Hanh has a Master's Degree in Economics. She spent six years studying and working in the United States.
With the upcoming Industrial Revolution 4.0 and increasing popularity of the Internet and mobile device, marketing has jumped to the new digital-based platform. Digital marketing has become an integral part of a company’s marketing efforts. An effective digital marketing strategy can help a company to reinforce its online presence, build and advertise the company’s image, and ultimately draw customers to its stores and increase its online sales. This article offers strategies a company can use to optimize the outcomes of its digital marketing campaign.
Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Channels
There exist various online marketing channels; hence choosing the most appropriate ones for a company’s digital marketing campaign can help it save cost, gain more profits and effectively monitor its campaign. For each channel, different techniques can be used to optimise returns. Here are some recommended channels that the campaign can employ:
The first and most important online channel for a company to promote its business and product is its website. A website helps to display a company’s product and services, introduce its history and value, as well as act as a medium for the customers to interact and provide feedback to the company (Bai, et al., 2008). A good website exhibits such characteristics as navigable layout, focus, optimised images, fast loading page and clear site map (Jephcote, 2009). To maximise results from websites, the company can consider these following techniques:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): SEO is the technique used to draw more traffic to a certain website by increasing the website’s ranking on search engine. Currently, some of the most widely-used search engines are Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. In order to optimise a website for search engine, delivering high quality content is very crucial. The website has to provide users with great content, exclusive information, and values that users cannot find at any other sources (Ryan & Jones, 2009).
- Pay Per Click: During the early days of Internet marketing, companies utilized banners and pop-up ads, which could potentially spread to a wide audience at a relatively low cost, to capture customers’ attention and lead them to the companies’ webpages. However, as customers became more alert and knew how to use various tools and software to get rid of ads, companies experienced huge drops in the return rate and profits, which made those types of ads much more costly to employ. The "Pay Per Click" advertising method was introduced to overcome those issues and has been gradually considered as an important development of Internet marketing (Mangàni, 2004). Using PPC advertising has many benefits including little upfront fees, customers in a pre-determined geographical location, immediate feedback, and benefits from search engine behavior.
- Online exclusive offer: To attract customers to visit the company’s e-commerce website, it can offer online buyers some incentives such as exclusive deals, discounts, or products. It can also give first-time visitors some coupons, or discounts for first online purchases.
According to a 2015 survey conducted by Marketing Sherpa, LLC, email is the most favourite communication medium across all age groups. Social media, online videos, and mobile apps are popular among young people (aged 44 and less) while postal mail, print media and television ads are preferred among older people.
Email marketing is a valuable tool for business to reach its customers in a most efficient, fast, and economical way. Businesses can employ email marketing to build up the relationship with its current or previous clients, communicate with them, and to encourage customers to come back and use their services. In addition, they can send emails to advertise their own businesses’ products and services to potential customers.
Email marketing has several key benefits over conventional postal mails including the ability to track their return on investment, and mass and direct communication between businesses and their customers. However, if done inappropriately, marketing emails can be considered spam/ solicited mails and are often ignored or flagged by recipients. To enhance the outcome from email marketing, the following strategies can be utilized:
- Opt-in vs. Opt-out: While email marketing is a great channel for marketing a company’s product and communicating with customers, spam email is counterproductive and can ruin a company’s reputation. Giving the customers’ choice over what information they wish to receive shows the company’s respect for their customers.
- E-Newsletters, E-Promotions: Sending out periodical newsletters or promotional brochures informing customers of upcoming sales and companies’ events is a great way to remind customers of the company’s activities.
- Crafting an effective message: The email should quickly capture the readers’ attention with succinct headlines and concise information. Do not include too many images or attachments with the email. Provide a link for the user to unsubscribe if he or she no longer wishes to receive the email. Provide the information that customers need the most (Ryan & Jones, 2009).
In addition, to attract more younger generations of customers, companies should use social media channels. The arrival of Internet-based social media has completely transformed the world of marketing, making users the focal points of communication by allowing one user to share their experience and reviews of products or services to hundreds or even thousands of other people, many of whom he or she does not even know personally.
What makes this channel more powerful is that the managers have only a limited power over the content, timing, and regularity of the social media-based interactions. Hence, the company must take control of this channel by actively initiating conversations, managing comments, and responding promptly to any crisis (Mangolda & Faulds, 2009).
Social media consist of a wide range of platforms including blogs, company-sponsored discussion boards and chat rooms, Internet discussion boards and forums, consumer-to-consumer e-mail, video sharing sites, consumer product or service ratings websites and forums, and social networking websites, etc.
Since this channel is so broad, a feasible and successful campaign should focus on the channels that bring the highest return on investment and create the most far-reaching impacts. In terms of social networking sites, with more than 1.8 billion active users, Facebook is leading the field as the fastest growing website, followed by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, QQ, WeChat, QZone, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. As for user engagement, Facebook also ranks first, followed by Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter (Chaffrey, 2017).
For social media, try the following tips:
- Facebook Ads: With nearly 2 billion active users, Facebook is undoubtedly a great advertising channel. To increase conversion rates of Facebook, it is vital to know the company target audience, their attitudes and behaviors, and find out what makes them excited and prompts them to action. For example, generation X customers are often drawn by a catchy headline, appealing images or a viral video.
- Mobile-device platforms: Statistics also show that more than 60% of Facebook users access their account through their mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and this trend is predicted to continue in the next few years. Therefore, the company should capture the mobile Facebook users, and make its ads friendly with the mobile device’s interface.
- Clear call to action: Social media platforms are built-in with various call-to-action options. For example on Twitter, users can like, retweet, or reply to a tweet with one click, or on Facebook, users can similarly react to any post with ease, even buy products directly from the page. Therefore, when sharing messages, posts, images or videos, the company should include a clear course of action it wishes its users to take.
Digital Marketing Campaign Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM, which is an integrated management strategy involving people, processes and technology that aims to understand a company's customers, is the key to the success of a digital marketing campaign. CRM concentrates on customer retention and relationship development. Companies that successfully carry out CRM will earn customer loyalty and long-lasting profitability (Chen & Popovich, 2003). CRM strategy can include:
- Closely monitor customers’ responses: The company needs to constantly monitor feedback from its customers. For example, on social media, the company should actively respond, answer and follow-up customers’ comments and posts in a timely manner. Similarly, customers’ queries through the company’s website or email need to be handled professionally within a specified amount of time.
- Create user personas: The campaign organizer should collect as much information as possible regarding its users’ demographics and preferences. With enough information regarding customers’ demographics and preferences, it can send better messages and offers to the right customers.
- Providing online customer service facilities: The company can provide customers with convenient options on its website such as list of frequently asked questions, online inquiry forms, online chat with employees, etc.
- Managing online service quality: Just like offline service quality, online service needs to be constantly assessed. One useful tool to measure the company’s online service quality is the Net Promoter Score.
Digital Marketing Campaign Monitoring and Evaluation
In order for a company to achieve its marketing campaign’s goals, the goals of the campaign have to meet the S.M.A.R.T criteria. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is characterised as one that is specific (clearly stating the company’s objectives), measurable (having quantifiable outcomes with short term and long term targets), accomplishable (utilising resources and skill sets that are readily available), results-oriented (performance-based), and timebound (having a specific deadline) (Olsen, et al., 1998).
Examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals:
- After 1 year of the campaign, by promoting its online website, company X increases website sales by 10%, improves website conversion by 1%, and responds to 100% of customers’ queries and complaints through the company webpage.
- After 1 year of the social media campaign, company X gets 20% of all customers to become ‘fans’ on Facebook, converts 30% of current email database to ‘followers’ on Twitter, and makes 5% of fans on Facebook like pages’ posts.
- After 1 year of the email marketing campaign, company X increases its number of email subscribers by 10%.
Among various tools to monitor a company’s digital marketing performance, Google Analytics is one of the most powerful. Google Analytics gives company information about its users’ key demographics, preferences, and behaviours, as well as the campaign’s major attributes such as conversion rates, bounce rates, landing pages, referrals, etc.
Bai, B., Law, R., & Wen, I. (2008). The impact of website quality on customer satisfaction and purchase intentions: Evidence from Chinese online visitors. International Journal of Hospitality Management , 27, 391-402.
Chaffrey, D. (2017). Smart Insights. Retrieved 2017, from http://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/
Chen, I., & Popovich, K. (2003). Understanding customer relationship management (CRM): People, process and technology. Business Process Management Journal , 9 (5), 672 - 688.
Jephcote, D. (2009). Retrieved March 2017, from http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Makes-a-Good-Website&id=2645723
Mangàni, E. (2004). Online advertising: Pay-per-view versus pay-per-click. Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management , 2 (4), 295–302.
Mangolda, W., & Faulds, D. (2009). Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix. Business Horizons , 52, 357–365.
Olsen, M. D., Ching-Yick Tse, E., & West, J. J. (1998). Strategic management in the hospitality industry. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Ryan, D., & Jones, C. (2009). Understanding Digital Marketing Marketing strategies for engaging the digital generation. London, Philadelphia: Kogan Page Ltd.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 HH
Michael Duncan from Germany on November 30, 2017:
Insightful content. Clearly well-argued points. Thanks for sharing.