by Joanne Dolezal
Digital Marketing (also known as Internet, Web or Online Marketing) is a collective name for marketing activity carried out online, as opposed to traditional marketing through print media, live promotions, TV and radio advertising. It might seem scary to you right now, especially for the technophobes out there, but trust me it should be playing a large part in your marketing plan right now.
Stats show that almost 90% of the Uk and America have access to the internet, and this use of the internet is only set to rise with ever increasing speed of the Internet. Digital Marketing channels are increasingly effective at generating revenue and raising awareness.
Compared to traditional marketing methods such as direct marketing, trade shows and advertising, Digital Marketing often requires a much smaller investment (important for small and medium-size businesses and start-ups). It also allows for accurate targeting and excellent reporting, making it far easier for even the lay person to judge whether digital marketing activities are having the desired effect or not.
The differences between traditional ‘campaign’ style marketing and digital marketing are as follows:
Circular versus Linear
Digital marketing encourages you to research, target, test, modify and repeat and tends to be a continuous circular process of learning and modification until you get it right. Traditional marketing campaigns take a lot of planning, but once they’ve ‘left the building’ there’s nothing you can do to change them. e.g. Once you have sent off your magazine advert to print, that’s it!
Targeted versus Broadcast
Over time it is possible to gather and analyse enough data on your target customers that you save considerable time and effort communicating with them. Either via email or mobile marketing, you can send direct messages to your target and past customers to build trust and loyalty. Imagine how much time, money and uncertainty this saves you as you can track opens, clicks and conversions online.
Flexibility versus Committed
Because you have more control over the who, what, when, where of digital marketing you can control and modify the start and end of any activities within reason, rather than finding you are fixed into a longterm commitment that is either not working for you – based on digital metrics – or not generating the ROI (Return on Investment) you require. Response times are much faster too and campaigns can be set up and delivered in hours, rather than weeks or months.
‘Low’ or ‘no cost’ versus Expensive!
Print and broadcast media, whilst still effective at brand building, are beyond the means of all but a few businesses. The proliferation of TV networks and channels, online publications and even digital broadcasting have meant that it is ever harder to reach the whole population but who wants to anyway? You want the ‘right customers’ for your business as they’re more likely to buy from you. ‘Laser vision’ trumps ‘spray and pray’.
What you will find is that for traditional marketing you almost always have to pay something, with digital marketing there’s a lot you can do yourself for free. That is however only if you are competent at finding your way around online, otherwise paying digital marketers can be even more expensive in a lot of respects as it is a constant reactive process. Luckily for you, you have atomic to help with that.
The great thing about digital marketing is that once you have refined what works and what doesn’t, you can scale it up easily and incrementally as your budget increases from new sales creating a circle of uplift around your business.
What does Digital Marketing include?
Digital Marketing covers everything to do with your website, including Search Engine Optimisation – getting found online – and measuring where visitors to your website are coming from, what they’re at and which pages are most popular, among other things.
Driving visitors to your website, especially an e-commerce website, is essential if you want to achieve a healthy level of sales. Tactics include Search Engine Marketing – anticipating and targeting the language customers use to find products and services like yours – and Pay Per Click advertising – display adverts online.
Social Media is also a Digital Marketing tactic and works well to raise awareness of your brand and create weak links: it takes time, thought and regular effort to build trust with potential customers.
Email Marketing and Mobile Marketing allow you to send targeted communications to a (potential) customers inbox or mobile phone. Both require the recipient’s permission and are just as effective for Customer Retention as for Customer Acquisition.
Mobile Marketing in particular has evolved from SMS (text message) based communications to encompass Mobile ‘friendly’ Marketing, with developments in smartphone and tablet technology. If your website is hard to navigate or looks too small on a smartphone screen – and 40% of google searches are made on a mobile device – you may be losing a lot of custom unnecessarily.
ACTION: Take some time now to think about your current marketing activities, are they mainly traditional? Can you measure their ROI (Return on Investment)? Are they too expensive? Search atomic for digital marketing strategies to see how you can harness the power of Digital Marketing.
Joanne Dolezal has a fund of marketing knowledge, experience and qualifications from a career spanning 25 years in business and marketing.
She helps small businesses ‘get marketing’ through Dolezal Consulting, teaches Digital Marketing for CIM and DMI at NESMA and runs regular workshops.