Many businesses that previously relied on customers to visit their physical stores or offices have, as a result of the lockdown, been forced to actively transition their businesses online to remain sustainable. However, having a well-designed, engaging website that is e-commerce enabled is not enough to generate business. 

Marketing is still required to drive traffic and sales to the website. The widespread adoption of technology and social media means that marketing has changed dramatically with digital marketing gaining significant prominence in recent years.

Irrespective of whether a business’s objective is to gain market share, build brand awareness, manage reputation, increase margins, drive promotions or ensure customer retention, digital marketing is an essential tool to drive traffic online. 

The third episode of the Business Day SME Matters, in partnership with PayFast, focused on how to use digital marketing to drive sales and profits in a noisy e-commerce environment. This digitised discussion is part of a four-part series, facilitated by business growth expert Pavlo Phitidis, on how to navigate the challenges and opportunities of digitising a business. 

Musa Kalenga, an executive at Bridge Labs, The Brave Group of Companies and African Tech Round Up, described marketing as the art of being able to get new customers and get more out of existing customers. Understanding who your customers are and the issues they face allows for marketing efforts to be more precise. Budgets count when it comes to digital marketing ,given that both Facebook and Google use pay-to-play models. 

Kathryn Sharman, chief platform officer and chief marketing officer at The Sun Exchange, agreed that the size of the budget is a factor. The smaller the budget, the smarter you need to be in terms of which platforms you use. The issues that need to be considered include the life stage of the brand and the business objectives. The content being used on digital channels needs to serve a purpose and be relevant to consumers. “Don’t think that you can push sales all the time,” said Sharfman, adding that content needs to first aim to build relationships with consumers.

Digital marketing works best, when there is a feedback loop in place, said Aidan Baigrie, CEO of Expert Opinion MD. He agreed with Sharfman that content should focus on building the brand before making a call to action. 

A small business with a small marketing budget should consider Instagram, Facebook and e-mail marketing, the panellists advised. A medium-sized business with a marketing budget of about R15,000 a month should consider Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, while a large business with a budget of R50,000 a month should use Google and display advertising, LinkedIn to engage top-tier corporate relationships, e-mail marketing, and should consider engaging with an advertising agency.

Watch the full online discussion below:

The next digital conversation on “Black Friday trends and predictions for e-commerce in 2020 and beyond” takes place on October 21 at 1pm. 

Click here to register >>>

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