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What is Digital Marketing?

Introduction

Marketing is one of the core functions of business organization management. As over the years, the technology, specifically information technology has developed significantly, they have impacted how business is managed and how core functions of business management is completed. Digital marketing is one of the new ideas which have become immensely important for business management over the last few years. In this assignment, the concept of digital marketing and different practical aspects of digital marketing is discussed using the case study of Boo.com. 

#1 Differences between Traditional and Digital Marketing

Traditional marketing the process through which value creation, communication and delivery functions of a business targeting their customers is conducted with management of the consumer-business relationship along with their stakeholders (Kotler & Keller, 2016).

The concept of digital marketing is comparatively a new one. All the marketing efforts of a business using and through their electronic devices and internet are considered digital marketing. As the scope of digital interaction between the customers and business grows, the channels for digital marketing increases exponentially, including through the use of social media, search engines, emails, online targeted ads and other methods (Financial Times, 2018). So, digital marketing includes many different types of activities including digital campaigns of advertising, email advertising, online information brochure and many others. As internet technology becomes more intertwined with the life and activities of people, new means of digital marketing including Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Optimization, Influencer Marketing, Automated Marketing, AI or Bot driven marketing, Marketing Driven by Data, Marketing through E-Commerce, Content based Marketing have changed how marketing was done previously in the traditional manner and digital marketing has come to the forefront of business functions.   

Although the intention of both traditional and digital marketing activities are the same, to create value to the customer of the products, services and the brand the business intends to sell through increased positive communication between the customers and the business, the approach and means and methods to digital marketing differs significantly from traditional marketing. Wilson and McDonald (2016) provide six differences in the form of the 6Is. These include-

Interactivity: The biggest different between traditional and digital marketing is the way they interact with the customers. Traditional marketing uses push media to communicate to the customers. This includes putting an advertisement on the newspaper or broadcasting over television. Here the direct interaction between the customer and the business is limited. So, ad campaigns, tv adverts, mail campaigns all try to communicate with the customers by initiating their contact first. On the other hand, in digital marketing, the communication is initiated by the customer, who is looking for information and the online sources provide the information. So, this is a pull communication. Here the intensity of the communication is very high as the customer has full attention to this online interactive communication compared to traditional marketing communication, like a billboard, which cannot create the same intense communication as digital marketing is able to.

Figure 1: Difference between the communication models of traditional marketing (a) and digital marketing (b)

(Source: Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick, 2015. Pg. 21)

Intelligence: Digital marketing can be used in a more sophisticated manner than traditional marketing. As mentioned before, traditional marketing techniques are imprecise. But digital marketing can be used in a more refined manner. The access to data and analytical tools allow for the marketers to target their customer segmentation more effectively than is possible through traditional media.

Individualization: This is considered one of the most significant features of digital marketing. Instead of using imprecise and broad means of communication like a TV ad, digital marketing can use customized tools to approach different customers to communicate more effectively. For example, a clothing company, through their digital marketing customizes their communication by advertising a social media user who likes travelling attires and communicate a woman who likes cats by showing cat sweaters, which was impossible through traditional marketing.     

Integration: Another important difference between traditional and digital marketing is that, digital marketing can use the integration tools to integrate different channels of communications like email, search engine based ads, social media communications and others to provide the customers with an integrated communication experience.

Independence of Geographical Location: In traditional marketing the activities were heavily constrained by geo-political locations. A newspaper ad or a radio ad could only reach to localities where they are delivered or broadcasted. But through digital marketing a company can communicate, very economically, to consumers across the world.

Industry Restructuring: Digital marketing uses concepts like reinter mediation and disintermediation to calculate how they will impact the marketing activities of the company.

Figure 2: A summary of the differences between traditional and digital marketing (Source: Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick, 2015. Pg. 26)

As from the above discussions, it has become very clear that, digital marketing has many different advantages over traditional marketing activities. But, in order to attain those advantages, technical understanding of the digital marketing is important. Boo.com had the potential to grow in a great rate. But, their limited understanding and application of digital marketing and its tools had resulted in their failure. So, it was important for them to invest in digital marketing to take advantage of the advantages provided by digital marketing (Smith and Zook, 2016). 

#2 Demonstrate and discuss how Boo.com could have utilised website optimisation techniques to improve the performance of their website

Boo.com is considered to be the costliest fail of an internet business in the Europe. They intended to be the biggest supplier of designer clothes and sportswear to the customers through their online store. They focused on expanding to more countries without focusing on reaching more customers online. Ultimately, they failed to use the impressive marketing tools available in digital marketing. One of the most significant tools used for digital marketing, which should have been utilized by Boo.com to improve their website’s presence on the internet. Here, how website optimization techniques are demonstrated and discussed.

The concept of website optimization means different techniques and marketing tools which are used to increase the traffic to a website, make the website more interaction friendly and thereby directing them to products or services the website intends to sell based on business goals which are predefined (Brebion, 2018). Optimizing a website is generally done under three different activities.

Search Engine Optimization:

Search Engine Optimization hereafter referred as SEO is the techniques to increase traffic to a website by optimizing the website to increase its rank higher in the results of search engines like Google and Bing. Research shows that, placing higher in search engine results is directly linked to web traffic volume as the first page results of Google SERP receives the 95% of the traffic and all remaining results receive the last 5% (Chitika, 2013). So, SEO plays the biggest role in website optimization.

SEO is done by optimizing the contents of a website so that, the keywords which are searched most are ingrained in the content and therefore, the algorithms of search engines like Google place them higher when searched for by the consumers.

Boo.com should have done three things as part of SEO to increase their ranking in search result. The first one is optimizing website contents by creating resources and contents of high quality which attracts and engages visitors to the site and results in increased business for the site. The information in these contents may provide in various mediums like image, texts or video, but they have to be tagged appropriately by keywords to increase the position of the website in search results. Other methods of increasing SEO is by creating attractive contents which are shared more by the visitors which is valued by the search engines.

The second thing Boo.com should have done was increase on-page optimization. This means different techniques to ensure the website is functioning as intended. The keywords used to increase position must be consistent to the contents, the responsiveness of the website and the contents must be fast. The design must be attractive but simple and interactive. Most of all, the webpage must be secure for the clients to browse confidently.

The third technique for SEO BOO.com should have used is linking properly. When a website is linked positively by many different websites or sources, search engines perceive them as signs of positive interactions and place them higher in their search results.

2. Technical Performance Optimization:

Digital marketing is driven by the underlying technologies. So, the effectiveness of website optimization depends on how well technically the website can perform the tasks it is intended for. So, the technical aspects of the website must be improved to make the customer experience optimal for business transactions. The first part of that is to ensure that the website is fast. Slow websites annoy and drive away visitors. The second part of that is ensuring cross platform and device compatibility. The website must display and perform properly in different devices like PC or Tab or Smart Phones or in different platforms like Android, Windows, iOS. (Ryan, 2017, pg. 66)

Optimizing the User Experience:

User experience optimization is another tool Boo.com should have used to attract more customers to their site. This can be ensured through customer friendly user interface, designing the website to be used easily and simply. Through user data and surveys all help to understand and analyze how to improve the customer experience so that they can easily find the products the business wishes to sell them and then purchase them. So, making the transaction process safe, secure and fast is also important for optimizing user experience.    

 

#3. How Boo.com could have used Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Social Media (SMM) and Content Marketing to attract, retain and engage with customers

Boo.com failed to attract their potential because of their weak digital marketing. The different tools of digital marketing must be used prudently to engage with customers, attract them to the website and retain them.

SEO, SMM and Content Marketing are different techniques used to engage with potential or existing customers. SEO has already been explained before. SMM or Social Media Marketing is the digital marketing strategy using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or many others. Content marketing is the method of interactive marketing which uses different types of medium like videos, posts or images to increase the interests of the customers on a specific type of product or brand, without promoting them explicitly.

Implementing a SMM, SEO and Content Marketing Strategy starts with a good understanding of the strategy. The first activity relates to understanding the context of the strategy. It means understanding what those strategies which to achieve, i.e. what are the goals of the marketing. For example, the SMM strategy of Boo.com should have been to attract the social media users who were young, could afford the branded clothes and sporting goods and those who were interested in buying those items online.

The implementation of SMM, SEO and Content Marketing Strategy must be based on specific goals and objectives. These goals must be monitored to determine their success. So, there must be specific points of achievements and timelines for achieving them. For example, Boo.com could set out the goal to gain 500,000 followers over the next six months.   

The next key activity of the implementation of the strategy is to identify the strategic challenges. These strategic challenges must channel specific. Then Responses to those strategic challenges must also be devised. For example, for Boo.com’ SMM strategy, the strategic challenge is that, people who buys brand products prefers to shop in physical shops rather than online. The strategic response to this issue can be to offer better collection in one place will allow the customer opportunity to browse a wider range of products, if he can be assured that the quality and accuracy of the products showed and delivered are high. (Gurd, 2018)

The next activity is targeting the audience for the implementation of the strategy. This strategy may differ based on the audience targeted by the business. The strategy for Potential customer should be different from those who are existing customers. Using SMM to attract these customers to the website could be used by Boo.com to attract them and make them their customers. For loyal customers offers like providing them discounts based on the amount they purchase over a specific period could be used by Boo.com to encourage the customers to shop more with them.

Setting up Deliverables allows the business to identify the actions needed to achieve the goals. This may include periodically benchmarking the social media presence across different platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. This may also include keeping track of the most recent and popular social media platforms and trends. Posting a specific number of posts over a predefined time may also be part of the deliverables. Boo.com could set up their deliverables like the benchmark of their Facebook page, the number of customers directed from social media to their websites, the number of posts posted every day and which posts are gaining more attention and strategizing future posts based on those feedback could have helped Boo.com to achieve better result for their website (Hanson and Kalyanam, 2007).  

Implementing a strategy is only half of the digital marketing implementation. The implementation of these strategies must be monitored closely to determine whether and how successful those strategies were for the business. One of the most serious flaw in the digital marketing efforts of the Boo.com was that they had no way of determining how effective their marketing was for their business and whether their marketing was bringing enough customers to justify their speeding and rapid expansion. Key Performance Indicators or KPIs are used to define and measure the objectives of the strategy. These KPIs can be of two types. Macro KPIs indicate the success of the entire strategy’s success like how much growth in terms of revenue has been achieved in the first 3 months of implementing the strategy or micro strategies which indicate the performance of a specific goal of the business.

For example, for Boo.com, here the SEO KPIs can be 3. They might include – improving the Web Page ranking in the SERP to reach number three within the next six months. This can be measured by using the search engine tools like Google Search Console. Another KPI can be to determine the performance of organic search. This refers to searches which are not results of paid advertisements but are displayed because of their merit and relevance to the searched objects. This is often considered the most important indicator for SEO performance as this indicates that the SEO strategy has been working. The third KPI can be the loading speed of webpage. This shows how well the website is working (Forbes, 2012).

KPIs for SMM for Boo.com might include- number of flowers or subscribers, the numbers of likes, share and comments on the page, the number of customers directed to the website by the page, number of people who reached through advertises etc.

KPIs for Content Management for Boo.com might include- the number of people sharing the contents, the time spent on the website, how effective the contents have been in encouraging people to purchase in the website. (Patel, 2017)   

#4. How Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) and Online Display (& Video) advertising could have been used to increase brand awareness and website visibility amongst its competitors

PPC or Pay-Per-Click is a model of online advertising which directs traffic to an website based on the clicks to keywords relevant to that website. It is considered to be a very effective strategy to achieve the goals of a digital marketing campaign. Online display advertising uses a banner consisting of image, video or texts in websites to the visitors of a website to provide an overview of the service or product to be advertise and redirect them to the website through a link.

There are some crucial steps to designing effective PPC and Online Display advertising campaigns. These are discussed in brief hereunder-

Step 1: Setting Objectives or Goals: Designing PPC or Online Display advertising campaign starts with identifying the specific goals which are intended to be achieved through the advertisement. There might be more than one. For example- creating brand awareness, promoting a limited time sale offer, introducing a new product etc.

Step 2: Researching: The different aspects of the ad campaign must be researched thoroughly. For example, factor like the target audience, the size of such audience, selecting the keywords for the subsequent researches.

Step 3: Choosing the Platform: For PPT there are different platforms which offer similar services. But each of them has their unique feature, strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the most suitable one is critical.

Step 4: Targeting Properly: Targeting is important for reaching the right customers. For example, a PPT or display ad might be targeted for the residents of UK only. Or targeting only the iPhone users only. Using proper targeting tools will award the best results.

Step 5: Creating an Effective Advertisement: At this stage copy of the ad must be prepared taking into consideration of the target customers, the keywords and how they will be presented. Using rich media increases the chances of attracting the attention of more customers. Adding extensions to the ad will also help the customers to find the website or links easier.

Step 6: Scheduling: Scheduling the ads appropriately allows for the ads to be placed at the most optimized time. For example, ads paced during evening or midnight may prove to be more successful.

Step 7: Landing Page Optimization: This is the most important step as this is the page the ads redirect the customers to. If this page is not working properly then the ad cannot have the desired result or success.

Boo.com could target their customers using PPC or Online Display ads. They could use these tools based on their goals and objectives and target customers based on different criteria like demographic (18-35), use these campaigns in affinity to traditional marketing activity like a TV ad campaign. They could use their understanding of their clients to target and reach them more effectively. Through content and keyword specific targeting they could place their PPC or display ads to attract customers better and achieve the sale to make their business profitable (Google Ads Help, 2018).  

In order to make digital marketing successful they should always be integrated with different types of marketing campaigns and tools. So, the PPC or display advertising can be more successful when they are used alongside other tools and strategies like complimenting SMM campaign (Blyth, 2011).

The PPC and display ad campaigns are not cheap to run. So, Boo.com must set up a budget before they run such campaigns indefinitely. The budget of the campaign must be set determining some important factors like the business goals the ads are intended to achieve, the past success or the expected success through the advertisements, the cost-profit analysis. Based on these factors a budget can be set. The target customers may also contribute here to the budget. The location of the customers, their spending behavior, whether they are existing customers or new ones may also impact the budget. Boo.com must use discretion and research to determine their budget.

PPC and display ads must adhere to the laws of the country where they are targeting their customers in or the country where they are registered in. In UK a key regulation is The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) provides the rules for online regulations in UK. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) enforces these laws and rules in UK (Gov.uk, 2018). In addition to these, the advertiser platforms have their own set of rules. Google’s policy include that prohibited contents like counterfeit products or narcotics cannot be advertised. Prohibited practices like misrepresentation are also prohibited by them. Restricted contents like adult contents are also prohibited. Ads which fails to meet technical requirements are also forbidden by Google (Advertising Policies Help, 2018).  Other legal requirements followed by Google include, forbidding ads that violate trade sanctions, or violates the legal rules of a locality etc. (Google Advertising Policies Help, 2018).    

#5 How Boo.com could have incorporated Email Marketing into its digital marketing strategy to attract and retain customers

Email marketing is one of the oldest and most used tools for digital marketing. Although today there are many different tools available for digital marketing, email marketing still remains an effective and profitable method for digital marketing. UK based DMA in their research showed that, email marketing have a good return on investment rate ($38 ROI for every $1 spent) (DMA, 2015).  

Boo.com could have used email marketing as part of their digital marketing to attract and retain customers. Email marketing requires an effective strategy to be effective. Some key parts of an email strategy is discussed hereunder.

Identifying Audience: This is the first and the most important step of the strategy. Identifying the audience or prospective audience to whom communication through email will be done is the beginning of the email marketing. The people who have opted in to receive emails are part of this audience. These people must be further segmented into their subgroups so that they can be sent personalized emails for better results. For example, Boo.com might target young and sporty individuals for their email marketing. But within this audience there might be some people who shop on Boo.com regularly, and might require suggestions on things that go well with their previously purchased products. So, their segmentation might require different email communication than first time email receivers to be effective.

Communication Strategy: The email campaign can only be as effective as its communication strategy. The communication strategy sets what type of communication like newsletter or links to blog posts or social media, or discount coupons will be sent to which customers. The channels for communication, how frequently those emails will be sent etc. are part of the communication strategy.

The Message: The message is what the business wishes to convey through its email marketing. The messages should be customized based on the segmentations of the audience. Boo.com could use email marketing to send different messages like upcoming sales events, product details which are relevant to the interests of the receiver, shopping guides, social media or blog posts or links to them etc. Boo.com should have remembered that, email marketing is most effective when the message communicated is useful to the recipients, has some uniqueness, precise and inspirational (Mailchamp, 2018). 

Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick (2015) provides some factors which they consider can make email marketing successful mnemonic CRITICAL. These factors are

  • Creative in terms of designing and the way information is presented to attract the attention of the customers
  • Relevant to the recipient’s interest.
  • Incentivizes the customer to check out the email if it can offer him benefits
  • Timing properly to optimize the best time for the receiver to receive and read the email communication and react to them positively
  • Integrating email marketing with other types of marketing tools like blog posts, TV ads etc.
  • Copy quality must be high in terms of the contents, the message, style and presentation to attract the attention of the customer
  • Attributes of the emails like proper subject lines, format, addresses can ensure that the mail is being sent properly
  • Landing page is the page to which the email redirects people to receive more information on the topic discussed in the email in brief. The success of this page contributes to increased sales.

#6 ways by which boo.com could have made use of ongoing analysis and management of digital marketing methods

Ongoing analysis and management of digital marketing is the key to successful and effective digital marketing. This analysis and management answers some basic questions, which can verify the legitimacy of the campaigns. These questions might include, how effective the contents or communications have proved successful towards business goals, how well the target customers are communicated with, how well the tools for digital marketing are optimized for their specific tasks, how the effectiveness of the strategy is determined. As the consumer behavior changes frequently, staying updated through ongoing analysis is critical to the success of a business (Tiago and Veríssimo, 2014).

Benchmarking the digital marketing methods based on predetermined criteria can help to develop a process of ongoing analysis. The benchmark can have different factors. Some of these factors which might have been useful to Boo.com are

  • Determining the sustainability of the goal
  • Engagement rate
  • Relationships built and strengthened
  • Values added to the campaign or company
  • Action and reactions based on results
  • Synergy (entwine digital, 2011)

Other more traditional analysis tools could also have helped Boo.com to analyze and evaluate their digital marketing. SWOT is the most widely used analytical tool to evaluate marketing performance including digital marketing performance. SWOT uses four factors, two internal Strengths and Weakness and two external factors Opportunities and Threats to determine effectiveness. Boo.com could have used SWOT to determine and evaluate their digital marketing strategies. By keeping the scope of the SWOT analysis focused to Digital Marketing in regular interval can help launch specific digital marketing campaigns, promote holiday campaigns etc.

Figure 3: SWOT Analysis’s TOWs Matrix

PESTLE is another traditional marketing evaluation tool which uses external factors to design a proper digital marketing strategy and evaluate its progress. PESTLE focuses on factors which are not generally considered regularly in analysis of the performance of the Digital Marketing regularly. These factors include, Political environment, Economic factors like the rates of inflation, purchasing power of the customers etc. Social factors, Technological advancement and their impacts, Legal and regulatory provisions and their impact on the digital marketing, Environmental impact could have helped Boo.com to design and continuously evaluate their digital marketing (Thomas, 2018).

There are other ongoing analysis and digital marketing analysis tools which could have helped Boo.com to define and implement their strategy. In order to effectively monitor, Boo.com could have selected the marketing metrics relevant to their marketing evaluation. For example Effectiveness of web contents, number of visitors to the site, tracking existing and new customers differently, rates of click through, bounce rate, search engine referrals etc. Measuring the performance of the website and the digital marketing campaigns like SEO rankings, the number of PPC redirecting to Boo.com website, number of email newsletter subscribed can be helpful to evaluate successfully. Other tools for analysis like Google Analytics, Marketo can help to evaluate the performance of the digital marketing and reevaluate the position of the business. This could have helped Boo.com and evade the disaster they faced because of their failure in implementing digital marketing tools.    

Conclusion

The growth of internet across the world continues to increase the opportunities and scope of digital marketing across the world. But utilizing this opportunity requires proper understanding of the theories and technical aspects of digital marketing. The failure of Boo.com shows how big of an impact digital marketing can have on the success or the failure of a business, propelling future businesses to provide the proper focus to digital marketing due to it.

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