Profile of the month – Werner Marais, CGS

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Profile of the month – Werner Marais, CGS


This month we chat to Werner Marais, Digital Marketing Manager at Financial Services company, Credit Gain Services. In his current role he is responsible for formulating and overseeing the implementation of the company’s digital marketing strategy.

What do you enjoy most about working in digital marketing?

Firstly, thank you for this opportunity. For me, digital marketing challenges me and I find myself constantly learning and adapting to an ever-changing space where there are no set rules or methods to follow. You constantly need to be on top of your game, from email marketing, SEO, PPC, social media and so forth. The digital marketing space is a fast-moving and ever-changing environment, literally on a daily basis. Each time Google or Facebook releases a new algorithm update, I have to learn how it will impact my marketing message to reach my potential customers.

So for me, there’s never a dull moment as the bar keeps on getting raised and only the best survive.

What are the biggest challenges facing digital marketers today?

Some of the biggest challenges are making sure you have the right people with the right skills who will be able to cope with this phenomenal change happening in marketing almost on a daily basis.

Data is one of the most important challenges and making sure we have the right technology and skill levels to handle the massive volumes of data we have to work with every day, as well as how to get the most out of this data. If you have this mastered you will run circles around your competitors.

3 qualities all digital marketers should have?

  1. Most importantly, you have to be flexible to change and willing to adapt to this ever-changing environment.
  2. Then something that goes hand-in-hand with the first point is the hunger to learn and keep up to date with the constant change in the market.
  3. Lastly, you need to be comfortable with technology. This doesn’t mean that you have to be proficient in writing code, you can leave that up to the programmers, but technology keeps pushing us forward. This is why it’s important to at least know how it works and use this to your advantage.

What makes Credit Gain Services stand out from other financial services organisations?

At CGS, we understand the challenges of acquiring credit in South Africa and statistics indicate that there are roughly 20 million credit-active consumers in South Africa, of which 50% have impaired credit records.

So for us the question was: how do we help these individuals get access to credit? But not only that, how can we assist them to rehabilitate themselves and get to a situation where they are credit worthy again?

Based on these challenges, we’ve put together a unique product offering.

  1. We’ve hand picked a group of lenders and brokers who will be able to assist our customers with loans. We then match each one of our customers based on their unique profiles to the lender best suited to them. This matching process is completely automated and uses a set of advanced algorithms to find our customers the best possible loan.
  2. In some cases, a loan is not possible due to a poor credit record. In this case, we have remedial measures in place that will assist our customer to firstly better understand why they have an impaired credit history and then assisting them in improving their credit status.

We feel that this unique product offering is advantageous to grow the economy of South Africa.

How does online marketing in the Financial Services space differ from other industries?

The advantage the financial services industry has over others, in my opinion, is the size of the audience. In South Africa it has embraced the digital space and technology and uses this to reach its audiences. South Africa’s big smartphone Internet uptake has also played a big roll and accelerated the growth of the financial services industry. Currently, more than 60% of South Africa’s traffic comes from mobile devices. This ranks the country higher than many other developing countries on the mobile traffic scale. It has enabled financial services companies to reach and service their customer far better than ever before.

So to answer your question, I think the uptake and growth of the financial services industry as a whole are far higher than any other industry due to the massive growth of smartphones to access the Internet in South Africa.

What is your experience of working with Online Performance Marketing?

The growth in the OPM space over the past three years, since we’ve been using it to generate traffic, has been really good. Recently there has been an explosion in online commerce in South Africa which is good news for OPM. More and more people are getting comfortable buying online or managing their bank account via Internet banking. I think this is just the beginning for OPM, which secures its position in the market.

If you look at the USA and UK, their OPM industry has been very healthy for some time already. This is due to accessibility to the Internet as well as the size of their population.

So I am extremely optimistic about the growth of OPM in South Africa, and just looking how it has assisted the growth of our business over the past three years, I believe that it will keep on growing.

In my opinion, any company with an online presence that is not using OPM as part of their digital marketing strategy will not be able to grow to its fullest potential.

What makes a good affiliate?

I think for us the bottom line is not quantity but quality. So a good affiliate is able to generate quality leads.

It’s also important that an affiliate understands your niche. This will help them create good original content, which in-turn will attract the right customer.

How do you use Social Media?

We don’t use social media at the moment. We’ve used it in the past, but I think there is a place for everything and for us using social media just didn’t work. Social media is not a platform that you will want to necessarily use if it can expose your personal financial situation. It is in most cases a very private matter, especially when you are going through a difficult time.

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