SA digital marketing skills, tech lagging

Read time 2min 30sec
Johan Walters, managing consultant at DQ&A.
Johan Walters, managing consultant at DQ&A.

When it comes to digital marketing, South Africa is not where it should be. And according to Johan Walters, managing consultant at DQ&A, the issue comes down to a lack of digital skills, limited technology resources and an insufficient understanding of what data-driven marketing entails.

Speaking at the IAB Insight Series about customer centricity, Walters discussed how local brands could fast-track their digital marketing performance.

Google's Digital Maturity Framework, which was developed in 2017 in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group, shows there are some forward-thinking brands in SA but for the most part, local businesses are lagging behind.

According to the study, companies fell in one of four maturity levels:

  • Nascent: Focused on siloed and campaign-based execution, with a heavy reliance on external data and with little or no link through to sales.
  • Emerging: Starting to use some collected data in their automated buying, but the focus is on single channel optimisation.
  • Connected: The data is integrated and activated across channels with a clear link to return on investment and sales.
  • Multi-moment: Dynamic execution that is clearly optimised to individual customer outcomes across all channels.

The results of the study show that just 7% of European brands fell into the nascent category, with 47% in emerging, 49% in connected and a mere 2% considered to be at the most advanced multi-moment stage.

By comparison, the majority of South African brands fall in the emerging level and many are still stuck in the nascent phase. There are just a few local brands moving towards the connected level.

So what does it take to move up a level?

Over the last year, a number of companies moved from the nascent phase towards the emerging phase and these improvements are largely dependent on how they make use of data, says Walters.

In many cases, companies are not in a position to extract data from their systems, or they are yet to develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. They are still in the early stages of their own digital maturity.

Despite this, graduating to the multi-moment phase should be high on the agenda of all local companies, Walters asserts. But doing so may take two to three years.

Working with clients of all sizes and across 13 global regions has shown DQ&A two things, he explains. Firstly, that understanding the power of technology and then owning it puts you in control of your data.

Secondly, if your company cannot find the correct digital skills, you should invest in training your teams as soon as possible. Or, at least, partnering with an independent marketing specialist who can help you take the next step on your digital journey.

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