Before we can dive into my overview of digital marketing, I think we need to take a step back and have a very brief look at the main traditional marketing avenues first.
The world wide web was launched in 1994. Advertising first began appearing in Google in 2000, with Facebook launching its advertising platform in 2012. In the big scheme of things, digital marketing has only been around for a very short period of time. But wow, hasn’t it evolved quickly!
Traditional marketing has been around for a very long time. The print medium was born somewhere around 618 BC and advertisements in newspapers began appearing somewhere in the 18th century according to a quick Google search I have just done.
The print medium is the oldest out of the main mediums, which in my opinion are print (newspaper/billboard/magazine/flyer etc), TV and radio. What these all have in common are;
- Expensive – Often out of reach of some small/owner operator businesses
- Very low cut through – Generally you are broadcasting a message to a huge, relatively untargeted market. Obviously, you choose your publication or timeslot to narrow down your target as much as you can, but no where near the level of specificity the digital platforms allow us.
- Very difficult to measure – The way our brains work, unless we see an offer too good to believe in a traditional platform ad, we don’t walk into a shop and say “I’m here because I saw your ad on TV last night”. It just doesn’t happen enough to accurately measure what you are getting out of these campaigns. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely proven ways to analyse traditional marketing campaigns, people often over complicate things, but let’s just look at average sales across the course of a year or two, do you see upward trends in sales during or after running ad campaigns? There are some very smart people that work in marketing for brands like Coke and McDonalds and they never stop advertising, if it didn’t work, these companies wouldn’t do it. It is that simple. What isn’t simple is defining which medium works best. Most of the time I would say all of them, when executed correctly. Marketing campaigns are far less effective when done in isolation, but who’s got the money to advertise everywhere? Someone might drive past your billboard everyday on the way to work, consciously they don’t even notice it, but you are there every day. Then a few weeks later that person might now have progressed in the buying cycle, they need what you sell. Then they hear your ad on radio and for some reason they feel a connection to your brand. Then on the weekend they go shopping and they come to you, you ask how they heard about you and they can’t really put their finger on it, maybe they say they heard the radio add, maybe they say a friend told them about you because they can’t quite remember. When in actual fact, what had the most impact was probably the bill board that they unconsciously saw every day which then brought your brand front of mind when they fell into the market for your product or service. This is just a long-winded example; traditional marketing can be very difficult to measure.
- Hard to target and be specific – I touched on this in the above point, because these mediums are more expensive, we tend to be a little broader with our message because we need to try to attract as many leads as possible from our campaigns. If you can imagine a football stadium full of people, these people are men, women, children, teenagers, young adults, older adults, retirees and the list goes on, you’re on the field with a megaphone sending your message out to everyone in the stadium but you’ve got 30 seconds to do it. You’ll talk about the business, how good your service is and why someone should deal with you, then your time is up. Now you’re hoping as many people from that stadium come and see you.
So, what is digital marketing? By definition it is the use of new media and platforms to market products and services.
What are “new media and platforms”? In short anything web based. Websites, social media platforms, podcasts etc. I’m sure you will agree, the digital age has taken over. How many people do you know in 2018 that don’t have a smart phone? How many people do you know that don’t have ANY social media profiles at all? The reach of the digital age is huge. We all have everything right there in our pockets and boy are we addicted to looking at them.
Let’s do some quick and basic comparisons of the digital age to what I have said above about the traditional age;
- Very cost effective – A huge amount of what we can do costs next to nothing. Sure, a website has costs for upkeep but they are minimal compared to the cost of traditional advertising. If we are a little computer savvy a lot of our SEO can be done without a spend, our social media pages are free, we can constantly be posting content that costs us nothing to create, just our time.
- Much higher cut through as we can be extremely specific. Selecting the age, sex, location, interests and many more parameters on who sees our paid advertising. Making sure our ads only appear in front of people we specifically want to see what we are putting out there and if you run a pay per click campaign you don’t even have to pay unless they click on your ad. If we go back to the psychology of the billboard example I used before, this potentially means people are subconsciously taking in the information of your ad but not clicking because they aren’t in the market just yet. That’s free exposure!
- Extremely easy to measure. The level of analytics available through Google and the social media platforms is mind boggling. We can see how many people visited our website, their demographics, interests, how they found the website, what device they looked at the website on and many other things. We can even look at our website analytics live so you can see how many people are on your site right now. Of course, any of our paid advertising campaigns through Google or the social media platforms give us all of this information as well. We can see exactly what we have spend and follow the dots to see exactly how many leads or sales or enquiries were generated from that spend. It couldn’t be easier to measure.
- Digital these days is also so easy to set up campaigns. Google and Facebook basically hold your hand and walk you through the entire process of setting up a campaign these days, with simple, easy to understand instructions and explanations on what everything means.
- You can start and stop a campaign at anytime you want, if something isn’t working you can stop it straight away. We can run A and B testing to see which version of an ad works best over a few days then stop the one that isn’t working. The amount of freedom is fantastic.
These lists go on, but I’m sure you can see and agree on how beneficial the digital age is and can be to us from a business perspective and yet I still talk to people in 2018 who run businesses who don’t have website or social media pages. If you are running a business that doesn’t have a webpage or a Facebook page or an Instagram, please start these 3 things, even if you are killing it in business at the moment, if you wait until things slow down then it’s already too late.