Q&A: Where digital marketing is heading for SA retailers

The rise of the hybrid digital marketing team is a certainty for retailers as digital marketing expands.

The rise of the hybrid digital marketing team is a certainty for retailers as digital marketing expands, says Dr Ewoudt Cloete, senior manager, digital operations at Game. “This year, I expect to see the rise of the hybrid approach more deliberately, which will see South African businesses having an individual or small team who work directly with the agency to drive their digital marketing strategy. I believe this approach presents the ideal set up to foster the right balance of creativity, affordability, and understanding of the complexities of the business and industry in question.”

Why is the hybrid model a powerful one for retail?

In the past, many businesses have taken one of two approaches to their digital marketing – an in-house team, or outsourced to an agency. Both of these approaches have their unique challenges. In-house marketing teams can be expensive and creativity can sometimes be stifled. The reality of working with an agency is that your resources are shared, and the knowledge of your specific business and industry can take time to come about. The hybrid model is powerful for retail, where deadlines are often immediate. In-house teams are able to deliver on these swiftly and effectively where changes are needed, under the creative guidance of the agency.

What makes a successful omnichannel customer experience?

‘Omnichannel’ has not necessarily come to full fruition locally yet. More SA businesses will prioritise using their customer data to create a single view of their customer that allows them to market to them in the best possible way – as digital marketing continues to establish itself as a critical part of the consumer path to purchase. In retail, for example, those brands which are not aware of how their in-store customer behaves on digital channels, or vice versa, run the risk of losing market share and customer loyalty almost overnight. Great marketing provides the customer with an experience that feels personal and seamless – and this is what omnichannel means.

Why do you think brands need to be on TikTok?

While 2021 saw the rise and rise of Tik Tok as a platform, it continues to expand, grow and evolve – making it challenging for brands to figure out how to establish their presence on the platform. I believe that most local brands haven’t yet figured out how to do this in the right way yet – but that is set to change this year. Content is king on this platform and needs to feel native to the platform and original and entertaining to audiences, while still communicating brand messaging effectively – this can be a hard balance to strike. In the retail world, content and influencer work most needs to champion a product rather than a brand itself. It can often be challenging to find the balance between what is genuine to the creator and creating talkability and excitement about a product. This year, retailers will need to work alongside content creators to create unique and innovative ways to do this.

How can brands track awareness and monetise digital efforts?

Specifically in South Africa, many brands are still using their digital channels for brand awareness and have not yet figured out how to monetise and track the success of their digital approach. For any business that is serious about succeeding in the digital age, this is going to have to change this year. Businesses need to be aware of how their efforts on social media and Google, for example, are contributing toward their overall presence and ultimately, sales. Digital marketers need to be tracking the entire customer journey and have a detailed understanding of how each individual channel is contributing to eCommerce conversions. This is pivotal in ensuring digital marketing investment is geared towards achieving optimum results. Another important aspect of this is influencer relations, and looking at new ways to track and monetise these brand relationships without it being to the detriment of originality

How do dark social channels feature?

Lastly, it is important that brands and businesses are paying attention to those channels where the user journey is encrypted – such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. There is certainly a growing trend locally where brands are investing in the creation of WhatsApp chat bots, but these are being used as customer experience channels rather than a platform for marketing and community building. This year, I expect that will change, as brands look for new and innovative ways to reach their audiences. Customer centricity is king in 2022 – and digital marketing is driving this in many ways. For retailers, it is essential to have synchronicity between marketing, products, supply chain and ecommerce or brick and mortar stores in order to ensure customers are presented with the products, services and experiences they desire and expect.



Main image credit: Supplied.


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