What Is Digital Marketing and What Does It Mean to My Business?

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing is the use of digital technology to deliver your marketing messages and to allow your customers to interact with your business.

Traditionally marketing has been about pushing your messages to your customer. With technology, now you can enter into a dialogue with your customers and deliver what they actually want and not want you think they want. Often there is quite a gap and digital marketing is what allows you to communicate one to one with your customers and on a mass scale.

So what areas does digital marketing cover?

For me Digital Marketing includes:

  • Web Sites which includes:
    • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Getting found on Google etc
    • Pay Per Click (PPC) – Paying for somebody to find you on Google etc
    • Banner Adverts – Paying for banners to get visitors to your site
    • Ecommerce – The ability to buy and sell products, services and information over the Internet.
  • Consumer Reviews – Consumer reviews are a powerful way to get consumers on to your eCommerce site as they make the purchasing decision easier as the reviews are by consumers who have purchased the product. Whole businesses are built around this concept such as TripAdvisor.
  • Blogs. Personal web sites with stories, expert opinion etc that you believe will help your readers, customers and stakeholders.
  • Social Media. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Google+, Ushi, Xing etc. These are web based systems that allow you to connect and share information such as ideas, links, photos, videos with like minded people. They can also generate income for your business and so can be routes to market for your business. They can be great ways to connect with people who you may not be able to get to by any other means. Twitter can be a great source of publicly available real time information and has reported major global events ahead of the world’s press.
  • Social Media News. Mashable is by far the biggest social media news site.
  • Online PR. There are specific web sites for making press releases available to the press. Prlog.org and helpareporter.com are examples.
  • Webinars/Events – Webinars are one to many seminars distributed across the Internet. This allows you to present to a large number of people independent of location. Events are traditional meetings or workshops but are marketed through Social networks such as Linkedin.
  • Email Marketing – The sending out of bulk emails which you believe are relevant to the people you are sending the message to.
  • Lead Nuturing – This is where a prospect gives you their email address in exchange for something free. This is usually an eBook (in pdf format), video, course of emails on how to do something.
  • Viral Marketing – The sending out of a message which is so compelling that people forward it on to other people unknown to you. A great way to send out a message if you get it right.
  • Video – Increasingly popular method of sharing ideas, passing on information and selling on the web. Great for selling more complex products or services. YouTube is the most popular at the present but video is becoming embedded into more digital media.
  • Music/Podcasts. Spotify is becoming the most popular legal file sharing system as it gives you access to a large range of music. Podcasts are voice recordings about a particular subject. They can be download for listening to on computer or MP3 players at a later date. Great for relaxation or for learning about a new subject whilst travelling.
  • Chat/Instant Messaging/Skype. Chat and Instant Messaging are systems for conversations using a keyboard which are done in real time. I.e. one person types something and the other responds. Both need to be present and online for this to work. Users of Facebook, Bebo etc use this, especially the younger generation. Skype is an internet based video and phone system that allows Skype users to call each other for free or at lot low cost and is becoming increasingly popular for business use and will grow now that the video version is available on Facebook.
  • Smartphone or Mobile Apps. Smartphone or mobile apps (or software applications which is where the term is derived from) are small pieces of computer software that run on your phone that allow you to do things that you would normally do on a computer. The need to work anywhere, anytime means that these will become increasing popular with business systems starting to appear on them. Great for anybody who works away from the office including executives, technical and sales people. Also watch for a growing number of consumers using their mobiles for online purchases as they fill their time waiting for something.
  • Cloud based storage/File Sharing. The Cloud is for most purposes another name for the Internet. So Cloud based storage is the ability to store information on the internet including backups and sending large files to customers and suppliers. DropBox and Yousendit are examples of systems for sharing large files between unrelated users. There are a wide range of suppliers of remote backup systems now with most corporates including them in their backup strategies. Personal File sharing is also available for two or more computers to be linked together to share information including music and videos. Personal File Sharing is generally not a business tool for larger corporates.
  • Cloud based systems. These are systems that allow you to work anywhere. Google has Google Docs, Microsoft has Office 365. A lot of third party software providers are moving their systems onto the Cloud so that customers can access them from anywhere and don’t have to worry about their own IT infrastructure. Companies are moving their IT infrastructure on to the Cloud in order to reduce costs as all the infrastructure is managed by a third party.
  • Extranets/Web based Systems. Companies are now looking to give customers and suppliers access to their information (through Extranets) and their systems (through Web based systems). This allows customers and suppliers to access to information relevant to them and enables them to do any processing on a DIY basis saving you both time and money such as the entering and progressing of orders and checking stock levels.
  • Remote Access. The ability to work anywhere means that you sometimes need access to your computer at home or work. Remote access through web sites such as Teamview and Logmein are a great way to get at critical documents away from the computer. Some of these systems allow you to do on line demonstrations of your product and service. This saves you and your customer time and money.
  • Online Games/Gaming. More gaming companies are moving their operations on to the web so that their services can be accessed anywhere anytime. Also notice that more consumer applications have games technology or ideas built in to them in order to make it more fun to buy. The term is called gamification. This could be a challenge for parents as the line becomes blurred between buying something and playing a game.

In an age where systems are everywhere businesses need to understand how to exploit Digital Marketing as it is a means to improving the service to your customers, driving down costs and making your organization more agile.

All organizations large and small need to understand Digital Marketing and have a strategy of how they are going to exploit the opportunities that Digital Marketing has to offer.

Internet Marketing and the Reinfusion of Humanity

Selling on the Internet has often removed a very crucial element from the buying experience – humanity. It is easy to log on, peruse an ecommerce site and escape unnoticed. That is, in fact, the appeal of most online stores. Consumers like the opportunity to look without buying or buy without the long speeches and quality assurances offered from slick haired salesmen.

That being said, the consumer still misses some kind of interaction especially when it comes to a product or service they are most interested in. They may still buy online, but they may feel that something is missing and never fully be able to explain what that missing element may be.

This brings me to social media. We gravitate toward those who share similar beliefs, similar interests or shared pasts. Every day people are finding connections with those they haven’t heard from or about in decades. Others are mobilizing for a cause or a leader in expressing their ideas and dreams.

Why not access the same technology to mobilize your customers and infuse some humanity into the buying process.

Consider some of the following ideas that may make your marketing strategy more human.

Blogs – These can allow you to provide direct input for consumers. They can read a well-defined post from you by visiting your site or using an RSS (Real Simple Syndication) reader. Your expertise adds a human face to your product.

Customer Feedback – This can allow customers to inform others about the service and value they receive from your company. Even if you have a negative comment from time to time it demonstrates the honest to goodness humanity of your business.

Forums – This allows consumers to have direct interaction with other consumers. Many will come to your forum because of genuine interest while others may come to cause trouble. Make sure you have moderators that can help keep the troublemakers to a minimum.

Ezines – This is a tool you can use to help lead your consumer base in a direction that will be mutually beneficial. This should be packed with information and resources that remains a valuable tool in human relations.

This may sound as if it is an endorsement for niche marketing. I suppose in a sense it is. You see, when it comes to an online business you can afford to fill a very specific niche. The reason this is true is there are many more potential consumers that are online as opposed to those only found in your immediate vicinity.

If you can come up with solutions and information for your niche audience you may find that your humanity and their motivation can make a more successful online business than a more general interest retail store located in a storefront on your local Main Street.

When you are viewed as a cutting edge niche marketer you may find that you gain the trust of those who have always wanted the kinship of others who share their passion for the product or service you sell.

Accept their trust in good faith and lead wisely.

Magento 2.1 – Just the Right Features to Empower Marketers and Merchandisers

Magento 2.1 brought with it a number of appealing changes that ecommerce businesses simply loved. It has all the great features to provide online shoppers with excellent shopping experiences.

It’s important to note that it’s the marketers and the merchandisers who create compelling campaigns for promotions and the platform that supports ecommerce empowers them with the numerous built in features.

Magento 2.1 gives you the power to create memorable shopping experiences for your customers – faster and in the easiest way possible.

Here’s how Magento 2.1 can help:

It drives sales and improves productivity

Magento 2.1 has new features for content staging and preview. You can stage and preview all types of content such as updates to products, categories and categories too. User friendly tools have been developed with extensive usability testing and the entire process of staging and previewing before you add new products or categories is made very simple and fast. It also has a new timeline dashboard that provides store owners with at a glance scheduled updates so that your sales and marketing team can use the data to maximize the impact. With Enterprise edition 2.1, you can preview this information across the sit and share the links so that reviews and approvals are easier.

Boosts conversion rates

In order to streamline the checkout process, the Magento 2.1 has a number of enhancements to increase the efficiency of the checkouts and boost sales. PayPal in-context checkout greatly increases the conversions as the customer does not have to leave your website in order to complete the payments. Securely storing credit cards is a great way to quickly pay especially for frequent purchases. Customers just love to pay quickly and checkout without having to manually type in the credit card information.

Scale for growth

One of the newest features of Magento 2.1 is that it comes loaded with Elastic Search which is a powerful search technology that supports over 33 languages or quickly searching the site. You can set stop words, search synonyms and can handle large catalogs that are required by fast growing merchants. The configuration for elastic search is fairly simple and you can begin using it right away.

Improved management experience

There have been significant changes to the way Magento is administered. The new technology elastic search enables you to quickly find customer records or orders and assign search synonyms that can be used to better navigate the site.

Deploy in the Magento cloud

Deploying in the cloud ensures that you can create amazing customer experiences without worrying about the infrastructure to support it. This is mainly because the cloud ensures that you get a highly customizable, secure and scalable storefront built on AWS. It is optimized for rapid deployments and high performance.

Magento allows you to flexibly deploy your store in any environment you wish – whether on the cloud or hosted or on-premises.

Magento is truly the most apt platform for ecommerce development. It is ever evolving and enables store owners to sell better and convert better!