It is all in the tactics; effective mobile marketing in Africa Reviewed by Momizat on . Rating: 0
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It is all in the tactics; effective mobile marketing in Africa


The success of mobile marketing in emerging markets is reliant on a deep understanding of the African consumer; successful engagement is reliant on relevant tactics. The real challenge facing marketers is how to best connect with consumers, to deliver measurable, engaging campaigns. Innovation is key to delivering this, but what does this innovation look like? For innovation to succeed in Africa, it needs to consider that prospective participants are cost conscious, campaigns need to be engaging and relevant.

Contrary to popular belief, mobile marketing is not app marketing. This hold particularly true in emerging markets, like Africa, where Smartphone penetration is estimated at not more than 20 per cent of the population. According to Deloitte Digital, feature phone continues to dominate the South African mobile phone landscape, with more than 22 million phones in the market. This has seen some service providers, such as classified advert provider Gumtree, tailoring their services for feature phones.

While there is little need to reiterate the attractiveness of the African market, consider this; according to research house Ovum, over the next three years 175 million new mobile connections will occur in Africa alone. This due to multiple factors including a burgeoning middle class, improved network infrastructure and the rollout of high speed mobile Internet. While exciting, the promise of improved connectivity will take time. According to The Economist mobile-led economic development is changing the world; the rise of mobile payments amongst the unbanked population is a clear sign of this.

The real opportunity for brands lies with those that are able to engage with consumers effectively, via tools that they are already familiar with. Given the mass consumer profile, brands should utilise technology that works on entry-level phones, like text based services including USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), SMS and voice. Services that lend extremely well to this are the low-cost or reverse billed USSD and text options, or free voice call back options.

First commercialised in South Africa by Vodacom in 2004, USSD is one of the most accessible services. It provides a menu-based service that allows bi-directional text-based communication between a user and service provider’s computer. Working across all phones and network carriers, the connection remains open, allowing two-way exchange of sequence data, making it more responsive than services that use SMS. In South Africa it is a very popular channel for mobile banking, airtime top-up, and sending ‘Please Call Me’ services. Most importantly, it is highly effective for profiling and surveying and for entering unique codes for competitions. Rather than free-form SMS answers, USSD provides marketers with answers that can be structured, making for easier analysis and validation.

The results speak for themselves, the ‘Please call me’ tagged advert is the most successful mass marketing tool in South Africa. Over 40 million are sent every single day; half the population claims to have sent or received one in the last week. It generates a huge response; this is the tool to use for mass-market attention nationally. It does though require an appropriate call to action.

A mobile call to action can give a billboard, magazine print add, product label or radio campaign a voice, allowing the consumer to communicate back to the brand. The bi-directional channel of communication allows brands to talk to customers via their mobile, and they can reply, enabling brand’s to listen.

By using locally relevant innovative solutions, mobile marketing has the real ability to enable brands to reach the mass market, successfully. Our experience shows that campaigns that adopt tools such as USSD and Voice are the most likely to get the results that literally speak for themselves.

About The Author

Candice Goodman

Candice Goodman was the first Certified Mobile Marketer in SA and is the Chairman Emeritus, Mobile Marketing Association of South Africa. Her mobile consultancy, Mobitainment, was the first African company to win a Mobile Marketing Association Award back in 2009, and has become the longest and most consistently international mobile marketing award winner in Africa.

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