Digital marketing for the digital era

Digital marketing, also known as online marketing or digital advertising, is essentially marketing using digital technologies. Unlike traditional marketing, which mainly uses the print medium and analogue broadcasts, digital marketing utilises the digital medium which is predominantly internet-based. While exposure to traditional marketing is achieved using newspapers, magazines or billboards, digital marketing is reliant on computers, smartphones and digital devices.

There are numerous forms of digital advertising which companies can use. Image courtesy of Automotive Social.

History of Digital Marketing

There have been four epochs in marketing throughout human history. The first epoch was word-of-mouth marketing. As the term suggests, it was just one person recommending a good product or service to another. It’s effective, but highly limited.

The second epoch arrived following the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1949. Prior to this, copies of written materials had to be handwritten by professional scribes. Not only was the cost exorbitant, but the process also took an extraordinarily long time. Aside from the democratisation of knowledge, the arrival of the printing press also meant copies of written documents can be made quickly and at much cheaper rates. This prompted the emergence of single page flyers used to promote events and products.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the advent of radio and television, which coincided with the third epoch, that concept marketing really took off. The wide and persistent reach of the analogue broadcasts, coupled with print media, allowed businesses, even small and medium-sized ones, to truly participate in the marketing race. The only drawback, which was never apparent at the time, was its passive nature. Sure, there were radio or TV phone-ins, but the passivity of the medium meant marketing was a one-way process where businesses developed and marketed products in isolation of the highly unpredictable and impulsive captive audience

However, at the turn of the last millennium, traditional marketing hit a giant brick wall in the form of the internet, social media, e-mails and a host of other digital technologies. The fourth epoch had finally arrived.

Advantages of digital marketing

At its core, digital marketing still embodies the same principles of traditional marketing. The major difference, or rather, the advantage is, digital marketing allows more real-time personalisation. Back in the 90s, companies spent months meticulously developing campaigns for their products, and rolled out the marketing over a long period of time which routinely stretched into multiple quarters.

Today, companies have exactly one minute to learn about current and emerging trends, and adapt their strategy to leverage on the knowledge. Since internet service providers, search engines, social media companies and practically every website online mine data from its users, marketers are able to theoretically customise their strategy and message for individual customers.

This level of personalisation can be further enhanced depending on the types of digital marketing used. We will be covering more on the various forms of online marketing in subsequent pages.