It was once stated, “There’s a statistical theory that if you gave a million monkeys typewriters and set them to work, they’d eventually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare.” Thanks to the Internet, we now know this isn’t true. We also know, however, that the majority of the 3.1 billion Internet users are also consumers. Many are your current customers, while many more fit the profile of your ideal customer. Our challenge as marketers is to let them know you exist, the need your product or service satisfies, and the benefit of being a customer. Sounds easy, right? Without a basic understanding of this amazing communication channel, it would be nearly impossible to develop an effective digital marketing strategy.
The digital landscape
Navigating the marketing labyrinth of the Internet is not for the faint-hearted. Of the 3.1 billion Internet users worldwide, an estimated 279 million are in the United States. At the moment this article was penned, there were 140,669, 383 registered domains. The average users spends 66 personal hours per month on an Internet-connected device. The average user spends 7-10 hours per month on Facebook. This does not include the time spent on a computer at the office. There are an estimated 210 billion email messages finding their way to inboxes each and every day. Just over 80% of these messages are identified as SPAM. Using statistics from 2014, and considering the increase in smartphone and tablet sales, it is likely that 60% of online sales for Mother’s Day 2015 will be on a mobile device.
All digital marketers should be thinking about a “mobile first” strategy. Everything from the corporate website to email communications need to be composed with mobile devices in mind. Just over 87% of American adults use the Internet, 64% have a smartphone and 42% have a tablet. Let’s look a little deeper at the user community. Over 97% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 use the Internet. Around 74% of online adults use social networking sites. According to a recent report from The PEW Research Center (www.pewinternet.org), 70% of the Facebook users engage with the site daily—and 45% several times per day. Here’s a breakdown by site and percentage of users: Facebook – 58%, LinkedIn – 23%, Pinterest – 22%, Instagram – 21% and Twitter – 19%.
Enough already with the numbers!
Given the abacus-fueled results above, it is accurate to say… it would be far more likely for your target audience to visit your website than drive by your billboard, see your television advertisement or hear your radio spot. While mass-media continues to dominate all other communication channels for “brand building,” it relies on timing. The consumer needs to be tuned-in (and paying attention) at the exact moment the mass-media advertisement airs. Digital marketing has several advantages. Unlike other communication channels—especially mass-media—digital marketing can include messaging relevant to the consumer. Each and every consumer. Usage and tracking technologies can be leveraged to control the frequency of a particular message. One major concern among email marketers is “list fatigue.” The same is true for advertising on social media sites. There is a tipping point at which an advertisement becomes annoying.
Every marketing initiative starts with a communication objective. From there, the creative and message strategies must communicate key benefits while maintaining the brand’s personality. The communication—such as email, banner ad, social media post or text message—must explain the value proposition, and include a clear call-to-action. An email message, for example, should contain an objective statement, a support statement, and a tone or brand character statement. A well-planned digital marketing strategy often includes several communications—or touch points—working together to incubate interest and trigger a response. Unlike other communication channels, digital marketing is interactive. Consumers can respond immediately, or share with a friend or colleague. The Internet user community is growing at a mind-boggling pace. Every company should include the digital communication channels as part of their overall marketing strategy. There is no faster way to go from conversation to conversion!