How is digital marketing different from conventional marketing?

With the penetration of the Internet, the average time spent online by the Internet user has increased substantially. It would seem only natural that marketers will follow consumers and take to digital media. At first glance- it would seem just like the radio, or the television, which allowed marketers to reach consumers via a new platform. However, there are substantial implications of marketing via this medium which present opportunities and challenges quite unique to the medium.

One of the most important differences is the ability to track the target audience of a communication and make decisions in real time. This was not present in any of the earlier mediums and presents tremendous opportunity for marketers. An important implication is the ability to stretch the marketing dollar. At the most basic level, marketers can track whether a consumer clicked on the content presented to him and then decide whether he is really a target audience for her content and make subsequent decisions about whether to present him with additional content and if so, present the most relevant content. This allows the marketer to get the most out of her marketing investment.

However, the above promise of better returns on investment (ROI) can very quickly lure the marketer into pouring more and more of the marketing budget into digital media. This can very quickly lead to disaster. It is critical to note a very important aspect that is markedly different between digital marketing and conventional marketing: mass marketing. Mass marketing, wherein the marketing manager attempts to create awareness and generate interest in the public at large is still better suited to conventional media such as the radio, newspaper or the television. These media still offer better ROI for these stages of the sales funnel. Advertising on digital platforms for these stages quickly gets very expensive on any digital platform: be it Google, Facebook or any other platform. All of these media, promote even paid content according to relevance, that is, if the consumer finds the content relevant, promoting the content becomes cheaper. If not, promoting the content becomes very expensive, very quickly, or might even get dropped altogether.

While digital marketing differs from conventional marketing in many other ways, the implications discussed above are among those that marketers should be mindful of to be able to utilize their marketing budget in the digital world.

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