Digital marketing is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.
The way in which digital marketing has developed since the 1990s and 2000s has changed the way brands and businesses utilize technology and digital marketing for their marketing. Digital marketing campaigns are becoming more prevalent as well as efficient, as digital platforms are increasingly incorporated into marketing plans and everyday life, and as people use digital devices instead of going to physical shops.
Digital marketing techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), content marketing, influencer marketing, content automation, campaign marketing, data-driven marketing and e-commerce marketing, social media marketing, social media optimization, e-mail direct marketing, display advertising, e-books, optical disks and games, are becoming more and more common in our advancing technology. In fact, this extends to non-Internet channels that provide digital media, such as mobile phones (SMS and MMS), callback and on-hold mobile ring tones.
The term digital marketing was first used in the 1990s, but digital marketing has roots in the mid-1980s when the SoftAd Group, now ChannelNet, developed advertising campaigns for automobile companies, wherein people would send in reader reply cards found in magazines and receive in return floppy disks that contained multimedia content promoting various cars and offering free test drives.
Digital marketing became more sophisticated in the 2000s and the 2010s,; the proliferation of devices' capability access digital media at almost any given time has led to great growth of digital advertising; statistics produced in 2012 and 2013 showed that digital marketing was still a growing field.
Digital marketing is often referred to as 'online marketing', 'internet marketing' or 'web marketing'. The term digital marketing has grown in popularity over time, particularly in certain countries. In the USA online marketing is still prevalent, in Italy is referred as web marketing but in the UK and worldwide, digital marketing has become the most common term, especially after the year 2013.
Digital media growth is estimated at 4.5 trillion online ads served annually with digital media spend at 48% growth in 2010. An increasing portion of advertising stems from businesses employing Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) to tailor advertising for internet users, but OBA raises concern of consumer privacy and data protection.
In an ever more complex retail environment, customer engagement is essential but also challenging. Retailers must shift from a linear marketing approach of one-way communication to a value exchange model in which there is a two-way mutual dialogue and benefit-sharing between provider and consumer. Exchanges are more non-linear, free flowing and both one-to-many or one-on-one. The spread of information and awareness can occur across numerous channels such as the blogosphere, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and a wide variety of other platforms. Online communities and social networks allow individuals to easily become creators of their own content and publicly publish their opinions, experiences, thoughts and feelings about many topics and products, hyper-accelerating the diffusion of information.
The Nielsen Global Connected Commerce Survey conducted interviews in 26 countries to observe how consumers are using the Internet to make shopping decisions in stores and online. They reported that due to the internet and e-commerce, shoppers are increasingly looking to purchase internationally, with over 50% in the study who purchased online in the last six months stating they bought from an overseas retailer.
Using an omni-channel strategy is becoming increasingly important for enterprises to adapt to the changing expectations of consumers who are wanting ever-more sophisticated offerings throughout the purchasing journey, in which the internet is becoming an essential component. Retailers are increasingly focusing on their online presence, including online shops that operate alongside existing store-based outlets. This leads to the idea of "endless aisle" within the retail space, as retailers can lead consumers to purchasing products online that fit their needs without having to carry the inventory within the physical location of the store. Solely internet-based retailers are also entering the market, and some are establishing corresponding store-based outlets to provide personal services, professional help, and tangible experiences with their products.
An omni-channel approach not only benefits consumers but also benefits business bottom line as research suggests that customers spend more than double when purchasing through an omni-channel retailer as opposed to a single-channel retailer, and are often more loyal. This could be due to the ease of purchase and the wider availability of products in an omni-channel approach.
Customers are often researching online and then buying in stores and also browsing in stores and then searching for other options online. Online customer research into products is particularly popular for higher-priced items as well as consumable goods like groceries and make up. Consumers are increasingly using the internet to look up product information, compare prices and search for deals and promotions.
There are a number of ways brands can use digital marketing to benefit their marketing efforts. The use of digital marketing in the digital era not only allows for brands to market their products and services but also allows for online customer support through 24/7 services to make customer feel supported and valued. The use of social media interaction allows brands to receive both positive and negative feedback from their customers as well as determining what media platforms work well for them and has become an increased advantage for brands and businesses. It is now common for consumers to post feedback online through social media sources, blogs and websites feedback on their experience with a product or brand. It has become increasingly popular for businesses to utilise and encourage these conversations through their social media channels to have direct contact with the customers and manage the feedback they receive appropriately.
Word of mouth communications and peer-to-peer dialogue often have a greater effect on customers, since they are not sent directly from the company and are therefore not planned. Customers are more likely to trust other customers' experiences. It is increasingly advantageous for companies to utilise social media platforms to connect with their customers and create these dialogues and discussions. The potential reach of social media is indicated by the fact that in 2015, each month the Facebook app had more than 126 million average unique users and YouTube had over 97 million average unique users.
A key objective is engaging digital marketing customers and allowing them to interact with the brand through servicing and delivery of digital media. Information is easy to access at a fast rate through the use of digital communications. Users with access to the Internet can use many digital mediums, such as Facebook, YouTube, Forums, and Email etc. Through Digital communications it creates a Multi-communication channel where information can be quickly exchanged around the world by anyone without any regard to whom they are. Social segregation plays no part through social mediums due to lack of face to face communication and information being wide spread instead to a selective audience. This interactive nature allows consumers create conversation in which the targeted audience is able to ask questions about the brand and get familiar with it which traditional forms of Marketing may not offer.
By using Internet platforms, businesses can create competitive advantage through various means. To reach the maximum potential of digital marketing, firms use social media as its main tool to create a channel of information. Through this a business can create a system in which they are able to pinpoint behavioral patterns of clients and feedback on their needs. This means of content has shown to have a larger impingement on those who have a long-standing relationship with the firm and with consumers who are relatively active social media users. Relative to this, creating a social media page will further increase relation quality between new consumers and existing consumers as well as consistent brand reinforcement therefore improving brand awareness resulting in a possible rise for consumers up the Brand Awareness Pyramid. Although there may be inconstancy with product images; maintaining a successful social media presence requires a business to be consistent in interactions through creating a two way feed of information; firms consider their content based on the feedback received through this channel, this is a result of the environment being dynamic due to the global nature of the internet. Effective use of digital marketing can result in relatively lowered costs in relation to traditional means of marketing; Lowered external service costs, advertising costs, promotion costs, processing costs, interface design costs and control costs.
Brand awareness has been proven to work with more effectiveness in countries that are high in uncertainty avoidance, also these countries that have uncertainty avoidance; social media marketing works effectively. Yet brands must be careful not to be excessive on the use of this type of marketing, as well as solely relying on it as it may have implications that could negatively harness their image. Brands that represent themselves in an anthropomorphizing manner are more likely to succeed in situations where a brand is marketing to this demographic. "Since social media use can enhance the knowledge of the brand and thus decrease the uncertainty, it is possible that people with high uncertainty avoidance, such as the French, will particularly appreciate the high social media interaction with an anthropomorphized brand." Moreover, digital platform provides an ease to the brand and its customers to interact directly and exchange their motives virtually.
One of the major changes that occurred in traditional marketing was the "emergence of digital marketing" (Patrutiu Baltes, Loredana, 2015), this led to the reinvention of marketing strategies in order to adapt to this major change in traditional marketing (Patrutiu Baltes, Loredana, 2015) .
As digital marketing is dependent on technology which is ever-evolving and fast-changing, the same features should be expected from digital marketing developments and strategies. This portion is an attempt to qualify or segregate the notable highlights existing and being used as of press time.[when?]
To summarize, Pull digital marketing is characterized by consumers actively seeking marketing content while Push digital marketing occurs when marketers send messages without that content being actively sought by the recipients.
An important consideration today while deciding on a strategy is that the digital tools have democratized the promotional landscape.
5. Remarketing: Remarketing plays a major role in digital marketing. This tactic allows marketers to publish targeted ads in front of an interest category or a defined audience, generally called searchers in web speak, they have either searched for particular products or services or visited a website for some purpose.
6. Game advertising: Game ads are advertisements that exist within computer or video games. One of the most common examples of in-game advertising is billboards appearing in sports games. In-game ads also might appear as brand-name products like guns, cars, or clothing that exist as gaming status symbols.
The new digital era has enabled brands to selectively target their customers that may potentially be interested in their brand or based on previous browsing interests. Businesses can now use social media to select the age range, location, gender and interests of whom they would like their targeted post to be seen by. Furthermore, based on a customer's recent search history they can be 'followed' on the internet so they see advertisements from similar brands, products and services, This allows businesses to target the specific customers that they know and feel will most benefit from their product or service, something that had limited capabilities up until the digital era.
A strategy that is linked into the effectiveness of digital marketing is content marketing. Content marketing can be briefly described as "delivering the content that your audience is seeking in the places that they are searching for it". It is found that content marketing is highly present in digital marketing and becomes highly successful when content marketing is involved. This is due to content marketing making your brand more relevant to the target consumers, as well as more visible to the target consumer.
Marketers also find email an effective strategy when it comes to digital marketing as it is another way to build a long term relationship with the consumer. Listed below are some aspects that need to be considered to have an effective digital media campaign and aspects that help create an effective email system.
Interesting mail titles differentiate one advertisement from the other. This separates advertisements from the clutter. Differentiation is one factor that can make an advertisement successful in digital marketing because consumers are drawn to it and are more likely to view the advertisement.
Establishment of customer exclusivity: A list of customers and customer's details should be kept on a database for follow up and selected customers can be sent selected offers and promotions of deals related to the customer's previous buyer behaviour. This is effective in digital marketing as it allows organisations to build up loyalty over email.
Low Technical Requirements: In order to get the full use out of digital marketing it is useful to make you advertising campaigns have low technical requirements. This prevents some consumers not being able to understand or view the advertising campaign.
Rewards: The lucrative offers would always help in making your digital campaign a success. Give some reward in the end of the campaign. This would definitely invite more engagement and word of mouth publicity
Digital marketing activity is still growing across the world according to the headline global marketing index. Digital media continues to rapidly grow; while the marketing budgets are expanding, traditional media is declining (World Economics, 2015). Digital media helps brands reach consumers to engage with their product or service in a personalised way. Five areas, which are outlined as current industry practices that are often ineffective are prioritizing clicks, balancing search and display, understanding mobiles, targeting, viewability, brand safety and invalid traffic, and cross-platform measurement (Whiteside, 2016). Why these practices are ineffective and some ways around making these aspects effective are discussed surrounding the following points.
Prioritizing clicks refers to display click ads, although advantageous by being 'simple, fast and inexpensive' rates for display ads in 2016 is only 0.10 percent in the United States. This means one in a thousand click ads are relevant therefore having little effect. This displays that marketing companies should not just use click ads to evaluate the effectiveness of display advertisements (Whiteside, 2016).
Balancing search and display for digital display ads are important; marketers tend to look at the last search and attribute all of the effectiveness to this. This then disregards other marketing efforts, which establish brand value within the consumers mind. ComScore determined through drawing on data online, produced by over one hundred multichannel retailers that digital display marketing poses strengths when compared with or positioned alongside, paid search (Whiteside, 2016). This is why it is advised that when someone clicks on a display ad the company opens a landing page, not its home page. A landing page typically has something to draw the customer in to search beyond this page. Things such as free offers that the consumer can obtain through giving the company contact information so that they can use retargeting communication strategies (Square2Marketing, 2012). Commonly marketers see increased sales among people exposed to a search ad. But the fact of how many people you can reach with a display campaign compared to a search campaign should be considered. Multichannel retailers have an increased reach if the display is considered in synergy with search campaigns. Overall both search and display aspects are valued as display campaigns build awareness for the brand so that more people are likely to click on these digital ads when running a search campaign (Whiteside, 2016).
Understanding Mobiles: Understanding mobile devices is a significant aspect of digital marketing because smartphones and tablets are now responsible for 64% of the time US consumers are online (Whiteside, 2016). Apps provide a big opportunity as well as challenge for the marketers because firstly the app needs to be downloaded and secondly the person needs to actually use it. This may be difficult as 'half the time spent on smartphone apps occurs on the individuals single most used app, and almost 85% of their time on the top four rated apps' (Whiteside, 2016). Mobile advertising can assist in achieving a variety of commercial objectives and it is effective due to taking over the entire screen, and voice or status is likely to be considered highly; although the message must not be seen or thought of as intrusive (Whiteside, 2016). Disadvantages of digital media used on mobile devices also include limited creative capabilities, and reach. Although there are many positive aspects including the users entitlement to select product information, digital media creating a flexible message platform and there is potential for direct selling (Belch & Belch, 2012).
Cross-platform measurement: The number of marketing channels continues to expand, as measurement practices are growing in complexity. A cross-platform view must be used to unify audience measurement and media planning. Market researchers need to understand how the Omni-channel affects consumer's behaviour, although when advertisements are on a consumer's device this does not get measured. Significant aspects to cross-platform measurement involves de-duplication and understanding that you have reached an incremental level with another platform, rather than delivering more impressions against people that have previously been reached (Whiteside, 2016). An example is 'ESPN and comScore partnered on Project Blueprint discovering the sports broadcaster achieved a 21% increase in unduplicated daily reach thanks to digital advertising' (Whiteside, 2016). Television and radio industries are the electronic media, which competes with digital and other technological advertising. Yet television advertising is not directly competing with online digital advertising due to being able to cross platform with digital technology. Radio also gains power through cross platforms, in online streaming content. Television and radio continue to persuade and affect the audience, across multiple platforms (Fill, Hughes, & De Franceso, 2013).
Targeting, viewability, brand safety and invalid traffic: Targeting, viewability, brand safety and invalid traffic all are aspects used by marketers to help advocate digital advertising. Cookies are a form of digital advertising, which are tracking tools within desktop devices; causing difficulty, with shortcomings including deletion by web browsers, the inability to sort between multiple users of a device, inaccurate estimates for unique visitors, overstating reach, understanding frequency, problems with ad servers, which cannot distinguish between when cookies have been deleted and when consumers have not previously been exposed to an ad. Due to the inaccuracies influenced by cookies, demographics in the target market are low and vary (Whiteside, 2016). Another element, which is affected within digital marketing, is 'viewabilty' or whether the ad was actually seen by the consumer. Many ads are not seen by a consumer and may never reach the right demographic segment. Brand safety is another issue of whether or not the ad was produced in the context of being unethical or having offensive content. Recognizing fraud when an ad is exposed is another challenge marketers face. This relates to invalid traffic as premium sites are more effective at detecting fraudulent traffic, although non-premium sites are more so the problem (Whiteside, 2016).
Digital marketing is facilitated by multiple channels, As an advertiser one's core objective is to find channels which result in maximum two-way communication and a better overall ROI for the brand. There are multiple online marketing channels available namely;
It is important for a firm to reach out to consumers and create a two-way communication model, as digital marketing allows consumers to give back feed back to the firm on a community based site or straight directly to the firm via email. Firms should seek this long term communication relationship by using multiple forms of channels and using promotional strategies related to their target consumer as well as word-of mouth marketing.
Push and pull message technologies can be used in conjunction.
The ICC Code has integrated rules that apply to marketing communications using digital interactive media throughout the guidelines. There is also an entirely updated section dealing with issues specific to digital interactive media techniques and platforms. Code self-regulation on use of digital interactive media includes:
The whole idea of digital marketing can be a very important aspect in the overall communication between the consumer and the organisation. This is due to digital marketing being able to reach vast numbers of potential consumers at one time.
Another advantage of digital marketing is that consumers are exposed to the brand and the product that is being advertised directly. To clarify the advertisement is easy to access as well it can be accessed any time any place.
However, with digital marketing there are some setbacks to this type of strategy. One major setback that is identified, is that Digital marketing is highly dependent on the internet. This can be considered as a setback because the internet may not be accessible in certain areas or consumers may have poor internet connection.
As well as digital marketing being highly dependent on the Internet is that it is subject to a lot of clutter, so it marketers may find it hard to make their advertisements stand out, as well as get consumers to start conversations about an organisations brand image or products.
As digital marketing continues to grow and develop, brands take great advantage of using technology and the Internet as a successful way to communicate with its clients and allows them to increase the reach of who they can interact with and how they go about doing so,. There are however disadvantages that are not commonly looked into due to how much a business relies on it. It is important for marketers to take into consideration both advantages and disadvantages of digital marketing when considering their marketing strategy and business goals.
An advantage of digital marketing is that the reach is so large that there are no limitations on the geographical reach it can have. This allows companies to become international and expand their customer reach to other countries other than the country it is based or originates from.
As mentioned earlier, technology and the internet allows for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week service for customers as well as enabling them to shop online at any hour of that day or night, not just when the shops are over and across the whole world. This is a huge advantage for retailers to utilise it and direct customers from the store to its online store. It has also opened up an opportunity for companies to only be online based rather than having an outlet or store due to the popularity and capabilities of digital marketing.
Another advantage is that digital marketing is easy to be measured allowing businesses to know the reach that their marketing is making, whether the digital marketing is working or not and the amount of activity and conversation that is involved.
With brands using the Internet space to reach their target customers; digital marketing has become a beneficial career option as well. At present, companies are more into hiring individuals familiar in implementing digital marketing strategies and this has led the stream to become a preferred choice amongst individuals inspiring institutes to come up and offer professional courses in Digital Marketing.
A disadvantage of digital advertising is the large amount of competing goods and services that are also using the same digital marketing strategies. For example, when someone searches for a specific product from a specific company online, if a similar company uses targeted advertising online then they can appear on the customer's home page, allowing the customer to look at alternative options for a cheaper price or better quality of the same product or a quicker way of finding what they want online.
Some companies can be portrayed by customers negatively as some consumers lack trust online due to the amount of advertising that appears on websites and social media that can be considered frauds. This can affect their image and reputation and make them out to look like a dishonest brand.
Another disadvantage is that even an individual or small group of people can harm image of an established brand. For instance Dopplegnager is a term that is used to disapprove an image about a certain brand that is spread by anti-brand activists, bloggers, and opinion leaders. The word Doppelganger is a combination of two German words Doppel (double) and Ganger (walker), thus it means double walker or as in English it is said alter ego. Generally brand creates images for itself to emotionally appeal to their customers. However some would disagree with this image and make alterations to this image and present in funny or cynical way, hence distorting the brand image, hence creating a Doppelganger image, blog or content (Rindfleisch, 2016).
Two other practical limitations can be seen in the case of digital marketing. One,digital marketing is useful for specific categories of products,meaning only consumer goods can be propagated through digital channels.Industrial goods and pharmaceutical products can not be marketed through digital channels. Secondly, digital marketing disseminates only the information to the prospects most of whom do not have the purchasing authority/power. And hence the reflection of digital marketing into real sales volume is skeptical.
Measuring The Effectiveness of Digital Marketing Campaigns
Although the ultimate criteria to evaluate any business initiative should be its return on investment or any other financial metrics in general, the evaluation criteria and metrics for the digital marketing campaigns can be discussed in more details.
The criteria and metrics can be classified according to its type and time span. Regarding the type, we can either evaluate these campaigns "Quantitatively" or "Qualitatively". Quantitative metrics may include "Sales Volume" and "Revenue Increase/Decrease". While qualitative metrics may include the enhanced "Brand awareness, image and health" as well as the "relationship with the customers".
Shifting the focus to the time span, we may need to measure some "Interim Metrics", which give us some insight during the journey itself, as well as we need to measure some "Final Metrics" at the end of the journey to inform use if the overall initiative was successful or not. As an example, most of social media metrics and indicators such as likes, shares and engagement comments may be classified as interim metrics while the final increase/decrease in sales volume is clearly from the final category.
Of course, the correlation between these categories should exist. Otherwise, a disappointing results may happen at the end in-spite of the illusion of success perceived early during the project.
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