There is no doubt that Africa is an entrepreneurial continent. As far back as 2017, an African Development Bank report found that the continent had the highest rates of entrepreneurship among working-age adults in the world at 22%.
Despite the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, things have hardly slowed down in recent years. A report from McKinsey, for example, found that the number of African tech startups tripled between 2020 and 2021.
Nigeria and Ghana’s West African economic powerhouses are no exception to that economic fervour. World Bank data shows that 97,988 new businesses were registered in Nigeria in 2020, and in Ghana (with a population about a sixth as big as Nigeria’s) 18000 new businesses were forecast to be started in 2022.
Those businesses will, of course, be crucial to the region’s ongoing economic growth. But if you’re one of the entrepreneurs behind those businesses, you’ll know that success is far from guaranteed. That makes it critical that you do everything possible to ensure your business is primed for growth. And one of the most effective ways of doing so is to embrace digital marketing and that you get it right from day one.
Digital is still growing in importance, for everyone
That’s especially true when you consider how rapidly internet and smartphone penetration has grown in the region in recent years. Research suggests that there are more than 155 million internet users in Nigeria, representing 55.4% of the population and just under 17 million users in Ghana, representing 53% of the population. And as more and more undersea cables land on the continent, making internet access more affordable and ubiquitous, those numbers will keep growing.
The same is true of smartphones. According to Statista, smartphone penetration in Nigeria grew 10% between 2019 and 2022, hitting just over 37%, and is set to grow another 10% by 2027. While it’s difficult to find equivalent numbers for Ghana, it’s worth noting that nearly 100% of internet users there have a smartphone.
In other words, a sizable portion of any Nigerian or Ghanaian business’s customers are already online and an even more considerable portion will be in the very near future. So in order to reach them, that business has to be online too.
Of course, many early-stage entrepreneurs, in particular, either need help figuring out where to start with digital marketing or feel like they can’t afford it. Those barriers do not, however, have to be challenging to overcome.
As Gaston Taratuta, Founder and CEO of Aleph Group, Inc points out, you can build up digital marketing expertise relatively quickly.
“To become an expert in digital marketing, you have to be curious and certify yourself on digital platforms for free,” he says. “Learn things like Google Adwords; learn to do marketing on different social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. This can be achieved in more or less six months, and you can then put what you have learned into practice.”
As he further points out, building this expertise is already key to thriving as an entrepreneur and will be even more important in the near future.
Additionally, digital marketing is one of the most effective ways for any business to build awareness and engagement with both existing and potential customers. It’s also more targeted, meaning you can get a greater return on investment.
Using the right partner
As important as it is for entrepreneurs to understand the effectiveness of digital marketing and at least have a basic grasp of how to use them, it’s also important to remember that they don’t have to do it alone.
The right media buying partner will help ensure that they’re on the right platforms and are reaching their intended customer bases. They’ll also understand that a business doesn’t always have a major marketing budget and will get it started advertising with relatively small amounts, keeping costs to a predefined frame. Many partners that Aleph is working with additionally offer ‘trial’ budgets at lower minimum costs to allow new advertisers to give it a go and see if they gain value from it. Remember, if they see the same potential in a business as an entrepreneur, they’ll want to grow with it.
No reason to wait
Ultimately, it should be clear that African entrepreneurs can supercharge their growth journeys by embracing digital marketing. Moreover, they can get to grips with it relatively quickly and can affordably get help in maximising their digital marketing efforts.