The modern era is a digital one. Digital marketing dominates the world, and rightly so, as it presents businesses with countless possibilities to promote their brand's products and services through various online channels and drive growth. But have you paused to wonder how digital marketing started, and how it gripped the world so quickly?
Tracing the journey
Currently, 65% of an individual's time is spent on mobile phones, showcasing the vast impact of digital media. No wonder, the digital media industry currently holds a market capital of $200 billion, where 96% is contributed by Google Adwords, making it one of the major players in the industry. The digital marketing revolution has also been brought about by social media accounting to three billion users. Consequentially, there has been a rise in the number of bloggers and Instagram influencers have added another $1 billion to the industry. The digital marketing industry is expected to grow even further, bringing about a paradigm shift in the industry.
But how did it all start?
Coined in the 1990s, the digital age came as a by-product of the internet and the establishment of Web 1.0. The Web 1.0 platform was instrumental in assisting individuals to look for information but did not allow them to share their findings with others. This led to ambiguity among the marketers, who were unsure whether their strategies to promote products and services online would work, owing to the limited functions of the Web 1.0 platform.
Post the 1990 search engine, 'Archie', the first clickable web-ad banner was introduced in 1993. Google then made its debut, followed by Yahoo. The development of cookie technology, a code that stored user data in client browsers, was crucial to the evolution of digital marketing.
In this regard, the year 2000 was significant as well, as it was the start of the Web 2.0 era. Unfortunately, this was followed by the bursting of the dot-com bubble, which caused several internet firms to fold. Thankfully Google survived this crash and went on to launch AdWords, a tool that allowed advertisers to promote their products.
In due course, social media came into being. Facebook and Twitter were slowly made available to the masses. In 2002, LinkedIn was born. By the time YouTube was introduced, marketers had the option of multiple platforms to promote their brands. In 2009, Google launched Instant for real-time search engine results. And later, when mobile technology took off, new social media platforms like WhatsApp, and Instagram took the advertising world by storm. Since then, digital marketers haven't looked back.
Why is digital marketing so important?
Digital marketing helps brands reach a larger audience compared to traditional marketing methods and target a specific customer base whose likes and interests align with the products and services of the company. Let's explore the ways in which digital marketing can benefit marketers.
1. Cost-effective: Digital marketing offers an in-depth analysis of your campaigns. It highlights the platforms where your campaign has reached its goals and where it hasn’t, allowing you to implement suitable controls to optimise your ROI within a limited budget.
2. Content-focused approach: You can identify a specific audience base for your products and services and send them personalised messages using digital marketing. Such a strategy helps you convert target audiences into potential customers.
3. Measurable: Having start-to-finish metrics is one of the biggest advantages of digital marketing. Starting from likes, views, and impressions, to getting an accurate metric of the amount of time spent by each viewer on your website, digital marketing helps you receive quantifiable data about your campaigns.
4. Engagements: Digital marketing can be instrumental in tracing the journey of each customer from viewing your website to purchasing your products and services. Such a view can help you understand customer thought processes and buying behaviours, and customise your campaigns accordingly.
The channels of digital marketing
1. Search engine optimisation (SEO): SEO is the process of increasing your website rankings across various search engines.
2. Content marketing: It is a strategic approach to creating and distributing relevant content to attract customers, driving them to take a desired action. Marketers can promote a product or service through blog posts, infographics, videos, podcasts, etc.
3. Email marketing: Marketing carried out over emails is called email marketing. However, this does not just include coupons and discounts. Instead, any form of brand-related interaction that takes place between the brand and its customers over email is called email marketing.
4. Social media marketing: Promoting one’s products and services across social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn is called social media marketing. Such marketing strategies help increase brand awareness and customer loyalty. They also support lead generation activities.
5. Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing is a process where a company reaches out to another company or website to advertise the former’s products and services by offering a commission to the latter.
Cheat sheet to getting started with digital marketing
· Identify your goals and define them.
· Look for your target audience.
· Set a fixed budget for each digital channel.
· Balance between paid and free marketing strategies to optimise costs.
· Create engaging content.
· Ensure your digital assets are optimised for mobile.
· Conduct keyword research.
· Iterate depending on your measured analytics.
Any company or organisation can leverage digital marketing to scale up and modify their business strategy and have a profitable and thriving web presence. Digital channels enable businesses to zero in and attract the right customers using their industry insights and content to keep their audiences engaged.
(This article is written by Phani Kumar Parasa & Sreepriya Swaminathan.)
(Phani Kumar is a Digital Marketing professional with little over 15 years of experience across end to end campaign management in various digital channels like Paid Search, Paid Social, Content Marketing, operations management, delivery management, quality management and project management.)
(Sreepriya is a Digital Marketing professional with over 20 years of experience across operations management, delivery management, profit center operations, business consulting, business development, campaign management, web analytics, and usability centric design. She has comprehensive experience in digital advertising, and has actively been involved in delivering better ROI on customer acquisition and retention through the new-age media vehicles of digital space, search, e-mails, and social.)
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