What is Digital Marketing? Why It’s Important?
In the series of ‘A complete Guide to Digital Marketing’, I’ll introduce you with the basic features of and trends in digital marketing as well how to strategically and skillfully execute this powerful mode of marketing in 2019. This post is the introduction. It’ll guide you through the basics of digital marketing. Subsequent posts will lead you towards deep insight and successful execution.
What is Digital Marketing, in Real Sense?
Digital marketing, online marketing, internet marketing or even web marketing are different terms diversely used for the same practice. However, definition and meaning of digital marketing or related terms might be little confusing. Due to its widespread usage and the umbrella phenomena of it, many people get confused around the term. Few blog writers even include few of the traditional media like the radio, television and electronic billboards as the variations of Digital Marketing due to the involvement of digital technology within those. Even Wikipedia doesn’t include all the phenomena and aspects it involves while defining the term. Being a practical approach, Digital Marketing doesn’t depend only on the technology, rather also on at least other five aspects, viz., media, platform, device, data and strategy and all the involved phenomena.
There are many big differences between the traditional (mode of) marketing and digital marketing. Unlike the earlier, the latter is more interactive, audience specific, data concentric, strategic planner, inbound result oriented and most importantly cost effective as well as easily available and widespread. Out of the above eight aspects, few of the traditional media those are using digital technology at present might attempt to achieve the half, viz., audience specification, data concentration, strategic planning and inbound result orientation. However, there are two-way limitations for these media. First, they might not achieve all at the best even after their best efforts in the above four aspects. It’s due to their dependency mostly upon third party service providers. A seller of a product or service in 99.99% cases, for example, neither owns a television channel nor has his/her own analysis mechanism. Same are the cases for radio and billboard advertising. Second, for example, digital bill board ever has been neither interactive nor audience specific nor data concentric nor cheap nor even easily available. In the case of a radio marketing campaign, you may have a comparatively cheaper mean than other traditional electronic media available for advertising and marketing purposes. Boosting of low range FM channels made it possible for some interactive session by hiring a PRO by the business concerned or paying for the service by the channel owner at the radio office; but, practically, it’s not easily manageable. More complex phenomena arise for television marketing. To reach at the television for your products/services/brand, you need a lot of money. You may highly successful in persuading the audiences by glamour and allure, but you can’t deliver an interactive message directly aiming at conversion.
Definitely, the platform provided by the internet through the World Wide Web and multiple digital devices like desktop, laptops, tablets and smart phones as well as through easily available technologies qualifies for each of the above eight aspects of thriving marketing campaign. You can use it in accordance your conveniences, your budgetary allocations, your requirements, your choices and your orientations – you can act as your own PRO – you can analyze the impact factors through some shared or individual software – you can interact with your audiences and increase the conversion rate and most importantly, you’re not going to spend huge amount in comparison to the large digital billboard near a crowded traffic signal or a few second ad on a television show. Digital Marketing qualifies for everything else while the traditional marketing can and can’t. The additional advantages are that there are ample scopes and freedoms to act in own handiness.
Though there are numbers of channels for going digital, the ‘internet’ is the most prominent platform for this purpose. It’s within one decade or little more, the digital technology changed our lives to the extent that around 68% people worldwide are searching almost everything else on the internet or via mobile apps and making decision in accordance. If it’s a matter of making decisions for purchasing products or getting services, the figures and statistics is growing rapidly. This is, though, the primary reason why business runners and marketers must go digital, there are ample other grounds that no one in the market should do mistake by avoid such easily available, cheap and wide spread channel of marketing and advertising.
Like other marketing methods Digital Marketing too involves some complexity in terms of strategies, techniques and implementations. Having a website and posting regularly on social media don’t necessarily mean that you’re doing Digital Marketing. The field requires adequate involvements in terms of research, conceptualization, planning, strategy building, test delivery and observation, fine tuning of the methods and strategies, re-delivering and getting actions (engagement and conversion) along with Return on Investment (ROI). It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a specialized university degree or pay for an online certification course to be a successful digital marketer. Rather, you need to spend more time on the internet, do observe different marketing techniques by the digital marketers and do your own homework to get everything clear. To be more enlightened and specific result oriented in your goal, you may regularly read my blog posts and subscribe my free e-books. This will definitely helpful to you.
Now you are clear that – Digital Marketing (also termed as internet marketing or online marketing by few others) may be simply defined as the marketing of products and services in digital ways. What are the digital ways? Those are 6Ds, viz., digital technologies, digital media, digital platforms, digital devices, digital data and digital analysis. None of the 6Ds can be omitted for proper conceptualization of the term, understanding its processes and applying the same. Basic of Digital Marketing is the internet through the World Wide Web on almost all digital devices and apps on mobile devices.
Components of Digital Marketing
The component of Digital Marketing can be divided into three basic divisions: a) Strategies, b) Assets and c) Actions.
Like any of the marketing campaign, Digital Marketing also need clear and well defined strategies to be set first. Starting from defining your requirements, you have to finalize your Key Performance Indicators (KPI), do data based research and analysis, make plan and build strategy, develop and update assets, define end audience, design action and evaluate the test result and to go on.
Once you have finalized your approaches, it’s wise to make a checklist for the available assets with you. The prerequisite or the parent asset for you is a ‘dynamic and interactive website’. You need to assure that other assets of you, such as, branding assets (business name, logo and trademark), content asset (blog posts, e-books, info-graphics, whitepapers, look-books, images, slides, videos etc.), earned assets (testimonials, feedback, social media pixels etc.), social media linkage and interactive tools are well structured within your website for optimum output.
Under the umbrella term of Digital Marketing, there are number of interrelated and individual modes exist. Most effective modes are – Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Social Media Marketing (SMM), Pay per Click (PPC), Affiliating Marketing, Partnership Marketing, Sponsoring Marketing, Local Business Listing, Blogging, Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, E-mail Marketing, Mobile Marketing and few other. Let’s have a look at a glance.
SEO, SEM and PPC
SEO: When you search something on Google or Yahoo or any other search engine (SE) by typing the exact words or phrases (or with little variation) in the search box and click the enter tab, within seconds you’ll find lots of relevant results for your search terms on the search engine result page (SERP). Now you have many options. You may click on any of the results those appear on the top of the SERP or you could scroll down to find out more results or you may possibly go for the next pages. But as a general indication, most of the users of search engines, click on any one of the first few results that seem to be more relevant for his/her search terms or implied requirements. May be the user satisfied with the information or services or products available in a single search result or he/she might search for another website depending upon his/her requirements and satisfaction. Out of more than 4.47 billion web pages, there might be many thousand results for a particular search term. The web pages those are not visible at the top of the particular search result or are found in second, third or fourth pages of the same search result or is not at all available on any of the search results may have equal relevance for the user in action. In fact, this is the technique and art of SEO that stands for Search Engine Optimization. The websites or web pages those are visible at the top of any SERP do not happen as an autonomous process. Rather, the web master of a website need to optimize his/her website with well defined techniques and skill to increase visibility on SE. Google or any other SE, while display the result one after another, a complex mathematical algorithm of indexing works. In compliance to the algorithm, SE decides which web page or its content is more relevant to the search term entered. The spider based crawl technology makes an instant ranking in harmony to the relevance and index it accordingly.
The webmaster of a website needs to understand the entire processes. A website or its contents only can be visible to a SE, when the site is connected to the SE console. After connecting to the SE console, the webmaster or admin need to set a meta-tag and description tags along with search key words to get better ranking and optimized for SE. Getting better optimization for SE is not an easy task. It needs plenty professional skill and experiences. The entire process is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is an unpaid service you can avail from any search engine provider like Google, Bing, Ask and Yahoo just by agreeing with their terms and conditions. In the dictionary of Digital Marketing, any of the free or unpaid service is termed as ‘organic’. Wikipedia rightly defines SEO as “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid (organic) results”.
SEM: SEM stands from Search Engine Marketing, which is slightly differs from SEO. While SEO is unpaid or free, you need to pay for SEM. You can run an advertising campaign on Google or any other SE by agreeing to pay on daily expenditure basis at the end of your billing cycle. On the basis of your daily agreement amount, target audience and selected key words, your web pages and the content there in will get more chances to be visible on SERP.
PPC: The acronym stands for Pay per Click and is not unrelated to SEM. There are two phenomena of PPC. When you opt for SEM, you don’t have to pay the SE until your link will be clicked by a user. The good news for you is that, just by advertising on Google or Yahoo or Bing, you’re not going to pay for it. Your payment will be calculated, only on the basis of the number of clicks on your link. Next good news is that the mechanism of PPC doesn’t singularly serve for SEO. Rather, PPC mechanism automatically places your advertisement and promotion on other relevant third party web pages those are approved by the SE as partners’ pages and the SE is paying its partners on the ground of mutual terms and conditions. On which page and for which visitor, your ad will be visible, is decided by the complex algorithm of the concerned SE, based on the constant automated records and analysis of online user behavior.
Content Marketing is the king of all marketing methods as well as of art and will be. Content Marketing doesn’t directly promote a product or a service or a business or a brand; but it stimulates interest for it through creating and sharing online content like blog posts, videos, images and info-graphics. In other words, it’s a strategic marketing approach focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and reliable content to attract and maintain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. The purpose of content marketing is to help brands or businesses to create sustainable brand loyalty and provide valuable information to consumers, as well as to create a willingness to purchase products or services in the future. It’s clear that it doesn’t involve direct sales. Instead, it’s a mechanism of building trust and rapport with the audience. Not the advertisement but the story, not the commercial but the show – is the basic of content marketing.
However, this relatively new marketing method needs a lot of expertise and experiences in building strategy, creating content and sharing the same as well as getting the desired outcome.
Affiliating and Referral Marketing
Affiliating Marketing is a performance based and accordingly commission based marketing strategy. In this case, a business or brand gives commission to one or more affiliates (promoters) for the purchase made by the affiliate’s own marketing effort.
Affiliating Marketing is sometimes confused with Referral Marketing, because in both the cases the purchase is made through third party involvement. However, affiliating marketing is purely commercial while referral marketing is based on relationship and trust. A customer being satisfied with a purchase may refer his/her friend or known one to purchase from the same merchant. When the business able to sale or even only gains good faith from the referred, it rewards the referee.
Social Media Marketing
It’s a strategy to create brand awareness through follow, like, comments, shares, recommendation and invitation on social media posting and converting the individuals on social media to potential buyers. Among various modes of Digital Marketing, social media marketing is the most prominent one. Almost all brands and businesses prefer to have a business account on each popular social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. About 65% of conversions come only from social media. Facebook individually does half of the conversion. Besides, almost all social media give you wonderful tools to easily interact with your audiences and keep them actively engaged.
Social Media Marketing is on both free and paid terms. If you have already earned moderate brand image, you don’t necessarily pay for the social media for getting more followers and boosting your posts. You can get active audience engagement naturally if your posting are considered by the viewers as valuable or interesting or both. But at initial stage or for stepping up, you may spend few dollars on daily budget basis for promotion and advertisement of your brand. The advantages of SMM are that it’s very flexible, cost effective and able to provide you immense interactive platform. For status, repute and brand awareness as well as for purely commercial promotions, no other platform as available on the date is better than the social media.
Inbound Marketing technique is a mixed Digital Marketing strategy that simultaneously uses Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing (SMM), Content Marketing and Branding to convert a stranger to active buyer. Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing is mostly target and result oriented. It directly aims at action, engagement and conversion. It may be the SEO or the SMM or content marketing – choosing target audience on the basis of age, gender, location, occupation, interest, social behavior and purchase action is no more a difficult task. On the basis of data available on social media and search engines analytic, the artificial intelligence of such platforms directly delivers your message to your target audience. Such mechanism can easily convert a stranger to active buyer within a very short phase. In fact, most of the Digital Marketing techniques are inbound in nature while large portions of the traditional marketing approaches are generally outbound in characteristics.
E-mail Marketing is the way of directly delivering both commercial (products, services, offers etc.) and non-commercial (content for information, entertainment and stimulation) news letters to the mail boxes of individuals who directly or indirectly intends or provide consent to subscribe your feeds. Though it is another powerful tool and one of the cheapest marketing, you need some effort and carefulness in a) getting consent from individual visitors to your site or your social media followers or incidentally come across viewers to receive your e-mails, b) preparing mailer list and c) creating relevant and quality content for the regular e-mails. Once you manage to make a large mailer list of potential consumers and interesting value added content for mails, you may jump for a rewarding e-mail campaign. You may either send regular e-mails to a large number of receivers with few mouse clicks from your website’s automated tool or you may manage it from your business e-mail account’s address book. Once you have an automated mailer tool or a business mail account, you don’t need further expenditure for regular e-mail marketing. Personalised e-mails empowered by various interactive tools help highly in target audience engagement and subsequently conversion.
Mobile marketing is a singular term for all marketing activities performed through a multi-channel network to which target audience are persistently connected using personal mobile devices like smart phones, tablets etc. through SMS, MMS, mobile application, social media, e-mail, search engine, net browser etc. The widespread use of mobile devices provides ample scope for business owners and marketers to reach at each target audience through numerous ways. SMS Marketing, Push Notification, In-game Mobile Marketing, app based Marketing, QR code Marketing, Location Based Services (LBS), User Control Media (UCM) and Interactive Voice Mail (IVM) are few among many mobile marketing techniques. All of us know that this is the ‘Era of Mobile’, and more than 80% of the internet users access anything digital only through the mobile devices. Besides its additional features, people mostly use the social media, search engines, e-mails, games and the web on mobile devices in comparison to the desktop computers. The importance and future of mobile marketing don’t need any further clarification.
Local Business Listing
Local Business Listing is an opportunity to promote your business on the internet through the third party promoters, but it’s different from Affiliating Marketing in many senses. Third party promoters, in this case, are the owners of websites with large networks separated for different cities and business/service/product categories. Though the network is controlled centrally at a national headquarter, small and medium business runners can attract city and near-by based local potential customer by listing their businesses with details of products/services and contact information on these site’s local pages. Listing businesses on such websites are generally free but you need to pay the site owners if you intend to get a premium listing badge and to get more lead due to the effort of the third party. When you pay on annual or any other term basis agreement, the third party service provider take care of ranking your business better and providing your contact details to the visitor of the site who looks for a particular service or product at the local market since he/she has no idea about where to get it or who is the better option to choose. Sure shot lead generation is not guaranteed. Online Yellow Pages and Business Directories are the examples of Local Listing Sites.
Why to Focus on Digital Marketing?
The above discussion on ‘what is Digital Marketing’ and its different components with aspects therein has, certainly, made it clear – why Digital Marketing is so significant at the present day to achieve one’s business goal. I believe that I don’t need to go in details. Rather, just with few hints, I can save your lots of time.
- Most Cost-effective and Cheapest Mode of Marketing: The best feature of Digital Marketing is its adequate cost effectiveness and high ROI guarantee. Unlike the traditional modes of marketing, you don’t need a huge budgetary provision for doing digital. With few hundred dollars you can start your digital journey. With a cost effective simple website, free business accounts on all available social media, free SEO tools, low cost professional e-mail id, quality blog posts, user specific content together with your own skill and creativity, you can definitely enter the vast playground. After beta testing your efforts, skill and techniques, you may go for few social media campaign by paying a small amount of your budget on daily budgetary provision or do the same for SEM. You know it well that two or six dollars per day is not a big amount in comparison to your other business expenditure. With many ground reports on quantitative and qualitative survey, I bet, you’ll get return on all your investment within few months. You may increase your budget in accordance your result. What is more important that everything have to be well planed, strategic, creative as well as result oriented. You definitely don’t need to spend a lot in term of money, but you require spending a lot in term of research, analysis, beta testing, creating content and finalizing strategy.
- Easily Available and Unrestricted Access: You may not get and afford for a well noticeable billboard at a crowded traffic signal of a big city or for a prime channel television commercial or even for a newspaper display add. It’s basically due to the throat cut competition and massive financial involvement. But you can have the same share with the big fishes through your low cost Digital Marketing. If you master the skill of SEO, your advertisement and content will appear side by side with the big brand. You can access any of the SEO tool or social media to promote your business and brand. There is no restriction for you. Lack of fund, infrastructure and man power is not a hindrance for Digital Marketing. Even you can run your marketing office from your home with a computer, some software and a good speed internet connection. For marketing from digital platform, you don’t need anyone’s permission or ‘No Objection Certificate’. Restriction to enter the digital arena for anyone else is near to zero.
- Widespread and Reachable in Real-time: the uses of internet and digital devices are so widespread at present scenario that around 67% of world adult population is living in a digital world. The statistic is growing rapidly. People worldwide are searching for almost everything on the internet and making decision in accordance. On the internet, through several available modes, you can reach your target audience at any corner of the world in real time. Depending upon the nature of your business, you can carefully choose the audiences as your potential customer from any geographical region, from any demographic, cultural and social background. Digital Marketing brings the unlimited sky for you.
- Data Concentric and Audience Specific: You, trough the digital platform, can access lots of data on audience behavior and varied specifications and set your strategy accordingly. All sorts of data such as demographically, geographical, sociological and behavioral distribution of potential audiences (without entering anyone’s privacy) can be drawn together with few mouse clicks and the same can be analyzed with many convenient tools provided by search engines and other digital platforms. Once you become aware of your audiences, their passion or hate, their like and dislike, you can easily set your target. Through few interactive automatic tools and management systems, your message and content will be delivered only to the specific those who likely to be your customers. Everything is based on data and the data is precisely error free because of the defined algorithm of digital technology. Obviously, this will lead to more engagement and more conversion ultimately.
- Defined Target and Inbound Result Oriented: I don’t need to repeat it again and again that most of the Digital Marketing practices are, technically, specific to the end results. It’s because of the involvements of the mechanism of knowing the audiences precisely. This is the reason why the target is well defined and the result will be delivered in complete inbound condition. As you act, you’ll yield. Your own engagement and strategies will bring the result. You just need to follow some thumb rules.
- High Rate of Conversion: Do I need to tell more? If any confusion or doubt, please don’t hesitate to ask me.
- Better Revenue Generation: Since digital marketing lead to speedy growth in businesses with less budget, it definitely help in better revenue generation.
- Real-time Interaction with the Target Audiences: Please refer the discussion till far. You’ll have no doubt.
- Round the Clock Marketing Channel: Reasons are same as above
- Brand Reputation and Trust: No question possibly will arise.
- Ample Scope and Freedom for both marketer and customers: You know it better.
- Unlimited Sky: There are not only one dozen of reasons…. you know it well that the listing might increase to any extent.
How to Perform Successful Digital Marketing?
This is a big question! You are definitely wondering about how to perform digital marketing and that’s too successfully. In fact, it requires a lots of experiences and expertise in each separate components like SEO or content marketing. You don’t need to bother. You just need to read two posts each week. Within a few weeks, you’ll definitely come with a bright insight to settle yourself as well trained digital marketer. It’s my assurance. All the best.