Predictions for 2016

Predictions for 2016

By Benjamin Juru

I want to make bold prediction that 2016 is the year of search!

The digital landscape in Zimbabwe has experience a somewhat slow growth from what we initially anticipated, an occurrence highly attributable to the macroeconomic conditions prevailing. Nonetheless, despite the setbacks there has been a growing acceptance of the need to digitalize businesses, streamlining of operations and harness technology to improve business efficiency. From a marketing perspective, marketers and non-marketers have both realized the need to fully go digital in improving service delivery, customer service management and overall improvement in marketing communications. With that, in 2015 there was a significant increase in the number of brands active on social media and other digital media platforms which were mainly used to garner market feedback also for marketing communications.

With the continued growth of smartphone and consequently internet penetration, the hardware is present for us to fully harness the plethora of digital media options at our disposal. 2016 therefore naturally becomes the year where companies will be more active in optimizing their websites. This bold prediction is premised on the fact that most local sites are antiquated; the UX is poor and are largely ineffectual in both serving the customers and meeting business needs. The first change will be the realization that most consumers are now performing more searches than before, they now using mobile devices; they are expecting every business to at least have some digital presence. This scenario will force businesses to rethink their website as a key cog in their company infrastructure; no longer will websites be viewed as nice to haves for the marketer and IT guy but a vital component to serving customer needs and improving the business’ KPIs.

The key questions that confront us are, do we have the infrastructure to support our online business goals? From a structural perspective, do we have the right personnel? how much do we know about our customers and their online behavioral patterns? Do customers find us when they search for our products and services? There’s no running away from these facts in 2016, we need to determine how we intend to harness the online platforms available to us. Gone are the days when you would run a simple Facebook or Twitter page and call ourselves digital, it’s time to change our perspective when it comes to online, and this transcends marketing, it’s about changing the organizational philosophy and embrace digital from sales, marketing, IT, manufacturing, distribution etc and look at how all those business functions can be digitalized.

The beauty about digital is integration, all business functions can now be integrated into a single unit through building and or purchasing software that enable you to gather customer data from numerous sources. If you don’t have intricate details of your customers, not gathering and converting customer data into intelligence then your demise is nigh! Okay back to search, the key things to focus on this year is your website and make sure it has the following

·         Optimized for mobile AND feature phones. Applications such as device atlas enable feature phone rendering of text and images.

·         Optimized for search! If potential customers search using related keywords, does not site come higher up the search results

·         Optimized for sales, how can you add your website as a point of sale or lead generation tool

·         UX and UI need to be spot on! Easily navigable and user friendly

There you’ve it, in the year of the search, make sure you’re visible and have a share of visibility. In 2016 more and more consumers will resort to Google to ask for information about products and services and it is up to us to ensure that potential customers find us online.




Comments (1)

You know what, companies in Zim are not even fully utilizing the digital means that they already have. Most websites are like static brochures, or business cards, nothing interactive, engaging and dynamic. I visited a local university's website wanting to make an enquiry, since I couldn't get hold of them by phone. I had trouble finding an email address, and finally when I saw one, I emailed, and only got a response after 4 days (for a simple enquiry, really?). Companies need to take digital seriously, that's how they can see some of the opportunities they miss while busy inefficiently dealing with analog systems :) Edmund - 12 January 2016

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