Online presence is now an indispensable instrument for brand communication; the vivacity of online media makes it unparalleled in its effectiveness. The introduction of Web 2.0 technologies on the internet ushered in new modes of communication through integration of images, videos, animations, geo-tagging and live chats into HTML pages. The resulting platforms presented a rich media capable of conveying any form of information and thus making it a potent tool for advertising. Traditional marketing focus on billboards, TV and radio adverts, and brochure distribution while online marketing involves generating leads, generating traffic to websites, and engaging customers.
The underpinning of online marketing is in social media, a research conducted by State of Inbound Marketing in 2012 indicate that 42% of marketers in the US say Facebook is critical or important in their businesses. This is due to the higher lead-to-close as compared to outbound marketing. Similar research undertaken by HubSpot in March 2012 shows that 80% of US social network users prefer to connect to brands through Facebook. Marketing is a game of numbers and social media platforms already have the numbers. Marketing 101 dictates that brands follow the numbers.
The power of social media extends beyond marketing; users can interact with brand by asking questions and comment on various advertisements and announcements. This provides a feedback system to marketers enabling them to serve better adverts in future. On the flipside, consumers feel brands are much closer to them thus providing a psychological satisfaction and creating repeat customers. Online marketing is perhaps more pervasive in consumer products than business-to-business (B2B) advertising, this is due to the one-to-many form of interaction between brands and consumers. However, online marketing is also effective in consumer-to-consumer (C2C) branding, through the idea of creating personal brand individuals run consumer led initiatives.
A new facet introduced by online marketing is the ability to measure efficacy of a campaign. Through social networks such as Facebook, marketers are able to check impressions generated by an advertisement with the number of people who liked it. Other metrics available to marketers online include number of people who share link to an advert, what people are saying about a particular product and the ripple effect create by an advert. With the advent of data mining technologies, consumer generated data about a specific brand/product can be analyzed to predict future trends or uncover spending patterns.
Retail is the top industry that acquired more customers through Facebook in the US followed by education and the tech industry; this is attributed to social media going mobile hence people shop from anywhere and also dig for information on the move. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), mobile penetration rates have peaked 86 percent worldwide thus widening the reach expanse of online marketing through SMS based adverts. Of the 6 billion phones currently in use, 44 percent are Smartphones and marketers are now serving rich content adverts to these phones.
Smartphones also enable personalization of adverts, therefore increasing the conversion rate optimization of adverts. Combined with persuasive status updates and blog posts, online marketing offers the most cost-effective means to reach a wider audience in the shortest time possible and get instant feedback.