A behind the scenes view of The IMM Graduate School in motion.
For five months South Africa has been in a national lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has forced the world to adapt, including the IMM Graduate School. The IMM Graduate School has come up with multiple quick solutions to ensure as little disruption to students as possible. Because we are already a distance learning, higher education institution, classes were able to quickly resume online.
This did not come without its challenges, however. While we quickly adopted an innovative approach to moving students online there were a few challenges that our students and staff found, such as technical difficulties and lack of resources. Many lecturers have turned to other creative ways to teach online including other teaching tools and social platforms, which further engage students, ultimately with the goal of bringing students closer to achieving their final qualifications.
We realised that we had to make a few adjustments to accommodate our students such as:
Extending the submission deadline dates of assignments.
Finding an alternative solution to assist our students to still write a summative examination by making it a take-home, open book exam as well as the,
Provision of additional academic support to students on how to approach an open book assessment.
Adapting the exam timetable and extending deadlines by one week to allow more students to have the ability to complete the academic semester.
Additional resources being made available while also facilitating online tutorial classes to assist students to better understand difficult academic concepts.
Specific examination preparation online workshops to alleviate the additional stress levels of students and help them to better prepare for the upcoming summative assessments.
Our CEO, Dalein van Zyl, together with the Student Support team and members of Faculty worked around the clock to develop regular and consistent communication messages to ensure both staff and students remained informed about what was happening, what was going to happen and what was needed in the interim.
The IMM Graduate School created an online space to accommodate activities such as:
The provision and uploading of the final assessment paper for students to access and prepare for.
The uploading of a how-to-guide to assist students when they upload their completed assessment documents.
A check my work for plagiarism space with the same time and date limitations as the actual upload for grading title, and, lastly,
an upload for grading activity, again with date and time based on the Final Assessment time-table so students know when and where to upload.
We have processes in place to ensure all the variables and challenges throughout this process are addressed. A whole team is available to assist students to address any academic queries during the final assessment session quickly and efficiently. These two teams have to be available to address any queries during the entire duration of the 2 weeks from 8am in the morning until 8pm at night, and to address them quickly and correctly.
To ensure The IMM Graduate School stays on track, we have taken on additional markers to guarantee the marking of the final assessments are completed before the end of the semester so students have what they needed going into the next semester.
The show must go on and we at the IMM Graduate School are going out of our way to ensure all students can continue with their studies with minimal disruption.
Our students had this to say:
“I wanted to take this time to commend IMM on the amazingly progressive and accommodating way that the exams have been amended amid this Codiv 19 pandemic. So, flipping well done guys 😊 us students really owe you one” Caryn – student
“Today I want to share with the whole world how incredibly awesome IMM has been and is especially during this lock down. During this lock down IMM has been at the forefront of online support and making it possible to finish my Honours degree online this semester.” Annelie C
“Well done IMM with being highly innovative and prepared in this uncertain Covid -19 times. As a student based in New Zealand busy with my BPhil Honours course, I have been overwhelmed with what’s going on in society. Your innovative online portals, friendly and helpful staff and wonderful support to be safe and thrive in this time has made giving my best so much easier even from a far. Thank you for making my journey to success and safety so much more enriching.” Chazelle L.
“I started studying towards my honours degree this year. With the COVID.19 outbreak, everything has become a lot more stressful, but IMM has handled everything so well and has offered great support to their students, ultimately reinforcing the benefits of online education. – Honours Degree Student, Catherine H
Written by Riana Prins, Head: Assessments & Learning Management System, Academic Faculty, IMM Graduate School of Marketing
The way people live, work and spend their money has changed drastically over the past decade, particularly with the rise of smartphone technology. Being connected to just about the whole world via social media, has created many ways to make and spend money and has given rise to the gig economy as we now know it.
The term “gig” is slang for job that lasts a specified period of time, most commonly used in the past by musicians. More recently however, this term has become more common when referring to a ‘freelancing’, ‘moonlighting’ or ‘side hustle’ situation where those with specialist skills make themselves available for side-gigs in addition to their full-time jobs. This activity has grown, and an entire economy has developed as a result where gigging for some is all they do, and the full-time 8 to 5 job is no longer required or wanted. According to Investec, 37% of US adults and more than 50% of millennials have a side hustle. Locally, Statistics SA’s employment outlook has found that temporary employment rose from 2.6 million in 2017 to 3.9 million in 2018.
A gig economy is best described as a free system which consist of temporary positions and independent workers for short-term commitments. It’s a labour market is characterised by flexible, on-demand work rather than the more traditional nine-to-five, office-based set-up. The gig economy includes freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires across all industries. While gigs can comprise anything from DIY work to landscaping and childcare, the real money lies in jobs needed to support the exponential rise of digital innovation.
So, while gig work is nothing new, when referring to the gig economy in its present format, it is largely driven by those with a skills set supporting new technology-enabled types of work or gigs. For a country like SA that’s facing massive unemployment challenges, the growth of the gig economy carries with it many benefits, providing job opportunities while boosting productivity.
Pros and cons of gig work
Gig freelancers can work from wherever they like, whenever they like and for whomever they like. The timing of jobs is also more spontaneous thanks to apps and websites that automatically connect people to deliver on requirements in real-time. Individuals can bolster their earning potential and realise their passion with side gigs, while businesses can tap into the sought-after skills they require, without the need to permanently employ staff.
There are many people who enjoy freelancing and not being tied down to one job. “Free agents reported higher levels of satisfaction in multiple dimensions of their work lives than those holding traditional jobs by choice, indicating that many people value the non-monetary aspects of working on their own terms”, (McKinsey, 2020). But we have to also keep in mind how many of these workers are people who are gigging out of necessity because they can’t get the full-time job that they’d much prefer.
Some say the gig economy empowers entrepreneurs, while others believe it’s just another way of exploiting workers. In most countries, only employees are entitled to the protection of employment legislation, such as being protected from unfair dismissal, and receiving minimum basic benefits such as holiday pay, sick leave and minimum working hours. Independent contractors are not offered such protection and their recourse is limited to what is contained in their service contracts.
But this may be changing too. For example, Uber has recently outlined proposals for a new type of relationship with “gig” workers, including its own drivers, that would keep them as independent contractors but with some guaranteed benefits. The move comes with Uber and other firms facing legal pressure to comply with a California law that would require its drivers to be classified as employees, eligible for unemployment, medical and other benefits.
Uber describes “a new model for independent platform work” in an 18-page document it hopes can be used as a blueprint for Uber and similar firms relying on independent workers. Uber has proposed that gig economy companies be required to establish “benefits funds,” allowing gig workers to accrue and use the money for benefits or paid leave. (eNCA, 2020)
Marc Kahn, Investec’s global head of Human Resources and Organisational Development, believes the gig economy can be a threat or an opportunity to business, depending on how companies look at it. Kahn believes the growth of the gig economy will drive a revolution in the definition of what a company is. “A company is real by virtue of those who are employed in it and some of the assets in it. But what if all the people employed in the company are employed as gigs? Where is the company? Where is the culture of the company? Where does the company begin and end? What about the notion of teamwork?” (Investec, 2020)
A recently published report by Fairwork Project in collaboration with the Universities of Oxford, Cape Town (UCT) and the Western Cape (UWC) evaluates the working conditions of digital platforms and ranks them on how well they do. It’s an Oxford University-backed initiative. “The research focused on the following platforms: Sweep South, M4Jam,Picup,GetTOD,NoSweat,Uber, OrderIn, MrD,Bolt and UberEats. Across contexts, Fairwork’s research has shown that gig workers face low pay (frequently earning below minimum wages), dangerous work conditions, opaque algorithmic management structures, and an inability to organise and bargain collectively. The Fairwork research shows that some platforms are actively trying to create good-quality work, whereas there is no evidence that others are operating with the same concern. One danger according to Fairwork researchers is a race-to-the-bottom that squeezes good practices out of the market,” (FastCompany, 2020)
The research also found that gig economy platforms benefit from a legal loophole that exists in South Africa, as in most countries, labour rights are limited to workers classified as ‘employees’. Digital platforms can avoid the costs and duties arising from employees’ rights – minimum pay, maximum hours, paid leave etc. – by classifying their workers as ‘independent contractors’.
Gig economy ideal during COVID 19 pandemic
COVID 19 has slowed down economies worldwide. People have been forced into lockdown and self-isolation to minimise the spread of the virus and major industries have come to a grinding halt. Before this pandemic, there were difficulties trying to figure out how some industries could make the transition towards a ‘work from anywhere’ culture, where technology was sometimes seen as a luxury as opposed to a necessity to get the job done. In many ways COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst, resulting in many industries adopting new remote ways of working.
This, it is believed will in turn fuel the gig economy. For the first time in the history of work life, we are seeing employers encouraging employees to work remotely albeit for a safer environment.
“The Covid-19 crisis has forced businesses in industries previously impervious to remote working to reengineer their work processes and bolster their technology support systems, which have been the traditional barriers to alternate work arrangements. This provides a wide variety of natural experiments, that will provide a good starting point to organisations contemplating a switch to the gig economy model,” (Harvard Business Reviews, 2020).
In support of this, employees are finding ways to prove to their bosses that despite not being in the office, the work is still being done, and in some cases more efficiently as there are fewer meetings and distractions to consumer employees’ time. And employers are reaping the benefits of lower overheads as a result of smaller premises and employee consumables.
Those that have now had a taste of work from home freedom may choose to continue along this route in future.
Here are some tips on how to thrive in the Gig Economy
Create a positive place– it’s important to create your own personal space which disconnects you from a corporate office. This will help protect you from outside distractions and the pressure that comes along with them. Find an open space that will help you to be creative but also allows you to be focused.
Find a routine– routines are mostly characterised as boring and safe but research has shown that by following a routine for example following a to-do list, keeping a schedule or beginning your day with the most difficult work, improves people’s workflow and effectiveness.
Have a clear purpose – It’s not always about doing work to find your footing in the market but sometimes doing work that connects you to a broader purpose. Purpose creates a bridge between your personal interest and motivations and fulfils a need in the world.
Engage with people – Social isolation can be a great risk for gig workers, therefore it’s important to engage with people (even if through online meeting technology) and formal peer groups which you can turn to for advice and encouragement.
Develop a work ethic – The quality of work that you deliver represents who you are. You no longer have a boss who constantly looks over your shoulder. Therefore, self-discipline is key. Set standards for yourself and live up to them.
A study by Hootsuite has shown that we spend an average of 6 hours a day online, to put that in perspective it’s a quarter of our lives. Whether we are scanning social media channels on our phone, ordering groceries through an online app via a tablet or planning a holiday on a laptop, PC or smart TV, access to the internet has become an integrated necessity of our lives.
With so much time being spent online and the decline of other traditional forms of marketing, branding and advertising in the digital space has become a necessity if companies want to compete. This has brought about the rise of a new marketing specialist, the digital marketer and several new opportunities for organisations to expand their businesses into the cyber marketplace.
As a result, digital marketing skills are in serious demand and the digital skills gap is set to widen as brands start putting more of a focus on, and allocating a bigger portion of their marketing budgets to digital marketing than ever before. By 2020, 2 million new digital jobs are expected in the U.K. alone and not enough digital professionals to fill them. This provides those choosing a digital marketing with a unique competitive advantage as this is an industry where soon demand will exceed supply. We are already starting to see this trend emerge. According to Marketing Hiring Trends demand for digital marketing professionals outstrips supply with 44% of companies wanting to hire more digital marketers.
What is a digital marketer?
The ever-growing trend of digitising businesses creates the need for individuals well-versed in the business and art of digital marketing.
A digital marketer is responsible for developing, implementing and managing marketing strategies and campaigns that promote a company and its products and/or services on digital platforms. This individual plays a major role in enhancing brand awareness within the digital space as well as driving website traffic and acquiring leads or customers through online channels.
Digital marketers possess the knowledge and have mastered the skills necessary to harness the power of the internet for the purpose of developing and implementing effective customer journey communication strategies that make use of email campaigns, blogs, web pages, social media content and more.
All of these activities are aimed at engaging with today’s internet-savvy consumers and interacting with them when they are online by presenting them with meaningful content that will stimulate the correct response for the brand concerned. There is a rising demand for knowledgeable and skilled digital marketing professionals in the industry.
In order to have a successful career in digital marketing, it is important to master the following skills:
Inbound Marketing – possess the ability to utilize inbound marketing to generate new leads.
Flexibility – The ability to change what is not working in order to move you towards your project goals.
Strong Organisational Skills – The ability to manage various different campaign aspects at the same time.
Sales Experience – Essential to have hands-on sales knowledge and expertise. Digital marketing requires being able to understand and anticipate changes in sales trends.
Branding Experience- It is important to possess the ability to create an effective branding strategy.
Landing Page Strategy – The ability to craft great landing pages for websites
Knowledge of Content Writing Platforms – such as WordPress is beneficial.
Strong Social Media Skills – Must be able to create effective, potentially ‘viral,’ social media content aimed at increasing brand or product awareness.
Ability to conduct analytics reports in order to measure your success.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Having a broad understanding of how SEO works is critical to increasing where your website will rank. The higher your website ranks, the more likely people will click on that website in the search engine results.
HTML Knowledge is preferable – Being capable of using HTML to create eye-catching sub-headers and other visually appealing content is a huge plus.
A strong ability to utilise Advertising Platforms, such as Google AdWords, to create effective ads.
Good online listening skills – Understand the importance of listening to customers for the purpose of creating trusting relationships and loyalty.
Goal-Oriented – Set both short-term and long-term goals, and diligently work towards fulfilling those goals.
Possible digital marketing career options
There is a wide variety of digital marketing jobs out there with a wide variety of specialisation options. Here are a few examples:
There is huge competition for skilled talent regardless of the industry. This means that individuals with the right skills can negotiate for great salaries but also land great benefits and perhaps even bonuses depending on their role. In more traditional careers like advertising you’d have to wait for an internship or graduate placement to open up in order to gain experience. The digital marketing world, however, provides a host of opportunities for you to kickstart your own career before you even set foot in a workplace. Digital marketing is such a dynamic sector with a range of disciplines, which means you’re likely to meet and work with individuals from different backgrounds and different interests. Due to high demand for digital marketing skills and the fact you can apply this knowledge to any sector or role makes this an agile career.
But one of the greatest benefits of being a digital marketer is the flexibility it offers you to work on your time. You can work for a company on a full-time basis or you can work as a freelancer for various organisations. Because digital marketing is done primarily online you can work from anywhere the is an internet connection. Our own research has also shown that marketing agencies are less concerned with formal qualifications and more interested in whether the applicant has the right skills and aptitude. This makes entering the industry much quicker for school leavers or those wanting to pivot their skills from another industry altogether.
Digital marketing is not a trend, but how marketing will be done going forward. Marketers that do not upskill will be left behind.
After assessing feedback received from the industry it became apparent to us that we had to develop the best and most relevant 10-month certificate course in digital marketing, and we did.
Our newly launched Applied Digital Marketing course is an online blended learning course with interactive content, webinars, gamification and one-on-one coaching with industry experts. The intention of this course is to provide students with knowledge and then get them to apply the knowledge in order to develop specific skills that are aligned to industry requirements. All of this culminates into a hands-on, skills-based portfolio whereby students can showcase their ‘experience’ to the industry, hence improving their chances of employment.
Included are eight learning blocks and one overarching portfolio project where students will
build and manage social media business pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube
design and create content for social media using online tools
apply basic writing skills for online copy and blogging
apply online research techniques including keyword research, blog topic research, social monitoring and clickstream analysis
develop a good understanding of how to plan and implement SEO strategies and create content for search ranking purposes
gain skills in building reports and interpreting data from google analytics and other social media insights tools
build a basic website using Wix
utilise online tools in the Google Suite such as Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs
use Mailchimp to create email campaigns
leverage tools like Grammarly to typo proof copy
use tools such as Hootsuite as a social media management tool
Covid-19 is here and it’s not going to disappear overnight. South Africans still have a long way to go in the fight against the corona virus before life returns back to normal. With the country in lockdown for 21 days, millions of South Africans are beginning to feel the pinch as businesses start to cut salaries and in some cases jobs.
Tammyn Gregory shared her story with us:
“I work in the hospitality industry. The emergence of Covid-19 in China and the steady spread across the globe already impacted our sector even before the first cases were reported in South Africa. The company I work for caters primarily for the international market and as a result, reservations were greatly impacted by the travel restrictions being put in place in Europe and other regions to combat the disease. Then, when lockdown happened the business was closed, and our salaries were cut. With no income, indefinitely, its hard to tell when or if things will return to what they were.”
Tammyn, like many others in this situation was devastated and at first felt hopeless, fearing not having enough money to meet basic monthly commitments. This reality hit hard. Fortunately, Tammyn realised she needed to do something to pull herself out of the hollow pit she found herself in. “I needed to do something to fill my time, and the first thought that came to mind was to use this time to upskill myself. I have always had an interest in the online space and how to use this to market and promote business. With marketing in mind, I decided to look into the IMM Graduate School, as I have often heard friends and family mention that they are the best in this field.”
The IMM Graduate School is a respected distance learning provider and is one of the few learning institutions that was not impacted by the lockdown. Students all over the world have been able to continue with their studies, uninterrupted online during this period. The IMM also decided to respond to this crisis proactively by unbundling some of the modules from their academic programmes into shorter online express courses to allow all those in lockdown to upskill themselves in preparation for future career challenges.
“I am so excited about the courses I have found on the IMM Graduate School website. I am suddenly facing these months of downtime in a totally different light and look forward to learning new things and growing in a different direction. The skills I gain from the courses I have selected will open all sorts of opportunities for me. I could apply this knowledge in my current place of work, but should it be necessary, I could move into a totally new and exciting venture running my own business in website design and digital marketing.”
There are 20 online express courses to choose from. Each one should take no more than a week to complete. They include video content, recorded lectures and a quick quiz. On completion students can unlock an IMM Graduate School skills badge to add to their LinkedIn profile.
Tammyn knows this is not going to be an easy journey for her, but she plans to be disciplined in her approach to her studies. “What really appeals to me about these courses through the IMM, is that I will be able to study from home and I have access to an online tutor if I need help.”
Unique to the IMM Graduate School, subject and industry experts that have contributed to the course content and development are also head tutors. This gives student the opportunity to receive feedback from experienced professionals as they progress through the course content.
“If I look at these circumstances that I have found myself in, perhaps this is the catapult that I have needed to steer me and direct me on a new journey. I can’t wait to expand my knowledge and to let my creative juices flow. I have extensive experience in my industry, and I know that the new skills I learn on this course will enable me to apply my knowledge in a new and exciting direction.”
Tammyn certainly is living for today, and planning for tomorrow. You can too. Get to the IMM Graduate Schools website and select a course that will catapult you into a new direction. Make your time in lockdown count!
Digital marketing is changing the marketing game rapidly and all marketers need to catch up. If you have not immersed yourself in the waters of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) yet, it is time to dive straight into the deep end. Not only has the 4IR changed the way businesses relate to customers, it has changed the way businesses relate to themselves.
Business with personality
To be relevant to people, and to remain relevant, businesses need to have a personality. They can no longer afford to just have a brand; they need to be a brand and subsequently business management becomes brand management.
“Your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.“ (Williams, 2020)
The New Marketing Mix
Since the 4IR has digitised the way we do business (rapidly and so intensely), it is more important than ever to shift the focus from a product orientation to a consumer one. It is also important for brands to be able to adapt to changes in the market. These changes need to stem from within the business and starts with the marketing mix. The marketing mix (known by many as the 4Ps) has therefore been tweaked to be more appropriate to the shift in business towards prioritising the consumer.
How the 4Cs differ from the 4Ps
The first C represents the Consumers wants and needs which should now become the focus of product development or, put differently, provide a solution rather than an object. A great example of a company failing to do this is Nokia who produced many products but failed to address what consumers actually wanted and as a result lost market share to the likes of Samsung and Apple.
The second C replaces the traditional Price ‘P’ with Cost to satisfy the need and places emphasis on the value the consumer attributes to not just the product but to other factors such as status, brand loyalty, obstacles to change etc. This explains why consumers are prepared to pay more for products they perceive to have a higher value, for example the loyal iPhone community.
The Promotion ‘P’ is replaced by Communication. Instead of a one-way message designed to manipulate a consumer into buying, social media and website chat applications now allow businesses to have live conversations with their customers and customers in turn can now communicate with the business and directly with each other, which provides the all-important social proof that brands need to be successful today.
Finally we replace the Place ‘P’ with Convenience to buy which highlights the importance of not just having the product readily available when and where the consumer wants it but also making it available online, thereby completely eliminating the need for the customer to go out and make a purchase. It also speaks to the importance of a smooth, easy to navigate purchase process with less complications. The convenience of being able to tap-and-go is a good example of this, or having your credit card details safely stored for repeat purchases.
Marketing is no longer just advertising
When businesses begin to prioritise the consumer and build authentic ways to relate to them a few things become clear. Before, marketing was a segment of business responsible for creating adverts. Now, marketers need to build brands with the intention of creating relationships. With brand building comes brand strategy.
“Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too. “(Williams, 2020)
With this new emphasis on consumer-centricity the only way forward for brands is to get close to their customers, get to know them and what they want and then strive to meet those needs, the brand must move towards interacting with customers on their level. The above proves that the traditional business-to-consumer model is dead and has been replaced with person-to-person communication.
Where do brands start to build their personalities?
Williams (2020), discusses a need for re-evaluation of the core aspects of your business, what you do and why you do it. He encourages businesses to answer the following questions as a starting point to building brand personality:
What is your company’s mission?
What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
How can you work to add more value and meaning to your product or services to strengthen your relationship with your customers?
Businesses need to always remember that they exist for people and because of people. Digital marketing moves rapidly and one of the only elements of a business that can withstand this ever-changing environment is their brand.
Williams, J. (2020). The Basics of Branding. [online] Entrepreneur. Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/77408 [Accessed 25 Feb. 2020].
12 Digital Marketing Trends and Innovations For 2020
Technology has turned the world into a global village in terms of effortlessly connecting people from all different countries and cultures.
Sharing information is more accessible than it ever has before, making it much easier to generate product awareness or promote your service. And since the internet is such a powerful tool that can be used to generate ROI, investing in digital marketing cannot be ignored. According to eMarketer, “worldwide digital ad spend is predicted to reach over $375 billion by 2021.”
Therefore, to keep up with your competition then you must keep up with the trends. Take a moment to think critically about the impact of change in technology to your business. And then take advantage of the successful existing business techniques that are out there as well as try to predict where technology is going to go in the future. Your business will grow if you retain and actively reach new customers in a proactive way rather than getting left behind.
However, Cardinal Digital Marketing Agency understands if you don’t have the time to research all these trends and that’s why we’re here to help! Request a free proposal today.
That being said, we’d like to share 12 digital marketing trends for 2020 you should watch out for:
Chatbots Take Off
Many companies will continue using a chatbot, they’re effective software programs that interact with website visitors and customers. Chatbots communicate naturally with people viewing the site and can answer their questions in real-time.
Chatbots either use verbal interactions or chat windows to help web users find what they’re looking for.
Hiring an individual to monitor and communicate with visitors on your website can be expensive, but chatbots save costs by answering questions on your behalf. And subsequently, customers tend to appreciate the personalized service and getting their questions answered.
Additional Benefits of Using Chatbots in Digital Marketing
a). It Saves Time: Unlike humans, a chatbot can provide answers quickly to all kinds of questions. And quick responses mean that customers can make decisions faster.
b). Customer Satisfaction: Unlike humans, the chatbot doesn’t need time to rest. Any time the customer wants information, it’s right at their fingertips. And as the chatbot responds more accurately, your sales conversion rates will increase as well.
c). Good Humor: A chatbot is never moody. You will never hear customers complain about being turned away. They are unbiased, clear, and informative- all the qualities that make your customers feel at ease.
Use of Private Messaging Apps
As 2020 approaches, many companies will start shifting their focus on how to better utilize private messaging apps. Smartphone apps like WhatsApp, Viber and WeChat are already gaining popularity. And instead of using emails, companies are adopting the use of private apps as well as private messaging groups.
Major brands are already undergoing experiments in monetizing messaging apps and soon enough, customers will be able to pay for products directly through messaging apps. Sending and receiving money will be much easier.
Some applications like WeChat Pay have already made significant progress in making it easier to pay online; WeChat, Venmo, and PayPal users are already getting into the habit of using these types of apps to transfer money to their peers.
Increased Use of Artificial Intelligence
The name “Artificial Intelligence” is exactly how it sounds; it refers to robots or machines having the ability to work like humans. AI uses a combination of different features such as chatbots and voice assistants to quickly find answers.
For instance, Alexa and Siri are voice assistants that provide excellent customer care. Just like a human, they can take orders from the users and work behind the scenes on their behalf.
The AI robot does this by using sensors and human inputs to gather facts about a situation and can also collect/store the search data to improve the user’s future experiences.
Cardinal Digital Marketing even has an AI-powered healthcare marketing software called Patient Stream that allows doctors and healthcare providers to streamline their processes to gain new patients.
Companies use digital ads to market their products, but have you ever come across an online ad that was straight up annoying or had nothing to do with you? Not only do online consumers tend to ignore these ads, but they may also end up hating the product and doing everything in their power to stay away from the brand.
Forbes magazine states that because of this overwhelming digital connection, unrelated ads or brands that keep on bombarding people with their irrelevant ads will be disregarded by 49% of people.
If your brand keeps consistently sends tailored messages, then 36% will respond by buying the product.
Many companies are aware of this trend and are already planning accordingly. And we’re predicting right now that by the year 2020, most companies will be targeting precise audiences and users will only be viewing (and responding to) hyper-relevant ads.
Currently, only a few companies are using some form of personalization. And big conglomerates like Amazon are already doing it well.
This household name built their huge internet business by analyzing customers’ behaviors and promoting products based on assumptions and the user’s past purchase history. It showcases products that a person may be interested in by putting forth similar or complementary products in a Recommendations tab, and Amazon found that this upsell tactic works in getting more business.
Personalization is truly the future of digital marketing. And these days, it’s what consumers expect…one study even shows that 79% of consumers feel frustrated if the content their viewing isn’t tailored to them.
According to Gartner, by 2020 at least 90% of online advertisers will start using marketing personalization in some shape or form. And by 2021 there will be a significant increase in fully personalized websites.
Personalization is truly the key to a successful digital marketing campaign in 2020. According to Dale Carnegie,“a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
This quote says it all in terms of the importance of personalization. This is one of the reasons why companies and marketers address you by your first name whenever you see it in your emails.
It is ultimately the best tool for increasing conversions, and this is the reason why some marketers have been leveraging it for decades to improve their marketing efforts.
One study shows that personalized email campaigns receive 29% higher email open rates and 41% higher click-through rates than traditional emails with no form of personalization.
That means if you haven’t tried out personalization in your digital marketing strategy, then you’re leaving a lot of benefits on the table. Here are some reasons why:
The primary benefit of personalized marketing is having the control to reach a specific group of customers. And by collecting user data from list segments, surveys, or studies, you’re better positioned to create more relevant and effective email campaigns towards targeted audiences based on their buying habits, interests, and behaviors.
For example, if your target audience likes movies and general entertainment, you can embed pop culture references when sending your emails, creating blog posts, or even in your email opt-in forms to deliver a more personalized experience with your content. Hopefully, your audience will appreciate the references and better relate to your brand which will ultimately boost conversions.
New Customers’ Behavior
Along with keeping your existing customers happy, your business should also actively be bringing in new ones as well. Here are some of the ways this will apply to the digital marketing space in 2020 and beyond:
i). Companies will have to work with influencers: Just recently, studies show that about 86% of women have to consult social media before deciding on a product. And this is important- consumers want brands to be honest, friendly, and helpful.
If a brand gets positive feedback from other users, then it’s likely to bring in new users.
ii). Companies will have to focus on video content: A survey done by Wyzowl indicates that about 95% of people have watched a video explaining their products or services.
Through publishing self-made videos, companies more directly engage with their customers by actively providing useful information.
The companies also increase their transparency as customers tend to trust and respect their expertise.
Research indicates that companies producing transparent and easy-to-digest information are likely to retain 94% of their customers.
However, how you handle a customer’s private data is vital. In 2018, the GDPR policy was more actively enforced to ensure that companies handle customer data transparently.
This means that there will be more emphasis on this in the future; companies will be required to be completely transparent on what kind of information is being shared to promote their products.
Here’s a Tip on How to Improve Transparency
Establish your company’s core values.
Make sure that selling is not your only goal.
Be an open book to your customers- tell them as much as you can about who they are doing business with.
If customers raise some concerns or questions, respond immediately.
Be able to take constructive criticism from your customers and respond in a friendly, non-judgmental tone.
Create space and encourage people to give different suggestions to help improve your products- facilitate a community around your brand.
Growth in Digital Marketing
TheDrum indicates that by 2020 and through the next few years, the global digital software industry will grow by $74.96 billion.
Consequently, more money will be channelled towards digital marketing. CMO predicts that by the year 2022, around 87% of marketing budgets will be spent on digital marketing.
In fact, this growth in digital marketing will result in a form of marketing referred to as “Agile marketing”, which is a form of marketing that measures how efficiently a brand or company is at achieving its marketing goals and objectives.
An agile marketing team develops winning strategies and theoretical results to inform their stakeholders with the purpose of implementing it quickly. There’s no perfect way to implement agile methodology in your organization (although we’ve found that a hybrid seems to work best).
Essentially, growth in digital marketing translates into the speed in which new products and services are developed and distributed to meet customers’ needs.
Agile marketing is growing in popularity on social media since brands and marketers have spent the last few years figuring out how to connect and communicate on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and others.
These social media channels provide enormous insights and data into what types of content works and how best to create it.
This number is overwhelming, which is why many people are switching to one software that syncs every tool. HubSpot has embraced this trend already and others are starting to follow.
Soon, many enterprises will be using a single marketing software provider.
In case you’re wondering if paying and implementing a marketing software tool is beneficial, here are the benefits:
It reduces tedious work: It helps in getting rid of repetitive duties and helps you establish a daily routine.
Streamlined marketing efforts: You can keep track of where you’re at in the buyer’s journey with your customers and can communicate with them more effectively.
It improves accountability.
It makes customer management more manageable.
You can document progress much faster and easier.
Right now, a lot of different changes are taking place in the search engines industry and updates are happening constantly. These changes in the search algorithms have profoundly affected the user’s search results.
Every new algorithm comes with different benefits or problems, depending on how you look at it. Ultimately, the goal of search engines is to help users get specific results that answers their questions.
Therefore, you will see in 2020 and beyond that the quality of search results will improve dramatically.
As the growth in technology continues to increase rapidly, we will start to see more people using smartphones with voice assistants.
Features like Google, Alexa, and Siri are useful in digital marketing. Voice assistants can search for things, read text loudly, and even voice dictate text messages for you so that you can be hands-free.
Voice search is also essential when using it for your business. It’s helping in the growth of a mobile-friendly movement and adding value to local SEO. Voice search also boosts the use for Artificial Intelligence and prioritizes semantics of searches.
Tips for Power Search Optimization
a). Understand the Language: When people use search engines, many use long sentences with specific keywords. Therefore, to optimize the opportunity to be found in voice search results, use longer keywords and complete sentences (think of what someone would ask a friend about a specific product or service).
b). Be Conversational: When implementing voice search in your website, use an engaging conversational tone when creating the text but remember to use complete sentences and be grammatically correct.
c). Answer Questions: Most people use the internet to get information, whether they are researching a product or service that they need or are trying to Google an answer to try to cheat in a late-night trivia contest. Therefore, think about this when creating content for voice-powered searches. Include any questions that people may ask concerning your products and provide detailed answers.
More Focus on Customer Retention
In the coming years, companies will also start to divert their attention from acquiring new customers to retaining their existing ones.
These companies understand that it takes less money to keep existing customers happy and will channel more effort in the middle and last stages of the buyer’s journey. Because collecting better data and focusing on market segmentation helps save costs.
Retaining customers helps increase revenue because when you keep your existing customers then they tend to tell their friends and give you referrals. Loyal customers are also likely to be more direct and honest with you regarding any issues or problems, giving you a chance to improve your brand.
If you are operating a business, it’s important to know about the current marketing trends and be able to stay on top of where digital marketing is headed in the future.
And just like Amazon, you can start personalizing your products, using social media to answer questions, and implement video marketing to gain trust and show that you are transparent. Remember, if you are handling any client data then transparency is critical. And there are plenty of marketing software systems that can streamline all your online activities and customer relationships.
With the speed at which modern technology is growing and evolving, it is no surprise that everything that relies on it must move at a similarly breakneck pace. Digital marketing is no exception.
With constant updates, new techniques, and changes to algorithms, digital marketers are frequently scrambling just to keep up. Being aware of emerging or continuing trends is a vital part of staying on top of the game.
With a brand-new decade rapidly approaching, here are some of the top marketing trends for 2020.
It’s highly unlikely that you know anyone who doesn’t use some form of social media. Given its ubiquitous nature, social media has understandably become an integral part of online marketing. What may not be as obvious is just how many users shop on social media networks.
This represents a tremendous opportunity for businesses, given that 72% of Instagram users have purchased a product on the app. Even more impressive, a survey of more than 4,000 Pinterest users found that 70% use Pinterest to find new and interesting products.
Fortunately for merchants, these platforms have made it easier for them to use the power of social media to reach their customers. Whether you use Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, there are now ways for e-commerce stores to create shoppable posts, making it easy for users to shop directly from your post.
Social media offers you the ability to reach new customers quickly and easily, shortening the sales funnel and making it easier for users to shop.
By 2020, shoppable posts are expected to be the norm.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
In recent years, both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have become massively popular and are emerging as top trends in marketing. In 2020, AR is expected to surpass VR in popularity, despite VR’s early lead.
Already, many major companies are making use of AR. Ikea, for example, has an app that allows users to visualize what a piece of furniture would look like in their home before making a purchase.
Today’s buyers are looking for new experiences when they go online, and for many, that means greater interactivity. In fact, a whopping 91% are seeking more visual and interactive content. There are several reasons for this:
Interactive content is different and new, and as such, it stands out more.
This type of content serves to keep visitors on your page longer.
Interactive content is immensely shareable, and when users share this content, it helps to grow awareness of your brand.
Simply put, interactive content is more engaging. Users enjoy it more than other content.
2020 is going to be the year of personalized marketing. Consumers are quite adept at tuning out generic ads that have no real connection to them. Accordingly, traditional means of advertising are becoming much less effective. So, what can be done? Personalize it!
In a survey of 1,000 people, 90% remarked that they found personalization appealing. More important for your business is the fact that 80% admitted they’d be more likely to give their business to a company that offered them a personalized experience.
Email lists are an old standby of marketers, and they lend themselves well to personalization. Segmented lists with personalized email blasts have been shown to perform than generic emails sent to an entire list. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with your audience in a meaningful way.
Google Ads Smart Bidding
Those involved in digital marketing are already familiar with automation, but now Google has announced Google Ads updates that will likely lead to automation and smart bidding becoming the new normal.
Google Ads makes use of machine learning in order to optimize your bids. This gives you several new abilities to help you maximize your conversion, including:
The ability to choose conversion action at the campaign level
The ability to set your bids to change automatically when sales start or stop
The ability to optimize bids over multiple campaigns with a chosen set of conversion actions
While there are a variety of new trends to keep your eye on, that doesn’t mean that all the old methods have become outdated. In fact, there are several marketing trends that have been big in the past and are expected to continue into 2020.
For years, “content is king” has been the axiom of digital marketing. As we move into 2020, it continues to be true.
High-quality content allows you to show your expertise and communicate with your customers from a place of authority. Your content is also what search engines provide to searchers online, so continuing to produce high-quality content is a must.
Customers respond well to visual content, making video an important digital marketing tool in 2019. It will continue to be important into 2020 and likely beyond that.
Don’t overlook live video. On average, live videos on Facebook Live and Instagram Live keep your audience watching three times longer than recorded ones. The daily watch time for Facebook Live videos have quadrupled in a single year, and they produce six times as many interactions as traditional videos.
SERP Position Zero
Being No. 1 is no longer the goal.
The top spot in SERP is now position zero, a featured snippet of text appearing above the search results. This prime location often provides information relating to the search query, while also providing a link to the page from which the information is drawn.
Position zero is the first, and sometimes only, result that some users will view. As such, it is highly coveted and should be the focus of your efforts.
While many business owners appreciate the fact that marketing continues to change at a fast pace, those who are willing to adapt and evolve will continue to attract high-quality customers in a digital world.
With the Cricket World Cup, Afcon, Netball World Cup and now the Rugby World Cup taking place, Michael Bratt explores this valuable marketing option, and the intricacies involved in it.
This year has been a bumper time for major sporting competitions; with the Cricket World Cup, the Women’s Soccer World Cup, the African Cup of Nations, and now the Rugby World Cup all taking place. Each has not only attracted sports fans in droves, but also brands looking to take advantage of marketing opportunities.
Just like sports broadcast rights, sports sponsorship is a lucrative industry in South Africa, worth an estimated R8.5 billion annually (R6 billion direct spend and R2 – 2.5 billion leverage/activation spend), according to research by BMi Sport Info.
BMi Executive Director and CEO, David Sidenberg, comments, “Worldwide, sports sponsorship is still ticking over, it’s still doing very nicely, it’s growing faster than advertising, and it’s almost the perfect fit with new media, social digital media due to the platforms. Sport thrives on Twitter, on Facebook, on video. We love our heroes and our followers.”
A digital explosion
Indeed, this is one of the major trends in the sports sponsorship arena. Whereas before, traditional activations of sponsorships – such as logos on kits, stadium branding, and in-person activations – dominated, sponsorship activities are now moving into the digital realm at a rapid rate. Vodacom, which used to be the official sponsor of the Springboks and is the current sponsor of the Super Rugby tournament in South Africa (having been so for the past 23 years), has moved away from traditional sports sponsorship. “What’s evolved with where we are is very much around digital content, digital creation and social media platforms,” says the company’s head of sponsorship, Michelle Van Eyden. “We used to do a lot more of the traditional elements, but now it’s about second screen users, people who are constantly on the social media feed. We do not do anything on the ground unless there is a digital and a content angle behind it.”
Vodacom began sponsoring the Springboks back in 1994 as a brand and product awareness exercise. Over time it morphed into integrating the brand into a passion of fans, rugby and the Springboks. Mass brand exposure, with longevity, and audience targeting, which leads to real commercial return on investment, are the benefits.
Passionate, engaged fans
For sports sponsors, this is the main appeal; the ability to connect with consumers in a space where they are passionate and engaged. Telecoms giant, MTN, is the current sponsor of the Springboks. The company’s Consumer Business Unit Executive, Mapula Bodibe, says MTN are “the enablers and connectors of our consumers to their passion points of which the Springboks and rugby are one. The Springbok sponsorship enables us to bring the sport and the team closer to the people, which is very key to us as a telecoms company that always tries to bridge the gap between consumers and the things they love – Springboks! This is proof of our brand position of #WeGotU”.
Bodibe says sponsorship opportunities are “highly visible, offering exposure to millions of consumers”. As a proudly South African brand, it is fitting to back the “pride of the nation”.
Tracking the effectiveness of sports sponsorship
Sidenberg reveals four metrics used to measure the success of a sports sponsorship. They are media exposure (how many times the brand’s logo or messaging was shown and putting the equivalent media value to that), reach (how many people got to see the brand in terms of audience numbers, which can also be segmented in terms of various demographics), awareness of a sponsorship (the number of people who know the brand behind a particular team, league, competition etc.), and qualitative impacts on brand sentiment/brand positioning as a result of that sponsorship.
Local vs global
“The misnomer about World Cup sponsorship is that while it is a great time in terms of national pride to be behind the national team, and it doesn’t necessarily cost a sponsor extra for the competition, in many respects you actually get less rights as the national team sponsor during a World Cup because they are clean stadiums and kits away from home, with no branding, so they actually have to spend additional money to leverage the sponsorship,” explains Sidenberg.
He believes it’s often more efficient to activate locally during an international World Cup, as the costs are far less than being a part of and visible at the event itself. Kelvin Watt, Managing Director for Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific at Nielsen Sports, estimates that in South Africa there will be between R150-R200 million spent in marketing support of various Rugby World Cup, Springbok and other rugby related sponsorships and investments.
Sports sponsorship and brand building
Sponsors that are activating, leveraging and have done their research see impressive returns on investment. But they also need to be aware of their goals, aims and strategies, ensuring that their sponsorship aligns with their brand’s objectives, and asking themselves ‘why are we here’ and ‘what value do we add to fans’. This is another big trend in sports marketing. Brands scrutinise their sports sponsorship to see how it is driving return on investment in terms of brand growth and business objectives. Van Eyden elaborates: “It’s not just about having the logo on the shirts. We now have business objectives around our sponsorships, which in the past wasn’t necessarily as serious, but now they are measurable, commercial deliverables.”
Watt says the general trend today is towards larger, richer partnerships. “Smart rights holders are moving from selling a fixed menu of rights, towards more flexible, dynamic partnerships that can change during the deal. Smart brands are targeting sponsorships that align with their vision and strategy. You can see brands today are a lot more demanding. They want much clearer links to what they’re trying to achieve as businesses. Essentially, you’ve got to have much clearer objectives and much clearer KPIs and you’ve got to genuinely be delivering against your business growth targets,” he says.
Potential ROI is judged on a case by case basis. Watt elaborates: “It is varied from 2:1 to 5:1 return on investment. Certain properties such as the Absa Premiership are very media heavy and really over index in terms of ROI.”
Looming draft Sports Broadcasting Services Amendment regulations from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) could drastically alter not only the ownership of sports broadcast rights, but also the sports sponsorship landscape in South Africa. Sidenberg comments that “as long as there remains uncertainty in this realm, some sponsors will be cautious to renew their sponsorships or commit long-term budget without clawback clauses, subscription broadcasters will be more tentative to take on sports rights without exclusivity, and the market is in a hell of a flux”.
It will be interesting to see how these proposed government regulations could impact sports broadcasting, sports sponsorship and the survival of sports federations in the country. Unfortunately, only time will tell.
Marketing has been around for as long as people have been selling things but officially arose as a career choice in the early 1900s. Having said that, marketing as a discipline is relatively new compared to economics, production and accounting.
Marketing is broadly defined as “activities undertaken by a company to promote the buying or selling of a product or service. Marketing includes advertising, selling, and delivering products to consumers or other businesses”.
Traditional vs digital marketing
In this digital age, we as consumers are constantly confronted by technology and the internet. Some people use the internet for anything including paying bills, buying groceries and booking a vacation; and they do all of that in the comfort of their own home with a personal computer, a positive bank balance and a steady internet connection.
From a business perspective, the increased popularity of the internet presents businesses with a golden opportunity to become digitised and expand their business influence on cyberspace.
We are in daily contact with all types of advertising like billboards, flyers and television ads. Traditional marketing refers to any type of promotion, advertising or campaign that has been in use by companies for years, and that has a proven success rate. Traditional marketing mainly uses these four popular methods for promotion:
Print media: billboards, flyers, newspaper and magazine ads etc.
Broadcast media: television and radio
Direct mail: catalogues and promotional letters
Telemarketing: phoning potential customers to promote products and services
Large and small companies are moving away from traditional marketing methods, opting to use digital techniques instead. Digital marketing makes use of one or more forms of electronic media to promote products or brands. It also uses different methods and channels to analyse marketing campaigns to understand what is working and what isn’t. It differs from traditional marketing in that digital marketers have a multitude of tools at their disposal to monitor aspects of a campaign’s progress like what is being viewed, how often and for how long, sales conversions etc.
Dave Chaffey (2018) further elaborates on digital marketing by saying that it “includes managing different forms of online company presences such as company websites, mobile apps, and social media company pages. This is in conjunction with online communications techniques including the likes of search engine marketing, social media marketing, online advertising, e-mail marketing and partnership arrangements with other websites”.
When comparing traditional marketing to digital marketing, it’s obvious that the latter is the future. While traditional print media is still relevant today, the increase in internet users and the popularity of the web makes digital marketing a more effective and widely used advertising method.
The 5D’s of digital marketing outlines the opportunities consumers have to communicate with brands and for businesses to reach and learn from their target audiences in different ways:
Consumers experience brands as they interact with business websites and mobile apps usually using their connected devices such as smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, TVs and gaming devices.
Most interactions on these devices are through an internet browser or app from search engines such as Google and social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Various paid, owned and earned communication channels are used to reach and engage audiences. This includes advertising through email and messaging, search engines and social networks.
The information (insight) businesses collect about audience profiles and their interactions with the businesses. This information is now protected by law in most countries.
Marketing technology businesses used to create interactive experiences from websites and mobile apps to in-store kiosks and email campaigns.
The bottom line: is marketing a good career choice?
Choosing a career is serious. After your studies, there’s a good chance that you’ll spend the rest of your professional life working in your chosen industry. In February 2019, popular jobs portal CareerJunction published its latest index showing which skills are currently in-demand in South Africa. The marketing sector is indicated as a stabilising trend along with the finance and business industries. This information is based on the number of job adverts published on the CareerJunction website over the past 13 months. Also, according to BusinessTech, “An uptake in jobs is evident in the marketing, sales, admin, office & support and manufacturing sectors since the onset of 2019”.
Ultimately, no one can definitively say whether marketing is a good career choice. Digital marketing is a fast-paced and ever-changing industry with an ongoing demand for skilled professionals.
Social Media has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our lives
Social media is constantly evolving and has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our lives – keeping up with it isn’t an easy task. Of course, social media isn’t just for personal use -it has become an integral part of digital marketing and can help a business develop from a start-up into a smooth-running machine.
Social media marketing is all about communication. According to industry legend, Neil Patel, “Social media marketing is the process of creating content that you have tailored to the context of each individual social media platform in order to drive user engagement and sharing.”
Facebook has 2.320 billion users by the end of 2017 and even though there are currently over 7.5 billion people in the world, one in four people have a Facebook account. Patel claims that Facebook is quite literally taking over the world and that in some ways, it is a country of its own. With so many active users on a daily basis, social media presents a prime marketing opportunity.
That’s only Facebook and it’s worth noting that each platform is different in that they each require their own strategy. One thing remains the same, however, the content. Content drives each social media platform. In Neil Patel’s article, Social Media Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide, he unpacks some key social media terms. We have summarised them here for you:
Content: Content is whatever you are posting on your social media profiles. This includes text, videos, and images. Each social network requires different forms of content meaning that what you post should be tailored specifically to each platform.
Hashtags: Incorporating hashtags into your posts have become a very common way of adding meta information on nearly all social networks. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest thrive on hashtags which lets you describe the topic of your content or mark it as part of a current trend.Hashtags make content easier to find and share – especially if it’s part of a trend.
Shares: Shares are considered the currency of the social media world, they are all that matters. While “likes” are also important, you want people to pass your message on.
Engagement: Engagement just means that other users see and interact with the content you share on social networks. This includes liking, commenting on and sharing your posts.
Fun fact: Nomophobia is the fear of not being near your mobile phone.
In another article, Social Media for Business: A Marketer’s Guide – by Saige Driver. Driver explains that not every social platform in a good fit for every business, businesses need to invest in the platforms where they are most likely to reach their target audience. Here’s what you should know about each of the most popular social media platforms:
Facebook can be used to share any type of content from photos to important business updates. With a business account, you’ll be able to access various advertising and analytics tools. Having a business page also enables you to highlight operating hours, contact information and the products and services on offer.
With Instagram gaining popularity, it’s important to note that the platform is almost entirely mobile meaning that you can’t create or upload content from your desktop. Artists tend to do well on Instagram as they can take photos and upload them on-the-go with their mobile devices. It’s important that whoever runs your page has some basic photography skills and a keen eye for detail.
Twitter is the ideal platform for posting short updates about your business or sharing links to longer content such as a blog. Twitter has a character limit of 240 characters but also allows the sharing of multimedia content, links, and polls etc. Driver suggests that if you’re a highly visual business or if you don’t have a blog, you may want to skip Twitter. All in all, Twitter is a great platform to quickly spread the word.