(Re)Think Mobile

The verdict has long been in, mobile penetration in Africa, and yes more specifically, South Africa is at its high tide.

South Africa’s vibrant mobile market has seen rapid growth since competition was introduced to the sector in the 1990s. SIM card penetration by mid-2015 was above 150%, driven by the popularity of multiple card use, often for business and personal use but also for having separate subscriptions for voice and mobile broadband services. This trend followed in the wake of the launch of third generation (3G) and LTE services.

Sure, one only needs to look at the stats and figures to be justly exposed to the magnitude of it all, but ultimately further dissection is needed to truly understand the significance of what mobile penetration truly means, especially within marketing.

What the numbers tell us

Looking at South Africa specifically, it is estimated that South Africa has 23 million smartphone users, equating to a population penetration of 47%. It is also believed that 57% of South Africa’s Internet traffic comes from mobile devices. This ranks the country amongst the highest of developing countries on the mobile traffic scale.

The Mobile Marketing Association of South Africa (MMA) provides an even more detailed look at the stats:

1. There are 5.2 times more cellphone subscribers than fixed Internet users
2. 86% of internet users in SA access the internet via mobile technology
3. 68% of emails are sent and received from a cellphone
4. 95% of all adults can respond to marketing and advertising through mobile – household penetration (33.8m adults)
5. There are 4.6 times more households with a cellphone than a computer

The Mobile Africa 2015 study, conducted by mobile surveying company GeoPoll and World Wide Worx, also shows that South Africa is currently leading the way in app downloads, which is believed to be an indication of higher smartphone adoption, with 34% of phone users making downloads from app stores.

Challenges and opportunities

Now that I have bored you with the stats, and while these speak for themselves, marketing efforts into this space are seen to be lacking in muscle with IAB & Nielsen reporting that mobile gets less than 0.5% of channel spend.

According to the MMA the real challenge facing marketers is how to best connect with consumers, to deliver measurable, engaging campaigns.

For 2015, the MMA has placed its focus on what it believes are the two core issues which present the biggest opportunities and challenges for marketers and the mobile industry: Measurement and Innovation.

On the measurement side, understanding the effectiveness of mobile: the ROI of a rand spent and the optimised level for mobile in the marketing mix will become more and more critical as increased budgets are being allocated towards mobile. On the Innovation side, gaining a deeper understanding of creative effectiveness cross-screen will help inspire innovation and further concentration on creating an enhanced consumer experience specific to screen size.

Make mobile work for you

Your business needs a mobile marketing strategy for the same reason that you need a computer and Internet access – this is the age in which we live!

Whether you are marketing a promotion, or simply integrating this form of communication as part of your customer service strategy – being geared for mobile gets your brand out there and keeps your company top of mind.

Making use of mobile in your marketing strategy, whether it is through SMS marketing or apps, can add value to the customer’s life and ultimately their experience with you. The kind that works best for your business will depend on your industry, target audience, and budget.

While you figure out the finer details of your marketing strategy, here are some best practice guidelines to ponder with emphasis on mobile and sms campaigns:

Right-sized content
When it comes to mobile content, it’s important to be concise. Targeted consumers are likely working from a small screen and may even be away from home or the office. As a result, they don’t have a lot of space or even time for reading lengthy content. It is imperative to create content that is both compelling yet brief.

Local search

Local searches commonly occur via mobile devices. More and more, users are taking advantage of mobile devices when searching locally. Additionally, you should ensure that the physical address of your business along with your contact information and hours of operation are visibly listed on your website.

Location-based sites

As an increasing number of people opt to access social sites via mobile devices, it’s vital that your brand takes advantage of the opportunity to connect with your targeted customers through available location-based services such as Foursquare.


Geo-targeting through the use of location-based services is a great way for brands to direct their marketing messages to their targeted customers who may be in the local vicinity.

Author: Jeanette Phillips

As a lover and an enthusiast of the written word, Jeanette Phillips has a writing background spanning over 10 years. Dabbling in different disciplines such as B2B, PR, Social Media and research reporting, Jeanette loves action words like energy and catalyst and describes herself in adjectives like bohemian and cultured. Her passion is to weave sentences into stories that aim to motivate and inspire. Her loathe is to discuss herself in the third person, but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.