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What is Digital Marketing and How Can You Use It

The term digital marketing is thrown around a lot, so to enter into a study of this topic, we should start with a basic: what is digital marketing?


Then, from there, we’ll look at how to harness digital marketing to help you with your business goals.


Though the term shot into popularity beginning in the 2000s, digital marketing has technically been around for a lot longer.


Humble Beginnings


One of the pioneers of digital marketing, Guglielmo Marconi, got things started in the late 1800s.


He created the core functions of what we know today as the radio — he was the first person to transmit signals wirelessly. These signals soon cropped up all across England after he demonstrated his invention.


It wasn’t long before his invention would go international, and morse code could be transmitted across borders and oceans.


And even though it took a decade after for radio to become common among regular civilians, it didn’t take long for the creators to realize there was a great opportunity there to broadcast their products and services.


Public radio was born with an opera rendition performed at the Met. Soon after this broadcast, sales for the opera rose. Sometimes it can be easy to mistake digital marketing as being only the stuff that happens online, but it actually started with the radio.


What is digital marketing?


Digital Marketing is exactly as it sounds: a sales and promotion technique that happens through some sort of digital instrument or channel. This would include advertising that happens through apps, search engines, websites, social media, and email — or anything else that transmits information electronically.


Digital marketing is a broad category, so it stretches beyond what you would typically consider, such as social media or google ads. It’s been around since the days of Marconi.


Is digital marketing important?


Consider billboards; they are a pretty good way to attract eyes, right? From a small town car dealership to an international chain like McDonald’s, there is a billboard for it. Corporations dish out hundreds of millions of dollars on that kind of advertising.


The trouble is, though, it’s mostly dead. More modern forms of media, at the top of which are tech giants like Google and Facebook, are much better at catching and keeping attention.


As a business owner, you want to spend your marketing dollars where you will get the most bang for your buck.


Today, most of us are scrolling on our screens or else texting friends when we’re in the passenger or backseat of our cars. Not only that, but even drivers, around 9% of whom, are guilty of using their phones at any moment of the day.


Not enough people are looking up anymore to even realize the billboards exist. Things will only get worse for the humble billboard when self-driving cars decide to take over — and that’s not too far around the corner. Elon Musk predicted they’d be around this year, 2020.


What this means is, focusing on digital marketing in a world that is turning to screens more and more will probably help you in the long run. People are relying on electronic devices for so much of their day-to-day life. The American spends nearly a dozen hours looking at a screen a day.


How much time do you think they spend looking at billboards?


Online Marketing


The seven main kinds of online marketing include

  1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  2. Search engine marketing (SEM)
  3. Content marketing
  4. Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  5. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
  6. Affiliate marketing
  7. Email marketing

Offline Marketing: the four categories


  • Radio marketing:Remember our good friend Mr. Marconi? You can thank him for the ads you hear in between your favorite songs on the radio.
  • Television marketing: Television ads, a pretty typical way of advertisement, have long been a source of revenue, bringing in cash for over half a century.
  • Phone marketing:Phone or telemarketing is growing the fastest out of the other offline formats. Although it admittedly has its own ups and downs, and many have their own reservations on the process.
  • Enhanced offline marketing: Let’s go back to billboards. What do you think is the difference between a billboard in the middle of the Arizona desert and one in Times Square in the Big Apple? Not the product, nor the size. But the material of the billboard itself.


Where a billboard standing by the side of the road in Arizona is most probably non-electronic, every billboard of Times Square is powered by LEDs and electronics — hence the word enhanced.


The reason for using enhanced offline marketing is competition. A billboard by the road in Arizona isn’t exactly competing too seriously with other billboard ads. There simply aren’t enough eyes for that kind of competition.


On the other hand, billboards are struggling for every pair of the countless eyes sprawling around such a crowded center like Times Square, which is visited by over 330,000 people a day!


Not only that, but there’s a lot to compete with: taxis, buses, vendors, and promoters are at every corner and curb.


All those billboards are vying for attention and competing with all the other stimuli!


Billboards are getting smarter about this, some becoming interactive, even displaying the movements of passerby’s to try to grab their attention.


And it’s pretty expensive attention. A billboard in Times Square for a year will cost you anywhere from $1,000,000 to $4,000,000!


Marketing through radio


Radio ads are the older kind of digital marketing. Since that live opera show was broadcasted for the first time, radio hit commercial grounds. Over a century has passed, and radio remains alive and well in our culture and homes.


Radio actually did a better job of adjusting to a world with internet than some other forms of electronic media. Television took a nosedive when the internet came along. In other words, radio was able to roll with the punches.


This is how widespread and in use radio still is:

  • 85% of Americans have radio broadcasted to them
  • The average listener will tune in for two hours a day
  • The US makes up 40% of all worldwide radio ad expenses
  • Around half of all Americans listen to internet-based internal networks at least once a month.
  • Around 80million people use Pandora, and that still brings in about $4 billion in profits annually.


Aside from airing an original commercial on the radio, what other ways can you use this medium to promote your product or service?


In recent years, radio that’s hosted online has begun advertising at the start of their broadcasts. This is the business model of most podcasts, and it’s a good idea.


Either way, a quality radio ad is one that entertains. A good example to follow would be Dairy Queen or Cadillac. Both consistently produce high quality and entertaining ads. Here are some examples.


Marketing Through TV


Television remains to be where the most money is spent in regards to ads. Television clearly won’t be going away completely anytime soon.


But the revenue from ads broadcast on TV has declined at a quick pace. The reason might be pretty clear to you: YouTube has, in a large way, replaced TV as a source of entertainment for millions.


But then again, the average American spends four hours watching TV daily. And yet, TV commercials are mostly ineffective. Why?


TV commercials aren’t targeted to the audience. Stations broadcast the same ads to an audience of millions without any targeting.


Television is now competing with an aggressive host of media that is constantly developing and perfecting ad targeting. In their arsenal are search engines, social media, retargeting, email marketing, and, of course, the all mighty algorithm.


In such a world, consumers, you and I, are more likely to ignore whatever ad doesn’t specifically attract us which could be most of what we see on our televisions.


With the advent of DVR and streaming services, many people don’t even watch television commercials at all. We’re in control, and we’ve gotten used to that.


To slip by an audience that can so easily fast-forward through your commercial, you have to market your brand in a way that’s smooth and seamless.


On TV, you’ll probably get an ad about Oreos, which came after an ad marketing hemorrhoid cream, after which you’ll watch an ad for a juicy burger — even if you’re a twenty-something fitness and health guru. While watching your sitcoms, you will see dozens of ads that are absolutely unrelated to your lifestyle.


But is TV totally ineffective?


Not exactly. Though it’ll be quite pricey, there may be a certain TV ad that is worth all the trouble: A Super Bowl slot.

It’ll cost a very pretty penny though.


Somewhere around $4.5 Million for 60 seconds of air time.


But because of the cross-pollinating effect of the more viral or memorable commercials, these commercials gain enough revenue to pay off that price tag.


Of all the TV-commercials circulating around social media, around 10% of them are from the ads aired on the Superbowl. This effect can be consolidated even further if your commercial is blacklisted, or in other words, can’t be shown on TV. For example, Carl’s Junior made quite a stir a few years ago.


The highest retention rate of any TV commercials is championed by Superbowl commercials. Their memorable quality helps go viral online too, garnering millions of views in that domain as well.


An example of this would be this Volkswagon commercial with over 62 million views.


But the hype probably won’t last. As more and more people switch to Netflix, it’s getting harder to justify the $200 billion collectively spent on TV commercials annually and worldwide. We are coming into a world that is slowly killing off TV to make way for more customized entertainment.


What this means is, it is a smarter option to focus on a marketing strategy or platform that will not only survive, but develop further in the future.


Marketing through Phones


One such strategy that will develop further in the future is phone marketing. To many people, this isn’t very obvious. But as smartphone use increases, smartphones are threatening traditional offline telemarketing, replacing it instead with mobile phone variety.


Before we look at the various techniques that can be done through the internet for smartphone users, let’s look at how to advertise products and services through offline phone marketing.


Every phone, both smart and traditional, is equipped with 2 apps: Texting and calling.


Some companies engage in cold calling, which is when an employee calls a person without having contacted that person beforehand and offers them a sale.


Though it is an effective marketing strategy, bringing in around 3 sales for every 52 calls, expanding it into a large scale operation, such as what would be typical of email or social, isn’t feasible.


A better approach would be through the second universally preinstalled app: texting. This nearly guarantees your message will be read.


And though MMS has declined with the entrance of wifi and cheap mobile data, texts are still effective for your marketing strategy.


Some providers offer text marketing en masse —such as sale reminders or new product releases. However, it’s always better to get permission from people before sending texts to prevent turning off a potential customer.


A good way to attract new customers and turn them into long-term customers is by offering deals, discounts, or coupons. Here are more successful examples of text messages given out by restaurants as advertisements.


Another successful example would be that of RedBox, which is a company that rents out DVD’s, in which they offered a small discount to anyone who texted DEALS to 727272.


After only 10 days, they received over 400,000 more customers.


Text messages are also very quick to be opened and read, so using text messages to alert customers of a giveaway or sale can be a great idea.


Final Thoughts


The internet is crucial in today’s world, and you would be sorry to ignore it. But, as detailed above, there are more ways to reach eyes than just through the internet and online marketing.


It’s important to expand your online and offline techniques so you diversify your marketing tactics instead of relying solely on the more popular forms of advertising, such as social media.


Quick Question and Answer


Q: How is digital marketing defined?

A: Digital marketing is the marketing of a product, service, or other through a digital medium. Digital media can be email, search engines, social media, or websites.


Q: What’s the future of digital marketing?

A: The online landscape is merging with the offline world, such that now and more so in the future, many of our offline devices will have digital media installed into them, such as ovens or fridges.


Q: Why does digital marketing matter?

A: It is important because it is where all of the attention is centered, and where it continues to go. Tech giants like Facebook or Google have been more successful with revenue than other forms of media as a result of their targeted and specified format of marketing.


Q: What channels make up digital marketing?

A: Applications on your smartphone, search engines like google, blog posts on the internet, affiliate marketing, social media such as Facebook or Instagram, and email.