Why digital marketing IS rocket science, even in Kenya.
I’ve meant to write about what I see as a major misunderstanding of how difficult digital marketing is for sometime now. More specifically, it seems to be a recurrent theme in Kenya that many people underestimate just how difficult it is to execute a successful and well thought out digital marketing initiative – many think its actually easy to pull-off and that it should cost no more than a few thousand shillings. This is an area where I have close to 15 years experience and even today I still feel like a novice when it comes to digital marketing since its so dynamic and ever evolving.
If anything, digital marketing as we know it is becoming far more complicated than it was even 5 years ago when the focus for most organizations was just launching a decent web site in Kenya. Nowadays, building a web site is probably the easiest part when you can buy inexpensive designs online and latch these on to readily available and open source content management systems like WordPress or Joomla. Indeed, the devil really is in the detail when it comes to digital marketing since the mode of execution can make or break your digital marketing efforts.
I have a well-etched memory going back to the early days of Dotsavvy which I co-founded back in 2002 as one of the first web design shops in Kenya. At the time, we had secured business from a reasonably large medical services business in Nairobi. We had gone for a kick-off meeting with the senior management team and were presenting creative concepts and the information architecture for the web site. If you are familiar with the professional web design process these are essential aspects of the whole process to succeed. However, at the meeting, the CEO of the said organization started insulting our project team, for “over-complicating” the whole business of building a web site which even her 15 year old son could for her. Naturally, we were not happy by these remarks and the meeting quickly deteriorated as we tried to make a case for how we get web sites done. At the end of the day, this client proved to be one of the most challenging to work with and to this very day the same organization has never launched a web site.
I have shared the above anecdote to illustrate a simple point – even close to 10 years later since the same happened, there are many in Kenya who still underestimate just how hard it is to execute digital marketing in the most effective and efficient manner. It’s the simple fact that building a web site is more than design or a content management system. There are issues such as building out content in the form of text, images, branding, etc. There is the matter of things such as search engine optimization (SEO) and determining how to ensure a web site can be viewed effectively in a myriad of web browsers such as Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome, etc…How about the use of Flash and CSS, as well as producing elegant HTML code that works everywhere? Which databases are preferred? Which coding languages will do? How about securing back-end systems from penetration, etc etc…The list simply goes on and on.
Since the advent of social media, there is a whole new area of how you can achieve brand visibility and community engagement through Blogs, Twitter and Facebook. In a more recent area, the rise of the mobile Internet means that a web site and internet marketing associated with same means dealing with an entirely new audience and technologies to make sure your digital marketing is “mobile enabled”. Being mobile enabled itself when it comes to digital marketing is a whole new beast in itself in that many are grappling with. Lastly, how does one design their digital marketing campaigns? Where do you buy the most ideal media at the right price? How about the creative messages that will drive users to “click” and interact with the same and how will Return on Investment (RoI) be measured using analytic tools for campaigns? Do you see what I mean? When you put it all together, digital marketing is, and has always been, rocket science. Even in Kenya.