Have you started seeing occasional suggested posts on your Facebook timeline lately? Have you ever received offers and coupons on your SMS from businesses with whom you have shred your mobile number?
Are you busy filtering out promotional messages in your email inbox? If your answer is yes to any of the questions above, you have already become part of digital marketing value chain.
Marketing as it has been, when uses a digital medium, it can then be treated as digital marketing. These media include social, mobile, web, content, email etc.
Digital marketing is not a new discipline but it is fast emerging as a complementing arm of traditional marketing. When there was only print media few decades ago, electronic media revolutionized marketing with its reach.
However, digital marketing is much more powerful in multitudes with its features and advantages. Main power or appeal of digital marketing comes from the measurability aspect of digital marketing.
In digital marketing, a marketer can set the spend, precisely target the audience he or she wants to reach and also measure how many have been reached.
This is possible with the tech platform that enables digital marketing. When an email is sent, a marketing agency can now measure if the email was opened, if links were clicked or if email was reported as spam instead.
Based on the number of subscribers to whom a certain email was sent, then now know exactly how many became leads and how many can be targeted to be converted to prospective clients.
Social media like Facebook, google and YouTube go several steps further and give the marketing agencies choices and flexibility on the spend, targeting time line.
YouTube goes one step further and claims that a marketer need not pay unless the ad was completely watched by the users.
This is very powerful for the marketers as they never had such control and transparency on their spends. And that is achieved by the measurability aspect of digital marketing.
Taking a step back, one needs to conceptually understand the advent of digital marketing and why it is an unavoidable component of today's marketing strategy.
With 462 million internet users, India stands second in the world in terms of number of users who use internet.
And from a behavior standpoint, people are spending more time on the web and less on the print media. They are consuming more video content from YouTube than from television.
They are reading more blogs than they read print magazines. They are listening to more podcasts than radio.
All these usage behavioral changes meant one thing for the new age marketers that these media need to be explored and exploited to reach their target segments.
Today's digital marketing starts with search engines. Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are two most common methods of search engine digital marketing.
Irrespective of where the brand was mentioned or communicated, every customer reaches a business's website by sheer recall of the website or by simply typing the business name in a search engine like google or Bing.
More often, a customer may not even know the business name. They simply type what service or product they are looking for. And when they do that, as a business, if you are offering that product or service, you would want to be the top result in their pursuit.
This can be achieved through search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Optimization is when your website's quality and relevance are organically developed and improved to reach the top page of search engine results.
Along with the natural search results, there are sponsored ads on the top and side of a search engine results page. These are result of search engine marketing, where businesses bid and pay for premium spots on a results page to show up on the top page.
While search engine marketing is very open ended, Social media marketing provides for a more targeted approach where a business can target audience of specific age range, located in a specific part of the world, working or studying at a specific company or college etc.
Similarly, YouTube marketing allows for targeting people with specific interests based on the audience's interests and preferences.
Digital display advertising is also a very popular mode of digital marketing but challenged. All the banner ads that we see when we browse news and other free content websites fall under this category.
These are challenging because no one wants to see a cluttered webpage with ads when they visit a webpage with a certain purpose. So they suppress the ads using ad blocking browser extensions which kill this medium.
Content marketing is the new age digital marketing and the current rage as it nicely brings together all modes of digital marketing and enables complementing of each other in a very sophisticated fashion.
Content marketing is creating and sharing content through digital mediums with an intent to promote brand directly or indirectly. For example, one creates an entertaining video with a brand placement and shares in YouTube and Facebook and people share it if they like it.
If you notice, content marketing enables other people promoting your brand without your involvement. All in all, digital marketing is here to stay and will only dominate marketing plans with time.
Careers in digital marketing are growing by the day and should be considered seriously by every management and computer science graduate.
Since digital marketing is all tech enabled end to end, this field employs graduates from both management and engineering disciplines.
For one to set a path into this career, best place to start is by creating your personal website, blog or service and trying to market it digitally.
To learn how to use digital marketing techniques on your own content, start by signing up for free learning resources and then slowly graduate to a specialized stream within digital marketing through a specialized training program.
Once you have achieved certain proficiency and have some achievements to showcase, a career can be spun off through consulting, entrepreneurship or a full-time job.