What is digital marketing? Digital marketing is a term whose meaning has distorted from the inception of the word itself. Before we delve into what it is, we should first look at what it is not. Digital marketing is not posting about products on your Facebook page (we call that endorsing) neither is it a get rich quick Ponzi like scheme.

Digital marketing quite simply means marketing in the digital space. But what is marketing? Marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. So digital marketing is doing all that but in the digital realm. Now we get the full picture of digital marketing.

Digital marketing has been with us for about a decade or just a decade depending on perspective (yes a decade) but it has turned the marketing world upside down. It has not quite replaced traditional marketing but that is a just a matter of time. Let is go over some advantages it has over traditional marketing.

  1. Empowers small businesses

Any business can compete with any competitor regardless of size. Using the marketing budget that the business can afford, a business can be able to carve out its own niche in the market place. In the digital world a crisp well thought out website with a smooth customer experience and fantastic service is king- not size.

  1. It makes it easy quantify and measure results

Anybody is the business world will tell you that data is king. A lot of the risk associated with business has a lot to do with the unknown. Digital marketing addresses this problem quite effectively. In traditional marketing a business for example might pay for a billboard to advertise its products. The amount the business will pay is based on how many people may see the billboard during the duration the ad is up. The key word here is might.

There is no verifiable way to know how many people actually saw the ad. In the digital world/internet it is possible to know exactly who sees your ad. In addition to that it is also possible to see where the people who saw your ad come from and in some cases one is even able to build a complete profile of the viewer including age, sex and even spending habits (yes even spending habits). To a business this information is vital and enables it to plan its marketing campaign more efficiently.

  1. Reduced cost

In traditional media a company may need a fixed amount per year to dedicate to advertising. In the online realm, a business sets its budget according to the intended results of the campaign. There is no fixed amount. Pay as little as you want or pay as much as you want, the only thing that matters is your marketing goals.

THE HOW

Now that we have a clear grasp of what is possible let us go through how it actually works. There are three main ways to go about digital marketing. They include

  • SEARCH
  • SOCIAL MEDIA
  • CONTENT

Those are the main categories everything else falls under one of the above.

Search includes using search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search engines are simple to understand. A user visits a site and searches for what he/she want, Simple and very basic. However that is where the simplicity ends. The search engine in turn invites advertises to advertise on the pages of the results of what a user is searching for. A search engine, through machine learning and rudimentary artificial intelligence is able to build a complete profile of a user. The search engine knows who the user is, their preferences, demographic and the user’s exact location. All this information is used to determine the kind of advertisement that the user will be shown. Thus a user is shown advertising which is relevant to them. Tools used in this category include Google AdWords.

Social Media is also very simple. Everybody is in something. Be it Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. The process is still the same but very refined. Using all the information someone posts on social media a complete profile of the person is built and the person is served ads that are relevant to the person. Tools used in this category include Facebook marketing

Content is very powerful. As an internet user visits the website that interests them relevant ads are shown. For example a person reading a car blog will be shown advertising that involves cars. Video advertising is a form of social media but it is in a category on its own. Video is the most engaging of all media and thus an incredible powerful tool. Tools used in this category include affiliate programs and YouTube marketing.

That being said the internet is just a tool; the principles of traditional marketing still apply. One still needs a definite strategy and plan of action. A business also needs to know its marketing objectives be it increasing sales or improving brand awareness. The business also needs to keep a watch on the metrics and adjust strategy as new data or trends are discovered. This is enabled by the flexibility of digital marketing. A good search engine optimized website goes a long way. A search engine optimized website ranks higher on for example a google search. Also building a following on social media helps brands engage one on one with the customer. This sort of feedback provides good insight on whether a brand is keeping its promises or not. The entire categories search engine, social media and content should be used together for the best results.

Digital marketing is all about coming up with your campaign strategy and create relevant advertising material for the various media. After that now comes the difficult part of measuring metrics and results and optimizing for the best results

It is also easy to get lost in the digital marketing world but not to worry trained experts are also not far away. There are numerous digital agencies catering to all types of businesses be it a startup or a Fortune 500.