Digital marketing is, very simplistically, the act of marketing products or services on digital platforms. On the Internet, this would be via websites, blogs and social media, among others.
However, digital marketing also takes place on any other device that uses digital technology, such as smartphones, where the vehicles would be emails, SMSes, etc.
Why is digital marketing important?
The digital age means that access to information is literally at everyone’s fingertips, anytime, anywhere and on any device we choose. This makes it imperative for every business to have a presence online.
Competition for customers has become tougher — they could be anywhere in the digital world, so how do you help them find YOU? They are also constantly being exposed to your competitors and the Internet allows them to research products/services, access customer reviews, discover complaints and compare costs long before they engage with your business.
By 30 June 2017, nearly seven million Zimbabweans were Internet users and this figure is growing as more people get connected every day and use the Internet on a variety of devices. So digital is where it’s at and digital marketing should be included in every company’s budget. Need more convincing? Look at these stats from the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe for the third quarter of 2017:
- Internet penetration in Zimbabwe was at 49.5% in the third quarter and continues to increase
- Mobile penetration rate increased to 100.5%
- Consumption of data/internet services increased by 39.1%
In light of this, having a broader and more effective online presence for your business is a foregone conclusion.
How does digital marketing work?
Digital marketing aims to achieve the following goals:
- Helping people find your business.
- Driving traffic to your website to make sales.
- Converting first-time visitors into leads and then customers.
- Ensuring repeat business through customer satisfaction.
Some of the main platforms used for digital marketing are as follows (there are more!):
- Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
Your website is the identity of your business; it’s the hub of all your information, from your company profile to products, services, costings, your location and contact details. As such it should always be kept it up to date.
A recent article in News Day lamented the lack of attention that’s paid to business websites in Zimbabwe with information not being current and more focus being directed towards social media. While both are important platforms for digital marketing, they work differently and populating each with content should also be approached differently.
Your website allows for more detailed information and longer-form content. A visitor should find all their questions answered on your website. Also important is to make your website content fresh, informative and interesting whether it’s a product description or your About Us page.
The use of blogs as marketing tools for business is relatively new but the idea of blogging doesn’t have to be daunting. Blogs are short articles on a particular topic — think of them as similar to newspaper columns — and are an effective online communication tool to engage with potential and current customers. It’s a place where you write about what you know, thereby positioning you as an expert and a source of assistance (how-to blogs, for instance).
Blogs also help your business to be found online and encourage traffic to your website. How, you ask? Well, a potential customer would not know the name of your business, so they might google a phrase or keywords related to it, say for instance, ‘retirement annuities’ and find themselves directed to your blog entitled Retirement annuities vs pension schemes — which is best? From there they can browse all the valuable information on your website and start considering becoming a customer.
The best thing about social media? It’s free! The next best thing? It’s user-friendly. From grannies to pre-teens, everyone these days is using social media. Why should you use it for business? Social media is most likely where people will look for you first.
It’s a platform where you can promote your business, your offers, nurture customer relationships (get feedback, resolve issues), expand audiences and thereby leads. You don’t have to opt for all the social media platforms in existence — LinkedIn is great for business, start there. (Plus you can post your blogs on it).
Can you see how great the synergy is between these platforms?
Six reasons to switch to digital marketing
Digital marketing has a host of advantages that just can’t be matched by traditional marketing. Take a look at the big ones:
- Measurability — analytics tools such as Google Analytics, HubSpot Analytics and Hootsuite collect data for you about how your online campaigns are performing, measure the traffic to your website, the conversion rates (how many visitors take the action you want them to take, such as submitting their contact details) the engagement of your followers on social media and much more.
You can’t measure the success of your billboard, print ad or radio spot in terms of how many people saw it, actually read it or heard it.
- Global reach — digital marketing exposes you to the world, while traditional marketing is generally local or national.
- Interaction — whether via social media or your website, digital marketing allows you to immediately respond and address issues thereby building your reputation. It gives your business that human touch that traditional media doesn’t offer.
- Content choice — your audience is able to choose the format of the content they want to receive whether an electronic newsletter, video or blog and your content is unobtrusive. Plus they can opt in or out. Traditional media bombards audiences with unsolicited content, phone calls, advertising etc.
- Cost-effective — it’s possible to make a small investment and achieve a great return. Facebook and Google ads are a fraction of a TV commercial or full-page magazine advertorial that cost so much to produce. Digital marketing is affordable for every size of business, allowing the small guys to compete with the big boys.
- Effort and time — you can reach a wide audience without too much effort, simultaneously, on a variety of platforms with the same but slightly tweaked message/content. Just one post carries the potential to be shared across many platforms and among thousands of people around the world. It could even go viral!