There were some excellent speakers present at last week's the IQPC New Media Marketing Conference in Johannesburg, and some golden bits of wisdom were dished out. While I live blogged some of the talks, after a weekend of retrospection, I offer here a more succinct summary, peppered with my own opinions.
Rudolf Muller from mybroadband.co.za spoke about the state of Internet connectivity in South Africa, with a focus on broadband penetration, and how we compare to other countries. The bad news is that, of course, we don't compare well at all: not in speed offered, costs charged or people connected. The good news is that we are fast improving, and are catching up with global trends.
The important lesson to take away from his talk was that SA can only improve in this regard, and therefore the time to jump on the online bandwagon is now.
If your company does not have a strong online presence, that needs to change. If you are harbouring secret aspirations of running an online start up, get that business plan finished. There are a lot people playing in the online field, and you would be smart to join them now. Read the full synopsis here.
Zoopy video of Rudolf Muller's presentation
Search engine optimisation
Justin Hartman from Avusa Media spoke about the importance of making your website search engine friendly. He gave some eye-opening statistics about the number of searches performed online (35 billion last year), and the fact that a vast majority of those searches end up with the user clicking on a listing found on page one of the results. If you want to drive traffic to your site, it is imperative that you optimise the site itself, and each page/post of the site to maximise your search engine rankings.
He gave some good tips on how to achieve this with not too much effort, and at virtually no cost, and these can be found in the synopsis.
Zoopy video of Justin Hartman's presentation
Web strategy for multiple brands
Jon Bishop spoke about the difficulty of creating a web strategy for a company that has multiple brands, multiple points of contact with the client, and multiple goals. He spoke from his experience as head of visual communication at Netcare, and gave some interesting background information on the difficulty of representing a heath care facility online.
Bishop took us through the re-design of the Netcare website, from one that was uninviting and difficult to use, to one that is clear, fresh and offers a multitude of interesting features for the prospective patient.
An interesting point was that Netcare's target patient is one that has health insurance, and there about 7 million people covered by medical aid in South Africa. That roughly resembles the online population of the country, and it is reasonable to expect that these two groups coincide. It is therefore imperative that a company like Netcare has a strong online presence.
He concluded his presentation by giving us some tips on how to lead a team to create a successful online strategy, which you can read in the synopsis of his talk.
Zoopy video of Jon Bishop's presentation
Eric Edelstein, representing TrafficSynergy.com, introduced an often-overlooked channel of marketing: affiliate marketing. He opened up with an example of how his company can successfully drive hundreds of qualified leads per day to clients, and then explained the process to us.
Basically, once you financially incentivise an affiliate to promote your product or service, that affiliate will take on the risk of marketing through untested or unsure online channels to drive the sale. What that means is that you do not have to take any marketing risks yourselves. It sounds like a perfect theory in principle, and I would have loved to hear more success stories of who benefits, and at what cost.
Arthur Goldstuck took us through some more statistics of Internet connectivity penetration, the rise of mobile use to access the Internet, and (most interestingly) he released for the first time ever some well-researched statistics on the South African blogosphere.
You can read the numbers in the synopsis, but the overall message was once again clear: Internet usage and connectivity is on the rise, and the blogosphere is becoming more serious. Read the thought provoking stats in the synopsis.
Zoopy video of Arthur Goldstuck's presentation
Rick Joubert opened our eyes to the exciting, and for most of us, new, world of mobile advertising. According to him, the ad spend on mobile advertising was the same as the ad spend on website advertising last year, which means that it is time we all started paying attention to this medium.
Vodacom, whom Joubert represents, have been very active in this arena since October last year, and he was able to give us some astounding campaign results. His predictions for the near future are also eye opening, and you would be smart to read the synopsis here if you want to learn more about this medium.
Mobile social network
Herman Heunis is the MD of MXiT, a mobile social network phenomenon. After listening to the tremendous success his company has in reaching the youth market via the cellphone (the company gets about 12 000 – 14 000 new members per day), any audience member who was still skeptical about the importance of the cellphone as a marketing medium must have changed his or her mind.
Read the synopsis for the story of one of South Africa's most successful online ventures.
Colin Daniels, publisher of the Times Online, took us through another little-known technology, the 2D barcode (QR codes). You might have seen them in some Sunday Times campaigns – they look like funny little black and white squares that you are meant to photograph with your cellphone. As it turns out, the barcodes are a very smart way of storing information (anything from inventory levels to URLs).
The Sunday Times has already run some successful campaigns around this new technology, and Daniels took us through the successes of some of these. Read the synopsis for more details on those.
Zoopy video of Colin Daniels' presentation
Overall, the first day was an informative and enjoyable one, and barring some organisational hiccups (mostly to do with lack of power for laptops or Internet access for the first half of the day), I think most delegates left feeling satisfied with the day's events.
Eve Dmochowska is the idea facilitator at IdeaBank (www.ideabank.co.za)and keeps her time busy strategising the Internet space, deciphering the world of Web 2.0, and publishing the Internet Guide magazine (www.internetmagazine.co.za). She can be contacted at .
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