Over the past decade, digital marketing has been crucial in shifting the mindset of major industries with regards to how they market their products and services. The technological leaps that society has made in the past few years have given birth to new ways of experiencing and accessing the internet. To keep up with these advances, companies from a variety of fields have adapted digital tools which help them compete in an ever-growing digital world.
From this technological revolution, digital marketing was born. Realizing the value of leveraging the internet to market their brand, large corporations have invested heavily in digital marketing strategies. However, the tech revolution has also facilitated a shift in how consumers view marketing. Gone are the days where company-centric, brand-specific marketing materials reigned supreme.
Now, technology allows customers to access only the information they want, and the current consumer trend is customer-centric lifestyle-specific marketing. Fortunately, digital marketing has been able to keep up with the times and has provided businesses an avenue for them to reach their customers in the digital age.
While many major companies are reaping the benefits of sound online marketing plans, digital marketing for small businesses can also achieve great benefits for a small investment.
What is Digital Marketing?
Simply put, digital marketing is any marketing strategy deployed using digital tools. Digital marketing is most often used on the internet, but it can also be seen on digital billboards and other electronic means of communication. Digital marketing is comprised of numerous methods of execution, such as search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, influencer marketing, e-commerce, and social media management.
Major companies from various fields have adapted digital marketing as a significant tool in their overall marketing strategies. Although traditional methods such as flyers, billboards, and print and TV ads are still utilized in marketing, the ubiquitous nature of internet usage has facilitated a shift towards digital tools. This shift also resulted in a different way of approaching customers: where once, companies merely marketed their products and services to their consumers, the current mindset demands that companies make their products and services customer-centric, to begin with.
A customer-centric approach dictates that marketing strategies cater to the consumers’ tastes and inclinations. To keep up with this demand, digital marketing tools use complex algorithms that are designed to measure multiple aspects of customer behavior on the internet: from the amount of internet usage at a given time, to internet searches and preferences.
These parameters are then compiled and analyzed, and a marketing strategy is crafted based on the information gathered. The marketing strategy is then applied across multiple-channels over the internet: social media, search engines, blogs, and websites, all of which are designed to fulfill the specific needs of individuals.
Who Uses Digital Marketing?
Although major companies did not utilize the internet very much during the early 90’s, the 2000’s saw an uptick in digital marketing across all industries and all sizes of business. Various industries from banking and finance, to commercial and retail sellers, started utilizing digital marketing more and more by the mid-2000’s.
As of 2010, almost 4.5 trillion online ads were being served annually. Presently, most companies recognize that digital marketing not only adds value to their brand, it has become essential to their marketing needs.
An example of an industry that has greatly benefited from digital marketing is retail, specifically online retail. A 2016 study conducted by Nielsen Global, an international consumer behavior and commercial trends think tank, predicts that more than 12% of global retail sales will come from online sellers by 2019.
This statistic is not only confined to retail. With digital devices becoming more sophisticated and internet access becoming more easily available to people, companies across a wide variety of industries have fully embraced digital marketing.
However, there are still small businesses out there that have yet to apply digital marketing to their marketing strategies.
Why Should Small Businesses Use Digital Marketing?
Using the various tools available on a digital platform, small businesses can create distinct advantages that put them ahead of their competition. One of the more popular aspects of digital marketing is the use of social media to market various products and services.
Using social media as a platform for information distribution is an effective way to maximize the potential of a company’s digital marketing strategy. This is because social media is an efficient place to gather information about behavioral patterns of customers, and to clearly pinpoint their wants and needs regarding products or services. Using social media as an avenue for digital marketing is an effective way to further optimize the online strategies that small businesses can deploy. Social media is a powerful tool, and a strong digital marketing strategy should be able to utilize this along with all possible digital channels of communication and information.
Moreover, because digital marketing has a wider reach, and is relatively cheaper than traditional means of marketing, this method presents businesses with a more cost-effective solution to their marketing issues.
How Can Small Businesses Use Digital Marketing to Their Advantage?
As mentioned above, digital marketing utilizes various tools to market products, services, and brands in general. Beyond brand awareness, however, digital marketing also allows small businesses to support 24/7 online customer service, which is an invaluable service in a customer-centric world.
Online customer service, whether it’s via social media or through an independent service on a company website, allows businesses to receive feedback from their customers. The ability to instantly receive praise or criticism regarding a particular brand gives businesses a chance to stay ahead of the competition by adjusting their products and services according to customer feedback.
In a customer-centric world, consumer feedback is now an important aspect of any business’s brand development strategy. Consumers will regularly post their reviews of various products and services online, particularly on social media. This gives businesses the avenue to engage in conversation with customers and the ability to manage feedback in an appropriate manner – if the business has integrated social into its digital. marketing strategy.
Because people now prefer personal experiences over what a company would say about their own brand, businesses must now be able to manage the expectations of consumers when it comes to their products and services, which is crucial to maintaining a positive business-customer relationship.
An example of this would be Instagram, a social media site that focuses on community-posted photos. Restaurants across the world realized that photos of beautiful plating and unique food presentations would regularly net positive online feedback, which in turn translated to higher returns in the form of more customers in their restaurants. Community-posted photos basically became a free advertisement for these restaurants. As such – and in line with a consumer-centric approach, as well – restaurants now put greater effort into creating dishes that are not only appetizing but also visually appealing.
As information becomes easier to access and consumers demand personalized marketing approaches, small businesses must prioritize digital efforts. Indeed, a strong digital marketing strategy has become vital to the survival of a small business. Additionally, personal, one-on-one online marketing strategies that target individual consumers is becoming one of the most popular and most important campaigns that a business could use.
The bottom line is this: customer-centric ads create a sense of approachability in a company’s brand, making it more accessible to people. Marketing campaigns that focus on the lifestyle associated with a brand, rather than the brand itself, have seen more positive feedback than campaigns that focus on the company and their product or service.