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What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is a term that has grown to encompass many technologies and strategies available for business owners and their marketing teams. This article gives a brief introduction as to what it is all about.


Digital marketing is that part of marketing which makes use of any activities using the internet and electronic means to promote ones goods and services to prospective customers as well a means in how relationships are built with existing clients. Although “digital” also refers to electronic billboards, SMS marketing and other mediums not relying on print or analogue technologies the scope of this article will focus more on internet based activities giving a very brief outline of some of the many technologies and strategies available to today’s businesses in communicating with their audience.

Digital marketing is adaptable for your budget and depending on your consistency can pay off faster if you have a very good understanding of who your ideal customers are and where to find them online. Being able to throw a heavy budget at SEM (Search Engine Marketing) each month is nice but not always practical and as often the case when costs are needed to be cut the marketing budget is generally the first to get the knife. The best way is to start small and grow from there. Have a plan and implement it over a few months and then track the results. Should you feel it is not the results you had in mind, then change the plan. Many small business owners begin with great gusto to develop an online presence but after a short while give up as they feel they are not making headway. They compare their accounts with more prominent businesses in their area or field and get daunted by the likes or the lack there of that they have on their pages. A small business can address problems that they find their customer's experience and build a niche from there rather than trying to be everything for everyone.

Initially direct email was the sum total of any digital marketing efforts that a company could do over the internet. Along with the use of smart phones and their applications as well as social media and the numerous other ways, the term Digital marketing has almost become synonymous with marketing in general. The common feeling is that you either are doing it or you are not wanting to grow your business. In order to compete with others in your industry digital marketing should be one of your core marketing activities as many people resort to searching for products online rather than perusing the yellow pages book or the classifieds section in your local paper these days.

Picture showing digital marketing Photo by Jose Francisco Fernandez Saura from Pexels

In the early 90's email was a novelty for many and it was not until the launch of free email providers like Hotmail, Yahoo and Webmail that the general public had access to an email account. Email marketing kicked off shortly after as did the rise in spam as the cost to entry was very low for marketers. Email is still considered one of the best ways to communicate with people, it is a definite for any marketer's tool box.

Social Media began with sites like Six Degrees and Myspace where users could log in, make a profile and become friends with others. Facebook was the game changer social networking platform which rose in popularity when users could share what they were doing online in a simpler way. As of the fourth quarter in 2019 Facebook reached 2.5 billion monthly users and 1.66 billion daily users.
Instagram began as a check in platform similar to Four-square but was redeveloped as a photo sharing application. Launched in October 2010 and later sold to Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion dollars it has an average of 1 billion monthly users and around 500 million daily users on the app.
Prior to Facebook launching business pages LinkedIn was seen as the Facebook for companies and caters more for the professional audience. Approximately there are 260 million monthly users with about 40% of them accessing the platform daily. In general users on LinkedIn spend less time on it and companies need to make an impression quickly.
Tiktok is considered the new kid on the block but in actual fact has been around since 2016 where it was launched as Douyin for the Chinese market. In February 2019, TikTok, together with Douyin, hit one billion downloads globally and is now at over 2 billion downloads. There are concerns from some parties about data privacy but until it's out right banned this is a new avenue that can be explored in reaching your customers.

Content marketing in a nut shell is sharing or posting media that your audience finds interesting and opens up a means to discuss topics online. Not to be confused with promoting your own goods and services too often which can come off as being “salesy and annoying”. Content marketing when done skilfully offers a way to educate and entertain your followers.

Websites are a fundamental way to showcase your products and services online. They come in a variety of styles and can be developed and hosted online allowing people to scope out your business when deciding on making contact with you. This can educate clients and save on distribution costs whilst increasing productivity as search engines can index them, making them accessible 24/7. One of your main considerations is having a website that is mobile responsive and a design that does not look out dated.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is how search engines find you and is probably one of the most important factors when doing digital marketing. This is due to the majority of people who use Google, Bing and Yahoo to find their products online. Google holds the major market share when it comes to search engines and has a higher trust rating whereby users are four times more likely to click on a paid search advert link on Google compared to any other search engine. Google has around 95.65% share of mobile search traffic world wide.

Online advertising is seen by many users as disruptive and yet still it surpasses television advertising revenue by a large margin. Often the issue is that online ads can appear to be generic content and are clicked or selected unknowingly by people online. Google ads now has clear guidelines in their policy indicating that adverts need to be clearly marked as either Advert or Sponsored. The use of phrases such as “Click on this link to support this site” is strongly frowned upon. It comes in many forms such as PPC (Pay Per Click), social media advertising as well as advertising on certain websites that have a high ranking rate for specific topics that your business offers.

Digital marketing can be used in combination with other traditional marketing medium such as print and television to offer an additional touch point for your customers. The interactive nature of online marketing as well as the ease with which statistics can be measured make it very appealing for marketers and business owners to gauge return on investment. Although many magazine publications have stopped printing due to financial issues as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic there are still many who continue, some have gone completely online, but whether this is will be permanent remains to be seen.

It is important to understand that unlike most things online these days, digital marketing is not a quick fix. Simply liking a couple articles and posting something once in a while will not set you up for imminent success. It is a continuous activity that needs to be worked at consistently. Just take it one step at a time.

Sources:

Duane Giliam Online Marketing Manager of Rhox Digital Solutions

Written by Duane Giliam
Online Marketing Manager


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