Digital marketing (often called online marketing) is a rapidly expanding and ever-evolving field. New innovations are announced on a regular basis, and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends.
The tried and true methods of ‘old’ new media marketing, the classics that blazed the trail in the 90s and 2000s are techniques that have proven to be successful. And, just as digital marketing didn’t usurp the place of traditional media, ‘new’ new media has not replaced the pioneering channels of online marketing.
Online marketing is not a fad
Let’s first expel one persistent myth: online marketing is not a fad. Like the Internet itself, there were some ‘purists’ (others might prefer the term ‘Luddites’) who believed that online marketing could never compete with traditional marketing, and that it simply would not become a lucrative marketing channel.
The term digital marketing was first used in 1990. Since then it has exploded, particularly after the year 2000. Digital marketing is predicted to consume 35% of total marketing budgets this year, and is predicted to become a $185.4 billion industry by 2017.
Online marketing is here to stay. Here are a few of the trail blazers that continue to play an important element to successful marketing strategies.
Email marketing refers to the process of directly marketing a commercial message to a group of individuals via email. By this broad definition, every email you send to a client or potential client can be considered an online marketing opportunity.
More often however, email marketing refers to sending emails to a targeted group of people in order to increase repeat business, foster customer loyalty, encourage customer engagement, acquire new customers, and generate sales.
Although the term ‘digital marketing’ didn’t appear until 1990, Gary Thuerk sent out the first marketing email in 1978 – before the Internet was even invented. Gary emailed over 300 people promoting computer products sold by his firm on ARPANET (one of the Internet’s precursors). Strictly speaking, because the email was unsolicited, it would be considered spam today. Regardless, it generated $13 million in sales for his company.
Needless to say email marketing has evolved considerably since Gary Thuerk, but the principle remains the same.
Narrow your approach with demographics and tracking
Just as Gary Thuerk’s email was sent to a specific demographic (i.e., people who owned computers), modern email marketing allows businesses to directly contact individuals who have demonstrated some interest in the product or service they are marketing. For this reason, email marketing has long been considered one of the most effective online marketing channels.
Unlike traditional media, email marketing allows you to track the success of your campaign in real time. You can either contract a marketing company to handle every part of your email marketing campaign or run your own campaign using online apps or software. Once your send out your email, you can track open rate, click rate, and even compare your stats to the industry standard. By splitting your recipients into multiple groups you can also effectively A/B test content and presentation.
With the continuing rise of ecommerce, email marketing can now also drive sales directly – within a matter of minutes.
Today, email marketing is a cornerstone of any major marketing effort. It is cheaper (and more environmentally friendly) than traditional media, provides an easily trackable ROI through real-time imbedded analytics, and reaches a wider number of targeted recipients. Be aware, however, that in Canada the CASL (Canada Anti-Spam Law) dictates that recipients must have explicitly or implicitly opted-in to the email, with a fine of up to $10 million for businesses who do not comply with CASL regulations.
Along with email marketing, websites were one of the first digital marketing platforms used by many companies. In fact, up until a few years ago websites, and email marketing, were the only online marketing channel used by companies.
Today, websites are still crucial, but no longer the be all and end all. Instead, they now form the centre of a digital marketing matrix which includes social media accounts, landing pages, blogs, and other online properties.
The rise of smartphones has changed web design and online marketing. Ensuring your site is accessible for mobile devices (responsive) and does not sacrifice functionality is crucial. According to SatsCounter, a website analytics company, “the use of mobile devices to access the Internet has increased by 67% worldwide over the last 12 months.”
Websites have always been effective tools for engaging and informing clients and generating leads. However, the rise of e-commerce has added an extra dimension to website marketing. You can now guide customers through every step of the purchase decision-making process online. According to Statista.com, a marketing statistics company, “current e-commerce statistics state that 40 percent of worldwide Internet users have bought products or goods online via desktop, mobile, tablet or other online devices. This amounts to more than 1 billion online buyers and is projected to continuously grow.”
SMS (Short Message Service)
SMS marketing refers to text message marketing, and it has a number of advantages which are similar to email marketing although it is not used to the same extent.. However, because everyone has a smartphone in their pocket these days (or at least 1.75 billion people globally do), it is an even more direct method of marketing. Although smartphones also enable people to check their email, SMS marketing is less intrusive and more informal than email. Other advantages of SMS marketing include:
- Instantly connecting with your customers on a personal level
- Reaching your customers at the perfect time (e.g., restaurants can send out discounts messages right before potential customers get off work)
- Complimenting your other traditional and digital marketing channels with follow up SMS messages
- Conducting quick, simple surveys for instant feedback
- Giving your customers a voice by increasing feedback and engagement
Online marketing may be changing, but some channels should remain in your marketing strategy. Older online marketing efforts like email marketing and website marketing are still extremely effective, especially when integrated with newer channels like mobile and SMS. To earn a solid return on your investment your brand needs to implement a variety of online marketing channels into your overall marketing strategy.
Next month, Digital Marketing, Part 2.