22 July 2019

What Does a Lack of Technology Skills Mean for South African Marketing

In your industry, you are the expert. You have spent years honing your craft and building your expertise, and you are now at the top of your game. But there are certain aspects that you might know little to nothing about, and this includes digital marketing.

Unfortunately, a lack of digital skills and technological knowledge means that many digital marketing agencies are unable to take the next step and become competitive in a more global sphere.

Two years ago, Google and the Boston Consulting Group performed a study which looked at four different marketing maturity levels. These included Nascent (silo,campaign-based marketing), Emerging (single-channel optimisation marketing using data), Connected (data-integrated marketing), and Multi-moment (customer outcome marketing).

According to this study, seven percent of European brands fell into the Nascent level, 41 percent fell into the emerging level, 49 percent into the connected level, and just two percent had reached the top level of multi-moment marketing. South African agencies, however, tend to fall into the Nascent and Emerging levels. But, what does this mean for a digital marketing company in South Africa?

Digital Maturity Needs to be Fast-Tracked

Any emerging or established digital marketing agency in Cape Town or surrounds need to look at how they use data. The current technology and technological knowledge will have an impact on this, and so will the availability of data and access to data from clients.

Clients can have an impact on marketing agencies reaching digital maturity because they might not fully understand the importance of digital marketing strategies such as e-commerce offerings, online loyalty offerings or a connected CRM (customer relationship management) tool.

In order to fast-track digital maturity, clients and marketing agencies need to come together to improve their digital and technological knowledge.

Control Over Data Is Necessary

In order to implement personalisation strategies that will draw in more consumers and provide a better experience, marketing agencies need to have better control over the data they have. This comes from having experience and knowledge of digital tools like the Google Marketing Platform, AI analytics and a CRM.

To push themselves to the multi-moment level, marketing agencies need the ability to connect internal signals from their own campaigns, signals from the Google tools they are using, and the data from their own CRM. This will provide complete control over data and allow them to provide a completely personalised customer experience.

South African digital agencies which do not focus on combining technology and skills might find themselves falling behind the crowd.

Constant Upskilling Is Essential

It is a fact that 76 percent of marketers know – marketing has changed more in the past few years than it has in the past fifty. Knowing less than your consumers can be highly embarrassing and detrimental to any marketing agency. This means that South African agencies need to be constantly upskilling themselves in technology and digital skills.

Having employees who are skilled in both digital marketing and the latest technology allows agencies to craft and implement relevant and valuable strategies that build brand awareness, save on costs, and drive growth for businesses.

In order to reach the same level as their European counterparts, some South African agencies need to become more invested in the power of technology.

An In-Depth Understanding is Crucial

Having employees who know that technological knowledge is important and who have an everyday working capacity of digital tools is not enough. Due to the skills gap found in South African marketing, agencies need to turn to further studies or upskilling in order to understand how to combine different tools effectively for improved marketing results.

If a marketing agency does not fully understand each tool, it is a good idea to have designated people who can understand each tool in-depth. For example, an SEO (search engine optimisation) specialist can be used to improve search engine results and rankings.

If this is attempted by someone who only has a basic working knowledge of SEO, the results will not be successful.

Vendor Delivery Needs to Improve

While it is true that South African marketing agencies need to improve their technical skills and capabilities, there is also the issue of vendors who might not deliver exactly what the agencies and the customers expect from their technology.

One example is that almost every marketing agency understands the importance of analytics, but only a few of them have vendors who provide valuable services.

Vendors also need to be industry experts in their offerings, but this is sometimes not the case if salespeople are not trained in the technology themselves.

Technology Is The Future

In order for marketing agencies in South Africa to reach the same levels as their international counterparts, technology needs to become a focal point. Digital maturity should be fast-tracked, especially if agencies want to perform to their best abilities. Having control over data and always upskilling is equally as important.

The outlook is not all bad, however, as there are digital marketing agencies in South Africa who are embracing technology and using it in unique and exciting ways. At its core, Shapeshift is a design and technology-driven agency and uses technology to drive growth and reach business milestones. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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