There was a time not long ago when the only form of visual advertising available to businesses was print and banner advertising. Then came the more advanced visual media that allowed for the creation of video adverts. For a long time, those were the only effective marketing means available, and businesses had to compete fiercely to get to the top of the ranks in their niche.
Enter digital advertising. The growth of computers and the internet spurred a number of changes and developments, and one of them was digital marketing. With more and more people using the internet, some businesses embarked on creating a web presence and churning out content for readers. Those ahead of the game then started to market their products too.
Fast forward to today, it is not an option for businesses to have a web presence but a necessity. Technology has developed so much in both usability and design, and its influence is now felt in every sector the world, marketing included. Online advertising has also grown to produce some of the business’s biggest success stories.
So how has digital technology changed online marketing?
The answers are varied. It is evident that businesses depend more on technology for marketing today than they did even just a few years ago. It is also clear that customers have become more central to businesses and their expectations have changed. Over the years, that partnership has led to some evolution in the world of marketing, as shown below.
Real time analytics
Businesses need to know the performance of each marketing campaign that they roll out. Digital technology has made this possible by enabling real-time tracking and analytics. Years ago, businesses determined the performance of ad campaigns by correlating the resulting sales, which always took a long time and a lot of guess work. John Wanamaker famously said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” With real-time analytics, this is no longer the case.
Now businesses on the digital move can track the effect of their ads to the smallest details such as who’s clicked on it, where they’re from, how many views it’s had and the sales it’s generating, all in real time. In fact, it is now a must for businesses to engage tracking systems in their online marketing campaigns and on all their websites.
Better targeting of markets
With improvements in forms of advertising came the option of marketing to everyone, an idea that soon lost steam. Today, with the help of the advancements in digital technology, marketing managers now know that targeting a business’s possible customers is better than targeting the whole world. They can now customise the locations and age groups that can receive their ads, which helps them make on-point sales projections.
Real time communication between businesses and customers
Forget the mail and the post office. The advancements in digital technology have encouraged quicker communication between customers and businesses, with the development of apps and features such as syncing of accounts across devices.
Through various channels such as emails and online accounts, businesses can now get feedback from customers on products and services in no time, providing them a chance to improve as quickly as they can. They can find out what their customers are really interested in, and use that information in developing products and ad campaigns.
More speed and flexibility
Customers today want speed, and businesses have to give it to them. The latter can credit digital technology for improving the processing speed of transactions, now that they can be conducted on almost any device in any part of the world. In the world of online marketing, fresh content is a must.
Digital technology enables advertisers create, edit and modify web content at any time, depending on the changing environment. There is no more need to wait for specific hours before beginning or modifying an ad campaign, like in print and visual advertising.
Digital technology has widened the span of the audience that can view business web pages and marketing campaigns, with its constant innovations and developments. The preference of people today for life-easing gadgets such as smart phones, watches and glasses in addition to the development of social media networking, means that online marketing campaigns can now reach potential customers across the world, regardless of their location, and be shared instantly with other people.
Better understanding of customers
Marketers now know that creating relationships with customers is paramount for successful campaigns. With the help of digital technology features such as cookies on websites, they are now learning all they can about their customers and creating personalised content and ads based on their changing needs.
Increased competition and creativity among businesses for customer engagement
After understanding the effect of technology-related factors in the success of their campaigns, businesses are now in a race to improve their systems in order to attract more visitors and turn them to customers. Factors such as website performance have, with the incorporation of digital technology, been found to be major determining factors in whether or not sales are made on one site and not another. Businesses are now investing in faster and more responsive websites, more attractive layouts and unique designs to increase customer engagement and ad performance.
While technology is still a major influence in the world of digital marketing, businesses need to understand that it is not a one-way street. It is the combination of both the technical and the creative minds of the team that keeps online advertising campaigns on track with the right strategies, employment of curiosity, and better understanding of the target market.