2018 was a big year in Digital Marketing for brands operating in Africa. Decision makers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance, benefits and the leverage that Digital Marketing offers to reach their target audience.
In 2019, I expect bigger and bolder steps from brands. The 5 things I share in this post are my predictions for the areas that every brand should focus on to generate a positive ROI for their digital marketing efforts.
- Content will remain king, but it needs open borders
Content is still King when brands adapt the way they create and distribute content to meet the user’s real needs, not just the perceived needs.
Considering the amount of content that is being generated daily, it is now difficult to stand out through content marketing alone. According to Forbes contributor, Bernard Marr, every minute of the day:
- Snapchat users share 527,760 photos
- More than 120 professionals join LinkedIn
- Users watch 4,146,600 YouTube videos
- 456,000 tweets are sent on Twitter
- Instagram users post 46,740 photos
- Every minute there are 510,000 comments posted and 293,000 statuses updated on Facebook.
And there are over 500,000 new blogs created daily.
How should you do it differently in 2019 to still reap the enormous benefits of content marketing?
- Less is more - This might seem counter intuitive, but brands must focus on creating high value content only, not just more content.
- Native Advertising - 2019 is the time brands must invest in distributing their high value content through established publishing channels for effectiveness. Find a publishing platform that has your target audience and distribute your content to reach that audience through native advertising. This creates what is called ‘Branded Reach’ by Ringier Africa Digital Publishing (RADP).
2. Video will get longer, creating more opportunities for brands
Internet penetration and data costs have been stumbling blocks to the growth of video consumption in many parts of Africa. However, in 2018, we have seen an explosion of video content with different formats (social or silent videos, vertical videos, long form, short form, live video, etc). At RADP, we consistently recorded over 170 million monthly video views across our platforms in Africa, almost doubling the data for 2017. In 2019, as internet penetration continues to improve and data cost continues to drop, users will engage more with long form video content, and this will create an opportunity for brands.
YouTube is likely to win the battle for long form video content over Facebook as the platform of choice, since it prioritises watch time. Instagram is the clear leader for short form video content based on internal data at RADP, but with the launch of IGTV, brands have even more option.
An example of long form and engaging content is Nestle Maggi’s Yelo Peppe series. A 39-episode series that could have easily been a show on TV (or Netflix) with an engaging storyline of 5 women. Each episode was about 10 minutes long and it is a taste of what to come.
3.) Personalise now, or don’t bother talking to me
It is very easy and misleading to see Africa as a ‘broadcast only market’ when it comes to marketing communication using digital platforms. Things have changed and will continue to change. Brands must take the time now to clearly identify their target audience and create buyer personas.
In 2019, the brands that proactively include personalisation in their communication will stand out and get the attention of their audience. The tools to drive this already exist, all that is left is the strategic oversight, required knowledge and willingness from brands to implement. There are a few places you can start personalisation and see almost instant results in 2019.
- Email Communication - Invest in Email Service tools that allows you to personalise communication to your subscribers such as Mailchimp.
- Product Recommendation - Jumia, Amazon, Netflix all deploy recommendation engines that personalise your experience with the brands.
- Marketing Automation - Give a personalised experience to your users with marketing automation. Created Ads that follow a sequence, or email campaigns designed for their choices, or just put their names on the product. Beverage companies like Coca-Cola, Heineken and Diageo have successfully run similar campaigns.
4.) Influencers will make it their year
The influencer ‘market’ has started out in a similar way to the Digital Marketing industry itself did. A lot of bells and whistle, however in many cases little to no substance. And like Digital Marketing, the influencer world is now starting to come of age globally, with proven results and ROI.
At its core, influencer marketing is driving a brand message to its target audience with authenticity, according to Ismail El Qudsi, the CEO of an Influencer Management platform.
Our team at RADP have worked on influencer campaigns for brands like Jumia, Nestle, Heineken, in Africa and we have followed the evolution with some incredible and promising results. For 2019, influencer marketing will continue to be a strong part of the marketing mix.
Here are few tips to consider when planning on using influencers:
- Micro influencer vs Celebrity influencers - Aside from budget, brands need to assess the fit based on Ismail’s 3 components: Brand Message, Core Audience and Authenticity. We are finding out now that sometimes micro-influencers can be more effective.
- Brand Awareness vs Conversion - The objective must be clear. Awareness means you want to reach as many people as possible, while conversion means you want a segment that are able, willing and ready to take action.
5.) Artificial Intelligence will knock on doors
It doesn't need to be too advanced, it only just needs to be functional. Brands can easily start with creating chatbots using Facebook Messenger. I don’t mean the the ‘We are not here at the moment’ message. I mean relatable conversations that allows your marketing to function, be personalised and move your users to the next stage of the consumer journey.
With the launch of WhatsApp Business, the opportunities to create AI driven solutions that can reach billions of users is now available.
Knorr’s Dinner on Demand recipe suggestion chatbot is a good example of creating engagement, educating the audience and converting them into clients.
There you have it! My 5 Digital Marketing predictions for brands in Africa in 2019.
By Ibukun Onitiju
Country Head, Sales & Director of Digital, Ringier Africa Digital Publishing, Ghana.