Digital Marketing: new communication dynamics
Digital Marketing is everywhere. Effective marketing is the key to making your product or business stand out from the crowd. Traditional marketing wisdom tells us that all marketing communications need to do these things:
- Differentiate your products from your competitors’
- Remind people of their need for the product
- Reassure them that they have made the right choice
- Inform and educate
- Persuade current and potential customers of the desirability of purchasing your products
Digital marketing is now an important part of the marketing mix. Digital brings several marketing elements together, namely product, promotion and place. For example, social media enables conversations to be generated to enhance the customer experience (product), promotes the brand (promotion) and spreads the accessibility of the brand (place). Apps and widgets improve the customer experience (product), delivering the experience where the consumer is (place) and promotes the product too (promotion).
Digital marketing affects all aspects of the traditional and service marketing mix. Digital provides opportunities for modifying or extending the core product for the digital environment. There are implications for setting prices in digital marketing with new pricing models and strategies. Digital has implications on the distribution of marketing and creates new opportunities for promotion. Digital marketing also has implications for the workplace, in that additional staff may be needed to service online propositions, and internal and external processes may have to be reassessed thanks to digital technologies.
Going back to basics, the objectives of any marketing communications are:
- Develop a need
- Impart information
- Build brand awareness
- Develop brand attitudes
- Facilitate brand purchase intention
- Facilitate that purchase
- Reinforce post-purchase satisfaction for the customer
The internet has now added variation to the promotional elements of the marketing mix. Thanks to digital, new ways of applying each of the elements of the communications mix (including PR, advertising and direct marketing) have now been created, and there are now new ways to assist the stages of customer relationships management thanks to digital technologies.
The goals of digital marketing communications are:
- To use online media and offline promotion to drive traffic to a website which converts to sales and leads
- To use on-site communications to deliver an effective, relevant message to the visitor
- To influence and engage with prospective customers on third-party media sites
- To integrate all communication channels to help achieve multichannel marketing objectives by supporting mix-mode buying
- To sustain long-term interactions leading to additional sales
To help develop a suitable strategy to reach and influence potential customers online, it’s common to refer to three main types of media channels that marketers need to consider today:
Paid media: This includes traditional media such as TV advertising plus search, display or affiliate marketing that requires an investment to pay for visitors, reach or conversions.
Earned media: This is where the audience is reached through editorial comments or sharing online. Marketing activities to achieve this can include PR, content marketing, word-of-mouth and social media.
Owned media: This is the media (websites, blogs, email databases, social media presence and mobile apps) owned by the brand. Offline, this could include stores.
Six key digital marketing channels
- Search marketing, including search engine optimisation and paid search
- Online PR, such as media alerting and community participation
- Online partnerships, such as affiliate marketing, co-branding and sponsorship
- Interactive ads
- Opt-in emails
- Social media marketing, including viral campaigns and customer feedback
When selecting your digital marketing mix, it’s important to ask:
- Is the marketing attention grabbing, does it stimulate emotions and provide information?
- Does it have a short lead time and long exposure time?
- Does it appeal to multiple senses and offer personalisation and interactivity?
- Does it have good coverage?
- How much does it cost to develop and deliver?
Search engine marketing (sem)
There are two types of SEM:
- Search engine optimisation (SEO), or natural search, which involves achieving the highest position possible or ranking in the natural or organic listings in search engine results pages.
- Paid search marketing or pay-per-click (PPC), which relates to ads that are paid for by an organisation on a ‘per click’ basis. A relevant text ad with a link to a company page is displayed when the user types a specific phrase into a search engine. These are labelled as ‘sponsored links’ or ‘sponsored results’.
Head to Google and see if you can spot the difference between paid ads and SEO.
Search engine optimisation uses a number of tactics to draw the attention of search engines to an organisation’s site. The idea behind SEO is to make a site fit as closely as possible with the searches performed by a target market. This is achieved by streamlining the elements in the site in order to make it more easily read by search engines. SEO is also designed to help make a site appear the most relevant to the searches that target viewers are likely to make. This is where keywords come in. A keyword is a term that is commonly used in connection with the subject of a site. When a site is found to have a certain number of keywords that are related to those used in the search, it appears relevant to the search query. Sites are then listed in order of relevance. When a person searches through a search engine, the query is compared with stored information hauled back by the search engine’s spiders. It’s a complicated process, which makes SEO such a tricky game to play.
From the page’s place in the site and its URL, through its code and content and out to its links, SEO tactics can be implemented to make it more search engine friendly. When creating content with SEO in mind, it pays to:
- Select well-focused keywords that visitors would use
- Consider relevance of the content of the site to the keywords chosen
- Take into account the quality and type of code used to create the website
- Ensure the information on the site is fresh
- Ensure the links on the site are relevant
SEO rankings depend on volume, and managing the process properly is an ongoing job.
For a site to be successful from an SEO point of view, it must contain fresh, engaging, quality content. It needs to have meta description tags, title headers, and good architecture that allows the search engine to crawl the site (this is known as crawability) and good site speed. Having numerous quality links and strong social presence also helps a site’s SEO.
Text-based ads that appear in the ‘sponsored’ section of the major search engines are known as PPC ads. The rankings of these ads are not based solely on highest-paying click, but also on the site’s quality score. Quality score is based on the relative number of click-throughs on the ads as well as the quality of the landing pages. The advertisers pay only when a user clicks on their ads. The two major networks that businesses undertake PPC with are Google Adwords and Yahoo Bing Network.
So, is it worth investing in these paid searches? With organic results decreasing rapidly further down the screen, it’s vital that a company appears within the top five results in order to stand a chance of click-through. If the organisation has enough investment, PPC is the fastest and easiest way to get to the top. Once you set up a PPC campaign, which isn’t difficult to do, your ad immediately appears in the sponsored results.
PPC versus SEO
The benefits of PPC are:
- The cost of clear. PPC enables a budget to be set and spending caps placed on the ad. It also enables an organisation to manage each keyword’s bid to help target higher returning keywords.
- PPC offers a plethora of targeting options including location to placement to network targeting.
- Tools within the paid search interface enable goals to be set up and conversions to be tracked, allowing organisations to get a true measure of ROI with PPC.
- Campaigns can be set up and start running immediately and copy can easily be changed.
PPC does, however, have its limitations:
- Because there are a lot of settings, targeting and optimisation strategies that can be used for profitable campaigns, organising these can take a lot of time and expertise.
- Increased competition has increased prices, and means those companies with big budgets and marketing teams tend to have the dominant positions.
The benefits of SEO:
- Search engines don’t charge to have a website come up in results.
- People trust organic results more than paid advertising. They are much more likely to click on organic listings than on a paid ad.
The limitations of SEO:
- There are numerous factors that are outside an organisation’s control with SEO and especially the (forever) changing search algorithms.
- It takes a lot of time and effort to develop a successfully optimised site.
- Google and other search engines are fairly secretive about the formula used for ‘relevant’ sites, so there is a lot of uncertainty as to what factors truly impact on search results.
Display advertising relates to ads placed on third-party sites that can usually be clicked on to direct the viewer to further information. Display ads are intended to attract traffic to a destination site. In display advertising, one page impression occurs when a user views a web page. A click-through occurs each time a user clicks on a banner ad to direct that viewer to a web page that contains further information. A click-through rate is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impression served. This is stated as a percentage. The average click-through rates on web display banners is around 0.2 per cent. This figure is higher on mobiles
Display advertising is purchased for a specific period and it is possible to have the ad appear on the entire site, in a section of the site, or according to keywords entered on a search engine. Common payments include the number of customers who view the page with the ad on (CPM), the number of customers who click on the ad (CPC) or the number of customers who complete the desired action (CPA).
The ad can be targeted on a particular part of the site, at a particular time of day or week, to a specific handset, operating system of mobile carrier, or based on the behaviour of the user (such as the user’s previous internet searches).
While display ads can deliver content, the information presented is limited, and there are issues of ‘banner blindness’ – viewers just don’t see them – and banner clutter. The success of these ads is dependant on the targeting and landing page they direct viewers to. Still, new banner formats enable more interaction, and banner ads offer a wide reach at a relatively low cost. These display ads can also deliver an accurate ROI.
Email campaigns are another form of digital marketing, and there are several types:
- Service communications, where the email is part of the sales or service process (such as a bill notification), offering an opportunity for further communication.
- A regular newsletter that goes to registered users of a site and keeps customers up to date with the organisation and its products and services.
- Triggered communications are emails that can be sent as part of a sale or other prompt.
- Acquisition mailings relate to data that is bought from a third party for the purposes of emailing potential customers.
Email marketing campaigns have several benefits in relation to customer retention and building customer relationships. They are a relatively low-cost way of quickly deploying a campaign, and educating, entertaining or engaging customers. They are a direct method that encourages immediate action and they can be personalised and automated. On the downside, there are problems with permission and being viewed as spam. Poorly targeted or poorly timed campaigns can be a waste of resources, and ‘cold’ lists don’t work as well as targeting existing customers.
To make your email campaign a success, ensure it is:
- Offers an incentive
- Is well timed
- Integrates with other media campaigns
- Features engaging copy that features a call to action
- Features appropriate attributes (subject line, the ‘from’ address and header)
- Sends the user to a relevant landing page
Affiliate marketing relates to a third-party website that markets the products or services of others for commission based on reward. Affiliate marketing is essentially ‘paying on performance’. GoCompare, Compare the Market and Money Saving Expert are large organisations that use the affiliate model to generate revenue and form their core business. You can see examples of affiliate marketing in blogs, content on websites and directories, in emails and paid searches, in voucher code offers and other rewards.
The affiliate network provides a trusted platform for affiliate marketing to occur. It provides a technology platform and essentially works as the ‘middle man’ between merchants (advertisers) and affiliates, and enables affiliates and merchants to access information. When a visitor to an affiliate site clicks through to a merchant (such as an online retailer), the visitor will be tracked through a cookie placed on the visitor’s device. If the user completes the transaction (so returns to the site) within an agreed period (usually 30 days), the affiliate will be credited with the sale.
Also known as native advertising, online sponsorship is basically paid content that matches the editorial standards of the website it inhabits. An organisation will link its brand with related content, using this type of advertising to create brand awareness and strengthen brand appeal with the website’s viewers. It’s good for the organisation because it builds an association with an online brand that the site visitor is already familiar with. This type of advertising helps build relationships and trust with users of the site. Examples include email newsletter sponsorship, sponsorship of microsites or channels in a portal.
Learn about the fundamentals of digital marketing
Digital Marketing Explained: Introducing the scope Digital Marketing is the promoting of brands using the Internet, mobile and other interactive channels. Digital Marketing is the practice of promoting products and services using database-driven online distribution channels to reach consumers in a timely, relevant, personal and cost-effective manner.