How successful has digital media strategies been in driving brand loyalty in Nigeria?
Our experience shows that digital media strategy has been quite successful for brands that implemented the right digital media framework and addressed the critical success factors needed to deliver consistent and measurable returns using these channels. For some, it has improved the quality and speed of service delivery. For others, it has improved brand recognition, brand recall and loyalty.
Yet again, it has enhanced operational efficiency and improved profitability. In about two leading Nigerian megabrands with Pan African extensions, it led to a year-on-year cost savings of between $3.5 million. Brand monitoring and audits have become easier and more objective owing in part to the preponderance of hundreds of thousands of socially conscious customers. Many of such customers would volunteer their views and experiences about using the various touch points of a brand at little or no cost. The question is, ‘are the brands listening?”
In empirical terms, how would you say digital media influences brand equity perception?
How a brand uses digital media can strongly influence its brand perception. Let me illustrate this. In June 2009, the UBA Group formally launched its new digital media channels becoming one of the first Nigerian corporate brands to implement a holistic digital media transformation. Two months later, Guaranty Trust Bank unleashed its own digital channels. GTB soon became the leading financial services brand across a range of digital media channels. Today, with the help of its digital media thrust, the bank is perceived as innovative, trendy and youthful.
One of the most successful digital media success stories is that of FirstBank of Nigeria plc. In 2011, the bank that has been in business for over 117 years began a robust and comprehensive digital media transformation programme. From being a late mover, the bank has become one of the best movers. This is evident in the bank winning the coveted Number One Bank Brand in Nigeria 2011 as well as the Most Innovative Bank in Africa 2011.
What are the measurement metrics in gauging the success of a digital media campaign?
Depending on the campaign objectives, there are a number of proven indices employed to measure success. These include but are not limited to the click through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), cost per impression (CPM), cost per action (CPA), cost per acquisition (CPA), cost savings achieved, influence, reach, strength, sentiment, number and quality of customer leads generated, etc.
Each campaign is unique and should have its own preset success measures, when these measurements would take place, how often the measurements would be, how the measurements would be carried out, how the campaign would be reported, what sort of in-flight optimisation is possible and the red flags that signal a failing campaign. At the end of the day any campaign objectives are broadly for improved customer awareness, brand perception, customer acquisition or a combination. Digital media results are verifiable, real time, reproducible and can make the difference between a good and a great brand.
How do social media and digital media play in the marketing mix? Digital media encompasses conventional websites, social networking sites and mobile media (including mobile applications). There is a lot of hype around social media in Nigeria and across Africa. Social media is great but incomplete. Digital media is fantastic but inadequate as a standalone approach in a lot of cases. I have always advocated that effective marketing communications techniques are focused on deploying a holistic digital media strategy as a part of the integrated marketing communications mix.
What should be the approach in ensuring seamless fusion of traditional and digital media in marketing and corporate communications?
The approach begins with the alignment of traditional marketing communications objectives, with digital media strategy. The customer is one and expects the brand to demonstrate a monolithic presence and behaviour across all its touch points (traditional and digital). A brand that posits as the darling of the market on social media platforms must as a matter of urgency ensure its processes, systems, people and policies reflect this identity offline.
Otherwise, the potential reputational backlash that may arise can be best imagined. The alignment must be in strategy, processes, systems, people and technology. Silos must be broken. Such an approach is credible, sustainable and only enhances better returns on marketing communications spend.
What has been the experience of your organisaton in managing digital media for big brands?
We set out to drive digital media transformation for brands and aspiring brands in Africa. It is a runaway success story. We started driving this at a time when many of such brands were expanding into African and global markets. This new competitive imperative threw up challenges around brand repositioning, service delivery, customer engagement, innovation, marketing communications, strategy, ICT transformation and business intelligence. We are a cross between business strategy, marketing communications, service delivery, information technology, products and corporate transformation - a very compact and compelling mix.
We have consistently demonstrated a strong understanding of all the underlying issues across the entire digital value chain. This has helped us to replicate success after success in the public and private sectors irrespective of their organisational maturity. We are very strong on governance.
By implementing our proven Build, Operate and Transfer (B.O.T) approach, we have successfully enabled organisations to initiate their digital transformations with a clear sustainability plan. As a very competitive organisation, our time tested 5-3-1 approach is reserved for the really competitive brands. We have implemented this approach to make the brands we manage attain the 5th, 3rd and best digital brand positioning in their sector within 3 months, 6 months and 24 months of engagement respectively. Surely this is too great a value proposition to ignore. We recently got some very humbling commendation from the Ekiti State government regarding our digital transformation there. We have only scratched the surface. There is still so much support to offer brands.
How does Nigeria compare to other African nations in the deployment of digital media in driving marketing?
Nigeria is one of the top three digital brands in sub-Saharan Africa. The others being South Africa and Kenya. Kenya and South Africa are perceived as being ahead of Nigeria due to factors like greater internet access per person, level of adoption and usage of digital media in both the public and private sectors. While several Kenyan and South African brands have extended their digital footprints across their regions, the same cannot be said of Nigerian firms. In order to leapfrog these countries, Nigeria and indeed any other country must invest in the right ICT infrastructure and implement an effective digital media framework as part of a holistic ICT transformation blueprint. Your vision for digital media in Africa
For far too long, Africa has remained the dark continent of the internet. Though investments in digital media are increasing, this is far too suboptimal to bridge the gap with the West. Budgets need to be created for more R&D home grown digital initiatives that are focused on African based challenges.