Digital marketing is an exciting and challenging component of the modern marketing mix. There is no simple map to navigate this rapidly changing terrain. We spoke to Marelise Gilbert, VP of Digital Marketing at Entersekt, about her journey as digital marketer and how digital marketing serves Entersekt.


Digital marketing has come a long way


The term Digital Marketing was first used in the 1990s with the emergence of the World Wide Web. At the time, Web 1.0 allowed people to find information but not share it as easily. Marketers were therefore apprehensive at first, unsure if their strategies would work since the internet had not yet seen widespread deployment. In 1993, the first clickable banner went live, after which HotWired purchased a few banner ads for their advertising. This marked the beginning of the transition to the digital era of marketing.

In its most simple formulation, digital marketing involves achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies and media. In 2022, the idea is no longer novel. You have the channels, such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn, for example. You have the specialisations such as SEO, PPC, social media and email, to mention but a few. Then you have the tech that sits behind distributing content, nurturing leads and analysing data. And, finally, you have the emergence of an entire sub-industry of marketing populated by agencies, departments, job seekers, job providers and new students.

Digital marketing is an exciting and challenging area, for both practitioners and businesses attempting to compete for the attention of customers in a world of information overload. We spoke to Marelise Gilbert, VP of Digital Marketing at Entersekt, about her journey as digital marketer and how digital marketing serves the needs of a proudly South African fintech company with a truly global reach.



Technopark: Tell us briefly about your background and how does one pursue a successful career in digital marketing?


Marelise Gilbert: My career started many years ago in advertising. I was a journalist at school, so the world of copywriting and using creative messaging to convey thoughts and opinions led me to pursue a qualification in media studies.

After a brief stint in advertising, I joined one of the first digital outsource services in Cape Town. I soon realised the important role analytics played in the digital space, being able to track activities across all channels. This was the foundation of my career and whatever else I pursued within the space.

To be successful, you will need a solid understanding of analytics, and how to use the information to plan your next move. Advertising gave me experience in using consistent messaging and creative execution to build successful brands. I believe this is still a key ingredient to ensure your digital marketing efforts get results.


Technopark: How would you describe the relationship between digital marketing and more traditional marketing, and what value does digital marketing offer?


Marelise Gilbert: All marketing rests on developing and maintaining a strong brand identity, a clear position in the market, and strong differentiation to stand out.

Public relations (PR), in-person events and other forms of more traditional marketing are key communication channels that are instrumental in conveying your message on a consistent basis.

Digital marketing expands your marketing arsenal and diversifies your marketing strategy. Digital channels offer you the ability to reach niche markets and widen your audience on a global scale. Moreover, digital marketing allows you to further build your brand through a well-thought-through content marketing strategy.

If you have a strong brand, digital marketing becomes a lot more cost effective than any other marketing initiative.


Technopark: Digital marketing relies on digital technologies and knowledge areas. How does one keep up with this changing landscape?


Marelise Gilbert: There are so many digital resources you can make part of your daily reading. I like listening to podcasts such as The Digital Marketer and The Marketer’s Journey. The MartechMap is a great resource to help you understand what tools are available in the market to assist you with automation and solving particular technology-related problems. Of course, an efficient Marketing Operation Manager like I have on my team makes my life easier in staying on top of all the latest MarTech!

But reading alone is not enough. Modern marketers need to ensure that they always test out new and different technologies so that they are constantly learning to understand what works for their audience and market segments.

Digital marketing is fast paced, and whatever technology we see evolving as consumers will have a direct influence on behaviour online. I find the best way to stay up to date is to build as many relationships outside of my work circle as possible. For example, I believe in working with top-notch agencies to ensure that my team and I get the right exposure in order to even better understand industry trends.

Lastly, at Entersekt, we are fortunate to have an investor such as Accel-KKR in the technology space. They are adding tremendous value by introducing us to international technology partners.


Technopark: Can you tell us a little about what Entersekt does?


Marelise Gilbert: Entersekt makes the digital world a safer and more user-friendly place by offering secure and context-aware authentication solutions for financial institutions around the world. This means that our market-leading products and solutions secure and streamline digital experiences, which can include logging in, authenticating or making a payment online, while reducing online fraud and ensuring compliance.

Two of my personal values are learning and growth, and there are so many success stories within this space that have changed the way consumers interact with their banks. I joined Entersekt during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, much of the growth in the fintech industry was fuelled by a surge in digital interactions, like e-commerce. e-Commerce or ‘card-not-present’ fraud is alarmingly high in South Africa, accounting for 80% of credit card and 53% of debit card fraud according to SABRIC.  Entersekt recently implemented an EMV 3D Secure solution for Capitec Bank £D Secure Solution, enabling them to identify high-risk e-commerce interactions in real-time, significantly boosting security without impacting the customer experience.

I am drawn to the fact that Entersekt, along with many other players in the space, are solving real-world problems, like fraud, using cutting-edge technology. It’s feel-good stories like these that make going to work in the morning a pleasure!



Technopark: How are digital marketing tactics used at Entersekt as part of its B2B marketing mix?


Marelise Gilbert: Businesses like to deal with people and to have conversations with them. This means that digital marketing tactics are used to gather as much data about our prospects and customers as possible, but also to test the channels and messaging that work best with our personas or prospects.

As referrals by word-of-mouth are still critical for generating sales leads, it helps us to identify and target our ideal customer profile and influencers with the right messaging. In so doing, we can launch into more targeted campaigns such as account-based marketing (ABM). In turn, this is how our customers and partners become our main brand ambassadors. We work hard to ensure that we have solid processes in place, and always have fun to keep the energy levels up as a team!


Technopark: What lessons have you learned that can help young businesses or marketers bolster their efforts in the digital marketing space?


Marelise Gilbert: For me, it is imperative to know the basics and have the foundation in place first. I believe in the 4 Ps of digital marketing: Purpose, personas, positioning, and professional relationships.

First you design a purpose statement. This statement describes the purpose of your digital marketing efforts in relation to the bigger marketing, sales, and business strategies.

Secondly, you need to focus on building effective customer personas. These personas are the fictional characters created to represent your ideal customer. You may not know exactly what each specific customer’s needs may be; however, when you focus on solving pain points for personas, it shapes the messaging and timing of  sales conversations.

The third P is positioning. Before you even start your digital marketing efforts, ensure you understand your positioning in the market so that you can build a great content marketing plan.

Finally, never underestimate the value of professional relationships. Your team culture and the relationships you have with each other create belonging, and in turn help achieve goals. The relationship with your sales team and their relationship with the customer will play a key role in helping you to constantly refine your personas and positioning in the market.


Explore, experiment, decide


Digital marketing is an essential component of the modern B2C and B2B marketing mix. But the pace at which things change, and the amount of new technology emerging, can be daunting. There is no simple map to navigate such terrain. However, what you can do is stay current and build your purpose-driven digital marketing strategy on a solid foundation. Explore new channels and technologies with a scientific approach and let the data guide your decision making.

If you are looking for some inspiration, follow Entersekt on LinkedIn and visit their website to see how this innovative South African fintech company is bringing change to the world. We are proud that they call Technopark home.

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