If you, spend a significant amount of time online, you must have come across the term “digital marketing.” Digital marketing has been frequently used, especially over the past 3-4 years. Is it just another buzzword or is digital marketing a force to be reckoned with?
It’s not a buzzword. In fact, it’s kind of a big deal.
With traditional media like television and radio, being replaced by Netflix and Spotify, marketing in this new digital age has taken on a new meaning.
Let’s explore what digital marketing actually means and how it’s impacting the marketing tactics of modern day businesses and startups.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS DIGITAL MARKETING?
Marketing in 2017, is digital marketing.
Digital marketing can be defined as everything you, your brand or your company does to market your products or services to customers and prospects using digital technologies. All marketing activities that take place in the digital realm and involve digital media is digital marketing.
Most people confuse digital marketing with the internet or online marketing. Digital Marketing does not only involve internet marketing tactics, but it also includes marketing channels that do not require the use of the internet, like television ads, radio, digital signage, SMS, and other forms of digital media.
With everyone becoming more tech-savvy than ever before, digital marketing has slowly become the most important marketing channel to connect brands with their customers. Digital channels like search engine optimization, social media, websites, email, podcasts, videos, etc. are sources through which companies try to find and connect with relevant customers.
Internet marketing takes up the majority chunk of digital marketing. This comes as no surprise as other digital media like television continue to plummet.
Digital marketing in broad terms can be defined into two different categories:
- Inbound Digital Marketing
- Outbound Digital Marketing
INBOUND VS OUTBOUND DIGITAL MARKETING
Inbound digital marketing or pull marketing involves creating online content to capture the attention of a relevant audience to your brand. Inbound marketing aims to attract target customers to a brand’s website, store, or any other digital media channel. Inbound marketing tactics focus on a certain niche and do not aim to attract a wider audience.
Some common inbound digital marketing tactics include:
- Having a company blog
- Video content
- Creating infographics to get social shares
- Giving away free e-books, white papers or holding free webinars
- Sending a weekly/monthly newsletter
The goal is to provide as much value to your customers and prospects as you can through your content.
The most common tactic of inbound marketing is having a company blog. By capitalizing on the relevant keywords, your target customers are searching for, you can attract customers to your website.Outbound digital marketing or push marketing involves creating online advertisements or paid promotion of your products or services to get as much exposure as you can. It is often costlier than inbound marketing, but can provide a wider reach.
Some common outbound digital marketing tactics include:
- Pop-ups, banner ads
- Promoted content on social media
An average person is bombarded with over 3,000 marketing messages a day and is continuously looking for ways to block or tune them out. Take a look at these stats:
- 86% of people skip through television commercials.
- 91% of email users have unsubscribed from a company email that they previously opted into.
- 84% of 25-34-year-olds have left a favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising.
- 200 million Americans have registered their phone numbers on the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list.
Even though outbound marketing tactics have the potential to reach out to more customers than inbound, we think they are getting less and less effective over time.
BUT WHY DIGITAL MARKETING?
How about the fact that digital marketing is one of the most important types of marketing right now?
Digital marketing is slowly turning out to be the most prominent avenue for marketing. As the world becomes more digital in every sense, digital marketing becomes an attractive option to pursue.
Here are some stats that show why digital marketing is considered to be incredibly important:
- Internet access is easy. Over 40% of world’s population (3.3 billion people) today have access to the internet. Two decades ago, in 1995, it was less than 1%! The world is rapidly moving towards digital technologies as the internet becomes more and more accessible. Increased internet accessibility creates a larger market for marketers and advertisers to capitalize and seize the opportunity, as they approach their prospective customer base.
- Everyone has a smartphone. According to a report from Wireless Smartphone Strategies services, the global smartphone user base will grow 58% from 2016 to 2022. The availability of cheap smartphones and accessibility of the internet is the prime reason that people are now spending 5 hours per day on their mobile devices!
- Netflix over TV! The rise of online video content on YouTube and increasing popularity of streaming services like Netflix, is the primary cause of the decreased consumption of TV. According to Defy Media, people aged 13-24, watch 12.1 hours of video content per week on YouTube, social media and other free online sources. Another 8.8 hours are spent weekly on Netflix and subscription-video services. That’s more than two and a half times the 8.2 hours weekly they spend watching television! Even when we are watching TV, we always have our phones in front of us, begging for our attention. As soon as the commercials are up, we go back to scrolling Instagram and sending Snapchats!
- Digital marketing is cheaper!: 28% of marketers have reduced their traditional advertising budget to fund more digital marketing. The overall cost of reaching and acquiring new customers through online ads and promotions is significantly cheaper and more effective than traditional mediums like TV and print ads. In fact, according to econsultancy, 52% of marketers feel that you don’t need to use television to reach the masses. A recent study indicated that over 60% of viewers changed the time they watched some of their programs through streaming services like Hulu, Netflix or recorded content to view later without ads.
- Spending increase for digital marketing. According to Forrester Research Inc, US digital marketing spend will near $120 billion by 2021. Investment in paid search, display advertising, social media advertising, online video advertising and email marketing will encompass 46% of all advertising in five years. Let’s face it, traditional ways of advertising will decrease even more and be replaced by digital tactics and strategies. As more companies increase their digital marketing budgets, it’s time to take a pause and reconsider where you think your target audience is hanging out online, to maintain a competitive advantage.
- Digital marketing provides powerful insights. Digital marketing provides marketers with powerful, in-depth and real-time data on what’s working and what needs to be changed. With insights on your marketing campaigns, you can see who viewed or clicked on your advertisement, their geographical location, at what time, how long they stayed, how often they viewed it, sales conversions and much more. This powerful data allows marketers to tweak their marketing messages accordingly and increase conversions. With digital marketing being cheaper than traditional marketing, marketers have the luxury to A/B test their marketing efforts and pour money and effort into areas that performs the best.
WHO should be doing digital marketing?
The short answer- everyone.
In today’s world of digitization, digital marketing is a skill everyone should be familiar with, even if you are not a marketing professional.
However, professionals who absolutely need to master the art of digital marketing are:
From what we have covered this far, it is evident that marketing professionals need to be experts in the field of digital marketing if they want to stay relevant. Those who will try to fight it or simply ignore digital marketing are bound to be left behind.
Marketing professionals need to make a conscious effort to shift their mindset of where their audience hangs out the most online. For example, different social media channels host different audiences and require different marketing messages. You have to have your finger on the pulse to know what is the most popular place for your target market.
There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all in the social media world. Never before have marketers had as much intelligent data to target exactly whom they want and convert their target audience as efficiently.
Did you know that millennials are collectively spending over $600 billion a year? Brands need to understand the power social media holds in our society and the need to shift advertising budgets towards the channels millennials spend most of their time at, the internet. Brands will have to start questioning if the dollars spent on TV commercials are a good investment. Are they getting a greater ROI by spending significantly fewer dollars on an Instagram ad?
As a business owner, you need to figure out where your target customers are and deploy your budget accordingly. Allocating your time and resources efficiently is the number one priority of any startup. Therefore, as an entrepreneur, you need to have in-depth knowledge about different social media and digital platforms to successfully market your products or services online. The skill of digital marketing can turn out to be a critical factor in determining your business’s success or failure.
There will be 150,000 digital jobs by 2020. Since companies are still in their early stages of understanding the dynamics of digital marketing, it creates a huge opportunity gap in the market. Learning the skills of digital marketing can make you a hot prospect among companies and help you jumpstart your career.
Did you know that 57% of beauty and fashion companies use influencers as part of their marketing strategies, while an additional 21 percent are also planning to add this strategy to their campaigns in 2017? An astounding 81% of marketers who have used influencer marketing judged it to be effective.
As brands become increasingly aware of the true power of influencer marketing, influencers need to ‘up their game’ by strategically making use of their huge followings and partner with brands. The internet is the life and blood of these influencers. They need to understand how consumers behave on the internet to deploy strategies accordingly and drive the most engagement.
HOW to do Digital Marketing?
In order to zero-in on your target customers and get the best possible results from your digital marketing campaigns, you first need to understand the various channels that fall under this umbrella.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO means optimizing your website and its content so that it ranks higher in search engine results pages. The higher your website or its content rank in search results, the more organic traffic your website will receive. The more traffic your website receives, the higher the chances of conversion!
SEO practices can be broken down into two categories:
- On-page SEO involves tactics you can apply to your website to increase its visibility and rank higher in search engine results. On-page SEO practices involve optimizing the content of the website as well as the HTML code and tags.
- Off-page SEO involves tactics taken outside of your own website to improve search engine rankings. A major part of Off-page SEO are “backlinks” which are essentially reputed websites linking back to your website. If a ton of websites link back to your website, search engines think of it as quality content and tend to rank it higher.
2. Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC):
PPC is a paid form of driving traffic to your website. This type of “sponsored” search result appears on the top or side of a search engine results page. With this advertising medium, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, hence the name. For example: Google Adwords.
3. Social Media Marketing:
We all rely on social media, not just to meet long lost high school friends, but also to discover new knowledge, research brands, compare prices and check reviews before making any physical contact with an organization.
Social media is an integral part of digital marketing. Brands try to harness the power of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, to have a more meaningful, one-to-one relationship with customers and prospects. With over 2.7 billion active social media users around the world, social media is a crucial channel to market your products and services to your target audience.
Social media is about showing a more personal side of your brand, creating shareable content, engaging with people and eventually marketing your products in a subtle yet effective manner.
“Social media is about the people. Not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide for you.” – Matt Goulart
4. Email Marketing
Email Marketing has been around for two decades and shows no signs of slowing down. According to Radicati’s 2016 Email Statistics report, email will be used by 3 billion people by 2020. That’s half of the world population! It is the digital marketing channel with the highest ROI, $40 for every $1 spent!
Email is still the preferred and most effective way to reach out to individual customers and prospects. Building an email list and sending newsletters is the way businesses keep in touch with customers and stay top of mind. It is the most popular and sought-after digital marketing tactic.
Emails are effective because:
- It’s easy to deliver the right message to the right individual at the right time.
- Easy to A/B test messages (i.e. try out different messages and subject lines to see which one performs better).
- Track overall effectiveness of your campaign.
Email marketing isn’t something marketers do just because it’s easy, but because it’s what the customers are asking for. According to Statista, 86% of consumers would like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with at least monthly. Shocking right?!
Despite being an “outdated” technology, email continues to be more effective and ROI positive than any other digital marketing tactic out there and needs to be taken very seriously.
5. Content Marketing:
“Content Marketing is the only marketing left” – Seth Godin
Content is the fuel that starts all your digital marketing efforts on the internet. You need great content to post on social media platforms, on your website/blog, in your email marketing efforts and your advertisements on search engines. Quality content is also one of the most important factors in determining your SEO success.
- Around 88% of B2B marketers currently use content marketing as part of their digital marketing strategy.
- 77% of B2C marketers say they will produce more content in 2016.
The goal of content marketing is not to promote, but to educate and catch viewer attention by providing them with immense value. You just have to figure out which form of content your audience is more attracted towards and go all in.
Quality content can take the form of:
- Blog posts
- White papers
6. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation ties together all your digital marketing efforts. Automation softwares and tools allow you to view the progress of your digital marketing campaigns, reach out to customers and prospects and measure the effectiveness of the campaigns from a single dashboard. Automation helps in streamlining workflow and automate redundant tasks.Automation has garnered huge amounts of support from marketers. Marketing technology already represents 33% of the average marketing budget and is higher than advertising spend for many companies.
Digital marketing is an essential part of marketing in 2017. It involves promoting your products and services using digital media and technology.
Never before in the history of mankind, have we had access to such intelligent marketing data. It is now up to us make efficient use of this data by deploying our digital marketing strategies to convert those prospects into customers.
What are your thoughts on this era of marketing? Do let us know in the comment section below!