Online marketing (also called “digital marketing”) isn’t a new concept, but the way we engage with customers online has changed dramatically in the past few years.
In 2018, there were 425 million American consumers using online shopping platforms like Amazon, Walmart, and Etsy. That’s more than half the population. And those numbers are rising.
These platforms provide marketers with a wealth of data that can help us grow our businesses, but it comes with a catch. Marketers must adapt their strategies to fit the constraints of this new medium. For example, rather than relying on standard marketing tactics like TV ads, which don’t work as well online, marketers can use digital marketing to their advantage.
Why Digital Marketing?
The main reason is that the consumer experience isn’t the same in online marketing as it is in other media.
When we think about traditional marketing, we often think about seeing an ad on TV, going to the store, and making a purchase. But online marketing is different. When we visit a website or engage with an online brand, we don’t necessarily expect to make a purchase right away. Especially since a large portion of the population doesn’t even know what a CPL (cost per lead) is.
The key is in the fact that when we’re on these websites, we’re not exactly sure what the goal is. So when we visit a travel website and see a vacation package that seems too good to be true, we’re naturally suspicious.
What’s more, digital marketing allows for things like A/B testing (which we’ll discuss later in this article), so marketers can see what works best for their products and establish best practices for future promotions.
Navigating The New World Of Digital Marketing
To start, let’s discuss the basic concepts behind digital marketing.
First of all, the purpose of digital marketing is to generate interest in a product or service, and drive traffic to a site. If we want our marketing dollars to be worthwhile, we need to establish an ROI (return on investment).
To achieve this, we will need to follow some basic guidelines. While traditional marketing, which we’ll discuss next, always had a clear objective—driving people to a specific product or service—in digital marketing, our objectives can vary from campaign to campaign.
Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing
To get a good understanding of the differences between these two types of marketing, let’s compare them side by side.
Traditional marketing is when we see advertisements in the paper, on TV, or online. These are all forms of media that have been around for decades, and they’re still incredibly popular platforms for advertising. In fact, 90% of all consumer advertising dollars are spent on TV (that’s according to a HubSpot survey).
So what’s the difference between traditional marketing and digital marketing? Well, in traditional marketing, the end goal is to make a sale. So we’ll need to convince the audience to buy our product or service by showing them how it works. In most cases, this means we need to convince them to visit our website, and maybe even make a purchase. This is known as a “downsell,” and it’s extremely common in the car industry, where people are frequently bought a vehicle, then turned into a customer for life. In fact, 82% of Americans buy cars online, and 69% buy furniture online. So it’s clear that we can leverage this trend and gain more customers.
In contrast, in digital marketing, our goal is to gain insight into the minds of potential customers, and establish meaningful relationships with them. This is often portrayed as a journey, and it starts with someone engaging with our brand or product online, which then leads to them consuming our content, visiting our website, and maybe even making a purchase. A good example of this would be a travel website, where we visit their website, learn about their packages, and eventually make a booking. In this example, the goal is to generate a lead (registering for the newsletter, or filling out a form), not necessarily to sell the person a vacation package.
The key takeaway from this comparison is that rather than focusing on a single transaction (like purchasing a product or service), in digital marketing, we’re trying to build a relationship with a potential customer. This is far more valuable in the long run.
The Evolution Of Digital Marketing
Now it’s time to discuss how digital marketing has evolved over the years, and how it will continue to grow in the future.
When most people think about digital marketing, they think about online marketing. This is understandable, since we live in a digital world where nearly all of our information and experiences are consumed online. However, in reality, the field of digital marketing covers a lot more than just online marketing. For example, event marketing, affiliate marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing, are all equally important parts of a successful digital marketing strategy. So it’s important to have a general understanding of these different types of digital marketing.
Here’s a short overview of each type of digital marketing, along with tips on how to make the most of it.
E-mail marketing is still one of the most effective forms of digital marketing, especially when used in combination with social media.
However, since everyone has a cell phone, and nearly all of us have email accounts, the number of people who are experiencing e-mail marketing regularly is declining. Still, if we want to harness the power of e-mail marketing, we need to adapt our strategies to fit this new medium.
The most effective way to do this is to focus on engagement. Rather than blasting out an e-mail with a sales pitch, try and engage the reader by sharing valuable information. We can use this to our advantage. Instead of focusing on a product that no one needs (like pillows or bedsheets), we can share interesting facts about the places that we want to visit, or establish a relationship with the reader by sharing personal experiences. In the example of the travel website, we can establish credibility by sharing our own stories about traveling, rather than simply listing destinations or booking packages. Even the most traditional marketing agencies are starting to get on board, realizing that content is much more valuable than simple sales pitches, and sharing content grows a company’s credibility.
Social Media Marketing
If we want to harness the power of social media, we need to establish a presence on these platforms. Still, building a following on social media can take some time, so it’s not going to be available as a short-cut to quick fame. But if we want to see real results, we need to put in the time to build a sizable following. Still, this should never be the focus of a brand. Our job is to connect with people, not to convince them to follow us.
The main purpose of social media marketing is to engage the audience and encourage them to take action. This could mean anything from sharing a product with a like-minded group of people, to following a specific account, to sharing a campaign with our social media followers, and getting them to click a link, or download a file or app.
The most effective way to utilize social media is to harness the power of “chameleon-hood” – being able to change our persona, presentation, and content based on the platform we’re on. So rather than having one Twitter account for marketing purposes, we can have several, each with a different personality. Not only does this make us more effective on the platform, but it also helps create a more organic experience for our followers, where we’re not always trying to sell them something. Which leads us to our next point…
In most cases, people think of content marketing when they hear the term “digital marketing.” This is understandable, since content is an incredibly valuable part of any business, and it can be difficult to measure the success of a digital marketing campaign, without also looking at the content that was created during this time.
However, content marketing is far more than just blogging or social media posts. When we want to utilize the power of content marketing, we need to establish a strategy, and use several different platforms to share valuable information with our target audience. So rather than just using Twitter to share our latest blog post, we can create a YouTube video, establishing a connection with the audience while also sharing valuable information.