3 Ways in Which Digital Marketing in South Africa Differs From the Rest of the World

digital marketing in south africa vs the world

Digital marketing in South Africa makes use of the international principles to generate leads and increase brand awareness. The principles being: content marketing, search engine optimisation, social media, and Google paid advertising channels.

There are, however, three key areas in which digital marketing in South Africa differs, that presents unique opportunities for local businesses.

1.      For many South African businesses, there is less competition digitally

Technology adoption in first world countries is much quicker than in South Africa. For example, mobile subscription packages caught on in South Africa 7 years after it launched in the US in 1993.

Whether it is our lack of capital to invest in emerging technologies, or our lack of appetite for risk, South Africans take 5 – 7 years to catch on to international trends. This gives local businesses the opportunity to look across the pond at what’s been working in their industries (digitally) and apply it locally to become the pioneers.

Some of the industries that can easily take the lead with their digital marketing efforts (ranked from easiest to hardest):

  1. Industrial markets
  2. Manufacturers
  3. Some professional services (landscapers, general contractors, builders, construction companies)
  4. Beauty and Fitness Services
  5. Food and Drink
  6. Home goods
  7. Legal services
  8. Other professional services (plumbers, electricians, door installations)

2.      Digital marketing in South Africa is more affordable

The amount of competition in an industry plays an instrumental role in the amount of money that the business needs to invest to be effective. In some of the industries mentioned above a, comprehensive digital marketing package done through an agency will cost between R 15 000 and R 30 000 per month.

Compare this to the US market, where a small SEO package will cost you between $2500 and $10 000 per month.

Keep in mind, there are industries that have adopted digital marketing early because of the return on investment they enjoyed. As such, when compared to the other industries in South Africa, they will need to spend more on their digital marketing to be effective.

Some of these industries include (not ranked in a particular order):

  1. Financial Services (Medical aid, insurance, debt collection, etc.)
  2. Real Estate
  3. Pharmaceuticals
  4. Gambling
  5. Travel & Tourism
  6. Gifts and Baskets
  7. Jewellery
  8. Computers & Electronics
  9. Used Car Sales

3.      Less risk and more reward when applying digital marketing strategies in SA

Bearing in mind that it takes South Africans 5 years to catch up, we have the unique opportunity to see the results of the US’ new trends before we have to jump on a specific bandwagon.

Remember Snapchat? Launched in 2011, it gained momentum in 2017 and 2018, raising the question of how it should be used for business. At the time, we advised our clients that it won’t be worth the time and money due to the audiences available on Snapchat.

Two years later and Snapchat is the forgotten app that people sometimes use to apply funny filters on their selfies.

On the flip side, videos have consistently grown in their reach, where it is predicted that US consumers will watch 100 minutes of video content per day.

It is true, creating video content is more expensive (even if done with a GoPro and a semi-professional mic). But if local businesses invest the capital to consistently create (and optimise) video content, they can easily dominate the first page of Google with a paid ad, a local business listing, a video snippet from YouTube, and an Organic result.

In conclusion

Marketing budgets are often the first thing to go when a business faces troubled times. Especially a digital marketing budget because there is no tangible deliverable (like a billboard or a pamphlet) that is easy to understand.

But, with the affordability (comparatively speaking) and the measurability of digital marketing, local businesses can’t miss the opportunity to set the wheels of growth in motion that will ensure that their business remains alive and kicking 5 years from now.

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