What is Digital Marketing & Why Is It Important for Marketers?

No business unit has been as impacted by digital transformation as marketing. Finding success in marketing has always required businesses to stay on top of trends, evolve with technology, and meet the demands of modern and more demanding consumers. To do that, you need to be where consumers are, building relationships and providing value along the way. But your target audience isn’t sitting around watching cable TV and reading magazines anymore. They’re on social media, Google, and apps. In comes digital marketing.

To reach your modern audience, you need to stop looking for new billboard spots and start looking at your phone. The modern customer lives a good chunk of their lives inside these digital devices. And, you’ll need to rethink your marketing strategies to accommodate them. Here’s everything you need to know about digital marketing, why it’s important, and why your marketers need to focus on digital-first marketing strategies.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing represents all digitally-based marketing efforts. Of course, given the current hyper-digital ecosystem we all live in, digital marketing encompasses a massive number of marketing channels, strategies, and assets. From social media posts to digital advertising and your company’s website, any marketing effort that takes place online falls under the digital marketing umbrella. Examples of digital marketing assets include:

  • Websites
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Pay-per-click ads
  • Blogging
  • Videos
  • Search engine optimization
  • Mobile marketing
  • Digital branding assets
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • eBooks

Like any form of marketing, digital marketing aims to create growth, build loyalty, establish branding, and convert customers. However, unlike traditional marketing — which takes place in the physical world and primarily focuses on wide-reaching campaigns — digital marketing is capable of reaching specific customers at specific times and places, so long as those places are digital.

So why is digital marketing important? And what does it mean for marketers?

5 Reasons Digital Marketing is Important for Marketers and Consumers

1. Digital Marketing Can Be Fine-Tuned for Performance

Traditional marketing campaigns cast wide nets. You can attempt to target specific locations with billboards, use audience data for TV ads, and choose relevant magazines for print ads, but traditional marketing can only get semi-targeted. Digital marketing can be used to granularly target specific consumers based on their purchasing habits, income, position in a company, or previous interactions with your brand. Through the use of buyers’ personas, target audiences, and customer segmentation, you can drill down every campaign to the user level.

Not only does this decrease costs and improve lead quality, but it prevents unsuitable customers from slipping into your funnel. This may lower your lifetime value metrics and produce significant churn. In fact, targeted ads and content are the primary ways modern marketers drive demand to their business. You can pick-and-choose who sees your advertisements, and ensure every dollar you spend goes towards a viable lead. Some statistics:

  • Retargeted display ads encourage 1000% more users to search for your product
  • Retargeted ads are 70% more likely to convert users
  • Around 30% of users have a positioned response to retargeted ads

2. Digital Marketing is Incredibly Cost-effective

Any business, of any size, can enter the digital marketing game and generate value. Part of this is due to the relatively low cost of entry due to robust targeting capabilities. But digital marketing also has an ace up its sleeve. It is capable of producing incredibly high ROIs.

For example, using traditional marketing, businesses pay a set amount for a billboard or TV advertisement. Your budget dictates exactly how many of these billboards or ads you can purchase. And you can’t feasibly predict how many conversions and engagements these ads generate. It’s largely up to fate.

Digital marketing is more complex. With so many channels and strategies, you can spread your portfolio and continuously capture conversations that feed back into your budget. For example, PPC ads (also called Pay Per Click) only charge you for every click generated. If you create a PPC ad with a 10 percent conversion rate, you can ensure you’re paying a specific amount for every conversion. In other words, digital marketing allows you to gain foresight into your marketing efforts.

Beyond this, many digital marketing channels have tremendous ROIs. For example, the average email marketing ROI is 4,200%. So, digital marketing improves branding, creates engagement, and costs less (considering return, reach, and scope) than traditional marketing. Some statistics:

3. Digital Marketing Reaches Digitally-native Consumers

Over 80 percent of the US population regularly goes online. But for digitally-native consumers (i.e., people that grew up during the digital era), that number rises to nearly 100 percent. In fact, over 95 percent of Gen Z regularly uses social media. The way people consume content and engage with the world is increasingly digitized. According to research, 88 percent of Gen Z want digital omnichannel marketing compared to other forms. Without digital marketing, your business is ignoring a significant number of Gen Z and Millennials — many of whom solely engage with brands over digital platforms.

Digital marketing isn’t the single most impactful form of marketing in the modern age. It represents the future of marketing, with every new generation more digitally-soaked than the last. Better yet, digital mediums make it easy to reach out and communicate with consumers directly. Your customers and prospects can ask you questions directly on your social media channels or website, and you can answer them in real-time. Some statistics to help:

  • 55 percent of Gen Z uses their smartphones for over five hours per day
  • 74 percent of Gen Z spends their free time online
  • 66 percent of Gen Z use more than one internet-connected device at a time
  • Gen Z streams 23 hours of video per week
  • Gen Z spends around 3 hours on social media each day (2 hours for Millennials)

4. Digital Marketing is Hyper-measurable

If you can think of it, you can measure it. That’s the motto of digital marketing. Want to know how many people clicked on your ad? No problem! More interested in learning if people who viewed a specific ad took a specific action? You can do that too! Modern analytics and marketing technology make it incredibly easy to measure every campaign, customer interaction, and outcome.

Many marketers struggle with the sheer number of measurable components in digital marketing campaigns. So, it’s incredibly important to connect with stakeholders and focus on the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each campaign. Over-measurement can sap time and energy from your marketing team. In general, there’s nothing you can’t measure with digital marketing, but there are some things you probably shouldn’t measure. Some statistics to help:

  • 74% of marketers say targeting improves engagement rates
  • Targeted ads generate 58% of revenue for marketers

5. Digital Marketing is Skill-based

You don’t need a big budget, a horde of marketers, or hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to succeed with digital marketing. You need brains, a smart strategy, and a creative muscle. Small businesses can compete with massive enterprises in the digital space, and small budgets can create significant growth. If you put in the work, you’ll get results. For example, creating high-quality content and investing in ads intelligently can help you draw in customers, rank on Google, and build a robust social media account. Sure! Some massive companies throw millions of dollars into the proverbial ocean of digital marketing and get bites. But you don’t need a fancy lure to score big catches.

We’ve helped hundreds of small businesses generate impactful websites with engaging designs and amazing social campaigns on smaller budgets. This is a skill-based ecosystem. If you’re good at understanding customers, creating impactful content, and engaging with your audience, you can make a splash in the digital ocean — even if you’re a guppy. Some statistics to help:

  • 41 percent of local businesses depend on social media for growth and revenue
  • 92 percent of small business owners believe having a website is the most effective marketing strategy at their disposal
  • 91 percent of consumers visit local, small businesses due to online experiences
  • 75 percent of small business owners believe internet marketing is hyper-effective for attracting new customers
  • An unfortunate 20 percent of small business owners don’t utilize digital

Digital Marketing is the Key to Growth

To be clear, digital marketing isn’t just another marketing strategy. It’s the only way to brand, engage, and convert a significant number of customers. You could purchase every billboard on the planet, smother broadcasting in your commercials, and slap your brand on the front of every magazine, and you wouldn’t come close to reaching as many people as you can find in the digital world.

Digital marketing is more cost-effective, targeted, measurable, and competitive than traditional marketing. There’s a reason digital marketing has experienced sharp year-over-year growth while traditional marketing continues to shrink. It’s simply a more profound way to reach your customers and grow your business.

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