Digital Marketing Competitor Analysis

How can a marketing competitor audit be more ‘digital?’

In this lesson we’re going to look at digital marketing and a digital marketing competitor analysis.

One of the problems that you may encounter when learning about marketing is that the competitor analysis is often a traditional or transactional competitor analysis that would have been done before we had any digital technology. So we’re going to look at competitor analysis and answer the question, how can a marketing competitor audit be more digital?

Search Engines

Let’s start with some simple approaches to doing a digital competitor analysis and look at competitive research online using the computer or phone you have in front of you. You could just use search engines and look for general topics using Google, Yahoo and Bing – simply type in the name of your competitors and see what you find type in the name of your industry product or any term in relation to competitors.

Competitors’ Websites

Next you can look at your competitors website look for product information, press releases, or media releases or even job opportunities because that will tell you the direction in which the company is intending to move you can look for marketing mix information in relation to product, price, place, and promotion and you can look for details of the Five Ss or RACE models which are covered by Dave Chaffey in his books and on his website


You can look for personal pages or blogs or vlogs or video logs and this is often a really interesting source of material from people who are employed by a company. For example Google employees often have blogs or vlogs. and they may be fans or ex-employees of the business. It’ll give you a different perspective and you can also find those topics on Youtube or Linkedin or Facebook. Using social media you can review your target market.

Secondary Reports

Refer to secondary reports such as Datamonitor or Mintel which are commonly available on Business Source Complete. You can use Ibis which is often again on bibliographic resources and electronic libraries. You can use Kantarworldpanel which is free online (be careful with this because you want the free version of it. You don’t want to subscribe but there’s plenty of free material that students can use).

Demographic Reports

You can look at demographic reports (remember demographics is the study of populations) these vary from country to country so if you’re in the United Kingdom this might be or census information and in the USA this would be and anything else in relation to u.s censuses. If you’re studying in another country such as India or China, governments often release demographic reports that you can use as the basis to make a more robust argument about competitors.

You can monitor special interest material and in the UK this is Marketing Week, Campaign Magazine or Marketing Magazine but again in different countries there are different marketing magazines that you can use to look for information about your competitors.

Social Media Audit

A really useful tool is the social media audit. This is a Harvard Business Review article called Conducting a social media audit (2015) and it’s written by Keith Quesenberry. It is an extremely useful tool if you want to audit social media. and you can find it on, but it’s a great idea to download the original article and why not get hold of a copy of Keith Quesenberry’s book – Social Media strategy which is an excellent book in relation to social media in general and it contains competitor audits.

Five Forces Analysis

As well working from the more traditional, transactional approach you could conduct a Five Forces Analysis (1979) based upon Michael Porter’s work. This is ubiquitous. It is very popular. It’s taught on many modules and courses and you can find plenty of information using the internet and YouTube has a fabulous video of Michael Porter talking about Five Forces Analysis. Now the thing to remember here is that you need to get your perspective correct and the original versions of five forces looked at ‘industry analysis,’ for example the airline industry, car manufacturing, electronics or the oil industry – but often in marketing we tailor it to a specific market and that’s fine. Maybe check it with your tutor but it can be taken in two ways. Another tip with using Five Forces Analysis is remember to try and keep it digital; use robust and valid sources to complete the rivalry against existing competition, the threat of new entrants, threat of substitutes, bargaining power of suppliers and the bargaining power of buyers.

Jeff Bullas

Now we’re going to get more digital and a fabulous website is and on there Jeff reviews a series of tools and he has these four cool competitive analysis tools every digital marketer should use.

4 Cool Competitive Analysis Tools Every Digital Marketer Should Use

Great tools you can use include SimilarWeb. It will give you data on not only your own company’s website but also on that of competitors. Tje resources I described today it’s better if you can use the free version (for students of course!) and what tends to happen is that you get funneled, and the funneling will take you through to subscriptions, and that’s fine and similar web and other companies do a fantastic job. You probably only want it for a few graphics that you can use for examples in assignments. SimilarWeb’s tool allows you to analyze multiple areas of your competitor’s online marketing strategy and compare it to your own. For example you can look at visits levels of engagement, traffic sources, referring websites, organic keywords, paid keywords, and social.

SimilarWeb allows you to analyze multiple areas of your competitor’s online marketing strategy.

It presents data in a useful way which you can screen-grab and include in assignments or slides or if you’re preparing a report for work you can include it and it gives you an interesting overview of websites and digital sources. Here’s an example based upon and it allows you to see where the referrals are going to the Asos website and where the destinations are once customers leave the Asos website too and you can do this for a whole range of different competitors too.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Another approach is called Google Analytics. It is a fabulous free tool for most businesses. The thing to remember if you’re teaching this or if you’re a student is that the Google Analytics data which you see internally as a company is not viewable by anybody else; it’s encrypted and it’s password protected, and clearly it contains sensitive competitor information. There are some wonderful free tools that you can get. For example Google Merchandise Store which Google gives away and if you’d like to get to that more quickly I suggest you basically go onto Google and type in the words google analytics demo and go into Google Merchandise Store and then you’ll see a few a free version of Google Analytics. For the rest of us it is private and it is confidential so you’ll need a website and a Google Analytics Account to access analytics. You can analyze live data from your own website.

Google Advanced Search Operators

Google has Advanced Search Operators too so if you Google search, simply type in link colon or link: as in my example, then the name of the domain or website that you’d like to investigate (and this is a free tool) to see what relationships your competitors have built that you should also pursue. Perhaps there are some opportunities and challenges? It’ll give you all of the the content that is linked back to your website and hopefully this has high authority scores whereby your site will do better in the search engines. Backlinks act as votes.

SEMRush is just like SimilarWeb. The same proviso goes with this. As a student or a tutor, you only want the free versions. You need to make sure that you’re not being funneled. However it is a fantastic resource if you can afford to pay for it – buy it because it’s extremely useful for students and if you’re a company or a small business, seriously consider investing it. SEMRush is a software research suite designed to provide digital marketers and online businesses with competitive data to inform marketing and business decisions. It looks at organic search page search, backlinks, top organic keywords, the main organic keywords and also provides a fabulous competitor map which is extremely good for teaching and is a lovely communication piece if you’re writing an assignment.


A robust tool is for social media is which undertakes some real-time monitoring of social media. What it will do if you register with the free version, it will send you email updates about any sentiment or content that’s been published about your company or your competitors’ companies and you can get live updates about your brand from the web and social media. This is a really interesting tool and we recommend that you undertake the free version first, but if you are a company and you have the resources, and similar websites are certainly worth investing in because they undertake a lot of the hard work that you need to do when monitoring social media.

Why do you need a website?

The first place that any of your potential customers or clients will look for you is on the Internet.  So obviously your website needs to be a digital representation of everything that’s great about your small business. Not having a website isn’t a choice.  So where do you begin?  It is all down to you, and how much you want to commit to building your own website. The choice is yours; do you build it yourself, or do you employ the services of web designers?  There are pros and cons to both.

Your website is a fundamental part of your business

Build your own website

  • You have control.  Everything on the website is how you want it.  From small things such as where the logo should fit, to more important and more complex operations such as how you might sell online.
  • It can be cheaper.  If you’ve explored how much that your website will cost, you realise that there’s a huge amount of choice.  To get a fully functional dynamic website, the cost is sometimes prohibitive. Therefore, if you build it yourself the cost will be much lower.  Take into account the amount of hours that you need to put into it.  If your business has nothing to do with digital technology, and you have no skills and experience, it might be better to get one built for you. 
  • You learn about the Internet and social media yourself, and you can exploit that new knowledge. We’ve used terms such as smoke and mirrors and hot air a few times during a discussion of digital marketing.  One way to overcome this problem is to learn more about the Internet and social media by yourself.  That way It is less likely that you will be exploited, and you’ll have a less stressful time developing your online presence.  Learning is an important part of your small business, and It is likely that you’ll need to know the basics when discussing digital marketing with others.
  • It takes more time, when you could be working on your business. The point is that your time is valuable, and if it is better spent doing other things, then you may have to buy-in digital talents.

Simple viral marketing

Viral marketing is an often discussed term, but how will it help you to market your small business? Viral marketing is the equivalent of online word-of-mouth. Viral marketing, aka Buzz marketing, uses all of the digital marketing media to disseminate a message which is passed along from person to person; it is viral because it spreads like a virus or disease and if successful, communications can expand exponentially. You are not paying to spread the word as you would be in a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. Viral marketing campaigns are often spread via e-mail or social media (and here we include YouTube as well). The campaign can reach a large number of individuals in a relatively small amount of time, and this would be useful to your small company in many instances.

Viral marketing is an opportunity

What makes a successful viral?

  • It can be funny
  • A Viral can be outrageous
  • It has a unique or controversial approach
  • Culture can be challenged such as gender or class
  • Try something that has no connection with your product.

Keep virals small and focused

Remember, you are an entrepreneur or small business.  Therefore, something which goes viral may be completely out of your control!  Do you really want national and global coverage for your product or service?  It is more likely that you will need some niche, or local coverage.  Therefore, tailor your viral to your niche market, or your local customers.  For the small business person, a viral might mean that you target five segments of your most loyal customers with your promotion – with 10 friends in each, extending your potential customer interaction to 50 people.  These 50 people are more likely to be interested in your product or service, and will trust the person who recommends you.  Keep your virals small and focused.

Your own affiliate program

Why not consider your own affiliate programme? You would be the merchant (as Amazon was in the example)

Benefits of affiliate marketing, as a merchant.

  • everything is tracked and so each stage can be checked by the merchant and the affiliate; this means that both parties are accountable. You pay for performance. If there is no action, there is no cost to you. The action could be a sale, a click-through to your site, or some market information, such as a completed survey.
  • your costs are fixed. You specify what results you require, and the payment is fixed. 
  • access to many different industries, new segments and markets both nationally and internationally means that merchants gain access to channels quickly. Market expansion is a key reason to use affiliate marketing.
  • marketing to new channels, especially international markets tends to be time-consuming and fairly risky; affiliate marketing is less risky than comparable modes of entry into new channels and overseas markets. Affiliate marketing is lower risk, because you do not pay if it does not work.
  • Affiliates use their own skills and resources to market your products and services.

Set up your own affiliate program

If you decide to set up your own affiliate network, then there are a number of things you need to take into account.  There will be some costs involved for your small business to manage the affiliate program, for the platform itself i.e. software and digital marketing, and for creative costs for design, look and feel.  Essentially you have two choices, to join an existing affiliate network or to install some specialized software In-house.

Using a current affiliate network is quick and simple.

The affiliate network is based upon intermediaries that drive merchants to your program.  They will already have a series of merchants who would join your program and you can build a small critical mass of online distributors.  Software is included and you do not need to install it on your own servers; It is all done online and you simply join the program.  There will be costs involved in setting up the programme, and of course fees and commissions will be payable to merchants, as well as the online affiliate network company.

However, whilst you have control over your potential merchants, you may spend a lot of time reviewing them.  If you Do not, then anybody could be using your logo and promoting your products on their website and you lose some control over your brand.  Also, if affiliate marketing becomes popular for your business, software can be somewhat limiting in relation to what else is available in the market today. For comparison, potential affiliate networks include:

  • CJ Affiliate
  • ShareASale
  • LinkShare
  • Clickbank
  • Clicksure

As your business grows, or if you foresee that affiliate marketing will be central to your digital strategy, specialized affiliate marketing software might be a better option.  This gives you more creative freedom, and the opportunity to design your program so that it feeds your business perfectly.  The software is generally more functional.

Specialized software gives more control

Specialized software does not give you access to a current successful network.  It means that you start on your own from scratch. The software is largely online. It is also generally more expensive, so you will need to budget for your software provider.  However, if affiliate marketing becomes popular for your business, then you will not be paying out commissions to the software provider, and therefore this solution may be more cost effective. For comparison, potential in-house providers include Cake, HasOffers and Affiliate Pro.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a route to market for your small business.  Put simply, you sell digitally through a partner. Affiliate marketing is a process where a small business attracts customers by rewarding some third parties, known as affiliates, for marketing their goods and services, and/or for driving traffic to their website. It feeds your digital marketing funnel by driving potential customers to your website or social media, or it markets and sells products on your behalf.

Affiliate example –

Develop your own affiliate program

A straightforward example from the corporate world, would be that of Amazon. If you have a website about hunting and fishing, and you attract and retain many visitors who associate themselves with these hobbies, you can become an Amazon affiliate.  Amazon is the merchant. You are the affiliate.

What would this entail?  You would need to go to Amazon’s website and sign as an affiliate.  Then you can search for the books and other products which are suitable for the hunting and fishing fraternity.  Having selected suitable products, and here is the clever part, you cut the relevant code from Amazon’s website and paste it into your own pages.  Then it will look as if you have a series of products to sell to your visitors, in the same colours and livery as your own pages.  However, once the customer decides to buy the products, he or she is rerouted to Amazon’s own website.  They take payment from the customer and supply the goods; you, as the affiliate, will receive a commission.  Other than that, you do not participate in any part of order fulfilment.  This is a simple affiliate process.

Google Small Business

Google Small Business is a YouTube channel which helps small businesses to succeed on the Internet by connecting them with each other as a community, and with Google’s own experts.  It a really interesting place to find some easy to use advice about how to succeed using the Internet.  Simply search for it on YouTube. You can find it here:

Google Small Business is a community, supported by Google’s experts.

Why Google?

Google is the top of the food chain when it comes to Internet searches.  However, this well-known global digital company also has many free tools for the small business person. Google My Business is a free service whereby you can register your correct information about your business with Google itself.

Claim your business

You can maintain and update your business information online.  You can either add your business to Google, or you can claim it.  Begin by searching for your business on Google and click on the link which allows you to claim your business.  Alternatively go to and login, or sign up for your Google account.  Once you login, you can search for your business; if it is there you can claim it; if it is not there you can add it.  Once you have added your details and you are happy with them, you then need to verify the information.  This involves Google sending you a special code, which arrives at your business address.  Simply log on to Google and verify your information using the code.  This might take a few weeks, so be patient.

An example of how your business appears when it is claimed/registered as a business with Google.

AdWords – getting started

Signing up for Google AdWords is very straightforward. You simply start an account, and if you get stuck you can telephone a Google advisor to help you. You can tailor your advertising to suit specific customers, and you can change your advertising campaign throughout the year. You are able to measure the impact of your advertising, and you can make changes to improve it. Basic data will explain to you how many people saw your ad, and then went on to click your ad. You can make alterations to improve the rate of click through. You can set a daily budget limit when you sign up, and you can change it at any point.

  1. AdWords – simple steps –  Let us do it. Sign up at (or your local equivalent e.g.

Sign up for an AdWords account

2. Create your advert. Tell your customers what you have to offer. Choose your search terms (keywords) such as ‘budget+piano’. Set your daily budget – keeping it low at first. A popular keyword will scoop your investment quickly. Hence, explore cheaper, niche keywords. They do exist, and Let us face it, if nobody clicks on them, you pay nothing.

3. Your potential customers will see your advert when they search for similar terms e.g. ‘where can I buy a budget piano?’ Your advert will appear! Google does this automatically.

4. Customers click on your advert, and they go to your website. The cost of the click is deducted from your daily budget.

5. Whilst this might sound like the end of the journey, it is actually the beginning.  There are a number of actions you can now take to improve your customer acquisition and retention.  Let us look at some of these.

6. Once the potential customer has entered your website, you need to make sure that the page that they land on has all of the information and images that they will need to make a decision.

7. Now you have started your AdWords journey, you can change and improve the adverts themselves so that more clients click on the advert and come to your website. Therefore, you can also change your web pages to make sure that as many people buy your products as possible.Also make sure that there is a Call To Action (CTA) which means a button for them to click on, a telephone number for them to call, a shopping carts to begin the ecommerce process or some dynamic operation which will lead your customer to the final sale.

8. If people do not buy, you need to grab their data. Put simply, you have gone to a lot of time and effort to get potential clients to come to your website. If they decide to leave without buying, you have lost contact with them.  Use a mailing list or some incentive, such as free information or a free trial or a sample, to get the person to sign up with your website.  This means that you can market to them in the future and close the sale a different day. Do not just let them walk out of your store, not now.

9 AdWords has a learning curve.  You will get better at it with practice, and it is highly likely that AdWords will become part of your daily marketing online. If not, invest a small amount at first and if it does not work for you, you can put it down to experience without losing too much cash.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

The majority of online advertising today is conducted using a Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC).  If you look at the top of a Google search, you will see a series of the adverts before the actual search engine results appear.  Here’s an example of a search for ‘cheap+pianos.’

Try a simple search ‘cheap+pianos’

Google AdWords

These are paid-for adverts using a product called Google AdWords.  There are a number of competitors which are also available including Bing Ads, although Google AdWords is by far the biggest player in the market.

Notice how the top section of the search results displays the term ’Ad’ in a box. On the right-hand side are some images of pianos, with prices and links to the advertiser. These advertisements are all paid for. The benefit to the small businessman is that there is no charge to display the advertising as with traditional media, such as TV and press. You do not get charged until somebody actually clicks on the advert – hence the term Pay-Per-Click (PPC). The more you are willing to pay for your PPC advertising, the higher your adverts will appear in relation to the other companies competing for the same keywords. It is similar to an auction, but for the best position.

It is worth noting that just below the adverts appear links to websites which are generated through organic rankings. These are websites which have content which is very closely linked to the terms typed into the search box in a regular Google Internet search. For popular search terms, these websites have worked very hard to get their high-ranking position. In fact, there will have been a lot of time and resource given to their high ranking in the search engine. This is also down to popular and precise content, supported by SEO. It would be a mistake to think that it is simpler to try to get to the top of the search, especially for popular terms.

A simple AdWords example

There follows a more advanced explanation, but put simply – you bid for a series of keywords such as ‘cheap+piano’ ‘budget+piano’ ‘bargain+piano.’ Prices can vary from a few cents to many dollars.

Let us say your keyword ‘bargain+piano’ cost 10 cents per click. You pay in advance, using your company credit card. You buy $100 worth of advertising which is 1,000 clicks. Again, in basic terms, you sell 5 pianos, and generate 500 new members for your mailing list, as well as a new distributor. You can cost the pianos – you may make a margin of $100 per piano = $500 income. Bingo! You’ve made $400 additional income, 500 new mailing list customers for your ‘funnel,’ and a new business partner – the latter being less measurable. You can see why online advertising provides such an opportunity.

Get your business on Facebook

Why is Facebook ideal for your business?

Worldwide, there are over 1.65 billion monthly active Facebook users which is a 15 percent increase year over year.  So, you can see that Facebook is an ideal avenue for you to communicate your messages, and so your products or services. Age 25 to 34, with 29.7% of users, is the most common age demographic.  Therefore, if you are targeting the under 34 age group then you need to have a robust Facebook presence.  Indeed, those aged over 34 are also likely to use Facebook in one form or another.  However, as we reach the older age group of 70 plus, it is less likely that they will use Facebook or any form of social media.  So, what do you need to get you going on Facebook? Facebook is popular with most ages

Facebook is popular with most ages

The benefit of creating a hub for your business on Facebook is multifaceted.

  • As Facebook puts it, it makes your business discoverable when people search for you on Facebook they will find you.
  • It connects your business so that you can have one-to-one conversations with your customers, who might like your page, read your post and share them with their friends, and they can check on you every time they visit.
  • Timing is also one of the benefits of Facebook as a social networking tool, since your page can help you reach large groups of people frequently. Messages can be specifically directed to their needs and interests.
  • You can also analyze your page using insightful analytics tools, which give you a deeper understanding of your customers and how successful your marketing activities are.
  • Facebook actually gives you a web like address, which you can put on your business cards, website and on your other marketing tools e.g.

Get your business set up on Facebook

The starting point would be a Facebook company page.  You need to do this to a good standard; otherwise potential customers may not take your business seriously.

  1. You need to set up the Facebook profile.  Go to and login. Click ‘create page.’

Get your business onto FacebookGet your business onto Facebook

  1. You are then presented with a series of choices, based upon what kind of business you have. Therefore, if you are a local business or place, you need to click on the icon for local business with place. Add details of your business, and click ‘Get Started!’

The sign-up process is easy

The sign-up process is easy

3. Complete the section about your company in some detail.  Tell Facebook what categories you trade in.  Finally confirm that your business is a real company.  Essentially complete all other sections and finally click ‘Save Info.’

Tell Facebook about your business

Tell Facebook about your business

4. Next it will ask for a profile picture.  Upload your company logo for an image of your product or service.  Make sure that the image is high quality.  A picture speaks 1000 words!  You might decide to use your logo, or something else that represents your business, for example a picture of you or your idea, product or premises.

5. Adding your new Facebook site to favourites just makes it more easy to access.  It is not absolutely necessary, it is just a matter of convenience for you.

Record the page in your 'favourites'

Record the page in your ‘favourites’

6. The next page invites you to add some information about your business and your customers.  This will help Facebook target your pages, in the same way that Google uses information to help its search engine to rank and prioritise.  Try not to get drawn into any Facebook advertising programs; we are not interested in advertising at this stage.

Your business has a Facebook page.

Your business has a Facebook page.

7. Click through, and wow!  Congratulations, and your small business now has its own Facebook page.  The task now is to build your audience, start a conversation and develop some loyalty amongst your Facebook followers.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is the management of content to engage visitors, followers and customers. Any medium which is on a webpage or social network can form the basis of content.

There are lots of examples of such tools and approaches; content may relate to material on social networks such as Facebook; it might be social streaming through iTunes or Spotify; content could be social publishing such as blogs or a personal website; it might be social knowledge such as Wikipedia; content media might include social searches such as Google Product Search; there are other examples such as social bookmarking sites including Reddit.

content marketing
Social media content is king!

Therefore, content marketing controls text and video, and other tools such as games, apps, vouchers and so on, so that the visitor is engaged in communication and dialogue; this supports our longer-term relationship.

You will need to address a series of topics in readiness for content marketing.

  • Which platform does our target market use to access content? Do they use traditional newspapers or magazines i.e. traditional print media? Do they use social networks such as Facebook? Do they use more than one platform to access content?
  •  How will they participate with the content which they access? Will they play games? Will they post messages? Will they circulate a viral e-mail?
  • Can content be syndicated? Syndicated content can embed material from elsewhere on a webpage or in an app. RSS is an example of syndication.
  • Which medium would be best to communicate with your target group? This often depends on whether the user accesses content via a tablet or laptop using Wi-Fi, or whether they are using mobile devices, accessing using 4G. Obviously the richness or size of downloaded video, images or text will vary depending on local download speeds; also think about target groups in international markets where speed is variable.
  • Finally, what actually engages your target audience? What content will they actually value? Do they want video? Do they want to download maps? Do they want to pay with their phones or mobile devices? Do they simply need information in text format? Do they want to play games? Do they want to contact friends?

There are plenty of other blogs, lessons and articles on our website to help you extend and develop your content marketing skills for digital marketing.

How much digital marketing is enough?

How much digital marketing is enough?

Could you be wasting time, money and effort on too much digital marketing? Let’s look at how you can establish how much digital is enough for your idea, start-up or small business.

With your digital strategy you need to decide how much of your valuable time & resources you are willing to dedicate. In order to do this, there are a series of questions which you need to ask yourself; spend some time thinking about this because the digital world is full of smoke and mirrors. It is suggested that you undertake some basic background research with your current or potential customers. You’ll be surprised how much you can find out. Here are some questions that you can ask:

1. What proportion of your target audience are using different digital platforms? Within this chapter the you will explore the most popular types of websites and social media. The point here is that if your customers prefer to use Twitter then there is little point in focusing on Facebook. So find out what your customers are using, by asking them.

2. Which content and promotions are your audience interested in? Once you know the preferred digital and social media choices of your customers, then review what they’re looking at and try to find out which promotions most interested them. TripAdvisor is an example of this; find current clients and follow the reviews that he or she is placed. This will give you an overview of what they like and what they dislike; similarly look to see if they review car hire or transfers, or whether their comments say they have used particular promotions. What are they sharing on Facebook? Which websites are they talking about on Twitter? You can build quite a detailed image of your customers’ online behaviour, which will help you plan for it.

3. How are competitors using the platforms – benchmark what’s working for them? You may have to become a mystery shopper! It goes without saying that as a small business you will sign up to the digital communications offered by your close competitors. So, how many followers do they have on Facebook and Twitter? What online marketing are they doing using their websites? What seems to be working well for them? Then you can emulate their success, adapt it and then improve it. So a quick audit of your competition is important.

4. Reviewing your own analytics, sales and customer insights. Within this chapter we will discuss online analytics and marketing research; digital marketing leaves a rich trail of data which can be used to analyse and evaluate the success of your campaigns. You need a critical mass of traffic to do this. If your digital approach generates one visitor per day, digital marketing may not be the right route to your customers, and you may prefer to use more traditional promotional methods. However, if you can grow your traffic to 10, 50, 100 or 1000 visitors per day, then you have data which can be used for analysis.

Keep it simple. If you post some interesting content and your traffic increases, then you know you got it right. If you put effort into writing material and there is no noticeable increase in traffic, then you need to change something. You need to deal with this at a basic level. There is a lot of hot air spoken when it comes to digital marketing and you need to be prepared with some basic knowledge to help you overcome the pitfalls. Unless you can justify a huge expense on digital marketing, do not do it! Start small, simple and proficient and go from there.

5. Setting broad goals and vision/mission for the organisation. If digital marketing is central to your business offering, then the online experience needs to have some broad goals and a central vision. So what is your vision? What will your business look like in five years’ time? You can change your vision as time rolls out, but you need a central purpose for your online business. So, what will it be?• Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. (Facebook 2016)
• “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.” (Investopedia 2016)
• Coca Cola’s mission is to refresh the world in mind, body and spirit, to inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions, and to create value and make a difference. (Coca Cola 2016)

6. Get more specific with SMART objectives (specific/measurable/achievable/realistic/timed). Finally, you need to translate your vision and purpose into SMART the objectives. For example:

• To increase traffic to 10,000 visitors per day within three years.
• To have 30,000 registered e-mail addresses in your opt-in mailing list within 24 months.
• To sell 10 items per day through your online store within six months.
• To achieve 5000 Twitter followers in a single year.

Let’s make sure that you are not doing too much social. It’s important to get as many bangs for your online buck as possible.

Social Media Audit

Social Media Audit

The social media audit is an important part of the digital marketing planning process. Social media is an opportunity for consumers to generate their own content, and many of the top-ranking results of an Internet search will result in social media content – in relation to companies, brands, and products and services. User Generated Content (UGC), for example Trip Advisor, is a reliable way of Informing consumers’ decision-making.


Why do we need a social media audit?

So what a digital marketer needs is a tool to audit social media within the competitive environment, i.e. relative to competitors. The digital marketer will be trying to work out the best way to ‘feed’ the digital marketing funnel, and he or she will also need to monitor/measure any discussions about his or company. This is where a social media audit fits in.

It’s a systematic examination of social data to help marketers discover, categorize, and evaluate all the social talk about a brand. (Quesenberry 2015)

Keith Quesenberry developed a social Media auditing tool based upon the principle of the Five Ws, which is an approach used in journalism: who, where, what, when and why. If you add ‘How’ then your source is Rudyard Kipling’s poem, The Elephant’s Child:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Let’s adapt the Five Ms to suit social media marketing, as does Quesenberry. This is Marketing Teacher’s adapted version.

1. Who is creating content using the digital medium? Is it you? Is it an influencer? Is it a competitor?
2. Where is the digital content? Which digital media platform is being used for content? Such as You Tube or Facebook.
3. What is the content on the social media platform? Is it textual content, and video, a photo, is it a story, etc? Does it use a ranking system? What is the feedback like?
4. When was the social media posted? How often does it get posted? What was its reach? Was it shared?
5. Why is the content generated? What was its purpose? Is it a campaign, a complaint or simply a user’s opinion?

The next step is to rank and prioritise your observations based upon these five criteria. How important is it to your social media marketing strategy? Here is Marketing Teacher’s adaptation of Quesenberry’s social media audit. For more detailed information, we recommend that you revisit the original article.

Here are some basic instructions for the social media audit:

1. Please print out the social media audit template from Marketing Teacher.
2. Complete there ‘who’ column. ‘You’ will be your business or your assignment organisation.
3. Then go through ‘where, what, when and why’ and insert the tick symbol (cut and paste the image) to select the appropriate element. You can tailor the audit to suit yourself with the ‘+’ symbol.
4. Finally rank or score the importance of each element using numbers 1-10, or Booz balls. That’s it! It’s time to do your own social media audit.


Quesenberry, K. A. (2015) Conducting a social media audit, Harvard Business Review, November 18th, 2015.

Persona marketing (Fictional)

Persona marketing

Using a fictional personality for social media marketing.

Persona marketing is where a business creates a false personality for social media marketing. Some would view the use of false personalities as unethical, whilst others might see it as a form of focused marketing. [If you want to learn how to create a ‘persona’ to give a visual representation of a target customer, please go to personas].
Persona marketing is a rather cutting edge technique for understanding your ideal customers. It’s incredibly involved and complicated, but can be boiled down to a few simple steps:

1. Identify a person of influence that already connects with your target market through social networking websites
2. Understand the kind of content these individuals share that gets the best response from their followers
3. Identify the personality traits of the person of influence
4. Combine the above data to create your own, fictional persona for marketing purposes.

This technique is highly effective and extremely controversial. It involves developing a fictional persona but presenting it as though it is a real person. Managing these personas is a very delicate process. For these reasons it is recommended that you stick to only one persona at a time while mastering the technique.

Where to Find Persons of Influence?

Any social networking or social media website will work. You’re looking for individuals that have large numbers of followers and frequent activity. The best sites are:
1. Facebook
2. Pinterest
3. Twitter
4. Instagram
5. Flickr
With each of these sites you want to find accounts that are frequently creating or introducing content that is liked and shared by large numbers of followers. It can be relatively simple on some sites, like Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram – each and every piece of content shows how many times it has been shared, even if you’re not a friend or subscriber of the original poster.

Facebook and Flickr are more difficult. You need to become friends with the person of influence in some way before you can find out what they’re sharing and why it’s getting so much interest. It’s also important that you do this so you can learn more about their unique traits – the things that give them the personality that they have.

Digging Deeper into Sample Personas

Once you’ve identified a person of influence you need to dig a bit deeper. Use to find out as much as possible. Perform web searches on their name to see if you can find any other information, such as blogs they own and other social networking sites on which they’re active.

As you review all of these resources you need to gather information. Find out as much as you can about them. The more you know the easier it will be for you to create your new fictional persona.

Ideally you find and study three persons of influence before creating your own unique personality for marketing purposes.

What to do with your new marketing persona?

Now that you know exactly what kind of content your prospects find interesting and what kind of person is already sharing it successfully, you can begin to mimic their traits and content trends.
Create a character based on the information that you gathered while doing your research. Mix and match some aspects from each of the three or more individuals you studied. Give this person a name, history, hobbies, and anything else that will help present the image of having a well rounded personality.
From there you can create your social media accounts and begin gaining followers and subscribers.

Don’t promote your products or services too early in the process. You want them to feel that they’re interacting with a person that is absolutely genuine and interested in nothing more than sharing great finds on the web.
As you build a list of followers you can subtly introduce your products or services into the mix. This is the overall goal, after all. If your subscribers and followers are interested in what you’re sharing then they will find your product recommendations interesting, too. Don’t promote them, though. Mention them subtly and link to them. For instance you might post a Facebook status update that reads:
“Wow, I just got my new flip flops from The Hot Flip Flop Shop and they’re awesome!” That’s it. You can link to your site, but it might make more sense to leave it as plain text the first time you introduce it. A few days later you can add a second status that reads:
“Just got a second pair of flops from The Hot Flip Flop Shop because they’re running a sale, check it out… ” This is where you add your link. Don’t be surprised if the traffic comes pouring in.

Is This Ethical?

There’s still a lot of debate about persona marketing. Some feel that it’s unfair and deceptive. Others feel that there’s nothing wrong with it because people are already getting paid to promote products through popular blogs and social networking feeds. False reviews using persona marketing are looked down up e.g Amazon.



The dilemma only surrounds the fact that it is a fictional personality. You have to decide how you feel about this. One thing that’s certain, though, is that persona marketing provides an amazing and inexpensive opportunity to get your company’s name in front of people who are likely to buy what you’re selling.


Persona – an innovative and practical marketing tool

What is a persona?

So what is a persona? We all have a personality. We are born somewhere, work somewhere, eat something, like and dislike, hate and love, fear and loath and we love buying certain brands and avoid others. That is the total sum of our personality and this is critical for marketing evaluation information. Based on our personality information and buying preferences, a customer profile is created by marketing specialists, which in turn is instrumental in the formulation of marketing strategies.

Persona Creation

An approach to marketing is persona creation, a combination of raw personal data about buyers and educated guesses to project a virtual image of a classic present or potential buyer. The projected virtual image called a PERSONA is the model on which the whole marketing or advertisement is subsequently focused.

Example – Audi (Europe)

Marketing Persona. Example Audi.

This is how to create one

Creating one is a very business specific concept. Each business creates a persona according to its business goals, values, target customers, future plans and people who buy or don’t buy that business’s products or services. The characteristics of each business persona may be different but the general process of evolving a persona can be somewhat similar.

Devise persona template

The process of  creation generally starts with devising a template which includes images and details about the basic personality traits of the group of customers which are generally placed within a common category based on certain similarities in age, occupations and life style habits. The template helps the marketer to create a virtual image and understand what that particular person likes, dislikes, values and how best to approach that personality. This might subsequently form the basis of a focused tag-line or slogan which must prove irresistible and compel the individual to engage and answer a call to action.


Here is a quick overview of what is included in a general template (details may vary depending upon marketing or advertisement objectives in individual business cases). It’s really important to use reliable and robust source data to support your reasoning, in addition to your own experience and ‘gut’ feeling:
1. Name the person
2. A description of Job title
• Key information about their job or workplace (size, type, etc.)
• Key details about their job role and position.
3. Demographic Details
• Age
• Gender
• Subject Salary and household income
• Demographic background e.g. urban, suburban or rural
• Educational status
• Family details
4. Goals and challenges
• Primary goal in life
• Secondary goal which interests the persona individual
• How you help achieve these goals
• Primary challenges in life
• Secondary challenges in life
• How can you help to provide solutions of these problems?
5 Values / fears that drive or hamper
• Primary values which matter
• Common objections which one has during the sales process

Based on this information, a persona of a prospective or present client is created complete with a name and a visual image (sometimes comical).

Marketing message

Devising a marketing message based on the persona’s preferences is the logical conclusion to the persona creation process. The message must address the vulnerabilities, fears, objections and problems of the customer to remain appealing and leave a lasting mark on the persona’s mind.

The last word  . . .

This is a very basic and introductory model of persona creation. In reality, the science of  creation is way more advanced and specialists create marketing campaigns for businesses using this approach as a tool.


Digital Advertising

Digital Advertising

Digital advertising, also known as online advertising or Internet advertising, is essentially using the online opportunity to communicate marketing messages to consumers or visitors. There are many new and emerging formats for digital advertising, although it is commonly accepted that it would include e-mail marketing, search engine marketing, social media marketing, more general types of display advertising, and mobile advertising.

There are three main types of digital advertising: paid for advertising such as Google AdWords, acquired advertising such as communications generated through public relations online, and finally company generated advertising whereby the business uses its own blogs, apps and other platforms to communicate.

Online advertising is growing massively all over the world. Display advertising is by far the most popular at this point in time, although the future isn’t written yet.

Display advertising

Display advertising is what we generally think of as online advertising, for example logos, text, graphics, animations or similar. The idea is that users are targeted by specific keywords that appear in search results or on specific webpages. For example if you are interested in information about garden secateurs then you might Google the term ‘secateurs;’ the display results themselves will have adverts about garden tools including secateurs hopefully! If you decide to read a few pages by experts recommending garden tools, then it is likely that they will have small advert placed on their pages whereby they earn a few cents per click. This is essentially display advertising. To be specific there are many types of display advertising and here is a short list;

• web banner advertising i.e. a banner across the top of the page
• pop-ups i.e. adverts that pop up when you open the page, which are less popular due to the annoyance factor
• floating ads which appear and then disappear after a period of time
• text ads which are simple text boxes e.g. Google

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing or SEM, intends to get your website to the highest position possible in an Internet search. So a marketer intends to improve the position of webpage based upon a typical keyword. Essentially SEM uses marketing approaches to improve the position of a webpage in the SERPS. For example better copy and content, but not really any mechanical or technical changes to a page.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is similar to search engine marketing and the two terms are often interchangeable; however SEO is more involved with the mechanics of the page and its content; for example headings and subheadings, content and keywords, HTML tags in images and videos. SEO has become a huge industry; however it is worth remembering that companies like Google do not disclose their algorithm and so search engine optimisers do not have any special secrets that you could not get from a decent ‘for dummies’ book.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a technique that employs social media to take advantage of content created by everyday people using easily accessed technologies such as blogs, social networks, Wikis and similar technologies. New technologies and social media marketing emerge almost daily, and it is always worth checking to see how technology is changing and developing. Facebook and Twitter are obvious candidates for social media marketing, as well as linkedIn, Google +, and literally hundreds of new and developing social media platforms. Remember that different countries use different platforms.

Mobile advertising

Mobile advertising is communication delivered through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. For example advertising delivered through your iPad or your Android smartphone is mobile advertising. However hear-in lies the dilemma; that whilst mobile devices are small and handheld then there is an argument to develop bespoke content for mobile advertising; however tablets are ideal for looking at traditional websites, and therefore mobile advertising is simply traditional online advertising such as social media marketing, Search Engine Marketing and banner advertising. Also if you read through this website you’ll appreciate that companies want to build long-term relationships with visitors and customers through dialogue and communication, so simply discussing mobile advertising is too superficial. Mobile advertising will surely merge with other forms of digital advertising as time passes.

E-mail advertising

You’ll find plenty of material on Marketing Teacher in relation to email and how it is used in digital marketing. Fundamentally, it is one of the first digital advertising techniques; however today it really suffers a crisis in the wake of perpetual spam bombardment, so many of us are very cautious about how we opt in to e-mail. E-mail marketing and advertising is still a fundamental tool to the marketing manager, especially when it comes to long-term customer relationships. Think about your own e-mail and those companies from whom you welcome e-mails, versus those that you instantly delete. What is the difference in the way the dialogue is maintained between you and the e-mailing company? This is the basis of e-mail advertising and marketing.

There are other forms of Internet and digital advertising which you will find details of on this website. These include but are not limited to affiliate marketing, adware, online public relations and your website itself.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is basically a process where a brand or supplier, for example a book retailer, attract customers by rewarding the third-party (or affiliate) for marketing their goods and services, and driving traffic to their website.

The affiliate relationship is based upon the conversion; the conversion is the action on the part of the consumer which forms the central reason for the affiliate relationship. The conversion or the action can take a number of forms; so for Amazon this might be the sale of the product; for others it might be the placing of an online bet, or booking a holiday.

Within the affiliate relationship are the merchant, the brand or seller and the consumer or customer. The merchant is the brand or retailer; there are lots of examples such as Amazon and others. In fact today affiliates come from all sorts of companies from any industry, including travel, gaming, smart phones, marketing research, not-for-profit, and the voluntary sector.

The affiliate is your digital salesman. Your digital salesforce owns websites, social media, blogs, mailing lists, and other digital marketing media, and they recruit customers for a merchant. Finally the consumer is at the blunt end of the business; they are the target market or customer and we often talk of a sales funnel which will begin with the affiliate; an obvious example would be a blog which offers advice on weight training, whereby the customer learns how to lift weights, and the blogger recruits you as a customer for weight training books and supplements supplied from the merchant; the website or blog never takes title or owns the products; they take a commission from the merchant.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

• everything is tracked and so each stage can be checked by the merchant and the affiliate; this means that both parties are accountable.
• access to many different industries, segments and markets both nationally and internationally means that merchants gain access to channels quickly.
• Marketing to new channels, especially international markets tends to be time-consuming and fairly risky; affiliate marketing is less risky than comparable modes of entry into new channels and overseas markets.

As time moves along and affiliate marketing becomes more commonplace there will be more and more industries and sectors that take advantage of its benefits. There are currently a number of different types of affiliates and will look at a few of these now.

• Voucher code affiliates for example Groupon.
• Social networking sites; Facebook and Twitter now carry advertising and there are affiliate sites which have seized upon this opportunity.
• Retargeting specialists use data from customers that have viewed particular items to try and sell them products from different sectors; this is similar to CRM.
• Paid search specialists essentially use PPC via Google or Bing, to drive traffic to their website based upon keywords for which they bid. Obviously there will be a prophet in terms of sales of product from the merchant less the cost of online advertising.
• Content sites which give information away free to visitors are ideal places for affiliate marketing. For example websites that review college education are often affiliates for colleges and universities.
• Comparison sites are now very popular example and and many others. Essentially these sites compare prices and products from a number of suppliers and display them in one place.
• Loyalty and cashback sites give users and shoppers rewards based upon their shopping behaviour; for example

Affiliate Marketing Process

Affiliate Marketing Process

In a nutshell affiliate marketing as the basic process. The first step is where the user visits the affiliates blog or social media site (website, twitter, and so on), individuals arrive at a purpose-built landing page, receives an e-mail, use their twitter page, use a PPC advertisement, sees a viral advertisement and so on. The user then clicks on the link and is redirected to the merchant’s landing page or product. Often it is difficult to tell that you have left the affiliates website at all; for example allows you to cut and paste examples of books from their website to be placed on your own. There are a number of ways of doing this. Using cookies the merchant and the affiliate workout how many people have clicked through. Finally the consumer or user books a holiday or buys a book; the code embedded on the affiliate website indicates to the merchant where the sales come from and to whom commission is owed.

Some affiliate have quite complex affiliate management software which is accessible by the merchant and the affiliate; for example an affiliate can work out how much money he is making, and can optimise various pages through digital marketing to improve conversion rates.

Digital Marketing Communications.

Digital Marketing Communications.

Digital marketing communications are essentially the digital marketing equivalent of the traditional marketing communications mix. Traditionally the off-line world would employ a marketing communications mix which included public relations, advertising, sponsorship, personal selling, direct marketing, and sales promotion (amongst other tools such as exhibitions, trade shows and so on).

Digital marketing communications will employ some or all of these tools which are adapted to the online marketing challenge. There will of course be new and innovative online tools which are also employed within the digital marketing communications mix. The online equivalents are known as digital media channels, and are employed in many online and off-line campaigns. Digital marketing communications tools will include display ads, pay per click advertising, search engine optimisation, and affiliate marketing amongst others. Marketing teacher will explore these and others, let’s not forget the importance of social media marketing as well.

The Digital Marketing Mix, or Main Types of Media Channels.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is all marketing which goes on within social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and many more. For example Facebook has quite a complex social media advertising program, which allows the advertiser to focus on over 1 billion people, based on their location, age and other attributes. There are other sections on marketing teacher with more detail on Facebook advertising programs.

Opt-in e-mail marketing

Opt-in e-mail marketing is exactly what it says on the tin. Visitors or clients are encouraged to opt in, or in other words sign up for an e-mail newsletter. It is that simple! The idea is that participants opt-in with permission, rather than simply being added to a database without their knowledge. This is also known as permission marketing. Again Marketing Teacher has plenty of information to help you learn about e-mail marketing.

Display advertising

Display advertising is often the first type of advertising that springs to mind when thinking about the Internet; display advertising is simply the adverts that you see when you visit any website. Examples could include banner adverts which run across the top of Page, or far more rich and complex adverts such as video adverts; many of the banner adverts and display adverts that you see are part of large programs such as Google AdWords, or similar.

Online PR or Digital PR

Online public relations, or Digital Public Relations (DPR), tend to be digital marketing communications which encourage a positive perception or profile of your business or organisation. There are lessons on public relations on Marketing Teacher if you need a refresher! However the business will be aiming to generate positive blogs, re-tweets, Facebook shares, and similar online PR. Be aware that PR whether online or off-line does have a cost, and public relations is not free. In order to generate favourable content written on your behalf, there is a large investment in terms of effort and cash. Your online public relations might be a mention on a news channel, either in text or video, you might also receive positive commentary on podcasts, although these are becoming less popular. Viral campaigns whereby an interesting or entertaining fact or video is circulated by e-mail or social networks is probably a better example of a contemporary public relations approach. There are examples of viral marketing on Marketing Teacher.

Search engine marketing

Search Engine Marketing, or Search Engine Optimisation SEO, employ marketing tools which attempt to gain the best position possible for your business in search engines such as Google or Bing. Once you have attracted a new visitor, the positioning of text or Calls-To-Action (CTA) will keep a visitor on your site for longer, and will start to move them along your marketing tunnel.

Other online relationships

There are a number of other online relationships which come under the heading of digital marketing, or digital media channels. These will include an array of other approaches. Here are some popular examples:

• Price comparison sites where the cost of holidays, insurance and other consumables are compared. Obviously some comparison sites are more open and honest in terms of the results that they deliver, whilst others are less so.
• Affiliate marketing sites are also quite interesting to study and do tend to generate some niche income from many small sites. Amazon has a very successful affiliate program whereby small site owners can place code upon their site to advertise books which Amazon sources and delivers. So you might have a website which focuses upon market gardening, and you might advertise books which explain how to grow tomatoes.
• Link building is also often considered a way of developing online relationships; however be very cautious with this. Google especially considers strong or informed links to your website as a benefit when deciding upon your position within search results. Obviously many Webmasters have caught on to this and tried different linking strategies to falsely claw their way to the top of the search engine results. All links need to be natural.

Customer Engagement

Customer Engagement in Digital Marketing

Customer engagement is important when thinking in terms of digital marketing channels, or in other words your digital communications mix. The concept of customer engagement relates to continuous and repeating dialogue which goes on between the company and its customers. As the dialogue and communication continues the depth and breadth of customer relationship develops at physical investment, emotional and psychological levels.

So if you managed to attract a customer or visitor to your site for the first time, well done! However challenge for marketers is to engage with visitors so that they become repeat visitors, and loyal customers. Visitors and customers most engage in a continuous dialogue and communication to make custom engagement effective.

The continuous dialogue and communication takes place through blogs and videos, but more likely via social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google + and others (see other lessons on this website for a fuller list of social media platforms). There are a number of ways in which marketers need to deal with this conversation; for example if a customer goes straight to Facebook to complain about a poor product then you need to be ready to comment as quickly as possible in order to turn a negative into a positive i.e. by reacting quickly will see that your business cares about the customer experience and the media with which they engage.

Customers will comment on blogs, on YouTube videos, on your own website or the website of others, such as Trip Advisor.

Trip Advisor is an example of a third party website which engages customers based upon their experience of hotels, flights, restaurants and similar. It’s the world’s largest travel sites and the argues that enables travellers to plan for the future based upon the goal of the perfect trip. The site itself gets more than 216 million unique monthly visitors, all largely using reviews to inform the basis of their holiday decisions.

So if you have an excellent experience in a particular hotel, you would go to Trip Advisor and post your comments. Others will do the same either negating or emphasising your points. One thing is for sure, business owners take Trip Advisor very seriously. A poor rating might lead to poor bookings and less profits.

Digital Public Relations (DPR)

Digital Public Relations (DPR)

Digital Public Relations (DPR) is the use of digital and social technologies to manage the awareness and understanding, reputation and brand of a company or organisation, through the purposeful influence of exposure via digital media.

Okay, so Digital Public Relations will use many of the typical digital marketing media in order to manage its reputation convincingly; again tools such as content marketing, permission marketing, and customer engagement are central to the public relations purpose. Tools will also be typical and will include social media approaches, blogs, websites as well as traditional media such as newspapers, television and magazines. So one of the key tools of digital public relations is the media release or press release.

Using the digital media, examples of digital public relations techniques will include;

• online speeches
• corporate videos and information about the business such as financial reports

• interviews with senior executives will be recorded and publicised
• events which are broadcast, for example videoconferencing or even using Second Life
• sponsorship and charitable donations which again generate content on news websites or charitable donations via a number of giving websites, for example Cancer Research
• facility visits by the public could be virtual, or visits by the general public might be recorded using Instagram or video, which might be uploaded to YouTube
• publicity events and stunts will also generate user generated content which could be shared using social media, or again media releases will also generate some coverage if picked up by online and off-line sources
• product placement in games or in movies, will also generate public relations material

• if you scour websites or Youtube you will easily find examples of video advertorials which promote products using video, generated by the provider of the good or service.
• Websites and electronic brochures are also obvious but crucial digital public relations tools.
• Lobbying is a controversial digital public relations method; essentially it means that parliamentarians or politicians are lobbied by individuals or companies in order that political perspective is noticed. The National Rifle Association in the United States will use lobbying techniques to persuade politicians of the need for guns, for example. Electronic approaches such as Facebook pages, customer surveys and polls, websites and a plethora of other digital marketing approaches are employed for the purpose of digital lobbying.

Digital Sales Promotion

Digital Sales Promotion

Digital sales promotion encompasses a huge range of creative promotional ideas and approaches. In fact there are too many to list here; so this short lesson on digital sales promotion will give you some ideas, but it is certainly not limited to this small number of approaches. Just think about the multitude of different sales promotion activities that you are exposed to in the everyday terrestrial world, I think that these could be transposed into the digital world or even combined with digital activities.

The online experience is ideal for digital self-promotion. Again many of the topics which are covered in other lessons on Marketing Teacher raised their heads again, it is digital marketing communications is integrated; so yes SEO and SEM can be part of a sales promotion campaign.

Some examples of digital sales promotion:

• free trials and giveaways e.g. some free software for 30 days, and then you must sign up for a full version. Companies such as Spotify are good examples of this.
• you can use social media such as Facebook and Twitter as teasers or as part of the guerrilla marketing campaign; viral campaigns are also ideal when combined with social media and are in themselves digital self promotional tools.
• promotional product or service videos are good examples of self promotional activities.
• product reviews and expert articles in blogs or other online media.
• e-mail can be combined as part of an integrated digital sales campaign.
• product codes and vouchers such as and similar suppliers.
• price-based promotions such as discounts or good old-fashioned Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) online promotions
• shipping can be undertaken for free as an incentive, for example eBay and Amazon.
• you could offer online only specials if you are a bricks and mortar company.
• contests in competitions online are sometimes popular especially in niche markets.
• valuations such as is a new and innovative way of creating user interest and self-promotion.
• naturally loyalty programmes and CRM embed sales promotions to retain and communicate with customers.
• there are a reseller promotions and drop shipping incentives whereby services and products from one supplier sold via another online retail organisation.

As you can see from the examples above there are many different and exciting types of sales promotion that can be combined and extended in order to generate new types of digital self-promotion.

Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising

The smart money in marketing is watching mobile advertising very closely. The main issue is that there are approaches to advertise on mobile phones, but today most mobile or smart phones are more like minicomputers which display the Internet. Consumers don’t make peer-to-peer phone calls in the same way as the devices were intended, but instead use them for communication with social media sites, text messages and e-mail. The smartphones are used for entertainment and for information gathering, and they also generate data themselves such as the geographical position of the user. So as technology develops smartphone usage and consumer behaviour will change, and hence the advertising will focus upon usage in behaviour. For now, here’s a quick summary of the sorts of technology which is available today:

• display ads from mobile websites
• messaging by the Short Message Service (SMS)
• location-based ads based upon a GPS signal
• paid search where advertisers buy links on mobile search engines
• video, providing you have the bandwidth to download them
• potentially voice advertising
• applications via iPhone and Android, and stealth technologies (which is where mobile is likely to go).

Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising

Social media advertising relies upon the relationships generated within social media websites to target and deliver advertising campaigns to users. The advertising itself is more about the mechanics of social media advertising, because you know social media relies upon continuous engagement in communication with users and customers. As with search marketing, the digital world place plenty of information about users and their online habits. So for the purposes of this lesson, let’s have a quick look at how Facebook does social media advertising.

Facebook shows adverts to specific groups of engaged users by their desktop or mobile. The idea is to target your ads with a creative idea, then they get lots of likes, comments and shares. So a successful campaign will target ads at specific groups of people so that they are more likely to see the adverts every time they use their social media platform. As with other forms of marketing communications your Facebook campaign needs a purpose albeit to generate sales, increase brand awareness, target specific groups, or reach specific individuals.

As with Google there are a number of different types of adverts that can be shown in different places; and can be shown in various positions on page or in a newsfeed, or other places depending on who you are targeting or the types of devices using. You have the option to target based upon a series of factors such as location, age, gender, interests such as tennis or cookery, broader categories such as parents, or a variety of other related connections such as those who like or share your page. So based upon these factors you are more likely to target specific consumers.

Facebook offers a very interactive user interface, and you can get started very quickly with your advertising campaign. You might employ a social media advertising agency if you have the resources, but creating your own advert is very straightforward using Facebook’s ad create tool. Other social media platforms such as Twitter, have similar approaches to social media advertising.

Banner Advertising

Banner advertising

Banner advertising has its roots in the early Internet. Early websites would have a section at the top like a masthead which would contain an advert; these would be the first things that consumers would see, and from a practical point of view they were easy to insert. Banners then went on to include skyscrapers and similar, which are simply vertical banners. Today most banner type advertising is simply PPC served through third-party advertising companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!

Display Advertising

Display advertising

Display advertising is where an advertiser places an advert on somebody else’s website, in the search engine results or via a third-party advertising system such as Google AdWords.

Third-party advertising systems

Most popular today are third-party advertising systems such as Google Adwords whereby ads are served from a hosting system onto a particular section on a web page or site. For more information on search marketing and SEO take a look at other lessons on the Marketing Teacher website. The advert once clicked will take the visitor through to the website landing page, or to a specifically designed microsite [which is purposely designed sub-website, specifically designed for promotional purposes]; these are the typical banner type ads, social media advertisements, and mobile adverts that everyone is used to seeing on the Internet today.

Display advertising is direct

Display advertising gives the advertiser a direct response i.e. the user or visitor will go straight from the advert to the advertiser’s website or microsite. This obviously has a number of advantages over traditional media where the channel is much longer and time-consuming. Also adverts are seen but not clicked upon and this gives the advantage of disseminating your brand to enhance awareness and interest. Also the online ads can be mixed and integrated with other online and off-line promotional activities. Display advertising can be highly targeted and costed, and advertisers can make adjustments and changes to any campaign based on data received during the last campaign.

However you need to be careful that your brand doesn’t get associated with less desirable elements of the Internet; also display advertising may not be right to your own business, for example if you are a local plumber local trade directories might be better, and will target audience may not use digital devices. Also bear in mind that online users and consumers are wise to online advertising and that sometimes click through rates may be comparatively low or relatively expensive.

See also:

Banner advertising
Social media advertising
Mobile advertising
Display advertising formats

Content Marketing

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the management of content to engage visitors and customers. So any medium which is on a webpage or social network can form the basis of content.

There are lots of examples of such tools and approaches; content my relate to material on a social networks such as Facebook; it might be social streaming through iTunes or Spotify; content could be social publishing such as blogs or a personal website; it might be social knowledge such as Wikipedia; content media might include social search such as Google Product Search; there are other examples such as social bookmarking sites including delicious and Reddit.

So content marketing controls text and video, and other tools such as games, maps, vouchers and so on, so that the visitor is engaged in communication and dialogue; this supports our longer term relationship.

The marketer needs to address a series of topics in readiness for content marketing.

  • Which platform does our target market used to access content? Do they use traditional newspapers or magazines i.e. traditional print media? Do they use social networks such as Facebook? Do they use more than one platform to access content?
  • How will they participate with the content which they access? Will they play games? While they post messages? Will they circulate a viral e-mail?
  • Can content be syndicated? Syndicated content can embed material from elsewhere on a webpage or in an app. RSS is an example of syndication.
  • Which medium would be best to communicate with your target group? This often depends on whether the user accesses content via a tablet or laptop using Wi-Fi, or whether they are using mobile devices accessing using 4G. Obviously the richness or size of downloaded video, images or text will vary depending on local download speeds; also think about target groups in international markets where speed is variable.
  • Finally what actually engages your target audience? What content will they actually value? Do they want video? Do they want to download maps? Do they want to pay with their phones or mobile devices? Do they simply information in text format? Do they want to play games? Do they want to contact friends? This is a far reaching question deserving of thought and preparation on the part of the marketing manager.

Permission Marketing

Permission Marketing

Permission marketing is a term calling by Seth Godin (1999) in his successful book called Permission Marketing. (In fact there is a free of charge copy of the full audio book below). The concept of permission marketing is very simple; your visitors or customers agree to opt-in, or sign-up to participate in your organisation’s marketing conversation. In the past this would have been a simple agreement to receive an e-mail newsletter, and the permission element simply meant that the visitors agreed that he could use his or her e-mail address (the more unscrupulous would simply help themselves to your address).

Today’s marketing online is more about long-term customer relationships, communication, conversation and discussion. This is participation.

The argument in Godin’s book centres on the fact that as consumers were exposed to more than 3000 marketing communications messages everyday. Just think about it, every time you go to the store you see thousands of brands; each time you open your e-mail there is unsolicited communication from all sorts of organisations; each time you look at the website there will be banners and other marketing messages. Therefore to breakthrough the background noise, the permission marketer builds a relationship with his consumer via a dialogue. An excellent example of this is ASOS.

ASOS is a global fashion and beauty retailer; it was originally based upon the concept of As Seen On Screen, whereby you would see a movie and seek out similar products. However the brand has come a long way since then. ASOS uses permission marketing to engage customers on their website and uses social media. Products can be viewed in different colours and sizes, and there is information about the product itself and how to look after it; then consumers can tweet about it, pin it, Facebook like it or e-mail a friend. This is all part of the permission conversation.

Please take a listen to Seth Goden’s reading of his own book, Permission Marketing.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is commonly seen as the golden key to huge amounts of website traffic. Marketers need to be aware that SEO is a structured process that on many occasions will improve the amount of traffic that you get your site, but that there is no magic formula to success.

Think about it this way; if you are a lawyer in a small town in Arizona, a town with only three lawyers, then your chances of getting a high position in the search rankings is fairly good if you optimise your site (in fact even if you don’t!). There are only three lawyers therefore you should get a top-10 space. However if you are a lawyer in New York City, you are in a much more competitive environment. Where there are thousands of lawyers and law firms even if you have the services of the best SEO expert, your chances of getting a top space are remote. In this situation you are better off paying for a placement or sponsored link. Most webmaster design their SEO for Google.

The rest of this lesson will look at SEO, with an invaluable tip regarding Google at the bottom of this page; something to look forward to.

  • Content is king! It makes sense that the material that your users want to read should be the most important aspect of any webpage. Make your content compelling, make the content unique, make it relevant and informative, and make sure that your doing something original and engaging for your readers. The point here is don’t try and trick the search engines; if it is something that people want to read, then in an ideal world it will rank highly in the search engines.
  • Keywords are they skeleton of any good content. Keywords do tend to stimulate much debate within the SEO community. The advice has to be to write your content naturally and not to over pepper the text with too much repetition of specific keywords. However the search engines are not intelligent enough to be able to interpret specific nuances, so use your keywords and some synonyms but keep it clear and concise.
  • Links are almost as important as content, especially when dealing with Google. The Google algorithm is probably the holy Grail of any SEO expert, because obviously Google is the largest and most intuitive search engine, and its pay per click service can be quite profitable. However don’t forget the other search engines such as and (amongst others); since it becoming quite reassuring that your website ranked highly in more traditional search engines.

Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Spam, is a respected sage on the topic of SEO development;

  • The idea is that links are almost like votes; so the more links you get more highly your website will rank – right? Well in fact no. The most powerful links come from respected websites e.g. CNN or the BBC, universities or well-respected government organisations. However links from less reputable websites will have the opposite effect, and in fact Google will penalise website if there are too many less reputable links. Problem is how to get rid of these links, especially if they come from an aggressive competitor. This is another ongoing debate with Google. So try to generate authoritative links from robust sources. Again you need to generate truly valuable content that other sites will want to link to; inform other websites that your site exists; you could create your own blog so that readers want to return to read your new content; in effect you need to market yourself and your site.
  • Search engines will find you. These days you don’t need to submit your site to search engines. However you need to make it as simple as possible for the bots to find you and to crawl your site. One commonly accepted way of doing this is via sitemaps ( A sitemap is an XML file list URLs and some of their metadata  In other words a sitemap navigates the search engine around the best bits of your site and offers some details about each page.
  • There are more mechanical aspects to consider such as H1 tags and titles; however to be honest these days they matter less and less. As long as your site is correctly engineered then it will rank. WordPress is an ideal example of this and there are other content management sites available such as Drupal, WolfCMs and more.
  • Let’s dispel some more SEO myths; there is no ideal length for a page in terms of words; focus on popular keywords, since the long-thin-tail is full of keywords that nobody searches for; H tags don’t really affect ranking (i.e. headings and sub-headings) just keep clear and concise; if you buy links, Google will not throw you out and in fact it won’t be that interested; you don’t need to update your site frequently – if it is contemporary it will rank; despite my earlier point, the lack of a sitemap isn’t a problem because the search engines will find you; finally you don’t need to submit your site to any search engine.
  • Try to follow Matt Cutts; he’s the Head of Spam for Google and he offers many clear and simple videos on what’s hot and what not to worry about in relation to Google’s search engine.


Search Marketing

Search Marketing

Search marketing can include many aspects of digital marketing and traditional marketing, although it is generally seen to encompass paid placements, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Since SEO is covered in another lesson, we’ll focus upon paid search and pay-per-click.

Paid Search and Pay-Per-Click PPC

The perception of SEO is that in some way it’s free, although companies invest a lot of time and resource in this process; despite this it is still extremely popular. In reality the most direct route to gaining a high rank in any search engine is via a paid search, using an approach such as Pay Per Click (PPC). The most popular approach to PPC is via either Google AdWords or Microsoft Bing and Yahoo! (Yahoo! uses Microsoft’s search).

PPC has quite a few similarities to traditional advertising in the way that you pay for an advertising position; you will have seen paid search whenever you do a Google search for a popular keyword term for example Christmas. At the top of the results, and along the side of any results you will see a series of paid for or sponsored adverts; these all belong to Google and are paid for by its advertisers. So if you want a prime position on some search results then you pay for search using PPC. Most people today will to look for the natural search results, although many don’t; in fact some prefer to click on the adverts in order to find products, services and solutions that meet their needs.

You do not pay for the advert until somebody clicks on it. So for a popular keyword it might cost between $.10 or $10 per click, and the advertiser essentially specifies the amount that he wishes to spend and pays Google in advance; it’s a great business model and this is why Google make so much money; it provides an easy-to-use, targetable and measurable advertising campaign solution.

Again there are many informative videos on the topic:

The position of your PPC advert generally relates to the amount that you bid; the more you pay the higher you rank, at least in theory. However others believe that the way that the advertisement is composed might make it more attractive than some of its competing ads; therefore a more popular advert in terms of click through rate might rank higher and therefore make more money.

As with much digital marketing, because it is fairly new search marketing has a number of pros and cons:

Search marketing advantages:

• if users, do not click on adverts often they will be read them anyway; this means that you are getting your brand in front of a big audience and perhaps not paying for it via a single click.
• you can have your adverts in front of your customers quickly. Speed is a huge benefit this kind of advertising, since you don’t have to wait for a newspaper to be published and distributed for example.
• Cookies can be used by Google; after you click on an advert marker placed on your computer so that the next time you visit the Internet and are exposed to Google ads, specific adverts can be targeted at you; it remembers you!
• The algorithm for search marketing is largely based on the price that you bid, versus click through rates/quality of your advert; it is far more straightforward than the more complex algorithm for SEO.
• You know that you will be able to see your advert on a Google search using PPC, since it is far more reliable than trying to predict search engine behaviour.
• Using software, you can directly workout your return on investment based upon search advertising.
• Google AdWords is highly targetable and it is supported using software that can be straightforward and simple for some users, and more technically advanced for larger more informed users. Companies can target by time-of-day, geographical location, keywords and keyword groups, as well as other more refined targeting approaches.
• unlike traditional advertising, you are not actually paying the advert to be displayed as you would in a magazine, for example. So there may be many exposures which might create awareness or desire, before a user actually clicks through and you pay; this is an extra added value dividend to the advertiser.

Search marketing disadvantages:

• Today users are far more wise to search marketing techniques. If your advert is not compelling users will consider it irrelevant; in fact in some keyword groups the adverts are more relevant than others.
• the PPC accounts are so complex that you might spend a disproportionate amount of time working on the nuances and tweaking your campaign.
• therefore the more complex campaign needs specialist knowledge and skills to be effective, and this is an additional cost to your advertising campaign.
• For some businesses which are small or which have a low turnover, PPC might not be useful; advertising in local magazines or newspapers might be far more cost-effective.
• Beware! Some keywords and niches are very expensive, and at popular times when keywords become competitive one can spend a disproportionate amount on advertising online.

Social Networks

Social networks

Social networks are a very important digital marketing channel, so it is important that marketers understand the essentials of social networking. They are particularly important when creating a community, based on communication and dialogue with our customers. This lesson will cover the basics of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and YouTube Channels. The social network might be for your brand, product or service, or it might be for your own personal networking.


The starting point would be a Facebook company page. The benefit of creating a hub for your business on Facebook is multifaceted. As Facebook puts it, it makes your business discoverable when people search for you on Facebook they will find you. It connects your business so that you can have one-to-one conversations with your customers, who might like your page, read your post and share them with their friends, and they can check on you every time they visit. Timing is also one of the benefits of Facebook as a social networking tool, since your page can help you reach large groups of people frequently, messages which are specifically directed to their needs and interests. You can also analyze your page using insightful analytics tools, which give you a deeper understanding of your customers and how successful your marketing activities are. Facebook actually gives you a web like address, which you can put on your business cards, website and on your other marketing tools e.g. .


As with other social networks, twitter takes its business pages seriously. Twitter can help you connect your business to what people are talking about at the moment. Twitter offers a social media for people to talk about what they care about as well as what’s happening around them at the moment and this is a dialogue in which your business needs to be a main player. So twitter offers you a powerful medium to connect your message to what your customers are talking about in real-time.

  • You can listen and learn from what your competitors are tweeting or you can look for list of industry keywords to help you gather intelligence. This gives you an insight into how you may adapt your social media strategy.
  • As a medium social networks and twitter are tools that will help you grow your business; you can run innovative promotions, develop your brand and have an engaging an ongoing dialogue with your customers (and you can use twitter ad as part of your campaign)

You have 140 characters to get your point of view across; and your campaign can be innovative and maybe even viral (see the other lessons :-). For example American Express lets people use their card numbers to claim gifts such as travel tickets; companies such as Burberry are very innovative when it comes to social media, where one example would be their #Tweetwalk fashion show.


LinkedIn company pages allow you to showcase your business and to target your audience; you may even have personal pages for yourself or your marketing team. Initially you would create a company page by entering your name and company e-mail address – it’s that simple. Then you simply verify that you are eligible to create a page on your company’s behalf. You create a company profile by offering a company description and overview; this needs to be quite short and salient and it needs to show what your company does, why it is different and what it specialises in.

You would then add a banner and your logo to tailor the LinkedIn company page with your own branding; the logo will appear when other LinkedIn members search for your company and it will appear on your employees’ profiles. You might add your employees as followers in the first instance and encouraged them to add your company to their own profiles, which starts to give it a viral focus. You can add your company profile to other marketing channels such as websites, e-mails and newsletters.

Followers are your influencers and your customers, and LinkedIn will encourage you to invest time and resources to establish a robust follower base. Then as with other social networking tools you need to devise rich content to share with your followers; this means that you are beginning your dialogue. For example by posting company updates you start your conversation and word of mouth marketing begins to develop engagement; you can check company news, articles and even hot topics.

Google +

Google + is Google’s main social media offering. It is a very powerful tool for social networking, but it has more to it than Facebook and Twitter, since it links together all of Google’s services for a unique experience. Hence the next section on YouTube is closely aligned to this discussion since Google owns YouTube.

So there are pages specifically designed for businesses on Google +. There are simple series of steps to get going;

  • firstly you choose an accessible Gmail account for your business
    then you create your own page using your Gmail account, and you’re able to select your business location, discuss your
  • products or brands, explained about your company as an organisation, and there are other things that you can leave information about
  • you need to customise your public profile. You can include your tagline and an image or logo. Then as with other types of social media you can promote your page by creating a series of networked circles.
  • Finally you launch your page and measure and adapt your social media strategy.

YouTube Channels

You Tube channels give your business the opportunity to record and publicise videos. It might be advisable at this stage to use the same Gmail account as you did for Google +; it’s likely the Google will automatically integrate the accounts, so trying to keep them separate is probably pointless. The medium gives you the opportunity to network with more than 1 billion people worldwide who visit YouTube monthly. So you need to ask yourself what you want to get from YouTube and integrate it into your marketing communications plan.

  • Set yourself goals in relation to what you want the channel to achieve
  • decide on how best to adapt the you Tube channel to suit your corporate identity; for example you can customise channel background and add logos and details about your organisation
  • you may need commercial products such as Camtasia or Sony Vegas (or one of many other options) to record your videos
  • you may wish to employee company to film and edit your videos, or you might want to give it a personal touch and do it yourself
  • once the videos uploaded think carefully about how you describe the video and the tags you use; they need to appeal to your target audience
  • you can organise your video content as individual videos or playlists based on particular topics or themes; again think about how your users will want to access the videos
  • you will probably want to allow comments on your YouTube videos, and if so you will need to make sure that your business is checking comments regularly and that it feeds back on all comments as quickly as possible; it’s all part of the global dialogue with users. If comments cannot be managed and switch them off, although viral marketing needs comments to fuel the fire.
  • as with other forms of social media you can promote them on your website or through any other channels which you use regularly, or you could use Google AdWords or similar PPC solutions.
  • YouTube has very detailed Analytics, so you can measure reactions to any changes you might make to your social media campaign.

Finally you may wish to coordinate the usage of your social media approaches, and for this you need a social media management tool such as;

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing

Viral marketing is the equivalent of online word-of-mouth. Viral marketing, aka Buzz marketing, uses all of the digital marketing media to disseminate a message which is passed along from person to person; it’s viral because it spreads like a virus or disease and if successful communications can expand exponentially.

Viral marketing campaigns are often spread via e-mail or social media (and here we include YouTube as well). The campaign can reach a large number of individuals in a relatively small amount of time, and marketers seek to harness this very powerful effect. So when planning an integrated marketing communications campaign today’s marketers will take into account viral marketing.

There are a number of mechanisms that can be used for viral marketing, which are known as agents, mechanics or execution types; these include, but are certainly not limited to, images, jokes, quizzes, video clips, games, e-cards, micro-sites, and others.

Example – Heineken India – Viral Marketing Campaign.

Viral marketing will help a business boost a cost-effective amount of brand awareness, and it could also plant the seeds for consumer awareness or interest in an alternative marketing communications campaign; for example it could be a teaser campaign. Other benefits include:

  • viral marketing will extend other communications activities
  • it will help you to reinforce, reinvent, and remind customers of existing or previous campaigns
  • it will help amplify and extend the messages, and because it’s viral there is a novelty value to the campaign
  • of course in relation to word-of-mouth marketing, there is a buzz which surround your campaign too
    you will also reach beyond your organisation’s core market.

Conversely there are disadvantages to viral marketing, some of which are listed here:

  • once the campaign started you cannot control it: a TV campaign can be stopped but a digital viral campaign cannot
  • you cannot control when it starts and when it stops, or when it accelerates
  • you cannot control the reach, and you may be communicating with segments who you would not generally target; this is
  • wasteful but also means that you could be damaging your brand
  • the viral might be taken out of context; the word-of-mouth effect could be perpetuating a problem, and it might be the problem which is the sole reason why the viral is successful.

What makes a successful viral?

  • They can be funny.
  • Virals can be outrageous
  • It has a unique or controversial approach
  • Culture can be challenged such as sex or religion
  • Try something that has no connection with your product.

Example – Viral Marketing – Jimmy Kimmel

Digital Personal Selling

Digital Personal Selling

Digital personal selling is an exciting and emerging opportunity for the marketing organization. Let’s look at how you can use it, and the Digital Selling Process. Personal selling generally happens when a person sells a product, service or solution to another person or organisation; therefore there has to be a degree of one-to-one, simultaneous, asymmetric communication in order that personal selling can happen. The digital opportunity provides salespeople with the chance to exploit two key areas – direct digital communication and digital information.

The Digital Selling Process

As discussed in another lesson on marketing teacher, traditional personal selling can be thought of as a five stage process:

• Stage One – Prospecting
• Stage Two – Making First Contact
• Stage Three – The Sales Call
• Stage Four – Objection Handling
• Stage Five – Closing The Sale

So at each stage the digital salesperson needs to decide whether he or she will use the digital marketing opportunity to either gather information to make decisions, or to communicate in order to see through the five stages of the personal selling process. The Internet is ideal for prospecting!

Digital Prospecting

The salesperson can prospect using popular search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. Such searches can generate postcode data (ZIP codes) which can then give an indication of property prices, the level and nature of wealth in an area, people’s professions and levels of education, and much more. Then of course there will be online databases that can be used and refined in order to start the sales process.

Making First Contact for Digital Personal Selling

Making first contact used to be by telephone, letter or personal visit. Digital marketing gives the opportunity to the digital salesperson to use an array of first contact tools for communication; the digital salesperson might use targeted e-mails, social media messages, or social networking using platforms such as LinkedIn.

Digital Personal Selling: The Sales Call.

The sales call traditionally is face-to-face, or by telephone. The digital salesperson could use a whole series of blended approaches to communicate with the potential prospect; for example he or she might use Skype or video conferencing software such as Cisco’s WebEx or Adobe connect (there are many others, some of them free). The more adventurous digital salesperson might even use Second Life and undertake personal selling using an automaton or avatar. There’s also software which recognises when a potential prospect views a website; the software will pop up and give the opportunity to the potential client to gain more information; this is the beginning of the next stage of the sales process, and traditional sales approaches such as objection handling, and closing the sale will apply.

Software and the Digital Sales-force

Software also gives the opportunity to control digital sales forces. These are often called Customer Relationship Management or CRM software packages, although there are more about monitoring and measuring sales success than the traditional perspective on CRM which considers long-term communication. However CRM software and a trained salesforce will have the opportunity to communicate with and develop relationships with prospects. Examples include IBM’s content management software and others such as Salesboard.

Digital Marketing and Promotion: Internet Advertising

Digital Marketing and Promotion: Digital Advertising

This lesson looks at ways of increasing the popularity of your website by looking at external sources of Internet Advertising.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Google Adwords.

Google Adwords is a cost-per-click (CPC) online advertising program. Essentially that means that you decide upon a keyword that relates closely to your product or service.

Affiliate Marketing.

Affiliate Marketing is where an organization offers and incentive to other web-based organizations to market the products or services that it offers. So a company selling surfboards could have an affiliate program that is offered to other web-based organizations that offer information on surfing destinations. The affiliate program is supplied by one organization – whereas the ‘affiliate’ is the website that promotes on behalf of the supplying organization.

Put simply – affiliate marketing is a basic agency arrangement. There is rarely any pay-per-click cash, but affiliates tend to take a commission on any goods sold as a result of the click. What does it look like? Affiliate marketing sees a banners advert or a text advert placed upon an affiliate’s website. When the advert attracts a click, the visitor is taken through to the site that originated the affiliate program. No cash changes hands until there is a sale, but affiliate rewards tend to be higher than regular pay-per-click. Commission Junction (CJ) is a well-known example of an Affiliate Marketing company. CJ acts as an intermediary between affiliate program. suppliers of all types and sizes. So if you have a successful website, that does well in the search engines and is popular with visitors, you should register with CJ and place affiliate adds onto your site. Click here to visit Commission Junction.

Offline Promotions Strategies.

Of course to promote website you should also consider offline promotion strategies such as those used by non- Internet businesses. Our Lessonstore contains lessons on Promotion (as part of the Marketing Mix) and also Marketing Communications (and its own mix).

Here a selection of other suitable approaches to offline promotion:

  • Create a media release or announce a media conference regarding your website.
  • Advertise using other media such as TV, billboards, radio, newspapers and magazines, or the cinema.
  • Send out direct mail shots and run campaigns.
  • Print your domain name and e-mail contact addresses upon all of your corporate material.
  • Offer free products and services. FREE is one of the most powerful words in marketing.
  • Provide free material e.g. fact sheets or guides that could be posted or e-mailed to customers.
  • Offer competitions or quizzes (with prizes when possible).
  • And many, many others…

Using Google’s tools, you price how much it would cost your per-click for your chosen keyword – this could be 10 cents, $1.50 or more, depending on the popularity of the keyword. So the keyword – ‘marketing’ – would be more expensive than the keyword – ‘marketing cheese china’ – because of its level of popularity. You then allocate a budget, and pay Google by credit card. You can control the length of your campaign, or end it as soon as the money runs out. Alternatively, companies often opt for the services of a specialist agency in PPC management (Pay-Per-Click management) or recruit a verified Google Adwords Professional.

Q:Where do my Adwords adverts appear and what do they look like?

Adverts appear alongside Google search results – so go to Google and search for ‘marketing.’ The ad’s appearing along side the main search results are CPC. Ad’s also appear on selected content websites – such as – look at the adverts along the top, and down the right hand column – this is where ad’s based upon the keyword ‘Chichester’ would appear. You only pay for adverts that get clicked – not for page views – so you pay nothing if your advert is simply viewed.

There is also an opportunity for ‘Smart Pricing’ whereby you pay more for the advert if a sale is guaranteed e.g. you have a website based upon fishing – you write a review of a new type of fishing rod, the visitor then sees an ad for the same rod in an Adwords text ad running on the ‘same page,’ then clicks on it – and buys from the advertiser.

Adwords is a very targeted and controllable way of online advertising – hence the huge rises in income and profit for Google over recent times. Click here to go to Google Adwords.

Search Marketing.

Overture and Yahoo!

Overture is the Yahoo equivalent of Google’s Adwords. Now known as Yahoo! Search Marketing, Overture has a series of sub-products that make up its digital marketing program. Here are some examples:

(a) Sponsored search – displays your advert at the top of the search engine results. So your potential customers search for a ‘keyword’ and your advert appears at the top of the results page (this is very similar to Adwords). Again, as with Adwords, the advertisers bid against each other to obtain the position that will generate the most convertible traffic to their site. Popular keywords will cost more – obviously.

(b) Local Advertising – gets your business listed in Yahoo’s business directory. So if you wish to promote products in specific regions next to specific search keywords, this is a very targeted geographical service.

Overture has many other similar services such as Search Submit, Product Submit, Travel Submit and Directory Submit that could be considered. Click here to go to Yahoo! Search Marketing (Overture).

Digital Marketing and Promotion: Website Optimization

Digital Marketing and Promotion: Website Optimization

How does website optimization help marketing?

This lesson looks at ways of increasing the popularity of your website by looking at the internal optimization of the website itself. It considers many important ways of building your traffic, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO) approaches.

Alternative strategies could include:

  • Encourage other sites to reprint your content (with credit given to you, and links back to your main site).
  • Post information about your site in communities, forums and chat groups.
  • Set up your own affiliate programme, and pay commission.
  • Encourage visitors to bookmark your site.
  • Create a mailing list, and send newsletters. Betters still, create a dynamic site that encompasses a CRM strategy.
  • Hire professionals to code your site, and to manage Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Build your traffic.

Content is king. Write good quality content that visitors value and that keeps them coming back. This is a golden rule. Try to make sure that you have substantial content before putting your site online. No site is better than one that is poorly prepared. Make the content easy to read and digest. Keep it focused upon keywords, and keep content up-to-date. Remember, your site is not an online brochure or gimmicky sales promotion. On the other hand, in order to save the trouble, many companies simply employ the services of an SEO Consultant.

Your domain name should be innovative and does not necessarily have to say what your site does. For example British Airways has an online ticket websites called

When building the site, keep the design simple. Flash, Java and Javascript look great but have been known to confuse spiders. Keep It Short and Simple (KISS). Remember that not all visitors will have fast Internet connections – much of The World still uses 56k modems.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important. This will help search engines to read your pages. There are many ways to do this – try to include keywords in your title, in your description tag, in your heading tag, in your URL (if possible), and some would also say try to represent your keyword in content – in bold, in italics, and high in the page.

Word density – your keyword should not represent more than 20% of your total wordage.

Try to link between your pages. This is call ‘cross linking.’ So if one of your pages attracts high numbers of visitors through search engine, then link to less exposed pages around your site. Then add links to the top pages of your site a.k.a. ‘root’ pages. Try not to be more than two clicks away from root pages. This makes it easier for visitors to stick around.

Submit to search engines where you can. However this is becoming more difficult. Today it is more likely that the search engines will find you – when you obtain in links, spiders and bots will come through your site as they follow outbound links form other sites. You could also try to get listed in directories such as DMOZ.

Once your site is online monitor its progress. This is how you control your online presence. You need a stats package that monitors every detail of your site’s logs including inbound links, keyword searches, page views, visitor number (rather than hits), and page popularity – data needs to be available for every day of the year.

Links To your site – especially form higher-ranking sites – are very important. Links need to be from sites that have similar keywords to those of your pages. This is time consuming and you need to build slowly. Contact sites and offer to exchange links. Links in text are better that stand alone URL’s, so put links from your site in paragraphs of text that allow visitors to click on them as they read you content. However, try not to offer too many outbound links because visitors need to be kept on your site as long as possible.

Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is essentially part of marketing. But what is the difference between digital marketing and Internet or web marketing? What are the digital marketing tools? And how do marketers plan for digital marketing? This lesson aims to answer these questions.

How do marketers plan for digital marketing?

There are two ways of looking at this.

  • An existing organization may embark upon some digital marketing as part of their marketing plan.
  • An organization trades solely on the Internet and so their marketing plan focuses purely on digital marketing.

The marketing plan in either case is the next step, whether focused upon digital marketing or all marketing. The next lessons focus upon a tailor-made digital marketing plan which conforms to the acronym AOSTC (from our generic marketing planning lesson).

  • A – Audit – An audit of internal strengths and weaknesses, an external opportunities and threats.
  • O – Objectives – SMART digital marketing objectives.
  • S – Strategy – digital marketing strategies.
  • T – Tactics – an digital marketing mix.
  • C – Controls – measuring the performance of our digital marketing plan.

So the place to begin defining digital marketing is to consider where it fits within the subject of marketing. So let’s start with a definition of marketing. The American Marketing Association (AMA) definition (2004) is as follows:

Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.

Therefore digital marketing by its very nature is one aspect of an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders. As such an aspect, digital marketing has its own approaches and tools that contribute to the achievement of marketing goals and objectives.

This also helps us to differentiate between digital marketing and E-commerce, since E-Commerce is simply buying and selling online.

What is the difference between digital marketing and internet or web marketing?

There is no real difference between digital marketing and internet or web marketing. However, with the arrival of mobile technologies such as PDA’s and 3G mobile phones, as well as Interactive Television, both terms tend to be stretched to include these new media technologies. On the other hand, others would see digital marketing and internet or web marketing as subtly different, for example Chaffey (below):

Internet [or web] marketing is achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies.

Digital marketing is achieving marketing objectives through use of electronic communications technology.

Whilst this distinction is wholly acceptable, it is difficult to see where the distinction lies between digital technologies and electronic communications technologies, especially with the convergence of technologies such as mobile devices.

What are the digital marketing tools?

The Internet has a number of tools to offer to the marketer.

  • A company can distribute via the Internet e.g.
  • A company can use the Internet as a way of building and maintaining a customer relationship e.g.
  • The money collection part of a transaction could be done online e.g. electricity and telephone bills.
  • Leads can be generated by attracting potential customers to sign-up for short periods of time, before signing up for the long-term e.g.
  • The Internet could be used for advertising e.g. Google Adwords.
  • Finally, the web can be used as a way of collecting direct responses e.g. as part of a voting system for a game show.

Digital Marketing Situation Analysis

Digital Marketing Situation Analysis

Where are we now? Internal v External Perspectives

The situation analysis for digital marketing bridges the internal audit and competitor research. It answers the question where are we now in terms of our digital marketing (internal v external perspective)? The analysis literally considers your digital marketing situation by considering the fit between internal and external factors. There are similarities with traditional concepts and techniques, but you need to focus upon digital commerce. Here we consider the 5 S’s of Internet Marketing (Smith and Chaffey 2006), the Customer Life Cycle (CLC), and the application of SWOT analysis.

Some of the problems that you may encounter with SWOT are as a result of one of its key benefits i.e. its flexibility. Since SWOT analysis can be used in a variety of scenarios, it has to be flexible. To overcome these issues, one should employ a Power Swot.

The 5 Ss of Internet Marketing.

Smith and Chaffey (2006) distil the situation of a business using Internet as part of its business under the following 5S’s:

  • Sell – Grow sales and attract business using digital technologies.
  • Serve – Add value through the benefits of the Internet such as speed.
  • Speak – Get closer to customers by making your business available to them at home, work or on the go with mobile technologies.
  • Save – Reduce costs by using information technologies to make your business more efficient.
  • Sizzle – Extend the online brand (or create a new one) – remember sell the sizzle not the sausage i.e. the benefits, aesthetics or value of a product or service rather than its features.

The Customer Life Cycle (CLC).

The Customer Life Cycle (CLC) is a tool that considers the creation and delivery of lifetime value to customers i.e. CLC looks at products and services that customers need throughout their lives. It is market oriented rather than product oriented (e.g. PLC). Key stages of the customer relationship are considered.

SWOT analysis – ranked and weighted.

SWOT analysis is a tool for auditing an organization and its environment. It is the first stage of planning and helps marketers to focus on key issues. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Digital Marketing Product

Digital Marketing Product

We’ve already considered product as part of the marketing mix. Two previous tools for product decision-making have been introduced – Product Life Cycle (PLC) and the Three Levels of a Product. Both of these tools are equally applicable to the context of digital marketing, and can be easily applied to include digital marketing and product.

C and D – Online Innovators

Online Innovators come in two forms:

  • C – Online Innovators are existing businesses that see a benefit to launching new and innovative products, brands, services or solutions online by leveraging new technology. Existing businesses have a wealth of knowledge and learning that underpin their moves onto the Web. Remember, the Internet is not a business paradigm shift (at least not yet) and so current business approaches are often adapted for the Internet. Existing businesses have experience.
  • D – Online Innovators are start-ups that seize the opportunity to launch new and innovative products, brands, services or solutions online. Despite not having as much knowledge and learning as some of their competitors, they are flexible and can move much more quickly. Start-ups often lack experience.

For example a product marketed solely online will go through a life cycle in the same unpredictable way as a product marketed through any traditional channel (PLC). Products marketed online will have a core benefit to the consumer, be an actual tangible product, with augmentation that adds value such as insurance, warranties and so on (Three Levels of a Product). Although tools actually specify the term ‘product,’ they can be easily adapted to include brands, services or solutions.

The digital marketing Product/Business Matrix (depicted below) should be used in conjunction with Product Life Cycle (PLC) and the Three Levels of a Product. It represents an additional tool for audit that bridges existing businesses and new online start-ups, and existing products and new products. It allows marketers to categorise those marketing on the Internet as an Online Extender, an Online Alternative, an Online Innovator (Existing Business), or an Online Innovator (Online Start-Up). Let’s take a look at it in more detail.

digital marketing Product

A – Online Extender

An Online Extender is an existing business that has a strategy whereby it extends its marketing activities to the Internet. It could be any traditional, terrestrial organisation that has historically grown through using traditional channels of distribution to get existing products, brands, services or solutions to market.

B – Online Alternative

The Online Alternative is a new start-up that uses the Internet as an original channel of distribution to get products, brands, services or solutions, currently available elsewhere, to market. Some segments may be better targeted with this online alternative, for example remote or fragmented markets.

Digital Marketing Price

Digital Marketing Price

Pricing tactics as part of the digital marketing Mix

What is unique about pricing for the Internet?

The digital marketing mix is simply an adaptation of the traditional marketing mix, and ‘P’ for price. However, the Internet has influenced how online businesses price in a number of ways.

  • Pricing variations e.g. budget airlines selling tickets online where the first tickets bought are the cheapest, and the last ones bought tend to be more expensive.
  • Optional product pricing e.g. selling a holiday online with travel insurance.
  • Captive product pricing e.g. once you buy virus software from one brand, your updates must also come from them.
  • Product bundle pricing e.g. buying Internet access which comes with free online phone calls.
  • Promotional pricing e.g. Betting incentives, such as free Dollars to gamble online for current customers that gamble on football games to tempt them to play online poker, or vouchers with codes sent by e-mail as rewards e.g.
  • Geographical pricing e.g. Microsoft pricing in different currencies in different international markets.
  • International pricing and competition give consumers access to the lowest price for any generic good. For example, British consumers benefit when buying products from the United States since there are almost two Dollars to the Pound. Conversely this makes British goods more expensive to the American consumer. So it’s cheap to buy spectacles from a US website and then to import them into the UK (even including transport costs and import taxes).
  • Online auctions are a popular and innovative way of pricing, for example eBay. Here you register with the online auction company as a seller and/or a buyer. You can place an item into auction where buyers bid against each other. The highest bidder wins. The auction website takes a commission. The commission is factored into the price you pay.
  • Greater access to pricing information, more quickly and in a format that makes pricing comparable and transparent. There are a number of sites that will compare and contrast prices for the same or similar goods and services e.g. prices on car insurance.
  • Pricing could also include the cost of an online advertising medium such as Google Adwords. Here an online supplier would buy a keyword located in a text or image based advert onto Google’s own search engine or onto a website belonging to a Google publisher. For example you search for the term ‘hair straighteners’ on Google and you are directed to a site about hair dressing. On this site is plenty of information about hair straightening, placed next to some contextual adverts. You click on the advert and are taken to a site selling hair dressing supplies. You buy the hair straighteners, and your suppliers pay a small ‘pay- per-click’ fee which is split between Google and their publisher. This is factored into the price you pay.

How are traditional pricing tactics used in digital marketing?

Of course the Internet marketer still has a whole selection of other more traditional pricing approaches to choose from that can be adapted to digital marketing scenarios:

  • Premium pricing e.g. selling music via iTunes.
  • Penetration pricing e.g. giving away free subscriptions to land grab market share for new start-ups such as and
  • Economy pricing e.g. selling basic products and services online like basic web design or paperclips.
  • Price skimming e.g. new product launches online such as albums or games.
  • Psychological pricing e.g. products and services sold at 99p or $99.99 (Price Point Perspective).
  • Product line pricing e.g. subscription 1 @ free, subscription 2 @ $10.00 (with added value) and subscription 3 @ $49.99 for 10 years.

Digital Marketing Place

Digital marketing Place

Place tactics as part of the digital marketing Mix

The digital marketing space consists of new Internet companies that have emerged as the Internet has developed, as well as those pre-existing companies that now employ digital marketing approaches as part of their overall marketing plan. For some companies the Internet is an additional channel that enhances or replaces their traditional channel(s). For others the Internet has provided the opportunity for a new online company.

  • Agents e.g. Avon Representatives. There are a number of different types of agents. One well known example is that of Avon cosmetics and their workforce of extremely loyal representatives. The representatives are in reality agents. digital marketing allows customers to choose between the services of their traditional Avon rep or the Avon Online Shop i.e. using an agent or going direct.
  • Franchises e.g. KFC. There are many examples of franchises. The online equivalent of a franchise is an affiliation or ‘affiliate.’ This gives the franchise owner the opportunity to develop a network of affiliates that display goods, services or solutions on the affiliate website. A commonly cited example is that of So if you are a golf enthusiast, and you have developed a site that give tips on how to play better golf, then you can apply to for an affiliation that allows you to place tailored Amazon ad boxes on your site. They can be adapted to sell golfing books, and you as the site owner can adapt the ads to match the feel of your site. For every golf book sale that your leads generate, you are paid a commission.
  • Vending and automated retailers e.g. Coke machines. Vending is very much based upon the physical location of machines near to where they are most likely to sell product. However, vending machines can use IT and the Internet to communicate with a central server, giving information on what is currently selling well, or what might need replacing.

New Internet companies.

These companies only trade on the Internet.

  • New online retail brand e.g. Amazon, – Essentially these companies could not have been conceived without the creation of the Internet. New companies sprang up as the Internet began to be adopted. Entrepreneurs were investing heavily in all sorts of start-ups. Some were successes, most were not.

eMarketing Place

  • New online manufacturer brand e.g. – Entrepreneurs saw opportunities for developing online manufacturers’ brands that took advantage of online technologies that enabled innovative new products to be adapted to customer preferences, and by using IT to enable efficient and effective operations such as assembly and logistics.
  • Online Auction e.g. eBay. In common with new online retail brands, before the emergence of Internet technologies, this concept was not possible. Essentially eBay is a Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) business. For more information on how online auctions work, see the lesson on Digital Marketing and Price.

Pre-existing companies that have adopted digital marketing.

These are traditional companies that trade on the Internet.

  • Banking and financial Services e.g. HSBC Bank. Banks and financial services have benefited tremendously from the popularity of Internet usage. There is a mixture of new online banks and traditional banks, both offering online banking services. Essentially banks no longer need to invest in high cost, high street selling units i.e. old fashioned town-based banks. Labor costs have also been reduced since much of the traditional banking bureaucracy is done using IT, and the use of overseas call centers has meant that salaries are much lower. Software also means that customers can be retained by using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) eMarketing approaches.

digital marketing Place

  • Existing online retail brand e.g. Wal-Mart, took advantage of this new mode of distribution by extending products and services to consumers via the medium of the Internet. digital marketing enhances their traditional marketing.
  • Direct distribution channel e.g. New York Yankees’ shop. Organizations have access to consumers worldwide. So brand loyal consumers such as sports fans are now able to buy directly from their preferred club, which pockets the entire profit without having to give a cut to intermediaries.
  • Wholesalers e.g. C and S wholesale Grocers. IT allows retailers to order directly from their wholesale partners via their website. Retailers can check stocks and look at current promotions. This approach is more effective than depending entirely on merchandisers.

Digital marketing Mix

Digital Marketing Mix

What is the digital marketing Mix?

The digital marketing Mix is essentially the same as the marketing mix. It is simply the adaptation of price, place, product and promotion to the digital marketing context. Of course one could also include physical evidence, people and process when marketing planning for an online service. Below are a series of lessons that consider how markets can apply the digital marketing mix to their organization’s own product, service, brand or solution.

  • This lesson looks at ways of increasing the popularity of your website by looking at external sources of Internet Advertising. Read more….
  • Digital marketing Price

    The digital marketing mix is simply an adaptation of the traditional marketing mix, and ‘P’ for price. However, the Internet has influenced how online businesses price in a number of ways. Read more…

    The Marketing Mix

    Digital marketing Place

    The digital marketing space consists of new Internet companies that have emerged as the Internet has developed, as well as those pre-existing companies that now employ digital marketing approaches as part of their overall marketing plan. For some companies the Internet is an additional channel that enhances or replaces their traditional channel(s) or place. Read more….

    Digital marketing Product

    We’ve already considered product as part of the marketing mix. Two previous tools for product decision-making have been introduced – Product Life Cycle (PLC) and the Three Levels of a Product. Read more…

    Digital marketing Promotion

    • This lesson looks at ways of increasing the popularity of your website by looking at the internal optimization of the website itself. It considers many important ways of building your traffic, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO) approaches. Read more…

    Digital Marketing Internal Audits

    Digital Marketing Internal Audits

    Where are we now? (internal perspective)

    The starting point for any digital marketing planning is the internal audit. We are seeking to answer the question, where are we now? form an internal perspective. This is a consideration of internal resources and the effectiveness of our eBusiness based upon a number of factors, as such as those that follow:

    You would also need to play close attention to your marketing audit. For example:

    1.The Internal Marketing Environment.

    What resources do we have at hand? (i.e. The FIVE ‘M’s):

    • MEN (Labor/Labour).
    • MONEY (Finances).
    • MACHINERY (Equipment).
    • MINUTES (Time).
    • MATERIALS (Factors of Production).
    • How is our marketing team organised?
    • How efficient is our marketing team?
    • How effective is our marketing team?
    • How does our marketing team interface with other organisations and internal functions?
    • How effective are we at Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?
    • What is the state of our marketing planning process?
    • Is our marketing planning information current and accurate?
    • What is the current state of New Product Development? (Product)
    • How profitable is our product portfolio? (Product)
    • Are we pricing in the right way? (Price)
    • How effective and efficient is distribution?(Place)
    • Are we getting our marketing communications right? (Promotion)
    • Do we have the right people facing our customers? (People)
    • How effective are our customer facing processes? (Process)
    • What is the state of our business’s physical evidence? (Physical Evidence)


    • Labour (trained, motivated, retained) Men.
    • Capital (investment/cash flow) Money.
    • Equipment (servers/software/back up) Machinery.
    • Time (project plans) Minutes.
    • Raw materials or components (depends on your business) – Materials .

    Current effectiveness.

    • Page views/sites/hits/page views/income.
    • Trends/potential new customers
    • Customers – e.g. how many are online? Are there new channel segments emerging?
    • Competitors – who are they? What is their online proposition? How successful are they online?
    • Distributors – are new, online, intermediaries emerging while old off-line distributors are being wiped out (disintermediation)? What are the potential channel conflicts?
    • Current product market strategies of competitors I.e. audit with Ansoff’s matrix.

    Digital Marketing Competitor Research

    Digital Marketing and Competitor Research

    Where are we now? (External Perspective)

    As you plan for digital marketing and during the plan’s implementation, one needs to pay careful attention to the activities of competitors. So competitor research for digital marketing is essential when attempting to answer the question where are we now ( external perspective)? There are a number of approaches that can be employed, with the emphasis on each approach shifting depending upon the nature of our eBusiness and market. Here are some key tools of competitor research for digital marketing:

  • Read online competitive information.
    • E.g. – Paid for, in US.
  • Study demographic reports.
    • in UK.
    • in US.
  • Original source material.
    • Business Source Elite, Newspapers, Kelly’s, Kompass.
  • Monitor special interest material.
    • E.g Marketing Week (BSE) , Campaign (BSE), Marketing (BSE).
  • Use a professional researcher.
    • Use search engines.
      • General topics such as Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.
      • Type names of competitors.
      • Type industry, product or term.
      • Search ‘down’ into a directory structure e.g Yahoo!
      • Search a competitor’s web site.
      • Product information, press releases, job opportunities.
      • Pricing information.
      • Distribution information such as where to buy.
      • (So publish only what you’d give away at a trade show!)
    • Hunt for trade associations.
      • Search for personal pages or ‘Blogs.’
      • Different perspective e.g fans, ex-employees.
      • E.g.,,
    • Ask your target market.
      • Send questions to named personnel, newsgroups, personal pages, mailing lists.
      • Conduct a survey using.
      • Buy secondary reports e.g. Datamonitor, Mintel.
    • Newsgroups and post queries.
      • Newsgroups on bulleting boards or forums.
      • (Google).
      • Read online financial information.
      • Research public companies.
      • Ample UK.
      • UK.

    Email Marketing

    Email Marketing

    What is e-mail marketing?

    So what is e-mail marketing? In a nutshell you send an electronic communication which contains a message to your customer or client. It could be a message about some updates regarding your business. It could contain a voucher for a particular promotion. Other popular calls-to-action (i.e. the purpose of your e-mail and the reaction that you require from the respondent) might include a free game, money off codes, a paid for or free webinar, and any other tool which helps you to retain customers and to extend new products and services to them.

    It’s important that your e-mail is something that your respondent wants to open. So you don’t even need to have anything major to offer since you could just be telling them about a small change in the law, or you could summarise key events from your particular market from the previous week’s news.

    Why is e-mail such an important digital marketing tool?

    Today Information Technology (IT) means that the high cost of traditional direct marketing or mailshots is reduced substantially. In fact if you recall your first direct online dialogue with a company, you will probably recall that e-mail was the first social interaction which you had via the Internet. So e-mail marketing is one of the cornerstones of social media marketing as we know it today.

    E-mail is still a powerful medium of online communication. It is simple, straightforward and your visitors and clients are familiar with e-mail, where they may not be so familiar with Facebook or LinkedIn and other popular social media solutions. However you want your e-mail communications to be focused and targeted, and ultimately to retain customers and keep them buying from you. You don’t want your communication to be a piece of on opened e-mail in someone’s inbox, or worse labelled as junk mail or spam (which Is mass, unsolicited e-mails). To your loyal customers your communication has value, and so does e-mail marketing.

    E-mail marketing is a foundation of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and there is plenty of material on the Marketing Teacher website about CRM. A popular definition of CRM is Customer Relationship Management is the establishment, development, maintenance and optimisation of long-term mutually valuable relationships between consumers and organisations. CRM is designed to recruit and retain customers, and to extend products and services to them over their lifetime. E-mail marketing is a fundamental approach for this.