How 2020 has changed Digital Marketing

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2020 and the emergence of COVID-19 has altered the way we all live and work, including the world of Digital Marketing. While the pandemic’s full impact is still to be determined, its effects on Digital Marketing has been profound as people increasingly go online to meet their day-to-day needs. From SEO to the way businesses interact with consumers, the script is being rewritten for better and for worse. The way we interact with each other has significantly changed, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that companies also need to change how they interact with customers. From giving back to the community by offering free services to putting a positive emphasis on marketing messaging, most businesses have had to shift their digital strategy in order to adjust to this new world order. For many companies who hadn’t already gone online, 2020 was the ‘point of no return’. With customers spending more time online than ever and looking for information and safer ways to shop, online is now a ‘must have’ even for services industries. 2020 has profoundly changed online consumer behaviour. For lunch or dinner options, instead of searching for restaurants closest to our locations, we are searching for delivery options. We are more online than ever before. Online appointments are now the norm for many businesses. Online meetings and Zoom calls are on the rise while face-to-face interactions are on the decline due to the COVID-19 crisis. Consumers are hopping on websites and communicating through brand’s social media platforms more than ever. Digital marketing is one of the best and most cost-effective ways for businesses to reach their target audiences. New behavioral practices like social distancing are accelerating consumers’ use of e-commerce options, forcing traditional marketing to take a backseat. As interpersonal communication declines, businesses are becoming more reliant on digital tools and other accessories to accomplish their goals, I.e., Facebook Messenger, live chat on websites, text message marketing, etc. Brands investing in SEO may have initially seen a decline in revenue when the pandemic began but now may be seeing a rise. 2020 has been a challenging year for most businesses, and marketers have had to put their thinking caps on and adapt quicker than ever. The good news however is that many of these changes, are likely to be with us for the foreseeable future, and in a way this has been a year of accelerated learning and finally executing those plans many have been talking about, but just haven’t had the urgency to follow through on. What will 2021 hold? Only time will tell. The Publisher Management Team

A changed world

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The world we suddenly find ourselves in feels surreal – a bit like stepping into a sci-fi movie from the 90’s, and yet here it is, playing out right in front of our eyes on our social media rolls and in our neighbourhoods. Overnight we’ve all had to radically change the way we live, work, school, shop and do business. It’s scary to read about large, established businesses filing for bankruptcy, to see the Rand fall to over R19 to the dollar, and about South Africa’s new junk status. But from the ashes rises the phoenix, so what positive lessons can we learn so far from this global crisis? Perhaps the most prominent that comes to my mind is prudence. Something that seems to have become lost, even considered boring and narrow-minded in the modern world. The world before Covid-19 was one where more is never enough, fast is too slow, and where we were all victims of the break-necking pace that life and society has somehow come to expect of us. Made to believe that more equals productivity, we worked too hard, exercised too little, filled our children’s schedules with one structured activity after the next, planned our holidays a year in advance to some exotic destination, and lied awake at night thinking about how we can make more money to keep on affording that life. Instead of being prudent and investing for a rainy day, businesses that flourished focused their resources and energy on further increasing their size and profits. Large-scale events featured on everyone’s agenda, and large organisations were flying executives in from all parts of the globe for 2 or 3 day-long visits. With half of the world now in some form of lockdown, we are forced to take a step back and re-assess ourselves. Despite the initial disbelief when we learned about the lockdown in SA, we all eventually had to accept it. Whether we liked it or not, we had no choice but to change our behaviour. Suddenly instead of flying we are doing business meetings through Zoom, instead of going to the gym we are doing virtual exercise classes from the comfort of our homes, instead of sitting in hours of traffic we are working from our home office. Instead of spending our hard-earned money on stuff, we realise that we don’t really need all of that. Suddenly we are home schooling our children and spending more time playing and interacting with them than ever before. Just in the past week my two boys have learnt to make their beds, cook, unpack a dishwasher, operate a vacuum cleaner, play Rummi, read more books, use the garage wall to improve their tennis shots and build the biggest blanket fort I’ve ever seen. Would they have done any of these things if we had still been stuck in our old life? From a business perspective AdMarula has of course been affected by the lockdown just like every other business. Many of our clients in the travel industry have been hit hard, some even doubt they will survive. This is tragic. The retail industry, which was already struggling before this crisis, is fighting for survival and we will no doubt see many brands and shops disappearing from our malls in the near future. On the flip side we have seen businesses take amazing initiative to make certain products and services available to customers during this difficult time. From crisis often comes innovation. Online food delivery services, health stores, e-commerce,  finance and tech clients are finding new ways to expand and adapt their offering to benefit clients. It really is amazing what can be achieved when the situation is dire. Someone else put it perfectly: “Companies and publishers who can work together to help bring solutions, products and services to people functioning in this new world will come out on top. In our industry, we have a chance to really help people stay healthy, happy and productive right when they need it the most”. Looking at myself, I now think twice before going to the store, and instead chose to order food online. I value space and distance and hygiene. I appreciate our beautiful blue South African skies and see every new day as a gift. I realise that as long as I have a roof over my heads, food on the table, and my loved ones around me, nothing else really matters. I realise that perhaps our life was too busy, and our priorities not exactly what they should have been. I realise how stressed I often felt, when I am now forced to operate at a slower pace. I realise that it’s rather nice not to hear any traffic outside my window, and that I actually enjoy having a wide, open schedule for the next few months. And perhaps more than anything, I appreciate my freedom. My final thought is how amazingly adaptable the human race is. When it really matters, when we have no other choice, we CAN turn things around and drastically change our behaviour in basically no time. We CAN find solutions where we never saw them before, and we DO have the intelligence and insight to learn from our mistakes. I’m sure that when this crisis is over we will all look back and miss the time we were forced to slow down, and maybe we will all come out of this with some positive changes and healthier habits. Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep innovating! Danie Gross – CEO

Interview with Tony Seifart, MD at Incredibility

This month we chat to online marketing veteran and entrepreneur Tony Seifart. An electrical engineering graduate from UCT, Tony has spent nearly two decades in the digital marketing space in various roles including strategist, lecturer, and speaker. In 2015 his company won the Best E-Commerce Company in Europe, Middle-East and Africa from the Business Excellence Awards, and has been nominated again for 2020. Over the last three years he has built up and sold out two online businesses as well as reading his Honours in Theology. When he is not speaking at events or lecturing, he is running his own impressive list of online companies. We pick his brain on the do’s and don’ts of building a successful business online. Describe yourself in 3 words. Stubborn, Loyal, and have I said Stubborn already? When I was a kid I wanted to be… A Fireman! My best friend Craig wanted to be a cop, and since we both couldn’t be cops, I decided to be a fireman! (you can’t defy 5-year old logic!) Tell us about Platinum Club – where did it all start? A few years back I came across a podcast where the guy was giving people advice on how to structure their finances to get out of debt. I bought the course he was promoting, and the information is brilliant. But I realised that nothing like that existed for South Africans – the advice he was giving was mostly relevant only to Americans. Financial Advisors are incentivised to sell policies, not to really help you. Bank Managers are incentivised to sell you debt. But there’s no structured system to help people plan their financial futures without a proper plan. The Platinum Club was born out of the idea of providing the resources necessary for someone to follow a structured path to create their own financial plan. Of course, we need to be careful because we’re not registered with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, so we can’t provide advice – we only provide the tools to create the plan. Once people have a strong plan they can chat to their own Financial Advisor or CFP to put the plan into action. We’ve now also branched out into building our own Legal App for members and partnered with law firms so that our subscribers can now access legal advice 24/7 via an App (so no wasted airtime sitting on a phone). How do you decide which verticals to go into? When I started out with online lead generation, the only companies using lead generation was Insurance companies, so I didn’t have any other choice. Loans and Insurance seem to go hand-in-hand, so I’ve always focussed on those two areas. Why do some internet businesses fail while others succeed? Adaptability is probably the biggest challenge for online businesses. The bigger a site becomes, the harder it gets to change it when circumstances change (and it’s usually at government’s whim). When regulations change, you’ve got to change. When other people see what you do, they try and copy you. They dump large amounts of money into CPC campaigns, which then drives the price up. That’s been the biggest challenge for us. Unfortunately the smaller guys can’t ride out the storm. You’ve got to pick a strategy and system where big guys can’t bully you out of the market. Which channels have proven most successful in attracting visitors to your site/s? In the past we used email campaigns (the CPA put a stop to that), and we moved to Social Media and traditional CPC. Native gets us a lot of traffic, but very low conversion rates. We’re excited to be partnering with AdMarula on some of our new projects though. What is your experience from working with affiliate marketing? Gees, I love Affiliate Marketing! It’s the easiest way to make money online – you don’t have the come up with products and services, you just sell someone else’s product! The most valuable lessons learnt in your professional career, so far? Cash is King. A deal isn’t really done until the money is in the bank. I’ve had so many deals signed and sealed but collapse at the point of payment. What advice do you have for aspiring online entrepreneurs? Don’t be afraid to dump an idea that isn’t working. Some people spend months (years?) on building the “perfect” website, that costs them a fortunate, but never makes a single cent. If a business idea isn’t working, dump it and move on. Best advice anyone has ever given you? Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

CPI: what you need to know

CPI (Cost per Install) is fast becoming popular. Most people use apps every day to perform various activities. Apps are now part of almost everything in our lives, and advertisers have – correctly so –started to take notice. Just as with a CPA campaign model, CPI downloads can be tracked so the client only pays when the user performs a specific action. However the way an advertiser approaches CPI differs from the way they perceive CPA. Bear in mind that the definitions of both CPA and CPI are always evolving, but for now we’ll assume CPI stands for the cases where the conversion happens when the user installs and opens the app. As for CPA, let’s assume it stands for those offers where the conversion takes place when the user purchases something inside the app (as is the case in regular Mobile Subscription offers). It’s important to understand why advertisers choose one over the other: CPA guarantees “instant revenue” users since volumes are substantially lower. In CPI, they’re paying for users that may never spend a penny on the app. Even so, due to the fact that the number of installs is much higher, they predict what percentage of those should turn into active users. This prediction of the highest number of active users is what can make advertisers choose the CPI model instead of CPA, where they’d get fewer users. The way an advertiser approaches CPI differs from the way he perceives CPA. It may sound weird, but advertisers aren’t always looking for committed users. When an app has a high number of installs, it goes up in the Google Play/App Store ranking. This gives advertisers what they’re ultimately looking for – visibility to reach organic users. For the initial high volume installs, advertisers usually look for incentivised traffic. In this type of traffic, users need to install the app to either get some reward in a game they’re playing or be able to see some type of content. Generally, these guys won’t become long-term users of the app they’ve installed. What does this mean? Basically, it means that incentivised users are a way to get to those cool, money making organic users that won’t be forced/lured to download an app. Instead, they’ll decide to download it without seeing any advert because they’re genuinely interested in it. This way, developers will pay for the initial downloads only as bait for the real users they’re looking for and that’ll be acquired for free. Nonetheless, if advertisers want real paying users instead of just many users to go up in the rankings, they’ll become more demanding with the quality of traffic.They’ll need to take the LTV (lifetime value of the user) each publisher delivers into account so they can select which ones they want to see promoting their products. At the beginning, advertisers may lose some money until enough time has passed for them to be able to analyze the long-term value of users they’ve lured via CPI. AdMarula Publisher Team.

Time to stop making excuses

So you’ve built a great brand, your products or services are in demand and there’s a huge potential market of customers. Then why are some of your competitors being super successful while your revenue goals have plateaued? Could it be because you’re not measuring your online marketing activities the right way? Are you using some of the most common excuses not to address the problem?              As an industry online marketing has arguably never been in a better place to measure performance effectively and accurately. Marketing has grown increasingly complex with more channels than ever before to engage your target consumers (who expect a relevant, coordinated experience). Yet many marketers are still using siloed, outdated and inaccurate techniques to measure their efforts. The most common excuses usually include “I already measure the consumer journey”, “I can’t add another measurement platform”, and “It will disrupt the workflow”. So how can we address these? Many marketers already use customer journey analytics to track consumer activity across channels, but while these tools can track various brand interactions such as the ads individuals click on, the emails they open, and the web pages they visit, they don’t reveal the value of each touchpoint. Typically all the credit then gets given to the final touchpoint, setting the value of other interactions at zero. The solution? Multi-touch attribution that accounts for the cross-channel consumer journey including direct mail, online display, affiliates and paid search. Only then can marketers pinpoint which aspects of their campaigns influence consumer behaviour and tailor communications accordingly. When it comes to measurement platform, adding another to the mix is complex. Last year alone, the number of available solutions grew by 40%, so it’s understandable that the thought of implementing another tool isn’t initially appealing. The problem is that when marketing and advertising channels are managed separately, and all data pertaining to a channel is housed in its own system in a proprietary format, it’s impossible to get a holistic view of performance. This is where implementing an alternative approach can help. By adopting platforms that take a unified approach to measurement — blending various streams of disparate performance data into a single repository with common measures — marketers can break down inefficient silos and create a ‘single source of marketing truth.’ More sophisticated solutions can even integrate audience attribute data to provide clarity into the messages and tactics that drive the best results – and the best experiences – for each audience. Painful? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely! To provide the seamless and personalised experiences modern consumers want, they must achieve a holistic view of individual paths to purchase — including the influence of every touchpoint on the final outcome. With smart multi-touch attribution abilities, there is no longer any excuse for bad measurement or uncoordinated and irrelevant marketing communications. Daniel Gross – CEO