The last decade has seen an exponential rise in digital technologies, especially social media. With broadband spreading its wings faster and broader, more and more users are going digital. The consumer’s content consumption patterns are shifting to digital media compared to old school channels. With the advent of technology, more digital content is being watched, read or heard than ever before.

What does this mean for businesses, especially small and mid-size companies? To thrive, companies, irrespective of their size, have to leverage the power of social media to remain relevant in the digital age. And for this purpose, companies have two choices – either outsource digital marketing to a social media marketing agency (SMMA) which could be expensive or learn it well to DIY. Oh! No-no, don’t get scared by the term DIY – it only means ‘Do It Yourself’. And when it comes to a limited budget, DIY is the best option.

Now, the next question is, where can you go to learn the basics of digital marketing? What will it cost you? Do the online resources available share complete insights? Will you be able to do it yourself? And so on.  Let us go of your beginner-like apprehensions when marketing your brand on social media and just jump into learning the secrets right away.

So, what is Digital Marketing? It merely refers to promoting a product or service, or content using the Internet. In other words, digital marketing is a medium to link, interact, share and exchange information directly with potential customers. The evolution of social media started with ‘Six Degrees’ in 1997 – the first-ever social networking site – followed by instant messaging and blogging. This was followed by the rise of ‘My Space’ that became an inspiration in 2003. But the real rise of social media happened with the invention of platforms like LinkedIn, Orkut, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp and Twitter.

Any social media marketer will use various channels like local listing, website, mobile app, search marketing (organic or paid), email marketing, display ads, etc., for promoting the business.

The standard components of social media include branding, sales, automation tools, content dissemination channels, organic and paid methods of outreach and analytics. Any social media marketer will use various channels like local listing, website, mobile app, search marketing (organic or paid), email marketing, display ads, etc., for promoting the business.

Before progressing further, we must know some key benefits of digital marketing that are as under:

  1. It enables direct communication between the company and its prospects.
  2. The interaction can happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  3. The outreach on social media has no geographical limitations.
  4. The availability of data enables marketers to measure results and optimise performance.
  5. The budget can be fixed based on the results that companies want to achieve.
  6. It is a more focused approach targeting only customers who matter the most.

Any digital marketer must set expectations before initiating any digital marketing activity. The marketer must know what goals they want to achieve – building a brand or getting more customers, or both. Not only this, but the digital marketer must also understand the capabilities at hand – available channels, content that needs to be created and paid ads that may be required. While planning, the digital marketer must stay as realistic as possible and not expect any miraculous results too early. As a digital marketer, you should always know the ongoing trends, your potential customer’s preferences, and so on.

Now the question arises, when should your company go for digital marketing? To know this, a digital marketer must find out whether his or her company’s potential customers are online or not. If yes, are they spending enough time online and are there ample opportunities for engagement available or not. If the answer is a ‘yes’, the company should promote its business on digital platforms.

The next question that should be answered is whether it is advisable to integrate physical marketing with digital marketing? The answer is big, yes! As a company, you must incorporate digital and physical marketing efforts to increase your brand value and revenues alongside giving customers a unique engagement experience. Going digital will always help reach out to more potential customers and stay physical to provide customers with real-world experience before deciding to buy any product or service.

In a nutshell, it will be modest to say that social media has become an integral part of our lives in today’s world. It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population, around 4.5 billion people, will be using the Internet by the end of 2020. This is a mind-boggling number. Even trends show that today, customers first research products or services online, compare available options in terms of quality, features, customer reviews, and, most importantly, pricing before making a purchase decision. In the Indian context, the country has over 566 million Internet users, a massive catchment area that businesses must explore to promote offerings by targeting the right audience on the right platforms, making digital marketing imperative in the overall marketing strategy of any company.