‘Digital marketing helping SMEs compete well in business’

Julius Joel, a BBC Academy and Birmingham University-trained digital marketer, content creator and digital curator, has been using his digital skills to contribute largely to the education sector in the country and also to assist people in keeping pace with the complex diversity and growth of the digital market. In this interview with ADEKUNLE SULAIMON, he discusses the nature of digital market and what works best for a business plan. Excerpts:


How did you begin your journey into digital marketing world?

I started my digital marketing business when I was in the University (unprofessionally). I sold tickets, goods, services of individuals and businesses in many ways (online). During my NYSC, I decided to take a short course on digital storytelling from Birmingham University and BBC Academy. After that, I decided to do other courses from Google, Facebook and LinkedIn to learn their algorithm because I know that to stand out in this profession; you need to be professional with a wide range of knowledge on how the digital world works (SEO, SEM, CRO, PPC, Web design, landing pages, email marketing etc).

After that, I got an internship to work directly under the Provost of PR Academy Nigeria, who is also the Africa Regional Lead of a big PR firm in the US. At the start, I really sucked because everything I did was not just good enough, but I’ve been dedicated to it, spent most of my time working, at times, I work till 11 pm. I eventually mastered it and that was my first foray into building Joel Julius Digital (https://joeljulius.com). I started the website as my personal brand and to teach small businesses how to use the digital market but today, the personal brand has gone farther than expected in a short time. I was surprised one day when I got an email from Google for a gift after they recognised me.

I’ve always been obsessed with getting results in whatever I do and since I started, I’ve sold in millions of naira for the companies I work for and had a few successes along the way.


How have you been able to use your digital marketing skill to solve needs?

I have used this skill to first help businesses grow and increase their sales by teaching them or teaching their employees. I have also used this skill to win a couple of political aspirants on digital campaigns strategies and executions, not to say I have used this skill to publicise events and companies which they have always given me positive feedback after every project.


What has been your greatest mistake in the digital marketing profession?

My greatest mistake which might likely be the last mistake I would make was my first sales funnel (worked all day, night and weekend), I created for my mentor that year after I created a perfect sales funnel from the landing page to the supporting pages to the email marketing, tags, pixels, video integration and ads, I did not link the payment API to the end of the funnel. He noticed after four days, called my attention to it after spending a lot of money and losing customers. I was so pissed at myself for a day but since then, I always make sure someone goes through every of my work to confirm or I take a long break and confirm later if I did not miss anything.


What has been your biggest challenge in the digital marketing world?

My biggest challenge, first as a Nigerian is that our data are very inaccurate or not explicit enough. Every professional digital marketer knows that aside from having a great strategy, funds and access. Another most important thing is data. Data helps you give an accurate report, tweaking and adjusting your company’s image/sales process. I believe data is everything. Facebook depends largely on data to the extent that when Apple released a statement on iOS14 to stop them from getting data without permission, they had a tech war.

In Nigeria, data is so inaccurate because you cannot determine people’s income, precise location, family records etc. When you work on international sites or with an international company, you get these data, even though they are hashed.

Another challenge is the issue of fraud in the country, you find it too hard to get an easy payment method when you freelance for an international client.


What do you think are the necessary skills needed for a digital marketer?

The necessary skill needed by a digital marketer is not just the title. For a digital marketer, you need to have a wide scope of understanding the fundamentals of every business you want to work on, be a good researcher, be good at social media management, content creation, SEO, PPC, Email marketing, social media ads, video ads, website design, data analysis, storytelling, design skills, creative problem solving, strategy development and maybe understanding of codes, even if you are not so much a good coder.


How have you been able to manage your brand and at the same time working with another company?

First, Joel Julius Digital is not a business. At least, for now, it is a personal brand. I believe so much in personal branding, even if it can bring in one or two extra income but it is not a business. I have been able to manage my personal branding and working a 9-5 through discipline. First, I make sure I complete my task, work on the other things I need to work on and then face my personal branding. It is always difficult at first but it gets easy along the way.


You studied educational technology as an undergraduate and this is a different profession. Are you willing to go back to Edutech or you will continue with this?

I do not believe one stops the other, I love edutech so much and sometime in the future, I believe I would have to go back to it but for now, this is where my mouth is and digital marketing is not where I want to stop my career, it is just a process to where I am going to.


What should businesses look for when engaging a digital marketing agency or individual?

Avoid sweet talks from them, I have seen a lot of people sweet-talk their way in but cannot perform. You need to look if they understand your company’s value and goals and if they are working to keep you afloat or they are working to get more awards and publicity for themselves.


You talked about data earlier. If you get data to see how people carry out their daily activities. Is this legal and should we be fearful?

It is absolutely legal. Because getting these data and activities does not necessarily mean we can track you down and do you harm. Do you remember accepting cookies when you visited a website? That is where we get your data and the only information we need is to see how we can increase sales and make better decisions for ourselves and companies, no other thing. On the part of if you need to be fearful of your privacy. It depends on you, your privacy is for you to determine but never forget that many companies live on your data for advertisers like us, Facebook, Google, Twitter, TikTok, media outlets etc.


You said something about sales funnels, what is it and why is it essential?

Sales funnel is an illustration of a funnel but for sales this time; you get a lot of potential inside the funnel then drive them down to the other end of the funnel.

Typically there are only 20 per cent of customers who are active buyers of what you sell. And most companies are targeting them.


If you target the remaining 80 per cent, who are potential buyers but are not yet active buyers you will be building a funnel of future customers, something like a pipeline. And that means a long-term business and one that will grow.

By contacting them regularly with useful information, you are building a relationship. And, when it comes to the time when they are ready to buy, they’ve already loved your company, be part of your company from the outside. This time, you don’t need too much contact or discussion to close the deal because they already trust you.


What is your advice for other people willing to come into the digital marketing industry?

My advice is simple, Just be ready to do whatever it takes to be good at what you do. This industry is very wide and deep, you continue learning. You will suck at the beginning, at times I still suck at some decisions I take and so are the people I look up to. Read books on marketing, sales etc. Attend events, not just to learn but to also be connected to others in your industry. And work hard till you start having confidence in what you can deliver.

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