SmartInsights defines digital marketing as advertising and marketing that is delivered through electronic devices and the internet. Digital marketing can be both online and offline. Online digital marketing includes websites, SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Video Marketing, and Content Marketing. On the other hand, offline marketing includes Television, SMS, Radio, and Billboards. Digital marketing dates back to 1990;s when the first search engine, Archie, was introduced, but gained popularity around the 2000s as a result of the introduction of Google suite, Facebook going live and Youtube launching. However, the professional use of digital marketing intensified when tools to track its success were introduced.
It is undeniable that a lot of brands are moving towards digital marketing and are leveraging it to reach a larger audience to sell their brands. In South Africa alone, there are over 400 digital marketing companies with task forces of between 20 to 60 people; an example being CTP, which charges $100 an hour. The rise in these digital marketing companies shows that is a growing need for them; that more companies want to engage with their customers in the digital space and they want skilled companies to create effective strategies for them so that they are able to correctly craft their presence in the digital space. Aside from the rise in digital marketing companies, reputable marketing platforms like Neil Patel, Smart Insights and Lyfe marketing are constantly releasing reports and information on why digital marketing is an important part of 21st-century marketing and companies should as such implement into their long term marketing plans. Despite the positive hype surrounding digital marketing, there are organizations who still believe that they do not need digital marketing, and equate their success to sheer hard work and the use of traditional marketing techniques.
On one hand, some of the benefits of companies using digital marketing firstly include the affordability of it. Small businesses especially, engage in digital marketing due to how affordable it can be. A small business can potentially reach over 1000 people with a paid ad of $5 by using guerrilla tactics on Facebook, where a video can go viral and attract consumers to the small business. Using the same storyline by employing traditional marketing tactics like newspapers, the small can 4 times fewer people, at a much higher price. This, it is argued, that digital marketing platforms like social media have a wider reach all connected by a platform. For example, about 1 third of the world’s population (approximately 2.34 billion people) is on social media, which gives companies that use social media a wider range of people to advertise to.
Furthermore, digital marketing provides quicker tracking of results. It is easier to measure the results of a campaign because of the tools that are provided Google, Facebook and other types of digital marketing, as opposed to newspapers, where it is more guesswork than actual facts. Functions like Facebook Analytics, Google Console, Google Analytics, Sprout ,etc, make is easier to know the exact reach, engagement, website visits that an ad drove. These functions also make it easier for businesses to target their ads to people they believe are the right fit for their products/services. When companies understand who their audience is, they are able to tailor their message to those audiences.
In addition, digital marketing strategies can be implemented across different channels to reach more people. The same campaign can be rolled out across social media, email, blogs, youtube and more channels, which enables the organization’s message to be received by a widespread of people. Digital marketing is interactive in nature due to the various channels that use various media tools, and this makes customer experience interactive and responsive. Businesses are able to immediately respond to the consumer’s queries and businesses can use videos, pictures, and other graphics to convey their message.
Lastly, it is argued that digital marketing is more flexible than traditional methods of marketing. Businesses, especially small businesses that are constantly changing strategy, are able to quickly adapt their strategy towards the immediate results they get from tracking their campaigns. Businesses can retarget, change the nature of their message, use different media tools and more, much more easily in digital marketing.
On the other hand, others argue that digital marketing can only be successful if done right, and in order for this to be the case, expensive digital marketing companies like CTP, which defeats the benefit of digital marketing being affordable. Furthermore, it is argued that digital marketing does not “magnify the core competencies of a company.” Core competencies refer to the core capabilities that make companies successful, e.g. staff, expertise, etc. Lastly, an argument against digital marketing is that is most often a replacement for face-to-face interaction, which makes businesses lose the human factor of their brand.
Overall, digital marketing is taking the marketing and advertising by storm, and thousands of companies are taking advantage of this. Despite a lot of companies like construction companies neglecting digital marketing, the trend is certainly growing and companies should be a space in which most of their consumers exist, which is inevitably in digital platforms.