In the bid to be relevant and in-tune with the digital economy, many businesses, especially offline ones, make the mistake of engaging in digital marketing immediately. Without understanding the real benefits and challenges of digital marketing, they set up social media advertising campaigns in the hopes to drive traffic to their website or product page.
Thousands of dollars spent and a dozen clicks later, the poor return on investment suggests digital marketing is not working for the company.
In this post, we will discuss the benefits and challenges of digital marketing to help you make better decisions when it comes to online customer engagement and outreach.
BENEFITS OF DIGITAL MARKETING
Here are some benefits of digital marketing over traditional marketing:
Speed & Flexibility
One of the most significant advantages of digital marketing is the speed. You can embark on a digital marketing campaign very quickly, assuming your digital assets (more on this later) are set up correctly.
Creating and launching the campaign can be done in days (or even hours) with an experienced digital marketer, and it is easy to make changes as needed. With digital marketing, you can see results much faster than you would with traditional marketing, due to the real-time results that can be tracked.
Highly Targeted Outreach
With the sophisticated digital channels and marketing tools available today, it is possible to reach prospects that you could never have reached before unless you had an astronomical budget.
Popular digital channels like Facebook, Google and YouTube all have advertising tools that allow you to present your brand in front of a highly specific target audience. This targeting feature maximises your marketing spending and ensures you are reaching out to prospects who are likely to be interested in your brand.
The Internet also means you can reach prospects in any part of the world, even if you are not geographically close to them.
Enhanced Customer Experience and Service
Unlike traditional advertising, digital marketing allows you to communicate and engage with prospects and customers in a two-way conversation.
The interactive nature of digital marketing will enable brands to create a better customer experience and provide timelier customer support. Customers can also provide feedback that you can act on to improve the customer experience and strengthen brand loyalty.
Availability of Real-time Data and Analytics
One of the most powerful aspects of digital marketing is the availability of real-time data and analytics if you use established channels such as Google, Facebook and YouTube.
Data analytics allows you to understand the effectiveness of your marketing tactics better and will enable you to adjust and optimize your marketing budget by investing in well-performing marketing campaigns and channels.
Lower Cost Per Acquisition
Compared to traditional advertising channels like newspaper, television or radio ads, digital marketing campaigns are designed to reach a desired targeted audience more effectively. And, if the campaign is set up right by an experienced marketer, the amount spent will be optimised relative to the size of the reach.
More importantly, the wide range of digital channels and the availability of real-time data and analytics allow you to make instant adjustments and move marketing budgets in and out of campaigns, based on their performance.
All these features will result in a lower cost per acquisition of a new customer, saving money and maximising your marketing budget in the long run.
CHALLENGES OF DIGITAL MARKETING
While there are obvious benefits of digital marketing, it is crucial to be aware of the challenges as well.
Providing the ROI on Digital Touchpoints
Digital touchpoints are points of contact that a prospect has with your brand in your marketing campaign. A search engine result that the prospect clicks on, a banner ad she sees on social media or a marketing email that she opens are all examples of digital touchpoints.
Unless your business is a pure e-commerce one, one challenge of digital marketing is measuring return on investment (ROI) with any campaign.
While data analytics reveal traffic, engagement, and user activity on your landing page, website, or ad, if the conversion occurs offline, that particular conversion may not be tracked or captured by an analytics report. Thus, data may not always be able to prove which touchpoints in the campaign gave a ROI.
For offline businesses, it is essential for marketing and sales alignment, where both teams share marketing activities and sales reports.
Hiring and Training Talent
As hybrid marketers ourselves, we understand that organisations need to find talent who are familiar with both traditional and digital marketing. This means sourcing for qualified and experienced staff or training existing staff to keep professionally relevant.
According to a 2020 report from LinkedIn, employers are seeking marketers with soft creative skill sets as well as hard technical skills. However, demand is outweighing supply “making it difficult to find candidates with the technical, creative, and business proficiencies needed to succeed in digital marketing”.
 Anderson, Bruce, “The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020”, (Jan 2020). LinkedIn.
Identifying the Right Technologies for Your Needs
In 2018, finding the right technologies was the fourth most prominent concern for marketers, moving up from fifth place the year before.
In 2019, this trend continued with over 43% of companies reporting that they were spending more than 5% of their budgets on new technology.
Technology is continually evolving, and new software and digital tools are available to marketers to automate their marketing, manage their customers and create content. The number of new online marketing tools available each year is staggering, and it is hard to know which one to invest money and time in.
Also, new digital channels and platforms are emerging each year, and marketers must be on the cutting edge to ensure they are marketing on channels that their target audience use.