Access to the Internet by a diverse and large number of people has sparked interest in connecting with people online. Year after year, Internet usage among adults and youth keeps increasing.
The proliferation of the Internet has therefore touched on every sector, most especially the business sector.
The buying and selling habits of people have since changed and as a result of this, marketing strategies have also evolved alongside. Offline marketing though still effective, cannot be matched with the techniques involved in online or digitalised marketing.
Digital marketing has become an integral part of every successful business and is getting more popular as its benefits become more conspicuous.
In Nigeria, the number of Internet users has reportedly risen to 98.3m resulting in a growing increase in the time people spend online and the number of people going online to research about a particular product or service is equally on the high.
Forbes reported that 82 per cent of consumers conduct online researches before going ahead to buy or use a product or service. Similarly, Tech Crunch noted that 79 per cent of people shop online. Marketing is about connecting with customers at the right time and place, and since people now spend most of their time online, it becomes important to connect with them there. As a result, online marketing is gradually becoming more popular than offline marketing and consequently, businesses are now in demand for digital marketing personnel.
Zainab Akande, a digital marketing practitioner explained, “There is a high demand for skilled digital marketers. This is because the world is going digital and technology is integrated into our lives more than ever before. Most people own smartphones, laptops, tablets and as a result, people tend to spend so much time online.
“Businesses are beginning to realize this, as more and more of them are creating their online presence. Digital marketing is an immediate way to reach customers because most of them are online, unlike traditional marketing techniques.”
According to her, businesses will continuously need digital marketers because customer growth and revenue increase are dependent on their creative abilities and efforts.
Kazeem Dosunmu, CEO of Doskit Creative Solutions, in an interview with Africana Entrepreneur, explained that digital marketing involves utilising the various media channels available online to market a particular product, service, or business.
Said Dosunmu, “To be an effective digital marketer, one must acquire sufficient knowledge about the niche and after the acquisition, one should get avenues to practice what has been learnt. Thanks to different free courses online, one can acquire the skill in record time.”
One of such is Google Digital Marketing Skill for Africa, a platform to learn the fundamentals of digital marketing and get certified for free.
A digital marketer, Kehinde Lawal, pointed out, “Digital marketing typically uses Internet resources to promote a brand or business and that to be a good digital media practitioner, one must learn and apply the knowledge to real-life situations.”
Lawal stated that a number of digital marketing institutes offer training and certification on different aspects of digital marketing as numerous online courses are also available online to learn about current digital trends.
She noted, however, that it is more important to get practical and real-life experiences to apply the skill.
Perhaps what makes digital marketing so effective are the various techniques and strategies. Dosunmu explained that there are various strategies involved in online marketing and adequate knowledge and application will help a business thrive and stay ahead of the competition.
Said Dosunmu, “There are various strategies involved in carrying out digital marketing, the most popular being social media marketing, content marketing, search engine marketing, email marketing, website development and marketing.”
Speaking in a similar vein, Lawal explained, “Promoted and sponsored ads can be done on social media, engaging content on websites is enough to trap your future clients, email marketing will always make your customers stay abreast of what happens in your business, which could be discount offers, increment, new products, etc.
“These and many more can be done while sitting within the confines of your workplace. The various aspects and techniques of digital marketing have their own significance and if used effectively, would go a long way in helping businesses achieve their set objectives.”
Digital marketing is reputed for leading to huge returns on investment numerous for big and small businesses, even start-ups. Digitisation is regarded as the future of all businesses, services and careers.
“Digital marketing brings your product or service as an entrepreneur to the fore and to the attention of your prospective customers and also teaches you how to initiate a strategic communication with both current and prospective customers.
“If you want to reach more customers, generate more revenue and increase profitability, you need to go digital,” Dosunmu advised.
For Lawal, any business that wants to thrive must always be ready to adapt to trending innovations, asserting that the Internet of Things is the key to the present and the future of viable businesses.
She said, “Digital marketing creates more publicity for a business than traditional marketing strategies and that is one of the reasons it should be incorporated into modern business. Also, digital marketing reaches a wider audience range than any offline marketing strategy. It enables businesses to reach prospective clients, even those beyond their locality.”
Continuing, she explained, “Digital marketing offers an opportunity to present and maintain an excellent corporate image. Similarly, it enables businesses to relate more closely and better with their current and prospective customers in spite of the distance.
“Digital marketing also presents the opportunity to stay ahead of your competitors as a businessman and perhaps the most prudent and cost-effective approach to marketing and advertising.”
Akande also emphasised that modern-day businesses stand a better chance of staying within and ahead of the competition if digital marketing techniques are judiciously used.
“The Internet has been infused into everything we do and has become an inextricable part of our lives. Traditional marketing techniques are certainly not as effective as they were before digital marketing became popular.
“People spend most of their time online these days, it is only best to reach them where they can be found- online. In everything we do, we realise we need the Internet for work, school, study, business, etc.”
In addition, Akande affirmed that digital marketing allows small businesses to compete with a smaller advertising budget.
“They don’t have to spend so much on ads,” said Akande. “It also allows businesses to narrow down their target customers. With email marketing which is an important part of digital marketing, you can narrow down and reach your customers individually.
“Since people also like to know about the product or service they want to spend money on, you can get testimonials and reviews about your product online from current customers. All these are only possible through digital marketing, not the traditional forms of marketing.”
Many companies now recognise the increase in digital relevance and awareness and are working to fill the gap within their companies.
Lawal explained further, “As companies are becoming more digitally aware, so are start-up marketing agencies being established. Modern businesses should bear in mind that no industry flourishes by following traditional methods strictly.”
A successful business, she asserted, will always be open to innovation.
“In fact, it is certain that technology, information technology, and digital strategies will take up a greater part of our existence. And so, all modern businesses have to key into the idea to stay relevant,” she stated.
Akande has more words for enterprises both big and small.
“Business owners should utilise the opportunities in the media to promote their businesses, especially start-ups. Opportunities like using online display ads, social media, and other marketing techniques.
Akande noted that the opportunities digital marketing offers are numerous.
“But ultimately, it helps businesses build brand loyalty, generate more revenue, and attract more clients,” she said. “It is usually a very cost-effective and time-saving approach to marketing.”
Digital marketing emerged as a result of global digitisation. Over the years, it has proven to be an effective means for businesses to showcase their products and services to a large online audience.