The practice of marketing to attract customers, build business, and carve out an industry niche is nothing new. It has long been acknowledged that there is a direct correlation between a company’s marketing efforts and its sales ratios, growth rate, and overall success.
Digital marketing, however, is a relatively new method. Before the worldwide web became a common hunting ground for commerce, traditional marketing involved grassroots goodwill campaigns; and mass advertising in print, radio, and television. But as the tools and technology of commerce have evolved, particularly the power and prevalence of the internet, so has the sophistication of consumer demands and the opportunity for businesses of all size to compete in the same arenas.
With the pervasive use of computers and smartphones, and the internet’s seemingly limitless potential for influence, digital marketing now triumphs over traditional marketing methods for securing a competitive edge. Typically, digital marketing involves the use of websites, search engines, blogs, video, social media, email and other channels to reach customers. But it is not just the tools of digital marketing that explains its advantage over traditional means. It is that, unlike the static nature of traditional marketing, digital marketing is dynamic. It provides ways to openly communicate with customers, to reach out in specific and targeted ways, and allow for customers to reach back for a more purposeful (and profitable) exchange.
But digital marketing does far more than advertise and improve communication with customers. The digital environment is like a new world ripe for exploration and development, where only a small portion of it has been mapped. Navigation of this new territory is changing rapidly every day, and the impact this has on the way we conduct business going forward is keenly felt. But regardless of how new(ish) this method is, digital marketing must address some of the constants that have always applied to marketing. Discussed here are three of the constants¾the A-B-Cs.
One of the more complicated but vital aspects of managing a business is forecasting. Nurturing a business in order to secure its future is a top priority for business leaders; and this entails making strategic decisions based on predictions that result from dependable analytics. Businesses today must collect and analyze data on industry trends, customer demands, competing products, and cost effectiveness in order to hold their share of the marketplace. Fundamental to digital marketing platforms are analytic tools that help a business evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of its marketing efforts. ROI can be difficult to measure; but marketing through digital platforms that offer real-time visibility into campaign results gives leaders the information they need to make forward-looking decisions that drive revenue and profits.
Digital marketing takes a company’s branding to a whole new level. Through the power of digital marketing, a company can extend its reach at a global level even with minimal cost investment. This method ramps-up marketing by not only exposing the digital world audience to a company’s brand, but also elevating the experience of that brand by the way it interacts with customers. Email and social media marketing, content marketing (blogs, videos, podcasts), Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, and even search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are all tools that expand and empower a brand. In addition to these tools, it is the enhanced ability to deliver targeted campaigns and on-time/on-trend messaging that makes digital marketing a muscular way to promote a company’s brand, and help it to stand apart from its competition.
Probably the most powerful impact that digital marketing offers is in customer engagement. Traditional marketing methods were, for the most part, one-sided. There was little direct input from customers on how effective their messaging and delivery was in order to access the “product+marketing = sales” equation. Not anymore. Since the internet is an environment with few rules and restrictions, consumers are free to express what they think and feel about any subject – including how a business and its products are perceived. The intelligence of digital marketing is the ability to capture these perceptions in a targeted way that supports business growth and profitability by strategic interaction with customers. Some of the ways that digital marketing engages customers include online research through client satisfaction surveys and SEO, SEM, and PPC efforts; social media platforms and chat features that create opportunities to dialogue with customers; and interactive content marketing that allows for customers to add their thoughts on the company’s messaging, which can be very helpful for streamlining communication to be more effective and long-reaching. What this amounts to is relationship building, which is a deeper level of customer engagement than just selling. Building relationships and customer loyalty today is the key to securing business tomorrow.
The A-B-Cs of digital marketing incorporate all the tasks of traditional marketing because the nature of securing business remains the same. In order to be recognizable, accessible, and attractive to clients, businesses must build bridges (marketing bridges) to connect what they offer to what consumers desire. Sometimes those bridges have to stretch a long, long way; and it doesn’t help that there are plenty of other bridge builders doing the same thing. But digital marketing has become the material of choice for bridge building because it is the strongest and most versatile way we have of connecting what we do to what others want.