Woww is a digital marketing agency Located in Cape Town, South Africa, that services global SMB’s who seek better value for less money. In this interview, CEO Felix Norton lists out some of his favorite digital marketing & automation tools and explains why South Africa is the best outsourcing alternative for SMB’s globally.
Please describe the background behind founding Woww.
Woww started 2 years ago. Initially, I was working as a freelancer on many different types of website development platforms (Ruby On Rails, Django, Angular) doing a bit of everything. At some point, I realized it was not sustainable to offer so many different services, and decided to simplify our offering by focusing exclusively on WordPress.
I found a business partner who complimented my development skills with his financial abilities and business development experience, who helped me turn Woww into a proper business.
During the initial rebrand, we decided to create a streamlined web design service where you chose a package, picked a theme, sent through your content and we’d restyle and populate the theme with your brand’s content. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out as expected, as we found we’d gone from too broad to too narrow.
In the end, we decided to create Woww as a brand that focused on WordPress as our core offering and complement it with added value services such as SEO, E-commerce, Hosting, Graphic Design, and Digital Marketing. Over the next two years, we grew to a team of 8 and aspire to become the best WordPress development Agency in South Africa.
Outsourcing from South Africa offers great value and service when compared to other international alternatives. We speak fluent English, unlike India and Romania where you have a language barrier.
Strategically, we’re on the same timezone as most of Europe, which allows us to work with companies in Germany and the United Kingdom. We’ve also started growing a client base in other regions such as the United States, Australia, Thailand, and Ethiopia.
Because of our size, we’re much leaner than some of the larger and more established agencies. However, we’re able to offer a service of similar quality. Because of our lower overheads and faster turnaround times, we can offer our services at a much better rate than the big agencies, creating real value for SMB clients.
Which current technologies are you most intrigued by, and why?
Our business is built around WordPress. In that sense, we try to find ways of optimizing and streamlining processes to make web design as fast as possible, because it means we can offer a better price. We charge for our time, so the faster and the more efficient we are, the better the value we can provide. The tools I’ve been focusing on are anything that makes our work faster, easier and more efficient.
We’ve partnered with WP Engine, one of the largest WordPress managed hosting companies in the world, and they’ve helped us scale up and make web development easier and better. They have great features that make building websites a pleasure. Their sites are fast and secure and their support is fantastic.
They also have a very aggressive sales team that helps bring us new clients through their referral programs. They also offer a partnership program where you can get a commission off any client who hosts with them.
For web design, there’s a great service called Envato elements, which is a monthly subscription service that gives incredible value for only $40 per month. It’s like the Netflix for designers, with logos, fonts, photos, icons, video footage, and anything you would use when designing media assets for websites. Being able to get all that for a fixed fee every month has been a game changer for us. We also love Themeforest and Codecanyon by Envato.
In terms of marketing websites, we’ve been focusing on SEO. Over the last year and a half, the most helpful tool that we used is AHREFS which is a backlink and rank tracking keyword analysis tool. These tools track and analyze our sites and competitors, giving us the information to prove to our clients that our SEO efforts have tangible results.
For internal stuff, we’ve recently signed up for Asana Business. We use it to manage our projects. We have everyone on the platform and we use it to manage every aspect of our business, it’s a very powerful tool.
I have a team of 8, and Asana gives me the ability to delegate work, track progress, and get a bird’s eye perspective of the business. All our documentation is there, clients, everything. It costs us $25 per user which is quite expensive, but so far we estimated that if we charge $25 per hour for work, and by using Asana we save at least 1 hour in productivity, then it’s worth it. It also integrates with many other tools that we use, like SLACK for communication, Google drive for sharing documents, and Toggle for time capturing, to name a few. We use a lot of services that integrate seamlessly with everything else and it helps us to be accountable and keep track of things.
In your view, how has digital automation affected the way people do business?
We are living in exciting times where we’re constantly exploring and finding new ways to automate simple inquiries, helping users to navigate through sales funnels, incorporating AI chatbots, content rating, and more. Essentially, every online business can benefit from automation. It makes business management easier by removing the burden of mundane, routine work.
Manpower costs a lot of money, but AI is affordable. For business owners, it’s all very exciting because you get to do things you could never do just by yourself. These are the things which I believe will revolutionize the way people run their businesses. Smart systems will change and make manual and repetitive tasks a thing of the past.
As an example, let’s take project quoting. Creating a proposal and going through it with each and every client is very time-consuming. Right now, we’re developing an automated quoting engine that will allow us to roughly estimate how much a website should cost.
As soon as it’s ready, it will save us hours every day, because aside from estimating costs, it will also explain to our customers why things cost a certain amount.
People who are not technical or not used to working in the digital space don’t understand how long things take or why things are complicated. They say they want to build an app, but apps can be very expensive, and they have no idea why. So part of what we do is educate them throughout the process, so they can learn what is involved in building a website and the rough costs in real time based on the information they input. I think this will be a powerful tool for us to grow our business and be able to serve more customers professionally while saving our valuable time, which is better spent building websites!
How do you keep your edge in such a fast-paced market?
We’re excited about digital in general, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re constantly being challenged to explore new things.
A lot of people are frustrated by digital schools and online courses because its a constantly evolving industry. By the time you complete a degree or diploma, the knowledge you’ve acquired might already be out of date. Imagine what it would be like for a Doctor studying medicine to finish his 7-year degree and everything he learns is now redundant. It’s an exciting market but it can be difficult to keep up with.
In my opinion, people who want to break into the industry should not study, but gain experience and learn on the fly. Every resource that you want is available online, you just need to know how to find it. Learn quickly, adapt and apply.
What insights can you give us about the South African market?
In my opinion, South Africa as a market is very behind when it comes to digital. Most businesses are not utilizing online marketing to their full potential. That being said, in terms of talent, we have some of the best programmers in the world. Companies like Amazon and Facebook are setting up their infrastructures in Cape Town. AWS, which is the biggest online component of Amazon have set up their development center where they are employing South Africans to develop some of their most important features. Half the internet runs on AWS, and that’s partly developed here. International players are starting to leverage the weak South African Rand to get top talents for lower prices.
How do you see the future of digital marketing in 5 years from now?
One thing I think is going to be the big game changer is the way we interact with technology. We’ve been observing voice search. The shift to the most natural way of communication, which is speaking, combined with the advances of virtual assistants like Google Home, Amazon, and Alexa, are going to change things completely. You can see it from Facebook to Amazon, to Google, Apple and Samsung, everyone’s pushing their own version of a virtual assistant. I believe that in the future, every room will have a VA installed, receiving voice commands and doing all sorts of services that are already available on our phones and tablets. Websites will need to adapt to be able to interact with those AI assistants, so they can communicate with them.
For example, you may ask the VA where is the nearest pizza place? The website that is most optimized for voice will be the first one to come up and the VA will advertise that business first. Marketing agencies need to make sure they optimize for voice search, after all, it is the fastest growing trend in search technology.
What are your future plans for Woww?
In the next 2 years, we’re planning to focus on building our brand awareness. Our goal is to position South Africa as a place for people to find cost-effective but high-quality digital services. It’s taken a bit of time for us to get online with decent internet speed, but now that we are there we finally have access to the rest of the world.
As South Africans, we want to acquire clients in international markets and offer a service that is as good if not better than what you get locally.