Ask any traditional business firm about its marketing strategy and it will tell you all about personal selling, sales promotion, advertisements etc. In the earlier days, almost all marketing problems led to one definite solution– advertisement. In rare cases, when advertisements failed, alternative tools like sales promotion and direct marketing took over.
The market, at that time, was uncluttered and it was still possible to use these traditional tools to stay ahead in the race.
However, in the 90s, the scene began to change. Internet took the popular culture by storm and ideas which were once considered second grade rose to global prominence. Traditional marketing tools were sidelined overnight. The changing global scenario infused fresh blood into the world of marketing. The closely guarded notion of business communication distilled into what is now known as ‘digital marketing’.
What is digital marketing?
It is the process of building brand equity and awareness via digital media. Digital marketing makes use of devices like computers, mobile phones etc. to engage and interact with its customer base. It offers marketing methods which allow an organization to monitor its campaign in real-time.
Basically, what an organisation tries to achieve is a level of trust with its customers. This makes the process of communication more organic and reliable. Customers are not interested in business houses, they are interested in people; they are interested in someone who would listen to their problems. An organisation which is able to identify these problems and address them well is a winner. Digital marketing, thus, helps to bridge the gap between the producers and the consumers.
What makes it so popular?
It is reliable. It is fast. It is cheap.
And, it reaches its audience in a matter of seconds.
Business firms spend a lot of time on the internet searching for deals, offers and other such information which add value to their business. It is now possible to conduct hassle free B2B transactions with the aid of digital media.
Students increasingly use the web since it is easy to find something on the internet and it saves the effort of scouring through books in a college library. Once there, they can analyze, compare, participate and share all that they want.
Young user groups are constantly looking for friends and social networking sites are their new playgrounds. They are always on the internet and organisations looking to communicate with them need not go any further.
The greatest merit of digital marketing is that you get to interact with your audience and receive their feedback almost instantly. In this way, you are always in the loop, irrespective of whether your campaign is working or not. Another plus point is that most of the data generated (likes, engagement, traffic etc.) through these campaigns can be measured and assessed accurately with the help of available tools. Therefore, you can plan and budget your expenditure accordingly.
With conventional marketing, you do not get all these. You do not get this live interaction. You do not get to engage with your customers and on top of that, you have no idea if your campaign has had its desired effect.
Is it useful?
Consider the following example. A small sized business firm decides to pull new customers and hence, puts up a full length advertisement in a leading daily. It has spent a fortune to get that lucrative space and now, all it can do is hope – hope that the scheme will work. There is no fail-safe mechanism; no means to find out whether that ad has any potential or not.
Its rival, however, is aware of this sensation called digital marketing. It goes to a digital marketing agency which takes care of the brand and nurtures its growth. They put up a dedicated page on Facebook. It has great content and stunning visuals. Sooner or later, it will get noticed by a group of people and they will feel obliged to share it with another few. Likes will then be generated, fans will follow. The analytics will show exactly how the audience is interacting, which age group is responding most actively and what type of content is sought after. The campaign is sold.
Is it suitable for all businesses?
There cannot be a direct answer to this question. One has to try and find out. Looking at the current trend, however, it can be said with a certain amount of assurance that this new mechanism is here to stay. It wouldn’t be surprising to see business houses rushing in to get their space on social platforms in the near future. In this rapidly evolving age of technology, digital is the keyword. One cannot avoid digital and harbour hopes of becoming successful at the same time.