strategists and co-founder Campaign.
He has more than 10 years of experience in the digital field.
He has worked with several fortune 500 companies worldwide in various Engineering and Website strategy disciplines.