In the digital age, it does not make good business sense for your business not to have a digital presence. This is because you will not be able to reach out to the audiences of digital platforms who are your potential customers. Using social media and search engines is now commonplace. You need to market your business to the online audience, or in other words, do digital marketing.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also on mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium. Digital marketing channels are systems based on the internet that can create, accelerate, and transmit product value from producer to the terminal consumer by digital networks.
A Brief History of Digital Marketing
The term Digital Marketing came into being in the 1990s. The first clickable banner ad went live in 1994, which was a campaign by AT&T and over the first four months of it going live, 44% of its viewers clicked on it.
In the 2000s, with more people using the internet and the advent of the iPhone, more and more people searched for products and made decisions online instead of consulting a sales person. These developments made marketers find digital ways for market development. In 2007, marketing automation came into being. Marketing automation helped companies to partition customers into segments, launch multichannel marketing campaigns and provide personalized information for customers.
Digital marketing became more sophisticated in the 2000s and the 2010s, when the proliferation of devices capable of accessing digital media witnessed a sudden growth. In the 2000s, with the advent of social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, consumers became highly dependent on digital electronics in their daily lives. They began to expect a seamless user experience across different channels for searching product information. This change in customer behavior led to the diversification of marketing technology. Digital media volume was estimated at 4.5 trillion online ads served annually with digital media spending growing at 48 percent in 2010.
Photo credit: Avantika Monnappa at https://www.simplilearn.com/
Types of Digital Marketing
Types of online digital marketing include:
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is the art of increasing the visibility of your business site in the organic or non-paid search results of any of the search engines according to keywords entered by the user and the algorithm employed by the search engine. You can get your company’s website to appear at the top of a user’s organic search results by optimizing your website using SEO.
2. Search Engine Marketing and Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC): Search Engine Marketing or SEM covers paid traffic from search engines. To use SEM, you purchase advertisement space that appears on a user’s Search Engine Result Page (SERP). The search engine charges a business a certain amount to display an advertisement in a number of places on an SERP generated from specific keywords or phrases. PPC is a digital marketing method by which search engines charge a company each time their advertisement is clicked.
3. Social Media Marketing: Using social media marketing you’ll gain more reach when you post quality content. Everything you do to increase traffic or business on your social media channels is a part of social media marketing. Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or LinkedIn, all your efforts on these sites amount to social media marketing. Almost everyone benefits from social media marketing, but Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies stand to gain the most.
4. Content Marketing: Content marketing is the practice of delivering a piece of high quality content to your users to generate sales and leads. This content can be live anywhere online. Tweets, a YouTube video, an Instagram post and blogs on your website, etc all comprise content marketing. Content Marketing combines exceptional content with other types of digital marketing like SEO and Social Media Marketing.
5. Affiliate Marketing: Suppose you are a business selling products and services on your site. Now, say a blogger X posts details about your products on his own blog. When internet users click on product advertisements on X’s blog, they are directed to your business site and if users complete a purchase, X gets a commission from you according to an agreement between you and the affiliate, namely X.
6. Influencer Marketing: Influencer marketing uses people with tremendous online popularity who are considered experts by your target market to drive traffic and sales. Influencer marketing is popular on social media channels like Instagram and Snapchat as well as behemoths like Amazon. Companies hire influencers with large followings to publicize their brand through posts.
7. Email Marketing: Email marketing allows you to update your email subscribers on a regular basis about your company through newsletters for example. This fosters a relationship with the subscribers. Your email updates provide value to your consumer and as a result, you build trust and brand loyalty.
8. Viral Marketing: Viral marketing involves a post that is trendy, funny, or strange enough to garner a massive number of shares online. Viral marketing causes an enormous increase in website traffic over a short period of time. B2C companies gain the most from viral marketing.
9. Mobile Phone Advertising: Each of the types of digital advertising can target a mobile device. Some types of marketing using a mobile such as SMS advertising can prove an asset to local marketing efforts. You can prompt your consumers to use SMS to receive special offers, coupons, and updates from your company.
Why Businesses Postpone the Adoption of Digital Marketing plans
Small businesses may feel that they don’t have the time or the money to be competitive online. They think they can only face so many challenges all at once when they are still learning the ins and outs of business in general. Many of them may prefer to take things slowly and steadily. They wish to stick with one or two basic forms of advertising, assuming that their business will evolve as time passes. Since they are a small business, they may think they only need a small number of customers to begin with. This is not an effective approach. There is no guarantee that your business will attract customers just by existing and even if it does, you may not attract enough customers to make your business profitable and sustainable.
The Benefits and Importance of Digital Marketing
When small businesses get started, they often focus on how to get their first customers through the door. They often rely on traditional forms of advertising, such as print ads or road signs. They may believe that since people know that they offer a good product or service, it’s only a matter of time until customers will find their way to them. Although this strategy may bring in a trickle of business, small businesses should consider the huge marketplace of prospective customers online to improve their business prospects. Any business, no matter how new or how small, should not overlook this vast marketplace. Larger businesses, which have grown in the pre-digital era, have the potential to grow even more through digital marketing. Indeed, they may also need a digital marketing strategy to remain relevant in the face of increased competition and changing technology.
The group of potential customers who are found online is a much larger group of people than what you can attract locally. Using digital marketing, you can reach an enormous audience in a way that is both cost-effective and quantifiable.
Other benefits of digital marketing include:
• The ability to interact with your prospective customers and learn about their preferences. You will be able to improve customer satisfaction by iteratively modifying your product or service according to these insights.
• The ability to reach a global marketplace. This is the largest pool of potential customers.
• Reach more customers for less money than traditional marketing methods.
• Get to know your audience and allow them to know you personally which can help to build a relationship with the customers and create brand loyalty.
• Track responses to your marketing efforts in real time through means such as analytics.
• Communicate your brand identity on social media, thereby piggybacking on the popularity of those social media services.
• Reach out to users of diverse software and devices. Smartphones are a user segment that has witnessed explosive growth recently.
• Compete with larger companies. Don’t get pushed out of the marketplace!
• Get higher marketing Return On Investment (ROI) and conversion rates.
The following are the reasons why you can ignore digital marketing only at your own peril:
Your customers are online: To tell you the truth, your customers are already online, even though you don’t know it. And so are your potential customers. If your business is not found online easily, these potential customers will flock to your competitors. At the minimum, they will expect you to have a website and a social media presence.
Your competitors may already be online: To succeed in the business world, you need to look over your shoulder at what your competitors are doing and learn from it. Regardless of your niche, your competitors have likely established a web presence already. You can learn what is working or not working from your competitors. You can study what kind of content they are using, whether they are using more graphics and video, like a YouTube channel. A sound digital marketing strategy will position you to compete in the digital world.
If your prospective customers begin to search for a business similar to yours and are able to find your competitors’ website but not yours, they can’t choose you because they don’t know about you.
You need to be accessible: In today’s digital world, the first place the average consumer looks for what they want is online. They will most likely start their search with Google, no matter what product or service they are looking for. If you have no online presence at all, you won’t be found, and you can’t compete. If you have an online presence but your competitors are easier to find and are found first, you might still go unnoticed. To remedy this, you can hire an SEO expert, for example, to make sure that when prospective customers search with certain keywords, they find your site first.
You want to make customers come to you: By creating a web presence, your business is open 24×7 even when it’s closed for the day! You can create a business environment in which your customers can come to you any time, day or night. Existing and prospective customers can send you emails with questions, make purchases and browse your inventory, at their convenience. Potential customers who have no way to physically come to you can still do business with you, whether they are limited by disability, transportation or are simply living too far away. So, with digital marketing, the scope of your business exceeds the boundaries of your shop floors!
You must get to know your target audience: Digital marketing allows you to gradually get to know your prospective customers and what they are hoping to find. You can start a conversation with them on a blog or social media, or even conduct a survey. Their responses will help you improve your business. By interacting with people digitally, you can start to get to know what they are looking for and what solutions you can offer to them. With digital marketing, there is no guesswork involved. It allows you to methodically find out who your customers are and what they really want.
Be more than just a business concern: By responding to customer feedback, by solving the consumers’ problems and building a relationship with them, you become more than a business. You become a trusted partner. Trust means that not only will more people buy from you, but also your previous customers might buy again from you. A digital presence also puts your dealings on the record.
In the current business environment, it is extremely important to foray into digital marketing and develop a digital marketing strategy due to its immense benefits. Digital marketing has the potential to increase your revenue. If you ignore digital marketing, you may fall behind the competition and lose your business!