“Digital marketing is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.
The way in which digital marketing has developed since the 1990’s and 2000’s has changed the way brands and businesses utilize technology and digital marketing for their marketing.” (Source)
Many brands and companies view digital marketing as a vehicle to spread awareness and generate sales to the masses. The technology allows them to do so. While these last two sentences have validity, they restrain brands from capturing the pinnacle success of digital marketing.
I suggest brands look at digital marketing from a behavioral perspective rather than a technological perspective. Look at your target audience’s behavior using digital channels. Digital is a way of life for all. Thus, it is natural for marketers to reach their audience within the channels they use regularly. But marketers must go deeper into audience behavior to drive success. How does the target market use the various digital platforms? What are they looking for, asking for? Monitor conversations as they relate to your exact brand name as well as keywords that relate to your brand offering. Listen. Observe. Learn.
So what exactly do I mean by “real” versus “virtual”? If you do a Google search on “virtual,” you see it is defined as “almost or nearly as described, but not completely or according to strict definition,” and “not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so.” “Appear to do so” – that is death for capturing users, awareness, customers, loyalists, and advocates. People are looking for real engagement with brands. Automated messaging and responses, and bots turn them off.
Let me give you some examples of real digital marketing:
1) I actively searched, followed, and engaged with subject matter expertise as it pertains to the brand I represent. I have connected with these people – online, email, on the phone, and in person. I figure out how they can promote my brand AND equally important, I learn what they are looking for in a partnership. What do they want to accomplish for their brand? We work together to drive positive results for both sides and remain relevant and valuable to the audience we serve. This is the essence of “influence marketing.” I have asked my “partners” to promote various content from my brand. I have asked them to engage in my brand’s community. And when I do so, I also ask them, “How can I help you?” We establish a real relationship. Not a virtual one.
2) You need to actively monitor people who are asking for help as it relates to the solution your brand provides. Determine keywords and use a social monitoring tool. Engage with these individuals. Try to offer help. Then you can subtly promote your brand. Once again – real engagement.
3) Monitor activity on all digital platforms. Make sure to thank people for their participation. Thank them for their mention of your brand. Like their posts. Make sure you respond to their comments. Have real conversations pretty much the same as you do in your own personal life.
So you might think this all makes good sense in theory. But what type of results does it drive. I track numerous KPIs (key performance indicators) for my brand. Look at the various charts below.
Every KPI is trending upward. If you look at “weekly mentions” and “site engagements” you will notice up and down results week to week. This should not worry you. What is important is looking at a normalized trend. Even though there is zigzag fluctuation, the normalized results trend upward.
Yes, there are some digital marketing functions that are less “real” and more technologically driven. Examples are SEO and targeted paid media. These are definitely important as well. But I will guarantee you that you will not get compelling results if you implement these “virtual” digital marketing technologies without “real” digital marketing efforts. There is strong synergy integrating both.
The bottom line is you need to implement “real” engagement, connections, and conversations with your potential influencers and target audience. Then invest time in listening to them as well. Provide solutions and advice they are looking for.
Make It Happen,