What is Digital Marketing (Importance and Advantages)?
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What is Digital Marketing? Understanding the importance of Digital Marketing.

What is Digital Marketing? Understanding the importance of Digital Marketing.

As seen in the blog on Stakeholder Based- Digital Transformation Model, the extent of technologies and collaborations across Digital Marketing are much more pronounced than all the other E-models put together which outlines the essential difference and its rising prominence.

The meaning of Digital Marketing

The definition of Digital Marketing according to IDM (Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing) includes “the management and execution of marketing using electronic media such as the web, email, interactive TV, wireless media in conjunction with digital data about customers characteristics and behavior.”

The unique differentiators from the definition includes-

  1. Digital marketing involves reaching out to potential customers through a set of interactive, intuitive and advanced electronic devices and platforms which go beyond the normal web and email to include mobile, PDAs, interactive TV, applications, social media and other advanced platforms which were earlier not common to marketing online through the “E” models. This explosion of platforms and devices has been possible due to an explosion in mobile technologies and successive innovations which have made instruments like smartphones being available in the hands of large audiences with readily accessible information.
  2. Application of marketing to consumer interaction touch-points that integrate digital data about customers and their behaviors in a manner not extracted and targeted before. This has resulting in a whole new ecosystem of advanced technologies to target each valued customer customized with messages and promotions specific to their needs and intent.
  3. Introduction of interactive communication channels like search, display advertising, social media, etc which have a strong combination of pull-push marketing rather than the earlier models which were primarily of push marketing nature (in the next section we shall go through in detail the differences between the two types of models –Pull/Push and how this affects the way in which digital marketing creates a difference.
  4. Incorporation of a variety of technological advances in communication, social integration, machine learning algorithms along-with their application to multiple devices, platforms which have made it possible for digital to carve itself as an established area of marketing.

Advantages of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing easily scores over its traditional counterparts. Key reasons as to why digital scores over other traditional forms of marketing include-

  1. Audience Targeting- Helps know which audience to target and why, with specific pre-designed messages suited to their specific problems and needs
  2. Cost Leverage- Digital mediums can be the most cost effective for messaging across a larger audience, which was the key reason in the first place for their adoption
  3. Actionable Reporting- The kind of quantitative customer segment data and qualitative feedback obtained here is far more authentic and actionable
  4. Location-based messaging- No other type of marketing can develop and target personalized, location-based messages for customers as per their specific interests
  5. Quicker funnel fulfillment- The covering of marketing funnel from awareness to action can be fulfilled much quicker after the customer has shown the first intent
  6. Multi-channel Reach- Digital marketing integrates data, communication and messaging across multiple platforms making it the best form of Integrated marketing
  7. Instant customer interaction- With customer interaction and service tightly integrated, it is the first time that marketers can interact in real-time to understand and support the problems faced by first-time or their most engaged users

Let us now look at the reasons behind the rise of Digital as a prominent marketing tool, and push-pull marketing concepts.

Emergence of Digital Marketing as a Tool

Why has digital become so important and prominent lately and how does it matter to the practitioners of marketing?

To understand and appreciate the rapid rise of digital marketing over its preceding concepts it would help to gain an understand of essentially how the marketing function has come to change over the years in terms of the most important parameter- Customer Interaction.

What is customer interaction?

Customer Interaction is defined as the manner in which any potential lead or customer gets to know or interacts with any product or service with the intention of gaining information or to respond to the marketer’s goal of the consumer considering and finally buying its products. This leads us to a key question as to what it is that a consumer really looks from marketing.

Any consumer, in a reactive or proactive mode is typically looking to obtain information on any specific area of interest. He/she might not be looking at a product or a service itself but information which would solve any one of the problems at hand. He might also be just curious to gain knowledge on any subject (academic or general interest based) or might just generally want to know what is happening currently around his neighbourhood, city or the world at large.

In the traditional form of marketing, this information to be delivered to consumers was decided, selected or created by a group of media experts who took the decision of what knowledge would be circulated, printed or broadcasted (in the relevant examples of newspaper, magazines, radio and TV), which format it would be shared and at what price would it be delivered. The consumer was more of a passive receptor of information and while in certain feedback columns or radio programs he could raise some questions, he was essentially gaining information and knowledge pre-curated for him and packaged with advertisements and promotions which he had no control over and maybe not much interest either.

The difference which successive marketing concepts kept bringing about till the present digital marketing era relate most to the manner in which the power of consumer choice has shifted from being a tame receptor to an active seeker of information. And it is in this active seeking of information process that the heart of digital marketing lies. With this understanding we would now put forth the two most important concepts which define and differentiate digital marketing- push and pull marketing.

Push and Pull Marketing

Pull and Push Marketing includes any type of customer interaction with any digital media can be most simply divided into two types depending upon where the contact is initiated-

  1. Medium Initiated Contact (Push Marketing)- This is the type of marketing we have seen traditionally wherein marketing messages are packaged with information which are pre-configured for a particular set of users. Take the example of a newspaper, which typically is currently information packaged across different verticals like politics, economics, sports, etc and packaged along-with large ad-columns which brought in the revenue (along-with the classifieds). In-contrast let us understand what pull marketing entails.
  2. Consumer Initiated Contact (Pull-Marketing) – Pull marketing involves consumer placing his intent and specific interest for a particular type of information and being offered that information along-with relevant marketing messages suited to his intent, query or profile-based interests. If in the same example of a newspaper as above, consider that the company decides to provide information in a way that each article of the newspaper is tagged and categorized based on multiple criteria to be searched upon a digital platform. In this case when a consumer makes a specific search for a piece of content and chooses matching information/news, promotions are sent based on his profile preferences, real-time location and the topic of the article he was found interested in reading. This would then become be an example of pull marketing

Based on the key characteristic of these two types of marketing the development of new digital platforms can be explained an understood. Digital marketing includes all those techniques and concepts that look at utilizing the intent (Pull-based) action of the consumer to market products and services (in a Push-based manner) which would be most needed, relevant and of interest to them.

Let us understand a few key types of digital marketing areas to see how digital technologies have been built around the combinations of Pull/Push Marketing concepts

  1. Search Marketing Search was one of the most pioneering Pull-Push marketing concepts which involved providing a technology platform to consumers to help them express their intent towards finding a particular piece of information and building a push marketing-based business around that search. (We would cover this particular topic and its technologies in details in the upcoming chapters and sections).
  2. Display Advertising Similar to print advertisements, display advertising was built on pulling data on consumers readership interests on any particular website wherein display ads were pushed next to the content being read for consumers to interact, click and buy on landing pages created for this action.
  3. Social Media Marketing- With the power of social networks coming to internet-based platforms, marketers could not only use the information pulled from customer intent but also from the intent of his social networks which would be marketed back to him in the form of sponsored and native advertisements (We could cover these terminologies in detail in the section and chapters specific to social media marketing).

Key Drivers for shift to Digital Platforms

With this understanding of the pull-push concepts, a thought which should come naturally is on the key drivers behind this change in marketing to digital platforms and the reasons for the shifting consumption patterns-

  1. Emergence of the internet as discussed in the previous sections was one of the biggest factors of the transition to digital marketing. With growing availability of the internet, it became more and more possible to access data and information as and when required and needed and with the convenience of access not possible before.
  2. Rise of Millennial Generation- The emergence of Generation Y (those born during the 1980s and early 1990s) with their differing attitudes and aspirations and also rapid rise of social networking and collaboration concepts has led to the acceptance of Digital as a major buying platform. It has grown tremendously to a level that certain product categories now are being bought only through the digital channels.
  3. Technology advancements in Devices- With the rise of technology and investments in hardware, infrastructure, location positioning and device memory, it has become possible to bring forth convenient and feature-rich platforms like mobile, PDAs, tablets etc, whose computational power and storage options have made it possible to do research, personal interactions and commerce, all on the go.
  4. Advancements in Design/UI- With Apple bringing design to the fore and ease of access becoming crucial by the day, digital has the fillip over other traditional platforms in being a slicker, more user-friendly platform where brand experiences can be felt and shared in their tangible and intangible forms not possible before.
  5. Consumerism/Rising Global Economies- With the development of emerging nations since the past two decades and rise of discretionary income across many work sectors, it has become easier for a large middle-class population to consume smart-phones and tablets at prices never thought of before. Also, with rise in education levels and increasing accessibility the effect of digital is reaching far and wide to even smaller towns and cities thus increasing the consumer net rapidly.
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