The ever-evolving tech environment facilitates the emergence of intuitive marketing tools and techniques, enabling companies to effectively reach up to 3 billion internet users. These “magical” advances allow budget-constrained firms to compete with bigger, more experienced corporations on the same level. If planned correctly, a digital marketing strategy not only helps your business compete but offers powerful possibilities for growth.
The shift in sources of business leads
There is one critical question that is often neglected by business owners: “What are the primary sources of my business leads and how long will they last?” The answer to this question should help shape your investment strategy in directing your resources toward profitable customer groups.
Given the rising demand for laptop and mobile devices, it’s apparent that the digital world is your next must-do marketing frontier. Online directories like Google My Business, Bing Places, or Yelp for Business have largely replaced the antiquated Yellow Pages. An impressive presence on the internet becomes more important than ever for businesses, regardless of size or industry. To secure future growth, a well-planned digital marketing strategy is what we all need.
How digital marketing is the answer
- Digital marketing blurs the distance
Digital marketing closes the gap between big and small businesses, equalizing their presence for online customers. Costly call centers are no longer the best way to stay connected with customers living in areas outside the typical physical boundaries. Emails or email newsletters can be sent immediately to global customers at a minimal cost. Thanks to affordable tools like MailChimp or InkBrush (which offers quick design of professional HTML email), your small business email campaign can present itself as professionally as big corporations with thousands of employees worldwide.
In the early 90s, no marketer could imagine such far-reaching campaigns being executed within a limited budget. It no longer matters where, when or how customers find you. What sets your business apart from the competition is not the geographical or time differences but whether you can deliver a more satisfying customer experience to, for example, customers in Vietnam from the U.S. in comparison to local players. The upside of these technological advances is that your marketing is working around the clock, and around the world. Especially with e-commerce, income flows into your account even when you are sleeping. However, this also means you are fishing in the global ocean, where there are millions of skilled fishermen (and women). Not strategizing or implementing your digital marketing campaign intelligently can set you back to ground zero.
- Digital marketing improves marketing efficiency
It delivers conversion. Whichever measure is taken, the ultimate purpose of any marketing campaign is to encourage buyers to take action. All businesses should be aware of the traffic/subscriber/follower traps: an internet buzz without income means customers know your brand well yet decide to buy from your competitors.
By generating prompt and productive interaction with targeted audiences, digital tools and techniques like Search Engines Optimization (SEO), social media marketing and permission-based email marketing will lead to above-average conversion rates. Good SEO makes your site more visible to search engine users (according to imFORZA, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine), social media connects buyers and sellers, and email personalizes that established relationship. A study by Google and IPSOS Hong Kong verifies that companies applying digital marketing outperform (by 2.8 times) their counterparts in revenue growth expectancy. As a result, digitalized companies enjoy a 3.3 times better chance of expanding business and entering broader markets.
It is more cost effective. Do the simple math: weigh the cost of establishing your online presence (website, social media pages and online directory entries) against marketing globally using TV stations, print ads and billboards. Given the growing number of active internet users, online marketing significantly outruns traditional marketing in ROI (Return on Investment). Nearly 40% of respondents to Gartner’s Digital Marketing Spend Report give a thumbs-up to the cost reduction effect of digital promotion methods.
It is also easier and more economical to execute your targeted marketing campaign online. Facebook, for instance, allows customized advertising on different customer segments based on ages or even shopping interests. Analytics of all activities also become handy and exportable.
As a result, around 30% of respondents in the same Gartner Report claim to have diverted their marketing budget from traditional media channels to digital ones.
It entices people to take favorable action. How does online marketing affect the buyers’ decision making process? Imagine a 35-year-old mom who wants a surprise get-away with her husband next month. Using her smartphone while looking after kids roaming around the front yard, she Googles “weekend vacation for two” and gets nearly 5 million results in less than 1 second. Ignoring several ads at the top, some websites appearing on the first search result page catch her attention with great descriptions of a trip at an affordable price. To be sure, the mom then searches for Facebook pages of these agencies and scans through reviews and customers’ comments. Three agencies are then selected as finalists whose sites record the mom’s contact details. It’s dinnertime! She hurriedly puts down the phone to prepare the family meal and totally forgets about booking a trip.
The next morning, while checking emails on her office computer, the mom receives a newsletter in glowing yellow from one agency, enticing her to take a 3-day trip to Paris. She can’t help clicking on the bright red “Reserve Now” button. And voilà! She’s a new subscriber and a new sale score.
This sale is by no means lucky, but the fruit of calculated efforts by digital marketers: the SEO specialist and copywriter optimize content to push the site to Google’s first page, the web developer designs an attractive and mobile-friendly site, the social media manager responds attentively to customer feedback and the CRM (customer relationship management) staff sends customers newsletters motivating them to act and buy.
- Digital marketing better engages customers
It builds brand reputation. The superior feature of digital marketing is the ability to attract enormous audiences at minimized effort. Every internet user can be a contributor to the success of your campaign by clicking Share. Just one viral publication (videos, photos or blog post) can be worth a whole year of branding activities. Good content travels fast (and so do terrible ones). The ideal cycle goes from attracting visitors, engaging them in a ready-to-buy state, converting sales and sharing testimonials. All this can be done within your online ecosystem.
It facilitates interaction with target customers. It is almost impossible or extremely costly to achieve real time interaction with mass audiences using traditional marketing methods, but internet marketing tools level the playground for all businesses. A team of two founders working in their garage can go live on Facebook to deal with a customer concern at a low to no cost. The gate of opportunity is open for every business in our digital world; the differentiating point is how you handle such engagements and interactions.
Such close-up communications also provide your business with better insights on the needs of targeted segments. These are valuable sources for your upcoming strategic moves, continuous improvement in customer experience and growing customer loyalty.
- Digital marketing prepares your business for the future
Visitors come and go, and apparently, not all of them are profitable. Likewise, people visit your website and leave for others at even greater speed. Without a well-planned conversion funnel, all the traffic you drive means nothing. Plus, business practices and customer behaviors change every day as a result of constantly evolving technologies. Just five years ago, the PC and laptop still played a dominant role in online shopping. Now every action should be redesigned to fit portable devices for on-the-go shoppers. Who knows if people will still type to shop in the next 5 years when voice command gradually becomes the standard feature on mobile devices.
The IoT train (Internet of Things – a global ecosystem of interconnected devices via internet) is speeding up (around 24 billion gadgets by 2020) and supported by major players like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Cisco, etc. Going forward, where would you bet your marketing dollars to get noticed among (and ideally in front of) your competition?
To conclude, the essential element of generating consistent income is always looking out for business leads, which, unfortunately, never stop changing. For now, riding the digital wave won’t do you wrong. Why? Because digital or internet marketing closes distance, boosts efficiency, improves customer engagement and, most of all, prepares your business for the future.
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