Kenya – Taking Digital Marketing To The Max

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Kenya - Taking Digital Marketing To The Max

Kenya – Taking Digital Marketing To The Max

Let’s think about Africa for a minute. It’s the second-largest and second-most populous continent in the world after Asia. Over 1.2 billion people, spread over 53 countries, call this vast and diverse continent their home. Experts estimate that by 2050, there will be another 2.2 billion people on our planet, and over half of this growth will occur in Africa. It is a continent ripe with promise and possibility.

Kenya is at the very centre of this explosive expansion.

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In a recent blog in Euromonitor, five Kenyan cities – Kisumu, Eldoret, Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru – feature at the top of the list of the 10 fastest-growing cities on the African continent. The digital revolution in that country is one of the key factors behind its impressive, exciting and exponential growth.

As a continent, Africa has an average internet penetration of just under 27%. In Kenya, however, the story is very different. Internet penetration sits at around 66% – or, two thirds of the population. And when it comes to mobile, the numbers are even more impressive. In Nairobi, 93% of households have at least one mobile phone – more, even, than in some Western European cities.

Cheaper and easier access to the Internet is increasing demand for internet-enabled mobile devices in Kenya. As a result, one of the biggest off-shoots of this phenomenon is the surge in online retailing. The growth of this sector has been so huge, in fact, that key international logistics and postal services players, such as DHL, G4S and Wells Fargo, have recently set up regional offices in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, to meet demand. In addition, DHL has expanded into secondary cities, including Nakuru, Mombasa and Kisumu in response to rising demand.

Furthermore, rapidly rising incomes are helping to fuel this boom in consumption, and a growing population simply adds to the cry for products and services.

Sounds like the perfect time to get into digital marketing to me!

Digital Marketing in Kenya

The laying of the TEAMS cable – the first fibre-optic cable on the Eastern Seaboard of Africa – way back in 2009 heralded a new chapter for cheaper, faster and more reliable telecommunications access. Kenya wasted no time in taking full advantage of this ground-breaking new technology, quickly subsidising broadband for all universities, and creating start-up hubs where entrepreneurs had access to high-speed Internet.

Although the TEAMS cable was a massive kick start for Kenya’s emerging entrepreneurial revolution, the opening up of public data really moved things forward. The Kenya Open Data Initiative was a portal to encourage the development of new apps and new enterprises.

And where online startups and digital businesses went, digital marketing was soon to follow.

Today, digital Marketing is really taking off in Kenya. It’s virtually impossible to avoid seeing a Google or YouTube pre-roll ad while you’re browsing online. Facebook, too, is something of phenomenon in this country, with upwards of six million users – a number that’s increasing almost daily. These impressive figures make Facebook one of the easiest, and more obvious, starting points to launch your digital marketing campaign. Even if you only have a tiny budget, you can run a Facebook campaign that will get you customers.

A Fast-Growing Phenomenon

When you look back at Kenya’s marketing landscape, it seems incredible that (literally) only a couple of years ago, businesses were clinging stubbornly to more traditional – and expensive! – marketing media such as radio, TV, newspapers and magazines, and outdoor banner ads. Today, around 22% of all media consumption time in Kenya is digital – and this number is growing all the time. In this report from Statista, Internet advertising spending in Kenya is expected to grow from US$72 million in 2015 to US$151 million in 2020.

One the biggest drivers behind the growth of digital marketing in Kenya is its pure trackability and measurability. Data driven insights from digital marketing tools can give you a true and real-time reflection of your ROI. And all this with an accuracy you could never hope to achieve with more traditional marketing channels. Many of these tools, such as those from Google, are free to use. This means even small startups with micro budgets can see how their online campaigns are doing.

All things considered, Digital Marketing, when done properly, offers serious bang for your buck. If you’re not sure where to even start with your own particular campaign, take a look at some of the most popular digital marketing channels in Kenya:


There’s no denying that Kenyans love blogs! A study by Africa Focus tracked the readership of 36 of Kenya’s most active blogs for a 12-month period. In that single year, total readership of these blogs increased by a staggering 46% – from 12.4 million to 18.1 million.

This can, in part, be attributed to the increasing number of Kenyans who access the Internet through their phones. In addition, they tend to view blogs as a way to get trusted news and views on issues mainstream media would avoid. Africa Focus calls this “Anti-Traditional Media Sentiment” and blogs are now wading in where the “old guard” fear to tread.


The majority of Internet access in Kenya is mobile. Mobile service provider Safaricom recently confirmed that almost five million of its customers use smartphones. As 3G and 4G uptake continues to increase throughout the country, this number is guaranteed to increase. The prevalence of mobile is driving all digital media consumption, but specifically social media.

The mobile phone-based digital revolution has greatly affected the behaviour of consumers, and Kenyan companies are quickly realising they have to change the way they do business if they want to keep up with the ever-evolving technology.


Video marketing is growing hugely in popularity in Kenya. According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, video watching accounts for 25% of all smartphone activity in that country. Although video consumes considerable bandwidth and data, this channel is now far more accessible to a much wider audience thanks to a drastic reduction in the cost of data over the past 18 months.

Digital Ad Trucks

Kenyans spend a lot of their time in traffic every day – especially in the larger cities. Digital ad trucks are popular with brands such as Kenya Power, Kenya Red Cross, Coca Cola and Kenya Wine Agencies. The trucks use a computerised system that regulates both the motion of the ad, and the number of displays.

Paid Media

Paid media means paying for the promotion of your content to boost the exposure of your products or services. Organic traffic is great, but most businesses enjoy greater traffic and conversions from using paid services on channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

Content Creation and Distribution

The creation and distribution of creative content is an important part of driving more traffic to your website and increasing your rankings on major search engines. Useful, helpful and relevant content helps build interest in your brand, and works towards establishing it as a trusted resource.

Digital Marketing’s Role In Making Kenya A Prime Investment Destination

A recent report by Price Waterhouse Coopers cites the majority of surveyed African CEOs as saying Kenya is their favourite investment destination. The country beat the continent’s two other economic giants, Nigeria and South Africa, by some margin. Some of the reasons given were Kenya’s young population, its big pool of skilled workers and a rapidly improving infrastructure.

Kenya’s extensive internet and mobile penetration means its people have a high degree of exposure to new goods and services. Coupled with rising incomes, this provides a huge pool of high value potential customers.

Kenya’s growing digital eco-system is helping the country, especially its capital, Nairobi, morph into continental hub. Many multi-national companies have already set up shop there, including Visa International, Pepsi, IBM, Google and General Electric.

But the true strength of Kenya as a digital powerhouse lies in its smaller businesses – its startups and entrepreneurs. The main nerve centre for Kenya’s tech community is the iHub, which brings together designers, entrepreneurs and investor. Founded in 2010 by American-born, Kenyan-raised Erik Hersman, the iHub has generated over 150 start-up companies. “There’s whole strata around the world that needs products that won’t be built in Europe,” says Hersman.

Dr Bitange Ndemo, former permanent secretary at the Kenyan Information and Communications Ministry, adds: “Internet access makes us more innovative. Broadband allows people to build things you never thought of. Five or six years ago you could not put the words ‘Kenya’, ‘innovation’ and ‘research’ in the same sentence. Now it is starting to happen.”

If you’re looking to take advantage of the growing digital revolution happening in Kenya to grow and market your business, chat to the experts at Digital Coach. We’re ready to help you explore new markets and grow your brand. If that sounds like a plan to you, call us today.

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