When trying to understand the role of digital locally, the best starting point is to look at how marketers relate to their audiences. Today all things digital are in their infancy for the majority of local brands. The focus is still squarely on the use of traditional media to deliver our propositions through:

  1. Print
  2. Television
  3. Radio
  4. Out of Home advertising

Traditional or Digital, Which one and Why?

It is common knowledge that traditional methods are particularly costly, yet we cannot accurately say how they contribute to the bottom line. Placing an ad in a local paper will set you back between US$ 753/day and USD 4326/day. Billboard installation starts at US$ 590, whilst monthly rentals typically cost north of US$500. In our constrained cash environment Marketing departments are at ends justifying their expenditure, whilst smaller enterprises are in no position to compete with corporate budgets. This is the point at which Digital Marketing comes onto the scene.

Digital spend radically undercuts the amounts poured into traditional media.

Pay Per Click (PPC) enables ads to appear on the Google Search and Display networks, effectively performing the same function as print and outdoor advertising.

The two key features digital enables are the ability to run data driven campaigns, and the chance to engage with a receptive audience.

Social Media with a Human Face

Social media being the starting point for most local digital effort; this becomes the first contact point where brands are experienced online. So whilst most prominent brands have a social media presence, not all are creating a user experience that is consistent with their customer service ethos.

All too often when one visits a social media page of a prominent brand, there tends to be a lot of negative sentiment from users who don’t receive a response, or are met dismissively without a solution to their query.

In all honesty, receiving negative feedback is never pleasant; however the true nature of social is geared towards engagement. Where negative feedback is dealt with in a timely,courteous and effective manner, it is very possible to turn a detractor into a positive review or brand advocate.

Social also allows automation of certain functions whilst maintaining the human touch.

A good example locally is the introduction of Batsi by Steward Bank. Batsi is a Facebook Messenger bot that’s programmed to respond to frequently answered questions immediately. This has allowed basic customer queries to be addressed instantly and around the clock.  Long and Short, Social allows businesses the chance to engage organically with their audiences, whilst enhancing customer service in real time.

Steward Bank’s Batsi. Image courtesy of Steward Bank