Digital marketing is defined as achieving marketing goals via employing digital technologies and media. It focuses on branding via digital media, underlying the relationship-based customer engagement . With the increasing prevalence of digital media and social media, empowered customers will be more influenced by other customers than by advertising . Technological convergence and the multiplication of devices have driven the boundaries digital marketing towards user-centered, more measurable, ubiquitous and interactive, amplifying particular potentialities in visual communication, relevant advertising, community connections and virality .
Most startups underestimate the influence of digital marketing and resort to conventional display network strategies.In a recent reserach by Augustine Fou, an independent researcher,Fraudsters are milking companies of tens of billions of dollars a year with fake responses to online ads and the industry has a far bigger problem than it is willing to admit.
Yet, in the digital world, the particularities and appropriation for marketing have fostered the development of channels, formats and languages in combination with tools and strategies unthinkable offline. This leads to challenges in the ability to leverage customer insights and assess its effectiveness. Thus, there is a necessity to change the manner to interact with and/or serve customers and the ability to reach new customer segments.
The new rule of digital marketing is about delivering useful content at the precise moment that a buyer needs it, underlying the personalization and direct reach. Although diverse digital tools allow personalized marketing content at low costs of production and distribution, it requires innovation in order to reach millions of users online.
Developing a digital marketing plan system
The digital marketing plan enables an organization to define the specific objectives and develop strategies that ensure resources are properly allocated. It is expected to not only seize opportunities but counter threats in the digital environment in combination with the three main operational processes: customer acquisition, conversion, and retention and growth . Further, it helps control and evaluate the output, and tackle any potential deviation from the organization’s expected outcomes, allowing the strategy to be revised in the short term and iterative process between action and control.
The SOSTAC model is widely applied to digital marketing plans due to its simplicity and clearness for any action’s strategy. Six stages involved from strategy development to implementation can be summarized as: Situation analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action, and Control.
The aim of situation analysis is to understand the current and future environment that organizations operate within. SWOT matrix serves as the basis to analyze internally and externally. Yet, as the digital world has noted the existence of immediate (micro-) environment of customers, competitors, suppliers and intermediaries as well as a broader (macro-)environment of social, legal, political, economic and technological characteristics (SLEPT),
An alternative approach will be to combine external analysis of demand, competitor, intermediary, opportunities, threats and constraints of SLEPT with internal analysis of resources, the situation analysis builds the basis of defining objectives, strategies and tactics .
Clearly defined objectives not only underline the effective digital plan but amplify the communication between workforce and investors. Thus, it is necessary that objectives reach the following criteria: specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related. Other metrics such as balanced scorecard can also be applied.
It is important to define online revenue contribution to improve performance in the digital world, other scholars consider scope, activities, conversion and loyalty are usually the most used goals . Meanwhile, the objectives should allow the flexibility to adapt to the changes with the evolution of Web
Digital Marketing strategy can be defined as the implemented scheme to achieve digital marketing objectives and it has to be tightly integrated into the whole planning process. A second perspective is that the output from the digital strategy will often be a series of strategic eCommerce initiatives in the key areas of customer acquisition, conversion or retention.
The proven strategy to target markets in four stages.
Segmentation, targeting position and planning.
First, segmentation involves understanding the groupings of customers in the target market so that the organizations can maximize revenue by satisfying their needs. Segmentation is the key of robust marketing strategy development as it differentiates the fundamental advantages over rivals. Second, the targeting approaches used for online acquisition and retention campaigns will naturally depend on established segmentation. Digital technology allows more cost-effective targeted messages compared to traditional media. It can be further applied with several variables such as relationship with the company, demographic segmentation, psychographic or attitudinal segmentation, value, lifecycle stage and behavior. Third, positioning indicates consumers’ perception of a product in terms of the elements of value and influences, the initiation on first selection and retention.
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Fourth, planning describes resource deployment with consideration of the new communication characteristics: interactivity, intelligence, individualization and integration in the digital era.
Marketing tactics to implement strategies and objectives are traditionally based around the elements of the marketing mix─the 4Ps (product, price, place, and promotion) .
Yet, the marketing mix is symptomatic of a push approach to marketing and does not recognize the needs of customers. It is thus important to back up the mix by detailed knowledge of consumer behavior collected through market research. Further, the mix should be customized according to different target markets to ensure its effectiveness.
Meanwhile, to increase the customer orientation, there,s the 4Cs as an alternative to 4Ps. In the digital world, 4Cs can be interpreted as:
i) customer: the digital platform is a mechanism for explaining how the product proposition meets customers’ needs and wants;
ii) cost: the online customer is prone to compare prices to other web sites and traditional purchasing sources;
iii) convenience: the quality of customer experience in terms of the ordering process and fulfillment online;
iv) communication: the web site itself coupled with the methods of driving traffic to the site, such as search-engine marketing.
In light with the channel, on one hand, most marketing initiatives overlook owned and earned media while focusing on paid media. Seeing the loss in efficiency in advertising and the appearance of the social web, the convergence of three types of media is taking root in digital channels. They thus suggest the organizations must know and combine the three types of media in order to ensure greater effectiveness in the building process.
On the other hand, we can also emphasize the significance of social media. Word of mouth (WoM) reflects part of this social influence. Social media provide an unparalleled platform for consumers to publicize their personal evaluations of purchased products and thus facilitate word-of-mouth communication.
The actions refer to activities conducted by managers to execute the plan, with the essential scheduling and timing tasks to definite entities. Several items included in different phrases such as tasks, resources, partnering and outsourcing, budget include technical and operational costs, timescale, and staff should be specified. Further, although most of the digital marketing tools are free on social media platforms, the fee of the professional developing, monitoring, specific management tools and staff training must be considered .
The control element of the digital marketing plan can be reached through a combination of traditional techniques such as marketing research and novel ones such as analysis of webserver log files. Efficiently tracking the customer’s journey is a key requirement to optimize advertising campaigns and budgets. Constant correction on actions depending on periodically assessment on the outputs is also needed. Yet, although social media play the key role of controlling the brand reputation of companies, their real impact is difficult to measure .
The past ten years of Internet growth and usage created a wealth of new measurements. Detailed web logs, search engines results, email logs, and other digital data revealed surprising patterns and complexity in network growth and usage.
Further, the following five crucial features illustrate the network effect:
i) Network connections among participants grow much faster than the number of members;
ii) Real networks normally have high local clustering, indicating members tend to join in the online community where their close friends, colleagues or families are.
iii) Any two people can be connected on a network via few links.
iv) There are several critical hubs and authorities, ”network members with far more connections than average that dominate the network.”
v) The network becomes vulnerable when losing the critical hubs but may stay robust when missing other members randomly.
Digital marketing can be very efficient to grow the number of users by identifying the critical hubs and utilizing them to build trust and referrals. They will facilitate to spread the information flow and word-of mouth around their networks such as inviting their friends via an opt-in approach.