Online marketing is set to grow despite the global recession, with enterprises building on the collective growth and adoption of social media sites and consumer interaction.
According to a study from Forrester Research, social technology adoption increased tremendously in 2008 and, by end of 2009, more than 85% of US online consumers, for example, will be reading or interacting with social content.
Dave Duarte, director of the Nomadic Marketing course on online and mobile marketing techniques at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) this March, says that – with the storm clouds of the global recession gathered over South Africa and many businesses being more cautious about where they spend their money – businesses need to begin to integrate social applications with traditional marketing campaigns and revise campaigns based on social feedback.
"As budgets tighten, the challenge for companies in South Africa is to get the most for each marketing rand spent. From the global trends in marketing over the last 12 months, digital marketing solutions (online and via mobile phones) are coming into their own as marketers' channels of choice due to their growing stature as solutions that work extremely well and save money at the same time," he says.
Duarte explains that there are several major benefits for businesses that employ digital marketing.
"Most digital channels are two-way and immediate, and can lead to a higher return on investment.
"Secondly, it's easier to track the results of digital marketing, with simple analytics tools, or pay-for-performance pricing on many channels such as on Google (you only pay when your ad is clicked on by a user).
"Thirdly, well executed digital campaigns gather momentum and can become marketing assets.
"Fourthly, digital campaigns can simultaneously inform consumers, while gathering insight about them – social media is a market research opportunity the likes of which most companies would never be able to afford, particularly in a recession," he says.
Duarte adds that the UCT GSB programme has been designed around three key take-outs, outlined under the general headings: tools and technologies; management and optimisation; and strategy.