When we were asked by Hayley Lingard – a final year student studying Fashion and Textiles Management at The Nottingham Trent University - for an interview to support her disitation on digital marketing for independant retailers, we were only to happy to help.
This is how the interview went:
1. Can you give me a brief summary of your company, and the services that you offer?
Simply Digital Marketing is an online resource which offers insights and free templates designed to simplify digital marketing. Our aim is to help students and professionals build their knowledge and do their jobs. At the moment our main focus is to pass on our insights and simplify digital marketing for everyone.
2. Why do you think digital marketing is so important for brands, companies and retailers?
For me digital marketing is the current, modern digital communication and delivery arm of marketing. Digital Marketing gives a brand ‘dynamic reach’ i.e. an online ad or video can be sent down a range of integrated communication channels and if the message needs to be different per audience, that’s fine, it can be dynamically changed.
All of the modern communication channels such as Social Media can enable the right campaigns to go ‘viral’. In the past your campaign may have just being seen by the person(s) you sent it to, without the ability to pass it on. Digital campaigns and highly visible offline campaigns, such as guerrilla marketing, can now live on and achieve greater reach over time – even becoming ‘classics’. This is important because ‘referrals’ are a powerful tool in marketing and leveraging this ability to ‘share’ is a real benefit.
3. How do you think smaller companies with lesser finances can use digital marketing to compete against bigger, richer companies?
Digital Marketing can just cost time, or it can cost £1000’s; I think that’s the beauty of it (but possibly a downfall too, as almost anyone can do it now). The difficulty comes when the larger companies do the basics as well as the costly campaigns, so I think that in order to compete you must simply be excellent at what you do, cover the basics such as Social Media, Email marketing, natural SEO and then choose marketing activities which will bring you the biggest return on investment.
Which activity you choose heavily depends on your market and audience e.g. if you’re an online boutique, you may choose to spend a modest amount on pay per click in Google to drive traffic to your site. The key is measurement and control, regardless of your budget. If you spend on an activity and it doesn’t give a return, learn quickly.
4. What are some of the most recent developments you’ve seen in digital marketing, and how have they affected both companies and consumers?
Some of the most important developments are the Google updates, which have recently been developed to favour good content which is regularly updated. Because digital marketing (the online part of it in this case) is so accessible there was a burst of online activity which saw thousands of websites trying to ‘farm’ links and beat the system. I’m a big believer in quality and valuable content, it’s the same as Twitter; you can’t cheat the system and buy followers for example, because the chances are the followers will be of very little value to you. Natural and good quality work is the way forward and ensures that consumers get value and brands are trusted.
A specific recent development in digital marketing is the QR code, which I am a fan of. With the use of mobile internet continuing to rise, and URLs getting longer as the shorter ones have already been snapped up, making it quick and easy for consumers to access a site is important. QR codes also add value in another way, by linking on and offline marketing i.e. having a QR code on a printed brochure which links to a specific online landing page. This integrates the two, and I think integration is the future of great digital marketing.
4. What is the significance of social media for a successful digital marketing campaign?
Your brand, product and audience should dictate how you use Social Media. If you’re selling in a business to consumer environment (B2C) then Facebook may be a great channel to use, if however you’re selling business to business (B2B), LinkedIn may be more appropriate. The important thing is that Social Media should be used as part of an integrated communications plan which complements each channel and reaches the audience.
The more Social Media grows, the greater the expectation is that organisations will use it; if they don’t it may reflect poorly on the brand; so having a twitter account, in some cases, to begin with, may just be a ‘tick in the box’.
However, it’s now also known that Google uses Social Media to add weight to search results. So if a tweet containing a link gets re-tweeted by high authority accounts, that link (page) will gain authority in Google. The #tags and words in the tweet determine the keywords which the link gains authority for. The amount of ‘authority’ is unknown, however in some cases, it could be the difference between 1st and 2nd place.
5. What is the significance of SEO for a successful digital marketing campaign?
Billions of searches take place every day through search engines (primarily Google). You just need to think of the process you go through when buying or researching a significant product to realise how important being found in Google is; it’s often the first place you start. So if you’re found early in the buying process you may make it on the customers ‘shortlist’.
Also where you rank in Google sends a message about the strength of your brand; so the higher you rank the more clicks you get and the better it reflects on your brand’s image.
6. What do you think the future is for digital marketing?
I think that the future of Digital Marketing is simplicity and excellence; easier said than done! I think all Digital Marketing channels will start becoming more integrated, take SEO and Social Media Optimisation (SMO) for example; Google now uses Social Media authority to reinforce search results. Simplicity is important because there are so many people using digital marketing channels and I think simplicity stands out in the crowd.
7. What do you think the future is for more traditional forms of marketing, such as print?
I think that traditional marketing still plays a key role; for example the generation who are used to letters and tangible communication are still in decision making positions. Factors such as costs, the environment and expertise put it under threat, but in a digital environment, offline marketing can stand out.
Unfortunately, as is the challenge with a lot of marketing, engaging with your audience can be a difficult job unless you’re Apple or similar. Because everyone started doing it, print advertising got a bad name, and marketing mail became known as ‘junk mail’, which gives it less chance of engaging customers these days. Something which could bring Social Media down…
The other problem with print is the message it portrays i.e. it’s not particularly advanced or exciting, like video for example, so for a lot of brands it’s not the image they want associated with them.
The good news is that a potentially stale situation, such as print, sparks creativity and it won’t be long before the next big things comes along. Innovation is always happening – Kindle, Tablet PCs etc.