What Is Digital Marketing?
It seems like everywhere you go there is someone who is tasked with Digital Marketing. In fact, many people now have titles such as Digital Marketing Manager, Digital Marketing Operations Manager, and Manager of Digital and Online Marketing. But what is Digital Marketing? I have heard it described as any marketing involving electronic technology and data collection.
Definition – According to Wikipedia, Digital Marketing is: “An umbrella term for the targeted, measurable, and interactive marketing of products or services using digital technologies to reach and convert leads into customers and retain them. The key objective is to promote brands, build preference, and engage with customers and increase sales through various digital marketing techniques. It is embodied by an extensive selection of service, product, and brand marketing tactics, which mainly use the Internet as a core promotional medium, in addition to mobile and traditional TV and radio.” 
How Can You Learn Digital Marketing?
Groups & Blogs Devoted to Digital Marketing – There are groups in LinkedIn for it – 4,330 groups at last count. The Digital Marketing group has over 900,000 members. It has become a hot term used in various blogs including Mashable, TSNN, and the American Marketing Association (AMA) blog.
Courses – The University of Illinois, through Coursera, offers a certificate in Digital Marketing for $49.99 per month. This Specialization explores several aspects of the new digital marketing environment, including digital marketing analytics, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and 3D printing. When you complete the Digital Marketing Specialization you should understand the foundations of digital marketing and learn examples, concepts, and tools to help you digitally create, distribute, promote and price products and services. This Specialization is part of the University of Illinois iMBA Program.
INC Magazine rated “Marketing In a Digital World” as a top Online Class for professionals in 2015. Even the AMA offers a number of digital courses such as Digital Strategy and Analytics. In addition to more traditional marketing concepts taught in this course such as audience segmentation and customer journeys, this course also shares how “digital strategy is the process of identifying, articulating and executing on digital opportunities that will increase your organizations competitive advantage.” After reading this, even I want to sign up.
There is even a Digital Marketing Institute with a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing offered online that retails for $5,365. There are also a lot of great articles online, and many other companies offer webinars and free materials that you can review to get up to speed. In fact, many local libraries offer introductory courses on blogging, social media, basic database creation and more.
Why Should You Learn Digital Marketing?
Statistics – The Digital Marketing Institute shares these statistics as proof of the need for this discipline:
- 76% of marketers think marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the last fifty.
- Adobe – a vendor of digital marketing tools.
- 57% of CEOs believe social media will push past call centers and channel partners to be among the top 3 ways to engage with customers.
- IBM Global – another vendor of online marketing tools.
- 70% of executives at large companies and agencies say their digital marketing teams are strong in some areas but mediocre or weak in others.
- Marketing Profs quoting the “Online Marketing Institute” who sells corporate training and certification programs in Digital Strategy among other certificate programs.
Clearly, marketing has evolved significantly over the last twenty years as more and more companies and individuals use the Internet to research companies and products. Companies reach out to current and potential customers online and, increasingly, even complete their purchases without ever talking to a company representative. Additionally, there is an increasing amount of collectable data to track client activities and demographics.
Consulting and Agencies – There are now Digital Marketing Agencies that specialize in helping companies adjust their marketing strategies to accommodate this changing, increasingly tech-focused environment or meet their digital marketing needs when the skills of their employees have not yet evolved to the changing environment. For example they may provide: app development, website design, content creation, lead generation, social media management, email marketing and pay-per-click advertising advice.
However, you could argue that Digital Marketing is just a collection of new tools that should be used just like any other marketing tactic, thoughtfully and as part of an overall strategy. In Mark Ritson’s Marketing Week article “The Death of Digital is Upon Us,” he states that Digital Marketing as a term should be obsolete. He quotes Diageo’s CEO Ivan Menezes in analyzing his company’s success: “It is not about doing Digital Marketing, it is about marketing effectively in a digital world.”
How Does Digital Marketing Come Into Play With Trade Shows and Events?
Social Media – Social media can be used to promote events before, during and after the fact. This promotion can increase attendance and engagement at the event. It can be used to poll attendees about their preferences before the event and gather real-time information during and after (this can be dangerous if things did not go as well as you hoped for). Depending on your type of event, you can have your clients share social posts and even ask them to rate your company using social platforms. With all of this comes great data you can gather to further fine-tune your marketing tactics. In fact, events give marketers a great reason to communicate with clients on social media and further the client relationship from a digital connection to a personal face-to-face engagement.
Email Marketing – Email invitations are sent as a matter of course for almost every event. It should come as no surprise that it is a great idea to invite your clients and prospects to visit you at your next trade show via email. Just make sure you give them an incentive to do so, whether it be an activity, giveaway or a new product demo. It is also nice to have a feature that enables them to add the event to their calendar and to share the invitation with others.
Blogging – In your blog, you can post about your event and the things you will be doing that may interest your clients and readers. This is a great opportunity to give your clients a sneak preview on the products, demos and giveaways they can expect to see if they visit you at the show.
Video Content – While production of videos used to be left to the experts, due in part to the cost of producing them and distributing them, now anyone can create and share a video. You can create videos with an iPhone and share them on YouTube to promote your event. Stream video of your demos on Periscope or share your videos on Facebook. Just be mindful of creating content that is not compelling to your audience thus losing their interest. Video is great if you do it well.
Interactive & Trackable Digital Signage – Creating digital signage is getting easier as there are apps and vendors to help you create content that can be used at your event to showcase your products and services. Also, these can be set up so you can integrate brochure requests, email and interactive capabilities. Some will even have a feature that can track what items you, or your prospects, look at and for how long. This can be a particularly useful feature if you are launching a new product or trying to gage interest amongst the existing line you are showcasing.
Customer Relationship Management System – The next time you gather leads or any client information at a show make sure it is optimized for easy entry into your CRM. This way you will be better equipped to follow up on those contacts and to estimate the revenue generated as a result of your show presence or event.
Electronic Brochures – Many of our clients now use electronic brochures that can be viewed on a tablet or digital monitor during the show and emailed to their clients immediately – either during the conversation or right after. Some software will even allow you to mark up the brochure via a touch screen before emailing the brochure to a client. Some still bring paper brochures for those clients who want something to take away at the show. Back in the early 2000s the big breakthrough was to offer electronic brochures on a thumb drive for prospects to view. This provides the client the information they want in an easily accessible, savable and searchable format. You can also keep track of the brochures you distributed at the show in your CRM, which will help your sales reps by letting them know what the client inquired about.
Website Marketing – Whether you choose to have an event microsite, to add a mention of it on your homepage, or a dedicated event page on your site, a web presence should be part of your arsenal. If people are thinking about attending or planning to attend an event but want more information, their instinctive step is to… Google it! Yes, you need to make sure they find the information you want them to know – location of the show, your booth number, your giveaway offer, new products you may be launching. This should all be easily accessible. You should add these links to all your social media postings about the event to help drive traffic to the page and improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking.
SMS (Short Message Service) or texting – According to the book “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” by David Meerman Scott, some companies use text as a way to make it easy for people to sign up to receive communications from a company. However, you need to be careful. Ensure that people who sign up know what they are doing and give you explicit consent to communicate with them. One recommendation from Constant Contact is to provide a clear, incentivized call to action to promote a keyword, like “text keyword to 12345 to receive X offer and to join our texting list.” CTIA, The Wireless Association, has best practices outlined on their website. As they also state, you must be very careful not to contact the receiver too often or outside of the context that you laid out or they will unsubscribe or, worse yet, not want to do business with you in the future. That said, a useful text message will probably be appreciated. My dentist sends me a text, with my permission, on the day of my appointment. If you set meetings with your clients at a trade show or provide a time-sensitive premium, a reminder text that they can opt in for will likely be appreciated.
Virtual & Augmented Reality (AR) – This has been getting a lot of press lately and most people don’t know the marketing capabilities of this new digital technology. However, it is clear that the ability to make people feel like they are interacting in an environment that is digitally enhanced has huge opportunities for marketing and for events. Some of our clients are starting to use features of AR as part of the experience they provide to attendees visiting their booth. I can’t wait for us to have the capability to incorporate that experience and create a new, enhanced way for clients to experience our messaging and brands.
I am sure there are many new facets to Digital Marketing that I don’t know about and that are still evolving as I write this. However, I hope that this article helps give you some insight into what it is and what it will become. Digital Marketing offers a new – and evolving – set of tools to help us better communicate with clients about who we are and how we can help meet their needs.