South Africa: Is Internet Marketing a Waste of Money?


So many people and businesses have their own websites, but most are wasting their money. It seems that South Africans are so focused on conventional marketing that they are dumping their Internet investment in the water. This is not your typical compare-conventional-marketing-to-Internet-marketing-sales propaganda, because that will be similar to comparing Paris Hilton with Margaret Thatcher. Conventional marketing still works and has worked from the first day people traded items in a market thousands of years ago.

A business needs to do some form of marketing in order to be in business and to grow. Without marketing, a business will fold. How many times have you heard people say, “Ag, the web doesn’t work in South Africa”? Maybe you are one of those people that made that same statement or were thinking it!

It doesn’t work

Well, for all practical purposes, you are right. It doesn’t work. Despite the millions of people on the Internet in SA today. Despite the recent OPA stats indicating that 17% of Internet visitors in SA are earning above R400 000 annually. Despite the fact that Internet marketing has the capacity to cost you less on marketing due to enhanced capabilities offering much more accurate demographics for targeted marketing.

Despite all these facts, how much time and effort did you spent lately on your website’s marketing?

Yes, the Internet is a waste of money! So those idiots that sold you the website in the first place were liars; they promised you that the Internet will work – the joke was on you. pal! It doesn’t work! It is a complete waste of money!

The fact remains; most websites out there are designed like billboards and brochures. They are even treated like secondhand marketing tools – published and forgotten!

But what is the biggest difference between conventional and Internet marketing?

Conventional marketing requires a place where there are known visitors and traffic. Will you advertise on a billboard in the middle of a desert where there are no roads or traffic going past it? Well, there is the difference! When you made your website live it was in the middle of the Namib desert; there were no means for any potential customer to see it. Marketing techniques such as banner advertising, editorial marketing, social media marketing and other techniques create these crucial roads on the Internet.

Thus, conventional marketing requires location, whether it is in a magazine or on a billboard next to a road, as location determine traffic and exposure. Internet marketing requires you to build the roads in order to obtain location for traffic to pass by. It is that simple.

So your website was submitted to search engines? Big deal, so was millions of other websites! Your website’s meta tags were done? So were millions of others. Many businesses are placing all hope on search engine rankings for a few keywords to provide them with traffic. However, search engine optimization (SEO) is much more than ranking for a few keywords; it relies on other acquisition strategies to be successful. Not only that, Internet marketing requires conversion and retention strategies as well, which search engines cannot offer because they are supposed to be integrated on your website.

Most websites in SA were made live with the objective to serve as a marketing tool; yet they add very little value to this intended purpose and are a complete waste of money. The reason? Plain and simple: the lack of online marketing integration. The irony is that it is a simple issue that can be resolved with little time and effort.

Charles Y.

Charles has been working as a webmaster since 1998. Since then, he has had his hands in thousands of websites and has helped millions get online through a company he partially owns called Web Host Pro.