The internet age has retired a good number of legacy jobs, work tools and ideas – but created more powerful ones. In some cases, traditional roles or jobs are enhanced in efficiency, not discarded. One example of the latter case is how digital marketing in Nigeria (as well as globally) has evolved out of traditional marketing. Furthermore, digital marketing continues to grow stronger in its ability to gain both customers and profits under controlled conditions.
Virtually every modern brand, product or service exists primarily to establish and promote itself as an authority in what it offers. Then it proceeds to make profits and survive therefrom. And for that purpose, the owners and decision makers of that organization must take marketing and sales strategies very seriously. What better way can they do so, than to vigorously promote their brands on the internet?
The internet has become a veritable networking, sales and marketing tool that unites the entire world. Thus, we will explore how the growth of digital marketing in Nigeria can successfully transform the fortunes of businesses today.
Understanding Digital Marketing: A Brief Discourse
Wikipedia website describes digital marketing (or internet marketing) as:
“…… the component of marketing that uses the Internet and online-based digital technologies such as desktop computers, mobile phones and other digital media and platforms to promote products and services.”
While Investopedia website author, Adam Barone further explains digital marketing thus:
“The term ‘digital marketing’ refers to the use of digital channels to market products and services to consumers. This type of marketing involves the use of websites, mobile devices, social media, search engines, and other similar channels. Digital marketing became popular with the advent of the internet in the 1990s.
Digital marketing involves some of the same principles as traditional marketing; and is often considered an additional way for companies to approach consumers and understand their behavior. Companies often combine traditional and digital marketing techniques in their strategies. But digital marketing comes with its own set of challenges, including implicit bias.”
We agree that digital marketing is incredibly more effective than traditional marketing, and saves energy and cost. However, it should not, and does not eliminate traditional marketing. The sole reason being that there are still many individuals who are not connected to the internet. And the connected populace may go offline at any time. This holds true in Nigeria, just as in other countries of the world.
Potential customers of any brand are everywhere – on the streets, in offices, schools, ports, farms, markets, or even in remote locations. Marketing aims at engaging and retaining customers, regardless of the medium of communication available. Be it radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, flyers, posters, billboards, vehicle bodies or the internet. All of them must be effectively utilized and harmonized for the best results.
Branches of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is broad field of human activity which comprises of the following key branches or components:
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Social media marketing
Search engine marketing
The tools and methods of digital marketing continue to evolve and multiply beyond the stated boundaries above. For that reason, each digital marketing expert will more likely be better specialized in one or more aspects of the field than others.
Digital Marketing in Nigeria: History and Statistics
Digital marketing as a business tool (and a profession) started in Nigeria sometime around 2012. It emerged out of necessity; accompanying the opening of the first well-known e-commerce sites in Nigeria – Jumia and Konga. Some experts also argue that digital marketing in Nigeria is evolving not as fast as in the developed world. But it is nonetheless growing in astronomical proportions now – compared to half a decade ago. The obvious reason being that statistics on internet penetration, as well as the adoption of mobile phones across the nation, has been phenomenal.
About 55.4 percent of Nigeria’s population were discovered to be actively using the internet at the start of 2023. In addition, nothing less than 220.93 million mobile phone subscribers were reported by the Nigerian Telecommunications Commission in May 2023 alone. A huge proportion of these mobile phone subscribers use their phones to access the internet, which is relatively cheaper. This huge number of active internet subscribers has adequately prepared the ground for promoting products and services in Nigeria via digital marketing.
Thankfully, the Nigerian government has shown some support towards business start-ups and established business owners in the emerging digital economy. It has established the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), along with the Digital Nigeria Initiative. This is in a bid to encourage the growth of the digital economy, further boosting digital marketing activities.
Challenges Facing Digital Marketing in Nigeria
There are clear challenges in the path of digital marketing adoption in Nigeria. Firstly is the problem of inadequate internet infrastructure and coverage – especially in rural, remote and suburban centers. Even in urban centers where internet connectivity appears to be thriving, there are still constraints. Economic conditions and inadequate infrastructure still hinder many people from having cheap, fast and uninterrupted access to the internet.
At an average of 0.88 US Dollars per Gigabyte, Nigeria ranks the highest in cost of internet data across Africa as we speak. There is also irregular power supply, and high cost of fuel for powering alternative energy sources such as generators. Thus many businesses have significant limitations from time to time in delivering top-quality products, services and communication to consumers. This of course affects digital marketing efforts.
Secondly, there are not enough experts with adequate resources, or in-depth knowledge of digital marketing in Nigeria as of yet. Marketing – whether traditional or digital, requires investing money, time, equipment and resources. Existing digital marketers may not have all the required resources and equipment to do the job. Also many professionals who claim to be knowledgeable in digital marketing, are seriously lacking in one aspect or another. And they may not come out clean with the truth, until their performance on the job reveals it.
Thirdly, the traditional channels of marketing and advertising are still immensely popular in Nigeria. Radio, TV, posters, flyers, street campaigns, newspapers and magazines are very much in vogue. So much that many Nigerian companies are inflexible, and reluctant to fully explore digital marketing opportunities. Thus they drag on with handling business the old way; and are largely stunted in their customer reach. Many of them still find it hard to build the best relationships with existing and potential customers, because of this limited approach to marketing altogether.
The Growth of Digital Marketing in Nigeria: Recommendations
It is clearly necessary for more Nigerian businesses to tap into the benefits of digital marketing. Search engine optimization, search engine marketing, content marketing, mobile marketing, email marketing and Analytics remain incredibly cheap digital marketing tools. No business or organization that aims to deliver great impact in the market should ignore any of them. And if necessary, they should engage well-trained digital marketing experts. Otherwise they need to invest in training their staff to handle digital marketing effectively.
It is also important on the part of the Nigerian government to help even more citizens to embrace the internet. To make internet data, internet-enabled devices and internet infrastructure cheaper for the populace should be the ultimate aim of the government. Internet service providers, digital device vendors, and internet infrastructure manufacturers and sellers need government support to reduce cost of production and imports. They also need a reduction in cost of power supply, annual operational fees, and tax rebates being paid to remain in business.
Again, Nigerian business owners, banks, schools and other corporate organizations need to understand that the best business model is designed around customers. Customers are the ones bringing in the revenue and driving the business. The customer-centric approach is critical to the survival of any business. Employing digital marketing tools, combined with customer relationship management software to engage, satisfy and retain customers will improve businesses in a huge way. The additional feedback from these customers, and valuable data gathered from marketing campaigns can help to build personalized experiences for customers. From there, ensuring customer satisfaction, and retaining customer loyalty would be a near walk-over.
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