For a lot of conventional marketing theorists and business owners, “digital marketing” simply refers to websites or social media pages. While this is a broad-brush definition, it’s simplistic, without really delving deep into the opportunity and scale of what the term really means.
The priority of marketing has always been to find newer and better ways to connect with your target audience, while ensuring that the time and place are right.
Digital marketing and behavioral marketing are terms that leverage the power of technology to convey your marketing messages. It uses any or all forms of electronic devices.
Today, your audiences are spending a lot of their prime time on the internet. Studies show that the average American spends more than 11 hours on various electronic devices in a day. So that’s where you can get to meet them as a marketer or business owner.
Technology also allows you to connect with customers and target audiences offline.
When Did It All Begin?
Ray Tomlinson sent out the first ever email in history in 1971. It was addressed to himself, and he didn’t remember exactly what it said! He recalls that it was, “…. entirely forgettable… Most likely it was something like QWERTYIOP or something similar.”
It wasn’t till eight years later that its potential as a marketing tool was exploited.
In 1978, Gary Thuerk (today dubbed the “Father of Spam”) sent out the first mass email to 400 people promoting DEC machines. It was a huge novelty and yielded $13 million worth of sales.
For the next 20 years, marketers enjoyed free access to customer inboxes and the infamous “Spray and Pray” period of stuffing random inboxes with promotional material ruled marketing strategy.
All that changed 1998 with the updation of the Data Protection Act and in 2003, the first regulations for commercial emailing was incorporated.
By 2009, nearly 30% of commercial marketing emails were kept out of inboxes, and in 2012, 40% of emails were accessed exclusively via mobile phones.
In a nutshell, this defines “digital marketing” – a phenomenon that has kept pace with technology and evolved according to the needs, preferences and rights of consumers.
What Is Digital Marketing?
Traditional marketing was a one-way communication channel that involved marketers beaming messages at a presumably passive audience. It involved the use of print, radio and television and represented a linear approach to marketing.
Non-linear approaches evolved with the development of technology, better awareness of consumer behavior, the requirement for more sophisticated offerings and the adoption of more bespoke channels to reach the consumer.
Marketing messages are now customized to be conveyed across different channels and to adapt to different platforms and devices.
There are several free and paid-for channels available to marketers today and they can use a judicious mix of both to reach the target audiences.
Strategists such as content marketers, social media marketers, email marketers, etc specialize in different types of digital marketing.
These various types include online strategies such as:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Sponsored content
- Inbound marketing
- Email marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- Social Media marketing
- PPC (pay per click)
- Content marketing
- Blogs and mobile apps
- Influencer marketing
- Viral marketing
You can also use offline digital marketing strategies such as
- Electronic billboards
- Digital demos and product samples
- Radio and TV marketing
- Telephone marketing
Benefits and Importance of Digital Marketing For Growth
As a modern-day business owner or marketing strategist, there’s no reason why you should live in the Middle Ages. Technology is so ubiquitous today, so as to be almost invisible. Your customers are equally immersed in it too.
Your goal is to guide and channelize the customer journey right from demand generation and intent to purchase into the purchase itself, and then on to converting them to repeat and loyal customers.
This strategy can also be used to mainstream indecisive customers and lapsed purchasers. It helps you to reach the customer, encourage them to act, convert them into loyal and repeat purchasers and ensure that they remain engaged with your brand, products/services.
1. Gives direction: Organizations with a clear and well-defined digital marketing strategy tend to gain more new customers and build deeper and more enduring relationships with their current ones. It helps you to allocate your resources effectively and use the right analytics to confirm that you’re on target to reach your goals and objectives.
2. Better awareness of market share: Traditional marketing strategy doesn’t have the capability of evaluating the online market. There’s a totally different dynamic at play here with a range of customer profiles, behaviors, different options for communications, etc. Digital marketing helps you to understand exactly what your market share is in terms of online target audiences.
3. Resource-saving: Without a clear digital marketing strategy you could be wasting money, time and effort if different parts of your marketing department work with different tools and approaches. Digital marketing is highly affordable, especially on social media platforms and has a greater outreach.
4. Optimization: Web analytics is a treasure trove of data about your target audience. Senior managers can ensure that important aspects such as UX, SEO, omnichannel marketing, social media presence, etc are fully optimized through a clear digital marketing strategy.
5. Brand awareness: is a key objective of digital marketing. By 2021, studies report that more than 200 million Americans will use the internet for shopping, comparisons, information about products/services and purchasing them. 70% of all purchasing decisions are guided by online interaction with a brand and 82% of online shoppers prefer to purchase from known brands.
6. Segmentation: Digital marketing is built on accurate segmentation of the market in both B2B and B2C sectors. This helps to ensure that personalized messages reach their target audiences.
7. Mobile friendly: With more than 64% of American consumers spending time on mobile phones and tablets, your digital marketing strategy has to be responsive. No matter what device the customer accesses your marketing messages from, with a clear digital marketing strategy you can ensure that these messages render properly and get to the target.
8. Inclusion and Outreach: You can include marketing messages in online games, videos, social media feeds, blogs etc. This allows you to reach a wider and deeper audience pool. Additionally, you can connect directly with groups/segments or even individual customers.
9. Rewards and Benefits: You can reward/benefit your loyal customers with cashbacks, discounts, bundled products etc. and create a memorable UX.
10. Predictive analysis: Finally, the end goal of all marketing is to be able to analyze and predict future behavior. You can use existing data available from all your digital sources to understand and anticipate future behavior. This helps to plan growth and expansion, incorporate new products/services, mergers and acquisitions, etc.