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.

Ecommerce Marketing – How to Use Buyer Source Tracking to Analyze Your Online Sales Funnel

So how do you determine which portion of your Ecommerce marketing business is accounting for 80% of your sales, using 20% of your resources?

You must track your buyer sources. You must compile tracking data, and then analyze that tracking data until you have teased out the 20% that is most profitable for you.

There are a number of ways that you can do this. You can use tracking software on your web site that tracks the origination of your traffic (using ip addresses, cookies, or some other similar technology). This is the most popular method – and it is the easiest to use and to set up.

However, I use a different method, one that is considerably harder to set up, and does require a few minutes of my time each month the compile the data. However, I believe that I get better long-term results by using my method.

Keep in mind, however, I only track about 60 or 70 different incoming traffic sources, as I do not generally use PPC or other keyword Ecommerce advertising. If I did, and I had perhaps 100’s or even 1000’s of incoming traffic sources (treat each keyword and keyword origination point as a source), then I would be forced to incorporate tracking software, however I believe I would use it in conjunction with my current method.

Before I describe in detail my method, let me explain the methodology behind it.

First, what is more important? Knowing where our traffic comes from, our subscribers come from, or our buyers come from?

Since our buyers are the ones who pay our monthly bills and our vacations, I consider knowing where my buyers are coming from as premium information.

Tracking traffic and subscribers is only useful for short term evaluation and helps us make short term traffic decisions. Buying decisions by subscribers may take months, so if we relied on buying data alone to decide on our traffic sources, we would have to wait a longer period of time before receiving preliminary information. And I do consider traffic and subscribers as preliminary information.

Once I have buying data on my traffic and subscriber sources, I can then make decisions about the actual value of my various Ecommerce marketing traffic and subscriber sources.

If you are out to attract prospective customers and develop your online presence and exposure, you owe it to yourself and the financial future of your business to learn everything you can about Internet marketing.

Want to learn more Internet marketing techniques on how to build a successful businesses online?

If so, read about and download my brand new free eBook 27 Habits of Internet Marketing Super Stars.

The 6 Critical Keys to Increasing Profits and Driving More Sales With Social Media and Technology!

I received a call from a potential client recently. This call was different than most I receive. You see, this business owner was angry! I mean outright ticked off!

He wasn’t angry with me. No. Not angry with his industry. He was very angry with new technology and marketing, and the people trying to constantly promise him the moon if they signed up for their service.

The call went something like this…

“Is this Bill?”

“Yes sir,” I said. “How can I help you?”

“My name is Bob. I am the president of XYZ Company (the names have changed to protect the frustrated.) I am so sick and tired of all the calls, emails, and letters I am receiving from people who say they can get me to the top of Google, start a Facebook page, show me how to Twitter, and promise me a ton of sales with this new marketing stuff. I have tried their pay-per-click programs and wasted a ton of money. They promised they could get me to the top of Google, and 1 year later, I am no where near the top. I am fed up wasting time and money!”

“I understand Bob. What made you call me specifically?”

“My friend is a client of yours. She told you can sort this out for me.”

“Thank you for calling Bob. Yes I can help you. Let’s talk about your frustrations and how we can turn lemon into lemonade…”

I can’t tell you how many times I hear those same frustrations from clients and customers. They weren’t as passionate as Bob, but you can hear the fear and desperation in their voices too.

The new internet media can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you approach it, your mood to embrace it or not, and your passion to execute a very good plan.

Part of my weekly ritual is to spend time studying trends in consumer behavior, electronic trends, ecommerce advances, and better understanding the lifecycle of the purchasing process.

Not only do I read research articles, I pay attention to my own buying habits and those around me. And have those habits ever changed in the last few years.

With the incredible growth of Smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and other mobile devices, consumer buying habits are changing literally right before our eyes.

Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, are captivating consumers in every walk of life and creating opportunities to communicate with them like never before. We now have a tremendous opportunity to tell our story and capture that lucrative group of buyers who can be very loyal to your business.

Before I get into strategies and techniques on how to improve your sales and profits through better customer engagement, let’s look at some trends. Forrester Research, Inc, Pew Research, and the Nielsen Company have all recently completed studies. Here are some interesting statistics they discovered:

  • 43% of all U.S. retail sales are influenced by the web (Forrester 2010)
  • Preference by U.S. online adults to receive customer support via the phone has fallen from 32% in 2007 to 29% in 2010. (Forrester 2010)
  • U.S. online adults report they spend equal amounts of time – 13 hours a week – watching TV and being online. TV viewership has increased only 5% from 2005 to 2010. (Forrester 2010)
  • 79% of U.S. online adults read print magazines, down from 84% in 2007. (Forrester 2010)
  • 58% of U.S. online adults prefer to research a product online, up from 43% in 2007. (Forrester 2010)
  • As of February 2012, Pew Research states that 88% of all adults use cell phones. About 50% of those are Smartphones (Up from 17% in 2010.) Over 80% of Smartphone owners use the internet with the phones at least once a month.
  • Nielsen says that adults have increased access to social sites via their phones from 11.1% in March 2010, to about 40% in September 2011.
  • In 2010 Forrester Research stated that 10.3 million U.S. adults owned tablets, and will be about 82 million by 2015. CNET states that the ownership of tablets increased from 10% in mid December 2011, to 19% in mid January 2012.

I believe this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of accessing the internet, shopping, and buying. You will see these numbers climb dramatically.

What Does All This Information Mean?

These statistics mean a few things to your business. One, there is more and more opportunity to connect with consumers in a positive way. This new reality also creates more work, the need to have a deeper and comprehensive strategy, and you will need a dramatic shift in thinking if you are not already on board with the consumer’s changes.

With the world literally at the consumer’s fingertips (anywhere), his or her tendency is to bounce around on the internet very fast and can lose interest in your company, product, or service. You must use a number of different strategies and tactics to create a conversation with these consumers, methodically move them towards purchasing from you, and not lose them to someone else that has grabbed their attention.

Consumers can now enter the buying game from so many directions. They have more options, thus more directions than ever before. They can find you with a simple Google search for your company or product. They can see your pay-per-click ad. Or a large banner ad that follows them on the internet. They can find you on a Facebook ad, or if one of their friends likes your page, you show up on their friends Facebook wall. Or what about a prospect sharing your Tweet about a particular promotion to their Twitter followers?

And there are emails, direct mail programs, print ads, radio, TV… the list goes on and on. It is more important than ever to know your prospects/customer, your target market and find out where they spend their time. Then target your campaigns appropriately to your prospects.

Once the consumer enters your marketing lifecycle, the message you send is critical to better conversions and also repeat business. You need to think of your marketing lifecycle more circular now, rather than linear. The circle is the top of a funnel. The circle includes all the different media types. You still need to move them along through the qualification funnel, but now the size of the top of the funnel has gotten much larger, and is getting bigger every day. If you continue to exclude some opportunities, your funnel top becomes much smaller than your competitors. More leads into the funnel, the more sales and profits come out the bottom of the funnel.

6 Critical Keys

Critical Key 1:

One critical key to improving your sales conversions and revenue is to reduce the friction to your sales closing (conversion) by engaging the consumer in the channels they are engaged. Embrace where they go and spend time developing strategies that will convert them right there. Not distracting them to other channels.

If you have a lead on Amazon, get them checked out then and there. Don’t count on moving them to another site where they have to think about it again.

Critical Key 2:

Make sure you know your target market very well. Where do they spend their time? Do they use Smartphones? Do they carry their tablet into your retail store? Check your Google Analytics to see how they are reaching your site and to what pages. What is their income range? The list goes on and on.

Critical Key 3:

It’s really the old K.I.S.S. principle. Keep the conversion and closing very simple and easy for the customer to understand.

From and ecommerce point of view, the checkout needs to be very simple and streamlined. The customer needs to feel comfortable and understand everything about the sale. How much is shipping going to cost me? How long will it take? What is your return policy?

Critical Key 4:

If you are promoting a product in an email campaign or any campaign for that matter, the link from the media to the product needs to be directed to a landing page with a specific call to action, or directly to the product page. Don’t make the customer search for the item on your site, or other sales page. All too often I see clients directing their campaigns to the main page of the site instead of a dedicated page. A huge mistake.

Critical Key 5: Cross Channel Marketing.

Consumers use many different ways to communicate with their friends, family, and you, their retailer, e-tailer, or service provider.

Expanding your marketing message beyond just email, or direct mail is critical to your success. Those businesses who don’t engage with their prospects and customers through multiple channels and cross over between these channels will not be maximizing their opportunity to sell, and will not see their business grow.

Traditional marketing has always been explained as a three-prong approach. You need to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time. We now need to look at a fourth prong, delivering all these through the right media.

Critical Key 6:

Embrace the opportunities. Check your mood about the new marketing opportunities. Be careful selecting multiple companies that will tell you they can promise to get you to the top of Google, or fix your reputation online, or will put together a pay-per-click campaign that will change your world.

Bob was a tough one to win over. Once I was able to help him understand the big picture, we were able to lay out a great plan and then execute making small adjustments along the way. I have to say, Bob is much happier today. And his qualified leads more than doubled once we were able to define his target market and refine his unique selling proposition.

All of these things can happen, but with a strategic plan, and a compelling message. Now, commit to yourself that you will first formulate a comprehensive internet marketing plan, and then execute the plan to bigger sales and bigger profits.

Good luck and great marketing!

Bill Mooney