There’s little doubt that your business will have already had at least some involvement in digital marketing. But are you fully embracing the opportunities this wide-reaching medium can provide?
What is digital marketing / online marketing?
Those of you who use cross-channel marketing methods might agree that it can often be difficult to accurately judge the success of a marketing campaign when using traditional marketing methods. Trying to figure out exactly how many people saw your display advert, picked up your in-store leaflet, or saw your latest press release can be nigh on impossible.
Digital marketing is different. As the umbrella term for the ‘promotion of products, brands and services via one or more forms of electronic media’, it involves the use of methods that can often give you real-time information.
It can give you firmer understand of what’s being viewed, how often and for how long, what content works and what doesn’t.
This means that your efforts (and ultimately your budget) can be strategically monitored and adapted based on your campaign’s current levels of success.
The Internet’s almost certainly the channel people most closely associate with the term ‘digital marketing’, but others include mobile apps, instantmessaging, wirelesstextmessaging, electronicbillboards, podcasts, digital TV and radio channels.
Why is digital marketing so important?
For most people, the first place they go to find new information about services or products is the Internet.
With a typical household now owning an average of 8.3 internet enabled devices and the UK digital advertising spend escalating to almost £4.8bn in 2015, (a 16.4% increase on the previous year), the sky really is the limit with this marketing platform.
Long gone are the days where the only messages your customers received about your product, brand or service came directly from YOU.
Digital media offers such a massive dispersion of information, that your customers are now exposed to not only what you want them to hear about your brand or products, but they’re also going to hear what the media, competition, friends, even complete strangers, are saying about you as well. And with personal recommendation ranking so high on the scale of marketing trust, they are more likely to believe what they are being told by them, rather than you.
People want brands that fulfil their expectations and give them confidence.
They want to buy from companies that know them; who send engaging communications that are personalised and relevant; and whose offerings are tailored to their particular desires and preferences.
What are the most popular forms of digital marketing?
Social Media Marketing
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Mobile App Development
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) & PPC
Podcasts & Webinars
Digital TV & Radio Channels
Online Performance Marketing
Online Social Networking
Which areas should my company be prioritising?
With 34 million registered social media users in the UK in 2015 – set to rise to 35 million by the end of 2016 – social media is potentially the most cost effective and powerful digital resource your business can engage in.
Social media marketing allows you to create product awareness and build your brand identity with a targeted community of users. These users then go on to share your message with their friends, family and colleagues in an ‘organic’ (i.e. non-financed) way.
Social media is becoming a vital platform for highlighting brand values, strengthening reputation, increasing trust and building solid relationships with your customers. Quite frankly, any company not engaging in social media in some form or other needs to take action right now!
Whilst posting basic messages to these streams is free of charge, you will, of course, need to allocate some form of internal resource, to firstly decide which platforms are better suited to your customer base and to keep your feeds up-to-date. Fresh content is absolutely vital!
Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube can often yield results way above any other forms of advertising – and message transmission is immediate! No need to wait for that glossy brochure to be printed.
Paid advertising using social media streams is also a great little add-on since even the smallest investment to increase traffic (as little as £2) can really pay dividends.
The important part of running a social media marketing campaign is to respect the context of each platform. You couldn’t publish a series of 10 tweets on Twitter. No one would see them all. Neither does video work on Instagram. So, if you decide to go ‘all in’ on one social media channel, be sure that you know exactly how your customers engage with that specific platform.
In 2014, 18% of marketers reported spending 21% – 40% of their budgeton e-mail marketing, so anyone thinking it’s an archaic form of communication would be quite mistaken.
Direct marketing via email is often reported as being second only to search engine marketing as the most effective digital marketing tactic. Why? Because it’s fast and cheap.
Every savvy businessperson knows that the only way to expand its customer base is to ensure the existing ones remain happy. Email marketing allows you to send targeted messages to your customers and prospects at the right time, bringing in valuable business.
To ensure relevancy, your marketing database should be segmented so that only the most appropriate messages reach each customer group. The contents of your emails must also be perceived to be of genuine value to the recipient.
Typical e-mail messages might highlight special offers and discounts, newproducts or plannedevents, prompting recipients to click through to your website for further information. Results can be quickly measured and used to make subsequent email marketing campaigns more tightly focused. Response rates for bulk emails are higher than that for direct mailings, thanks to the immediacy of delivery.
There can, of course, be pitfalls for those who don’t follow the rules. Legalities need to be closely adhered to and you must have permission to e-mail each customer.
Content Marketing potentially affects all areas of the marketing mix, not just digital content.
Search Engine Optimisation is the digital marketing discipline focused on growing your website’s visibility in organic (i.e. non-paid) search engine results. It’s a way of making sure your website is structured in a way that search engines can easily understand.
There is a multitude of aspects to SEO. From keyword usage in titles and URLs, internal links on your own website, backlinks from other websites and proper use of alt tags with images, even down to the actual words you use within your pages.
But SEO isn’t just about building search engine-friendly websites. It’s about making your site better for your audience too – finely balancing the ‘pretty pictures’ with relevant, engaging content.
It’s crucial to remember that quality content will always win out over any content created in an attempt to fool Google or Bing’s spiders. Search engine optimisation is not a ‘one-time’ fix. It’s something that needs to be worked at continually if you want to achieve and remain on the first page of any Google search.
SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING (SEM) & PAY PER CLICK (PPC)
If your website isn’t seeing enough organic traffic, you might want to consider Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
Once used as an umbrella term to encompass both search engine optimisation and pay-per-click searches, these days search engine marketing predominately refers to the inclusion of paid advertisements in search engine results pages.
With SEM, advertisers place auction type ‘bids’ on keywords that users of services such as Google and Bing might enter, when looking for specific products or services. This gives the advertiser the fabulous opportunity for their advertisements to appear directly alongside the textual ‘organic’ results for those search queries.
These adverts come in a variety of formats. Some are small, simple text-based ads, whereas others, such as product listing adverts (also known as shopping ads) are more visual to the viewer, allowing customers to see important information at-a-glance, such as price, availability and reviews.
The greatest strength of search engine marketing is that ads can be shown to potential customers who are immediately ready to buy. No other method of advertising can do this, which is why search engine marketing is so effective and such an amazingly powerful way to grow your business.
Also falling under the SEM umbrella is the discipline of Re-targeting.
Have you ever wondered how, when you’ve searched for something specific (let’s say a specific book on Amazon.co.uk), that you’ve come back to your computer and visited a completely different site, only for the same book to be displayed in the adverts at the top or down the right-hand side of the page? That’s the beauty of retargeting!
Also known as re-marketing, re-targeting is a way of keeping your products and services in front of the customers who have already visited your site, even after they’ve left.
For the average website, only 2% of web traffic results in a conversion on the first visit. Re-targeting is an extremely clever way of reminding the remaining 98% of users that are actively in the market for what you’re offering, that you’re still there.
Affiliate marketing is a form of performance-based marketing in which an advertiser rewards an affiliate for each visitor or customer brought to them as a direct result of an affiliate’s own marketing efforts. Have you ever visited a website supplying one product, only to find they’re advertising another company’s wares also? This is affiliate marketing.
At its very core, affiliate marketing is all about mutually beneficial relationships, generally between 3 or 4 parties:
- also referred to as the 'merchant', 'retailer' or 'brand'
- contains offers for the affiliate to choose from
- also referred to as the 'publisher'
the customer / client
- the ultimate buyer of the product or service
Affiliate marketing often overlaps with other forms of digital marketing to some degree, but sometimes affiliates use less orthodox methods, such as publishing reviews of products or services offered by the advertiser.
Again you’ll see examples of this on sites such as Amazon.co.uk, where customers leave reviews for a product, but clearly state that they’ve been given the product either free or at a discount price in exchange for a full and frank review.
In 2015, statistics show that there were 39.4 million smartphone users in the UK. That’s almost 70% of the entire adult population. This figure is expected to rise to 42.4 million by the end of 2016 and 44.9 million by the end of 2017. So you could safely assume it’s not set to slow down anytime soon.
In fact, it’s safe to say that mobile technology is definitely here to stay!
The next time you’re in the car with your family – have a look around you. It’s highly likely that at least one of your passengers will be firmly transfixed on a phone, tablet or other wireless electronic device.
With more and more tasks being done on the move, British consumers are now armed with the tools to make more and more spur of the moment purchasing decisions. From clothes and grocery shopping to booking a holiday or restaurant. Even arranging for their dogs to be walked.
Mobile marketing accounted for the vast majority (78%) of digital advertising spend growth in 2015, increasing 60.3% year-on-year to £2.63bn in 2015 – roughly equating to 30.5% of all digital advertising.
Investing in mobile digital marketing is undoubtedly a more costly method of reaching your target audience and granted, it’s not the ideal solution for many businesses. But any business that relies heavily on online sales and doesn’t have this as a weapon in their marketing armoury, will likely fall behind its competitors.
ONLINE BUSINESS COMMUNITIES (OBC)
Online business communities & networks offer a fantastic opportunity to promote your products, services and achievements at very little or no costs. One of the world’s most popular OBN’s is, of course, Linked In.
LinkedIn is a social networking site designed specifically for the business community. The aim of the site is to enable registered members to establish networks and share information with people they know and trust professionally.
Each LinkedIn member’s profile page details their skills, employment history and education. It has professional network news feeds for keeping up to date with industry news and a limited number of customizable modules.
Unlike other free social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn requires connections to have a pre-existing relationship, meaning that the trust element is already pre-established.
Likewise, when one of your contacts ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ a post, they automatically give an element of credibility to the author. No hard sell!
We can grow your online reach!
The possibilities with digital marketing are endless. Call us on 07873 684858 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help you maximise your online presence.