It’s a new year and digital is definitely not going anywhere. Here are the top five digital marketing trends every African brand should watch out for and leverage.

1. Creative Content will remain KING — only with the right distribution strategy!

Everyone loves some good content, whether it’s content created by brands, influencers or individuals, the more creative the content, the more engagement it will get. In 2018 we saw some amazing content created by brands that was creative, engaging and ready to go viral — and it did.

My personal favourite was the Sterling Bank animated video that took a jab at all the key competitors in the market. Not only was it hilarious, but also made room for great comebacks by most of the competitors. It created talkability and brand awareness not only for the originators.

Time to invest in video

When it comes to the types of creative content that will be in-demand in 2019, video will be a must-have. Video content is set to become more search friendly and needs to be an integral part of your marketing on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

We have seen 5x higher conversion rates with video content on any social platform and experts predict that 80% of all digital content will be video by 2020. Hubspot also reported adding video to an email can boost click-throughs by 200%–300% and increases conversion rates by 80%. And yes I know what you are thinking video creation is more expensive and more time consuming, but I promise it will pay off, so look at it as an investment and set aside a bugdet for it in 2019.

Be strategic with your content distribution

Creative content alone will not cut it this year. African brands will need to invest in strategic content distribution alongside creating creative content.

It is key for brands to take out the time to identify and publish content in places where their customers are most active. This is also a huge opportunity for brands to create specialised platforms as content distribution channels and monetize.

2. Customer Capital — where Consumers and Followers will make or break brands

We all know that the customer, whether potential or actual is KING, now if your marketing and business strategy doesn’t put your customers at the centre, then you are on a loooooong thing as we like to say.

Brands usually work for their consumers, but here’s the good news, in 2019 we will see more consumers working for brands.

Leverage your communities

If you’ve been smart and have built a community of engaged consumers, then this is the year you can finally tap into that and reap what you have sown, as your consumers and followers will help drive sales, answer questions, and act on your brand’s behalf in times of crisis.

We call this Customer Capital or Brand Equity — it is basically the value of your combined social networks. The higher your customer capital is, the more likely your community members will act on your behalf — think user generated content; posts generated by consumers that express brand loyalty and / or promote brand awareness.

Create opportunities for customers to share

Brands need to focus on building and promoting places for fans to give peer reviews and recommendations, create content, share stories and give shout outs to their favourite brand — this will quickly turn your fans to micro-influencers and I am pretty sure your bottom line will thank you for it.

Infuse your digital marketing with customer care

Happy customers are more likely to write a positive review or create a post recommending your brand or simply give you a shout-out. In order to ensure that your customers are happy you need to make sure that they can receive customer care at every touchpoint, including digital.

There are still too many African brands that have live chats that are always offline, DMs that are never answered and emails that remain unread forever. Smart brands will automate — automate — automate in 2019 — more about how to automate and use chatbots to deliver a better user experience and customer service further below…keep reading 🙂

My conclusion is – increase your customer service online and you are guaranteed an increase in user generated content, reputation management and sales.

3. Integrated Marketing & Communications — or simply put PR X Marketing X Digital on steroids

With the steady increase of online publications and ads, influencer marketing, event marketing — online and offline, communications and marketing software as well as customer requirements becoming more and more similar, the lines between marketing and PR are getting more and more blurred, or maybe they are just merging into something much more powerful?

It’s with great pleasure that I introduce you to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) — the NOW of PR, Marketing and Digital….simply put its PR X Marketing X Digital on good steroids!

Now the question is how do you ensure your brand leverages IMC?

I would say the key is to understand that without an overarching strategy that pulls it all together, you will have a lack of brand cohesion as PR and Marketing (traditional and especially digital) would be working in silos with little or no impact.

Here is what you can do — Develop full fledged IMC plans, work with an IMC agency that can deliver PR X Marketing X Digital or get your existing agencies to huddle up and work together. This is how you win in 2019. Watch this space!

4. Seamless user experience will become a must have as the omni-channel experience starts its reign

The omni-channel experience is a multiple-channel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out.

In plain English this means that the customer’s experience is the same regardless of which sales channel they engage with your brand. To create a true omni-channel experience you have to completely integrate all customer facing units and ensure that all customer touch points allow customers to go away with the same happy feeling wherever they interacting with your brand.

Here are some key technologies that will dominate the omni-channel experience this year:

Full integration via social

As social media platforms create more and more plugins and extensions to third party tools used by brands, you now have the opportunity to fully integrate your social media channels into your sales pipeline to create a completely seamless and hitchfree experience. A great example is the integration of a Get Ticket button on your Instagram page that is directly integrated and linked to your event on the Eventbrite ticketing platform.

AR & VR — Africa is ready

We may think that Africa isn’t ready for AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) yet, but I completely disagree. I think AR and VR will be key differentiators between good brands and absolutely amazing brands.

In 2019 we will see more AR and VR integrated into delivering digital strategies, which will not only help with creating brand awareness, but also help create new avenues for customer education and most definitely give your brand that cool factor.

Some great examples for VR experiences we will see this year — Virtual tours of buildings and places — now you’ll be able to experience a safari in Kenya, or climbing the Kilimanjaro right from the comfort of your home.

Event Marketers and Organizers of large events like concerts and fashion shows can now go beyond live streaming and leverage VR technology to extend the experience beyond the event venue — imagine the additional revenue in virtual tickets that VR can bring!

AR experiences will become more and more real especially for retail brands —furniture companies for example can create apps that allow you to place their furniture pieces in your space and play around with how they would look, while clothing retailers can show you how you would look in their clothes. Brands can also adopt the Pokemon Go model and give their users something fun to find when using their AR app to view their brand collateral or use the app at specific geolocations.

Chatbots taking over

In 2018 we saw especially the banks battle it out with their various chatbots, in 2019 I think more and more consumer brands and retail brands will jump on the chatbot bandwagon to automate sales, customer service and get customers information they need at any time and in the right format as quickly as possible.

Chatbots are evolving and we are seeing rapid improvements in their AI, responsiveness and speed. It’s time to get yours!

5. Blockchain technology in marketing, content & advertising will become much more pronounced

Transparency, protection of intellectual property rights and tracking of content with regards to piracy is still a huge issue, especially in Africa where the legal framework for alot of these issues is lacking. Not only do creatives and content creators as well as platform owners lose billions in revenue, it is also cumbersome to keep track of where and how your content has been used.

With blockchain technology on the rise, my prediction is that beyond financial services it will be adopted in marketing, content distribution and advertising, providing 100% transparency in these areas. This will inevitably create revenue streams not just for the creators that will use this technology. This may not be mainstream, but I think there will be a big push in this direction in 2019…….and it won’t just be in marketing, content creation and advertising, but across all areas of technology. Watch out for that blockchain train….Chu Chu!



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