To technology and beyond

The future of marketing is digital

In the tech frenzy world we live in, it’s always a good idea to stop and observe the nature of the beast. This month, in an interview with Fred Roed, CEO of World Wide Creative, we look at digital marketing and the way in which technology allows the company to do amazing things for some pretty familiar brand faces.

By Rebecca Maserow

What is it like balancing a company that is as much tech-based as it is a creative industry?

“It’s an exciting place to be. World Wide Creative has a strong balance between the two and clients are finding that the two disciplines are indelibly linked. In this new economy, techies are forced to think creatively and creatives are forced to think about technology. I strongly believe that in 50 or 100 years from now, people are going to look back at this decade and say, ‘Damn, I wish I lived then!’ The digital space is disrupting everything, and we can either hide our heads in the sand or embrace this disruption.”

How is technology enabling you with more conceptual projects?

“Tech is an enabler and an amplifier of great ideas. At the heart of any great project is the idea, the inspiration – and we use good tech to make it come to life. As Jim Collins said in Good To Great: ‘Technology is the great accelerator.’ We’re seeing this with clients like American Swiss, where we took their iconic billboards and brought them to an online audience with a user-friendly, yet technically complex online billboard creator. Within weeks, we had over 50 000 people submitting their billboard ideas. The underlying technology provided us with a unique way to engage creatively with our audience – priceless within the marketing context.”

What is the importance of e-commerce in growth strategy for retailers in South Africa?

“It is one of the most interesting areas within South Africa’s business world. World Wide Creative is part of the Saratoga Group, and as a team, we’re currently working with Saratoga’s engineers and developers to combine the back-end technology with front-end and search aspects for the e-commerce roll-out for a large retailer. We have a number of e-commerce projects in progress at the moment, with some venerable brands within the SA retail landscape – as well as one relatively young upstart. We’re seeing both the young guns and the old dogs take very differing strategies to gain traction in the marketplace. Some are focusing on CRM, others on advertising and events. What has emerged, however, is that there is an obvious convergence of three distinct areas within all of them: content, commerce and community.”

What’s the value, in terms of brand equity with improved digital marketing?

“Digital marketing cannot be seen as a separate media channel; it is the thread that links all the channels together. If you look at all the traditional media funnels, they’re all evolving into digital. Print, television, radio, even outdoor media, will become digital. So, for example, what we’re doing with many of our clients is to provide a central point online for all external communications to reference. It’s critically important that we work closely with the agencies crafting our clients’ traditional marketing activities. Due to the consistent user-experience from source to destination, a greater sense of trust is developed with the target audience, building significant value in the resulting brand perception.”

Is there a correlation between improved UX and brand experience with sales?

“Absolutely. At World Wide Creative, we are passionate about user experience and brand. Particularly with our site or app builds, and our ongoing ‘always-on’ search and media campaigns. There’s no point in doing beautifully crafted, expensive campaigns if we’re directing traffic to poorly designed, inconsistent landing pages. The campaign teams, ably led by Tim Withers, Michele Macnab and Maryke Mouton in our studio, are continuously tweaking and improving the pages that form an integral part of a brand’s marketing. The Hyundai online presence, for example, is equally important over phone, tablet and desktop, and through this strong UX/brand focus, World Wide Creative has overseen a significant increase in not just online leads, but impacted the South African business as a whole. It is now one of the most important areas of the Hyundai marketing mix.”

Where do you see tech taking digital marketing in the next 10 years?

“I think the difference between ‘digital marketing’ and ‘marketing’ will disappear. I think there’s just going to be ‘marketing’ – and it will all be digital.”

INSIDE SARATOGA: An Interview Series on Leadership

For more information on World Wide Creative contact: Johannesburg: +27 11 234 4193 Director: Louis Janse van Rensburg ([email protected]) Cape Town: +27 21 423 3519 CEO: Fred Roed ([email protected])

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