By: Chilunga Chill Puta
Whether it’s between B-to-B (business to business) or B-to-C (business to client) interactions, today’s biggest buzzword is “digital transformation.” Just about everyone is looking into the benefits and adverse effects of implementing digital methods, including digital marketing within their businesses. The second half and the beginning of the 21st century has plummeted us into a major evolution of media technology, which in return had an essential impact on popular culture.
Our cultural periods are defined by a specific time and the way we understand the world through culture and technology. So, changes in these periods manifest through the fundamental changes in the way we perceive and understand the world. We only have to consider the various revolutions and world wars to know that this is true. Currently, we find ourselves in what is known as the postmodern era. The modern era began right after the Middle Ages and lasted through the early decades of the 20th century. Today, the media, specifically digital media, has a more significant impact on culture than ever before. We have reached a level of economic, cultural, global and technological convergence that unites the world in ways that our predecessors could only have dreamt off.
Digital and Social marketing have influenced the way we market our products and services significantly. It disrupted the traditional marketing and advertising industries and changed how we think and interact with potential and current customers as well as industry players. Disruption though can be represented by two sides of the same coin - a positive, impactful and likely business changing opportunity or an adverse and possibly detrimental effect. It can be challenging to stop or even fully control harmful information/content on your page. Also, some pages/sites can be linked to your own, and anyone can say anything about your brand as they see fit. This sort of messages can reach hundreds, thousands or even millions of people in a short period. The reputational damage from one negative comment can impact your brand for months or years depending on the ripple and after effect. The best way to avoid this is to monitor your digital media space on a daily / hourly basis, check what’s trending, be aware of your posts and target audience, ensure that there is a correlation between your pages and defuse any negative news regarding your brand quickly. It is best to avoid deleting posts or comments, but instead, respond honestly but positively to the post or rant.
Considering the different new digital marketing disciplines that have emerged the past years, it has come to light that you don’t have to jump onto every single crave out there. A good media mix must be backed up with a good digital strategy, which would mostly involve only a few essential channels for your business. You need to keep in mind that you have to be able to manage your media mix, so having a digital or social presence everywhere without the necessary interactions, will not be beneficial to you at all. In our current operating environment, Social Media and Mobile Marketing seem to be the most effective. In Zambia for example, the population is still very young and has a very fast-growing mobile phone and internet industry. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are booming, and if you decide to grow by boosting a post, that single post or advert can reach over half a million people in just a few days, that at a fraction of a billboard, newspaper or TV advertisement cost. If the post or advert of your brand or product is well liked, the general viewership/engagement can be increased exponentially through the shares of your current viewers.
Influencer Marketing is on the rise globally and may soon overtake the more traditional Social Media Marketing. Influencers are generally “famous” people who have a large following of fans and likes on Social Media and do outright promotion on certain products or services. The bigger the celebrity culture becomes; the more significant influencer marketing will get. The use of Influencers will further shape the digital marketing space and make us re-think how we use celebrities. As the idea of billboards and still adverts are becoming old, cheaper smartphones will make marketers reconsider their marketing channels. With the ever-growing reach of cell phones, information can be shared faster to a numerous amount of people at once. This new wave will prompt Marketing departments and creative agencies to come up with quick original adverts and communications that will catch people’s attention within 2 seconds. How quickly an organisation can create or follow a trend will impact its overall output and performance in the marketing space, improving the customer experience simultaneously.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, can increase customer turnaround time on queries, information can be sent almost immediately, and discoveries about personal data such as hobbies, location, income, etc., about a target audience, can be made. In banking, branches can be decongested when customers are assisted on a digital platform like a Customer Relationship Management Tool, while it reduces costs and allows for things like loan applications to be done in real time without the back and forth of a traditional setting. People still love the human touch; however, the new generation of digital consumers want fast, efficient service and problem-solving solutions in a way that suits their lifestyles. I am fortunate to work in Cavmont Bank, a member of Capricorn Group, where I can be a changemaker in my field of operations and apply both my personal touch and make use of a diverse range of digital platforms. The group as a regional financial services group constitutes and encourages future forward-thinking solutions in all its entities.
In this new age of Digital Transformation, where digital technology integrates all areas of life, especially in business, it fundamentally changes how we operate and deliver value to customers. As mentioned before, this brings a new cultural shift that requires organisations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure. Already it is having a massive influence on how banks operate from marketing, customer service, the opening of accounts, process loans, making payments etc. Long gone are the days of waiting in a queue in a bank to pay your electricity bill. Even statements are now sent on a digital platform like email. It is a sure fact that businesses, including the banking sphere where I apply my expertise, who fail to catch up and become part of the digital transformation and overall united convergence will fall behind and become absolute. My only advise to any business is to make sure that you are not one of them.