By Adam Barone, Investopedia
What Is Digital Marketing?"
Digital marketing is the use of the internet, mobile devices, social media, search engines, and other channels to reach consumers. Some marketing experts consider digital marketing to be an entirely new endeavor that requires a new way of approaching customers and new ways of understanding how customers behave compared to traditional marketing.
Understanding Digital Marketing
Digital marketing targets a specific segment of the customer base and is interactive. Digital marketing is on the rise and includes search result ads, email ads and promoted tweets – anything that incorporates marketing with customer feedback or a two-way interaction between the company and customer.
Internet (a.k.a. online) marketing differs from digital marketing. Internet marketing is advertising that is solely on the Internet, whereas digital marketing can take place over the telephone, on a subway platform, in a video game or via a smartphone app.
In the parlance of digital marketing, advertisers are commonly referred to as sources, while members of the targeted ads are commonly called receivers. Sources frequently target highly specific, well-defined receivers. For example, after extending the late-night hours of many of its locations, McDonald's needed to get the word out. It targeted shift workers and travelers with digital ads, because the company knew that these people made up a large segment of its late night business. McDonald's encouraged them to download a new Restaurant Finder app, targeting them with ads placed at ATMs and gas stations, as well as on websites that it new its customers frequented at night.
Digital Marketing Channels
- Website Marketing: A website is the centerpiece of all digital marketing activities. Alone, it is a very powerful channel, but it’s also the medium needed to execute a variety of online marketing campaigns. A website should represent a brand, product and services in a clear and memorable way. It should be fast, mobile friendly, and easy to use.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: PPC advertising enables you to reach internet users on a number of digital platforms through paid ads. You can setup PPC campaigns on Google, Bing, Linkendin, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook and show your ads to people searching for terms related to your products or services. PPC campaigns can segment users based on their demographic characteristics (age, gender etc) or even their particular interests or location. The most popular PPC platforms are Google Ads and Facebook.
- Content Marketing: The goal of a content marketing is to reach potential customers through the use of content. Content is usually published on a website and then promoted through social media, email marketing, SEO, or even PPC campaigns. The tools of content marketing include: blogs, ebooks, online courses, infographics, podcasts, and webinars.
- Email Marketing: Email marketing is still one of the most effective digital marketing channels. Many people confuse email marketing with spam email messages we all receive per day, but that’s not what email marketing is all about. Email marketing is the medium to get in touch with your potential customers or the people interested in your brand. Many digital marketers use all other digital marketing channels to add leads to their email lists and then, through email marketing, they create customer acquisition funnels to turn those leads into customers.
- Social Media Marketing: The primary goal of a social media marketing campaign is brand awareness and establishing social trust but as you go deeper into social media marketing, you can use it to get leads or even as a direct sales channel.
- Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest forms of marketing, and the internet has brought new life to this old stand-by. With affiliate marketing, you promote other people’s products, and you get a commission every time you make a sale or introduce a lead. Many well-known companies like Amazon have affiliate programs that pay out millions of dollars per month to websites that sell their products.
- Video Marketing: YouTube has become the second most popular search engine and a lot of users are turning to YouTube before they make a buying decision, to learn something or just to relax. There are several video marketing platforms, including Facebook Videos, Instagram, Vimeo to use to run a video marketing campaign. Companies find the most success with video by integrating it with SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing campaigns.
- SMS Messaging: Political parties and candidates use SMS messages to send positive information about their candidates and negative messages about their opponents.
Digital Marketing Challenges
Digital marketing poses special challenges for its purveyors. Digital channels are proliferating rapidly, and digital marketers have to keep up with how these channels work, how they're used by receivers and how to use these channels to effectively market things. In addition, it's becoming more difficult to capture receivers' attention, because receivers are increasingly inundated with competing ads. Digital marketers also find it challenging to analyze the vast troves of data they capture and then exploit this information in new marketing efforts.
The challenge of capturing and using data effectively highlights that digital marketing requires a new approach to marketing based on a new understanding of consumer behavior. For example, it may require a company to analyze new forms of consumer behavior, such as likes on Facebook and tweets on Twitter.