A few weeks ago I posted an article on effective web sites (A spade does not a hole make a.k.a effective web sites) where I talked about the fact that just having a web site is not a solution in itself: it is a tool, a means to an end.
As is often the case, that article was inspired by a fellow member of the idjit tribe: this time whilst pondering strategies for annoying other idjits at their braais. We've had quite a few questions on this article (alas not on the blog where everyone can see it), but a vexing one was the one proposing the conundrum: Is the food the end and the braai the means, or is it the other way round?
The jury is still out (furiously) drinking on that one.
A common thread in most of the questions was whether or not web sites CAN be effective at ALL. A question surely coming from experience where hundreds of hours or tens of thousands of Rands were invested in online marketing and web sites with little or no return. It seems more people had bad experiences than good.
So, to paraphrase your comments: are web sites (and online marketing) more than hype and can it produce benefits for my organization?
In response, and instead of giving you a touchy-feely-warm-and-fuzzy sales pitch, I thought I'd better smack you across the head with ice cold facts:
Ice cold facts
There are four hundred and nineteen million reasons why investing in and the building of internet marketing is a good idea.
Aha! I hear you say. You think R 419 million is the total yearly online spend in South Africa?
Nope. Wrong. Several BILLION rand is spent online by South Africans every year.
Uh, perhaps there are 419 million people with internet access?
Nope. Wrong. 1.8 BILLION people have internet access, and this number grew by 399% between the year 2000 and 2009.
Let me help:
There are four hundred and nineteen MILLION good reasons to get off your proverbial butt and start marketing on the internet, because that is the amount of money spent PER YEAR on internet marketing in South Africa. Just on marketing.
This is serious money. Spent by serious people - for one reason and one reason only: to make more money.
Online advertising grew by R 100 million between 2008 and 2009.
Again: serious money spent by serious people.
So who are they throwing this money at? Pimply teenage boys playing computer games?
55% South African internet users are male and 45% female. There is enough testosterone AND estrogen online to sell your wares.
Children and teenagers? Wrong again. Only 1.9% of South African internet users are 19 and younger. The biggest single age group is 25 to 34 - representing 31% of the online population. Second biggest age group (25%) is between 35 and 44 years old. 13.8 % is older than 55.
Do they have money to spend?
63% of South African internet users have a household income of more than R 16 000 per month, and the biggest single group (11%) earn R 30 000 - R 39 999 per month. I'd say there is some disposable income in there with your name on it!
These people view 151 MILLION web pages per month and 30% of them have a university degree.
They ain't stupid, they ain't poor and they ain't children and they can read. In fact, they are the cream of the economically active population in South Africa.
People like you.
People like your target market.
If you consider that a large percentage of sales are often not attributed directly to internet marketing - because people do not necessarily say what helped them make the purchase decision. Whether it was a TV add, a billboard, a flyer or a friend's nagging - but you can be pretty sure they'll check it out on the internet before they depart with their well loved moolah.
Convinced marketing online or building a purely online business is a good idea but don't know what to do next?
First, understand that it is possible to "bootstrap" an online business. That means to pull the business up by it's own boot laces as it were - in other words by not spending money or selling equity, but it requires a LOT of effort and a LOT of time. As is the case with everything in life, there is always a price to pay: you just choose the currency.
If you are not prepared to pay (with time or money or both) then ask yourself if you are in the right line of work.
For those (few) of you still reading, here are the resources we recommend:
* Self-study, self help "Step by step guide to selling online"
if you have a web site already your first step must be to improve your search engine placement, try :
* Watch Axandra's iBussinessPromoter video and try their software
If you do not have the time or inclination to do it yourself:
* Contact Cozahost for a quote to build and manage your online presence. (We can only handle a few sites a month, so it's first come - first served)
Now you know 419 million reasons for investing in your online presence, and you know what to do next.
I'd say your head was pretty well smacked with a few cold facts. :-)