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If you’ve ever studied the history of evolution then you know that it follows a distinct pattern. Species develop a method of predation on another species, and the prey species develops a defence against it, causing an endless arms race of genetic adaptation and development. However, when a new environmental niche opens up, it is typically free of competition and predators. This leads to some species migrating to this new niche and developing to thrive within it.
Its right about now you may be wondering “why is a marketing site telling me about evolution?” Bear with us, we promise it’s relevant.
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You see this process of discovering a competition-free landscape and then quickly becoming the best suited organism to inhabit it is and oddly suitable analogy for the process of digital marketing. There was a time when marketing was done entirely through television, radio, print media, and billboards. Then in the 90’s the internet became commercialised and suddenly the arms race between companies for most stand-out advertising migrated to the open landscape of the World Wide Web.
What is digital marketing? It’s a relatively new form of marketing which is distinct from other forms in that it allows for the use of open, direct channels of communication and interaction with a target audience, as well as new insights into how that audience thinks and who they are.
A New Cybernetic Niche
Before the internet, marketing was an arms race of who could come up with the most creative/funny/informative advertisement. Now the arms race is the same, it’s just fully populated. However before it was, marketers were actually wary of this new thing called “The Internet.” It wasn’t until 1993 that the first clickable banner advertisement launched, and in 1994 the first online store took off, along with Yahoo later on!
Now, several decades later, online marketing is the primary method of advertising for most businesses, and if a business doesn’t have an online store or social media page, it might as well not exist.
Yet some people still struggle with exactly what the function of digital marketing is, completely oblivious to the fact that, it’s exactly the same as traditional marketing.
What is The Purpose of Digital Marketing?
When animals move to a new landscape, their purpose there is the same as it was when they were in their old habitat – feed and breed. The same can be said of companies that move to the digital landscape.
“Feed” can be thought of as generating business and attracting more traffic to their website to make more sales. “Breed” can be likened to spreading brand awareness and increasing the name and influence of your business.
If those things look familiar then that’s good, because it’s exactly the same goals as traditional marketing, it’s just on a different platform. So then what sets it apart from those traditional methods?
The Uses of Digital Marketing
We’ve ascertained that the role of digital marketing is the same as traditional marketing. If this is indeed true then why is it so different to traditional marketing?
To go back to our evolution framing device, the online marketplace is one that is relatively new, and the most successful companies within this niche are the ones that can more easily and readily adapt to how it works. That being said, what makes online different to offline? Simply put, the major difference is the speed, volume, and quality of communication between business and clientele.
Where traditional marketing is concerned, the only way to offer feedback was through feedback forms or snail mail, in which case it could take weeks or months to illicit a response. Digital marketing has created an environment where customers are constantly and directly connected to the businesses they buy from. With the press of a few buttons people can deliver feedback, ask questions, place orders, or offer criticism.
Now, digital marketing has several direct lines to a business’ clientele, either through website contact forms, a dedicated feedback/enquiry line, social media channels, email marketing campaigns, and more. Advertising no longer consists of producing an ad then putting it into the stratosphere and hoping for the best – now we have the Three T’s.
Targeting, Tracking, Tweaking.
When planning a digital marketing campaign, you should have come across a lot of information regarding your target audience so that you could target your advertisements to the specific demographics you want to aim your business at. Using this information is paramount, and is one of the foremost uses of digital marketing.
Targeting an audience allows you to capitalise on your investments, as you won’t spend needless money on dozens of different platforms, trying to tap into every demographic that might use your business, instead being able to specifically target the demographics that almost definitely will use your business.
However, there’s still work to be done once your campaign goes live. One of the best and most interesting functions of digital marketing is the ability to track your audience. After launching your campaign, digital marketing platforms will generally provide you with a real-time feed reflecting the status of your campaign, who is finding it, when, what they’re doing after they find it, and whether those ads lead to sales or not.
This feeds directly into the third T and one of the reasons there is such an importance of digital marketing these days – Tweaking. Unlike traditional advertising, digital marketing allows users to correct their mistakes in real time. Businesses can examine their ad throughout its tenure, and correct or change it as required.
They can measure a response to posts and either take it down or issue an apology. If the analytics of a campaign show that one platform may be more beneficial than one currently being used, it is perfectly within the entrepreneur’s realm of control to move to a new platform.
Online marketing is essentially evolution in real time, you can recognise a threat, and then immediately adapt to protect against it. But much like evolution, there is often some kind of drawback.
Digital Marketing Roles and Responsibilities
The Luna Moth is a species that is unique to the world because unlike just about every other moving, breathing, living creature – it never evolved a mouth or digestive system. This means that the Luna Moth, after metamorphosing will live for about a week before it essentially starves to death.
Grim, we know, but it highlights a very important element of digital marketing. If you’re not able to adapt to it, you can expect your business to live for about a week.
One of the biggest responsibilities of digital marketing is to simply, do it. There are around 5.4 billion searches per day on Google, and your website among the 50 billion+ that are in Google’s indexes right now has a less than 1% chance of showing up in one of those searches without marketing. Perhaps the biggest purpose of digital marketing is to put you onto the global stage.
When the internet was put out to the public it did a major thing for business – it made them all accessible 24/7 to everyone in the world. 6 Billion People in the world, and suddenly all of them were prospective customers at all hours of the day. Digital marketing is the only way to stand a chance in this miasma of advertising and consumerism. You’re either playing the game or you’ve lost, there’s no other way about it.
However more than this is the responsibility that comes with digital marketing. Some unscrupulous companies have already come under fire for being free-and-easy with the information they’ve gained through digital marketing. Famously a few years back, Apple was asked by the FBI to provide law enforcement with a back door to their customer’s information in order to investigate suspected terrorists.
Apple declined, as the act would have set a legal precedent that companies could compromise their clients’ personal information and communications under certain circumstances, a ruling that would have left innocent people open to corrupt law enforcement personnel.
When you engage in digital marketing, you’ll be privy to information. The selling and distribution of this information is protected by privacy laws that you’ll have to familiarise yourself with and be held accountable to when you start to engage in this form of marketing. However it’s actually pretty common sense – if you wouldn’t want other people selling or distributing this information about you, then you shouldn’t distribute it about others.
A New Species of Marketer
In recent years, digital marketing has become so widespread that people who specialise in its use are becoming more and more prevalent and sought after. It takes several years of university to fully grasp, and even then most people specialise in one or two areas, with very few people emerging as dedicated generalists.
These days there are entire companies devoted to the subtle science and exact art of online marketing, Traffic Radius being one of them. If you’ve enjoyed this blog, we may be able to help your business meet its goals, or help you navigate the huge world of digital marketing. Simply contact us here, or call us on 1300 870 901 today!