The oncoming of the digital age and rapid advancements in technology have seeped into human workings to influence and challenge traditional work styles, innovate new mediums of communication with colleagues, superiors, clients, customers and the masses at large. As we know, every change brings with it its fair share of challenges and disadvantages to cope for future generations, and the digital revolution is no different.
The advent of digital age has spurred rapid innovation, coupled with the development of modern technologies to offer enhanced connectivity on laptops, mobiles, tablets and high-power PCs to stay connected on the move. There is not a dull moment in people’s life, grappling with the competition at lightning speeds to meet quick-changing customer needs. Growing organizations today realize that cashing on the digital wave is a must for a stable economy and bright future.
To stay abreast of the trends, companies are required to mobilize workforces, immediately follow up with a plan of action and strive hard to stay on top of the game through consistent experiential delivery. Undeniably, the surmounted pressures call for skilled talent and the right platform to boost marketing campaign activities to attract target customers. Digital marketing has a pivotal role to play here.
What is Digital Marketing?
Is digital marketing a fad or a necessity? For those of you who hold on to the idea that billboards and traditional advertising campaigns work just fine for brand visibility and hold skeptical views on digital marketing, this piece should help overcome some of your fears.
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Today marketers are looking at new mediums to connect and engage with customers, seek constant feedback by harnessing social media tools and platforms to promote business products and services, the pop-up banners that suddenly flash on your screens or an ad that appears before you watch a music video on YouTube.
Digital marketing is a term used to engage, interact and attract customers online by using multiple digital channels such as websites, social media, email, search engines and mobile apps to monitor and manage the performance of marketing programs in real-time. In true sense, it is leveraging the Internet infrastructure and social architecture to deliver value and utility to customers in real-time, anywhere across the globe.
What truly defines the core of digital marketing is its ability to connect people, process, and technology on the same page. One of the key components of a unique digital marketing campaign is, it starts with rich content. Content is the king and the medium used to publish/broadcast an initiative is the propagator, which work together in tandem towards accomplishing a business goal.
A Closer Look at Digital Marketing in Malaysia
Digital marketing is picking up momentum in Malaysia. According to a 2013 report commissioned by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Malaysia ranks fourth highest globally for a digitally native population comprising of youth from 18 to 27 years of age.
According to recruiting experts Hays in Malaysia, “The evolution of digital marketing is set to continue over the next decade and this will have a huge impact on the skills employers need. With business, the landscape shifts its required for businesses to evolve and equip themselves with up-to-date new age digital marketing skills to better connect with customers, generate leads and drive business growth.”
Chris Mead, Regional Director of Hays in Malaysia & Singapore opines, “As marketing becomes more technology-based, harnessing and mastering ‘big data’ will be key to achieving competitive advantage. If companies are to remain market front-runners, they need to integrate their digital and social marketing channels into one customer journey.”
Today, digital marketing success is all about the numbers and understanding how to segment data, utilize big data, backend technology, and databases. Hence digital marketing managers should focus on the communication efforts and strategy to bring in visitors back to their website. The social media marketing strategies deployed should be able to make an impact, but there is a shortage of skilled professionals in marketing roles.
A report recently published by the Economic Intelligence Unit emphasizes the need for marketers to seize on the opportunities that can be created by delivering enhanced customer experience. The findings predict, “Mobile devices and networks (59%), personalization technologies (45%) and the Internet of Things (39%) to be the three technology specific trends that will have the biggest impact on marketing organizations by 2020.”
How does digital marketing work?
Looking closely at the stats and numbers, a carefully planned digital marketing strategy is essential for long-term business growth. There are various elements to a digital marketing plan as it connects seamlessly across platforms on various portable and mobile devices. Some of the principal elements of a digital marketing mix are:
In this form of marketing, an email newsletter is sent across as a mass mailing activity to current and new subscribers in the database who wish to keep updated with a new product or service offerings from a company. It is relatively low-cost focused marketing activity that only targets the interested passive prospects through emails comprising of a mix of videos, graphics, engaging content and text links to check the business website for further details.
Social media marketing
Social media being one of the most important digital marketing channels to promote products and services, companies today are focused on generating leads by harnessing potentials and extensive reach of the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and the likes.
Sending out a text to customers about an upcoming sale or product launch on their mobile devices is a fantastic way to retain current customers and potentially attract new prospects to the brand as well. This marketing push activity delivers text messages to all users registered in the company database and sometimes shares your contact credentials with third-party providers to highlight relevant findings based on your buying patterns and behavior.
Marketing experts gather data from almost all credible sources to understand your most common buys and keep you posted with latest offers. Your number in the database will only be shared with your consent, that you initially agreed upon signing up with the product or service provider.
With consumption of video content on the rise, there is a video uploaded to YouTube almost every second. This further validates the fact that video marketing is a trend that companies should pick on and deliver juicy content to entice viewers interest.
The video is where the future of marketing is. For business owners and internet marketers, YouTube marketing is the next Big Thing. The industry is seeing a massive shift towards video content promising increased audience engagement and interactive story-telling experience to get the viewers involved.
To arrive at an appropriate video marketing strategy, focus only on relevant content delivery and stick to a timeframe of not more than 3.5 minutes for an informative/music video, or a minute of video advertising. Impart some helpful advice or convey a strong message that is well represented by the visual medium. Get the audience involved and initiate a call to action such as either to subscribe to the channel, visit the website for more product details or buy into a scheme.
Affiliate marketing is a kind of performance-based marketing, wherein company rewards each affiliate or the third-party vendors for bringing in customers on behalf of the company and providing the marketing push. This push strategy has four core players – the merchant (the brand owner), the publisher (also known as the affiliate), the network and the customer.
The growing complexity of markets has led to the emergence of a secondary tier of indirect marketing agents known as the affiliate agencies, super affiliates, and third-party vendors. There are two distinct approaches to affiliate marketing – either the company can sign up to promote other’s business or offer an affiliate program for others to sign up.
The company driving the affiliate program must pay affiliates a commission fee for every lead or sales revenue they generate. The main aim of the company is to add more affiliates to its business network and reach untapped markets.
This is a form of digital marketing wherein search engine advertising is used to create traffic and generate clicks to your website. These clicks come from paid searches and are not earned organically by businesses promoting their products and services on Google.
It is a great method to announce the launch of a product/service and advertise this on Google using paid search services at low cost to derive greater customer engagement and perhaps sales.
Benefits from a digital marketing campaigns
What gives digital marketing strategy and the medium a competitive winning edge is it’s cost-effective, it can be automated, and posts can be scheduled to be blasted or broadcasted later in time. The company hosting the campaign on various digital mediums and channels to instigate a course of action from customers benefits ultimately from a well-planned digital marketing strategy.
Also digital is the way to go for cost-effective marketing campaigns because you can easily introduce changes or new innovations within a campaign at ease. Digital marketing helps acquire new customers without many efforts by helping marketers analyze valuable market information, identify patterns and customer preferences to chart out the strategic map.
Digital platforms provide space for better direct interaction with audiences and lead to higher conversion rates. More so, an effective campaign helps build trust and brand credibility to align with consumer interests in a more convincing manner. Using market intelligence data, you can prioritize content for better lead generation across different digital channels.
You can measure results in real-time based on how many people viewed your web page, where its hosted and you can collect contact details of those who subscribed to your services or showcased interest to know more details about your business.
Dos and Don’ts of an Effective Digital Marketing Strategy
According to estimates by eMarketer, a market research company that provides insights and trends related to digital marketing, media, and commerce, digital marketing will be seeing double-digit growth through at least 2020. The worldwide digital ad spending will reach $223.74 billion in 2017.
Now, with the kind of investments companies are making to amplify their digital presence it requires marketers to be on their toes, work hard and come up with novel digital marketing strategies to harness untapped potentials of the medium, seek more traction, interaction and overall higher consumer engagement with the brand.
Here are some of the do’s and don’ts every digital marketer should follow, before jumping on the bandwagon. You can either go blinded chasing the trends or emerge as a trailblazer, which requires a greater sense of conviction to believe in your offerings to the customers.
Content is King
No matter the kind of media you choose (be it traditional, unconventional or digital) to beef up your marketing efforts and generate more sales, content will always be the king. The predominant role of content can never be compromised or under-estimated.
Plagiarism-free relevant insightful content is what readers and viewers seek. And if your platform can deliver exactly what the masses seek, then you rule the roost.
Interact with Customers and Engage
Engaging with audiences is important to generate interest and build trust. Your marketing strategy should personalize with customers to connect with them at an individual level. This also involves responding to queries in a timely manner, updating social media timeline and addressing criticism with the right approach.
Know and Understand your Audience
Develop direct campaigns targeting the demographic you choose to address and perfect your strategy. Know your audiences well to build a personal connect and harness on the expansive potentials of the medium. Know what your target demographic wants to perfect your strategy. The ability to personalize communication across different channels is at the heart of a marketing strategy, which plays an important role in customer acquisition.
Do not spam
Spamming is never appreciated by prospects or the old customers. Do not shoot email marketing campaigns, newsletters, product updates and offers too often to flood their Inbox. Sending unsolicited emails or tweeting the same news constantly can irk the customer to finally drop out.
No one likes to be bothered often or contact coordinates to be shared with third-party providers without the prior consent of the customer. If a brand breaches the ethics and populates your account with unsolicited emails, then customers can ban the brand or sometimes can file a legal suit. Beware of misusing contact information of customers.
There is a thin line of difference between maintaining consistent communication with the customer and spamming, so follow a timely schedule and discipline your marketing mix.
Do not oversell
While it’s good to promote a product, brand or service offering, its counter-intuitive to your basic intent of promoting sales. Today’s users like to engage with a brand story and do not prefer a hard sell or cross-selling approach.
They like to connect with a brand and associate their personality with the product/service they intend to purchase. Boost authentic interactions and engagement with the customer. It’s all about gaining trust and positioning your brand in the right light, avoid miscommunication strategies and do not sell complex. Keep it simple and easy to understand.
Do not target just mobile
Your campaign should be able to deliver consistent communication across all digital media channels. Mobile will be the main driver of digital growth, accounting for more than 70% of the digital in the years to come. Design and develop marketing campaigns for both handheld and mobile devices such as laptops and tablets. The images, videos, and texts should complement other formats beyond Smartphone.
Common Types of Digital Marketing Activity
A form of digital marketing activity that involves creation and sharing of content across various platforms to include video, social media posts, and blogs. Content marketing does not promote a brand explicitly but rather uses an indirect subtle approach to intrigue customers about its products and services.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The process of optimizing web pages with keyword-enriched content that offers readers and viewers a compelling reason to visit your web page through natural organic search is called Search Engine Optimisation. In general, the higher number of times a site appears in the search results, the more visitor traction it gains to create leads for the marketer. These leads can be further converted to loyal customers, which is why a planned marketing strategy is very important. Optimising a website for the Google could involve editing content, associating coding to increase its relevance to visitors and make modifications to HTML for overall appeal.
Email marketing campaign is one of the most crucial elements of a well-planned inbound digital marketing strategy. It helps communicate and build a relationship with prospects to create curiosity and boost RoIs. Through this initiated marketing approach, the company sends emails to its current and potential prospects. It is a way of persuading customers by providing relevant information and important news updates to create interest in the brand.
This is a digital promotional activity designed to target customers on the move, by using conventional text messaging or via a shout approach calling for action from the customers, to register for an event, participate in a survey or cash in discounts from the upcoming sale by a retailer. The message with perhaps a URL to browse a web page, or watch a video is provided to customers on their mobile devices.
Paid search services or sponsored advertisements
Paid search services are a form of digital marketing used to bring in visitor traffic through Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns. Most search ads are sold on a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) or PPC basis, however, some are also available for customers on CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions).
Marketing is automated with the help of a software meant to automate repetitive marketing tasks such as email newsletters scheduled for the week/month, social media posts sharing and other project management tasks that can be alerted automatically to maintain consistent communication with the customer.
Delivering consistent experience to customers requires CMOs to integrate multiple departmental agendas under a single umbrella.
Industry Jargons: Glossary of Marketing Buzzwords
Here are some of the common marketing buzzwords used in the industry that every digital marketer should know:
- Analytics – From the perspective of inbound marketing, analytics involves discovery and understanding of meaningful patterns in data to study consumer behaviour, predict trends and develop actionable insights to make informed marketing decisions.
- RoI – A financial term borrowed and implied in different case scenarios across various industries. In the context of digital marketing push strategy, RoI means Returns on Investment generated from the aggressive marketing campaign efforts.
- B2B and B2C – B2B is Business-to-Business communication and B2C is Business to Consumer communication strategy to streamline marketing efforts targeted at the right audience.
- Bottom of the funnel – This is a marketing jargon used commonly among marketers when they reach a stage of a closing deal with a new customer, hence it is called “Bottom of the funnel.”
- Bounce rate – A tech term used for measuring effectiveness and reach of the digital marketing campaign. It is calculated based on the amount of time a new visitor spends on your web page or chooses to leave in a few. A higher bounce rate can typically lead to poor conversion rates, as typically no one engages with the content on your business portal. This calls for an immediate revamp.
- Call to Action – An instigating statement generally made to seek customer attention, involvement and engagement with your brand promotional activity. Such call to action statements require customers to act, either by “subscribing” to news feeds, channels or “download the whitepaper” etc.
- Churn rate – A metric that helps measure how many customers you retain and at what value. To calculate churn rate, you can consider the number of customers you lost at a certain time frame and divide it by the total number of customers you had at the very beginning of the schedule.
Regardless of the revenue earned, it is calculated based on the time frame that your customer sticks to your brand. If the customer does not stick long enough, then your business is unable to break even on customer acquisition costs.
How Do You Get Started on Digital Marketing Strategy?
Digital marketing opens new avenues for marketers. It gives businesses a compelling reason to streamline their digital marketing efforts and develop a strategic marketing plan for brand outreach activities.
In a nutshell, digital marketing is a cost-effective medium that helps create and deliver innovative customer experience for businesses to set them up on the fast track to success.
To be successful, digital marketers need to upskill. Marketers should be able to analyze customer data sets to gain a deeper understanding of the customer, their preferences, and purchasing behavior. They need to be savvier to extract actionable insights, forge strategic partnerships and should be able to arrive at an accurate estimation of their marketing activities.
Digital marketing expert Ang Eu Gene, lead trainer and consultant in Asia for Econsultancy UK was quoted in a news report by The Star Malaysia saying, “There are many low-cost digital marketing methods that businesses can exploit. The trick is to deploy these digital marketing methods and optimize them well. Digital marketing methods range from free methods like blogging and social media postings to paid methods like Google AdWords advertising, display advertising, and mobile applications.”
The one major question for organizations in Malaysia remains – if they should solely focus their efforts on digital marketing and give up on traditional marketing methods, or use a hybrid approach to marry both online and offline marketing methods to deliver enhanced experiential service delivery to customers across all touch points consistently.
Companies should invest in training teams with latest skills in digital marketing, hold structured learning programs, tackle legacy issues in IT, and influence change in thinking to notch up their game in the competitive marketing arena. Technology as an enabler should help create a level playing field for businesses to grow and thrive.