Digital marketing is a term that has been around for quite awhile but hasn’t been very well defined, encompassing things like banner advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click. Yet, this is too narrow of a definition. What about email, RSS, voice broadcast, fax broadcast, blogging, podcasting, video streams, wireless text messaging, and instant messaging? You get the idea.
To clearly define what digital marketing is let’s talk about what it is not. For starters, it does not include more traditional forms of marketing such as radio, TV, billboard and print because they do not offer instant feedback and report. Sure, some people may respond to a call to action from an advertisement in one of these mediums but there is no way to know the exact number of people who saw or heard it. Such data is collected (and still then just educated guesses) long after the initial ad impression is made. Yes, convergence has made television at bit more interactive, with devices such as TiVo able to record viewer statistics like those for Web sites, but there is still a long way to go. With digital marketing, however, we’re already there.
At its heart, digital marketing centers around the Internet, which has become both a communication vehicle and a very powerful marketing medium as the recent Doubleclick acquisition by Google demonstrated. The Internet can be used both to push a message to someone like email, IM, RSS, or voice broadcast, as well to “pull” content serving a banner ad and Pay Per Click search terms. Digital marketing, therefore, can be thought of as the combination of push and pull Internet technologies to execute marketing campaigns.
Because it is digital, a reporting engine can be layered within a campaign allowing the organization see in real-time how that campaign is performing, such as what is being viewed, how often, how long, as well as other actions such as responses rates and purchases made. Please note that each digital marketing technology is different and they cannot all provide the same types of reports. Also, digital marketing is constantly evolving and new technologies are being created all of the time.
To help promote this new concept of digital marketing, we recently updated the Wikipedia entry for the term and did our best to not only define digital marketing but to explain what it is as well as the players in this space. In the true collaborative spirit of Wikipedia, we invite you to add your own thoughts and ideas, as we too are still adding and editing. Currently our definition is:
Digital Marketing is the pratice of promoting products and services using database-driven online distribution channels to reach consumers in a timely, relevant, personal and cost-effective manner.
Broadband Internet, WiFi and phone Web access are also spurring growth worldwide. A recent report showed that Web usage increased 10% from last January to this January globally. Not surprisingly, billions of marketing dollars spent on traditional channels is already starting to shift to digital marketing campaigns and this will continue to increase as the Web matures. As a marketer, I am very excited about the future and what digital marketing will look like in the years ahead. I mean, we just got to Web 2.0 so who knows what will be coming next? If you haven’t already started, you need to build a database of customers or potential customers and find out how they wish to be reached. You can do this through the digital marketing technologies I’ve mentioned in this article and then use these systems to market your products and services. Make sure you are ready to take full advantage of digital marketing and watch your revenues soar.