According to the Hootsuite and We Are Social Digital in 2017 report, out of a population of approximately 55 million people, South Africa has over 28 million Internet users. Of these users, 68% access the Internet via their smartphones (not laptops or desktops), and spend just over three hours each day on the Internet via their phones.
The landscape is bound to change even more in 2018.
Let that sink in.
South Africa is a mobile nation
As marketers, we’re very aware of a mobile-first approach in South Africa. But, unfortunately, data costs in our country make our jobs more challenging. At an average of about R150 per GB of mobile data, most South Africans can’t afford to spend hours watching videos or animations that we so want to put out there.
Therein lies the dilemma…
As inbound marketers, our aim is to nurture and convert prospects into leads, guiding them through the buyer’s journey until they make a purchasing decision, in a country where most of these prospects use their phones as a gateway to the Internet.
But, how do you get this mobile market to convert using inbound marketing?
We’ve looked at worldwide trends, and identified the following as key for 2018 inbound marketing campaigns in South Africa:
- Always think mobile first
Mobile phones are the primary Internet access points for a huge number of South Africans, whether spending time on social media (Facebook is still the most-used social platform in South Africa), searching the web for information about their interests, or just keeping in touch with friends and family via messaging apps.
As inbound marketers, we need to keep mobile top of mind when we pitch local campaigns. We also need to keep in mind that writing or designing for mobile doesn’t mean opting for less, it just means being smarter about how we execute campaigns.
- Be there for micro-moments
A micro-moment is defined as: “An intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need — to know, go, do or buy.”
In these micro-moments, your prospect wants what they want, when they want it, and they are drawn to brands that deliver on their needs in that moment.
Be there — anticipate the possible micro-moments of your buyer persona, and be there when they need help/information.
Be useful — provide an experience that meets your prospect’s needs in that specific moment and provides the answers they are looking for, quickly.
Be accountable — a seamless customer experience across all media and devices is what you should be striving to achieve. Be sure to measure the impact.
Think about serving content to consumers wherever they might be — are they in a long queue waiting to pay? Are they sitting in the doctor’s rooms? Are they on a commute to or from work? Structure your content to meet those consumers in whichever moment they are consuming your content.
- Organic is dead; paid is the answer
With algorithms changing every so often, your organic posts on Facebook have a 2 - 6% chance of being seen when posted, and this is declining.
As inbound marketers, when planning your inbound campaigns, include and recommend Facebook-boosted posts and advertising to increase your reach and get the message in front of the right audience.
Also, don’t discount the value of putting some advertising spend behind the Google Display Network.
- Moving away from gated content
“I just love filling in forms” — said no one ever.
Landing pages traditionally create an opportunity for you to provide your prospects with content that would help move them along the buyer’s journey, and nurture them into becoming customers. This is a long-standing best practice for any inbound marketing campaign.
The purpose is to create and provide content that makes you the go-to guy(s) in your field of expertise/your industry. If you are seen as such, and you can help your prospect solve their problem, they will return to you for help.
Here’s the kicker:
Landing pages have been at the heart of many inbound marketing campaigns. And for a long time, they have been great for lead generation. But, times are changing, and it's time to adapt to the market.
The assumption was that if you give someone something valuable for free, like an e-book or marketing tool, they would give you their details based on the perceived value of the offer. This is not to say that you can’t have gated content — you can — but the way in which content is gated is changing.
Consider the fact that prospects may find it daunting to provide their details if they are in the beginning of the sales funnel and just starting to look for information.
Offer pillar content to your prospects instead of gated content
HubSpot defines a pillar page as follows: “A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page. Pillar pages broadly cover a particular topic, and cluster content should address a specific keyword related to that topic in-depth.”
Pillar pages are surrounded by cluster content, linking back to the pillar page. The cluster content covers the topics on the pillar page in-depth and provides more context to the reader.
So, with pillar pages, you’re offering ungated content to users that informs and helps them. Traditionally, you would have put pillar content or something like a white paper behind a CTA linked to a landing page. But this is what we are trying to move away from. The visitor should readily access the pillar page, but can then submit an email address to access the cluster content. While you may not be getting your visitors’ information in exchange initially, you will be increasing traffic, increasing shareability and heightening your brand perception.
Bringing this back to mobile
Say for instance, your prospect is browsing Facebook and they want to download your current offer. Usually they would have to click a link, be redirected to your landing page, fill in their details, and then go back to Facebook. Seems like a lot of clicking.
With the launch of Facebook’s lead ads, you eliminate the need to navigate away from your page, and the prospect can fill in their details right there and then. Even better, Facebook pre-populates details for them. Once details have been submitted, they can navigate to your website if they so choose.
What’s also great is that a lead gen form looks like any paid post that would appear in their newsfeed, it blends in with what they would like to see, and you’re targeting the right eyeballs.
- Good guest bloggers can increase your SEO
Neil Patel, columnist for HubSpot, suggests that one of the best ways to increase your website’s SEO rating is to invite credible guest bloggers to contribute.
There are millions of blog posts published per day, making blogging one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site. It’s also an essential building block of content marketing, which is incidentally one of the best ways to drive leads. But getting the traffic to your site takes work.
Bringing in guest bloggers is a good way to increase your inbound organic traffic, and by doing some guest blogging yourself on industry expert sites, you can bring relevant traffic to your own website. It’s a mutual exchange between you and the guest blogger, or you as the guest blogger — you get exposure to a brand’s following when you blog for them, and the brand benefits from the great content you provide.
How do you get experts to guest blog for you?
Have CTAs with links to a relevant page detailing how bloggers can write for you, your requirements, submission guidelines and how to get in contact.
- Long live long-form content
We’ve all written or commissioned those blog posts. You know the 500- to 1 000-word ramblings because a post has to go out. How have those posts performed for you?
Yes, you need to blog consistently, but you also need to put out quality content, focusing on relevant topics that serve a specific purpose. Remember: quality always trumps quantity.
Neil Patel sums it up: “Blogging is like going to the gym. If you don’t put in the effort, you’re not going to see the results. No pain, no gain.” The same goes for any inbound marketing campaign.
What’s the ideal blog post length?
HubSpot released a report on the ideal length of social posts and indicated that for blogging it’s 2 250 to 2 500 words.
A lot of words, you say.
But these posts need planning; it’s not about just writing something. Plan what you want the post to look like, how you want it to flow and then do your research. Think of walk-through guides, how-tos etc. Complement the content with relevant images, callouts, bullet points, and colour to improve readability.
- Personalisation and smart content
So, you’ve just sent out a rather large email campaign, but the engagement is shocking. It’s completely fixable, however, with personalisation and smart content. For any inbound marketing campaign, personalisation is a most important element for both the prospect and the company. Being ‘recognised’ by a website, never mind from which device or application the prospect is accessing it, strengthens the relationship.
With marketing automation software, dynamic lists and cookies, you can send out targeted emails with relevant content based on the recipient’s demographics, online behaviour and recent engagement level. Just imagine the engagement on a specific, tailor-made email for each recipient?
Marketing automation software also helps you track where your prospect falls in the buyer’s journey and can help you nurture that lead into a customer. When combining personalisation, automation and smart content, your website will greet your prospect like a good friend, not
a complete stranger.
- AI and integrations
Usually, prospects would contact a company via a form on their website. The details would go to a team member who will then contact the prospect. However, the waiting time from submitting the form to being contacted is simply too long for the average consumer. And this means no sale.
The longer the response time on a lead, the less likely a sale will be made. Simple. But how do you overcome this? Perhaps you don’t have enough support staff or your inbox is overflowing.
This is where AI comes in
Because people want an immediate response (think micro-moments), try implementing
a live-chat feature on your website — this speeds up the response time and keeps emails from getting lost in inboxes. Your prospect gets the fast reply they want in the moment, and they end the session satisfied or more informed.
There are some great live chat options available, both free and paid. Why not implement one today?
- Interactive content — death to the e-book!
Good content must be at the heart of every inbound marketing campaign. From boosting website or blog traffic to generating leads, content is what nurtures your prospect.
What do you envision when you think about content? Blog posts? E-books? Guides? You need to revisit the way you think about content because your prospects are consuming content differently, so nobody wants to read your e-book anymore (stings a bit, doesn’t it?).
Blog posts, how-tos and guides still have their place in inbound marketing campaigns as they’re helpful, informative and mostly straightforward. But, your prospects also want interaction. They want to be able to interact with your content — like it, share it, not simply leave a comment.
So when you think of content, you need to think of video, animations (yes, GIFs too), useful tools (like mortgage calculators or marketing budget tools), quizzes and surveys. This means that your prospect goes beyond just reading (or scrolling); they engage with your content, learn from it and share it with their followers and friends. Now that gives us the warm fuzzies.
Prospects are expecting to see more interactive content thanks to companies like BuzzFeed. And if we aren’t aiming to meet that expectation, then we aren’t doing a very good job at marketing.
- Visual marketing
All aboard the video train in 2018! Most social platforms now make it easy to share video content with your communities and followers. And people love consuming video content, however, be aware that it’s data-intensive.
In a HubSpot report, the following key statistics came to light for using videos in content marketing:
- 4x as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it.
- Using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%.
Keep the videos you’re sharing short and easy to consume for the South African market.
These are just some of the trends we’ve identified for inbound marketing in South Africa. Have you come across any more trends you’d like to point out?