This iconic song from the American rock group, R.E.M. so aptly depicts the global upheaval we are currently experiencing. The Covid-19 pandemic has unquestionably ended the world as we knew it. A dramatic statement perhaps, but, as we emerge blinking from the darkness of lockdown into the glimmer of a dawn that promises some hope of economic recovery, it seems certain that many of the things that we took for granted in our pre-pandemic lives will never return. Or at least not in quite the same shape and form.
One of the most dramatic changes has been in the relationship between business and the consumer. The pandemic has literally pressed the fast forward button and sent consumers scurrying en masse towards digital platforms.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world. The changes we make now will have lasting effects as the world economy begins to recover”
Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD, Secretary-General
Of course, Covid-19 has not just impacted business at a brick-and-mortar level – it has also forced marketers to work harder at finding ways to communicate effectively with their clients and prospective clients – as well as explore new ways to manage their brands. Not surprising, there has been strong growth in Marketing Technology (MarTech) that uses data to help companies create targeted consumer campaigns on multiple platforms.
“The great digital migration is really about how businesses are responding to the way consumer needs and behaviours have changed… and how they innovate against that. The road to recovery is paved with data and those companies that can harness it best will set the pace.”
Kate Smaje, McKinsey, Senior Partner
In the South African context, there has certainly been a growth in the use of MarTech, but like in most developing countries, this growth has come off a relatively low base and is still in its infancy.
Saying that, as of January 2021, there are 38.13 million active internet users in South Africa (and rising). Among them, an overwhelming majority (over 36 million) also use mobile internet. Unquestionably there is huge potential in South Africa for companies to harness the power of MarTech… but they must be careful not to view it as a silver bullet.
Candice Davis, MarTech specialist at Idea Hive says, “technology or software is not the solution to modern marketing problems. People provide the solutions and technology enables the delivery of the solution”
South African companies moving into MarTech should look first at what tools they have and then see how they can use those tools to get the basics right. Once that is achieved, they can work with a digital partner to make significant changes… like adding new product licenses or acquiring the relevant technology that can put them in control of their data.
To make an analogy, it’s rather like a football team buying a star player and assuming that individual can guarantee they’ll win all future matches. Just as there needs to be a concrete idea on how each new addition will form part of the team’s overall game plan, so there needs to be a purpose behind spending a chunk of the marketing budget on tech.
Marketing departments are going to have to step up their game, even in these times of uncertainty, and be prepared to significantly change their setup, if the upcoming wave of predictive analytics solutions is to make its touchdown.
It’s all about understanding, anticipating and going above and beyond to fulfil customer needs. Only then can the right technology be leveraged to activate purpose-led marketing messages that can be personalised to match the unique profiles and priorities of the consumer. Used effectively, MarTech can be both time saving and efficient – delivering the analysis to transform prospective clients into loyal customers.
“MarTech looks at all the software and technologies involved in marketing a business. The aim is to provide an effective flow of data and insights between the platforms used, e.g: mobile applications, website, digital media channels toward the digital strategy and front-end creative work produced”, adds Davis.
She says, “MarTech should be building the following products:”-
- MarTech Stack – this looks at all the software between the tech and/or data providers and marketing platforms used in the business.
- Personas – a detailed view of a target user with insights to their online and offline engagement factors.
- Customer Journey Mapping – by installing engagement trackers, meta-data can be used to map out the customer’s digital journey. These insights assist to better connect to the audience.
- Digital ROI Model – this can measure Performance Metrics such as Cost Per Lead (CPL) and Cost Per Engagement (CPE) to effectively report on digital spend. This provides insights on how to best optimise the digital budget.
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