As early as 2010 Google started preparing the world to become ‘mobile first’, and we’ve come a long way in the past few years. Marketers now talk of South Africa, and Africa, as being ‘mobile first’, but I’m going one step further. I believe marketers must view South Africa and Africa as ‘mobile always’.
Why? Research shows that over 16 million people in South Africa access Facebook every month. Over 8.9 million or some 59% of these people who are active monthly, return to Facebook every day. But here’s the stat you need to pay attention to: 97% of the people who are active monthly on the social media platform, access Facebook using their mobile phones.
This means that the two great pillars of digital marketing in South Africa are social and mobile. But how do they meet each other? To discover how this happens let’s identify four stages that are essential for successful mobile marketing.
First you need to get the word out through promotion. Conversation follows, because that’s what’s needed to get the brand and a human to connect, and get to know each other. Personalisation is next – once you know what someone wants, you can create offers that are “especially for you”. If people like the content you create, they will share it. This fourth stage is known as shareability.
For a promotion to work, any advertiser knows that you have to reach your target audience. Given that the vast majority of people who use Facebook regularly access the platform with their mobile phones, it makes sense to ‘fish where the fish are’. But what can be used as bait to make your offer attractive and to influence behaviour? Over ten years of experience in the mobile marketing sector has taught Mobitainment what is valuable. People want something that is useful, or something that is entertaining.
A great example of this is a vehicle that Mobitainment offers called QixCall, that allows a brand to sponsor a free minute call as a give-away. If there’s a give-away, prospects in a target audience will listen to, or participate in, advertising. Smart marketers will include engagement for profiling, and a follow-up messaging to try and trigger a viral effect.
|How giveaways can spark a viral effect:|
|Lindiswa So amazing thanks to you [BRAND X] for the free call, I appreciate that 1 minute you gave me.
Selloane is that real or what?
Lindiswa Yes Selloane it’s true dear, they called me and they immediately transfer my call to the person I was calling
Experience shows that this kind of promotion on Facebook yields great results for brands, and creates positive brand association. Why does it work? It works because it turns a brand’s owned media, like Facebook, into earned media that becomes a promotional medium with a built-in reward.
How do people who don’t know each other get to know each other? By chatting, of course, and South Africans do love to chat.
That said, these are the platforms that brands can use to converse with audiences. There are pros and cons to each of these platforms.
|WhatsApp [Owned by Facebook]
Instant messaging application for smartphones
|Pros||Reach – a huge number of people use this platform.
Ubiquity – most smartphone users, even entry level users, learn how to WhatsApp first.
This messaging app enables the transfer of images, video and audio.
|Cons||One-to-one and group messaging is encrypted. End-to-end encryption is a secure method of communication that ensures that only the people communicating can access messages sent. It ensures that eavesdroppers, such as cyber-criminals and hackers, telecoms and internet providers or governments cannot read these communications; however this becomes a challenge for brands wanting to build an engaged communication strategy.
Volumes – There is a limit of 300 numbers on group messages.
Reporting and impact assessment is extremely challenging because the platform has zero brand reporting tools.
|Kilimanjaro Tanzania Music Awards (KTMA) – Voting campaign
In 2014, KTMA got about 11,000 votes using an SMS. The awards received almost 1 million entries on WhatsApp versus about 11,000 on SMS in 2013. However, WhatsApp flagged KTMA messages as spam 300 times and the mobile number used for nominations had to be changed fifteen times during the campaign. This didn’t help with consumer education.
The take-out? Use WhatsApp for specific, low volume, targeted niche campaigns.
|The latest||In line with Facebook’s focus of providing value to users, not necessarily brands, WhatsApp has recently announced the launch of Verified Business accounts to assist its users in identifying legitimate brands it has verified. This will enable brands to leverage WhatsApp and create communities of their audience to converse with, but with the management controls to keep the power in its users’ hands: WhatsApp users will be informed when they are talking to a verified business with a green tick and via “yellow messages inside a chat”, and can stop a business from contacting them by using the standard block account process.|
|WeChat: [Owned by Tencent, which is owned by Naspers]
Enables instant messaging, payment services and commerce
Rich functionality, including payments for m-commerce [mobile commerce].
|Cons||The reach of WeChat is low in SA. The medium hasn’t taken off in other African countries, aside from Nigeria|
|Messenger Chat Bot [Owned by Facebook]
Originally Facebook Chat, Messenger was launched as a stand alone app in 2011. The service supports video and audio calling, text chat, voice recorded messaging, the creation of groups and more.
|The most viable option for South Africa, which in our opinion includes the best of both worlds, is in a Facebook Messenger Chat Bot. It has reach, ubiquity, the ability to include images, is developer friendly, can be measured and tracked for reporting purposes, and is supported by Facebook for commercialisation.
A chatbot is basically a computer program written to mimic real-life interactions and conversations, to help provide information and help potential customers find what they need from the brand. It’s very effective for customer service and lead generation through profiling, education and pre-qualification. But an untapped potential for South African marketers is the reach and trackable engagement it can give a brand’s promotional competitions.
As smartphone penetration increases in Africa, so the use of a chatbot becomes more viable as an entry mechanism, acting as an alternative to an SMS short code or USSD mechanic. It is more natural and has more of a conversational tone, with the added advantage of being able to respond with images, and work cross-country on the same platform and code.
If you follow trends in digital marketing you will know that the era of mobile video and hyper-personalisation has arrived.
Personalised video allows you to dynamically create and distribute concise and completely unique videos customised for your individual customers, to explain complex information in a captivating way, viewable on any internet enabled device. By integrating a customer’s personal profile and data into the video, it makes the message more compelling, and you will see a high response level from customers.
There are multiple applications for personalised video, which is applicable to any scenario where a brand needs to communicate with customers in a concise and innovative way. A great example of this is for a customer’s insurance renewal, or to welcome new customers, promote special offers, cross sell or up sell services based on previous purchases. Personalised video is also great for loyalty programmes, annual reports and specific customer milestones like anniversaries or birthdays.
The two words that epitomise social media are ‘like’ and ‘share’. To use a dating analogy, at this stage of the relationship the brand and customer have met, chatted, and interacted personally. The customer likes what they see and wants to share the news.
Shareability can be increased by using Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality or Mixed Reality on mobile phones. But what do these terms mean in lay terms?
Augmented Reality [AR] – look through your mobile phone to augment, or add to the reality that is in front of you with additional images and sound.
Virtual Reality [VR] – the phone is placed inside a visor-type device that produces a 3-dimensional image, which is seen as an alternative or virtual reality. Any motion of the head is picked up by the phone, so that a realistic environment is presented all around you.
Merged Reality [MR] – this is the merging of the real with the virtual or augmented to create an environment where the real and virtual interact.
AR, VR and (soon) MR can enable a brand to create experiences that will ‘wow’ the audience. This opportunity extends beyond mobile gaming. There are so many touch points that can be used to augment a consumer’s experience with a brand along the path to purchase, and throughout the consumer journey. AR, VR and MR can use micro-entertainment to involve people in experiences that are shared via social media. Brands can mobilise and trigger audiences while they are watching TV, looking at a poster, checking out product packaging in-store or when they’re viewing their till slip.
We’re in the golden era of mobile marketing, but to start transforming mobile into results, you’ve got to master the medium.