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The Importance of Digital Marketing for South African Businesses

You probably know the importance of digital marketing but in South Africa you may be surprised by how many business owners don’t fully realise just how important it is. We are going to break down why digital marketing is so important for South African businesses and how businesses need to do digital marketing differently to be impactful in South Africa.

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5 Key Benefits of Digital Marketing in South Africa

Marketing online in South Africa, can be incredibly helpful for any business. Here are a few benefits to increasing your digital marketing efforts in South Africa.

1) It can be very affordable marketing

Marketing through the internet and digital channels allows you to reach more targeted audiences at a lower price than traditional marketing methods. The costs do vary based on the strategy that you use, but costs will still be lower than print, TV or outdoor advertising. For example, using a Facebook ad could allow you to reach more customers than another business that has paid for a far more expensive TV advert.

2) It will help you reach more customers

Using the internet to market your business makes sure that you are able to reach far more people and get more customers. For example, in South Africa there are more than 30 million active internet users, who can be reached with the right digital marketing strategy. This reach far surpasses traditional marketing techniques as less print and TV media is consumed.

3) It will help you keep up with your competitors

Digital marketing is starting to become the number one form of marketing for most businesses around the world, and doing it well will help you keep up with (and beat) your competitors. Most customers start the buying process from a search online. There are around 3.5 billion Google searches per day around the world, which translates into Google searches that you do not want to miss out on. As a South African business it is incredibly important to be tapping into digital marketing to stay ahead of the market.

4) It allows you market directly to your potential customer

One of the best things about digital marketing is the free tools that platforms like LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, etc offer. When you use these platforms for digital marketing you can use their tools to make sure that you are targeting the right customers based on their age, interests, area, gender, etc.
This helps you market directly to potential customers and give you as a business owner a much better ROI in your marketing efforts.

5) It makes it easier to measure and track what’s working

Similar tools that allow you to target specific customers also allow you to assess how your digital marketing strategies are working. You can track almost everything you do.
Using a tool like Google Analytics you can see where your traffic is coming from and how people are interacting with your website. You can see if users are getting to your contact us page or if they are exiting your website immediately, and a lot more.

How Digital Marketing Differs in South Africa

Most digital marketing advice you will find is from specialists that live outside of South Africa. Their advice is incredibly helpful, but digital marketing in South Africa is slightly different just because the country has a different economy and a unique socio-economic climate. There are few areas that need more emphasis for digital marketing in South Africa.

Location is key

The internet is dominated by global websites that have been online far longer than most South African websites, so the key to work around this is by focusing on your location. If a South African website is based in Cape Town, the content in the website needs to make that clear because if you do not focus on a specific location your website won’t be able to compete with the global players that have the advantage of time on their side

There is less competition

This goes hand-in-hand with using your location in marketing efforts. Globally, there is lots of competition, however, because South Africa is a developing economy fewer businesses have taken full advantage of the online space. If you use your location as a part of your digital marketing efforts, this will open up the possibility for you to be competing with fewer competitors than if you were in a different country.


South Africa has 11 official languages, naturally that will affect marketing efforts. One might think it is as simple as writing in the language of your target audience, and that should do the trick, however, it is a bit more complex than that. There is a possibility that most people, no matter their home language, use English as their language of choice online. There is however evidence to suggest this may not be the case, for example if you search for something in Afrikaans you will find fully Afrikaans websites but if you search for something Xhosa you will get worse results. 

This is all something that South African businesses need to take into account with their digital marketing.

The impact of Data

To understand your target audience it is important to understand where they spend their time online, and in South Africa, data has a big impact on where people are. For example, a few years ago MTN gave users access to twitter for free, and that resulted in a large amount of MTN users spending most of their time online on twitter. In South Africa, this is something that businesses have to think about.

Get Digital Marketing in South Africa

If you want to learn more about how to practice effective online marketing in South Africa, you should consider a digital marketing course. If you are a business owner that needs help with their digital marketing efforts, get in touch, and we will help create an effective strategy for your business.

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