Digital Marketing and its Necessity for Businesses
In recent times, there has been a seismic change in how businesses and brands market their products and services. The increasing pervasiveness of technology in our lives has led to a drastic change in customer behavior and people are increasingly dependent on digital devices and platforms to satisfy their buying needs. As a result, businesses have had to alter their traditional approaches and tailor their strategies to align with marketing trends in the digital age.
Digital marketing and its techniques
Digital marketing is a marketing strategy where businesses and brands leverage digital technologies and channels to promote products and services and provide a platform to connect with current and prospective customers. It encompasses a wide range of techniques and tactics, some of which are covered below:
With so many websites competing with each other to attract customer traffic, what is the differentiating marketing strategy for a website to be successful in this regard? While there may be no unanimous answer, one major reason is content marketing where a business develops blog posts, e-books, whitepapers, infographics etc. to attract potential customers and generate leads.
Social Media Marketing
Being active on social media is a distinct opportunity for a business to connect with prospective customers who are online. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. can be used to attract more views and to place Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisements where the business pays the publisher every time a brand-specific ad is clicked. Ad campaigns executed on Facebook, Twitter etc. can attract potential customers over an extended time period.
Compared to the tactics discussed above which primarily require Internet connectivity and users to stay online, potential customers can also be targeted via SMS, MMS, call-backs, ring tones etc. This digital marketing technique enables businesses to reach out to a broader population (e.g., only 50% of India’s citizens had Internet access as of 2020 though mobile phone usage is much more widespread) by leveraging the existing customer base of major network service providers.
Some other common digital marketing channels include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Affiliate Marketing, Email Marketing and Native Advertising.
Benefits of Digital Marketing
Some of the ways digital marketing has made businesses’ lives better are described as follows:
Streamlined Targeting of Customers
Digital marketing scores over traditional marketing strategies by developing communications targeted at a certain customer demographic. This translates to better use of resources and the research conducted in developing a targeted campaign is likely to lead to higher lead generation. Social media also assists in developing the targeted demographic e.g., if a business provides the necessary demographic inputs for a Facebook ad campaign, Facebook will utilize its analytics capabilities in developing the demographic and will target them as part of the campaign. Increased global Internet connectivity is a key enabler in improving the scope of personalized marketing across geographies which results in improved market reach.
Increased Cost Efficiency
Compared to traditional marketing overheads e.g., newspaper advertisements, television spots, promotions on billboards etc., the cost of implementing a digital marketing strategy is lower as the investment is focused on one or two channels. A digital marketing channel also provides more flexibility in changing strategies, where an under-performing channel can be replaced by a potentially high performing one with minimum cost and effort.
Level Playing Field
How does a small online retail business compete with established giants like Walmart, Amazon, Costco and Target? Definitely not in terms of marketing spend, since these bigger companies have much larger marketing budgets at their disposal. However, smaller firms can leverage strategic digital marketing initiatives to outrank bigger players in the digital space. For example, developing high quality content would lead to better search engine optimization as search engines do not discriminate among businesses but will highlight the best content, irrespective of the business being big or small. Niche players can also potentially attract more customers through tailored digital marketing initiatives as compared to more popular brands.
Measurability of metrics
While the concept of digital marketing may sound great, businesses require validation and confidence that their strategy is working and that investment in digital channels would be profitable going forward. In this regard, digital marketing provides for multiple metrics to track the efficacy of channel e.g., number of views, likes, shares, clicks, time spent on a page, leads generated etc. This is hugely beneficial for a business to tailor its marketing strategy by evaluating channel performance and subsequently, highlighting or removing channels as per evaluation results and business expectations. This is in contrast to traditional methods where customer response time is slower and there is no way of tracking customer interest in real time.
Improved Customer Connectivity
Traditional marketing methods relies on the customer making first contact and detailing his requirements which the business would work on subsequently. The drawback of this technique is that the response time of the customer is not quantifiable and, in the interim, businesses do not know if their marketing strategy is effective or not. Digital marketing allows businesses to be more connected to potential leads and customers and this may translate into more website traffic. For instance, digital ad campaigns may be structured so that upon the user showing interest in the ad via likes/shares, the business proactively reaches out to the user via automated or human-generated messages. This would let the user know that the business is interested his requirements and he would feel more connected to the venture.
Digital marketing is the buzzword for businesses and brands looking to make their mark amid fierce competition. With all indicators showing that the digital age is here to stay, businesses who are sincere in developing and implementing well-researched and high-quality digital marketing initiatives are likely to perform better than their counterparts.
So, does your business have a digital marketing strategy in place? If not, do not wait any longer and start implementing digital marketing to see your business rise to new and exciting heights!