Digital marketing computes value for modern-day marketer

7 July 2015 03:28 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


If we take a step back and look at the evolution of the marketing landscape over recent years, it’s clear that digital tactics have quickly become fundamental pillars of the contemporary marketing mix. But, why has this become the norm?

The term digital marketing was first used in the 1990s. In the 2000s and the 2010s, digital marketing became more sophisticated as an effective way to create relationship with the consumer that has depth and relevance. The rapid evolution of digital media has created new opportunities and avenues for advertising and marketing. Fueled by the proliferation of devices to access digital media, this has led to exponential growth in digital advertising. 

With digital activities growing rapidly in every sphere, consumer expectations are changing. The resulting shifts in behavior have and will continue to disrupt existing industry value chains and economics, creating many opportunities – and risks – for marketers.

Digital Marketing is often referred to as ‘online marketing’, ‘internet marketing’ or ‘web marketing’. 

There is no denying the fact that over recent years marketing has swung towards the digital realm. This begs the question, are traditional marketing methods still relevant in today’s marketing domain? But more importantly, if they are, what works best?

Traditional Marketing Vs Digital Marketing
Typically the term ‘traditional marketing’ refers to business cards, printed ads, magazines, posters, TV commercials and brochures. Whilst still using these fundamentals, Digital Marketing has risen up as a slicker, faster and more creative solution for businesses.

So what are the main benefits of digital marketing?
  •  Reduced costs
    With the right tools and partners a Digital Marketing Strategy can be achieved fairly cheaply as it can eliminate the need for a presence in costly advertising channels such as newspapers, and more ‘traditional’ directories.
  •  Greater engagement
    Traditionally, businesses spoke to consumers in the hope a message got heard, but now e-marketing encourages interaction and should initiate a constant dialogue between businesses and clients.

Social media platforms have also enabled engagement in the form of ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘follow’ options allowing the opportunity for businesses to promote their business directly to the end user.
  •  The intangible domain
    Digital marketing encourages highly dynamic and high-speed communication. Text, images and video can be manipulated in any number of ways at any given time allowing a piece of content to be released to an audience of any size in the blink of an eye.
  •  Simple to measure
    Finally, unlike traditional methods, in the world of digital you can see in real time what is or isn’t working for your business and you can adapt very quickly to improve your results. Using tools like Google Analytics to measure traffic on your website or blog is an easy way to see if you are meeting your targets.
  •  Level-playing field
    In a world where success is measured by your bank balance, any business can compete with a competitor thanks to digital marketing. An effective website is the window to any business and coupled with a robust online marketing strategy companies of any size can become noticed alongside or above their competitors.

The learning is that digital marketing trends such as moving from passive advertising to active engagement, measuring quality rather than quantity with social network pages, giving the control back to the consumer and opening your brand up to feedback and potentially criticism are chief. 

Digital marketing strategy
Digitization is fundamentally altering the nature of competition.  Organizations can implement digital marketing capabilities into strategic marketing planning. Marketers need the essential skills to identify, integrate and monitor digital tactics to enhance marketing activities. In the present era, marketers need to study the ever evolving digital landscape and understand how to develop skills to improve digital marketing effectiveness. 

Digital marketing strategy builds on and adapts the principles of traditional marketing, using the opportunities and challenges offered by technology and the digital medium. User centric thinking, which involves placing the user at the core of all decisions, is vital when looking at building a successful digital marketing strategy. The advent of new technologies means the digital marketing strategist of today is offered not only a plethora of new tactical possibilities, but also unprecedented ways of measuring the effectiveness of chosen strategies and tactics. 

The fact that digital marketing is highly empirical is one of its key strengths. Everything can be measured: from behaviors’, to actions and action paths, to results. This means that the digital marketing strategist should start thinking with return on investment (ROI) in mind. Built into any strategy should be a testing framework and the ability to remain flexible and dynamic in a medium that shifts and changes as user behaviors’ do.

An effective strategy involves making choices, as the brand that attempts to be all things to all people risks becoming unfocused or losing the clarity of its value proposition. To make a strong choice, a strategist must first examine what the choices are: what are the factors that affect your business? These include market, competitor landscape, customers and core competencies. For example, a new airline, before launching, would need to consider whether their product is a domestic or international service; whether its market would be budget travellers or international and business travellers; and whether their channel would be through primary airports or smaller, more cost-effective airports. Each of these choices will result in a vastly different strategic direction.
In order to assist strategists in the formulation of business strategies, models such as The Four Ps (product, price, placement and promotion) and the Porter Five Forces analysis have become widely adopted – both of these tools assist in evaluating the kind of value the business is offering and the competitiveness of the market. The Internet, however, impacts hugely on both of these aspects, prompting us to re-examine and adapt traditional models to the changing market environment and new consumer behaviors’.

Crafting digital marketing strategy
There are six steps in crafting a successful digital marketing strategy. 

1. Context – The first step is to examine the context of the organization and the various stakeholders. Need to ask questions such as your identity?, Who are your customers?, Who are your competitors?, Context your operating in?. 

2. Objectives – Digital marketing has technology at its heart. It is therefore crucial to involve both technical and aesthetic minds in the initial stages of strategy formulation. The objectives should speak to both system and story and the tools afforded by technology should be a starting point in the process of developing strategic objectives. 

3.Value-Exchange - Digital can achieve many things in terms of users and value creation. Once you have defined what constitutes success and have delineated your prime objective, you can examine other goals that support this objective. For example, if your prime objective is for people to view the full range of products that your organization has to offer, supporting goals could be “we want people to share their comments to support our range development” or “we want to identify the most enthusiastic users and recruit them as brand ambassadors”. Exploring all the options before defining the most specific and focused direction will result in the most successful direction.

4.Tactics and Evaluation – A diverse variety of digital tools and tactics are available once you have defined your digital marketing objectives. The strength of the tools is dependent on the type of objectives set for the brand – for example, acquisition (or gaining new customers) may be best driven by paid search, while email is one of the most effective tools for selling more products to existing customers.

5.Metrics – Metrics are important in defining what successful value-exchange is worth to an organization and how this worth will be measured. This step needs to be considered in conjunction with value-exchange. As previously discussed, digital is an empirical medium and digital marketing should start with ROI in mind. Setting up the analysis and measurement tools early on in the online strategizing phase will enable you to measure returns from inception. The metrics that matter to your business objectives are referred to as key performance indicators (KPIs).

6.Ongoing Optimization - The growing necessity for an organization to remain dynamic and agile ties in with metrics and should be considered in the early stages of strategy formulation, as well as being a continuous process in refining and optimizing tactics.
A digital marketing strategy is essential to take advantage of the growing opportunities from digital marketing, yet many companies don’t have a digital marketing strategy.  

Now is the future
It’s true that companies have been using technology for many decades. But a few things have changed. First of all, customer expectations are very different now. We know that around 80 percent of purchases are researched online before a customer goes into a store. Indeed, many customers now prefer to complete the purchase online.

The second thing that’s changed is that the cost of delivering high-end IT solutions is reducing all the time. Historically, it would have been very expensive, and a lengthy process, to deliver a highly functional technology solution that customer would want to use. That’s no longer the case—now it can be done much faster than expected. 

Digital is fundamentally shifting the competitive landscape in many sectors. It allows new entrants to come from unexpected places. We’re seeing banks get into the travel business in some countries. We’re seeing travel agents get into the insurance business. We’re seeing retailers go into the media business. So your competitor set is not what it used to be.

One thing that digital allows is what we can call “plug and play dynamics”—meaning that companies can attack specific areas of the value chain rather than having to own the whole thing. This is because digital allows different services to be stitched together more quickly and cheaply.

Which world is it best to live in?
Some commentators claim that traditional marketing methods are dead in the water and that certainly seems to be the case in the current global climate. Digital Marketing ticks all the right boxes: Its’ cutting edge and flexible but most importantly, it’s instant.

As good as Digital is though, the reality is that the most effective marketing strategies are integrated. Those plans that incorporate elements of both traditional and digital strategies into a cohesive package have proven to attract the desired target market.

Your marketing campaign doesn’t have to be a case of either/or however if you want to move forward and take advantage of wider opportunities, incorporating Digital Marketing into your strategy is key. Give your business the best chance. Be a part of it now.

(The writer (ACIM (UK), batch top (DBM) SLIM, MSLIM) is reading for MBA (Wales) has over 7 years experience in sales and marketing having worked at Standard Chartered Bank, Nation Trust Bank and presently at Cargills Bank)

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