Digital advertising strategies: Why you need digital advertising?

By Justin Lester

7 minutes to read

Join our smart marketers who get our best digital marketing insights,
strategies and tips deliverered straight to their inbox.


Digital advertising strategies: Why you need digital advertising?

By Justin Lester

7 minutes to read

Join our smart marketers who get our best digital marketing insights,
strategies and tips deliverered straight to their inbox.


Why You Need a Digital Advertising Strategy 

Digital channels are not the future of marketing – they are the present. Ignoring them is like setting up your stall in an empty market – no matter how amazing your products are, customers will not be able to find you.  

A well-crafted digital marketing strategy for online advertising is the key to getting your brand seen, reaching the right customers, and thriving in an increasingly connected South Africa. In this blog post, we will walk you through why digital advertising?is so effective, what strategies you can use, and which work best in the South African context.  

The State of Digital Advertising in South Africa 

The shift towards digital is not just a trend – it is a reality supported by hard data. Advertising spending on digital channels is projected to reach US$719.0m in South Africa in 2024, with search advertising alone commanding US$258.4m.  

This reflects South Africa’s rapidly growing digital landscape. As of January 2024, there were 45.34 million internet users in the country, representing an internet penetration rate of 74.7%. What is more, the vast majority (78.7%) of South Africans access the internet through their mobile devices, with this number set to rise to over 90% by 2027 

These figures highlight the immense potential of digital advertising to reach a huge and highly connected South African audience. They are connecting on social media, searching for information, and yes, shopping! Your customers are there – is your company? 

The Importance of Advertising in Digital Marketing for South African Businesses 

Why is digital advertising important? Here are 5 key benefits it offers over other formats: 

1. Reach

Digital platforms offer brands the ability to reach a massive, diverse audience in South Africa. Unlike traditional advertising, which often has a limited geographic or niche focus, online channels can put your message in front of millions of potential customers based on location, age, interests, and countless other factors. 

The high mobile penetration in South Africa we mentioned before is key here. Smartphones are not just for entertainment; they are how many South Africans access essential information, connect with friends, and find products and services. Mobile advertising, from adaptable web design to ads specifically tailored to mobile apps, lets companies be where their customers are. 

2. Targeting

The real power of digital advertising lies in its laser-sharp targeting capabilities. Gone are the days of blasting a generic message to the widest audience possible! Digital platforms offer sophisticated tools to zero in on the exact people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services. 

  • Demographic Targeting: Reach people based on age, gender, income level, location, and more. This is perfect for companies focusing on a particular region, or those whose products appeal to a specific age group. 
  • Interest-Based Targeting: Connect with people based on the pages they follow, the content they interact with, or the searches they make online. This allows for incredibly focused campaigns.  

Case Study: Motomatch 

Ruby Digital knows first-hand the power of precision targeting. Our client, Motomatch, an online car sales platform, needed to reach two distinct audiences: individuals looking to buy or sell a car, and dealerships.  

Using Google Ads, we segmented campaigns by location, interests, and keywords. This highly targeted approach led to a significant increase in website traffic and conversions, including: 

  • 38% increase in clicks 
  • 50.7% improvement in click-through-rate (CTR) 
  • 26% rise in overall conversions 
  • 60.67% rise in contact form conversions 

These results demonstrate the game-changing impact precision targeting can have for South African brands.

3. Cost-Effectiveness

One of the most significant advantages of digital advertising is its affordability compared to many traditional channels. With digital, even small businesses can compete and reach a large audience. Here is why: 

  • Targeted spending: Unlike TV ads or billboards, which you pay for regardless of who sees them, digital platforms let you pay only when someone who fits your desired audience actually clicks on or engages with your ad. 
  • Flexible budgets: You have full control over your spending. Start with smaller campaigns and scale up as you see results. 
  • Top ROI platforms for South Africa: Google Ads, social media advertising (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn etc.), and well-crafted content marketing offer particularly strong returns on investment for South African businesses. In 2023, 82% of SA brands reported that digital mediums gave them the best ROI. 

4. Analytics and Optimisation

Data is king in the world of digital advertising! Unlike guessing whether a newspaper or magazine ad is working, digital platforms provide real-time analytics on every aspect of your campaigns. This insight is invaluable: 

  • Track what works (and what does not): See which ads, keywords, or targeting strategies are performing best and which fall flat. 
  • Adapt on the fly: Fine-tune your campaigns mid-flight based on your data, maximising efficiency, and avoiding wasted spending. 
  • Data-driven decisions: Let the numbers guide your strategy. Invest more in what works, and ditch what does not, improving your results over time.

5. Engagement

Digital advertising is not just about broadcasting your message, it is about connecting with your audience. South African companies can tap into the power of two-way communication: 

  • Social media: Respond to comments, answer questions, and build relationships directly with potential customers on social media platforms they already use daily. 
  • Personalised Communication: Use email marketing and targeted ads to deliver content that speaks directly to customer needs and interests. 
  • Customer Feedback: Encourage reviews and use social media listening tools to understand what your audience truly thinks and wants. Building genuine engagement fosters brand loyalty, turning customers into your greatest advocates. 

Types of Digital Marketing Advertising Strategies You Can Use 

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) 

The Power of SEO  

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of improving your website’s visibility on search engines like Google. When done correctly, SEO helps your site appear higher in results when people search for terms relevant to your products, services, or industry. You can think of strong SEO as the digital equivalent of having a prime location in a bustling shopping district. 

Local SEO – Key for South Africa 

If your business has a physical location or serves a specific geographic area, local SEO is essential. This involves optimising your website, online listings, and content to appear in searches with local intent, such as “plumber near me” or “restaurants in Cape Town”. Doing so can drive substantial foot traffic or online inquiries from your local community. 

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) 

Reach the Top, Fast:  

PPC platforms like Google Ads let you place your ads right at the top of search results, even if your organic SEO has not caught up yet. This is great for driving immediate traffic and testing keywords. 

Tips for ROI: 

  • Target the right keywords: Research what people actually search for related to your business. 
  • Compelling ad copy: Make your ads stand out with strong calls to action. 
  • Landing page matters: Where you send people after they click is just as important as the ad itself! 

Content Marketing 

Beyond Just Selling:  

Content marketing is about providing value to your audience through informative or entertaining blogs, videos, infographics, and more. This builds trust and establishes you as an authority in your industry. 

Content Types which appeal to South Africans: 

  • Blog posts: Share insights, answer common questions, establish your expertise. 
  • Videos: How-To’s, product demos, and behind-the-scenes peeks are highly engaging, especially given South Africa’s mobile-first audience. 
  • Infographics: Simplify complex information into visually appealing formats, perfect for social media sharing. 

Social Media Marketing 

Connect Where Your Customers Are:  

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn have massive user bases in South Africa. These are essential for building brand awareness and interacting with potential customers. 

South African Social Strategy: 

  • Understand your platforms: Each platform has its strengths. Instagram is visual, LinkedIn is professional, etc. Tailor your content accordingly. 
  • Embrace local flavour: Tap into South African trends, humour, and references to create relatable content. 
  • Do not just talk, listen: Respond to comments, engage in discussions, and use social media as a tool for authentic customer service. 

Email Marketing 

The Nurturing Power of Email:  

Email marketing remains incredibly effective for building relationships with potential customers. Use it to send personalised offers, relevant content, and updates directly to their inbox. 

Best Practices for Success 

  • Segmentation is Key: Do not send the same email to everyone! Divide your list based on customer interests, purchase history, etc. to send more relevant messages. 
  • Automate for Efficiency: Set up welcome email sequences, cart abandonment reminders, and other triggered campaigns to save time and nurture leads throughout their journey. 

Influencer Marketing 

The Trust Factor  

Influencers have built loyal followings who trust their recommendations. When a relevant influencer promotes your product or service, it can introduce you to a whole new audience. 

Finding the Right Influencers in South Africa 

  • Relevancy: Their niche and audience should align with your target market. 
  • Engagement: High follower numbers are nice but look for genuine interaction and a dedicated fanbase. 
  • Authenticity: The partnership needs to feel natural, not forced, to be truly effective. 

Affiliate Marketing 

Performance-based Partnerships:  

Affiliates (blogs, websites, even individuals) promote your products or services in return for a commission on each sale they generate. This can be a cost-effective way to expand reach, especially for e-commerce businesses. 

E-commerce Advantage:  

Affiliate marketing works particularly well for online stores. It gives affiliates an easy way to share products and creates an incentive for them to drive traffic to your site. 

Mobile Marketing 

Meet Customers on Their Phones:  

Given South Africa’s high mobile penetration, mobile marketing can be a great strategy to connect with potential customers. This involves more than just a mobile-friendly website, though. Consider:  

  • SMS or WhatsApp Marketing: Short, timely offers or updates, used sparingly to avoid becoming spammy, and only if user’s opt-in, of course.  
  • Mobile Apps: For deep engagement with frequent customers (loyalty programs, etc.) 
  • Mobile-Optimised Ads: Ensure your ads display flawlessly on smaller screens. 

In Closing 

With its immense reach, precision targeting, cost-effectiveness, and opportunities for engagement, digital marketing offers a powerful toolbox for reaching your ideal customers and achieving your business goals. 

The variety of digital marketing advertising strategies can seem overwhelming, but that’s where Ruby Digital comes in! We understand the complexity of the South African market and have the expertise to develop a tailored digital advertising strategy that fits your unique needs and delivers results.  

Whether you want to improve your SEO, launch an effective PPC campaign, create engaging content, or harness the power of social media, we are here to help. Do not get left behind in the digital revolution! Connect with Ruby Digital today.  

Written by Justin Lester

Justin is a successful entrepreneur who launched and exited two online startups by the age of 24.

He specialises in SEO and Paid Media services and played a critical role in developing cutting-edge marketing applications in the iGaming sector.

He founded Ruby Digital in 2011, which has won numerous awards and is recognised as having the 2nd highest culture score of any SME in South Africa.

Justin is committed to empowering communities with digital marketing skills and is an active member of the entrepreneurship community, sharing his knowledge and expertise as a guest lecturer at the University of Cape Town and serving on the board of the Entrepreneurs Organization Accelerator Program.