1. The Core Benefit of Digital Marketing
Think about this:
More than half of the world is online, 53% is mobile, and the digital economy is valued at more than $3 trillion1 — these figures are growing daily.
Is it any wonder why most companies include some form of digital presence in their marketing mix and actively seek to improve it? No, of course not. You’ve probably thought about how to improve your company’s digital presence in one way or another.
The marketplace is continually evolving, and in the opinion of this marketer, for the better.
In 2017, eMarketer predicted that U.S. digital advertising spending alone will reach more than $83 billion, a 15.9% increase from the year previous2.
Why all these impressive statistics and growth rates? What’s so great about the digital marketplace?
In the digital realm, you can segment audiences with near-surgical precision — whatever their persona.
You can probe demographics (name, age, gender, race, geography, education, career, income, etc.), or, more importantly, their history and proclivities (purchasing history, search behaviors, preferences, hobbies, etc.).
And if you want to drill deeper, you can target based on beliefs (religion, political party affiliation, and on from there) — the sky’s the limit.
Ultimately, all the available data, matched with the appropriate tools, enables your company to connect and communicate more directly with your target audience without spending too much of your budget on broad-reach advertising strategies.
But remember, it’s one thing to start that direct line of communication, but it’s really about what you do when you strike up that conversation.
2. The Unique Strategic Approach to Digital Marketing
So, what is the fundamental key to digital marketing?
Many want to say it’s just the same as traditional marketing, but digital. Get yourself a glossy website, some social media accounts, and maybe a YouTube ad or two, right?
It’s not enough to just use the same approach you’ve been using offline, or just move your logo onto various social mediums and email campaigns and expect the Renaissance.
Offline marketing tactics were largely outbound approaches — broad appeal advertising with TV advertising, billboards, cold-calling, mailers, trade shows, and so on. The idea was to try to reach as much of your target audience as possible through broad-appeal tactics pushing the same product, service, or messaging over and over and expecting some form of return (whether it be more mindshare, leads, or sales)3.
When companies started going digital years ago, many did simply move their offline strategic approach onto digital platforms. Tactics like repetitive and recycled Facebook posting and impersonal, non-targeted large-scale email blasts may have worked initially, but talk to anyone in the business world and most would say that at best they don’t pay attention to these types of messages, and at worst they get annoyed with the company sending them.
Your online marketing strategy must contain a healthy portion of inbound marketing. This digital-born paradigm is focused on pulling audiences towards content and conversion by creating communication that is permissive rather than disruptive and builds trust with the consumer through content they enjoy reading, a social media presence that delights them, and search engine optimization that focuses on the way actual humans do their research.
It’s no longer just about having the loudest megaphone, it’s also about having the best magnet.
3. Properly Integrate Digital Marketing With Everything Else
It’s paramount that your digital marketing integrates seamlessly with everything else you’re doing.
Everyone who works in marketing knows what integrated marketing is in theory:
Create a unified, seamless, and consistent set of messages and experiences your audience can interact with across all marketing tactics and channels4.
However, many organizations in practice approach digital marketing as a completely separate animal — and unfortunately sometimes as a separate “problem” — from their other marketing and business development initiatives.
Digital managers, coordinators, content specialists, etc. are often left to do their own thing online while the rest of marketing is working diligently at creating the right perception and generating leads elsewhere.
The result is strategic and tactical misalignment between your digital marketing efforts and everything else.
Of course, digital marketing has its own challenges to overcome and specialized tactics to leverage. The online world demands that you convince people to consume and engage, rather than tell them to. This changes the way you promote your business and messages on an online platform, but not the messages themselves or the overall marketing goals.
To be an effective part of your overall marketing strategy, all digital activities should be fully synchronized with the other marketing and sales initiatives. This ensures that wherever you’re seen by your target market — offline or online — brand identity and messaging remain uniform.
Keep It Integrated
Digital marketing is not a completely separate marketing concept — it’s another piece of the integrated marketing puzzle.
It’s a way to broaden your marketing and create even more touch points with your audience with each campaign — increasing your potential for lead conversion.
However, it must be completely aligned and integrated with other marketing initiatives to be effective.
Ultimately, properly executing digital marketing is not something optional. The way people consume media and messages today means audiences effectively demand an online presence, and go so far as to view a brand with no presence, or a bad presence, in a very negative light.
4 AAAA | Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A. (2004). Advertising and promotion: An integrated marketing communications perspective (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.