Why is digital marketing important?
In short, digital marketing is important because all of today's businesses must have a digital presence and compete on a digital field.
We'll break that down, but first we will start with the main question.
What is digital marketing?
According to the Financial Times, digital marketing is "the marketing of products or services using digital channels to reach consumers."
The term "digital channels" here refers to the Internet, but it also encompasses into screens: ads seen on a phone or a tablet are digital channels, just like Facebook and email are.
In reality, digital marketing is promotion that takes place on an Internet technology. Digital marketing has evolved as a transposition of traditional marketing -- where before we had the magazine ad and the TV spot, today we have banner ads on websites and YouTube pre-rolls.
However, digital marketing is much more complicated than traditional advertising. It has become an umbrella term, and includes content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, online advertising, and more.
Digital marketing today
There are many types of digital marketing, but few of them are truly effective. According to a report by ScribbleLive, the most effective types of digital marketing are shared, social, and owned media marketing.
Shared media marketing
Shared media marketing refers to a collaboration between different entities to reach a broader audience. Shared media marketing includes guest posts on industry blogs, partnerships with influencers, user-generated content, and more.
It is effective because its tactics are mostly grounded in trust. Whether it's the trust of an industry influencer, of an organization, or simply of your marketing team running a campaign, shared media marketing generates buzz by allowing others to contribute to the message.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing refers to marketing and advertising campaigns that take place on social media platforms. Though this is often what people think of when they think of internet marketing, the truth is that social media marketing is just a small part of digital marketing.
SMM is effective because it allows a brand to humanize itself, and be present in the place many people spend most of their online time -- social media platforms. However, it's important to bear in mind that SMM is only truly successful if your target market is actively on social media.
Owned media marketing
Owned media marketing is what we deal in here at Palm Beach Content Co. It refers to content shared via a channel that's fully under your control. This includes anything that lives on your site: sales copy, blog posts, articles, e-books, white papers, reports, etc. It also includes email marketing, your Facebook page, and your YouTube channel.
Where social and shared media marketing are more reliant on other brands, owned media marketing is your brand's opportunity to come into its own. This is where you can forge your brand, manifest your values, and add value in a way that's uniquely yours.
All three are important, and though a laser focus on any one area of digital marketing can help build your brand into a powerhouse, by leveraging all three you can truly make your brand stand out.
Benefits of digital marketing
Digital marketing is important for many reasons. It helps you build your audience and gain customers, it's much cheaper than traditional advertising, it allows you to broaden your reach, it builds your brand, and it is essential in overtaking competition.
Let's break it down.
Build your audience and gain customers
Digital marketing is important in that without it, you'll be hard pressed to build your audience and gain new customers. That's for the simple reason that every day more and more people are going online.
Today, there are almost 3.7 billion people online. Though that doesn't mean they're necessarily 3.7 billion potential customers, it does mean that you have direct access to a much, much larger population than lives in your town (or country). Digital marketing allows you to market to new people. Use that to build your brand, to build your audience, and eventually, to watch new customers come rolling in.
It's cheaper than traditional marketing
Traditional marketing has become way too expensive. Prices for billboards, TV spots, magazine spreads, and even an ad in a local paper have skyrocketed. This is partly because they're tried-and-true methods of advertising that have had success for decades. But the truth is that for today's small business, the cost of traditional advertising is so high and the probability of success such a gamble, that businesses shouldn't rely solely on traditional ad methods.
With traditional marketing, you weigh your success against circulation, pairs of eyes that may see an ad, TV show viewership, and other uncertain means. With digital ads, you have the ability to get granular with targeting, customization, and behavior. Digital marketing with Facebook and Google allows you to segment out demographics and psychographics, as well as times of day, behaviors, physical location, and more.
When used as part of a broader strategy, digital marketing is simply more effective dollar-per-dollar than traditional.
Broaden your reach
One of the biggest reasons to invest in digital marketing is to broaden your reach. As mentioned above, digital marketing allows you to reach a much bigger audience that will ever walk past your storefront on Black Friday. And best of all -- you have access to these millions of potential customers, every day of the week.
You can easily market to younger generations via Instagram, their moms via Facebook, and just about anyone else through Google. Build relationships through email, close sales with the help of a digital campaign. What's more, digital marketing provides access through different points of contact. Whether your ideal customer is on desktop or mobile, you can reach them in either place (or both!).
Build your brand
This is one of the best things you can do with digital marketing. Brand building is one of the most important things you can do with digital marketing, and with your business in general. This is a huge part of what we do here at Palm Beach Content Co.
Brand building happens across all channels, because it's messaging that needs to be consistent. Many, if not most, small businesses don't understand the power and importance of using digital marketing to build a brand. This happens across social media channels, on your site, and at any and all points of contact with current or potential customers.
A business can prosper with a strong brand alone -- and the easiest way to build a strong brand is through digital marketing.
Overtake your competitors
In today's online-connected world, both businesses and people live on two planes: the real world, and the online one. You can have a strong and prosperous brick-and-mortar business, but if your online presence is weak, you'll lose to your competition. Conversely, your competition may have a bigger store or more foot traffic, but if you beat them in online presence you'll win the game.
Digital marketing allows you to build relationships with current and potential customers in more profound ways than just a sales transaction. This is especially beneficial because even though the web opens you up to more customers, it also opens you up to a world of competition. By using digital marketing to establish relationships and build trust, you will find more people coming and staying for you, not just your service.
Godspeed, digital marketer!
Don't get me wrong -- it's not easy to execute an effective digital marketing strategy. At best, you should have an in-house team (read: not an intern) managing your digital marketing efforts. If you don't have a team working for you, then you can hire a firm to do this for you.
Where ever you fall, however, do know that digital marketing is important. To not understand it is no excuse to not do it. After all, at the end of the day, brands with a strong digital presence operate leaner, faster, and make more money.