The term ‘Digital Marketing’ is widespread, especially in conversations revolving around business and technology. The different terms; digital marketing, online marketing, internet advertising, internet marketing, web marketing, etc., are used interchangeably and have one thing in common – marketing your company online.
Digital marketing is a big deal these days, and it’s not surprising to see business owners asking ‘what is digital marketing?’ or ‘how can digital marketing help my business?’
This article will discuss what digital marketing is all about and the history, evolution, types, strategies, challenges, and future of digital marketing.
Did you know?
As of March 2021, there were about 5,168 million internet users globally, and this number represents 65.6% of the world population (a 1.4% increase from the December 2020 data). This means more and more people are online.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is any marketing effort that leverages the internet, digital communication, or any form of an electronic device. Businesses use different forms of digital channels – search engines, email, mobile, social media, pay per click, websites, etc. – to attract, engage and convert prospective customers and retain existing customers.
It’s like every other type of marketing.
The only difference is that with digital marketing, marketing is done online through various digital marketing strategies.
Why is Digital Marketing Important?
Digital marketing has proved to be very beneficial to businesses over the years. It helps you reach a larger targeted audience at a reduced cost.
Additionally, with digital marketing, you can measure success daily, and know what’s working and what’s not working.
Comprehensively, the importance of digital marketing includes;
- Digital marketing allows you to target your customers where they spend their money and time.
- It helps you boost productivity and achieve sustainable growth even during the post-Covid-19 era.
- Digital marketing levels the playing ground for every business.
- It helps you match and/or overthrow your competitors.
- Online marketing makes your business easily accessible from anywhere and by anyone.
- It offers your business limitless reach.
- It helps you interact better with your customers and prospective customers.
- Digital marketing is cost-effective.
- It gives your data and insights that’ll help you make informed decisions.
- It’s easier for you to adopt and adapt when you know what’s working and what’s not working.
- There’s a high return on investment.
- You can easily integrate digital marketing with mobile technology.
- Digital marketing aligns with how the average internet user shops online.
History and Evolution of Digital Marketing
The history and evolution of digital marketing are somewhat tied to the history and evolution of internet technology.
When did digital marketing begin? There are diverse thoughts on that.
Although digital marketing is said to have started sometime in the early 1970s, some activities could be classified as digital marketing efforts as far back as 1896.
That was when Guglielmo Marconi first demonstrated the public transmission of wireless signals and invented the radio. It didn’t take the creators a long time to realize they could use the radio to sell stuff.
The first implementation of this thought was the live broadcast for an opera performance at the Met. The target audience sure bought the tickets.
Fast forward to 1971, one of the first key events of modern-day digital marketing was noted when Ray Tomlinson sent the first email message. He set the platform to allow people to send and receive files through different machines.
Although these activities were recognized as digital marketing efforts, the early 1990s is more recognized as the start of digital marketing. That was when the Archie search engine was created.
In 1990, the term digital marketing was coined, and the industry has grown over the years, through various internet and marketing technology advancements, to become what it is today.
Who is the Father of Digital Marketing?
There are diverse opinions when it comes to who is the father of digital marketing.
This is because there is no single founder of digital marketing but different persons who have contributed significantly to the development and advancement of digital marketing.
Some argue that the father of digital marketing is Gugliemo Marconi, who invented the radio in 1896.
Others say it is computer engineer Ray Tomlinson who sent the first-ever email in 1971.
Despite these two schools of thought, another person, Philip Kotler, is considered the world’s first digital marketer and the father of modern marketing.
Philip Kotler is called the father of modern marketing because of his lasting contributions and impact on the marketing field. He is an American professor and is well known for penning down more than 60 marketing books and establishing marketing as a field of academic study.
Digital Marketing History and Evolution Timeline
- 1990 – Introduction of Prodigy and CompuServe, term ‘digital marketing coined,’ launch of ‘Archie – the first search engine.’
- 1991 – America Online
- 1992 – SMS messaging
- 1993 – first clickable web-ad banner
- 1994 – First Online Display Ad, Launch of Amazon
- 1995 – Yahoo Search Engine
- 1996 – Email Marketing
- 1997 – AIS Media Launched, Mobile Payments, and SEO
- 1998 – Birth of Google, MSN, and Yahoo Web Search
- 2000 – PPC, AdWords, Google Mobile Advertising Introduced
- 2001 – Universal Music Launches First Mobile Marketing Campaign
- 2003 – LinkedIn, WordPress, MySpace
- 2004 – Mobile-First Marketing, Yelp, Responsive Web Design, Facebook, Gmail
- 2005 – Google Analytics, SEO, YouTube
- 2006 – Twitter, Marketing Automation
- 2007 – iPhone, App Store, GeoTargeting, Tumblr,
- 2008 – Facebook Ads, Spotify Launches
- 2009 – Bing
- 2010 – iPad, Instagram, Internet Surpasses Newspaper, Whatsapp
- 2011 – Google+, Pinterest, Snapchat
- 2012 – infographics, Visual Content Marketing
- 2013 – iBeacon, Micro-Location, Yahoo acquires Tumblr
- 2014 – Mobile Surpasses Desktop Users, Omni Channel Marketing
- 2015 – Wearables
- 2016 – Internet of Things, Mobile Overtakes Email & Social, Online Ad Spend Equivalent to TV Spend.
Digital Marketing Assets
During the early days of digital marketing, few assets were considered digital assets.
Today, there are numerous digital assets, and almost anything can qualify as a digital asset. The asset simply has to be a marketing tool you can use online.
Below are a few digital marketing assets you should have at your disposal;
- Your website
- Written content like blog posts, product/service descriptions, testimonials, ebooks, etc.
- Your email
- Images like product images, company photos, infographics, etc
- Video content like product demos, video ads, social media teasers, etc
- Branded assets like logos, icons, acronyms, favicons, etc
- Digital media reviews
- Social media pages
- Online products or tools like calculator, SAAS, PAAS, interactive content, etc.
- Your mobile phone
Most digital marketing assets fall into one or more of these categories because digital marketing is a multichannel form of marketing.
It’s important to mention here that because of the dynamic nature of digital marketing, marketers are continually coming up with new and better ways to reach customers online.
Thus, the list of digital marketing assets is endless.
Types/Strategies of Digital Marketing
Like digital marketing assets, the list of digital marketing strategies is continually evolving, and new strategies come up daily. However, there are digital marketing strategies that are considered notable strategies that gave birth to others.
Here are a few of the major digital marketing strategies.
1) Content Marketing
Content marketing is a crucial digital marketing strategy based on distributing relevant and valuable content to a target audience.
Many consider content marketing as the strategy that powers other types of digital marketing.
Just like other strategies, content marketing’s goal is to attract and qualify leads into customers. This is executed through SEO content writing on websites and blogs, email marketing content, social media marketing content, and many others.
One of the unique benefits of content marketing is that content marketing offers free value, which inspires prospects to purchase a product or service instead of nagging customers to buy.
How Effective is Content Marketing?
Hubspot 2020 report pointed out that 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing, and SEMRush 2019 data reported that search is the number one traffic source to blogs across all industries.
This proves the effectiveness of content marketing as a digital marketing strategy.
2) Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a popular concept in digital marketing and is technically a marketing tool that makes web pages attractive to search engines.
It requires you to research and weigh different factors in achieving the highest possible ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs).
Some of these factors include;
- Content quality
- Number and quality of inbound and outbound links
- User experience, etc.
With SEO, you monitor your pages’ performance and make adjustments where necessary.
When combined with content marketing (SEO content marketing), you achieve marketing that yields long-term results, and you can continue to get results even after your stop your marketing effort.
3) Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC Ads)
Pay Per Click refers to paid advertisement and promoted search engine results used to drive traffic to a website and make sales. This is the similarity with SEO content marketing.
However, unlike SEO content marketing, this type of digital marketing yields fast results but stops getting results immediately after you stop paying for the Ads.
You see these Ads at the top and sides of SERPs while browsing the web, before/during watching YouTube videos, and while using mobile apps.
4) Social Media Marketing and Advertising
This is marketing and advertisement on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Marketing on social media can be organic social media marketing (which is like SEO) and social media advertisement (which is like PPC).
5) Email Marketing
Email marketing is another form of digital marketing, and companies use this strategy to communicate with their audience, nurturing them to become a lead.
You can use emails to promote content, offer discounts, announce events, as well as drive traffic to your website.
6) Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is an already existing type of performance-based marketing and advertising where you receive a commission for promoting someone else’s products or services. This time, the difference is that you promote the product or service on your website or any other digital marketing assets.
Affiliate marketing works using a revenue-sharing model.
If you’re the affiliate, you get a commission every time someone buys the item that you promote. On the other hand, the merchant pays the affiliate for every sale they make for the merchant.
7) Mobile Marketing
Mobile marketing is a type of digital marketing focused on reaching prospects on their smartphone.
I’ll tell you why this digital marketing type is a goldmine.
Think with Google stated in 2019 that 75% of smartphone users expect to get immediate information while using their smartphone. Sinch 2020 data supported this by highlighting that consumers are 35x more likely to open mobile messages than emails.
There are other strategies of digital marketing like;
- Native advertising
- Marketing automation
- Online PR
- Inbound marketing
- Sponsored content
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
- And many others
Challenges of Digital Marketing
Although digital marketing offers many benefits to business owners, some challenges limit its adoption and/or ROI.
In this section, we’ll discuss some of the challenges digital marketers and business owners face when adopting these digital marketing strategies.
1) Building a Well Optimized Website
A website is one of the most important digital marketing assets and is where you’ll reap the benefits of most of your digital marketing efforts.
Whenever a business decides to go online, the first challenge is building a well-designed and optimized website that ranks high on search engines.
If this foundation is executed poorly, it affects the business negatively.
2) Understanding Your Audiences
Understanding the audiences’ behavior and knowing the best way to advertise to them is another challenge business owners and digital marketers face.
The truth is many business owners don’t know how to go about keyword and audience researches. This leads to them not knowing who their ideal audience is, and they end up targeting the wrong people and wasting time and money.
However, with knowledge of digital marketing concepts like buyer persona, business owners and marketing directors can identify their ideal prospects and target them accordingly.
3) Creating Valuable Content
This is a significant challenge.
Because content powers most digital marketing efforts, and when done wrong, there are consequences.
Many businesses don’t know how to write their content, and even those that want to hire content writers end up hiring the wrong writers because they don’t know what to look out for in a writer.
It’s understandable because digital marketing is relatively new, and most businesses are trying to learn the ropes.
4) Content Promotion
Creating valuable content is one thing; promoting the content is a different endeavor altogether.
Promotion is what digital marketing is all about. If you don’t know how, when, and where to promote your business, it’ll be hard to reap the benefits of digital marketing.
This can be a challenge, especially for businesses trying to break into the market.
5) Generating New Leads and Driving Sales
What’s the essence of marketing, whether traditional or digital, if not to generate leads and drive sales?
Many businesses have heard of digital marketing and its benefits but don’t know how to go about it because they have no experience.
Others have learned to post their products on Facebook and Whatsapp and call that digital marketing. (Well, it is a form of digital marketing effort).
However, they’re not generating the leads they want.
Fact: To generate leads, you need to understand that digital marketing is multichannel marketing and involves strategies.
Not knowing how to generate leads and sales is a significant challenge.
You can register on Haelsoft Academy now to learn digital marketing from digital marketing experts who have deployed diverse strategies and generated thousands of leads and sales from businesses in different sectors.
Of course, the challenges of digital marketing won’t be complete without the challenge of finance.
Many consider digital marketing to be expensive because it involves digital technologies.
Well, this is not entirely the truth.
Digital marketing is relatively cost-effective.
Digital marketing offers more opportunities to make sales than traditional marketing.
Besides PPC and social media advertising, other types of digital marketing, like content marketing, are cost-effective and produce results for a long time.
7) Building Brand Consistency and Trust
To win with digital marketing, you need to be consistent and gain the trust of your potential customers.
This is challenging for many businesses that struggle to understand what digital marketing is all about or expect instant results.
With the right information and digital marketing training, you can learn to stay consistent with your digital marketing and gain your customers’ trust.
Everyone agrees on this – digital marketing can lead to burnout when it becomes overwhelming.
Being a dynamic industry with new concepts and strategies coming up daily, it’s easy to get exhausted and frustrated if you don’t have the proper digital marketing foundation.
9) Understanding Tools and Technology
Knowing how to use digital marketing tools and technologies and deciding on the right tools and technologies for your business is a challenge. There seems to be so much to learn with so many options available, and when you learn, there appears to be no right option.
This can be overwhelming to a business owner without proper digital marketing training or guidance.
The Future of Digital Marketing
Many ask, ‘why has digital marketing grown important over the years?’
The answer is simple.
Digital marketing is a simpler, cost-effective, and technology-driven way of generating targeted traffic, and it yields higher returns.
In many circles, the future of digital marketing has shifted from being a peripheral topic to a central topic of discourse. Many marketing researchers are carrying out studies to measure digital marketing impact, where the sector is heading, and how fast it’s growing.
One thing is sure – the future of digital marketing is very bright.
- Businesses adopting online marketing are thriving and will continue to thrive.
- Individuals starting careers in digital marketing will continue to enjoy the benefits of a digital marketing career.
- Big enterprises opening up digital marketing departments and training their staff are taking the next steps into a bright future.
Did you know?
There will be over 295 million mobile internet users by 2023. Shoppers are shopping more on mobile, purchasing all types of goods and services online. Now you can even buy real estate online.
Marketers using at least three channels for digital marketing campaigns enjoyed 287% more sales than those only targeting a single channel as of 2020.
About 90% of businesses report that social media marketing has increases visibility for their business, and 75% say it has helped them increase traffic.
Wrapping Up on what is Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is here to stay, and the earlier businesses adapt, the better for them. It’s no longer a question of whether to adopt or not but a question of when to embrace digital marketing.
We hope this article on the history, evolution, types, strategies, challenges, and future of digital marketing gives you all the information you need.
If this article has convinced you to learn digital marketing in Nigeria, as a newbie, advanced or professional, contact us to learn more about our digital marketing academy and courses.