Digital Marketing for the African Startup

Digital marketing for an African founder includes all digital and internet-enabled touch points that your business will be represented and will be interacted with in the digital space this is usually done via the internet. Digital marketing at times can be referred to as online marketing because of the use of the Internet of Things.

You see, Digital Marketing is not a Monolith but comprises an ever-evolving set of digital resources that is available to all users of a smart device.  Resources like social media platforms, search optimization, digital content strategy, Mailing lists and many other resources you as an African founder would utilize.

You can use these resources to scale your business to achieve success and growth.

Digital Marketing leads to Business Growth

Why is digital marketing important for you as a founder in Africa?

The use of the internet in Africa has increased on average by 12% each year since it first made its debut.  This means that every year over 100 million users come online in Africa.  This is an expansive market available to the African founder to take advantage of.  Most active users are young and new to the workforce with an expanding earning capacity.

You can reach a larger audience

When young businesses come online, they have an expansive pool of potential users and true believers in your product.   With Digital Marketing, you can get ahead with your Sales and achieve proof of concept for your product and your Business model through simple platforms and strategies.   Through Digital Marketing processes, lead generation is made simpler and more accurate and nurturing is easier for Business Development teams.

Increasing brand awareness and reach

Reputation as a new business is everything; it is like asking a stranger out on a date to build a relationship with them over time.  Social media, Newsletters, Product updates etc are some of the ways a brand will build top-of-mind awareness in the mind of the general audience on the various platforms they are interacting with your brand.  

In the attention economy, the more eyes on your brand the more potential buying customers you can convert from prospects.

The various types of digital marketing

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization refers to the ways your business can rank higher on a search engine result page(SERP).  95.64% of African users of the internet use Google’s search engines for their daily search results.  Ranking higher funnels more traffic to your website.

Ranking on the SERP, therefore, is ultimately important in the grand scheme of things when your business is concerned.  Through SEO your business can reach more people.

SEO is comprised of local SEO, on-page SEO and off-page SEO.  

Local SEO involves using google tools like google my business to be findable to potential audiences in your Geographic vicinity.  This is great for business that operates out of a physical location and it boosts the search rank.

On-page SEO is the series of things you do on the website to improve its SERP rank.  Image tagging, improving the load time, indexing your website, and using appropriate keywords in the right places are some of the best practices for on-page SEO.

Off-page SEO basically involves building backlinks to your Website.  “Back-links” as the name implies are links from 3rd party sites that are linked back to a page on your site for different reasons.  Backlinks improve your ranking on Google SERP.  Mind you it is also important to get links from high-quality websites as that improves the ranking score.


Pay-per-click is a form of search engine marketing.  Pay-per-click is a form of SEM where your business is charged for every click to a certain resource you have on your website or it could be a click to your website.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing involves using, emails to reach, nurture and close leads generated online from top funnel activities.  With Email Marketing, you can reach more of your customers directly and keep them up to date with important information.  Email marketing usually is an important aspect of any young business’ Marketing strategy because of its high rate of conversion and nurturing ability for prospective leads.

Mobile Marketing

This is the main feature for App-based African startups to reach keep in touch with their current customer base and reach new customers.  The Key here is to have a mobile device- like a phone, tablet, smart watch etc.  This allows you to interact with your users and potential clients using these devices.  With mobile marketing, the audience is grouped according to behaviour and not demographics.

Affiliate Marketing

An affiliate is someone who isn’t a full-time sales staff but has an effective distribution channel to reach even more customers.   With digital products affiliate marketing has become easier for young start-ups to boost their content and reach.  Working with Affiliates depends on the marketing budget or the stage in the product’s life cycle can hire some influencers to create content around your product for a commission on sales made through an affiliate’s link.

Content Marketing

Content marketing as a part of your digital marketing strategy involves creating and publishing content on your digital platforms; most especially social media.   Most internet users in Africa are active users of a social media platform or two.  With a strong content marketing strategy, you can nurture and keep potential clients within your digital ecosystem till they ultimately engage and purchase from your business.

Social Media Marketing

It’s too easy to think that social media marketing is content marketing, it isn’t.  Social media marketing involves nurturing and generating demand from social media channels for your brand and your products.  It involves building a community and marketing content on social media platforms and forming a tribe of true believers.

Digital Marketing for B2B and B2C

B2B African Case studies

Making winning Digital Marketing strategies for your Start-up

Digital strategies for B2B businesses are vastly different from that of B2C in their operations.  B2B companies are different in that, most times, there are at least 2 different people responsible for the purchase, unlike B2Cs with only one decision maker.  B2B marketing would demand a longer turnaround time and after-sales nurturing.  The volumes for B2B products like SaaS products would require you as the founder to personalize the touch points throughout the customer’s journey.

B2C African case studies

The bulk of the marketing function is geared toward the final consumer.  In Africa, we have a growing middle-class and consumer economy.  The growing Economy opens up new markets to be reached by young startups on the Continent.  B2C has a short turnaround time and higher volumes of leads.

Distinctively B2C start-ups establish direct communications with a larger audience and then filter them along their digital sales funnel.  The volume of customers is much more than their B2B counterparts, as a result, content is more interactive and in real-time.

The need for Digital Marketing

African Business environment

Africa has some of the fastest-growing youth demographic in the world.  This demographic comprises the bulk of its most productive citizens working in the informal and formal sectors of the various economies. 

In addition to the growing middle class, African internet connectivity continues to broaden in Africa as more Africans come online to the internet. 

Marketing strategy used in Africa

In Africa traditional marketing still takes the bulk of marketing spending.  In Africa, the bulk of consumers and Business decision-makers rely on more traditional media outlets to consume content and be reached by brands and companies they love.  Digital marketing in Africa is fast growing ground and is used to complement traditional mediums.  An example is Kuda Bank’s use of SEM and traditional advertising to increase its user base and revenues.

Increasing revenue and Market share

With a strong digital marketing strategy, early-stage African startups can take advantage of the low cost of acquisitions of new clients online.  The low cost of acquisition helps your start-up to optimize for profits.  Founders with the use of CRM and digital marketing software can automate and optimize for full conversion of leads by the Business development personnel.

Tools needed for Digital Marketing

Social Media Marketing tools

Social media marketing tools are designed to schedule track and report on social media marketing campaigns, you run.  They automate the process of optimizing your post and synching your marketing efforts across platforms.  With these tools, you can track trends and keywords to best optimize for reach and conversions.  Tools like and Buffer play a key role in your social media strategy.

Web development tools

Websites are the stepping stones to a strong digital presence on the internet.  Developing a website becomes easier with the availability of web development platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, GoDaddy etc.  It is easy to set up and has a lot of customizable features, plugins and templates you can use for your platform.

Graphic creation tools

For an early-stage start-up employing a seasoned graphics designer may be difficult and frankly expensive.  “Fremium” graphics design tools like Canva, Figma, Miros amongst others offer a large collection of templates and resources to develop a strong visual strategy and aesthetic and for your brand as your business picks up steam and awareness. 

Email Marketing tools

Some of the most popular platforms are Substack and Mail Chimp.  These platforms are mostly free to you and allow you to build an email list and host a Newsletter.  Newsletters are effective Email content tools to keep you at the top of mind with your audience in addition it is a cost-effective way to nurture and build a community of potential buyers.

SEO tools

Tools used for Search optimization are vast.  Major tools used to improve your search rank would be categorized along the line of keyword optimization, SEM, copy generation, and Website auditors.  These are mainly free tools you can access to improve your on-page, off-page and local SEO.  In addition, Google has a host of resources available for you to optimize your page rank.