What is Digital Marketing?
Before we can go into details about the factors that make for the success of any Digital Marketing Campaign, we should first define what the term digital marketing means. In the past, it has also been called Internet marketing, e-marketing and web marketing, these alternative terms varying over time, but none of these is broad enough to encompass what digital marketing is today.
Many business owners believe that it is all about their website or Facebook page. It is a far more complex and deeper subject, actually covering any ‘electronic’ means (channel) that a customer uses to interact with a business.
It, therefore, covers all Social Media, access through Google, YouTube and any of the many other Search Engines that exist, plus of course Email. And when it comes to the devices, there is the desktop computer, the laptop, the smartphone, and the growing number of devices, like Alexa. Plus with the Internet of Things becoming a reality, soon a customers fridge will be interacting with your business.
Each way in which a customer interacts is labelled a ‘channel’, and the level of interaction can be a complex one, depending on the level of integration (with your business systems) and tactics you apply.
One recent definition is “Achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies and media.”
Perhaps then we should refresh ourselves as to what ‘marketing’ is all about?
The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing, like this:
“Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”.
It is important to bear this in mind as is it is all too easy to set objectives for digital marketing based around ‘vanity metrics’ such as the number of ‘likes’, ‘followers’ or indeed website traffic. All of these are merely milestones on the route and not a goal in themselves.
But Digital Marketing can be used in pursuit of these aims:
- Identifying – the Internet offers many ways of carrying out the essential market research needed to ascertain the customers’ needs and wants.
- Anticipating – the Internet provides another way by which customers can access information and make purchases. It is also important to note the issue of ‘anticipating’ also covers evaluating demand and matching this with future resource allocation.
- Satisfying – any of these digital channels offer a means to enhance customer satisfaction through better customer support and information flow, covering issues such as:
- is the website easy to use,
- does it look ok on any device,
- is the online customer service up to the job
- and are any physical products dispatched in line with the customer’s expectations?
We must also not forget the Aim of Digital Marketing
The core goal must be business growth because without increased sales, any digital marketing campaign is hard to justify. It is also worth mentioning that digital campaigns have a complex nature; many businesses now have a separate and sophisticated operational digital marketing department.
Strategic Planning for Digital Marketing
To help plan and operate digital campaigns, some businesses use RACE:
Reach is provided via TV, radio, print, events. Pay Per Click (PPC) and Organic traffic (SEO), content marketing and the use of Influencers.
This area is all about getting the client to react when they are ‘touched’ by one of the channels in Reach. This is achieved by ensuring the social media stories/posts are compelling and the pages on the website, particularly any PPC landing pages, the home page and the product pages are hard-hitting and captivating.
Remarketing and Marketing Automation Tools are often deployed at this stage.
Having achieved some reaction from the potential customer, the process must convert them (otherwise the whole campaign will have failed). Here Personalisation is a major weapon, some highly complex systems ‘feeding off’ the data obtained in the Act stage to ensure that the messages received, and products suggested, are the best fit for that individual customer.
Remarketing is also used here, and ‘hitting’ the customer through multiple channels has been proven to boost conversion rates.
In this instance ‘Engage’ is more about ‘Keeping the customer’, i.e. making sure that they will buy again. This is achieved by ‘Welcoming’ them and then rewarding them for their loyalty, perhaps with vouchers off their next purchase.
Remarketing and email are also often used to bring them back to purchase again and to ensure that contact is not lost.
Enhancing the relationship between Marketing and Sales
Sales and Marketing are often seen to be two separate areas, but digital marketing is, it seems, bringing them closer together, the processes involved being so closely intertwined. This improved relationship, in turn, boosting sales and thus business growth.
The Aspects of Digital Marketing
Having nailed down what marketing, particularly digital marketing, means, we can now move on to the areas that must be addressed if business growth through digital marketing is to be achieved.
There are Five key areas: SEO, Marketing Automation, Content, Social Media / Influencers and Email Marketing
Search Engine Optimisation has had some bad press over the years, notably because it was, in its early days, all about ‘tricking’ Google into giving ranks to pages (sites) that did not in fact deserve them, by taking advantages of ‘holes’ in the ranking algorithms.
Today, with Google’s advanced systems, such trickery is counter productive because SEO is now being all about ensuring that sites meet Googles stringent rules and ‘assisting’ Google to make the right choice, i.e. giving a page the best rank possible for any relevant search term.
It is a long-term process, but it is a vital part of any digital marketing campaign. It provides the huge and highly attractive benefit of improving a website’s position in the search engines results pages (SERPs) and thus delivers targeted traffic in high volumes. Failure to appear in the Google results is often counter productive when a customer, having been ‘touched’ via another channel wants more information.
The content of the pages (so called On Page Optimisation) should focus on your visitors needs and wants and should cover the questions being asked on the web. You also need to understand the intent behind visitors’ searches (through good keyword research and testing).
Off-page optimisation is another vital part of the SEO process, focusing on building links and ‘Social Signals’, these ‘helping’ the search engines to identify how relevant your content is thought to be by others.
Traffic is not enough though, the website must deliver conversions.
Clear Call To Actions (CTA’s), targeted landing pages, and ensuring the site loads quickly and is easy to use are essential requirements. Above all the site must enable the complete customer journey to be made with the minimum of effort, navigation tips and aids being used in support of this aim.
There are many different marketing automation tools available today, each one allowing for some of the repetitive processes to be taken over by technology. Examples of this are the automated sending of emails or ‘Join My Network’ requests on Social Media.
Any automation has to be carried out with care, as, if it is allowed to become robotic, it could have negative effects. More and more businesses are, however, incorporating automated elements into their digital marketing campaigns. Statistics show that about 70% of marketing leaders are using some form of marketing automation platform. Indeed these tools speed up and streamline the processes involved, without them it would be difficult to manage all your digital marketing efforts.
The Importance of Personalisation
The issue of personalisation is vital and is best served where the business is using the Omni-Channel sales system – this ensuring that the message received is always in line with the brand and the individual’s requirements. Personalisation is a key factor in delivering conversions and building relationships, especially when using marketing automation. However, all businesses must ensure that they do not use it lazily and ineffectively, for example with spam-style emails, or with no degree of targeting, as this will not be effective and gives the whole process a bad name.
Indeed, the role of digital platforms in supporting integrated multichannel marketing is a vital component of digital marketing. It is often however, overlooked. This need for integration highlights the importance of breaking down the silos between ‘digital’ and ‘traditional’ marketing departments.
The use of original content is a key factor in the success of any digital marketing campaign and is a tried and tested marketing technique in its own right. A good blog increases the credibility of any site, brings in new users, and can bring in large amounts of traffic from the search engines. You can also use this content on other sites (syndication), this will increase the profile of your brand, and introduce new customers to your service.
As most interactions on the Internet start with a search, using content to increase the number of times your site is listed on Google and thus put your business in front of potential customers is a proven way to boost sales.
It must be said that the term ‘Content is King’ is one that causes many business owners and marketers roll to their eyes. However, with the advent of AI systems like Google’s RankBrain and updates in its algorithm like BERT, good content has become even more vital. Putting this aside, content, be it visual or text, is needed in order to tell your businesses story. Without it how can you hope to explain how you can meet the wants and needs of your target audience?
Therefore, content has to be at the heart of your digital marketing strategy, the many types of content being incorporated into the appropriate channels. Frequent, written content such as blog posts, articles, white papers and downloadable resources need to be used alongside visual content like infographics, slideshows, photos, GIFs and videos.
Video Content Marketing
Video can be incorporated into almost every part of your digital marketing campaigns. One reason for doing this is that convincing a potential customer to watch a short video clip is easier than getting them to read some potentially ‘boring’ text.
Embedding video in your emails, your product pages, and your landing pages, in fact anywhere where you’re trying to convey a message, will increase the level of engagement and therefore conversions.
Video content has also been proven to boost your rankings and is an effective SEO technique. Video also has higher conversion rates on mobile devices.
Social Media and Influencers
Social Media is a vital Digital Marketing Channel and one that cannot be ignored, because it is the best way to create a feeling of community and associate this with your brand. It’s a great tool for marketers and allows the creation of a large number of personal interactions, which in turn can promote long term loyalty.
Social media can also be a valuable tool for monitoring feedback about your business or brand. This is useful as when you change something about your website, business, or launch a new campaign, you can instantly find out how your users feel about it.
It is also an excellent way to provide customer service, many users preferring to contact you via social media, rather than send in a support ticket.
However, building a connected online community is not an easy task, and for best results it is vital that your dedicated social media team utilise a content plan, this detailing the message and when it is going to be sent.
Using it correctly to attract and engage with potential customers by using original content, can bring in huge amounts of traffic and potential sales.
The biggest issue is in selecting the correct type of content. It has to be of the right type though, posting a series of funny cat videos or memes does not fit in with many brands.
It should be noted that the Internet has created a new kind of celebrity, the influencer. There are thousands of them and they can be found on every social media platform, as well as having their own websites. Their strength is that they have a deep connection with their audience, and through this can provide instant credibility for your brand.
Their services can be employed in many ways, including adverts in their content, wearing your merchandise, or reviewing / endorsing your services or products.
They offer an effective marketing channel that reaches the customer through a known credible source.
Email marketing is said to be the most reliable tool in any direct marketing plan. One of its major advantages is that it is the cheapest way to stay in touch with your customers. It is also the way in which many prefer to communicate.
Supporting / running your email marketing campaign using a CRM tool will increase the likelihood of results as well as allowing integration with the overall plan of the business.
You can use emails in many way:
- To direct your customers to any relevant content
- To recommend products and services
- To inform them about promotions and sales
There are several other key factors to success in digital marketing.
Consistency: It is necessary to constantly promote your company. Even when you do not get results immediately
Using the correct digital marketing channel: It is essential to know which channel to focus on if the desired results are to be achieved
Choosing the correct audience: The correct audience is as important as choosing the correct digital marketing channel
Understanding and combining these core aspects of digital marketing will go a long way to delivering success in your business. Each aspect is as important as the last and together they can be used to create your overall strategy and help in the central goal of driving business growth.