The digital revolution is now about a quarter of a century old, but there are still many businesses that are stuck in an analogue framework when it comes to marketing and communication.
Their primary methods are paid media in industry publications or physical brochures or conference booths. All these avenues are potentially successful ways of building a market, but at a time when the whole world is just a click away, that's far from the most effective method available to them.
Digital marketing can be many things but, broadly speaking, it involves the use of your website, blog, online video, and social media channels to attract and engage an audience, and convert them into customers who can amplify your message to a broader community.
There is no single way of doing digital marketing, and different strategies are going to be more appropriate for different markets. Broadly though, here are five advantages of pursuing a digital marketing strategy:
In the old analogue world, reaching a large, diverse, and diffuse audience could pose a challenge to even the biggest players. With today's digital marketing tools however, you essentially start with a global audience and work backwards from there.
Take a look at Facebook's paid advertising tools, for example. With their ad management platform, marketers are able to target their ad content to audiences, by specifying a huge range of demographic elements — from the basic (age, gender, and location) to the more specific (people's likes, their dislikes, and their history of engaging with your previous content, to name a few).
It's a platform that encourages all manner of experimentation in narrowing its global user base down to the exact demographic which which your business' offering will most resonate.
If your business caters towards a specific niche — medical professionals, pet owners, left-handed people, anything else besides — it's easier than ever to connect with these people: not only through the sophisticated ad targeting tools mentioned above, but also through more organic means of online communication.
Whatever niche your business is interested in, there are online communities for almost every possibly group that you can think of, and content that you can direct to them. Writing for We Are Social, Diego Chicharro writes about how brands can find success by contributing to these online communities and communicating with them on a more personal level. One of the examples he gives is Adobe's "Layer" campaign on Reddit:
"Adobe brilliantly did this ... with their 'Layer' activation, becoming the fastest-growing community on [Reddit] that week. Layer was an interactive piece of branded content where users could add the famous Illustrator "layers" on this subreddit with custom tools to create a massive collage ... in partnership with artists on Reddit who helped moderate the page ... This was about genuinely contributing to the community without overly pushing the brand or commercial messages directly onto people's feeds with little or no introduction."
What having access to these communities and different ways of communicating with audiences gives to marketers is the ability to develop a deeper connection with your potential market, enabling you to generate far deeper and richer insights into what your business can provide to them.
The constant feedback and communication that the internet enables means that you can streamline your offering on the run, to suit people's developing needs and reactions to your products and services.
This also automates the referrals process: your happy customers, if prompted, can easily and publicly refer you on. Digital marketing magnifies communication and amplifies the opportunity for getting your messages heard. Of course, this is a double-edged sword: deliver a bad service in the online world, and the response is instantaneous!
The money you formerly spent on paid display ads might be better spent on a downloadable digital brochure, or a YouTube video, or the equipment to start producing podcasts that promote your business' message.
The array of options that digital tools open up to marketers enable marketers to make more sophisticated decisions about what goals they want their content to accomplish. Do you want your content to promote a particular product? Do you want content that works in the long-term to highlight your expertise in your field or industry? Do you want to encourage prospects to work with you by sharing the testimonies of previous satisfied customers?
There are all kinds of goals, and all knds of ways that you can accomplish these goals through emplying digital marketing content.
Formerly, you might have had only the metric of sales to judge the effectiveness of you marketing. And even then, it was difficult to judge cause and effect. Now, marketers have a multitude of tools at their disposal with which to trace the customer journey and measure the success of their campaigns.
Online analytics tools enable you to track various parameters like link clicks, engagement with your content, and the amount of time spent on a link's landing page. Using this information, you can experiment and predict what may work most effectively in future campaigns.
Digital marketing has made available to all businesses, regardless of size, the scientific measurement and reach that were formerly restricted to only the most well-resourced businesses. It can give you the exposure and engagement that you formerly only have dreamed of. And, most of all, you can measure the results. So, what’s stopping you?