Digital marketing is a pandemic hero, but marketing directors need support


While already on a positive trajectory, Covid has catapulted digital marketing to a much more strategic position within local organizations. However, while this change has brought huge gains, the growing reliance on the discipline to bolster fragile sales in the event of a pandemic puts additional pressure on marketing managers and their teams.

While the importance of digital marketing has grown steadily over the past few years, there is no doubt that Covid has accelerated the change in the way it is viewed within organizations. Previously, digital was an afterthought, rarely mentioned at the steerco level, and often accounting for less than five percent of the overall marketing budget.

Additionally, there have been numerous instances where, realizing that their traditional sales channels are underperforming, boards have placed unrealistic expectations on their digital teams.

We have sometimes seen digital teams being asked to deliver 200% more with the same budget. This has been one of Covid’s unfortunate results as companies have seen their normal sales channels decimated and are now putting all their hopes in a digital miracle.

A change in the conversation

According to Incubeta, the digital marketing shift requires interdepartmental support.

“The success of a CMO depends on the buy-in of the organization. Launching a digital budget without the collaborative support of the organization puts the CMO and his team in failure. Increasing the budget is of very little value if it is deployed in isolation, ”says Chelsea Owens, Business Unit Manager at Incubeta.

Fortunately, the Incubeta team has seen a marked improvement from local businesses starting to recognize the role digital marketing has played in building sustainability.

The evolution of digital marketing has brought digital teams and leaders closer to the center of the business. As you change your strategy to move closer to customer focus, it makes sense for digital marketing teams to move closer to the center of your business. We are finally witnessing a significant change, where marketing directors are taking their places at the board table.

Those who succeed prosper

The digital offering from Checkers, Sixty60, Cape Union Mart and Hyundai, are examples of how local organizations have been successful in accelerating their digital marketing initiatives, but also ensuring organizational changes to support change.

We’ve seen massive changes in the way executives approach digital marketing. We attend interdepartmental meetings that have never taken place before. Merchandising sits down with the marketing team and asks for the first time how they can support digital efforts.

A lack of synergy between departments also has a big impact on digital agencies and the efficiency with which they can help marketing teams operate.

We can make sure that people are exploring and interacting with the product offering online, but if a customer lands on the add to cart webpage and the business does not have the product in its size or in the color variant he wants, you win don’t just lose a sale, you will damage the brand experience.
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A privacy-driven future demands a new way of doing business

Another change was the extension of the mandate of the marketing team.

Marketing managers must now also focus on optimizing the conversion rate. It’s not just about getting people to the website anymore, it’s about having content that resonates with customers. Websites are so important that in some cases we advise customers to throw away the old ones and start over.

Examining the interplay between paid and organic search is also on the agenda for a privacy-focused future. Mackintosh says marketing managers need to focus more on their content strategy to ensure higher organic rankings, which can then be leveraged for paid search. He recommends new content, like blogging, to help maintain relevance and increase paid efforts, but again, he warns that effective SEO will require a closer working relationship with IT.

Owens explains that better communication with customer IT departments also means his team is exposed to more backend conversation data and warehouse data. She says this is vital in the looming cookie-free environment where digital teams will be more dependent on audiences and first-party measurement frameworks.

Good news for local marketing managers

For local marketing managers, the good news is that the opportunity in South Africa is significantly higher.

With the right investments in the right places, local businesses can reach new markets that they may not have previously had – this is especially the case when looking at mobile penetration and growing consumer sophistication. South African, relevant to international markets. The growing boldness of digital brand managers is paying off. A quick failure mentality allows brands to try new things, quickly and aggressively and if they don’t work, they move on to the next opportunity.

Owens stresses that partnership is key.

“Breaking down silos within the organization and accessing support is a critical requirement for marketing managers. But so do having an agile and trusted digital marketing partner who has the autonomy to change budgets so they can take advantage of trends, ”she says.


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