It has been said and emphasized over and over that digital marketing is the future of marketing for young African entrepreneurs. The whole world now formerly connected with slow ships and laggy carrier mails is now connected with something more powerful. A network that increases productivity and can let someone in Tanzania purchase a microwave from a store in Croatia and get it in three weeks, well if you add shipping fees that is, this interpolated network is a term you are familiar with. It’s called the internet. The Digital marketing front on a global retail scale is a multi billion-dollar industry, to speak of companies like Amazon, eBay, Wal-Mart and Alibaba. These major industries to name a few show the power of utilizing the internet in Marketing. In 2020, Amazon clocked a total of 1 trillion USD market cap.
Moving away from the global retail giants, Africa has also joined this part of Digital marketing popularly classified as ecommerce. Major African retail giants like Jumia and Konga have expanded the field of digital marketing in the continent. Most of their products and services are run by the younger generation who utilize skills like copy writing, advertising and referrals to make sales, these they use as agents for these companies and also for individually owned small businesses. Most youngsters in Africa, Nigeria to be exact born in the millennial and usually ‘gen z’ by the ages of nineteen to twenty-five would have created or ventured into a form of business, usually online.
How Young African Entrepreneurs utilize the internet in Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is spreading like wildfire among youngsters and generally business owners in the continent. Normal conventional shops made with concrete and glass are now on a steady decline as these physical shops are now turning virtual. Bakery huts are now migrating to Instagram pages. Footwear purchase shops are now moving to WhatsApp and Twitter. Before in Africa to do business, you needed to rent a shop and get some other related stuff done, that’s not the case again these times. All you need now is a good internet connection and an iPhone. These self-declared CEOs are the rulers of their online sales empires built right under their parent’s roofs. They are able to create very profitable and successful businesses without having to step out of the house. They utilize the power of texting, broadcast messaging and social media sharing to grow their base and via the means of online payment platforms like PayStack and InterSwitch they are able to receive fast payment.
Instant messaging platform WhatsApp is a major digital marketing asset in Nigeria. Here entrepreneurs utilize the ‘status’ feature to advertise their products apart from main conventional advertising on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. The main proceedings of the sales are done virtually:
A customer sees a product he likes on an advertisement probably run by say a friend of the buyer. This customer then sends a message to the person advertising who in turn then sends a message to the seller or if not acting as a middleman, totally redirects the customer to the seller. The customer then makes a purchase via wire transfer having dropped details like email which would be used for invoice, phone number and home address. The seller then probably uses the services of a logistics company to send the goods to the buyers address. Seeing the trust worthiness of the seller, the buyer then refers the seller to her friends. In the end the seller is able to make very good money while at the comfort from home. Goods sold generally in Africa virtually ranges from already prepared cuisines to clothes and even digital products and with the help of carriage or popularly called logistics companies, they are able to deliver the goods to the buyer.
Challenges faced by young African Entrepreneurs in Digital Marketing
When venturing into digital marketing there are certain challenges which tend to arise. Most of these problems are consistent and could to a part be to the nature of the individual or corporate business or an error in advertising and marketing. To shed light to these particular issues and know how they affect individual businesses we carried out a survey for selected entrepreneurs ranking in their fields to state the issues they face on a daily basis and in the course of digital marketing.
One problem stated an entrepreneur from Nigeria who sells courses and ergonomic products via an ecommerce website was staying connected to customers as due to certain factors such as the customer losing interest in the product or service you are trying to sell them becomes an issue and also, the customers wanting to stick with traditional way of doing things. Most customers turn out to be non tech savvy people who managed to maybe stumble or an ad, or just got referred. Trying to connect with such customers requires patience which in the end could turn out futile either the customer doesn’t understand the business or just plain loses interest. This would also lead to wasted time and resources on the retailer’s end.
Another issue raised by another entrepreneur who sells ladies hair is that the customers want to see customers want to see the products upfront, this apart from ladies hair can also be applicable to other businesses as not everyone trusts pictures and also the issue of authenticity, one would want to check the product up-close and personal. This would lead to less sales and loss in advertising revenue. One major way to beat this issue is to have a very strong referral and review network. When these are applied, they could boost the trust of the customer and sales could be processed.
Finally, the issue of Identity theft as raised by another who advertises goods and services for customers on social media. Fraudsters could clone your account and via impersonation, hoodwink an unsuspecting customer. The rate of cybercrime in digital marketing and mainstream conventional online activity has skyrocketed in recent times making it difficult for genuine marketers to make sales. Digital marketing is an irreplaceable asset utilized by young African entrepreneurs. In the total survey carried out the most widely used platforms were WhatsApp and Twitter.
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