Given the extraordinary focus on interaction and transactionality, the 21st century marketer can well be bemused and wonder what, or if any, role does branding have in a digital economy. This dilemma is not misplaced since the vast majority of literature, academic as well as general, on digital marketing is obsessively focused on ‘conversion’, often construed as a shorthand for sales.
Imagine a situation in the real world. One has researched extensively for a product one needs, compared notes with friends, searched high and low for the best price and finally has decided to buy the product. The person goes to the shop to get the product only to have a sign staring at their face that says the shop has relocated to a new place with no new address provided.
The first challenge facing marketers is reaching their potential customers to be able to sell to them. In the analog world marketers achieved this through advertising – on mass media, on retail shelves, on the road, pretty much everywhere consumers congregated. The only problem with this was that enormous numbers of people were inflicted with advertising messages whether or not they were the intended recipients of the advertising. In addition to bad advertising, this is also a contributory cause to the general dislike that advertising evokes among consumers.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a powerful digital marketing tool. Most practitioners of SEO focus on the arcana of the practice – keyword density, tagging, recursive urls, etc. These are important. However, often SEO is implemented after a web site has been created, missing out on strategizing the search plan, which should be the basis of the implementation.
Statista, a leading provider of market and consumer data, estimated that digital advertising spends in 2017 were USD 266.24 billion. This was nearly 50% of advertising across all media. In itself, this is a spectacular achievement considering that the Internet itself came into existence a mere 23 years ago.