Friday, October 5, 2007

What is Digital Marketing?

There are a multitude of definitions of Digital Marketing here in cyberspace - causing much confusion among students, professionals, and blog readers alike. While I have been unable to find information on when the popularity of Digital Marketing began among advertisers, I can acknowledge what makes Digital Marketing popular. First, let's examine the various definitions of the subject - What is Digital Marketing? If you Google this phrase, the search will produce approximately 5,000 results. This result quantity acknowledges not only the growth of the Digital Marketing concept, but also the vast array of definitions.

Many define the term as simply "Marketing Online (or Online Marketing)" This general explanation leave readers asking the question, "What does that mean?" Marketing online can be in the form of sending an email, optimizing search engine result (SEO), or displaying banner ads on a webpage to reach potential customers. Certainly, Digital Marketing is more than this. Using Online Marketing and Digital Marketing synonymously is not comprehensive of what Digital Marketing really is. Online Marketing typically involves using only the Internet to promote products and services to consumers. Using such a narrow focus to describe Digital Marketing minimizes the multitude of other marketing channels that encompass this fast-growing marketing trend.

Others definitions of Digital Marketing acknowledge the fact that because of it digital nature, digital marketing communications can be distributed at a faster rate and broader reach than traditional marketing communications. While this idea is undoubtedly true, reaching a mass audience quickly by using digital technolgy does not constitute Digital Marketing. In fact, some would argue that reaching a more targeted audience iteratively is a more clear definition of Digital Marketing - and I would agree because an iterative approach to marketing requires the establishment of a relationship.

Marketing executive are most supportive of Digital Marketing because of the ability to easily track and measure results of the marketing communication. Because of the use digital technology, the results of a digital marketing effort can be tracked by reach, views, clicks, visits, response rates, purchases made and so on. I will explore the details and importance of these types of measurement techniques in the coming weeks, but for now understand that Digital Marketing requires the ability to measure the results of a digital marketing campaign.

The Digital Marketing Institute defines the term as "the use of digital technologies to create an integrated, targeted and measurable communications which help to acquire and retain customers while building deeper relationships with them." I agree and support this definition as being most comprehensive of my intrepretation. This definition includes the terms digital, targeted, measurable and relationship all terms that are necessary to define Digital Marketing. It must be digital because of the technology. It is targeted because of the value in the technology allows it to be. It must establish relationships because marketing using digital technology generally requires input from potential consumers. It must be measurable because measurability is inherent in the use of digital technology and inherent in the use of marketing.

The one caveat to the definitiion offered by the Digtial Marketing Institute is that it uses the word integrated to define Digital Marketing. Using an Integrated approach to execute a digital marketing strategy would ultimately provide a better response rate, having an integrated approach is not inherent in the definition. A campaign can encompass a host of well placed interactive digital communication messages throughout cyberspace and other digital media and not place the promotion in magazines, television, newspapers, or radio. This campaign will still be defined as Digital Marketing.

In summary, I define Digital Marketing as the practice of promoting products and services using digital distribution channels, reaching targeted consumers, building iterative relationship with those consumers, and having the ability to produce measurable results. Digital Marketing must be targeted, it must be measurable, and it must involve building strong relationships.

My definition simply adds to the already large list already in cyberspace. I invite you to share your thoughts about this definition. Next week I will explore the various types of Digitial Channels. Until Next Time....