Marketing has always been about connecting with the audience in ways that make sense to them. Whether you’re appealing to toddlers or octogenarians, marketing efforts have to meet potential customers where they are in order to be effective. And where are 21st century consumers spending their time these days? Online.
While many lament the ways in which the internet has changed the world, it’s important to keep in mind that the invention of the newspaper, the highway, the radio, and the television all changed the world, too. And every time consumers’ attention shifted, so did marketing efforts.
The time to double down on digital has arrived. Here is why you need a digital marketing strategy in 2021.
What is a Digital Marketing Strategy?
Well, it’s always best to begin at the beginning. So, before we discuss why you need a digital marketing strategy, perhaps we should discuss the term “digital marketing,” huh?
Digital marketing, by definition, is any form of marketing that exists online. A digital marketing strategy is the methodical planning and implementation of any marketing effort which leverages digital channels such as social media, search engines, emails, websites, apps, online ads, and more.
Over the past decade, many more businesses have come to terms with the fact that print and television ads simply aren’t cutting it. To fill the void left by traditional marketing efforts, they have turned to digital marketing. Meaning that yes, digital marketing space comes at a higher premium than it did ten years ago. However, it still costs much less to leverage digital rather than traditional outlets today.
Why Digital Marketing?
The importance of digital marketing is fairly well known in today’s business world. Here’s why.
Easier, More Effective Targeting
Traditional marketing methods – such as television, radio, newspaper, and magazine advertisements – can be generally targeted to the appropriate audience based on demographics of those who watch certain television shows, listen to certain radio stations, and read certain periodicals. But that’s about as good as it gets.
Digital marketing, on the other hand, can get a lot more specific. Campaign audiences can be based on age, income, buying habits, family status, interests, even internet browsing history. In short, it is much easier to get digital marketing campaigns in front of the right consumers, without also putting them in front of an audience who is unlikely to convert.
First and foremost, the ability to effectively target certain audiences can save businesses from spending precious ad money on marketing to the “wrong” demographic simply to capture the right one. Much less of a digital campaign spend will be wasted.
Secondly, as we mentioned before, online digital marketing tends to cost less than traditional marketing. Even at today’s higher rates, the cost of a well-placed digital ad is pennies compared to the cost of a commercial spot or even a print ad placed in a high-demand space.
A Level Playing Field
Until recently, the success of marketing campaigns relied heavily on the amount of money put behind them. And then, seemingly overnight, the role of online marketing evolved into something most of us never expected.
While major brands were stuck doing what worked in the past – spending months and years developing huge ad campaigns and paying out the wazoo to get them in front of consumers – the small to mid-sized companies took advantage of more affordable outlets in the form of digital media. Marketing this way worked!
These businesses learned the system, they got creative, they became effective, and they knocked it out of the park. For the first time in history, the little guys were in the game, too.
Traditional marketing analytics are only as good as the self-reporting of consumers, perhaps information gleaned from focus groups, and changes in sales or revenue. Digital analytics tools, like Google Analytics, allow marketers to track the effectiveness of every web page, every ad, and every email campaign. Up to the minute reporting is available, which can be used to make micro adjustments in real time. And at the end of the day, it’s much easier to quantify ROI and make sound business decisions when up to date, objective data is available.
Types of Digital Marketing
So, what do digital marketers do, anyway? The answer is: So. Many. Things. Way too many to cover in a single post. We can say this, though. The best digital marketing strategy is a comprehensive one. Here are some of the most common forms of marketing in digital spaces, just to get you started.
Pay Per Click Ads
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is a form of web marketing that involves pre-created ads served up as web page links in search engine results or photo and video posts in social media feeds. Who sees which ad, or whether a person sees an ad at all, is dependent upon the user’s input, habits, and other trackable details. Each time an ad generates a click through to the desired website, the platform earns a certain amount of money, usually a few cents to a few dollars per click – hence Pay Per Click.
Content marketing is a non-direct sales method, intended to build brand awareness as opposed to attempting to sell a particular product or service. Content can take many forms – from blogs, to social posts, to podcasts, to e-books. Regardless of the type of content created, it’s goal should be to position you or your business as an accessible expert. This way, when a user finds themself in need of that which you offer, you are already on their mind and they’re more likely to turn to you.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves taking steps to ensure you remain visible when consumers conduct an online search for your business or terms connected to your business. When Google, or any other search engine, combs the internet for web pages that are relevant to a user’s query, they don’t just look for words matching the search term.
Think about it. Search engines are in the business of actually helping people find what they want online. The goal isn’t just to spit out a list of websites that might help the user. They hope that their search engine will provide exactly what the user is looking for. In an effort to do just this, search results must include relevant, reputable businesses or websites that will actually meet the user’s needs.
How do search engines determine which websites are most likely to do so? They consider additional metrics like load times, the relevance of the content contained within the website (ahem, content marketing), whether other visitors have found the site useful, if it’s accessible to those with vision impairments, and many other factors.
This is word of mouth marketing on a big scale. Affiliate marketing leverages those who already love your products and services by incentivizing them to refer friends, family, and followers.
You see this in action all the time. When you purchase a product and receive a promotional code to share with a friend in exchange for some sort of incentive paid back to you, you’re part of an affiliate marketing plan.
Affiliate marketing is also very effective on a larger scale. When celebrities and influencers promote a product, they can generate a significant number of new leads for that business, many of which may have never considered purchasing from them before.
Despite the fact that nearly everyone in America feels as though our inboxes are way too cluttered, email marketing is still incredibly successful. Similar to content marketing, if you can stay somewhere in the forefront of users’ minds (even if they delete your emails without opening) you’re much likely to be their go-to when they’re making buying decisions.
In Need of a Digital Marketing Strategy?
Understanding why you need a digital marketing strategy is just the first step in making the most of your online presence. Whether you need additional guidance while developing a strategy for the digital marketing of your business, or you simply don’t have the manpower to execute a full digital marketing plan, we’ve got you covered. Hungry Media’s team of experts can help you both develop your digital marketing strategy and bring it to life, one step at a time. Contact us today for more information. We can’t wait to meet you!
contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer