By Geraldine Eve
There are basic questions that you need to answer before you embark on your digital marketing journey, and in this article we shall go through them. You may need a pen and paper or better still just open your notes app on your device and answer the questions.
Many people want to put their business in the digital space, yet they have not asked themselves why they want to be there. So I am asking you, why do you want your business in the digital space? Answering this question helps you decide on the next step. This question will help you map out your roadmap and set your objectives. So many people think that you just into the digital space with no reason or direction. Some people put their business in the digital space because they see their competitors there and they do not want to look like they have been left behind. Some people put their business in the digital space because they think that it’s a cheap way of marketing their business (a myth I will soon dispel). Some people put their business in the digital space because they read articles like these ones and see videos on YouTube on how the digital space is the place to be. One thing I have to emphasize is that digital marketing has to be embedded in your already existing marketing strategy or plan. You also need a plan about where you want to take your business in general. So if you do not have a plan for your business, maybe that is the place we need to start with. Because if you do not have a plan on how you are going to grow your business, then we are not doing anything. They say failing to plan is planning to fail. Digital marketing is not just something you dream and wake up doing, it has to be a well-executed plan. So my question to you is, why do you want to take your business digital?
Now that you know why you want to have your business in the digital space, the second question is who? Who do you want to talk to? Who is your target audience? This can only be answered if you have answered the first question correctly. It can also be answered if you have a plan. Often when we ask this question to clients, they say, “Oh our clients are everybody, anybody can buy our product or make use of our service.” That is not an answer… like my semi-literate grandma would say, there is no answer like “hapana, zvese,” which is a local Zimbabwean Bantu language which means there is no answer like “nothing, everything,” meaning, all questions have specific answers. I know some of you are rolling their eyes at this very moment and saying this person does not know what they are talking about. We want to experiment with you (if you keep records, which definitely you should to run a successful business) of your customers especially the repeat ones, you will find out you have a specific age range that buys from you more than the others; you have a specific gender that buys from you more than the other; you have a specific location from where most of your clients come from; your customers have specific habits or preferences. Yes you might have all ages, races, gender buying from you, but there is a variant that is more than the other and that is your target market. So your digital efforts should be targeted there. Imagine planning a whole conference and hiring the National Sports Stadium then you get there only to realize you are the only person there and there is no one to listen to you. So the question is, who do you want to reach with your digital efforts?
Now we know why we are in the digital space, we know who we are going for there, let’s explore where to find them. The digital space is broad, and if you do not streamline your efforts you might not really get your return on investment (ROI). Yes, just being in the digital space is investment – your data, your time that you take, your expertise, all that is investment that you are putting into your digital efforts, so there is supposed to be a return on investment. So where is your target audience found? This will determine whether you need a website, search engine optimization, social media. Even on social media you need to know if your target audience is mostly found on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. This will determine whether or not to invest in Google Ads. For example, most teens, celebrities are found on Instagram, and lately TikTok has been taking their market share as well. Professionals are found on LinkedIn, Late 20’s to early 40s on Facebook, and almost everybody on WhatsApp. But remember WhatsApp is limited to people in your contacts, who have your contacts saved if it’s statuses, and also limited to the groups that you are in. So the question remains, where is your audience found? If you were using traditional media, imagine advertising in the Sunday News that is mostly distributed in Bulawayo, yet the people who want your product are found in Gokwe, it would be a waste of money and time. So where is your target audience found?
When is the best time to get in touch with your target audience. This seems silly but very important. Your target audience may be like me, and burn the midnight oil. There is no way I am really going to pay much attention to your ads or posts unless I am on a tea break. Knowing your audience to me is laughably like having a stalker. You need to know what time to get to them. It’s like dating a girl who stays with her parents and has to be home by six. If you do not make time to see her during the day then you will hardly see her, and your relationship might be doomed to video calls and audio calls. Or you are dating a farmer, and you want to see him all the time during the planting season, you will be one frustrated chic/guy. So when you get to the audience is equally important. When you use social media platforms, and view your insights you will see what time your audience have viewed your page. But that’s an advanced stage, when you know your audience, just basic knowledge of people you want to get to, this will help you get the best out of your digital efforts. For example, if your target market is over 65 retired people, you know the best time is probably during the day maybe from 10am – 1pm, because they probably take an afternoon nap then sleep early soon after their 6pm supper. That is an indication of how we can use behaviour to determine the best time to get to your audience. This just does not look at time, when also covers days of the week, times of the month. When do they spend? When do they make buying decisions? Looking at your own audience, when is the best time to get their attention?
We are one step closer to creating an awesome Digital Marketing strategy… Everything is almost in place, now you know all you know, what are you going to be sharing with your audience? They say ‘Content is King’. You need to capture the attention of your audience. The author’s choice of poison these days is WhatsApp. They enjoy capturing the audience on their status. Those that have my personal number and can view my status know that my status is fire, it’s awesome and it’s funny, when you are having a bad day and you really want a good laugh you go to this status. However, in those laughing moments I sneak in my adverts and they always get responses, even if they do not get the business, I know someone has seen our work. And I am guaranteed that I always have an audience. Recently I did a survey and the response was awesome. There are statuses that the author personally skips because the people are always advertising. We always give this example, imagine when you meet someone and they say, “I’m selling this pen, they do not even say hi, next time you met them they say, Oh yeah I’m selling this pen, no hi, nothing else, then you bump into them at the shops and they say you see these pens going for $20 here I’ve got them for $5.. No hi, and that’s their conversation, will you keep willingly looking for them or you will really avoid them unless you need a pen? We are not saying do not market your goods and services, just do not tire your audience, always trying to sell to them. Content has many aspects, your content needs to be eye catching and interesting. Your content needs to be relevant, creative and simply not boring or exhausting. Your content also needs to be planned. As a team we are always saying that content needs to show that there’s been some thought put into it. That someone actually sat down, thought, planned and researched.
What also includes questions like what will it cost you to have a successful digital presence? Depending on how you have answered all the above questions, your budget will depend on your needs but for a successful budget nothing less than $100 USD. Remember, the more you invest in your digital presence the better the returns. Of course you can try with organic reach (that is using social media without paying for advertising space). We always laugh with our clients and say to them that these social media platforms are not investing millions into their platforms so that they can give people for free, they are in it to make money, and their money comes from two things, selling of data (information) and paid advertising. Therefore if you are not parting with money you should not expect much ROI from these platforms.