By Donovan Neale-May

The Chief Marketing Council (CMO) Council hosted a dynamic and revealing roundtable discussion with a cross-section of Africa’s regional chief marketers on July 12 in Sandton, Johannesburg. Organizations represented included Absa, Bevkraft, Brand South Africa, Distell, Epson, Katiah Motors, FuneralCar, Pernod Ricard, Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), Marketing Association of South Africa, Brandhill Africa, MediaCogent, Merchant Capital, Metropolitan, Smith Power Equipment, Standard Bank Group, Vodacom, and South Africa’s National Dept. of Sport, Arts and Culture.

This was an enthusiastic return to peer-powered networking and face-to-face knowledge exchange on the topic of marketing technology migration and digital innovation. Event was sponsored by HCL Software, a leader in end-to-end marketing solution integration and multi-channel customer engagement.

Regional variations in connectivity and digital media access, adoption and use across Africa influenced roundtable discussions concerning marketing automation strategies for both B2C and B2B brands. Here are a few of those curated by the CMO Council:

With some 3,000 tribes and 2,000 languages and dialects, Africa is a continent with extreme diversity, cross-cultural enrichment, and socio-economic disparity

•          The World Bank estimates there are 650 million mobile phone users in Africa; this is about half of the population and more than both the United States and Europe

•          Some 272 million Africans are connected to the Internet via their mobile devices

•          Internet penetration in Africa is only at 18 percent compared to the global average of 30 percent; only one in 10 households is connected to the Internet

•          Ad spending in Africa decreased by over 23 percent in 2020 and amounted to R75 billion, down from almost R100 billion a year earlier. Ad spending in South Africa is around R30 billion

•          Between 45 to 55 percent of the population in South and North Africa use social media compared to only eight percent in Central Africa

•          Facebook is the social media platform leader in Africa with some 17 million users up from nine million in 2019.

Participants were asked to consider these four questions as a focus for the conversations:

What is driving the need to automate marketing processes and practices in your business or industry sector?

2.         What are the biggest complexities and challenges to transforming the marketing function digitally in your organization?

3.         How are you evidencing the value and ROI of marketing technology commitments and investments to internal stakeholders?

4.         How is marketing automation benefitting your customers/brand and generating sustainable growth for your company?

Roundtable attendees in Johannesburg all agreed that the deployment of marketing technology solutions is critical to meeting and satisfying customer needs in a connected digital economy powered by frictionless commerce. Some key areas of advocacy coming out of the roundtable discussion include:

Chief marketers, more than ever, need to raise their game and be central to the strategic narrative around digital transformation. This can only be accomplished in tandem with heads of IT, technology, operations, finance, procurement, sales, and channel partners.

•          Greater cross-functional collaboration is essential to more effectively harvest, integrate, and enrich customer data. This actionable intelligence must be applied to uplifting customer experience, marketing execution, spend allocation and performance attribution.

•          Digital-savvy marketing leaders must build teams that have the necessary skills, practical know-how, and abilities to effectively deploy and use tools and platforms. These infrastructure and domain expert investments must show measurable returns in multi-channel engagement, customer activation, execution efficiency, operational scale, and cost reduction.

•          Moving the marketing function from a perceived cost center to a measurable revenue driver is essential to demonstrating value to senior management. Analytics must show where and how marketing automation is impacting revenue, margin, acquisition, retention, deal value, repeat purchase and other KPIs.

•          The marketing technology stack must be architected to keep “the human being” at the center of automation by delivering greater intimacy, personalization, content relevance, and business inducements in the right moment and place.

In conclusion, some marketing technology facts and stats to consider:

Forrester predicts worldwide spending on marketing will reach $4.7 trillion by 2025.

•          The Martech Report notes that $340 billion is earmarked for marketing technology acquisition and deployment globally in 2021-22.

•          Some 23 percent of marketing budgets are now allocated for martech build-outs.

•          Industry analysts estimate there are nearly 10,000 point solutions in the marketing ecosystem with hundreds integrated and managed by some multi-brand companies in complex marketing technology stacks.

More information of this multi-regional thought leadership initiative can be sourced here:–digital-innovation