South Africa’s Digital Marketing Statistics

In recent events South Africans had little to no option but to increase their online activity. The use of online marketing has seen an upsurge with online buying and selling growing rapidly. 

According to the numbers provided by the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA) indicate that this is not likely to change.

Key TakeAways

  • The use of e-mail marketing is extremely cost-effective, when compared to other marketing approaches
  • Paid Internet advertising will account for 25% of South Africa’s advertising market
  • E-commerce is worth R200 Billion per year locally
  • Influencer marketing will grow by 107.8% on an annual basis, reaching over R18million in 2022
  • IAB SA study participants reported that digital advertising spend averaged between 21% and 40% of their total ad spend

The Importance of Digital Marketing in South Africa 

In a country where at least six out of ten people have internet access, it is unsurprising that cyberspace was filled with as many as 41 Million locals in January 2022. 

According to the BRCSA report, the majority of these users- 28 million to be exact- spent their time on social media. If you use digital marketing as part of your sales repertoire, this is fantastic news.

You see, these figures indicate a substantial increase since the dawn of the 2020’s. The number of internet users has risen by 1.7 million since 2021- that was about 38.19 million.

When you look at the steady increase of these numbers, it is overwhelmingly clear that there is a rapidly expanding need (and opportunity) to market your business. 

Statistics South Africa Marketing

Device Usage

 According to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) between 20 to 22 million South Africans are tapping away on a smartphone. That’s huge considering that it is about a third of our population. In general the total number of mobile connections is much high considering that feature phones are still popular. Mobile device usage continued to dominate in near mid 2022 more than half of online searches were done from a mobile device in comparison to others including desktops.

Given these indications, it is obvious that your business should have a leading online existence. This is useful for marketing purposes, engaging with customers, brand awareness, and providing speedy response to clients. It is a no-brainer that your business needs to be steered by the best Digital Marketing Agency around.

Characteristics of Great Digital Marketing

Good digital marketing professionals will help you reach your goals and focus on growing your business. In today’s fast-paced world, people are impatient and stressed. You can see many scrolling on their phones eagerly looking for quick results to their online searches. They will move on quick if they can’t find what they are searching for.

A skilful and knowledgeable digital marketer will know how to grab the attention of your intended audiences. They use various methods such as social media marketing and Search Engine Optimization.

These experts can target an audience through website content, geography, gender, age, and even device type. They can refer customers to your business by using suitable ad. This is handy in minimizing your budget and increasing business sales. 

It should go without saying that digital marketing has a momentous and highly important role in the business arena.

The Stats

According to the 2022 Marketing Budget and ROI Report, produced by Broad Media , digital marketing is the most widespread and successful way for South African companies to advertise.

The report produced its most recent findings during a survey which was performed in May 2022.

Apparently as many as 1,056 respondents took part in the survey.  The participants were mostly representatives who were employed at their company’s marketing department. Some of these individuals stated that they are involved in the marketing activities in more ways than one.

Spending and Earning

The report discovered that digital marketing was easily the most popular choice for South African companies to spend their money on and reap the benefits. 

When prompted to tell which networks their companies shared the most of their marketing, digital came second to none by a large number.

Print trailed behind, followed by outdoor in third.

  • Digital – 84%
  • Print – 35%
  • Outdoor – 26%
  • Radio – 15%
  • Television – 13%
  • Cinema – 1%

The participants were then asked again which marketing means provided the best return on investment for their marketing expenses. Digital once again reigned supreme in comparison to other methods by an impressive number.

Once again print followed in second place, but with television in third in this round.

  • Digital – 82%
  • Print – 18%
  • Television – 16%
  • Outdoor – 14%
  • Radio – 14%
  • Cinema – 1%

With the evident success of digital marketing, there are multiple areas that this falls into. Below we dive into how each one has performed on the South African market.

Digital Marketing 

If the reports from Market Reports On Africa are anything to go by, then digital marketing is exceptionally lucrative. Their findings found that digital marketing had accumulated as much as R770 Million in 2020. To put this into perspective, annual growth in this field had grown by at least 12.5% between 2016 and 2020.

At this time marketing through desktop devices had attributed to generating the most revenue with total revenues of R405Million. This is equal to 52.1% of the market’s overall value.

Likewise, smartphones had contributed to the surge in digital marketing through its increasing usage a shift in the advertising industry to a more digital field.

E-mail Marketing 

The International Head of Digital Business Development at TouchBasePro (A Sandton Based e-mail marketing company) Des Brown, has expressed his excitement at the growing rate of e-mail marketing in the country. Among its multiple advantages, Brown emphasized that It is the best marketing tool for any digital medium.

“Email marketing has the best return on investment (ROI) of any digital marketing channel measured in our research. On average, clients have reported an average ROI of 30:1 when using targeted email marketing.”

Brown went on to provide an example to underline his point.

“This means for every R1 spent on email marketing, you can expect around R30 worth of return. Our friends in the UK have said that for every pound spent on email marketing, there is an ROI of 38 pounds generated and in the US, it’s around $44.”

Using Brown’s criteria, e-mail marketing is a digital tool you can use to reach multiple customers for next to nothing.

He said that using e-mail marketing is extremely cost-effective, when compared to other digital communication platforms. Typically, you will spend 80% to 86% less to send an e-mail than on other channels like social media.

E-commerce Marketing 

The most recently released indications from FNB Merchant Services pointed towards rapid growth in the South African online e-commerce market. Their findings suggest that ecommerce is worth R200 Billion per year. Online companies such as Takealot are all getting use to new consumer habits.

First National Bank (FNB) noticed an intensification in the realm of e-commerce was observed in since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The bank said that post-pandemic, e-commerce accounted for 8% of total card expenditures in the merchandising space. As 2021 drew to a close, e-commerce spending rose to 14% of total card payments sales.

Speaking to a host of business journalists in early 2022, FNB Merchant Services chief executive officer Thokozani Dlamini said that the industry’s continued growth is astounding.

“E-commerce has already exceeded our conservative estimates initially published at the peak of the pandemic, and it’s clearly here to stay,” said. “South Africa’s e-commerce market will reach more than R400 billion by 2025 on the back of more than 1 billion transactions per annum,” Dlamini said.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

Chief Analyst at DataReportal, Simon Kemp, provided a rather thorough breakdown of SEO trends in South Africa.  

He explained that adding location data and listing information with Google can have major returns for local businesses. 

“Not only has there been an increase of approximately 900% in ‘local’ searches using terms such as “near me” since 2016, but these local searches have proven to provide great returns for businesses. “

Cyberspace has grown extraordinarily in the last decade. So make sure to use things like title tags, headings, specified keywords and your location to optimize your own search results. Effective SEO approaches are the life source of any business in South Africa.

Paid Advertising 

According to South Africa’s advertising market was valued at R30.4 billion in 2019. Next to conventional television, the internet is said to be the next biggest advertising enterprise. But, future predictions indicate that internet paid internet advertising will surpass that of Television by 12.4 percent in 2023.

Their report suggests that paid Internet advertising will set the gold standard to account for 25% of South Africa’s advertising market.  Here we can expect its value to grow over R10 Billion by 2023. 

When looking at online advertising means, mobile devices are likely to account for half of internet advertising revenue. With that being said you should look at the best way to advertise your business on any mobile platform. 

Lead Generation

Lead generation is the technique businesses use to recognize prospective customers increase the likelihood of sales.

This is achieved through multiple online marketing means like SEO and paid advertising. 

Chief executive of Bluegrass Digital , Nick Durrant, said that the  changing digital world creates opportunities for digital marketers.  It has also been effective in gathering superior information on potential leads. 

Salesforce is one example of a company that has enjoyed huge success from its digital events. When their event schedule was uprooted, they adapted quickly and, as a result, their virtual World Tour event brought over 1.2 million views to their social channels. That’s 1.2 million potential leads,” Durrant said.

By the looks of it lead generation will be done mostly online for the foreseeable future. Even though it will depend more on digital optimization, its core value will be the same- paying attention to the customer’s needs. Multiple Lead Generation companies in South Africa have suggested that lead generation to be valued as much as R7 Billion in 2022. 

Google my Business 

There isn’t much on the exact South African statistics but, “local is lekker” and this is proven by Google’s Business Profile help centre.

According to them 97% of business related searches are focused on local businesses.

Also nearly 50% of all searches on Google are motivated by information in a specific local area. Based on this it is absolutely clear that your online business presence should indicate where customers are able to find you.

Google Maps 

Your customers are likely to spend hours googling businesses in their area. This can be particularly handy if they have directions to find you. People have become lazy and many of us have resorted to Google to find what they are looking for.  South African businesses and website owners can easily do the same thing.  

You don’t need a website, but you can list your physical location, phone numbers and opening hours for free on Google Maps. Google themselves has said that a number of South African businesses have already started to cash in on of what Google Maps have to offer.

Social Media 

Statistics released by Ornico and World Wide Worx held WhatsApp as the most used social media platform in South Africa.  By the last quarter of 2021, roughly 95 percent of local internet users used the messaging app. Trailing behind was Facebook and Instagram followed at 87% and 73% individually. 

For a little over a decade, South Africa’s internet usage has seen

Substantial growth. The reports discovered that 37.6 million South Africans gained access to the internet, compared to 12.3 million eleven years prior. So, active social media became flooded as a result. At the start of 2022, social media habits increased to 28 million users.

Influencer Marketing 

Social commerce has risen drastically– in fact the South Africa Social Commerce Market Intelligence Report for 2022 forecasts that the sector will grow by 107.8% on an annual basis, reaching over R18 Million in 2022, with steady growth expected between now and 2028.

Chaos has bred opportunity as many have resorted to becoming social influencers as a second income. For instance, a news report stated that content creators have earned over R100 million between 2019 and 2021 on Humanz.

What’s more Trends Analyst and Founder of Nicola Cooper & Associates , Nicola Cooper, spoke at large about the future of local influencer marketing.

“The opportunity for influencers and content is shifting, which creates additional product or monetised opportunity. This is the stuff we’re picking up from global celebrities.”

Cooper was qouted as saying that the regulation of the influencer industry is critical, owing to its now formalisation, compared to years ago, when it was “more of a smaller and informal thing”.

Content Marketing 

The South African Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB SA) 2022’s State of Content Marketing in South Africa report publicized that despite the state of the South African economy, the digital industry grew by 18%. 

The report found that the entire content marketing sector secured revenue of R4.7 billion in 2020. Internet advertising revenue reached R2.1 billion in 2020.

IAB SA study participants reported that digital advertising spend averaged between 21% and 40% of their total ad spend. According to IAB SA Research Council chair Claudia Naidoo,

determining the exact total digital content marketing revenue in 2021 has not been easy. 

“It is lumped with all advertising and marketing spend. But this still rings true: content is king. Content marketing makes long-lasting connections. Even though the customer is now in the centre and demands more personalised experiences, content is still the way to the heart and wallet,” she said in the report. 


A strong foundation between marketing and sales techniques is vital for the success of any business. Learning how your company can increase efficiency through effective online marketing is the modern day secret recipe to gaining more customers. The South African business sector is rife with opportunity. Get online and make your move. 

Did you find it interesting?
Please Share...

Picture of Justin Steyn
Justin Steyn
A sucker for reading and getting information on a whole bunch of topics. Justin has worked in news as a journalist and content writer for over a decade. When he is not busy reading, he enjoys lounging in the beach areas of MosselBay.
Table of Contents

Position your business as an industry leader and expand your market reach.

Take the next steps to grow your company. Learn how advertising can capture leads and grow profits.