Digital Marketing is a marketing concept that has gained wide-fire popularity and built an insane level of following over the last few years alone. Described by people in different ways such as internet marketing, online marketing, and electronic marketing, droves of businesses and consumers alike are increasingly exploring ways of harnessing the power of digital marketing to drive their agenda.
Owing to the growth of its usage across different personal, social, and business spheres in recent years, there are perhaps as many real and proven information on digital marketing as there are misguiding and unfounded ones.
So the big question really is— what exactly is digital marketing?
Lending some help from Wikipedia, digital marketing is:-
an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.
Perhaps Wikipedia’s definition of digital marketing might be too technical for some people to digest or remember — I prefer things being simplified and easy-to-read.
So here’s a simplified definition of the same concept…
Digital marketing is basically any form of online activity you perform to:
- Get people’s attention
- Direct online users to your page –blog, website, etc.
- Build the interest of online users and convince them to take a specific action – buy a product/service, join an email list, share a content, etc.
But it’s incomplete to explain digital marketing without considering how it came on the heels of traditional marketing.
Before the advent of technological advancements— such as the internet— that gave rise to digital marketing, traditional marketing was widely adopted by marketers and a lot of attention was given to creating awareness about products and services through:
- Running TV or radio commercials
- Advertising in local and national newspapers and magazines.
- Setting up ads on billboards and churning out leaflets and flyers.
And although traditional marketing isn’t exactly extinct in today’s world, most marketers agree that digital marketing is inexpensive, more measurable, easy to test and pivot, and overall, offers more marketing ROI than traditional marketing.
In summary, while traditional marketing uses a “push” approach to get a message out, effective digital marketing adopts the “pull” approach to attract people and convert them to customers.
Who should use digital marketing?
The application of digital marketing is useful to both individuals and businesses— typically anyone who wishes to reach an online audience and influence them to take some kind of action. More than ever before, small and large businesses are adopting digital marketing tactics to connect with their target customers and influence their buying decision. That’s basically the summary of what every business seeks to achieve with digital marketing.
Now let’s consider how digital marketing works for B2B and B2C businesses
Business-to-Business (B2B) Digital Marketing
Business-to-Business (or B2B) marketing involves creating business relationships with other businesses that lead to sales. The central digital strategy for most B2B companies may involve attracting qualified online leads (small to large-sized businesses) to your website through online ads on Google and other relevant industry websites.
In general, effective B2B marketing is more than driving qualified leads to your website and closing them. Rather it involves a carefully thought-out process of building reputation, trust, and credibility with your customers during the entire process of marketing to them—and even after they become paying customer.
Business-to-Customer (B2C) Digital Marketing
Business-to-Customer (or B2C) marketing involves building a marketing campaign and a product or service offering around the personal needs of end consumers. Traditionally, B2C businesses refer to businesses like restaurants and shopping malls. However, with the global prevalence of the internet which led to rise of e-commerce, B2C businesses sell products and services on websites, social platforms, and retail marketplaces.
Unlike B2B marketing where the value and benefits of the product come to the fore during marketing, B2C marketing considers the emotional needs and preferences of the buyer and wraps its marketing message around the core needs of the buyer.
So can we say digital marketing is worth a try or is it merely another hype used by sleazy marketers to make businesses shell more money?
What Makes Digital Marketing Important?
Let’s face it— these days almost everything is pointing away from analog to digital. More consumers and businesses are coming online and there are more mobile devices, laptops, and desktop computers connected to the internet today than we could have ever imagined 5 or 10 years ago.
Interestingly, these digital trends don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon and for obvious reasons, businesses that are the tail’s end of these sweeping digital trends run the risk of losing customers and being swept out of business completely.
So what makes digital marketing important? There are indeed several reasons, the least of which is not that marketing experts across the globe seem to agree that believe that digital marketing is the future of B2B and B2C marketing— making the future of traditional marketing uncertain.
But even looking beyond experts’ predictions, we also see that digital forms of marketing and communication are both faster and more far-reaching— which is good news for marketers looking to maximize the ROI of their marketing spend as well as consumers looking to consume information conveniently and connect with the rest of the world at the push of a button.
Before we look at some of the other benefits digital marketing offers businesses, let’s consider some the biggest categories of digital marketing at present:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social Media Marketing (SMM)
- Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
- Affiliate marketing
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
Let’s look closely into each of these categories
Search engine optimization (SEO)
If you’ve been in the online space for a while now, chances are you’ve heard of SEO. Now, if you have a personal or business blog/website, I can easily bet on it that you’ve read or even tried implementing some SEO on your site yourself.
Despite being a popular and proven online marketing concept, however, some people still view and treat SEO as a mere fancy marketing jargon or tech oddity.
Are any of these views correct? Not even remotely.
In a previous post, I explained SEO (On-page and off-page) in details. However, for this post, let me simply define the concept like I would to a 5th-grader.
So without ambiguity, SEO is simply the process you follow to optimize any online content you create so that search engines like Google are inclined to give it a favorable placement on their platform whenever a random user searches for keywords related to your online content.
There are perhaps a million and one benefits to implementing SEO for your website— but my personal favorite is that, if executed correctly, SEO could give any business with a low marketing budget a good fighting chance of competing for online relevance with big spenders. That’s because a good share of search engines’ SEO algorithms dwell in the realm of non-paid (or organic) user activity.
Search engine marketing (SEM)
Previously we highlighted SEO, now SEM— which is in the same family with SEO — refers to the process of paying search engines or third-party traffic sources to increase the online relevance of your blog/website.In case you’re confused by the two similar concepts, here’s a snapshot to simplify things:
SEO: Gaining online traffic through non-paid or free listings.
SEM: Gaining online traffic through paid search listings
Content marketing has existed long before the internet came on board, yet when the average person hears of “content marketing”, their mind straight away thinks of blogs, social media, and YouTube.
Certainly, content marketing is all of these— and much more. But it’s important to establish that at behind every successful content marketing is storytelling.
The fact is, humans, love stories and brands that weave remarkable stories around their message usually capture the hearts (and wallets) of their customers.
So here’s a way to correctly interpret content marketing, according to the Content Marketing Institute:
…a Long term marketing approach that centers on creating and diseminating useful , relevant and constant content in other to engage and retain a clearly defined target audience — and, essentially, to drive valuable customer action.
It’s hard to add or take away from that definition. But to further simplify things, content marketing takes the approach of using various forms of high-value content to build a strong and ongoing relationship with a target audience.
After reading all these, you may ask—what’s my personal advice on content marketing?
Whatever you do in planning your digital marketing campaign, never leave content marketing out of the mix. It’s always a winning digital marketing strategy.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Social media is the eighth wonder of the world. Never before has there been a time in human history when over a billion people could have social interactions with themselves on one platform. We all know the potential of the social networks are immensely powerful. Marketers, perhaps, know that best.
Social media marketing is basically any form of marketing done on social networks where anyone – whether individuals or corporate brands— can promote a product or service. All you have to do to see SMM in action is to go on Facebook, and in less than 5 seconds, you may either come to a sidebar sponsored ad or a promotional content on your newsfeed.
Whilst the previous SMM approaches mentioned are direct, there are other indirect but equally effective methods of marketing on social networks, such as recommendation marketing, whereby people in your contact list or network, casually recommend a product or service they’ve previously used and got good results from.
Since we are most likely to buy from people that we know and trust, brands take advantage of strategies like these to further increase their marketing success on social platforms.
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
In the space of online advertising, PPC is “household name”. Pay-Per-Click advertising is a digital marketing model where advertisers pay a PPC engine a certain fee whenever a targeted user clicks on the published ad.
At the basic level, advertisers use PPC to drive traffic to their blog or website— although PPC has wider and more advanced applications. This category of digital marketing links back to Search Engine Marketing (SEM). So, generally, we can say PPC is one of the several applications of SEM. The other applications will be discussed in a future post.
Affiliate marketing is yet another digital marketing strategy that advertisers use to influence product sales. Also referred to as a performance-based marketing, the basic concept of affiliate marketing involves rewarding marketers (called affiliates) for each visitor or each customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing activity.
In traditional affiliate marketing, there are usually four key participants:
- The Brand—otherwise known as the merchant or retailer
- The Network— the platform that coordinates the selection of marketing offers as well as payments to affiliates.
- The Affiliate— also referred to as the publisher, the affiliate manages to create online marketing campaigns for a brand’s product or service offering and receives a reward only when a customer takes an action a pre-determined by the brand.
Lastly, we consider email marketing. Similar to social networks, the email platform provides an opportunity for the marketing of products and services to be done. For most people, on any given day, we are faced with a barrage of automated emails bearing suspicious names and subject lines— which we bunch and delete altogether.
But occasionally, we receive emails that catch our eyes and instantly pique our interest, which makes us read them. And not only do we read them, we even share them with people on our contact list.
That’s the power of exceptional email marketing.
Therefore effective email marketing transcends “tricky” copy and colorful graphics—and instead focuses on delivering a personalized message that the reader will find helpful, based on their existing pain points or needs.
Having discussed all 7 categories of digital marketing, it’s important to note that there are many more forms of digital marketing such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
But coming back to the benefits that digital marketing offers businesses, marketing campaigns are markedly more affordable yet more penetrating via digital marketing tactics compared to traditional marketing.
It’s Cost Efficient with a positive ROI
Without a doubt, a business can execute a digital marketing campaign that reaches a wide audience with as little as $5— which any business can spend in targeting qualified audience groups on Facebook ads, Twitter or Instagram ads— whereas you need thousands of dollars for traditional offline marketing.
On one hand, running $5 ads on social networks will help you establish the market viability of your product or service while boosting your brand presence in the process. The ROI of $5 could amount to thousands of dollars with the right strategy in place. While on the other hand, as with traditional offline marketing, you risk spending thousands of dollars to eventually discover that your target audience may not need your product/service.
Pushing matters even further, let’s admit it—it’s both difficult and limited to monitor and track traditional offline marketing. However, most digital marketing tactics allow you to know how much you are getting in return for every dollar you spend.
This way you are not second-guessing whether your marketing campaign is making you money or not. What else could be better than monitoring and optimizing the performance of your marketing efforts in real time?
The bottom line is clear— we are in the age of digital. Therefore, businesses that will rise in relevance and market shares — and not merely survive — would be those who adapt fastest to the ever-changing marketing climate of digital. That being said, a digital marketing plan would not be successful without a clean, functional and responsive website design.
If you manage a small business or the company you work for is looking at working with a reputable digital marketing agency in implementing a single (or a combination) of the digital marketing strategies discussed in this post— contact us immediately at Webcarpenter.