Digital Marketing Channels Mix
The power of digital marketing lies in the fact that there is such a variety of digital marketing mix channels available. This allows for multiple touchpoints where prospects can engage with your marketing campaign and, in turn, strengthen their affiliation with your brand across numerous platforms. The following section introduces search, display, mobile, and social marketing channels, focusing on the uses and challenges of each.
Something that specifically differentiates SEM from other forms of digital marketing is the ability it provides to determine intent “at the moment.” That is, at the precise moment that a user enters a search query, it is possible to know their intentions based on what they have searched for.
For example, if someone enters a search query for “French restaurant in Boston,” their intentions are clear: they are looking for a restaurant that serves French-style food in the city of Boston. Knowing this intent immediately (in other words, “at the moment”) allows the marketer to target that user with a high-ranking website that addresses that specific query and intention – in this case, for a French restaurant.
The power of digital marketing lies in the fact that there is such a variety of marketing channels (digital marketing channels mix) available. This allows for multiple touchpoints where prospects can engage with your marketing campaign and, in turn, strengthen their affiliation with your brand across numerous platforms. The following section introduces search, display, mobile, and social marketing channels, focusing on the uses and challenges of each.
Starting with the basics, a search engine one of the digital marketing channels mix is a web-based tool that searches for and identifies information in an archive by using keyword or character input from users to assist in locating certain sites on the World Wide Web. Some common examples of search engines are Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Search marketing, or search engine marketing (SEM), is an overarching name for any activity that aims to improve your site’s ranking on these search engines according to the book (Turner 2015). SEM is an effective way to compete in the online space because marketers can target customers directly based on search history, targeted keywords, location, and more. Search marketing has two direct forms ie SEO and SEA
SEO is also known as organic or unpaid search since site rankings on search engines are earned according to the quality of a site’s content, the site’s overall popularity, the relevance and popularity of keywords, and the quantity and quality of linking sources (backlinks) from other sites directing users to your site, also known as trustworthiness.
SEO is a measurable, repeatable optimization process that is used to send signals to search engines, notifying them that your site is worth displaying higher up on the search results page, thereby increasing the amount of organic traffic that your site receives. Search engines use complex algorithms to assess each site in relation to every search that users perform to determine which site should rank best for what users are looking for.
It is helpful to think of an algorithm like a collection of empty boxes. One box gives you a score for the quality of your site, one box gives you a score for how many sites link to you (your trustworthiness), one box gives you a score for your site’s popularity (amount of traffic you receive), and one box gives you a score for how much authority you have (your fan base). The algorithm comprises a multitude of different boxes, yet the four most important boxes to focus on for search rankings are as follows:
- Quality: A site’s quality is measured according to various factors, including the quality of the content, the load times of pages, and the user experience.
- Trustworthiness: As mentioned, this is measured according to backlinks, with those from well-known sites (for example, the New York Times) holding more weight and credibility than links from unknown ones.
- Popularity: Your site’s traffic and page visits determine its popularity.
- Authority: This is an overall measure that combines popularity and trustworthiness.
An important point to remember when developing an SEO strategy is to have “empathy for your audience” (Fishkin n.d.). To be able to reach your audience more effectively, you need to understand what they are looking for. It is possible to build an SEO strategy that not only considers the users but also balances their needs with the needs of the search engines. For example, it is advised to balance keyword inclusion with the readability and quality of the content because including many keywords, which is beneficial in that it helps the search engine to rank the site, may have the adverse effect of making it difficult for readers to understand the content.
- Here are some typical search queries,
- Do: These are transactional queries; for example, “I want to buy a movie ticket.”
- Know: This refers to informational queries, for example, “What is the name of the author who wrote this book?”
- Go: These are navigation queries, for example, “I want to log onto my Facebook account.”
Paid search differs from SEO in that marketers pay for their sites to be positioned in a certain spot on a search engine. On Google, this position is right at the top of the page. The Paid search runs on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, where advertisers only pay when a user clicks on their ad (Turner 2015). In determining where an ad will be displayed on a search engine platform, the search engine employs algorithms to both establish what the advertiser is paying for the ad (the bid) as well as determine the ad’s quality, which is based on factors such as the number of clicks on the ad and the relevance of the keyword(s) to the landing page. BRU may therefore have a comparatively low bid and a very high-quality ad, but end up with a high-ranking ad.
A clear benefit of paid search is that you can list your site in a noticeable spot on the first page of a search engine. However, it is important to note that not only does an ad need to lead to clicks, but it also needs to lead to sales or any other desired result.
A problem occurs when an ad draws users to click on it and yet no sales are made (which may result from a lack of convincing, quality content, for example). Since the advertiser pays per click, and clicks can accumulate at a rapid rate, it is easy to lose money through this marketing strategy. Imagine you pay 20 cents per click, and 100 people click the ad per day. You would be spending $20 for that day. Now imagine that the ad runs over the month – it will cost you $600. If you are not making any income from your paid advertising, then the advantage that paid search offers is nullified (Turner 2015; Duermyer 2016).
A helpful way to conceptualize Display Advertising is to think of a billboard. When driving along the highway, you see a billboard advertising competition for a weekend getaway. You did not ask to see this information, yet this billboard happened to be in your line of vision, and you now involuntarily possess this new information (and may even consider entering the competition if the ad did its job).
Display advertising works the same way in that your ads are shown to a target audience whenever they are browsing online, but not searching for your product or service. For example, a display ad for a recent trendy sneaker release might pop up while a user is on another site browsing for concert tickets. It is for this reason that display ads are also known as banner ads and function the same way as an ad in a magazine or newspaper (Antwine 2015). In this way, display ads create brand awareness and ultimately generate traffic to your site. They can therefore be used for both branding and direct-response campaigns.
Similarly, to SEO, it can be tricky to keep updated with the changing trends and adjust your advertising accordingly. It can also be difficult to ensure that ads do not show up more frequently than they should (due to news or seasonality, for example), which can result in increased costs, unnecessary impressions or clicks, or reduced click-through rate (CTR) (Intrieri 2015).
For a display campaign to be successful, a few steps should be considered. First, it is essential to establish the objective of the campaign. Do you want to create awareness about a new product or service (which is branding) or elicit a direct response, or would you like past site visitors to come back? Finding answers to these questions will help in developing a comprehensive approach to an advertising strategy. In the case of Bru, we are looking to create awareness in the market and acquire new.
Next, it is important to select key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be helpful in determining a campaign’s success. Characteristic KPIs for a display ad campaign are metrics such as the number of impressions, click-through rates (CTRs), cost-per-click (CPC), and conversion rates. This is, of course, also based on whether you are taking a branding or direct response approach. Once this is complete, the target audience needs to be defined, including the basic demographics as well as behaviours and psychographics (Turner 2015).
The last step is to buy ads that prospective customers will see. Display campaigns are usually priced on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis, which represents the price for 1,000 ad impressions. Once the campaign has been launched, you will be able to measure campaign performance and optimize its performance in real-time, as with search advertising (Turner 2015).
In the digital age, it is commonplace for an individual to have accounts across multiple social media platforms. Some of the most popular networks are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat (or Snap), and Tumblr, which are used often in both paid and unpaid marketing.
Social media marketing as part of the digital marketing channels mix is used for the same reasons as most other digital marketing strategies. First and foremost, it is used to reach customers, but also to increase the number of referrals and leads, promote word of mouth, improve the sales of products or services, provide a feedback mechanism and customer service, drive traffic to a business site, and develop new products and services while keeping users up to date on these developments (Ward 2016). In summary, social media marketing is the process of gaining traffic and attention through social media platforms.
An organization may have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and even a LinkedIn business profile, but running a social media campaign on these platforms will be fruitless unless it is designed to drive leads to the business and convert them into customers. The nature of social media is interactive and communal, meaning that a campaign of this sort can be extremely time-consuming when having to be nurtured over time. If your business does not have the marketing budget to allocate a hire staff to conducting and managing a social media marketing campaign, this strategy may be more difficult to implement (Ward 2016).
Social media marketing provides three avenues for marketing and engaging with an audience:
- Network targeting: This is the practice of direct advertising to consumers with specific advertisements based on the interests of their social networks. The logic here is that if a particular consumer has many friends who “like” a particular product, the probability is high that they will share that affinity.
- Social advertising: This type of marketing relies on displaying the interests of a consumer’s social network to garner further interest in an advertisement, brand, or product. For example, on Facebook, you may have seen the message “John, Jane, and 13 other friends like Coca-Cola” displayed next to an ad for said product. This is an example where an ad is displayed based on the interests of a user’s connections, and the assumption that they too will be interested in the product.
- Viral marketing: Also known as peer-to-peer marketing, this is the process by which a current consumer is incentivized to spread awareness of a product through word of mouth. For example, DIRECTV ran a campaign in which they paid consumers $100 for every friend they could sign up for the service. Another form of viral marketing involves creating visual or video content that appeals to an audience to such a degree that they share it across social media platforms. If the content is shared exponentially and spreads through a population, it goes viral and can increase a business’s sales, engagement, and brand awareness.
Furthermore, to be effective in social network marketing, businesses must be open to regular and convivial interaction with other users of the social network and should avoid engaging in too much direct, blatant advertising. Instead, more subtle forms of promotion should be employed if the business is to be perceived as a member of the social network community and not simply another brand or advertiser trying to sell something. This interaction also brings with it the risk of negative interactions with customers and other users of social media, where, for example, a consumer vents their frustration with a brand publicly through social media, which could damage a business’s reputation.
On the upside, social media marketing is attractive as it is inexpensive compared to other marketing channels.
Planting your business right where your customers are – on the go – is the essence of mobile marketing. As the name suggests, mobile marketing allows businesses to reach customers directly through their mobile devices. These mobile devices include cell phones, smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices, targeting audiences via websites, email, Short Message Services (SMSs), Multimedia Message Services (MMS), social media, and applications (apps) found on these devices. (Marketo, Inc n.d.)
Mobile still within the digital marketing channels mix is disrupting the way people engage with brands since nearly everything that can be done on a desktop computer can now also be done on a small mobile screen. Considering that a significant percentage of internet users own a smartphone, and a similarly hefty percentage of digital media time in the United States is spent on mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets, strategic use of mobile marketing is the way to go in reaching motivated customers. Moreover, a mobile digital marketing strategy encompasses all the digital marketing channels mix covered in this presentation up to this point. From SEO to PPC, to display marketing, to social media marketing, the mobile marketing channel can reach all these sides of your audience (Marketo, Inc n.d.).
How to choose from the digital marketing channels mix
With a deeper understanding of search, display, mobile, and social media marketing channels, you may now be faced with the question of how to choose which digital marketing channels are right for a particular business or marketing objective. This issue cannot be solved on an individual campaign basis in these notes, as there are far too many individual campaigns and variations to cover. However, a good place to start is by asking yourself strategic-level questions, such as, “Where is my business today, and where would I like it to go?” The next step would be to apply the answers to those questions to the selection of marketing opportunities available. The primary variables you can use in the selection process is the next section of the notes will cover.
With a myriad of digital marketing channels mix to choose from, marketing a brand has become simultaneously more powerful and more complicated to implement than ever before. The multitude of online platforms and digital channels provides endless opportunities to experiment with marketing initiatives yet leaves less room for a business to stand out and subsequently succeed in attracting and retaining a target audience. Before planning and developing a marketing campaign, it is essential that you spend time understanding the marketplace and the various digital marketing channels available, keeping in mind that the practicality and effectiveness of each channel depend largely on the stage that a business is in, the resources it has at its disposal, and its core objectives for the future.