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A first look at digital marketing

Digital marketing involves a number of specialists from different vocational disciplines. Usually when a business starts to grow, marketing and sales functions are separated with specialists employed for each. The whole function is divided into locating marketplaces, attracting interest and closing deals. Closing deals is the job of sales. Finding market places and attracting interest is the job of marketing.

Marketing is thus about advertising, promotion and brand building. The first question one might ask is “who would be interested in my offer”, followed by “where do the interested people hangout”. Different demographics go to different places, read different publications, listen and watch different broadcast programs and all at different times. These are parameters for research in marketing. It is termed audience profiling and carried out by marketing specialists.

With the newer digital platform that encompasses email, web and social media platforms, new hangouts emerged as online hangouts. They were the cyber equivalent of reality. The advantage for marketers is that a lot of details on each member are collected or provided by the members when signing up. This makes it easier to profile an audience and to a greater resolution.

So marketers work out who their idea audiences are and the digital platform provides great metrics to help isolate them. The end result is digital marketing specialists can target a most receptive audience, conserving normal marketing time and resources for the same results.

The drawback is proportional to the numbers found through the digital channels. Fortunately for investors in digital marketing, these numbers have exploded over the last few years and continue to grow. Social media draws a huge following across all demographics and its value as a marketplace has only been realised for a short time now.

It takes a specialist to apply audience profiling. To attract an audience, advertising must be deployed. This can be subtle promotion in social media conversations, or “in your face” blatant advertising. Either way, audience profiling will help focus the advertising and promotion for greatest results over lowest cost and effort.

Most recipients who find advertising annoying do accept that it is better to receive adverts that are of interest, than adverts that are not.

All websites and pages making up the web platform—a sub platform of the digital platform, are owned by individuals or individual organisations, including government agencies. Each attract a different audience demographic at different times. Digital marketing specialists learn this as part of their audience profiling initiatives. Knowing your perfect audience profile makes it easier to discover where and when they hangout. These become the places at different times, to present your adverts.

The problem is that you need permission and assistance to get your advert on other owners web pages. This concept has already been contemplated by third parties in the digital communications systems industry resulting in organisations like Google, Microsoft, AOL/Yahoo and others including Facebook coming up with advertising systems that pay webpage owners to allow advertising on their web pages, along with provision of the scripts to do it. Now digital marketing specialists can utilise these third party offers to present their adverts.

These third party organisations all provide audience profiling options with their advertising systems. Digital marketing specialists know their audience profiles, they just need to set the appropriate options in setting up an ad campaign through any of these third party systems.

In reality, digital marketing specialists have to learn their audiences profile somehow. It is often a drawn out process of trial and error. These third party advertising systems provide the tools for doing this at the cost of using the advertising system.

Websites with a lot of traffic are more attractive to advertisers and can attract significant income by allowing advertising on their site. These systems of advertising on the digital platform are dominated by pay per click (PPC) systems. With every click the advertiser pays a small amount from their account. The third party advertising company then pays an even smaller amount to the owner of the web page where the advert is presented.

In some cases the ads are presented in browsers and apps via the integrated search engines rather than web pages. These third party advertising services often own the search engines assigned to browsers. Where this is the case they do not need to pay any other party. Apps on the other hand may be owned by other parties and most likely only allow advertising for financial returns.

With Google AdWords, three other ad presentation destinations are offered in addition to the above (web page display ads). They include search ads, where the ad appears at the top of a search result in the browser window, there are App ads, where the ad appears in Apps on mobile devices and there are video ads that are presented on YouTube video clips and movies.

Google Adwords provide monitoring and metrics for key performance indication based on audience profiles. A user’s profile data is read and updated when an ad is clicked on. This information adds to the metrics collected on individual audience members to refine profiling and for ad targeting performance indication.

Facebook PPC advertising works in a similar way as far as audience profiling in concerned, collecting much of the core data used to build up a member profile through information provided when signing up to Facebook. After that your activity within Facebook is monitored by inbuilt monitoring tools to continually refine your individual profile, learning your content selection preferences from your actions while logged in. It must be said that it did not start out with advertising in mind originally, but rather to send other content of interest your way, making Facebook a richer experience. Members embraced forming and participating in circles of common interest, separating these circles into groups separate from their family and friends.

Once Facebook worked out how to capitalise on this, the profile targeted advertising started. As mentioned already, if you have to receive advertising, it is better you receive advertising of interest, than advertising that holds no interest with you. Many consider this new wave of advertising as annoying or at best, distracting, but you have to realise Facebook (like most other social media channels) is free. They are now generating income to survive and prosper without charging their subscriber members.

With Facebook PPC advertising you get nine different ad placement options:

  • Facebook Desktop Newsfeed
  • Facebook Mobile Newsfeed
  • The Right-hand Column
  • Facebook Instant Articles
  • Facebook In-Stream Videos
  • Facebook Suggested Videos
  • Instagram Feed
  • Instagram Stories
  • Facebook Audience Network

From an audience viewpoint, Facebook Instant Articles and Instagram Stories can be interesting, as a lot of good information can be provided. In the end though there will be brand or product promotion. But your interest has been aroused by then. Ads in news feeds can make it difficult to find friend and group posts among them, often making these ads annoying.

Facebook PCC advertising requires an ad manager form be filled in with your proposed budget paid upfront. The advertising this budget covers will be regulated not to exceed this budget amount. Just be aware that this budget limit is per advert. If two or more profile combinations are selected for your advert, they may be treated as individual ads, each with that budget limit. Suddenly your budget limit overall is multiplied.

Google Adwords requires an account with credit card or bank account transfer authority connected to it. Ad campaigns can be started or ended at will. So when the expense reaches your budget limit, you can simply put that campaign on hold.

These are just a few things a digital marketing specialist will need to be familiar with. On top of all this a digital marketing specialist needs to be able to monitor key performance indicators of the website. Not just performance to profile metrics, but traffic flows, where they land, where they exit, where they jump within, how long they stay, where they originate from, the time of day or night, the day, month, year and many other things the analysis tools can pick up on. All these metrics can indicate the sites performance. For instance, only one second spent on a page suggests it was not read. It may need improvement to fix this problem. After new content is published these metrics should be monitored as they become part of key performance indication. They provide feedback on the effectiveness of the new content in a before and after comparison of metrics.

Google Analytics is one monitoring tool that can be loaded into web pages to monitor, collect and make available such metrics.

This is the technical and business end of digital marketing from which ROI can be calculated. Systems development and support is also technical. Those who build websites for instance are considered as technical people. They perform an I.T. role, but are more oriented toward systems development and support rather than marketing and business.

Outside of these technical roles there are the creative roles. Digital design, campaign strategy, UI form and functionality design and media content design and creation, not to forget coordination and management of all these specialist individuals or groups.

The whole objective of doing all this is to attract attention to a cause, product or brand. Marketing strategy makes use of many channels, however there is one other thing to consider in attracting and holding attention and that is content. While marketing strategies place advertising and promotion in the best places, the content has to be appealing to the audience. This is optimised by keeping abreast of current trends in audience desire and behaviour. For instance there is a growing desire for audiovisual content over text based content.

Most copywriters and many graphic designers are not skilled in motion graphics and video production. To satisfy this “trend demand” a marketing department has to engage freelancers or outsource to specialist media production agencies. The big question for marketing managers is how much influence on lead generation will satisfying audience “trend demands” make. Will the extra cost be turned into greater income, or even be recovered (ROI). Obviously some experimentation is going to be required. This could be where the employment of skilled freelancers provides the most cost effective outcome.

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