Digital Marketing: Business Potential for Nigeria

The real-time era has a dramatic impact not only on how people interact and communicate, but on the way media organisations and individuals discover, share and consume information. Brands finally got the power of being real-time and this only became possible owing to the massive uptake of wireless technologies. More recently, there has been a rapid growth of social networks across the digital world as well as a major change in the brand perspectives in social media. Many business executives are realising the power of digital media and its value for business.

As consumers spend more time on digital media, it will continue to be a growing part of marketing activity. However, it is complementing the traditional media. Digital media allows consumers to buy products through links to e-commerce retailers. There is a great opportunity in simplifying the path to purchase and improve the total end-to-end experience that customers have with brands online. Fundamental from a marketing standpoint, though, is the opportunity that digital provides, easily connecting people to different brand choices. The age of one-way, push-only communications is over as digital gives the chance to build real, emotional and long-lasting connections with people in the spaces they choose.     

Nearly 46% of the world's total population uses the internet. And of this population, about 8.9% access the web via mobile platforms.

It is no exaggeration that any organisation that has no online strategy in the world of today is not worthy of being taken seriously. No matter what business you are involved in, whether you are a multinational or a one-stop shop, it is absolutely crucial you have an internet strategy. A small corporation that takes early advantage of digital marketing will overtake a bigger organisation that had no coherent online strategy. The world’s most valuable companies are not necessarily those honoured businesses of banking or the extractive industry. Companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon have become global behemoths by exploiting the amazing power of digital marketing to build their brand and push their products.

Despite the explosion in Internet connectivity and the various benefits it holds for businesses across the globe, brands in this part of the globe are still very reluctant to take advantage of digital marketing to further enhance their businesses. Online strategy is one of the keys to business survival and success. There is therefore the need for brands in Nigeria, to emulate their counterparts in the developed economies, by taking advantage of this online facility to enhance their fortunes, since a huge volume of business activities are increasingly taking place online.

Is There Enabling Environment for Digital Marketing in Nigeria?
With increased Internet penetration in West Africa, access to the Internet leaped fourfold since 2007. Africa contributes 15% of worldwide Internet user populations with Nigeria contributing 28% of this population. With these statistics, there has never been a more appropriate time in the commercial history of West Africa and Nigeria in particular for organisations to harness the power and potential of Digital Marketing technologies.

Nigerian business owners have to embrace digital marketing platforms revolutionising markets across the world in order to better access their customer base.  Many Nigerian businesses are yet to benefit from platforms such as mobile marketing through which they can reach their targeted customers. Such business stands the risk of being left behind due to the fact that the marketing terrain has changed, not just in Nigeria but globally.

The media consumption landscape has changed considerably; so, if people do not make up their minds at this time on whether to join in the revolution of digital marketing or not, then they will lose out. Recent reports have showed that a huge proportion of Africans access Facebook and Google through their mobile phones.

Advertisers need to understand their audience, their interests, the number of people on their platform and how they make effective use of the media. Companies such as Fast Moving Consumer Goods, including breweries and bottling companies, as well as the telecommunications are currently leveraging digital platform for marketing their products and services.

Challenges and Benefits of Digital Marketing in Nigeria
In the Nigerian landscape, marketers and their clients are becoming aware of the fundamental effect and needs of digital marketing. Agencies now advise clients to use banner ads and display campaign ads on Facebook, Yahoo, local news and entertainment sites. However, the emphasis should now critically address what the clients want to achieve and advising them on all the various digital marketing platforms available. Meanwhile, it is important to ask if digital marketing/online advertising is significant for Nigeria.  In answering this question, it is noteworthy to state that digital behavioural changes of the Nigerian consumer are growing swiftly due to convenience and sophistication of mobile phones.

Media consumption is also changing. The rise of convergent technology through social media is growing. The numbers of consumers online are rapidly growing since the Internet makes their lifestyles easier as they tend to shop around more because they have entry to several other points of information. They use the Internet to make inquiries before committing to purchase. According to the Nigerian Communication Commissions (NCC), Nigeria has over 100 million active mobile phone lines. The growing middle class with disposable income is one of the factors contributing to the surge. Television viewing habits are now on the decrease due to lack of time; while social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Skype are on the increase. About 65% of Nigerians, who are above 18 years, actively use various forms of social networks. There is therefore the need for brands to pay close concentration to this trend in their marketing approach. The next logical step would be e-commerce but in Nigeria, cynicism still exists especially in making online payments, even for knowledgeable individuals.

Digital Marketing in Emerging Economies
Most ardent internet users are presently found in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Consumers in rapid-growth markets are hungry for greater access to the Internet and once they have it, it quickly begins to change their lives. As progresses are being made in the information and technology world, new Internet users embrace the potentials of the web to expand their world and discover opportunities available to them.

Mobile broadband has been a major channel in accelerating Internet access in many rapid-growth markets. According to TNS, a market research firm, 36% of people surveyed globally have access to the Internet. The figure shows 49% in China, 53% in Singapore and 68% in South Africa. Also in Africa, especially in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, people access the Internet using their mobile phones than using the computer.

Technological advances have been essential in moving forward developed countries’ economies and are now fundamental for the development of emerging economies, which are fast establishing themselves as powerful actors on the world stage. However, it is not solely the business horizon that will change with the rise of developing nations harnessing the potential of technology; societies will undergo accompanying transformations. The development will shape the citizens’ lives and open up opportunities for them.

A typical case would be China, where the rapid increase in Internet use led to citizens questioning the state censorship, and using the Internet to overcome firewalls imposed by the government. The rise of the Internet and its Chinese tech-savvy users led to the exposure of one of the state’s cracks and there is now a large Chinese internet police, numbered at an estimated 30,000. According to the data from Analysis International, online advertising spending in the nation of China hit 20.4 billion yuan, in the fourth quarter of 2012, a jump of 16% quarter-on-quarter. And it contributes 1% to the national income.

In Brazil for example, the disparity between the poor and the well-off is enormous and the difference of access to technology reflects this, highlighting divisions in society. According to the Interactive Internet Bureau, Brazil’s online advertising spending accounts for 10% of its $3.1 billion total advertising market. Of this, 50% goes on search ads and 50% on display ads.

Russia’s online advertising market grew by 55.5% in 2012, reaching a value of €1.12 billion, according to an estimate by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The contribution of digital marketing business to Russia’s economy is 2.2%.

In South Africa, about 10.5% of the citizens have access to the Internet (approximately 4.59 million people; over a third of them – the majority – aged between 18 and 29). The country has 5.3 million personal computer users, making up 11% of the total population. South Africa’s online advertising industry is worth R319 million and growing rapidly. Online retail generates R688 million in sales, and online air ticket sales R3 billion. There are roughly 26,000 South African blogs, read by over 600,000 people. And the contribution of digital marketing sector to the national income of South Africa is 1.42%. Online marketing has opened a new door for advertising business, which has led to a thriving online advertising industry in South Africa. Predictions are that internet advertising, both wired and mobile, will increase to R1.6 billion in 2014.

In India, from the $5 billion in the advertising industry, $90 million goes to digital marketing, and this digital share is poised to grow larger every year and slated to become 30% of the total market by 2015.

In Nigeria, total ad Spent in 2012 stands at over ₦102.76 billion, with digital media accruing less than 1% of this spend. Digital media spend was still neglected compared to other media, despite huge leaps in ad spend and mobile operators in Nigeria.

Conclusion
Due to the huge marketing potentials ingrained in digital media as a part of the overall marketing mix, coupled with the increasing use of the Internet by Nigerians, faster growth in digital marketing has been predicted. With this projected growth however arises the need for digital marketing campaigns to be carefully planned and executed in line with the objectives of key performing indices clearly spelt out.

Therefore, online marketing for Nigerian brands should be about engagement, a reason to notice, a reason to stay with your customers rather than just awareness and fulfilling all righteousness. For a strong corporate presence to be achieved, the first step is to consider the brand’s Internet strategy by identifying the goals of the business.

An internet marketing strategy should include: specific business goals, objectives for internet activity and a programme of actions that will achieve your goals. This will serve as benchmark for measuring achievement and business model. Digital media should be used in a complementary role alongside traditional media in the real sense of integrated marketing communications to achieve better results.

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