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Why Utopian Digital Marketing Is So Significant In Today’s Online World
By Kamal Jacob
Talk of online marketing in 2019 and we are introduced to several digital channels (or forms of digital marketing) like SEO or Google search, content marketing, online advertising, and influencer marketing. In fact, digital marketing has become so universal that 90% of B2B companies used it in 2016 and continue to use it to this year.
Due to increasing online presence, customers want to engage with their favorite brands through social media platforms, e-mail marketing, or simply find them through organic searches. While companies like shoe commerce company, Zappos, American Express, and the Dollar Shave Club have been able to maximize their returns from their digital marketing efforts, a large number of organizations have not been able to leverage their investments into digital marketing by improving their online sales, website traffic, or conversions.
So what are the major pitfalls in digital marketing, and can we achieve the utopian model of digital marketing? Let’s discuss how we can transform digital marketing in the following 4 critical spheres namely:
b) Social media marketing
c) Pay-Per-Click (or PPC) advertising
d) Influencer marketing
Let’s discuss each of these 4 spheres in detail.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
Among the effective methods for search engine ranking, link building is being used by most digital marketers to drive referral traffic to their website and improve its ranking on Google search results.
In a Utopian web, every business has the right to build links to their website in every effective manner but if you want your website to rank higher on Google, then it’s time to conform to their rules. Here are some of the less preferred options that Google does not favor:
1) Paid Links:
No, this is not about paid advertising, which is perfectly fine. Paid links where you pay someone to build links to your website in order to improve search engine results are not favored by Google. Here is how Google generally handles the issue of paid links.
2) Black Hat SEO:
Black hat SEO may seem a shortcut to improving your rankings but can hurt your SEO immensely. Black hat SEO comprises of some negative web practices that are against Google’s search engine guidelines and you can be penalized for doing so.
Below are some Black Hat techniques that every Digital Marketer must avoid:
Link Farms: Among the commonly used black hat SEO techniques, link farms are used to build a load of spam links from low-quality websites back to the website. A classic example is that of the WordPress podcast site, WP Bacon that was linked with the ‘porn movie’ anchor text.
Keyword Stuffing & Duplicate content: This is the practice of using a keyword multiple numbers of times in the content to propel search engines to rank you well on SERP. Duplicate content is creating the same content for multiple pages to attract search engines.
Buying Backlinks: Link building technique is getting a lot of high-quality sites to link to your website. Instead of doing ethical link building, black hat marketers pay websites to link to the website.
Spamming blog comments: To gain links back for a website, some black hat marketer comment on plenty of blog posts with their website link.
Cloaking: This is used to trick search engines into ranking content for a specific search term that does not have any context to the website.
You can get detailed insights on black hat SEO & how to avoid them here.
Social Media Marketing:
Be it online or any other type of business, social media marketing plays a critical role in growing any business. How online users engage with your business on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can be measured not only by the number of likes, follows, shares, or comments, but also in terms of conversions.
While a social media campaign works great to generate market interest, organizations need to have a sound and consistent social media strategy that can reach out to thousands of online users on a daily basis. For example, over 60% of social media users on Pinterest make online purchases after seeing branded content on this social media platform.
Online audiences are developing brand perception based on social media content posted by brands on popular platforms. Rather than relying on old (or cliched) methods, brands need to focus on producing original and authentic content that can engage with their audience. Here are a few examples of where social media marketing has succeeded and failed for brands.
For example, this Instagram post from Benetton actually mentions “Girls not allowed” thus eliminating half of its targeted audience.
While this social post by fashion brand, Desigual on Instagram with its bold colors and hashtags was very appealing to its users.
Pay-per-click or PPC advertising:
Among the most widely-used form of digital advertising, PPC advertising is an important tool of digital marketing with over 64% of online users clicking on a Google search engine advertisement when they want to buy a product or service online. However, PPC advertising is not just restricted to paid search marketing (used by Google search engine) but has other forms of advertising such as social media advertising (example, Facebook ads) and affiliate marketing (where PPC ads are placed on various platforms including high traffic websites and comparison articles).
However, the harsh reality of PPC advertising is that it is not suitable for all companies as it can be economically unviable (as even small businesses have to shell out $5-60 for each user click even though it may not always result in a sale) or may lose out on competition from bigger players (who have the financial strength to spend more on Google ads).
The 2019 industry statistics for fraud PPC ads are also very alarming. While 1/5th of all PPC ad clicks are fraudulent, 50% of all online ads are never viewed by human eyes. Additionally, fake ad traffic costs business advertisers around $60 billion each year.
How can such click frauds be prevented or reduced? Here are a few effective strategies:
Report it immediately to Google
As Google is executing its own anti-click fraud program, you should probably report any fraud clicks or any other fraudulent activities occurring in your website. You can detect such fraudulent activities by monitoring bad IP addresses (from where such requests originate) or by knowing the timestamp (click or action).
You can also report PPC-related scams like false PPC ads or ringtone ads (that claim to be free but actually charge a fee to online users).
Turn to other forms of PPC ads
As compared to Google, click frauds are less prevalent on other advertising platforms like Twitter and Facebook, so it would be a good idea to switch to these platforms for hosting PPC ads.
Change your PPC ad target
Are most of your click frauds coming from a specific “click farm” location or from a competitor business in a specific city or pin code? You can easily modify your PPC ad target by blocking fraudulent clicks from a particular demographic location.
Be it through popular YouTubers, celebrities, or online influencers, influencer marketing has become a proven model for brands to reach their intended audience across the web and globe. According to this Nielsen report, 84% of global customers make their brand-related decisions after going through online reviews and recommendations made from trusted sources including influencers.
Despite its enormous potential in the online world, influencer marketing is not without its share of fake practices. Primary among these is the growing number of fake followers of influencers that is severely impacting the authenticity of influencer marketing.
Similarly, take a look at the list of leading influencer celebrities and almost all of them are from selected industry domains like fashion, travel, and lifestyle. It’s practically impossible to find influencers specialized in promoting other industry domains such as business start-ups or chemical engineering. To be more effective, influencer marketing needs to expand itself into other business fields and industries.
To improve their returns from influencer marketing, digital marketers must reach out to celebrity influencers who will simply not promote the brand for the money but can add intrinsic value to the message that the brand is trying to promote. An example of successful influencer marketing is this promotional YouTube video of Scottish whiskey maker, Diageo featuring Nick Offerman as the influencer.
What is Utopian Digital Marketing and why is it so important?
A utopian mode in digital marketing can only be achieved by following ethical practices in online marketing. This is because over 90% of the millennial-generation customers will only buy products or services from companies that leverage creative yet ethical digital marketing & advertising.
Utopian digital marketing is a defined process by which companies and brands promote their products not just to meet customer needs and earn higher returns, but also to be more responsible socially and environmentally.
Utopian marketing requires digital marketers to run marketing campaigns or initiatives that make a life-changing difference to people across the world. A shining example of this marketing is that of the footwear company, TOMS that has donated over 60 million shoes to needy children.
A similar example of utopian digital marketing is that of online prescription glasses company, Wayne Parker with its “Buy-A-Pair, Give-A-Pair” program that succeeded in distributed over 4 million prescription glasses in developing countries.
Instead of relying on the fraudulent practices of digital marketing (as outlined in this article), the current crop of digital marketers must focus on ethical practices and combine them with new and creative marketing practices that can make their product brands stand apart from other brands that are crowding today’s digital platforms.
That completes our outlook on how a utopian web can be pursued (if not achieved) in the rapidly expanding field of digital marketing. If you are an aspiring digital marketing professional, you can learn the latest techniques of ethical marketing from Manipal’s Digital Marketing training courses.
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