Contrary to popular thought, Digital marketing isn’t much of a new concept. It isn’t a thing of this decade and neither is it a thing of the previous decade. It is probably a thing of this century.
Digital marketing has been in existence for long. However, digital marketing has increasingly been utilised by entrepreneurs, businesses and brands over the past decades probably more than ever. This is due to new technologies and innovations on the internet.
Over the month, 4.57 Billion people worldwide will access the internet translating to 59% of the entire world population. (Statista, 2020). Marketing has always been about where you can find your target ideal audience and how best to do that. Digital marketing has made this not just possible, but easy and less expensive.
Will you be willing to spend lots of money monthly on a radio and newspaper campaign from which you cannot determine who sees it? You can only hope that it reaches the right person at the right time to trigger a series of events leading to purchase from your business.
Traditional media can generally give a broad spectrum of people you can reach but marketing has changed. It is no longer a numbers game and more of a niche game where you capture a core audience who become your advocates.
With digital marketing, you can follow your potential customers throughout the decision process helping with any challenges and information they may need. You have the ability to reach them at the right time with the right message.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is a component of marketing centred on electronic technologies and the internet.
Therefore, marketing done on any electronic device qualifies as digital marketing. This includes mobile phones, the internet, computers, tablets, etc.
You are probably aware of a good number of digital marketing types such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, content marketing, and so forth.
Building a Case for Digital Marketing – Why It Matters!
The question here is, why should a business, organisation or brand use digital marketing. Why not just flow with traditional marketing such as radio and TV? And the reasons are many. Digital marketing is often said to make traditional marketing obsolete soon. As much as that sounds very futuristic, traditional media will still be with us for the foreseeable future. So why digital marketing?
Digital Marketing is Affordable for Most
Digital marketing comes with so many advantages and benefits. Among these is its low-cost nature. Not all businesses start with huge budgets and funding.
Most businesses especially in Africa start with the entrepreneur’s hands and skills. Digital marketing is then the obvious choice of marketing because the entrepreneur cannot afford to spend money they don’t have on unpredictable traditional advertising.
You can even roll on a no-budget digital marketing campaign.
Digital Marketing Allows For Precision Targeting
This leads to the next advantage of digital marketing over traditional methods. It is possible to target with as much precision as you know your ideal target on digital marketing platforms such as social media. You literally have the ability to target certain ages, locations, interest, specific personalities, gender, the list goes. The only limit here is how well you understand your target audience. That aside, you can reach anyone among the more than 4 Billion People who use the internet daily.
Data And Analytics on Your Fingertips – Even Real-Time
Assuming you start running an online advertisement or even a campaign, with the right tools and platforms in place, you can literally see the results of your efforts. You can terminate, adjust or simply proceed with your marketing based on the data and the analyses. It is blind blowing. Marketers before the 1990s dreamed of such opportunities and here we are now.
Move with your Customers Through Their Decision Journey
Previously, marketers couldn’t know who was interested in their products unless they did some sales prospecting and did a sales call to confirm their assumptions.
Presently, marketers can simply tell who is likely to buy without knowing them or near them. Through digital analytics, understanding the typical consumer decision journey for your business, and accurate targeting, you can literally guide them through their decision process.
If your product or service is what they need, they will be far more open, likely and statistically speaking buy.
Digital Marketing Techniques Have Far More Conversion Rates
Online buyers are far more likely to buy from you if you guide them through their decision journey because like a friend, you naturally gain their trust and hence they feel better buying from you.
This isn’t a gamble over traditional marketing since with traditional, you cannot even determine how many sales you record from your campaigns. Traditional marketing is simply expensive to allow for a detailed breakdown of the buyer decision journey in both marketing and advertising efforts.
The best is to promote your flagship products and hope someone takes notice and buys.
History of Digital Marketing
The history of digital marketing is almost the history of the internet. Much of digital marketing is driven by the internet and online technologies. The term itself, digital marketing, was first used in the early 1990s. Digital marketing has evolved with the internet over the past few decades.
Much of digital marketing was and is still being driven by the internet. We would like to consider three main contributions to the history and evolution of digital marketing. They are the internet, Big Data and the invention of smartphones.
The internet, in concept, started long before digital marketing but over the past decades, with the commercialisation of the internet, the digital marketing age was birthed in the late 1990s. The computer was in existence for some time before but it was of little use to the vast majority. The internet came to change everything.
The internet only took off with the development of the first mass-market web browser, Netscape Navigator in 1994. The browser allowed the general population to surf the internet. Emails soon cropped up creating email marketing, search engines followed creating Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Yahoo! Was created in 1994, the same year as Netscape. Google was created in 1997. E-commerce was pioneered by Amazon in 1994 and eBay in 1995. The rest, as they say, is… not yet.
The internet continues to evolve. The internet back then isn’t the internet now and probably will change in the future.
Web 2.0 and Social Media
The advent of social media, personal sharing and interactivity in a ubiquitous manner, was created. Facebook was created in the year 2004. It wasn’t the first social media.
Myspace was created before Facebook in 2003 and so was LinkedIn in 2002. Today, there are literally thousands of social media platforms. The internet has recently (September 2014) recorded more than a billion live websites operational on the world wide web. Now that’s crazy, considering the amount of data the internet generates each second.
All of this growth was possible through the Web 2.0 technology which basically allows for the creation, sharing and interactivity which we enjoy online. The constant sharing of data, content and other forms of data created Big Data and subsequently data analytics.
The internet was a small community of scientist at its very infancy. It soon grew into a tool for educational institutions especially for researchers to share information. However, it grew and evolved into a mass of more than half of the world logging onto the internet on a monthly basis. This surge in user base created a mass of data that internet platforms such as Amazon, Yahoo and Google had a lot of data to make sense of. These were the days of web 1.0 where websites were basic HTML code with little interactivity and dynamism for users to engage with.
As problems of data management arose, so did opportunities in marketing. It became possible to have lots of information on customers and even potential customers. Data-driven marketing was created with recent forms in remarketing and personalisation. This aspect of marketing alone is big enough that companies specialise in such type of marketing.
Data-driven marketing allowed marketers to collect data about individual users and to use such valuable data to tailor their marketing to them without having to jeopardize their efforts to another customer marketing requirement. For instance, you get suggestions when you visit most eCommerce websites based on your history of viewing products. This isn’t the same set of suggestions being made to another user who may be logged in at the same time as you are. This has allowed good marketing teams to record higher conversion rates and sales.
With all the various innovations on the internet accumulating data, more and more data analysts are needed to make sense of all the data. This is even more important in answering the question of what shall we do with all this data we are collecting or exposed to?
Mobile First is now a thing. You probably need an app. A website which is mobile-functional. We need a website which is dynamic and can be viewed on all devices this PCs, Tablet and Smartphones. More than half of the traffic on the internet is from mobile devices. Smartphones have come to change our lives for good. We can access the internet at the click and we can find any information we might need through web portals and search engines.
Digital Marketing Vs Online Marketing Vs Internet Marketing
Online marketing and Internet marketing are close friends of digital marketing. However, they aren’t all the same. They overlap in many regards but have their own distinctions.
What is Internet Marketing / Online Marketing?
Online marketing is the same thing as online marketing. Online or internet marketing is marketing done on the internet. Therefore, any form of marketing which is executed over the internet is considered internet marketing. Examples include SEO, SEM and Social Media Marketing.
What is the difference between Digital Marketing and Internet Marketing?
Digital Marketing has a broader sphere than internet marketing. Digital is connected with any form of marketing using any electronic device such as phones and TVs. On the other hand, internet marketing only deals with the internet aspects of marketing such as social media, websites, SEO, SEM, and the other amazing ways we market our products and services using the internet. Digital marketing includes internet or online marketing because they are built electronic devices which makes digital marketing the mother of internet marketing. It isn’t surprising that when you search for digital marketing, internet marketing also pops up – They are close to the same thing.
The 7 Main Strategies Used in Digital Marketing
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization is a popular marketing technique. It is centred on search engines and mostly on google since they have 92.05% market share. This technique is as old as the first search engines. However, the strategies and tactics have changed since search engines use algorithms for showing results which typically change frequently. Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the organic strategies used to obtain a good position on Search Engine Results Pages relevant to the organisation or website.
Keywords are the centre of this art and science of improving search rankings. Keywords are short, long or middle-range – based the length. Key tags or words are the words or phrases searchers on the internet use via search engines to obtain information. SEO is s big deal and should feature in your strategy especially when your products and services can be sold online. It helps a ton to be found on the very first page of Google when any related keyword is entered.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM is the use of paid advertisements to get visibility on relevant and important keyword searches which the organisation or brand targets. This comes in the form of results but tagged with advertisements or sponsored to show the user that they aren’t organic.
SEM works in a similar way to SEO. It is also dependent on keywords hence a lot of time should be spent on finding quality keywords which will bring you results. The main difference between SEO and SEM is that SEM relies on paid advertisements on search engines such as Google. The rest is pretty much the same.
This difference is what gives SEM is power. Users get to see your brand without having to go through all the organic strategies to rank higher – you simply pay your way there. However, users are sometimes suspicious of adverts and may choose not to click on adverts and go instead of organic results.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is probably the first thing a business does after the idea has been generated. It is common to find a new business creating social media accounts to facilitate their marketing once they have an idea.
Social Media Marketing is the marketing strategy which relies on social media for reaching, engaging and closing customer via social media platforms. It includes creating and sharing content, interacting with customers and potential customers and building a following.
A good aspect of social media is that it allows the company to go where the customer is and not vice versa. In the traditional sense, a customer has to come to the company before their needs are met or heard. With social media, any brand can use brand listening tools to know exactly what customers think about their brand. This creates a great opportunity for a business to obtain valuable feedback information. It is therefore imperative to know which social platforms your customers are hanging out in before you create your social media strategy.
Content marketing is an old but highly effective marketing strategy which fits well into our modern world of marketing. It takes advantage of the high demand for useful and credible content by users to attract customers and then close the sale.
Content marketing is the type of marketing that relies on creating, publishing and sharing content to the specific target audience. The goal is often to reach the target audience at each and every point in their consumer decision journey in order to attract them to the brand, build trust and subsequently have them as a customer.
Content marketing is a part of the inbound marketing strategy and has been used by lots of organisations that have seen great results. Typically, content marketing increases brand awareness, build more leads and generates far more quality traffic from multiple sources such as search and social media.
Also called PPC, this form of marketing is centred on running ads. In essence, advertisers pay platforms to show their ads with links back their landing pages or website. This way, you get traffic to your online property which has been designed for a certain purpose such as gaining a lead, selling something or even a survey. The options are limitless to what you can lead the clicks too. PPC typically works in a market. The most popular market or platform is Google Ads (Formerly Google AdWords). Advertisers get to bid for spots and the highest bidder gets the spot.
PPC spans ads over the entire internet. The most popular is search engine marketing where search engines are paid to show ads on behalf of the advertiser for certain keywords. The actual configuration of keywords is very flexible to make sure only high-quality users are seeing your ads.
Have you ever wanted a massive sales engine outside of your organisation without having to commit to salaries until a sale or lead has been gained? If yes, affiliate marketing might be what you need. At its core, affiliate marketing is a form of marketing where a company allows other marketers to earn commissions by selling the company’s product or service.
It is all powered by trackable links that these marketers are used. Any sale or lead from the marketer gives them a commission. There are three players in the affiliate marketing area; The Seller (Company Or Individual with Products to sell), the Affiliate or publisher (Independent marketers) and the consumer who needs the product. A fourth player could use thus a platform that links publishers and sellers. Popular ones include commission junction (CJ).
Email communication has been around for long. It hasn’t just been around but one of the most powerful forms of marketing and platforms to reach customers on. Emails have recorded high conversion rates thus provided other aspects such as copy are on point. But regardless, emails still do well for a most email marketer.
Email marketing is the simple act of sending emails to customers and prospects. Simplicity makes it perfect – Just you and your customer. To succeed in emails marketing, you need to master:
- Lead Generation through opt-in forms, lead magnets, free products, etc. This is basically your list building. You need emails to send messages to, right?
- Optimize your emails for best results through best practices and proven methods.
- Automating the process so you don’t have to constantly sweat about how to get new leads, lack of time to send emails – It can all be made to work automatically. And that’s the beauty of it all.
Celebrity Endorsements are probably the closest thing to influencer marketing. However, influencer marketing is beyond mere endorsement and being the face of a company. It goes deeper and if well executed could build your brand and generate sales like crazy.
Influencer marketing is the form of marketing where a brand works with an influencer, mostly a popular online figure, to market their products. Influencers are usually given the freedom to be creative and to create content for a given set of objectives which the brand hands to them. The creators could work alone or with the brand with regards to the content.
Instant Messaging Marketing (Chatbots, Live Chats, etc.)
Instant messaging is the technology that allows real-time messaging between 2 or more people. Used well, it is a powerful form of marketing and allows the brand to seize the moment and interact with their customers. This form of marketing can be implemented on different platforms such as apps, websites, social media (Facebook, etc), WhatsApp, etc.
Radio is an old strategy that still works when appropriate. Typically, companies and brands pay radio stations for airtime where listeners are played a recording or the presenter makes a short presentation on behalf of the brand.
TV advertising, just like radio, is old but worth it with the budget and right ad strategy.
About 3.8 Billion people use smartphones worldwide. This is a statistic marketer can’t ignore. More than half internet traffic comes from mobile devices.
Mobile Marketing is marketing that targets mobile users. This marketing strategy has many implications for the brand. The need for a website that is built for mobile with clickable elements, fully dynamic and easy to use on mobile are a few. Mobile apps, live chats, etc are all forms of marketing that complement mobile marketing.
Viral marketing is a particularly interesting form of marketing that is well done can have years of positive effects. When it backfires, it can equally have ripple effects.
Viral Marketing is a type of marketing which focuses on creating content that people can easily relate with, be excited about and have the urge to share – creating a ripple effect of shares across most social media and web blogs. Viral marketing can be triggered unintentionally. It is common for social media users to make recordings videos of live events and then publish online.
Depending on what was captured, it could positive viral marketing or negative. A typical example is a service person such as a waiter showing kindness to a customer in an unusual stunt, etc. The KFC Wedding in South Africa is a typical example of viral marketing out of everyday happenings.
KFC South Africa was smart to jump on the trend and create further buzz therefore getting their brand out there at a relatively small cost when comparing the marketing value KFC South Africa got out of it. Other brands soon caught up with the trend and offered to help the couple-to-be. It was probably the best thing to ever happen to them.
Remarketing & Retargeting – An Absolute Digital Marketing Gamechanger
How great does it sound to be able to reach people who have engaged with your business at any point in time, anywhere they go regardless of the platform? It would sound ridiculous if you were trying to achieve this with your sales team. Technology and new marketing strategies now allow you to target people who have bought from you or engaged with your business properties such as your website.
Remarketing is marketing to people who have already bought from you or are already your customers. This is good for generating repeat sales and lifetime loyalty. Retargeting is based on this concept. Retargeting is targeting users of your website. If you have ever seen ads of a brand or a particular product on social media, etc right after or days after visiting their website then you have witnessed what it means to be retargeted.
It is a smart way of marketing since it focuses on a higher value audience – people who have shown some form of interest or probably already bought from you.
Traditional Vs Digital Marketing – What’s the Best Choice
Traditional marketing is often said to be dead or dying. This isn’t so true. After all, TV stations, Newspapers and radio stations are still existing and offering value to happy advertisers.
As much as it is easy to say digital marketing is the way forward due to its varied benefits and advantages, it will be unfair to outrightly dismiss traditional marketing. It all depends on the objectives, audience, budget and what the key performance indicators are.
The Two (2) Cs Of Digital Marketing
When it comes to digital marketing, two things should be on point. They are the content and the context. When these two aren’t working together, the content loses its desired effect. Context should be clearly exhibited so that the content can be well understood. The content itself should be worth the user’s time to prevent disappointment.
Challenges of Digital Marketing
There are many challenges associated with digital marketing but the greatest of them all is the lack of skills and requisite knowledge to get the job done. Digital marketing is a very broad field requiring a good understanding of many concepts, figuring out numerous tools and websites work, and so many other things that make it easy to just want to give up and call it quits.
Much of the work for a digital marketer or team is made easy if they requisite knowledge and skills are available. The rest of the challenges will be nearly solved once everyone on the team is up to speed on the latest technology, tools, ideas and skills needed to get the job done.
So, what is your impression of digital marketing after this rather long read? We hope you have been exposed to the possibilities with digital marketing. If you need further help, we are only a call away.