Rewind to just 15 years ago. The internet and its associated technologies were being written off as being a bubble – a part of the Y2K boom and subsequent bust.
But time has proved those naysayers wrong. There is hardly any aspect of modern life that is untouched by the internet. Whether on our desktops, laptops or mobile devices, we are constantly connected to each other via the World Wide Web.
Since marketing goes where customers are, it too has taken up residence on the internet. We now have marketing messages beamed at us in such subliminal ways that we may not even realize we are being marketed to!
Does that mean the days of traditional, offline marketing are over? Traditional marketing, maybe. Offline marketing, not really.
The Current State of Traditional Marketing
The ‘Mad Men’ school of marketing focusing on elaborate magazine spreads, full page newspaper ads, over the top television commercials and arresting billboards is slowly but surely on its way out.
Yes, we still see magazines and newspapers on the stands. We still watch television and are still irritated by the pesky ads that interrupt our favorite shows. But the share of traditional mediums as a proportion of all the various media we consume today has been steadily falling.
As people change their media consumption patterns, brands change their spending patterns. Zenith Optimedia’s annual survey of ad spending patterns across major media platforms proves this fact.
Source: Zenith Optimedia Advertising Expenditure Forecast December 2013
If you scrutinize the chart above, you’ll see that the relative shares of every medium except digital has either fallen or remained static since 2012. Magazines and newspapers have been the biggest losers in the last few years.
In fact, newspapers; which used to be the 2nd largest advertising platform in the US till 2011 were overtaken by digital media in 2012 as the new no.2 platform after TV.
Online Marketing That You Can’t avoid
The newest darling of media managers, digital continues its trailblazing path into marketers’ wallets. According to a survey of over 200 CMOs by ThinkVine, over 25% of brands now spend more on digital media than on traditional media. The rest are following suit.
Some of the key digital marketing tools that your business MUST use include:
- SEO and Content Marketing
Almost every business now has a website. If you still don’t, get one; because your audience is moving online and you’ve got to keep up. Drive traffic to your website by offering valuable information regarding your products and services. Optimize your site for being discovered via search engines (SEO). Create and publish content that your audience will seek out and appreciate, making your brand a respected voice in your field.
This is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to attract audiences to your brand online.
- PPC and display advertising
Display ads are your visual vehicles on the internet to reach your customers. Rich images that display your product, brand name and entice customers to click on them taking them to your site, were the forerunners of digital marketing. These are usually paid on a CPM basis i.e. based on the number of people who saw your ad.
Pay Per Click or PPC advertising relates to banner or text ads that you pay for only once your target customer actually clicks on the ad and lands on your website. Some models also charge you only if the user actually converts on your site – acquisition based ads.
This is the mainstay of the digital advertising world and accounts for the largest chunk of digital revenues.
- Social Media Marketing
Tapping into the most primal need of humans to reach out to each other and form networks, social media marketing allows brands to interact with their audience on a one to one basis.
Interesting, engaging and useful content that is shared by brands on social media, informs their users about the brand’s services, builds trusting relationships with the users and eventually helps to push sales. Many leading social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) also allow brands to reach out to their audience through paid ads. Paid ads on social media, are in fact slowly overtaking organic interactions between brands and their audience.
Social media has turned into a force of nature and is here to stay. Pick the right social media platforms for your brand – don’t spread yourself too thin, but don’t miss out on important meeting places for your target audience either. It can cost money, but with the right mix of organic and paid content, results are often delightful.
- Email Marketing
Email marketing allows you to reach out to your customer at will with offers and deals that will encourage immediate purchase. In fact, it has been tried, tested and proven to be the marketing tool that gives the best ROI online.
Create and grow your own email database of potential customers (DO NOT buy databases!) and send them regular updates about your brand, offer them valuable content that they can use and watch your revenues grow.
This is an extremely cost effective and easy to use tool that I would recommend to every business owner, irrespective of their size or industry type.
- Mobile Advertising
The newest kid on the digital marketing block, mobile advertising has been making waves and for good reason. Mobile internet penetration has crossed the 50% mark, with 66.8% of US consumersnow owning their own smartphones in January 2014.
Get into users pockets and on their screens with mobile ads on their favorite sites. From pop up ads to banners to text links to native ads, the mobile advertising industry is rapidly evolving to consumer tastes. Don’t get left behind.
Create Your Unique Blend
Each of the tools that we discussed here have their own set of merits and demerits. A marketing tool that works great for one business might fail miserably for another in a different industry or different geography.
At the end of the day, you are the final blendmaster. The brand is your baby and no one understands it better. Weigh the pros and cons of the various marketing mediums of the future and make a judicious choice of those mediums that will vibe best with your business and brand.
Perfecting your marketing mix is like using fashion trends to dress right. It helps to keep up with the latest fashions, but wearing a raincoat to go swimming just does not cut it, even if the raincoat is made by Speedo!
Author Bio: Simon Horton is the Founder of ShopIntegrator.com, a Hosted Shopping Cart Store Add-In. His years of experience has helped him setting up this platform. Feel free to reach him out on Google+.