How digital marketing is impacting Rwandan businesses | The New Times

In 2014, Wren Clothing line, a US-based clothing brand saw its sales and visibility multiply after its marketing video went viral on social media.

‘First Kiss’ was the three minute video that almost broke the internet. Its distinctive content captured the attention of many; it featured twenty strangers; 10 men and 10 women, who were asked to share a kiss.

In just 31days, it had generated 77.8 million views, 1,392,296 Facebook shares, and 68,740 Twitter shares.

In a bid to promote its products, this clothing line had thought out of the box and used this captivating video to publicise its new clothing line for that year. The video turned out to be the most viewed video advertising campaign of 2014.    

Brands are slowly beginning to crack the code; they have uncovered a profound essence around this new gem-the internet. Many have embraced this platform to publicize their products to the masses.
Digital marketing includes all marketing activities or channels to reach consumers through the use of digital devices for example online marketing activities and some offline marketing activities, too.

Roxanne Mudenge, the head of marketing at Samples Rw, an online fresh foods delivery service in Kigali says digital marketing is the future of clients’ acquisition.

Today data is being produced as never before. This helps to intelligently map out consumer behaviors, which will work as a tool to expose customers to products and services that they are likely to buy, she says.

In the developed world, this is a fact. Traditional marketing is being replaced by digital strategies. In Africa though, and other third world regions, the pace to adopt digital is still slow mainly due to slow internet penetration, Mudenge adds.

She however notes that with the development and high penetration of the use of mobile phones, many people are embracing digital marketing as the new tool to reach customers.

“I use digital marketing, the nature of my service is digital. My customers’ lifestyle are being digitalized every day this is why I use digital systems to build a customer base for the future,” she says.

Mudenge therefore says that since digitalizing is where the market is going, businesses should build accordingly for if they fail to adopt it, their traditional strategies will not be sustainable.

Nicholas Peter, a business proprietor running an IT company says he chose to embrace the digital trend because it’s the most efficient way to make it in business.

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Currently, most businesses have given digital marketing a bigger platform. Most booming businesses have developed websites, have Facebook and Twitter accounts, among others. Some businesses even opt to use video streaming, video animations and YouTube as a way of marketing their businesses because they understand that most people have embraced social media, he notes.

He says a number of businesses have developed websites whereby everyone can easily have access to know what their business is all about, their clients can easily find support in case of any problem or need of contacts.

Through his company’s website, he discerns what his clients can able to easily find more information about what they do and about their new products on the market without waiting for him to explain to them verbally, he says.

“We also get a chance of gaining new clients online when they visit our website. When it comes to social media, I can easily send messages to a large number of people at once using either WhatsApp, Facebook, among others to even people far away from me, this works out efficiently and it saves time.”

He therefore believes that social media platforms are the most efficient way to develop a strong relationship with clients because one is always in touch with them.

“Though some people visit social media for fun, a lot of businesses have greatly advanced through the use of these platforms. Social media platforms have been a major form of marketing strategy for most businesses in general. Actually developers of such social media are also making a lot of money because a lot of people are clasping to use them,” Nicholas says.

“It’s better for every business to develop websites and regularly update them and provide a quick reply on any social media platform. This will increase their efficiency; build a stronger client relationship hence steady growth of the businesses.”

Viable platform

Financial literacy expert, Isaac Nkusi applauds digital marketing as a viable platform that prioritizes polished service and customer satisfaction.

He also says, with such marketing, companies are presented with a wider audience, with a bonus of easily attracting the right audience whether it’s a certain age bracket or ethnicity for such details are available on people’s social media pages.

Radio personality Jackie Lumbasi agrees with how relevant the internet has proved to be. She says this platform is a very important tool for marketing right now and this can’t be wished away.

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Indeed, more people are embracing digital marketing, companies have websites and social media pages through which they are reaching a wider audience, she says.

“You buy an android phone and you keep seeing adverts or requests popping up for you to like or buy. The market is no longer a physical place a person walks to, the market is anywhere anytime. Even a caller tune,” she notes.

Jackie Lumbasi is a Radio personality and media influencer who says the internet is a very important tool for marketing. / Courtesy

She therefore says it is important for companies to give digital marketing a bigger platform and inject in it more money for their own good.

“The space is wide, the demand for services and products is high and the desire for one to spend their money conveniently is also high. People appreciate companies that have made their services easily accessible,” Lumbasi adds.

Jean de Dieu Uwimana, an ICT system auditor however notices a hunch in the way this system works, arguing that it hasn’t yet been embraced well the way it should if one considers the evident returns that come with it.

“Many people are not familiar with digital marketing, they do not understand it very well. They do not know the advantages of using it, particularly in Rwanda. Though digital marketing is the new norm, it is still used at a low rate,” he says.

For them to reach out to more consumers, businesses should actually rethink the importance they attach to this and give digital marketing a bigger platform, because we are in the era of technology, Uwimana notes.

He explains that aside from embracing technology they should endeavor to understand how this system clearly works.

There are various types of digital marketing: Social media marketing, content marketing, Search engine optimization (SEO), Search Engine marketing (SEM), Pay-per-click Advertisement (PPC), affiliate marketing, Email marketing, Radio advertising, Television advertising, Mobile phone advertising, he says.

“If you want to decide on your digital marketing strategy, you should be aware of these types of digital marketing and choose the ones that you believe are best suited for your purposes.”

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