Let’s start with the basics and go from there. What is digital marketing?
There are many definitions on the web and in books. Some say its traditional marketing using electronic tools, some limit it to the use of computer technology in the communication of a brand message and some it’s bringing digital insight and technology into the marketing mix, and still, some say nothing has changed but the tools.
All of these can in some way be said to be right. Today digital marketing now touches all areas of marketing. It brings with it a great insight into not only what works and what doesn’t but also into our customer behaviours and interactions with brands, in their own social context as well much more. So for me, digital marketing is the evolution of marketing from being an art to also being a science, but not one exclusive of the other.
Digital marketing is still a creative discipline may it always continue to be so but where it comes into its own is in it's taking the guesswork out of the implementation. Understanding the impact of that creativity. John Wannamaker was a US department store merchant who lived from 1838 to 1922 is famed as saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” And traditionally this was right for most advertising and marketing. This is where the creativity and psychology of marketing flourished in the art of getting the message across and the customers engaged, but even so, it was almost impossible to track the impact of a campaign other than sales themselves but being able to attribute specific sales to specific campaigns was never smooth or full proof.
This lack of traceability would make some business owners feel that the public relations, advertising and marketing department were not worth the money it was spending on them. This has often meant in turn that in times of hardship they would cut back on the very avenue that was making them the money because they had no way of tracking the impact of which advertising channel was working and which wasn’t.
When I first got into marketing, I came from an engineering background. So unlike my colleagues, I did not have the benefit of a marketing degree to hide behind. What I did have though were the skills I had developed through learning the art and science of SEO and analytics applied to it, as well as an engineers mindset.
Migrating these skills to the digital marketing, direct marketing and telemarketing campaigns I was involved with meant that I could sit in early Monday morning meetings with all the data and stats on what my work had achieved. I could show clear traceability between time spent on the number of leads into the number of sales. My colleagues could only sit there and talk about brand awareness and how the impact they had achieved was difficult to measure. This soon set me aside from my colleagues in the director’s eyes and promotions and progression followed and developed into a career where now I do have the qualifications, the technical know-how, experience and successful track record that speaks for itself.
Don’t get me wrong I am all for brand awareness and completely agree that there will always be an element of the PR, marketing and advertising that we do that is not directly measurable. But digital and data-driven marketing gives us more insight and more analytical data that we have ever had before. It means we can get closer to our customers, engage them on the move and know that we have done this. We have more control over what we know is working and can pool resources into these areas where others may be lacking.
Digital marketing has changed the way in which companies bring their products and/or services to. Unlike the old channels digital allows more conversation between the brand and its customers, more feedback and dialogue. Through the internet and social media instant conversations between marketers, brands and consumers are a matter of daily business.
Consumers are so connected these days and so demanding in the way they find their information and entertainment that digital marketers need to make sure they understand their customers. They need to be delivering to them a smooth, consistent experience across multiple devices and platforms. Marketers need to understand not only the demographics of their consumers but how they think and how and when they interact with their media. From social media to mobile search engine and the user experience getting to, engaging with and exiting the from these sites and platforms.
Digital marketing gives companies that flexibility in getting to know their customers. Getting closer to understanding them. How they think. How they behave. How to use this to their advantage.
As users of digital environments, we need to ask ourselves how is this environment design to influence me? How much do the digital marketers know about me? How secret is my data? The easiest people to influence are those that do not think it is possible to influence people or make them buy something they never intended to. This is usually because even after a compulsive buy they will mentally erase the part where they never intended to buy that product and convince themselves it was 100% their decision, idea and plan to do so all along.
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