It goes without saying that digital marketing is on a roll in Kenya. Every brand from Tom, Dick and Harry is officially on the digital bandwagon, eager to reap the spoils of the tantalising promise of digital marketing in Kenya – the ability to reach the right prospect or customer at the right time with the right offer at a fraction of the cost of using traditional marketing channels. Every brand wants in on the digital marketing game. True. Story.
However, as every brand enthusiastically pursues a digital marketing agenda in Kenya, what is apparent is that there are some serious short-comings to how this is being done, at the moment. Indeed, digital marketing does promise a whole lot of value and a solid return on investment (ROI) goes the thinking of many of Kenya’s marketing cognoscenti – but the million shilling question is it really working as well as it could? The answer is no. At least. Not yet. Therefore, here are our 5 reasons why we believe digital marketing in Kenya is broken:
Many Websites Are Not Designed To Perform By Generating A Solid Return On Investment (RoI) For Brands
Sadly, the majority of websites in Kenya are not designed to perform. What does this mean, exactly? Lets explain. Since the Internet came to Kenya, the majority of websites have been designed to be largely brochures that simply say who a business is and what they offer and how to get in touch. Nothing more. Nothing less. This trend of ‘brochure-ware’ websites means that many businesses tend to operate on the notion that their websites are a must-have for reasons of conformity rather than necessity to the bottom-line. This is NOT what websites were meant to be.
Some of the reasons why websites under-perform are fairly basic. For instance, In April 2015 Google changed their search engine algorithm for mobile friendly results. This means that unless your website is mobile-optimised or mobile responsive (i.e. designed to work across a myriad of screen sizes), Google will drop your visibility on their search engine results pages (SERPS) to accommodate websites that meet this criteria. This is especially super significant in a market like Kenya where according to the Communications Authority of Kenya over 90% of ALL Internet access is mobile. You, do the math.
Other significant ways that websites under-perform in Kenya is that they lack value-added functionality to make them more useful. Examples include the implementation of shopping carts and e-commerce transactions so that businesses can sell online either via credit cards or mobile money. Also, increasingly, websites feature marketing automation which enable businesses to better understand who their website visitors are and gradually nurture them through the sales funnel leading to sales conversions. Where as this is standard practice in more advanced digital marketing markets, this is only starting to happen in Kenya. Indeed, we have a long way to go.
Social Media Is Seen As The End-All-Be-All Whereas Brands Don’t Have Direct Access To Their Own Communities
One thing we have noticed is that social media is hugely popular in Kenya. Indeed, Facebook has close to 5 million users in Kenya which puts them in pole position as the leading social media platform in the country. However, for this very reason, it seems that the majority of advertising agencies and their clients’ marketing leadership have decided to make social media their primary digital marketing channel. This is all nice and dandy until you look at the fine print.
Whilst we acknowledge that being on social media is absolutely essential for digital marketing, we do not agree that social media is the panacea for all digital marketing ills. The reason for this is that over the last few years many social media platforms that encouraged brands to build their communities there now require them to buy digital ads inorder to communicate with their own communities! How ridiculous is that! This is often described as the biggest ‘bait and switch’ ever played on digital media to-date. The irony is that brands continue to follow this script to their own detriment.
Going forward, brands will need to stop investing in digital media just to rent audiences and instead focus on building their own digital platforms so that they truly own their audiences. This is a trend that is sweeping globally as brands realise that they can have a far stronger level of engagement with their stakeholders by connecting with them through a myriad of digital media beyond social media. In digital marketing parlance, this is often referred to as ‘content marketing’ which will explore in the next point we have on this matter.
Brands Are Not Investing In Content Creation Which Is Actually ‘The Holy Grail’ Of Digital Marketing
Brands connect with consumers in all sorts of ways. Brands are meant to inform and entertain those who are invested in their ethos which ultimately is the only thing that really separates brands apart – just ask Apple. Brands have the ability to build a tribe of ardent supporters in all sorts of means and ways. This is why its so shocking that the majority of brands in Kenya have failed to invest in the creation of engaging digital content that transcends the traditional approach of pushing promotional campaigns.
If you think about it, what is digital? When you search Google for anything that are you looking for? When you engage with social media what are you engaging with? When you watch YouTube, what are you watching? Its content, content, content! Therefore, why the heck do most Kenyan brands seem to believe that the only content that they create is what they push via digital campaigns? Consumers want to be informed and entertained via content that resonates with them and is relevant with the brand story. This sort of story-telling is often referred to as content marketing.
Content marketing involves the creation of content for digital and traditional media that brand stakeholders actually find useful, with a view to eventually commercialising those engagements through the delivery of contextually relevant offerings. Thats it. So, going forward, brands in Kenya need to invest in the creation of compelling and meaningful digital content that can be liberally spread across their myriad digital channels with the emphasis being not just brand promotion but aspects such as thought leadership, education, entertainment, etc.
Measuring The Wrong Digital Metrics In A Data-Driven Media Like Digital Is Like Returning To Analogue Media
We are still shocked and appalled in this day and age of digital marketing in Kenya that the majority of brands and marketing leadership still refer to digital performance using metrics like fans, likes, followers, views, clicks, downloads and hits. A few years ago these metrics really mattered a whole lot and they do still have their place as a way of gauging how a campaign is performing digitally. However, the only metric that really matters is that of digital engagement.
Digital engagement in itself sounds like an esoteric metric but its possible to figure out how well your digital campaign performed from this perspective. More specifically, for instance, if you ran a digital campaign for a product or service you would want to know how many qualified leads you generated via the campaign. Another important metric for the same would be post-campaign how many sales conversions did you achieve? As in, how many customers actually purchased products and services in a way that is directly attributable to the digital campaign. This is what really matters – anything else is marketing sand bagging which sadly still goes unchecked.
In order to really make digital marketing to work and have access to detailed metrics, digital campaigns must have a data-driven approach from start to finish. This means that using platforms for marketing automation, customer relationship management, analytics dashboards, etc are essential so as to be able to gauge digital campaign performance on an end-to-end to basis including that of the ultimate customer lifetime value or CLV. Only at this level will brands in Kenya be able to have a transparent return on investment (RoI) as to whether their digital marketing initiatives are really working or not.
Many Kenyan Marketers Are Illiterate When It Comes To Digital Marketing
In-line with measuring the wrong metrics in digital marketing in Kenya, one trend we have noticed is that the majority of marketing professionals in Kenya are illiterate when it comes to digital marketing. Ask many of them for the differences between impressions, page views, click through rates, daily active users and bounce rates and they would draw a blank. As a company, Dotsavvy has been digital marketing for over a decade and yet we find that we always feel like we are playing catchup given how fast everything changes and evolves in digital marketing in a nearly real-time basis. If you blink, its so easy to miss a really important transition in digital marketing practices that can make or break a brand online.
Digital marketing is a completely different dimension within the whole marketing mix and we find that traditional marketers tend to take the easy route of treating digital as simply another marketing channel. Digital is so much more than that and in order to fully appreciate the radical differences Kenyan marketers need to invest an inordinate amount of time and effort to understand how digital marketing actually works on a daily basis. They need to consider getting certified on various platforms like Google Adwords and Analytics, as well as leading social media, marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms.
Any brand that considers itself to be a leader in digital marketing in Kenya must ensure its marketing team and its Agency have the digital marketing chops to make them competent and credible in the execution and management of the next practices in digital marketing, across the board – from ensuring corporate and campaign websites that are designed to drive sales conversions to building dedicated branded digital platforms they can use to slowly wean themselves off their social media addiction within a long-term strategic digital marketing framework. In a nutshell, Kenyan marketers have to go back to digital school, everyday, to remain relevant for their brands and consumers.