Digital marketing refers to the use of various digital channels such as websites, mobile phones, search engines, and social media to promote products and services. It is a marketing technique that became popular with the advent of the internet in the 1990s. However, it still incorporates some principles and practices of traditional marketing. Many companies today integrate both traditional and digital marketing strategies to reach their consumers.
Marketing activities involve any efforts a company puts in place to promote its products, services, and improve its market share – this can include advertising, branding, and sales. In order to achieve lasting success, one must utilize a combination of these approaches. Marketers or marketing professionals succeed by working within comapnies or remotely with other marketing firms.
Before the internet, companies primarily focused on advertising through print, TV, and radio to showcase themselves. However, when the internet came, it brought with it a change in how companies could reach their consumers. This is where digital marketing became an integral part of marketing. This online marketing strategy involves the use of websites, virtual entertainment, search engines, applications, social media, and other channels that create a two-way interaction between the company and the customer.
Technology has evolved rapidly over the years, from email marketing, to search engines like Netscape that allowed companies to tag and keyword their products and services for improved noticeability. The creation of social platforms like Facebook which allow companies to track consumer trends in real-time, has also changed the way companies market themselves.
Today, mobile devices such as smartphones have made it easier for companies to market themselves and their products to consumers. Studies show that people prefer to access the internet on their phones, and make roughly 70% of their purchasing decisions from their phones.
Marketers typically segment their audience by focusing on highly specific, distinct characteristics to maximize the effectiveness of their campaigns. For example, McDonald’s extended its late-night hours, and targeted shift workers and travelers using digital ads placed on ATMs, gas stations, and sites its customers typically visited.
Some of the more common channels companies use to market their products and services include:
- Website Marketing: A website serves as the centerpiece of all online marketing activities, providing clear and concise information about a company’s brand, product, and service offerings.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: Allows advertisers to reach web users on various digital platforms through paid ads. Platforms such as Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook offer advertisers the opportunity to display their ads to users searching for products and services similar to what they offer.
- Content Marketing: Involves using a variety of content like ebooks, blogs, webinars, infographics, podcasts, and webinars, among others to reach potential customers.
- Email Marketing: Remains a powerful digital marketing channel by allowing businesses to directly reach out to potential customers who have shown interest in their brand or product. Those who show interest can be converted into long-term customers.
- Social Media Marketing: The primary goal of social media marketing is to create brand awareness and build social trust. Companies can also use social media to create leads or a direct sales channel.
- Affiliate Marketing: Allows powerful online advertisers to promote other companies’ products and services while earning a commission every time they generate leads or sales. Amazon has one of the most popular affiliate programs online today.
- Video Marketing: Platforms like YouTube and Facebook offer companies a means of reaching users with informative and engaging video content that can help increase web traffic.
- SMS Messaging: Businesses can also use SMS or text messages to send information about their latest offers or updates directly to willing customers.
Digital marketing, however, presents several unique challenges for brands. First, digital channels evolve rapidly, and marketers need to stay abreast of these changes to be effective. Second, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to capture and retain consumers’ attention, as most are bombarded with competing ads online. Finally, analyzing and interpreting the massive amounts of data captured by digital channels can also be a challenge for marketers.
To overcome these challenges, marketers need to approach digital marketing with a deep understanding of consumer behavior. For instance, the use of website heatmaps can help analyze user behavior and generate new insights.
Digital marketing agencies specialize in using various digital channels to promote their clients’ brands, products, or services. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the crucial components of digital marketing. It involves the use of natural or organic search results, in which companies try to rank their sites and names at the top of the search engine results pages. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in marketing or a related business field, digital marketers need good writing skills, data analytics skills, social media skills, and knowledge of digital platforms and tools.
In conclusion, digital marketing has become a critical part of business strategy for modern companies. Today, the use of digital channels is as important — if not more important — than traditional advertising techniques.