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What is Digital Marketing?


Some of you must be aware of the recently held general elections in India. The results are out to see. There is much more to learn from the results. While I don’t intend to talk about political learning, my focus is going to be the use of social media and online marketing for campaigns and use this to talk about the same. Social media has been used effectively in other geographies, mainly developed countries, for election campaigns.

However, this is probably the first time in India where this medium was used for campaigning, and to motivate and create an army of volunteers who will campaign for the parties. (Even Twitter is talking about taking some innovations to the global market.) So can we say that digital marketing has finally arrived with one more strong success story? The answer is obvious, Yes! In fact, if someone answers that the medium has arrived long back and we are late to recognize the power, I won’t be surprised… Just to explain the power of social media in the elections, Narendra Modi, the winning candidate had 15.5 million likes on Facebook whereas the Times of India, the leading English daily has a readership of 7.4 million. This makes clear that Modi didn’t have to depend on TOI to publish his views. He was free to share his views, agenda the way he wanted and at the time, he wanted and we saw the results.

The other important aspect of this campaign to note is Narendra Modi, the early mover on social media has gathered good support from people. The number of likes on Facebook and Twitter will tell you this. The early mover has certainly an advantage over here too (like in many other situations) So what’s there for me as a marketer or a business owner? There is only one action point. If your marketing strategy doesn’t include digital marketing, you need to include it NOW. There are several reports, how the marketing world is moving towards digital. More and more people are spending more on digital media than conventional media. If you are already spending on digital marketing then it’s good but you need to check if your strategy is right.

So what exactly is Digital Marketing and why should one go for it?

In simple words, digital marketing is nothing but marketing done on digital mediums i.e. mobile, internet, social media (part of the internet), email marketing. Before we go into the details of digital marketing, let’s talk about the advantages. For a long time, it has been a challenge for marketers to know the return on investment on their marketing spends. They know that half of the money that they are spending is not yielding any results but the problem was knowing which half is not working.

With digital marketing, you can easily calculate ROI and manage your budgets properly. The other big advantage is target marketing. You can segment your customers and decide the customers that you want to target. With target marketing, you are not only able to target specific customers but you can deliver the content when the context is favorable or the prospect is in the right frame of mind.

To sum up the advantages of Digital  Marketing

  • Target Marketing
  • Easy calculation of ROI
  • High ROI,
  • Budgeting and forecasting,
  • Efficient and effective campaigns,
  • Attribution modeling etc…

I guess, these benefits are enough to make you feel there is more to know about digital marketing. In digital marketing, the medium of content delivery is computer/ laptop/ mobile or tablet. We can decide to publish advertisements on any of the websites, social media platforms, YouTube, or simply an email. Contrary to the buzz around social media and people saying ‘ Email is dead’, Email marketing is still one of the most effective mediums of marketing and certainly more than social media. As per few studies, the return on investment is as high as $40 return on $1 spent on email.

The next popular medium is search engines. We all use Google to search for products and services. The key here is if your website is showing as part of the top 3-4 links, there are high chances that people will visit your website and a lead will be generated. This is called an organic search. To ensure that your website shows up in a search, you have to optimize your website. This process is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I

f you are dependent on your website to generate leads then you have to pay attention to SEO. If you pay to show your results when a user searches for specific keywords, these results are shown as sponsored results. This is called a paid search. You can use Google ad-words or contact the websites directly for such advertisements. This is a great medium to target customers based on location, context and is good for brand building too! All the above-listed mediums are associated with a website.

Once the user clicks on the links made available through the above mediums, they will be directed to your website. So the website must be neatly designed. These users are converted from leads into customers and this largely depends on the website. One needs to analyze user actions once the user visits your company website. This analysis typically involves the pages visited by the user, time spent, saved cart analysis, etc. This analysis is called web analytics and is very much important if you are dependent on the websites to generate leads. Then obviously, there are social media.

You can advertise on social networking sites like Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, etc. Considering the time that we are spending on social networking sites, this is gaining more and more popular among marketers. Last but not the least, there is mobile marketing. This is a very powerful medium as you can deliver content based on a specific location via SMS, mobile internet, or mobile apps as today most people access their emails and social media accounts on their smartphones most of the time. One of the biggest strengths of this medium, unlike any other digital medium, is, people always carry their mobiles with them and are ‘connected’. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as digital marketing is concerned.

There are certain challenges associated with it as expected. The first challenge is about the IT infrastructure required for this. But this infrastructure can be outsourced or built in-house. The next big challenge is to decide the right medium or right budget mix for these mediums. All these media have their own strengths and can be used very effectively in their area of strengths. It’s also important that we continuously monitor the ROIs of these mediums and are flexible with our strategy and spending. All this requires a good understanding of digital marketing and a very robust analytics platform. This platform should be designed to measure ROIs of various campaigns, compare various campaigns, and enable real-time monitoring so that corrective action can be taken.

The analytics platform will also help you with customer segmentation so that you can target the right customers. Earlier, marketers had limited media like TV, magazines, newspapers, or billboards to spend on, whereas calculating ROI was a challenge. Now you can calculate the ROI for digital marketing but the challenge is to decide the right medium. Therefore, to be competitive, one needs to invest in digital marketing and marketing analytics to maximize ROI. Don’t be far behind in this game otherwise, it might be too difficult to play the catch-up game. As I said earlier, this is just the tip of the iceberg and this is just an overview of this interesting field. Will cover the topics in subsequent blogs in detail.

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