Digital Marketing has come a long way since the invention of the internet back in the 1990s. It was in those days when Yahoo and Google started to show the world how powerful the internet could be as a ubiquitous repository of knowledge. With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that the internet has irreversibly changed our way of life in work and leisure.
Gone are the days when we have to painstakingly maintain files of physical documents consisting of customer data, work processes and event happenings. Gone are the days when trips to the library was a battle for marketing personnel and students, who had to fight over limited copies of print media (i.e. newspapers, magazines, and books) for research on their topics of interest. Gone are the days when we had to depend on televised news, radio, newspapers ads, and brochures to find out about latest happenings and fun places to plan for our next vacations.
With the internet today, we can store customer data and standard operating procedures for work processes in the cloud. Digital Marketing professionals can easily conduct online surveys for their market research to better understand consumer habits. HR departments or families planning for company retreats or vacations can go online to review positive testimonials before deciding on their destinations, flight options, accommodations, and itineraries.
In summary, the internet has precipitated the shift from traditional to digital marketing and has made digital marketing into the dynamic field it is today. The rise of tech behemoths such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter in the 2000s then entrenched the role of big data in digital marketing and it has been the lifeblood of digital marketing ever since.
In the article below, we will discuss some of the reasons why you or your organization should embrace digital marketing as we outline some of the current and emerging digital marketing trends, and conclude with our vision on the future of digital marketing.
Reason 1: Thinking Like Your Customers Can Help Drive Sales
Most marketing professionals today would have been inducted into the world of marketing with this familiar visualization of the customer journey. For those of us who are new to the field of digital marketing, it is important to know that the marketing funnel (shown below) as having this knowledge would allow you to create more targeted marketing campaigns to speak to your customers’ desires during various stages of the buying journey to increase the likelihood of them buying from you eventually.
There are four main stages in the buying journey: (1) Awareness, (2) Consideration, (3) Conversion and (4) Loyalty/Advocacy. At the awareness stage, customers are just getting familiar with your product and usually has no buying intent. At the consideration stage, customers recall that your brand offers the products or services that they need. They proceed to compare your brand with your competitors and evaluate their options. At the conversion stage, they decide that your product merits their purchase and proceed to buy from your brand. At the loyalty and advocacy stage, your product lives up to the expectations of these customers and they are delighted with the after-sales customer service that your brand provides. Hence, they become loyal advocates of your brand.
The marketing funnel has come under criticism in recent years for depicting customers as an afterthought in the buying journey and neglecting those that drop out of the funnel before they reach the conversion stage. A rival model, known as the Flywheel (shown below), has emerged. In the Flywheel model, customers are placed at the heart of business decisions, where customers’ word of mouth are viewed to be more impactful in driving sales than the persuasion of marketing and sales professionals, whom consumers increasingly view as having self-serving interests instead of the buyer’s interest at heart.
Whichever model you prefer, it is important today, not only in the world of digital marketing, but also marketing in general, to think from the perspective of your customers and aim to delight them throughout the buying journey. Doing so will help to increase brand awareness, consumer engagement and drive sales. Delight more customers and you will make your marketing efforts easier down the road when your brand credibility is repeatedly reinforced.
Reason 2: Reach the World With Inbound Marketing to Scale Your Business
Following the discussion above on the funnel and flywheel, you do need to be realistic in your expectations and realize that most of your prospective customers will not make it to the end of the buying journey to make the purchase. Many will opt out at the consideration stage and look for what they want elsewhere.
However, you do not have to be discouraged by this fact. Despite the low percentage of prospects reaching the end of the funnel eventually to become your buying customers, the internet allows your marketing message to reach a global audience! With the number of people connected online growing rapidly, there is great potential for your business to scale. This leads us to another emerging trend in digital marketing that can help you make this growth a reality —- inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is a natural extension of the emphasis of a flywheel approach where delighting customers is key. It is a business strategy that focuses on attracting customers by creating valuable content and personalized experiences to engage them. As the saying goes, content is king. If you are able to pair great content to educate, engage and entertain your prospective buyers with sound onsite and offsite Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques, you will be able to bring the world to you online as you seek to form connections with potential customers and offer solutions to their existing problems.
This is in stark contrast to the outbound marketing approach, when a company adopts a hit and miss approach by sending out its marketing message to interrupt the audience with content that they may not be interested in. Some common examples include traditional marketing methods such as cold calling or door to door sales.
Inbound marketing is therefore a better way to sell than outbound marketing as the creation of quality content to address the needs and problems of potential customers will build trust and credibility of your brand in their minds. Isn’t it better any day to let your customers look for you online or call in to your office for enquiries, rather than you running on the streets, hounding them on your phones or banging on their doors, usually doing all for naught?
Reason 3: Use Digital Marketing Analytics To Optimize Your Marketing Budget
How do you know if you have thought like your customers? How do you know if your inbound marketing efforts have been working? Digital marketing analytics can provide you with the answers to these questions and make a big difference to the effectiveness of your future marketing campaigns. These answers will help you to make strategic decisions that will lead to the optimization of your marketing budget so that you will not waste money on non-performing campaigns.
Unlike traditional marketing campaigns where the capital outlay for coloured print ads on prominent news outlets, such as Straits Times, can cost thousands, going digital for your marketing efforts allow you to start small, as little as a dollar a day, and scale gradually as you see returns on investment for your marketing capital.
Google and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn not only allow you to start with a small daily advertising budget, but also to flexibly adjust your budget on the fly, and to pause non performing campaigns to stem unnecessary losses, when the inbuilt marketing analytics in these platforms reflect that not many people are clicking on your ad or making purchases on your website.
These advantages are not offered by traditional print media as the effectiveness of traditional ads is hard to measure. Some measurement of your print ads’ effectiveness can be made based on the tallying of the number of call-ins handled by customer service officers or the subjective perception of foot traffic at your physical stores. If you have been running multiple print ads, this makes it even more challenging to attribute the results that you are receiving from individual ads. For example, it would be laborious to speak to all the customers who came down to your store and ask them where they saw or heard about your brand. Even if you got an answer from your customers, you are assuming that their memories did not fail them.
Going digital solves all the problems stated above as you can pinpoint the source of your sales with a few clicks on marketing analytics applications which makes it possible for you to track and measure the effectiveness of each digital ad of an ad campaign.
Marketing analytics applications such as Google Analytics also allows you to track key metrics such as bounce rates, entrance and exit pages, and time spent on various pages of your website by your prospective customers. The time spent on website by your visitors is indicative of the relevance of your content to these visitors. If they bounce out, i.e. leave your website without clicking through to other webpages, you can make the assumption that these visitors did not find your website relevant to their needs, as are those who left your website under a minute of clicking through. This would be the signal for you to review your web content, find out more about your customers and to provide them with the solutions that they are looking for.
Other applications such as Google Search Console can also tell you if your SEO efforts have been paying off. It allows you to measure your site’s search traffic and performance, to see if your pages are ranking on the first page of google to receive maximum visibility on the search engine results page (SERP) for particular keywords to maximize clickthrough to your website. It acts as a barometer for the overall effectiveness of your inbound marketing efforts.
Another advantage of going digital is the possibility of doing retargeting marketing, i.e.
targeted people who have already visited your company’s website or who are already part of your existing database of leads or customers. Have you ever been stalked by ads that seemingly follow you wherever you go online?
That is the work of retargeting marketing 😊 It allows specific ads of yours to reappear to past visitors of your website based on the content that they have viewed on your website previously. The timeliness at which your retargeting ads are served to these visitors, almost immediately upon leaving your website, increases the chances of them returning to your site and making that coveted final purchase. Facebook even has a lookalike audience feature for you to target audience with the same consumption habits as your current web visitors. Talk about scaling… the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
For traditional marketing methods, there is no way to make prospective customers view your ad again unless you have such a big budget to purchase ad space from multiple news outlets and physical locations, which is probably not a viable long term marketing solution, cost wise. To stay traditional or go digital? We hope we have made the choice clear for you.
The Future Of Digital Marketing
In summary, we have provided you with 3 reasons why you need to embrace digital marketing now. Firstly, it encourages you to think from the perspective of your customers, to understand their pain points and desires, to help you drive sales. Secondly, it helps you scale your businesses, to enlarge the strategic space in which you can conduct your business despite having geographical limitations. Thirdly, it can help you spend your marketing budget prudently and intelligently for higher returns on ad spend and long-term savings. These three reasons alone are sufficient to make going digital a must.
Now, imagine a world five to ten years down the road where millions more people move onto the online marketplace. What would this mean for your business? For a start, the shift towards digitalization has been accelerated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, compelling many consumers to move online to purchase goods and services. If your business has yet to move online, your business would have suffered with the worldwide shuttering of retail spaces.
The Singapore government has been quick to call upon Singaporeans to turn crisis into opportunity. Initiatives such as the Digital Resilience Bonus has been provided for businesses in the Food and Beverage and Retail sectors that have been badly hit by the pandemic. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in these sectors are eligible for up to $10,000 in funding for adopting digital solutions for the following key business processes: i.e. accounting, HR, payroll, digital ordering, inventory management, online food delivery, e-procurement, e-Commerce, data mining and analytics.
This is in addition to the Productivity Solutions Grant that allows SMEs to claim up to 80% for adopting digital solutions and equipment to enhance business processes to thrive during and beyond a post-Covid world. This is a major shot in the arm for your business if you can take the leap of faith and capitalize on government funding to jumpstart your digital journey if your company has yet to do so.
If you have already digitalized fundamental business processes in your organization, digital marketing is the next frontier to conquer, where rewards can be plentiful. Other than reaping economies of scale with a global reach, you can make your mark on the world and make it a better place for all. Digital marketing can be used to raise awareness on products you have that were sourced via fair trade or direct trading with producers in developing countries. Leveraging on digital marketing to promote your socially responsible practices can help you to reach out to more enlightened consumers who are keen to purchase goods that are sourced ethically, and that can lead to a more equitable distribution of wealth in the world.
In the longer term, advancement in technology such as artificial intelligence may lead to more seamless linking of offline consumer behaviour to the digital sphere to facilitate market research for integrated online and offline digital marketing strategies so that your marketing messages can be more targeted and effective. It will also lead to more changes in how SEO and keyword selection currently works with the rise of voice search, where people use their voices to command searches on search engines.
On the flipside, there is increasing use of ad blockers by netizens to remove ads from videos and websites. The impact that this will have on the viability of display ads or instream video ads remains to be seen and advertisers probably need to pivot to think of alternative ways to make their marketing messages heard and seen. Furthermore, how the increasing emphasis on the privacy of consumers may impact on the collection of data for marketing analytics in the long term, remains to be seen.
Nevertheless, the benefits that digital marketing bring to the table for businesses are too significant to be ignored in our digitalized world. Expanding your business online can improve your bottom line when you have a sustainable digital marketing strategy in place.
Embracing Digital Marketing
If everything seems overwhelming to you at the start, it is advisable to go for some short courses in Singapore to give you a broad overview of the digital marketing process so that you can kickstart your digital marketing journey confidently.
If you are concerned about attending offline courses in the current pandemic situation, there are some online digital marketing courses in Singapore that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. If you are looking to start or transit to a career in the digital marketing industry, we would strongly encourage you to get industry recognized digital marketing certification before you do so.
Feel free to check out some of these WSQ certified online digital marketing courses, i.e. Developing an Integrated Digital Marketing Strategy, Content Marketing Strategy, Search Engine Optimisation and Digital Advertising, to gain some practical knowledge on the digital marketing field.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading this post and wish you all the best in your digital journey 😊