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How Media Houses Can Adapt Better To The Changing Digital Landscape

How Nigeria Traditional Media Houses can Adapt Better to the Changing Digital Landscape

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One of my favorite things to read on how Media Houses are evolving is the New York Times: 2020 Report. It is a very vital read for anyone working in the Media today.
The report generated huge interest and comments online. With Joshua Benton, editor of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, calling it “one of the most remarkable documents I’ve seen” in his years running the Lab. It is a must-read for every business development and marketing personnel.

The document made me reflect on the digital strategies (or lack of it) of Nigeria media houses and, I am unhappy to say, the prognosis is not good for them. In other words, all Nigeria media houses are on a destructive trajectory. That is if they do not change course.

Darwinism And The Inevitable Death Of Nigeria Traditional Media Houses
Darwinism focuses on the evolution of species as caused by natural selection. It’s the idea that nature favors individuals of species that have certain traits which give them an advantage and helps them live better and longer in their environment/habitat. The other, less fortunate individuals have a harder time competing for resources and are therefore more likely to die off. In short, it’s the “survival of the fittest”.

Darwinism makes us understand that it’s not necessarily the strongest or the first to arrive who are most likely to survive; it’s the most adaptable who win in the end.

The same is true in business. In an era of Digital Darwinism, no business is too big to fail or too small to succeed. And in the media business, the existential threat is “adaptability to the digital age”

Below is an excerpt from an article I wrote on a similar theme four years ago Titled The Solution To The Dwindling Newspaper Circulation In Nigeria:
“……Such powerhouse newspapers as The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune are also facing the same challenge of plummeting circulation figures. The difference is just that they are confronting the issue holistically rather than self-deceive themselves that all is well.”

What brought this social state? Mainly, the internet. Yes, the internet. Most of the newly empowered middle class have access to the internet and seriously, why should I buy a newspaper for information when the same is available on my blackberry free of charge? Moreover, the internet gives me access to different sources for the same information—all for free.

When I finished NYSC in 2005, my main source of information on job vacancies was Tuesday Guardian newspaper. And it wasn’t only me. All my freshly minted B.sc. friends consulted Tuesday guardian for employment opportunities. Fast forward five years to 2010 and what do you see? Nairaland, Naijahotjobs, NBF social website, Careers Nigeria, kerewa.com etc. These are free job listing websites where a job seeker will not only find vacancies but also tips on writing a CV, interview tips etc

If anything, the situation is graver (than it was four years ago) for Nigeria media houses:

• More of the traditional media audience has moved (and moving) online. With the proliferation of smartphones and the relatively wider reach and affordability of broadband internet access, more people (especially the young) are shifting their media consumption online
• The emergence of new and agile web-only media outfits. Three of the top five local media sites in Nigeria (Nairaland, Linda Ikeji, and Naij.com) are new digital-only outfits according to Alexa
• An exploding population of digital native

How Nigeria Media Outlets Are Currently Adapting
It is obvious that Nigeria traditional media houses are aware of some of these challenges and are taking actions to adapt to the reality:
1. They have built websites and are publishing digital versions of their content online.
2. Some more sophisticated ones have even gone ahead to build apps and toolbars which they actively promote

Unfortunately, they are tackling the issue in a wrong way and if they continue this way, their extinction will be inevitable. This is because the approach they have taken is at best cosmetic.

Strategic Approach To Digitalizing Of Nigeria Traditional Media
The first and most vital task before Nigeria traditional media houses is to evolve a digital strategy. That is the truly hard work. It starts by asking the bigger questions about your present and your future: What should you become; How must you change to achieve this goal of transformation.

For a newspaper like The Guardian, for example, The big question will be: How can The Guardian become more digital while still maintaining a print presence and, what has to change? That means aggressively questioning many of your print-based traditions and their demands on your time, and determining which can be abandoned to free up resources for digital work.

Without a strategic framework, digital success will be impossible. Actualizing this will be very difficult because it is almost certain that the only way to guarantee a long-term success is to have a paradigm shift in strategy to “digital first”. And this will have a whole lot of implications from hiring to resource allocation.

Some Salient Tips
After designing a well thought out strategy, below are some of the tactics Nigeria traditional media houses can employ to get to their publishing nirvana. Borrowing from the leaked Times Document, I will divide my recommendations into two broad parts: Audience Development and Newsroom Strengthening. The first is a core part of the newsroom team (journalists), while the other is a more broad effort that includes imperatives for business units and the newsroom alike.

Audience Development
1. Use big data to personalize – Data is king. Know as much about your audience as possible. This will aid personalization. For a start, you can start asking readers whether they would be willing to be contacted by reporters or if they are willing to share some basic information about their interest, alma mater and industry so you can send them content about those topics

On a more advanced level, you could create a section of the homepage that uses reader patterns to customize a list of content that readers missed but would most likely want to see. This means that though all readers would see the same top news stories, the other articles you show them would be customized to reflect what they haven’t seen (and would likely want to see based on the footprint they left earlier)

2. Content discovery and distribution are key– This is one area all Nigeria media houses fail woefully. In the digital age, it is not enough to have quality content, your content must be discoverable by its intended audience. This is a broad area that I cannot possibly cover in this post. But my suggestion will be that you must master two key areas (1) content promotion via social media and (2) SEO. Technical SEO hack like structured data/schema, sitemap, canonicalization etc can have a profound impact on your website discoverability

3. Motivate content engagement: There are so many ways to do this. All that is needed is creativity. For example, Linda Ikeji executed one of the most effective audience development campaigns I have seen out of Nigeria last December when she gave out one hundred thousand Naira each to ten of the most consistent commenter. The result on her blog is phenomenal

Newsroom Strengthening
1. You need new talents: You needs a broader array of digital talent, not just reporters and editors, but “technologists, user experience designers, product managers, data analysts, digital content strategists, and content creators–all working under people who have coherent goals

3. Leverage your biggest asset – content: In the digital space, content is king. The NYT document puts this best when it states “You have a huge advantage. You have a tremendous amount of high-quality content that you have a perpetual license to.”
While the focus of the newsroom may be on current events and stories, sometimes it’s important to provide context to what’s happening. And evergreen content can help do just that. So, resurfacing archival content will be great

3. Experiment more with the way you present content: You just must be willing to experiment more in terms of how you present your content: “We must push back against our perfectionist impulses. Though our journalism always needs to be polished, our other efforts can have some rough edges as we look for new ways to reach our readers”

Social Media, search and tech

This Week in Social Media, Search and Marketing Tech

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Sidebar Text Ads
Bing begins removing sidebar text ads on desktop
Starting in the US, text ads will show only in the mainline at the top and bottom of search results pages.

Version History in AdWords
Now you can easily compare old Ad variations in Adwords! AdWords now shows ad version history. Version history shows all old versions with their dates and edits, how long they were in place and what changed, plus performance.

Mobile-first Indexing for Sites
Google has announced that it has begun the process of rolling out the mobile-first indexing to more sites. This rollout is only for sites that “follow the best practices for mobile-first indexing,” Google said.

Facebook
Mack Zuckerberg was on Capitol Hill to defend his company’s reputation, enduring two days of questioning in front of Congress and trying to assure the public that Facebook was still a friendly platform.

Facebook’s removing third-party targeting data
Facebook announced it will be removing access to data provided by third-party data brokers within its advertising system. As Facebook deals with more scutiny from the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the General Data Protection Regulation going into effect on May 25, the platform has been

Snapchat
A feature is being tested that will let users swipe on a product and buy it from the Snap Store within Snapchat’s Discover platform.

Product review Model and Mechanism

Product Review Mechanism – A Fail Proof Model

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There are thousands of resources on new product development online and offline. Most recommend the classic (or its variants) development process: Idea Generation, Screening, Concept Development and Testing, Marketing Strategy Development, Business Analysis, Product Development, Market Testing, and Commercialization. And if well executed, the process is most effective. They all end at commercialization.
But because new product development is not an exact science, no amount of preparation and research can predict with absolute certainty that a product will succeed in the market. Which invariably means that some products will blow (New Coke is always a good example).
How do you know your newly launched product is blowing, why is it blowing? Can it be salvaged and how? Should it be salvaged or shelved?

In other words, you need to do a post-launch review. This is a model I developed for a client. Hope you find it useful.
The product review will be performed on two levels:
Performance vs. projection measurement
Market feedback

Performance Vs Projection
Compare actual performance with projection as regards: Volume, market share, and revenue
Volume: Has the product been able to meet the projected volume of sales within a stipulated time?
Market share: Has the product captured the projected market share?
Revenue: Has it met its revenue targets?

Data and information sources:
Volume: sales and accounting; Market share: external industry sources; Revenue: accounting; Product Concept Document, PCD
Grading Metrics
100% + =Surpass expectations
100% = meet expectations
75-99% = good
50-74% = fair
40-50% = poor
Below 40% = disastrous
Calculate the cumulative score and use score to make decision

Decision Keys:
100+ score: Retain the product without changing any variable
75-99%: Retain the product but make changes to some variables( as identified in the market feedback)
50-74%: Major changes in both marketing and product concept if the product is to be retained
40-50%: Drop except market feedback show a strong product relevance and positive market perception
Below 40%: Drop

Market Feedback
Use review channels to gather feedback on:
Customer Satisfaction—to gauge how satisfied customers are with the product
And to know whether the product performed to its promise
Product Relevance—to gauge whether the product meets a need gap in the customer s lives
Attitude—to measure customers dispositions to the product–positive or negative and to what degree
Product Awareness—to measure (product and its benefits) awareness level in the market.

Follow this up with Marketing Lessons from a Bus Ride.

Marketing Lesson From Bus Ride - wow effect communication

Marketing Lessons From A Bus Ride

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Educated people just love to think they are wiser than the less educated folks—which is a shame. I sure used to think the same way.
Take marketing for example. There are some key marketing concepts drilled into every marketing professional. Things like the Four Ps, Segmentation, Targeting etc. There are tomes of books written on these subjects.
Well, last week I encountered a brilliant marketer. Guess where? You guessed right, in a bus. Marketing Lessons From A Bus Ride

For the first time in fifteen years, I found myself inside a Lagos Molue (those rickety commuter buses). We had barely left the bus-stop when a well-dressed man (by molue standard) stood up, held up a bible and started singing popular Christian songs. A few minutes later, he started praying for the passengers. The whole bus became quiet, and the only sound was the man’s shrill voice and the booming chorus of amen by the passengers.
Thus, gaining the rapt attention of the passenger this way, the man commenced his real business. In a mixture of barely literate English and pidgin, he started by denouncing the avarice and insensitivity of our government in general. He then zeroed-in (with righteous indignation) on the health sector. He lamented how the cost of healthcare has gone beyond the reach of the common man………….finally, he brought out a sachet of some Chinese herbal medicine which he claimed could prevent all kinds of diseases. He extolled the virtues and efficacy of Chinese traditional medicine in general and his product in particular……..
The result? Over 50 percent of the passengers in that bus bought something from the man!

What is the marketing lesson?

Target effectively: One of the main causes of marketing failure is the failure to identify the right target for our offering. The first thing the man in the Molue did right was to understand that only the people in the lower echelon of the society will patronize his kind of product. Had he marketed the same product to a more sophisticated audience, he would have been a resounding failure.
Spend time to target the right prospect. Prospects that need your product; can afford your product; and most importantly, prospects that will see you and your offering as credible.
Appeal to emotion: identifying rightly that Nigerians (especially the poor ones) are a religious lot, our man started his pitch with a religious “service”. The result is that he gained the undivided attention of his audience. He built the emotional connection further by using we-against-them tactics (they being the government and we being he and his audience).
Establish an emotional connection with your prospect before you try to sell him.
Media: you must identify the best medium to communicate with your target. Who enters Molue? The struggling masses of course.

A strategic approach to Digital Marketing in Nigeria

A Strategic Approach to Digital Marketing in Nigeria

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In a previous post, I promised to discuss in details how to go about setting up a professional digital marketing campaign for your brand, from strategy formulation to performance evaluation. This blog post is geared towards doing just that. Even though the title says digital marketing in Nigeria, I believe this approach will work in any market.

It All Starts With A Strategy

Of late, I have been having series of meetings with prospective clients and one of the first questions I ask at the discovery stage is: “what internet marketing strategy do you have in place”? The commonest answers are “we advertise on Facebook”, “we have employed somebody to manage our Twitter and Facebook account”, “We have banner ads on XYZ sites”…….Little wonder virtually all of these companies are reporting little or no ROI from their online marketing activities.
There are several internet marketing channels that you can utilize to market your business online but, selecting the right one(s) “depends”. Depends on what? That question can only be tackled on the strategic level. But first, let us define what a strategy is:

What, Mr. Man, Is Strategy?
A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. Strategy helps you answer the question, “What are we trying to accomplish?” As can be inferred from this definition, you can see that you cannot say you have a strategy if you do not have a clear objective.
A strategy is different from “tactics” which help you answer the question, “How are we going to accomplish our goal?”.  A commentator on Jeremiah Owyang blog puts this most succinctly when he said:
“One helpful trick to check if you have a strategy (usually timeless) or tactic (tools/technology dependent in your hand is changing the tools and see if it still applies. For example, a timeless strategy is – “Connect with customers while in our store and increase sales.” If you this is 1901, you’d post large posters and have employees running around and talking with customers. If it is 1987, you’d have electronic boards with specials, if it is 2012 you’d have an HTML5 page or an app that helps you connect to customers and in 2015 you’d fully support Google glasses. The strategy never changed, the tactics did”.
So, without a clear strategy, your online marketing effort is doomed to failure.

Digital Marketing Channels
After choosing your strategy, the next step is to review the range of channels available to you for
realizing the strategic objectives. For Digital marketing, the available channels include:
Pay Per Click Advertising
This involves bidding for placement on search engines. It is keyword based; meaning your ad appears when relevant searches are made. E.g. Google Adwords and Bing Ads
Display Advertising
This involves placement of ads (banners, video etc) on third party websites
Email Marketing
This is the process of collecting email addresses from people and marketing to them via email messages
Search Engine Optimization
This is the process of earning in the free/organic results of major search engines like Google, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, etc
Social Media Marketing
This is the process of leveraging social media platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc) to market to your target audience.
Affiliate Marketing
This involves incentivizing other sites to promote your products in exchange for a share of the revenue they drive.
The list above is by no means exhaustive.

Digital Marketing Channels Compared

To also help you in putting the digital marketing channels in proper perspectives and have a framework for understanding the cost and benefit advantages of each channel, we will employ a POE media model ( which is a slight modification of the POEM model)
The POE model classifies all digital marketing channels into three distinct subgroups: Paid Media, Owned Media and Earned MediaDigital Marketing Channels

Your Company Goal: What are the top objectives of your company’s online marketing effort?
Brand Awareness: Your objective is to achieve greater brand visibility and increase the likelihood that consumers recognize the existence and availability of your company’s product or service.
Boost Sales: You objective is to make more sale. Period.
Market Education: Your product or service is new (or has new features) and potential customers are yet to realize that the problem they need to solve.

Available Resources: This could be material or human
Budget: How much do you have to spend on your digital marketing activities?
Human and Intellectual: What personnel with what range and level of competence do you have available? This includes Development personnel, Creative personnel, Writers etc
Lastly, there are two other primary variables that can be added to the selection process that falls under the realm of strategic market analysis. Namely an understanding of your customers and the competitors.
If your company has (or develops) a strong understanding of customer needs and behavior, then it will be better able to target those customers to achieve the company goals.

Inbound Marketing ecommerce in Nigeria

Our Favourite Digital Marketing Minds In The World

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Every field has its authorities (Edward Wittins in Physics, Harold Bloom in Literature, Stanley Hauerwas in Theology to mention but a few). Same is true of the digital marketing field as well. There are a set of people who based on their exhibited expertise, depth of understanding and professional acumen have earned the tag “authority” in the field of digital marketing.
While there are several digital marketing “experts”, very few are qualified to be called “authority”. Below is a list of our favourite notable digital marketing authorities alive.

Classification By Subject Areas
Rather than do a generic list, what I have done is to group the experts into four distinct subject areas in digital marketing: SEO, PPC, CRO/Analytics, General Strategy

Search Engine Optimization

Rand Fishkin

Rand is the co-founder of Moz and served as the CEO of the company until last month. Moz is one of the marketing world’s fastest growing software companies. Rand Fishkin’s knowledge of SEO is overwhelming. More important however is his willingness to share all that he knows–for free. His company blog is arguably the richest source of up to date SEO resources. What surprises me the most about Rand is that he never lowers the standard of his write ups as I am yet to see a mediocre or even an average stuff from him.
Rand Fishkin co-authored the Art of SEO from O’Reilly Media, co-founded Inbound.org, and was named on PSBJ’s 40 Under 40 List and BusinessWeek’s 30 Best Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30.

Will Critchlow

Will is a nerd. An artistic nerd with a mathematics degree from the University of Cambridge (St. John’s College) including a graduate thesis on auction theory.
Will founded Distilled with Duncan in 2005. Since then, he has consulted with some of the world’s largest organizations and most famous websites, spoken at most major industry events and regularly appeared in local and national press.
His knowledge of search marketing is encyclopedic.

Neil Patel

Neil is a generous soul. I mean, how do you explain someone who spends tens of thousands dollars to produce top-notch digital marketing tools and guides only to give the resources away FREE? I have learned more from Neil than any other person in the area of inbound marketing.
Patel launched his first online venture, a job board named Advice Monkey, while in high school. The inability of the marketing companies he hired for the project to deliver meaningful result propelled him to learn how to drive traffic to his site, thus launching his career in online marketing. By 2009, Patel had become so good in marketing and search engine optimization that his expertise was engaged by 30 of the top 100 Technorati blogs and was named one of the top influencers on the web by The Wall Street Journal

Paid Search

Larry Kim

When it comes to paid search, Larry is head above the rest. He is simply the best mind in paid search today.
Larry’s background has been in software engineering, software product management, and Internet Marketing (particularly PPC, SEO and Social Media Marketing), for several widely-used software productivity tools over 10 years.
In recognition of his pre-eminence in paid search, Larry was voted as the most influential PPC expert in 2013 according to the PPC Hero Blog and won a spot in the ClickZ Digital Marketing Hall of Fame and Small Business Influencer Award in 2013. In 2015 Larry also won Search Marketer of the Year Awards from the US Search Awards and Search Engine Land.
Larry is the founder and Chief Technical Officer of Wordstream, a leading provider of AdWords, Facebook and keyword tools used by over a million marketers worldwide.

Marty Weintraub

Marty is the least known person to me on the list. However, almost all the people I consulted before writing this post agree that he is one of the leading authorities in Paid Search
Marty is the Founder & Evangelist of aimClear® an integrated social, search, display and PR online marketing agency. Client credits include Intel, Siemens, Tektronix, United Health Group, MarthaStewart.com, The Washington Post, Ning, SecondLife & other iconic global brands.
He has written extensively for respected Internet marketing publications including SearchEngineWatch, SearchEngineLand, SearchEngineRoundTable and been quoted in others, from AdAge to MediaPost

Pat East

Pat is the Founder of PPC Hero, the industry’s leading and most highly trafficked paid search marketing blog. PPC Hero delivers search marketing thought leadership and expertise from the PPC experts at Hanapin Marketing.
A university professor, Pat has probably impacted more PPC practitioners than any other person. He is also the Founder and CEO of Hanapin Marketing, a premier digital marketing agency that specializes in paid search marketing.

Analytics/CRO

Avinash Kaushik

The major advantage of digital marketing over traditional marketing is the former’s data-driven nature. Every element of digital marketing can be tracked, measured and optimized. This goes to show the importance of data management and analytics skills to a modern marketer. Avinash has probably contributed to this field than any other person.
Avinash is the Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google (Data-driven decision making uncomplexified); The Co-Founder and Chief Education Officer for Market Motive; The author of two bestselling books: Web Analytics 2.0, Day. He has won several awards, including:
– Statistical Advocate of the Year from the American Statistical Association, 2009
– Rising Star award from the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation, 2010
– Most Influential Industry Contributor from the Web Analytics Association, 2011
– Featured in the “Pioneers of Digital” book, with a bunch of amazing people I admire! 2012

Annie Cushing

If Avinash is the king of analytics, Annie is the undisputed queen.
Annie loves all things data visualization and analytics so much that someone once dubbed her Annielytics. And it kind of stuck.
She is good. She is extremely brilliant and uncommonly selfless. Yes, selfless. She created a monster marketing tools resource for her fellow marketers (hundreds of tools) and a kissing cousin audit checklist and gave them away for free!

Oli Gardner

It was so difficult to decide on which category to put Oli. He is an all-rounder. His Noob Guide To Internet Marketing is a landmark in the history of content creation. I eventually decided to put him in the CRO category because his expertise in this area is unassailable.
He is a Co-Founder & Director of Marketing at Unbounce.com

Social Media Marketing

It is hard to agree on which one has the highest number of quackery between SEO and social media marketing. Because of the zero barriers to entry in these two fields, anybody can claim to be SEO expert the same way anybody with a Facebook account can call himself social media guru.
Luckily, in this ocean of ineptitude, there are a few people with the highest level of professionalism, knowledge and adroitness.

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research firm focused on disruptive technology. A digital analyst, anthropologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture. Solis is also globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. His new book, What’s the Future of Business (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold and flourish in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. Prior to End of Business, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.
His website is a treasure trove of social media marketing wealth

Michael Stelzner

Michael Stelzner is one of the most recognizable names in the world of social media marketing. Michael founded Social Media Examiner in 2009 with the goal of providing free how-to information about social media.
Content marketing is the buzzword in digital marketing now but way back in 2011, Stelzner wrote Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition (Wiley) in which he introduces the concept of “content as fuel” for businesses. As Stelzner describes in an interview with Bryan Elliot of Entrepreneur, “Primary fuel is regularly produced free content that meets the needs of readers. This type of content includes how-to articles, case studies, and reviews.”

Jeremiah Owyang

Jeremiah states that his career mission is to help corporations connect with customers using web technologies. He does this by researching the way disruptive technologies are changing the customer relationship, by speaking at many conferences and events, and by serving as a frequent source for the media.
Since 2006, his blog has been the place where he shares insights from his research and what it means for a business of the future.
Jeremiah lives at the edge of technology but maps it back to what it means for businesses. This has led him to early thinking in the realms of customer experience, social business, interactive marketing, and now the collaborative economy.
In addition to his blog, Jeremiah and his team have published numerous research reports focused on social business and the collaborative economy. They focus on topics like how products, services, and markets have changed with the collaborative economy; how businesses manage complex, scaled social media programs; and the career path of the new social strategist. The reports are open research and can be accessed by anyone

Strategy

Dave Chaffey

Without a well-articulated strategy, marketing effectiveness is compromised. A well-developed strategy simplifies your everyday marketing job as it makes the implementation of different initiatives straight-forward.
Dave is the go-to authority on anything digital marketing strategy. Don’t take my word for it, in 2004 he was recognized by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who has helped shape the future of marketing. His RACE Digital Marketing Planning model remains the best digital marketing planning model out there
Dave is the author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation, and Practice

 

Nigeria e-commerce- CRO

The Definitive Guide To Conversion Rate Optimization For Nigeria E-Commerce Sites (1)

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A lot has changed in the Nigeria e-commerce space. For one, the Nigeria e-commerce space has experienced phenomenal attention with the influx of millions of foreign capital into the sector.
While this has deepened the industry in terms of scale, operational sophistication, visibility etc, one rarely talked about effect of this growth, is the increasing cost of customer acquisition.
Getting customers to your e-commerce site is now a whole lot more difficult now than it was two years ago. For example, I ran several Adword campaigns in 2011 for a couple of Nigeria e-commerce sites and my average CPC was never above 30 cent – even for competitive keywords. Now you pay about a dollar or more for the same keywords.
The case with organic search is even worse. In 2011, I remember that with just a little On-Page optimization, you could easily start ranking for your target keywords (and lots of long-tailed keywords). Fast forward and SEO result is a whole lot more difficult.
Now, with the relatively high cost of getting visitors to your site, it becomes imperative for you to get the most from your site visitors. And for e-commerce sites, that means getting more of your site visitors to buy from you.
The process of getting more result from your site visitor is called Conversion Rate Optimization, CRO.
CRO is a complex subject that cannot be covered in one blog post. So, I have created a series of blog posts on Conversion Rate Optimization Tips For Nigeria E-commerce Sites.
Below are areas of e-commerce touch point optimization that if implemented, will help your Nigeria e-commerce site eliminate the core conversion roadblocks of usability, friction or anxiety factors.

STARTING POINT
The first step in optimizing your e-commerce website for conversion is to first of all break the entire user experience into unique experiences delivered at several of the touch points on your websites. Here you will be asking questions like:
-What is the impression that a user gets when he or she arrives at your online store?
-What kind of result do users see when they type something in your product search box?
-What do you say in your communication to your users when they register, reset a password, subscribe or place an order?
-What happens if a user lands on an ‘out of stock’ product page?
-Where a user searches for a product that doesn’t exist or out of stock, what happens?
-What does a user see if he enters an invalid email address during registration?
-How simple is your checkout process?
-What are the trust-building elements on your site to reduce cart abandonment? Inbound Marketing - e-commerce in Nigeria

So Here Are Quick Cro Tips For Nigeria E-commerce Websites
1) Promote Your Top-Selling Products On Your Home Page
Use a blend of sales report and analytical tools like Google Analytics to determine your best-performing products & categories. Once these are identified, give them more visibility by promoting them in banner sliders and recommended products.

2) Offer Multiple Payment Options
This has been one of the main reasons for high shopping cart abandonment in almost all the Nigeria e-commerce store I have worked on. The answer is simple, clearly show all the different ways in which a customer can pay for an order on your site. I will strongly recommend that you have “Pay On Delivery” and, to make it the most conspicuous payment option on your site. This is especially important at this stage of e-commerce in Nigeria when most customers are still skeptical about the credibility of online shopping.

3) Arrange Category Structure By Popularity
The category links in the navigation should be in the ascending order of their popularity. That is the most effective arrangement. The second option is to arrange them alphabetically.

4) Ensure Site Search Accuracy
Nothing is as frustrating to your customer as searching for a product on your site and getting a totally irrelevant result. To avoid this, below are some suggestions:
a. Implement intelligent search to cover singular, plurals, misspells etc. For example, a search for ‘shoe’ & ‘shoes’ should return the same results associated with shoes(s).
b. Implement Auto-Suggestion to help the user search for relevant keywords. This is one of the commonest search functionality wherein as the user types his search query in the search box, suggestions are shown. This feature makes it easier for them to find the desired product more quickly.
c. Enable category search option

7) Use High-Quality Product Images
Studies after studies have shown that image is always the first thing that a visitor will notice as soon as he lands on your site. Quality product image will help your store convert better. Another side to this is that, apart from using quality product images on your site, you should also show as many as we can – from different angles.

8) Pay Attention To Product’s Description
This is one area almost all Nigeria e-commerce sites are guilty. It is wrong to just copy and paste manufacturer’s description on your product page. The product description is a sales copy and it should be seen in that light.
Let your description present the product in the most appealing (functional or emotional appeal) way to your site visitor and somehow, also anticipate and address their reservations/apprehensions. A few tips:
-Use bulleted points to make the information easier for the visitors to digest
-Arrange the product features in order of importance.
-Even though I said earlier that you should write see your product description copy as a sales copy, you should not oversell. – users will know if our claims aren’t genuine.

9) Clearly Show The Product’s Delivery TRUE Time
One of the main complaints about Nigeria e-commerce sites is a failure to deliver within the promised time. While I understand the temptation to over promise, it is much wiser to under-promise and over-deliver. This is one of the best ways to build positive word of mouth and referrals about your e-commerce site.
Not only should you give realistic delivery time, users should know when they can expect to receive the product if they order.

10) Encourage users to leave reviews
You should do this for two reasons:
i. Good product reviews add a lot of content on a product page which is very good for SEO (post-Panda and Penguin updates)
ii. Positive customer reviews also make your store more credible and thus improve your conversion rate.
11) Checkout Page
A lot of cart abandonment happen during check out. This should not be because, for a user to get to your check out page, it means he or she is really interested in buying. To stem this, your check out page should:
-Security: Make it clear to users that your site is secure and that their privacy will never be compromised.
-Transparency: There should not be any hidden charges. VAT, shipping cost etc should be stated clearly.
-Payment Methods: I talked about this earlier. All payment methods users can use to make payment for goods bought on your site should be clearly stated (Mobile Money, Credit Cards, Bank deposit, Pay On Delivery etc).

12) Simplify Your Information Forms
Users want the buying process to be over as soon as possible. So, anything you can do to shorten the amount of work they need to do will increase your conversion. start by removing ALL fields that are not absolutely necessary on your forms. It’s not a good idea to make them enter the same information twice.
Also, if a customer has already provided some information in an earlier step, don’t ask for it again in the next step. Automatically pre-fill the fields so that user doesn’t have to enter it again
It is important you do not confuse your site users. One way he can be frustrated is if he is not able to proceed because he is missing out filling some information which has not been marked as a mandatory field. It is important you use an asterisk (*) to clearly mark optional fields.

13) Create An Impressive About Page
One of the less known factors for conversion rate improvement of e-commerce sites is the “About Us”. A surprisingly large number of users actually go to the About page before they make a purchase from an online store. This is especially so if they are visiting the store for the first time.
It goes without saying then that you should have a rich About Us page. A few tips on how to do this:
-Give a bit of information about why your company was started.
-Highlight the people behind your company, preferably with pictures
-Be Authentic

14) Conspicuous Support/Contact Page
It is very important that you have a phone number prominently displayed on your homepage. And, your physical office address should be featured on your site as well. your customers must know that real people are available to help if they’re lost or confused. It is also a trust builder especially in Nigeria where there is still apathy about online shopping.

15) Offer A Good Return Policy
If your store’s returns policy isn’t clear, visitors might get apprehensive when buying from our store. Your returns policy should be visible, clear and buyer-friendly so that people feel safe while shopping with you.
In the second part of this series, I will try to go into the advanced stuff- Split testing, design, information architecture, color science etc

MARKETING TELECOMS

Nigeria Telecoms Companies and Marketing: A Breakdown of Their Marketing Strategies & Recommendation

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Prior to the advent of GSM in 2001, phone penetration was low to the point of being negligible. Nitel had the monopoly. But all that changed with the GSM revolution brought by the licensing of Econet, Mtel, MTN and the later entry of Glo and Etisalat into the industry.

At first, all that was needed for marketing success was availability. Because the demand for a phone was far more than the supply, these companies were on a roll, snapping subscribers after subscribers from phone starved Nigerians. That has since changed. The landscape is becoming more competitive and the growth rates of yesteryears are becoming hard to replicate. In a nutshell, continued success in the contemporary Nigerian GSM market calls for marketing wizardry.

Despite the figure being brandished by NCC, the Nigerian telecom market is reaching saturation point. Most of the new lines being activated are purchased by people who already own one or more phones. An additional phone line does not translate to increase airtime usage; in fact, the reverse is mostly the case. The mobile industry ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) in 2003 was around $54 per month but as at December 2008, it has fallen to $13.

So how are the major players in the Nigerian telecom industry facing this reality?

MTN

It is the undisputed market leader in coverage, revenue and subscriber base. This is easily attributable to MTN’s marketing savvy.

Effective differentiation and positioning are the biggest determinants of marketing success. And MTN is a master of the craft, exemplified by its product and service actually owning values — real and perceived, rational and emotional in the consumers’ minds. And their possession of these values and meaning in the consumers’ minds (beyond primacy of product) has enabled them to successfully differentiate themselves.

Coverage

That was the original competitive advantage of MTN. In the early years of GSM in Nigeria, while its main competitor – Airtel (then Econet) was mired in management crisis, MTN was building capacity and adding town after town under its coverage. After which it started covering all the major highways in the country. And having achieved broader coverage than its competitors, MTN quickly reflected this in its positioning statement — changing its tagline from the best connection (a generic and daft tagline) to everywhere you go.

It then followed logically that if you want to be able to use your phone wherever you may be in the country, you have only one choice: get connected to MTN.

Reliability

This message is subtly embedded in the company communication message. It is really doubtful whether MTN has a more quality network than its competitors, but that is not the issue. The issue is that MTN was smart enough to take advantage of an unexploited positioning opportunity. The result is that MTN owns the word reliability in the customer’s mind.

Leadership

This is largely a quantitative issue. With over 40% of the market, the leadership position is a given. And coupled with its association with coverage and reliability, MTN’s leadership is unquestionable.
The result? Decreased price sensitivity. MTN’s charges are about the highest in the market, yet the company still adds more new subscribers than its competitors year after year. This is just one of the benefits MTN is enjoying from its supremely high brand equity.

HOWEVER……
For MTN to continue to enjoy its position, it must become even better in its marketing. Leaders lose when they make mistake in their marketing strategy. MTN’s market success was helped by the mediocrity of its competitors’ marketing. And it would be naïve of MTN to expect a continuation of this state of affairs.
And most especially, MTN needs to know that as much as your brand equity gives you price premium, in an industry like telecoms, it is only for a time. This is because as the number of offers within a category multiplies, the differences between them start to become increasingly trivial and loyalty to the best value replaces any previous loyalty to a brand.

Airtel

A confused brand.

There are only a few brand mis-management graver than that of Airtel Nigeria. On August 5, 2001, Airtel became the first telecoms operator to launch commercial GSM services in Nigeria. In its first two years of operation in Nigeria, the company was running neck to neck with MTN for the leadership position in the industry. But a deluge of management crisis led to its loss of momentum. This situation was further compounded by the perennial identity change of Airtel – five times in the last couple of years. Econet, Vmobile, Celtel, Zain, and Airtel.

All these factors make the job of managing the brand a challenging one. Unfortunately, the company’s marketing has been average at best.

Positioning

What does Airtel stand for?

What associative cue does the name Airtel evoke?

To me the answer is confusion. This sad state of affairs is not only the result of perennial identity change; it also results from poor product management strategy. Airtel has so many products in the market that it is very difficult for a prospective subscriber to know the one that is most suitable for him.

The way to build a strong brand is having a narrow focus and owning a word in the mind. Because Airtel lacks any meaningful differentiation, it will always realize meager results from its marketing. The result has been that Airtel has had to compete on price.

Now, if being the low price provider is Airtel’s value proposition, (let’s leave the appropriateness of this strategy for now) then the smart thing for Airtel is to convey it in all its messages and in everything it does. This, Airtel has failed to do.

It is not all gloom for the brand. Airtel needs to first take stock of its marketing asset and devise ways to get the optimum result from them. For instance, survey after survey has shown that Airtel is perceived as a most customer-focused company. But Airtel seems oblivious of this great marketing asset that if properly utilized can pay a huge dividend to its brand. This, coupled with its low price could form the nucleus of Airtel’s positioning strategy. And a brand perceived as customer-centric will always enjoy market success.

GLO

If there is any company whose entry into the Nigerian telecom industry was greeted with great anticipation and expectations by the public, it was Glo. This was due to:

The huge publicity that accompanied the story of how the company won, lost and fought to re-win operating license from NCC. The company came at a time Nigerians were becoming increasingly disgruntled by the high cost of GSM service.

And Glo did not disappoint. At least initially.

It won wide market acceptance and goodwill by launching its service on per seconds billing (i.e. the prevailing practice then was per minute billing whereby even if your call terminates after one second, you still pay for the full minute). It also priced its sim cards cheaper than what was available in the market thereby ensuring that more people had access to its service. And it paid off. Despite being a late entrant into the market, in a little over three years, GLO captured about 25% of the Nigerian GSM market. Unfortunately, the company marketing since then has been mediocre and wasteful.

Effective marketing involves much more than overpriced ads and flashy celebrity display. Yes, celebrity display. If there is any marketing practice Glo is known for, it is her unprecedented use of celebrity endorsement. But celebrity endorsement as a core brand building strategy is simply stupid (except in some industries like lifestyle, cosmetics, and fashion). Another marketing practice associated with Glo is sales promotion. In fact, it is an inside joke in the Nigerian marketing community that Glo doesn’t do marketing—it does only promotion. The problem is, you don’t build a brand by sales promotion—you only build temporary sales.

Glo probably has more marketing assets (at least potentially) than its competitors. Exploiting just one or two of this is enough to leave competitors gasping for breath. For example:

Glo is the only Nigerian owned GSM brand– this means its profits are kept in Nigeria…..(though this might not be the best positioning strategy for a company with international aspirations)

Glo is the first single company to build an $800 million high capacity fiber optic cable—this huge investment shows GLO’s belief in and commitment to Nigeria and its resolve to provide its subscribers the highest quality service. In other words, Glo has the most claim to the word quality in the customer’s mind.

The potency of these assets is that they could be used to connect with the market on an emotional level. All that is needed is a good positioning strategy. But that, for now, is what is lacking in Globacom.

ETISALAT (now 9Mobile)

Had Etisalat entered the Nigerian telecoms market earlier, it probably would have attained market leadership by now. The reason for this is not farfetched: Etisalat is simply the most creative marketer in the Nigerian telecoms industry.

Etisalat’s market entry strategy is the most well thought out I have seen in Nigeria. First, the company recognized it was coming into a developed market which means it would have to gain customers from the existing providers. And to overcome this uphill task, Etisalat started by first identifying the singular reason people find it difficult to change their GSM service provider even when they are dissatisfied with the service they are getting—which is that changing provider will mean changing phone number, (i.e. there is no sim convergence in Nigeria) a daunting and inconvenient prospect.

This, Etisalat addressed by asking people to choose any phone number they want. And people did. Choosing numbers that are similar to their existing numbers. As a result, Etisalat gained hundreds of thousands of subscribers even before it launched its services! and Etisalat’s subsequent marketing has equally been brilliant.

Segmentation and Targeting

here Etisalat performed better than its competitors. For example, it effectively targeted the young population with the Easy clique, a product that resonates well with that market segment.

Promotion

Etisalat has become the trendsetter in the industry as far as meaningful sales promotion is concerned. In fact, its competitors have been reduced to copying its promotions.

But, despite all the above, Etisalat still needs to improve its marketing. What the company needs most at this stage is a deepening of its subscriber base. As much as brand building is vital, at least equal if not more attention should be devoted to sales building marketing.

If there is anything that all these tell us, it is simply that the old school of marketing is still the only school that counts: know your consumer. Segment and Target accordingly. Position specifically by ensuring that your brand stands for something clear, important and differentiating.

wasting money on online marketing - wow effect communication

How Nigerian Companies Are Wasting Money On Online Marketing

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Nigerian companies are finally embracing online marketing. As someone who has been at the forefront of advocating this paradigm shift, this development should make me happy. Unfortunately, this is not so.
My unhappiness with the Nigeria companies’ new found love for digital marketing stems from the level of mediocrity I see being exhibited by new digital marketers.
This post will dwell on what is wrong with the approach of most Nigeria companies to online marketing and how they can jettison mediocrity and start deploying ROI focused digital marketing programs.

How Nigeria Companies Market Online

Banner Ads
To most Nigerian companies, digital marketing starts and ends with banner ads. Well, to start with, banner ads are the least effective marketing channel.  See some statistics about banner ads:

  • An estimated 31 percent of ad impressions can’t be viewed by users. (Comscore)
  • Of those banners that are in view, a Nielsen eye-tracking study shows that 92 percent are simply not noticed.
  • A recent study by OnScroll in the U.K. estimates that a whopping $11.7 billion was wasted on display ads in 2012 alone.
  • 8 percent of Internet users account for 85 percent of clicks. (ComScore)
  • About 50% of clicks on mobile ads are accidental. (Source: GoldSpot Media)
  • You are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad. (Source: Solve Media)

Now, when you juxtapose the stats above with the ever-worsening case of banner ads fatigue, you will begin to understand what I am talking about.
While it is true that the quoted stats are not Nigeria centric, the true stats for Nigeria will probably be worse(You don’t believe me? just head to bellanaija.com, lindaikeji.blogspot.com, stelladimokokorkus.com, ynaija.com, naij.com and other popular Nigeria sites and you will see how inundated you are with banner ads)
So, for a brand to build its whole online marketing strategy on banner ads is preposterous, to say the least.

Social Media
Another big online marketing lie that Nigeria companies have bought into is that social media is the marketing panacea. So many “marketing experts” have touted social media as a magic bullet, promising it will change the very fabric of how we market online. And it seems Nigeria companies have bought this hype hook, line and sinker.
Sorry sir, The truth is, social media is not the marketing panacea it has been sold to you as. In fact, countless studies have shown that social media is the second least effective marketing channel after banner ads!

SOLUTION
Does the above mean companies should not utilize banner ads and social media marketing channels? Not exactly. The point I am trying to make is that “banners ads or social media are only a small part of the creative offering – if used well they can perform equally as well as other channels for both branding and DR. The real insight comes when a company looks beyond each silo and start to measure the cross-channel value of a campaign, optimizing based on what works and equally what does not.

In other words, you need to take a strategic approach to digital marketing. This means asking questions like “where is the company today and where does it want to get to?” then applying those answers to the selection of marketing opportunities. And of course, employing the best practices for the selected channels to get the best from them

Social Media Marketing in Nigeria

Comprehensive Guide to Social Media Marketing in Nigeria

By | Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

It is doubtful if there is any serious marketing executive or business owner who has not heard of the enormous business building opportunity presented by the advent of social media. From blogs to agencies meeting rooms, one of the staples of marketing prescription for business promotion and building in Nigeria is Social Media. The buzz about social media marketing in Nigeria notwithstanding, is it suitable for your business? and if yes, how can you leverage it to achieve your business goals?
In this post, we aim to equip you with step by step process for developing, building and executing a purposeful and result-oriented social media marketing program for your business. The post will cover both the strategic and the tactical aspects.

What is Social Media Marketing?
First, let us try and understand what the term “social media” means. Social media is media (words, photos, videos, etc.) that is spread through social interaction chiefly using individual communication networks. Popular web-based social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, Google +, Instagram etc. Unlike the traditional advertising paradigm that spreads information from one source to many, social media promotes peer-to-peer communication and gives individuals the choice to opt in, or out, of virtual conversations. With social media, consumers of media turn into producers of media—through photo and video sharing, blog posting, or other forms of content dissemination.
So, social media marketing means actively starting conversations, pushing content, asking questions, driving traffic and expanding visibility through social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Nairaland etc).

Social Media In Nigeria
It is estimated that there are over ten million active social media users in Nigerian. According to Internet World Statistics, Facebook alone has 6,630,200 users in Nigeria as at Dec 31/12. In fact, according to Alexa, five of the top ten most visited websites in Nigeria are social media sites.

How Social Media Can Benefit Your Business
By implementing a thoughtful social media campaign you can:
Create Buzz
Buzz is all about riding the current wave of media—and creating buzz means adopting the latest media
to promote your message. Today this means leveraging social media. Building a
legitimate social media voice and developing influence within your community will create buzz for your business.

Generate Traffic
Having a well structured social media program will increase the probability that people will pass along your message, product or website through online social networks. This opens the chance of your message being disseminated to new and diverse crowds and thereby help generate new visitors to you.

Generate Leads
It is customary that in every sector of the economy, there are people at the center of the conversation – the agenda setters or influencers. Social media gives you the opportunity to win over your industry’s influencers by engaging and building a relationship with them. Build and nurture a direct relationship with them and if you are successful in winning them over, these influencers will pitch your company and products online on your behalf in subtle and not so subtle ways. With their blessing, qualified leads will start to come your way.

Instagram - Social Media Marketing In Nigeria

Join the Conversation
A well designed social media program will include social listening and with this, you can identify social networks where consumers are already talking about your brand and engage in the conversation to learn how your brand is perceived and accepted. And if you discover that no one is talking about your business, take this as an opportunity to research and test which channels respond best to your product or business; which will invariably help you in focusing your effort on those channels that are most effective for you.

Customer relations
Whether you like it or not, your customers are already online. So, it is only logical that you are active in the same community so that you can relate to them better.

Competitive Advantage
It is very likely that most of your competitors are doing a very bad job with social media ( In reality most companies are), which gives you the chance to stand out. And the flip side is that, if you avoid social media, you leave a big opening that allows your competitors to capture your audience.

Building a Social Media Strategy
The way to marketing success starts with a plan. This means before going into tactics, it is important that you devise a strategy for your marketing. Same applies to social media marketing. All successful programs are built on a deliberate and well-defined strategy.
The following are the strategic questions you need to answer before you get started:

Goals
What are your goals? Are you trying to build awareness for your product or brand, drive traffic to your site, attain leads, or convert leads to customers? It is even possible that you have multiple goals that are not mutually exclusive. Even so, decide which one is your primary goal. This will frame your focus and will drive all other planning decisions.

Target Audience
Who do you aim to reach? Potential customers, current customers, influencers? Before you decide on channels or create content, it is important that you define whom you will be marketing to.

Choose your social media marketing channels
Will your campaign be a comprehensive one focusing on multiple social media sites or will you devote your activities to one channel such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.? You need to decide on which channels will work best you. Of course, this will depend on a properly defined target audience. For instance, if your target audience is undergraduates in Nigeria universities, Twitter and Facebook will probably be ideal for you than say LinkedIn.

Engagement
What type of engagement will you do? What is the crux of your message? Is it a hook, an offer, a direct product placement, or perhaps a thought leadership lure? What format will your engagement be: blog posts, photos, graphics, and videos? Are you going to be promoting other brands or only your own? These are all things you need to decide upfront and these should tie back to the goals that you’ve got.
Define a project timeline
Does your plan cover a week, a month or a year? This will surely affect the frequency and types of messages you plan to deliver.

Metrics
After defining the goals, you need to find a metric that aligns with your goals and set an ambitious target. Metrics that you can use include: number of impressions, visits, leads, tweets, likes, retweets, etc.

Track and Monitor
Once a campaign is up and running, determining a return on time and money invested in the obvious next step for any social media marketing effort.

It’s critical to find out just what kind of results your online efforts are having. Has traffic grown with the volume of Twitter feeds? Has the new corporate Facebook fan page expanded the conversion rate and generated leads overnight or taken two months? Social media monitoring answers these questions.

Useful Tips For Effective Social Media Engagement
– Monitor the web for conversations about your industry, product and brand. Do so via RSS feeds, Twitter, Google alerts, and other social media tools.
– Join the conversation–don’t be promotional, be helpful—and earn trust.
– Make a personal connection–become a face, not just a name. Use the same name (use it always), post a good picture, be as transparent as possible, and always be honest.
– Offer help.
– Be Clear: Draft, edit, share internally and revise your content for best result
– Expand your network, including fans, followers, and subscribers. Make it easy for people to find you and to join your network.
– Create relevant and targeted content. Create the right content based on what you are hearing, and be generous with your content and links.
– Be patient
– Use Imagery: You have heard that a good picture is worth a thousand words. Well, it is probably worth more on social media. Use images, videos, and illustrations to make any piece more digestible.