Marketing is a way for businesses to reach out to their customers and interact with them for promoting their products and services. Digital marketing also does this, but here the marketing is done via the Net using digital technologies. In the online world, the digital version of your shop is your website and the aim of the marketing is to build awareness of this site and bring over more people to it. As more and more people prefer to purchase online, the significance of digital marketing is gaining strength.
Compared with traditional marketing, digital marketing has certain advantages. One obvious advantage is that a digital marketer can easily measure the impact of her campaign. One can easily find out how many more people are viewing your content, who they are and how they are engaging with you.
Another advantage is that it lets you interact/engage with customers in real time. For instance, you can make an FB post and see how people respond to it instantly. Apart from the benefits mentioned above, one can attribute several other advantages to digital marketing: its global reach, accessible from multiple devices, cheaper than its traditional counterpart etc.
Though one can easily trumpet on the innumerable benefits and advantages of digital marketing, it is not that easy to put it into practice. There is a common belief (mainly propagated by digital marketing evangelists) that digital marketing (being a cheaper option) provides a level playing field as it allows companies with fewer resources to compete with their richer counterparts. However, this does not seem to be the reality. The resources required, the challenges and activities involved are not that simple.
Anyone can create a web page, a Twitter account or an FB page. Yes, the entry barrier to the different digital marketing channels is almost nil. But your mere presence on these outlets will not automatically bring in customers. The success barrier is high. When you run an advertisement for a TV or publish one on a newspaper, at least some people will view/read it. In the digital world, there is hardly any guarantee of that kind. The possibility of your well-made video (created to engage with your audience) or well-written ad copy getting drowned in the wild of cyberspace is very high.
The digital marketing is not an easy task- it involves managing multiple technologies and channels (website, email, social media etc). It is an umbrella term that encompasses several components. The digital marketing domain presents you several options: banner advertising on different search engines/websites/apps (to drive traffic to your site/shop), email marketing, content marketing and so on.
Web Search Marketing
The ultimate aim of any marketing is to drive customers to your business and enhance your sales. In the digital world to attract customers, first they should know about your existence and the primary online conduit that can make you visible to the customers is a search engine. The steps you take for getting customer attention and acquiring customers from search engines is called search engine marketing.
There are two ways through which you can accomplish this. You can funnel customers through paid search listings (the advertisements we see along with search results) and the term used to denote this strategy is called search engine marketing (SEM).
The major chunk of our online experience is guided by Web search and we prefer organic search results to paid links. So, you need to devise some means to make sure that your site is found on popular search engines (like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc). The different processes/steps a business take to enhance/improve its site’s ranking/visibility on search engines is called search engine optimisation (SEO).
Improved search ranking means that your site will show up at the beginning of the search results page and indirectly this improves the customer flow to your site without incurring any extra advertisement costs. Several factors contribute to getting a high rank on the search results page and is a very skill intensive task.
Another major stream in the digital marketing mix is something popularly known as content marketing, which is the creation and distribution of valuable/relevant content to attract customers. Let me elaborate:
If you are in the business of selling solar energy products, you can talk about the features of your product and its price advantages. However, if you create a video that demonstrates how solar energy gets converted into electric energy and its environmental/social advantages, it will certainly strike a chord with the customer and enhance your credibility.
Of course, content marketing per se is certainly not a new concept- it has always been a good tool in the hands of marketers-, but in the offline world content creation/distribution is a costlier proposition. On the contrary, in the online world content distribution (and even creation) is quite easy and this makes content marketing a viable tool for all types of businesses.
Nonetheless, here also the success does not come that easily. The availability of a plethora of content creation/distribution tools and access to them will not make one a successful content marketer. Creating content is not something that a conventional marketer can do easily. Even if you have great content, unless you are able to push it to the right people it will ultimately turn out to be a wasteful exercise.
Apart from the ideas discussed above , digital marketing encompasses several other components as well: the ads placed on different pages on the Web; remarketing (the ads that follow you wherever you go), local business listing etc.
Google Digital Garage
As explained above, each of these digital marketing streams involves lots of activities and you need a skilled and knowledgeable team to successfully execute. If you wish to know more about digital marketing, take a look at the different courses offered by Google on online marketing at the Google Digital Garage. The training program includes 26 topics that allow you to (hopefully) become a qualified digital marketing expert. The topics include ‘Build your web presence’ ‘Connect through email’, ‘Get discovered with search’, ‘Be noticed with search ads’ (SEM), ‘Get noticed with social media’ and so on and so forth. This is an awesome resource that covers almost all topics pertaining to digital marketing.