What Makes Marketing Digital?

By NIIT Editorial

Published on 23/04/2020

6 minutes


The internet age was ushered by the need to globalize. As interconnectedness became the norm for the 21st century, it became clear that the advent of new technologies will bring people together in some way or the other. In hindsight, we now know this convergence of the masses was the forecasted advent of social media.

Scaling their user base with the help of technology, people networks like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have given voice to expression. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Bloated social network user bases (more on that below) which continue to grow by the minute, offer businesses a drooling prospect of marketing themselves like never before. And this has led to the dawn of a new age for marketing, Digital Marketing.

To market, a product simply means to broadcast a message about its characteristics and inform people to perform a previously tedious task, more simply. How to market a message is uniquely up to you. Whereas creativity could vary, the channels of marketing for the past few centuries were strictly limited. These forms, though still prevalent, ascribe traditional marketing strategies their differentiating factor from what we now call digital marketing.


Marketing Under a New Cloth


These are interesting times for the marketing industry to evolve. As per a Bloomberg analysis, in 2019 millennials (born between 1980 -2000) comprised about 31.5% of the world population. At the same time, Gen Z (born in the late 1990s and early 2000s) overtook millennials with a 32% share of the 7.7 billion global population. Whereas one age-group spent its sophomore years making friends on social platforms the other was brought upon it. Literally.

But wait, there’s more. By 2025 millennials will comprise about 75% of the global workforce.

Factoring in all of this, when the majority of the world population takes pride in living off the technology, so should the modern-day marketing practices. It is vital to understand the taste of this target group (TG) and their dislikes. Since they reverberate through the fabric of internet-enabled platforms, it is here that businesses must focus their publicity efforts. This Digital Dimension introduces new angles and adds an extension to conventional marketing, one that we now call Digital Marketing.

But the trend shouldn’t be mistaken to takeover traditional means of marketing. It does anything but. The T.V. will be integral to our daily lives. People do not appear to shun popular formats of print media but yes the latter is playing catch up with Social Media. In 2019, global TV advertising spends amounted to $182 billion, followed by Paid Search Advertising with $107 billion, and social media taking the 3rd spot with $84 billion. Print media was 4th with $69 billion worth of expenditure. It’s equally important to note that print media is already undergoing a digital makeover with mobile apps.  

To reach the demographics that possess maximum disposable income, businesses must be omnipresent on platforms that this crowd gravitates towards. No points for guessing, that platform is Social Media.

They consume dynamic content such as video bytes, story-cards, the information they wouldn’t otherwise find through the Google Doodle. E-commerce is a tough cat to the bell, with customers expecting virtual and augmented reality plug-ins as the new normal.   

Advertising is also not a one size fits all venture anymore. It has to be tailor-made and customized to fit the right psyche proportions. Such complexities require new-age marketing funnels to tweak and support parallel digital campaigns, in addition to conventional marketing channels.   

Due to such factors and the nature of the technology that unloads new content consumption patterns upon all of us, marketing teams are focusing to get better results with digital marketing. How? let’s find out!   


Turning Marketing Digital-First   


When marketing is executed online through digital mediums such as the internet to promote products and services, it is called digital marketing. The onset of technologies such as the internet in the 90s and through to the early 2000s is one of the reasons why marketing a product “digitally” became more feasible and measurable. Another leading factor is the increased penetration of the smartphone market.

Through the 2010s’ the world has witnessed a booming race to manufacture phones that support high internet speeds from 3G to 4G. As per a study, there are already an estimated 3.5 billion smartphone users in the world in 2020. They act as your identifiers in the digital world. Such high-end internet speeds gave a ticket to the erstwhile app-revolution, leading even legacy online businesses to adopt a mobile-first approach to marketing. This spurred the growth of websites that we now collectively refer to as Social Media Channels. For instance, by January 2020, Facebook had almost 2.5 billion monthly active users, followed closely by Youtube (2 billion), and WhatsApp (1.6 billion).

Active Monthly Users on Social Networks


This suggests a strong public inclination to stay involved with the latest, as it happens when it happens. At the beginning of 2020, about 4.5 billion people were using the internet, and if the growth continues the same way more than 50% of the total world population could be on social media within 2020.

It is natural to see marketers flow towards digital marketing to exploit its reservoir of customer insights and do what was never possible with television and print media. This partly because digital marketing lets you:

  • Increase Options for Customer Engagement

Social media is useful to gauge almost real-time customer sentiment, by measuring the type of impressions the brand is trending for. Customers are quick to point the quality of services/products in the act, promoting the business further by sharing experiences. It is called user-generated content. This applies equally to all web-based marketing channels whose performance can be measured by breaking down the analytics and promoting social sharing.  

  • Convert Expressions to Numbers

Digital media lets you track customer engagement and paint a broader picture to define the next round of marketing efforts. Advertisers have more flexibility to execute online ad-campaigns based on gender/age/location/and time and further measure the response by click-through-rates on the impressions.

  • Run Feasible Campaigns with High Outreach

The cost to reach new prospects through Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook is getting cheaper by the day. With step-by-step tutorials teaching individuals to execute an advert campaign, the barriers to entry are next to none. At the same time, marketers can tap into email marketing that has proven to be 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter.

  • Innovate and Lead

Getting customers to talk about you is the key. In other words, the game is all about creating shareable-content that can be consumed by the masses. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to standing apart and creating an identity for yourself online. Good quality of content coupled with proper sharing options for social media and messengers could lead to your brand going viral.   

  • Archive Brand History Online

Promotional campaigns run on social media are automatically archived, until the content producer takes it down. As the social community continues to grow, netizens can access campaign histories and learn further about the brands they associate with, in-process strengthening their trust and building loyalty bonds.

GroupM a leading advertising media company projects worldwide internet ad spending to reach $326 billion in 2020. This would account for 52% of the global ad spending in the same period. Taking this as a sign of things to come, the upcoming generation of professionals must understand the components of Digital Marketing as it is today.


Channels of Digital Marketing


Digital marketing channels are used as modes of establishing a chord with customers. The word digital refers to a variety of distribution routes for relaying information to and accepting feedback from the end-users. Let us understand what they are:


1. Search Engine Optimization


SEO involves techniques to optimize the website architecture and hierarchy to provide a good user experience. The search engines operate on keywords inputted by the user. Based on the placement of those keywords on your website, website crawlers may prioritize and display your content over someone else’s. Google is the undisputed leader of search engines with 91.98% market share as of March 2020.

Therefore, most businesses that aim to establish an online presence follow the practices advocated by it to rank content in organic searches. The objective of SEO is to improve user experience and suffice purposes of the search query. Optimization not only includes directives for content but the entire website such as the following topics:

  • To make your content discoverable by Google.
  • Hiding Pages from crawlers by indicating their nature through the code.
  • Using Keywords effectively to meet standard reading experience benchmarks.
  • Managing your display results in Google’s organic search results.
  • Optimizing the images used on the website.
  • Approaching website design with a mobile-first view.
  • Having the tools to analyse user behavior on the website.
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From time to time, Google releases algorithm updates for best SEO practices. Marketing job seekers, business owners, or incumbent employees of marketing division benefit immensely with SEO expertise. It’s more practice than theory but the ROIs are exceptional once you get a hang of things.


2. Email Marketing


Cheap in consideration with other channels of digital marketing, email marketing is an extremely effective way to build rapport with your existing customers as well as prospects. It is therefore paramount to define your email marketing tactics. It is viewed as a substitute for the direct-to-mail service in the sense of an evolving marketing landscape. There are two ways to capture someone’s email.

The first is if someone has been your customer. In which case, your e-newsletters should frequent their inbox at uniform intervals either weekly or monthly to maintain a strengthening business-to-consumer relationship. The second method is by attracting new readers onto your platform, website, landing page, etc., and making them sign-up to your services.

This comes down to the power of your content. From time to time, businesses run referral marketing campaigns to reward existing customers for doing word of mouth marketing and helping them expand their readership base. 73% of millennials prefer to be communicated by businesses through an email. Therefore, have a solid ground for your mailers to give you the ROI you expect.


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The first is if someone has been your customer. In which case, your e-newsletters should frequent their inbox at uniform intervals either weekly or monthly to maintain a strengthening business-to-consumer relationship. The second method is by attracting new readers onto your platform, website, landing page etc., and making them sign-up to your services.

This comes down to the power of your content. From time to time, businesses run referral marketing campaigns to reward existing customers for doing word of mouth marketing and helping them expand their readership base. 73% of millennials prefer to be communicated by businesses through an email. Therefore, have a solid ground for your mailers to give you the ROI you expect.


3. Social Media Marketing


Social media collectively refers to the use of social networks to promote products and services. When it comes to online real estate, after your website, your social media pages are important bridges for the customer. In addition to being a hands-on public relations and precision marketing platform, present-day social media is a goldmine for initiating customer engagement.

Just like SEO, it requires initial efforts to build-up a following in the nascent stages of a business’s social channel birth. After that, the growth is more or less organic. Influencer marketing has branched out as an extension of social media channels for brands to gather an active social following.

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It is used to establish credibility and boost e-commerce sales. As per Business Insider Intelligence, brands could spend $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022. Coming to social media adverts, most platforms offer active analytics support to measure click-through-rates and monitor campaign finances. Modern marketers should be well informed of the industry trends and best practices to create actionable social media marketing campaigns. Brands are advised to customize their ad-campaigns for mobile viewers as more than 50% of all video views come singularly from mobile devices.  


4. Affiliate Marketing


To affiliate with someone means to associate yourself with an organization. When businesses hire an affiliate, they extend their marketing reach by trusting the affiliates to deliver the expected outcomes. The entire relationship is financially motivated, where affiliate vendors charge a commission to either drive traffic to the agreed website. This is called Cost-per-Action. Or, they could charge a cut out of a sale initiated by their affiliate links too. This is referred to as Revenue Sharing.

In doing so, they use the same channels of digital marketing as being discussed here such as SEO, PPC, third party blogging, email marketing, and online display advertising. This digital marketing channel has many overlapping similarities with influencer marketing, however, there is one clear difference


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Affiliates are not responsible for establishing consumer trust, whereas influencers are partnered with to solely outline the credibility and authenticity of a brand.  


5. Display Advertising


It refers to the use of text, images, audio, flash, or video content to promote a message on multiple platforms such as internet websites, social media, or even mobile apps (in-app advertising). Before the introduction of ad networks, advertisers had to directly negotiate the price for display ads. Now, the entire operation is run through centralized systems based on Real-Time Bidding (RTB).

This form of ad space booking takes into consideration the target audience and transmits the display ad across multiple sites with an eligible traffic footfall. It is far more advantageous than randomly displaying a post on a high-traffic website although taking a slice out of the ad commission of website vendors. Advertisers can target a whole host of ad-types such as:

  • Videos
  • Overlays – These are ads that appear over the webpage content but can be minimized by clicking the close button (X)  
  • Rich Media – These are flash files that are activated upon a user-action such as dragging the mouse over the ad post. The flash file could be created to be auto-initiated as soon as the user comes on to the page.
  • Sponsorship – Such ads usually appear as part of the In-Feed content. They may appear to be part of the already published content on the page but will carry a tag of Sponsored
  • Interstitials – Such ads are displayed to the user before the original webpage appears.
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The global media ad spend is expected to be at $691.7 billion in 2020, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  


6. Advertising – As It Is Meant To Be


In the previous section, we discussed video advertising and how it is deployed to reach the customer. At the same time, we shouldn’t forget about the paid ad search (of which video ads are a smaller part) that constitutes a billion-dollar industry on its own. Paid ad campaigns are the bread and butter for launching new products or spreading knowledge about promotional offers.

Digital advertisers have a variety of options from floating ads, pop-ups, expanding ads, banner ads to news feed ads. Presently, programmatic advertising is on the surge and the process of bidding for keywords to run on ads takes place through an ad exchange. Advertisers can choose payment types depending upon the objective of their ad campaign. This varies from cost per click (CPC), cost per engagement (CPE), cost per view (CPV), and cost per install (CPI).  


Key Takeaway


Digital Marketing is a key metric on which the success of a business depends. It is the lever that pulls the customer towards a product and also the peddler for successful lead closures. Organizations, big and small, can no more approach marketing for the sake of it but as a function which they must excel at. This need for industrial expertise creates the demand for marketers who are at the top of their game. Their knowledge meters should run high with the present social marketing trends along with having the foresight of the future.

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