Digital Marketing 101: What is digital marketing anyway?

Typical scenario, you’re at a Diwali gathering or your grandma’s 80th birthday and your cousin asks you, “What are you doing these days?” You confidently tell them that you’re a doctor, an accountant or a computer programmer and you immediately see that they have a picture of what that is in their mind.

Then I come along and say I work for a digital marketing company and I’m faced with a blank stare, a confused look or an exasperated expression. Some may ask a follow-up question, while others give me a polite nod and ask me about my brother in the US, who is an engineer.

So what is digital marketing? Well, let’s start with the book definition. The Financial Times Lexicon defines digital marketing as “…the marketing of products or services using digital channels to reach the consumers…”

Digital channels are further described as being “…beyond internet marketing…” which includes mobile phones (apps, SMS, MMS), social media platforms, display advertising and search engine marketing.

Although this definition is correct, I always fall back onto the classic definition of marketing, which is an activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

Digital marketing is not just the act of putting a QR-code on a newspaper ad. It is not about having the company web address appear at the end of a TV commercial. It also doesn't mean spending money bidding on keywords or placing ads in a Facebook newsfeed. Digital marketing is about creating and communicating the value you bring to a person’s life.

The value is created and delivered by providing customers with an excellent user experience no matter how or where they interact with your brand or product. For example, Uber is available in over 58 countries but they use the same app for all 58 countries. This means their customer needs only to be initiated once and they’ll be able to have the same excellent user experience no matter which part of the world they’re in.

The value is communicated using the customer’s medium of choice. Whether it’s through a mobile app they have on their phone or a website on the WWW, users want the value communicated consistently and with simplicity. Airbnb does a great job at this. Their web experience is great no matter what screen you view it on. Their app is also exceptionally easy to use.

So back to the question my cousin asked me, “What are you doing these days?”; I’d simply say, “I’m helping companies and brands create, deliver and communicate value to their customers using innovative means which deliver exceptional user experiences.”

Cheers for now.