Digital marketing has evolved a lot in the past two decades. It has been into existence since the mid-1980, but the world has seen a rapid shift in the traditional ways of digital marketing since 1990.
You must dig in deep to understand things like – what is digital marketing, why it is important, how to achieve it, etc.?
Do not worry; I will leave no stones unturned to answer these questions while we move ahead in this article.
What is Digital Marketing? – Definition
If you search on the internet about digital marketing definition, then you may come up with so many complex explanations stuffed with technical terms. But if you ask me then I would define digital marketing simply as any advertising campaign involving any form of digital or electronic medium such as TV, Radio, Electronic Billboards, Telemarketing, World Wide Web (www), etc.
Types of Digital Marketing
Does it necessarily mean that digital marketing should use the internet?
The answer is NO, not necessarily.
Digital marketing can be functionally divided into two parts – online and offline digital marketing. A few years back I never had any clue whatsoever about offline digital marketing. Rather I always had a notion that “digital” word itself has a strong connection with the word “online”.
If some of you still have such doubt, then hang on with me for some time since now I am going to provide you with all necessary explanations to think otherwise.
Advertising through commercials on television, radio, electronic billboards or telemarketing calls, existed before 6th August 1991, a date when world’s first website went live. In a way, all these categories of offline digital marketing never used the internet as medium and yet were successful.
So, the question is why and how the internet came into the picture if offline marketing was enough to cater any digital marketer needs?
What was missing with offline digital marketing?
First paid television advertisement was broadcasted sometime in the year 1941 in the United States. Since then, TV commercials have continuously grown from a smaller number to a mammoth number.
Nowadays we could see awesome series, serials and sometimes even the latest movie flicks but at the cost of an insane number of commercials. We as a user have no choice but to either watch the commercial or change the channel.
But this is not the point. The main point is – Are these commercials even making any sense to most of the people? Probably, No.
Everybody is watching the television and so the commercials. It is quite annoying for some bald guy to watch ad of hair colour dye or even someone who has no kids to see diapers ad.
There is no way to gauge the customer’s intent, persona or demographic. All these commercials are randomly shown.
Another flaw is that there is no way to account for the conversion rate. A marketer had to take a shot in the dark for guessing sales revenue from television ads.
Also, the cost of advertising on television has always been in hundreds and thousands of dollars.
Radio has been alive for ages. You may think that radio is not as popular as TV, but the fact is over 64% Indian population still listens to radio every day. Even if you are decent in math and know the Indian population, then this number is astounding.
But even with a greater percentage of listeners, radio commercials are not as popular as before for reasons stated above in the case of television marketing. Radio ads are also not targeted to any customer segment.
There is no way whatsoever to measure the conversion rate even in the case of Radio. So, in way marketers are blatantly putting money behind radio commercials. The fact is profit has shrunk.
Electronic Billboards Marketing
Electronic billboards are not that common in India expect few places in metropolitan cities. They are mostly installed along the road where you have the most traffic.
But I always wondered how many people could have noticed these flashy electronic billboards in so much of traffic and rush. Average dwell time on any billboard is around 8 seconds.
Again, the commercials are not targeted, and a marketer may have to shed fortune to rent space on any of these electronic billboards.
You must have felt very annoyed when some telemarketer gave you a marketing call right amid any meeting. Call and text message were the primary methods of telemarketing, but somehow, they started losing popularity with the passage of time.
A mobile phone is a very personal device, and we may not want someone to bug us at their will. The Indian government, as well as many countries, has come up with so many strict measures to cut down personal privacy infringement by these telemarketers.
In India, if you wish to refrain away from any of telemarketing calls then you just must send an SMS as “START DND” (do not disturb) to 1909 (toll-free number).
The condition of telemarketing has become bleak.
The arrival of Online Digital Marketing
We just saw how offline digital marketing was not enough to satisfy neither marketers nor consumers. There was a must requirement to measure buyer’s persona or intent and track conversion rate.
That’s where the importance of digital marketing came into the picture. Through online digital marketing, various businesses make use of the online digital medium such as website, social media, search engines (Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc.), email marketing, etc. to build a bond with customers.
Nowadays, everything is available online over the internet. People tend to spend most of their time on the web for things like news, product, information, recipes, food, matchmaking and literally everything.
While you surf any digital medium like a website or a social media platform, you leave unintentionally potential leads in the form of cookies, location information, etc. Google and other various sites utilise this opportunity and gather information around your requirement, intend and persona.
So, next time if you search Nike shoes on Google and if you see Nike shoe ad on Facebook then do not think it as coincidence. It is all targeted online digital marketing.
Can we leave offline marketing behind?
Absolutely, not! A Recent study has shown that alone in India TV viewership has increased by 19% which is almost 183 million as of February 2016 from 154 million in 2013. How will a marketer miss this opportunity?
Nowadays, to some extent offline and online digital marketing are tied together. For example, during most of the commercials on TV, a customer is advised to visit the website for details.
Even the most popular TV commercials are available on YouTube and are also shared on popular social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Another example is with telemarketing where an SMS could contain an embedded link to promotion or website details. Same goes with even electronic billboards or radio.
During the launch of Xbox Tomb Raider game, an interesting way of advertising & marketing came into limelight. The whole traditional billboard was converted into a reality show featuring live people surviving harsh weather conditions, which was controlled by the public via a live stream. It was named as “Survival Billboard”. Within less than 24 hrs. this live stream video received 3.5 million views and 32K comments. Isn’t it amazing!
Despite the change in digital marketing tactics, both online and offline digital marketing is still pervasive in the current market. A collaborative approach between online and offline digital marketing could do wonders.
From now onwards I will use digital marketing in the context of online digital marketing throughout this article.
How to do digital marketing?
In a very high-level perspective, you require two major things to do digital marketing. First is the right mix of strategies and second is resources.
You have to make use of available resources such as website, blog, etc. for executing digital marketing strategies such as SEO, pay per click or PPC, content marketing, social media marketing, etc.
Digital Marketing Strategies
Digital marketing strategies can be divided into seven different categories as mentioned below. I require a whole lot of space to discuss each strategy, but now I will limit myself to few lines.
1. Search Engine Optimisation
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the most important steps in online digital marketing. SEO is optimisation of any website to organically rank higher on different search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. When I say organic ranking, I mean natural ranking without spending a single penny on advertisements.
2. Content Marketing
It is nothing but the focused approach of creating engaging content, and marketing it for website traffic, branding, customer retention, etc. A typical content could be anything like a blog, a piece of article, infographic and picture, video, podcast, etc.
3. Inbound marketing
In simple words, inbound marketing is enticing the customer through relevant and helpful content such as an excellent piece of article or a blog. This methodology is far from forced marketing where you push your ads in front of customers without even knowing their wish.
In other words, helpful and engaging content will build a lot of trust, value and credibility in the eyes of customers.
4. Pay Per Click (PPC)
In day to day life, you see many ads on different websites. Various publishers publish these ads, and one of them is Google. If you see the ad and do nothing, it’s called impression. But the moment you click on the ad, the marketer who published the ad has to pay to the publisher based on per click.
There are many publishers such as Google AdWords, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
5. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is referral marketing where anyone can become online vendor or agent of any website. You can refer any online product, and the moment some purchase it through your affiliate link, you get your commission.
6. Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most efficient ways to do online digital marketing. You can create engaging and helpful content on your website and ask customers to leave their email id on subscription pop-up.
Later you can send targeted emails to your registered customers regarding latest news, article, discounts, events, etc. This way client remains engaged with your business through your website.
7. Social Media Marketing
Who on this earth does not have an account on at least any one of the social media platforms? Most us are present on social media. Social media is a great way of promoting a brand, product, content, etc. through organic or paid marketing. Either way, it will lead to brand awareness, viral traffic and sales conversion.
Resources for building Digital Marketing Strategies
You require several resources to develop strategies for a successful digital marketing campaign. Major digital marketing resources are as follows:
You cannot accomplish digital marketing initiatives without a website. It is the most fundamental resource for any digital marketing campaign.
You may also like to read: Why a website is important for any business?
2. Blogs or articles
I suggest every business or company owner should have a blog section on their website. A blog provides you with many opportunities for helping people. A useful blog will not only make your customers happy but give them a reason of visiting your website regularly.
A continual customer engagement results in brand sharing on social media, sales conversion, website traffic, etc.
3. Newsletter subscription box
You never want to miss an opportunity of capturing any user’s details who is visiting your website. There are many automation tools available for you to implement on your website and one of them is newsletter subscription box.
You can build a pop-up trigger based on some user action such as after scrolling till the end, leaving a website, commenting, etc.
If you want to check out a live example, then go ahead and comment on this article.
4. E-books or Guidebooks
You can create a comprehensive e-book or guidebook on any relevant topic which makes sense with your business. A traditional strategy around this is to ask your customer to provide their email address, and after email confirmation only they could download the e-book. Later you can make use of these emails for digital marketing campaigns.
5. Pictures and Infographics
A picture speaks a thousand words. An infographic is the graphical representation of the information. It takes less time to visualise and grasp things from any image and infographics.
There are many social media platforms, like Pinterest and Instagram, where you could only make use of pictures or infographics for social media campaigns.
Recent trends have shown that user love to see anything in the form of video as it is quick, engaging and presentable. We are living in a 4G world where we require everything in a snap. Leading researchers have predicted that this year i.e. 2017, 74% of the web traffic will come from video.
Podcasts are series of digital audio or video files which are produced in episodes. Worldwide, audio podcasts are more popular than video podcast. Once you subscribe any podcast episode, then new podcast will be automatically downloaded on your device such as a smartphone, laptop, etc.
Audio podcasts are easy and affordable to make since it does not require any backdrop like any video file. You just need a decent microphone for audio recording. After you create your audio podcast, you can easily distribute it on various websites such as iTunes, SoundCloud, Archive.org, etc.
Digital Marketing benefits
Till now you have seen dynamics of digital marketing and at least got a feel of its importance for every type of business. To sum up, I will pull out two main bullet points as benefits of digital marketing, which are:
Suppose if you are an owner of any physical store or shopping outlet then you would expect more and more customer to visit your store. Why? Because we all know that not every customer will purchase every time they visit any store.
So, more is better.
Also, if the same client visits your store twice or stays longer then chances of spending increases by two times.
Same happens with any website. You require more and more traffic on your site. If more people are coming to your site and staying longer, then chances of ranking higher on Google is surefire.
If you are selling something on your website, then more traffic will lead to increased sales and revenue.
More traffic will also provide you with many valuable insights about customer demographics, interests, behaviour, the source of traffic, etc. All these data analytics will help you to build the strategy around weak points.
Customer Engagement and conversion
Useful blogs and articles are the greatest sources of attracting and engaging customer. Once a client starts liking your website content then you have a very chance of having the same client time and again.Continual engagement of customer will ultimately lead to sales conversionClick To Tweet
In a way, your loyal customers are your disguised promotors. I have seen loyal customers promoting and suggesting businesses to their friends and family. We can call it as trust marketing where your products and services are getting advertised without any involvement of money.
How much budget do you need for Digital Marketing?
Now, this is a subjective question which depends on mainly two factors which are free marketing strategy and paid marketing strategy.
If your business is not having a website then it is recommended to have one. Nowadays even a novice can come up with an amazing website on platforms like WordPress.
A typical website built on WordPress and hosted on shared hosting would cost you $350-$400 per year. Do keep in mind that ultimately it is your effort in building the whole website. But if you wish to outsource this activity then the cost may shoot up to few thousand dollars depending on website application.
Free marketing strategy such as search engine optimisation, useful content creation and social media marketing does not require any budget. However, if you plan to outsource these works to any good digital marketer, then it the cost may go from few hundreds to thousands of dollars.
On the other hand, paid marketing strategy such as PPC, social media marketing on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. do require money.
The amount of money is directly proportional to the volume of audience you are targeting on any social media platforms. Here budget allocation may vary from few dollars to hundreds and thousands of dollars.
Having said everything, I am not at all against paid marketing. I am just telling that you should firstly concentrate on methods to increase organic reach and then you could opt for paid marketing strategy.
How long shall I wait to see the results of digital marketing?
You must understand that digital marketing is ever evolving process. It does take some time to see the effect. But if you do everything right starting from a good website layout, research around customer’s intent, regular blogs to customer follow-up, etc. then you may see the positive result in 6-12 months.
Although if you have the budget for paid marketing, like PPC on Google AdWords or Facebook promotions, then results may come in few days also. Paid marketing should be done along with the path of other digital marketing strategies for reaping long-term benefits.
I have seen many good companies biting the dust, just because they did not understand the importance of digital marketing. On the other side, I have seen some of the world’s biggest brands who are not becoming complacent and always working hard towards digital marketing strategies.
A few days ago, when I saw the Google ad on television, I started thinking why Google needs to spend any penny on any of these advertising mediums? But then I realised that Google wants to keep themselves ahead of any competition now or in the future.
It goes without saying that digital marketing efforts require a lot of time. But with right kind of digital marketing approach, any company or business could achieve any ambitious milestone.
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