Technological advancements in the communication and information world have impacted the marketing strategies adopted by corporate organizations in reaching target audiences. Diverse brands used to compete for market share by appealing to actual and potential customers through traditional ways of marketing which primarily involved use of either indirect or direct, straightforward offline methods. It was basically a matter of performing a set of actions, and getting results, majorly offline contact communication strategies. But the changing business environment brought about by evolving digital technology has made the use of only traditional methods that were effective before, not as effective as they used to be. Since the current market is powered by the complexities and opportunities made available by the Internet, digital marketing strategies have become very essential as the driving force in today’s business world.
Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) constitute the backbone of major developed economies. They are also important contributors to employment, economic and export growth. Reports have it that in South Africa, SMEs account for 91% of businesses, 60% of employment and contribute 52% of total GDP. Nigeria also has numerous SMEs and they contribute 48% of national GDP, account for 96% of businesses and 84% of employment. Though SMEs in Nigeria contribute significantly the nation’s economy, they still face challenges which hinder the growth and development of the sector.
Today’s competitive business environment requires that SMEs in Nigeria should up their game in order to survive. One of the major to achieve this goal is to adopt digital marketing strategies which would make SMEs establish and maintain very strong online presence required in establishing meaningful market share in the business world.
Having a very strong online presence is essential for brands and businesses to be competitive enough to reach out to targeted audiences in the digital world we have today. Relying on traditional marketing strategies alone will not yield results. With several Internet marketing tools available online, the best thing to do is to understand how they work and apply them as part of an effective digital marketing plan.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is the use of internet-based strategies to promote goods and services to potential and actual consumers of a brand. It consists of using internet and online based digital technologies such as desktop computers, mobile phones and other digital media and platforms to promote products and services. Digital marketing primarily refers to online promotional strategies, efforts or assets. Such strategies include email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, social media marketing and use of blogging to promote product brands. These are tech-based online that help introduce people to a company and convince them to patronize its products.
Digital marketing tools
In digital marketing you have to work with certain tools, devices or assets, in the process of reaching out to numerous audiences in the online community and promoting your products for them to patronize. Almost anything can be a digital marketing asset or tool. All you need to ensure is that the platform or asset is a marketing tool you can use online. There are diverse digital marketing facilities, assets or tools available but here are some basic ones;
- Your website
- Branded assets (logos, icons, acronyms, etc)
- Video content (video ads, product demos, etc)
- Images (infographics, product shots, company photos, etc)
- Written content (blog posts, eBooks, product descriptions, testimonials, etc)
- Online products or tools (SaaS, calculators, interactive content, etc)
- Social media pages
These tools or assets are available for use in promoting your product to targeted audiences. Anyone interested in digital marketing need to understand how they could be used to promote products to diverse audiences in the online community.
Most effective types of digital marketing
There are diverse digital marketing channels but a number of them have gained popularity for achieving results. Among these channels are as follows (as presented by digitalmarketingphilippines);
Email marketing is one of the most popular marketing strategies used by corporate organizations. So how do these organizations get the contacts they use in reaching the target audience? When business perform lead generation and other marketing strategies, they collect contact information like phone numbers and email addresses from potential customers, including permissions to send them updates and other information through email. Email marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing channels that can give businesses a good Return on Investment (ROI).
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
Paid advertising channels is an internet advertising model where an advertiser pays a publisher when the ad on a website is clicked. This strategy is used to drive traffic to a website and it delivers highly targeted traffic of potential customers within a very short period of time. This method however is driven by how much a company is willing to invest in bidding and placing ad placements, as well as how much the company is willing to pay for acquiring one customer. The effectiveness of PPC ads rely on how well a company chooses the keywords used targeting potential customers as well as optimizing the visual and contextual information in your ads.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. It consists of several activities like keyword research, making use of both on-page and off-page optimization, linkable assets creation, organic link building and other related activities. Nearly everyone using the Internet are familiar and are making use of search engines to look for anything there is they want to know or are searching for. People use search engines to look for information about a brand, product or services, and up to 59% of search engine users each month find a local business to satisfy a particular need.
This is one of the most common kinds of online advertising available. refers to the process of advertising a product or service through visuals like images and videos on networks of publisher websites Many people visit blogs, forums, and other websites that are interesting or useful to them. Digital marketers can reach out to these potential customers by placing relevant display ads on these third party sites. These include banners, boxes, interactive ads, video ads, interstitial ads, overlays and other similar ads that are linked to a landing page or website.
Display advertising creates greater brand awareness as well as generate highly targeted traffic that may convert into leads or sales. Payments for these display ads are usually based on Cost-Per-Impression (CPM) which is usually more cost-effective compared to the Cost-Per-Click (CPC) scheme typical of PPC advertising.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Social media constitute one of the pillars of digital marketing. Business owners and digital marketers leverage social media opportunities to create brand awareness for their products and services. Through Social Media Marketing (SMM), digital marketers can reach out to highly targeted potential customers through direct and person-to-person engagement.
Businesses and digital marketers continue to ride the bandwagon and more than 50% are planning to increase their SMM budgets this year, writes digitalmarketingphilippines.
Digital marketers however should select the most appropriate social network to promote their kind of business to a particular kind of targeted audience. A simple guide is listed below, as presented by disruptiveadvertising.com.
- Facebook – You can reach out to almost any kind of general consumer, you just need to learn in what groups and pages your targeted customer stay frequently go to at Facebook.
- Twitter – If you’re trying to develop a new business and would want to reach out to early adopters, then Twitter may be for you, particularly in generating fast brand awareness.
- LinkedIn – Reaching out to professionals, business owners and other Business-to-Business (B2B) leads and targeted customers, then LinkedIn would be the perfect social network for you.
- Google+ – This is another good social network for reaching out to early adopters of new businesses as well as reaching out to the B2B and general social media user. Business owners should however learn how to make a good presence at Google+ as this may be a great factor that will influence how SEO will behave in the near future.
- Pinterest – This social network is great if you’re focusing on visuals for promoting your brands and products. Majority of users are also women so if these are your market, then SMM on Pinterest will be good for your business.
Content marketing is the use process of creating brand awareness by providing highly valuable and relevant information to a specific audience based on their needs, pain points, and desires. This is one of the basic approaches in digital marketing campaign. With good, high-quality and very relevant content, your website and other Internet marketing platforms will generate considerable inbound traffic from highly targeted audiences – all of which can be potential customers. Content includes text, graphics, videos, and other related materials people are looking for and are very interested in. People get their information needs while your product gets promoted at the same time.
This strategy helps companies to reach a wider and more global audience. This strategy is used to engage affiliate marketers who get certain percentages in commissions when they sell a company’s product. Affiliate marketing which is the practice of promoting the products or services of another person or company in exchange for a commission based on people you brought through your own link. Affiliate marketing is also described as referral marketing. In affiliate marketing an online retailer pays you a commission for traffic or sales generated from your referrals. This is practically conventional advertising done in a less intrusive way. Instead of promoting a product on your website with visual advertisements you just use links which people can click on and go straight to where they can purchase the products. This is a popular way companies use to make extra income.
Online Public Relations
This can be seen as a part of Content Marketing in general. This is because its main goal is to create promotional content that will be used for generating branding and creating traffic through exposure in online PR networks. Some of these channels are free to join while some require some joining/subscription fees before you could publish press releases.
This is a marketing effort that uses a written post like advertorial to promote a product on a platform that has contents related to the product being promoted. It is just like writing a promotional piece about a sports footwear brand and posting it on an online sports newspaper otr blog for the audience to see. Most native advertising falls under content marketing because it uses content to attract clicks. It might not be easy to spot native advertising since it is usually mixed in with non-paid content recommendations. That is actually what makes it unique – the fact that people enjoy a content without knowing it was actually a marketing piece.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) refers to the practice of increasing the percentage of users who perform a desired action on a website. This is a useful digital marketing approach as it helps to make more users patronize a product or get to know about it. The desired actions can include purchasing a product, clicking ‘add to cart’, signing up for a service, filling out a form, or clicking on a link. Companies want more people to patronize their products and this makes CRO a good marketing strategy.
Paid Search Advertising
Google, Bing and Yahoo all allow you to run text ads on their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Paid search advertising is one of the best ways to target potential customers who are actively searching for a product or service like yours.
Digital marketing is the most effective way to navigate the technologically driven business environment in today’s world. Sticking to traditional off-line marketing is no longer as effective as it used to be. This can still serve as complimentary to digital marketing which should be the driving force in any marketing campaign plan. Corporate organizations have to maintain strong online presence to win meaningful market share in today’s competitive business environment. This will make it easy for them to leverage available digital marketing assets or tools in promoting their products to diverse audiences reached through digital marketing efforts.