22 Sep 2015 19:11 IST

The whats and hows of digital marketing

With technology pervading our lives, digital marketing is becoming increasingly important

There has been a lot of talk about digital marketing lately, and its relevance is only increasing day by day. So today, we will answer some queries you might have about this topic, in general.

What is digital marketing all about? Is it different from social media marketing? Someone mentioned that it is nothing but advertising on Facebook…

Digital marketing is an interesting and relevant subject. It is indeed becoming very important these days, mainly because of the penetration of digital devices. It offers great advantages. Digital marketing mainly encompasses mobile and internet media. Facebook advertising is one subset of social media marketing, which is a subset of digital marketing.

So the broad field is digital marketing. Can you explain the various sub-divisions?

The primary divisions under digital marketing are mobile marketing and internet marketing. Let us look at mobile marketing first.

Mobile marketing has various divisions based on the carrier of the brand message. They are SMS, Voice and Data, which are the three layers of a mobile phone network.

First, there is bulk SMS, which brands use to blast a single message to a huge base. Now, you might get confused and ask “Isn’t bulk SMS not allowed due to spam rules?” Well, it is banned only for users who have registered under ‘Do Not Disturb’.

Next is Interactive SMS, where a promo message, say for a home loan, is put up on a poster or a hoarding or a newspaper ad. Those in the market for a home loan will be asked to send an SMS to a specified number, post which the brand gets in touch with them.

What about Voice?

Voice is another important carrier in mobile marketing. First is Automatic Voice calls, which are similar Bulk SMS, in the sense that both are one-way communication.

Then you have Interactive Voice Calls, where the user is prompted to hear a message and press particular digits on his phone to show his interest.

The third one is IVR Systems, where a number is promoted across various mediums. Here, the user calls the number to register his enquiry or provide feedback or answer a market survey. In this case, the user is taken through a guided flow to fulfil his requirement. You can answer a small survey or a contest on IVR and win some talktime from the brand. The number provided can either be a toll-free or a regular number, based on the requirement and budget of the brand.

But how does IVR count as marketing? It seems more like information support or survey. Shouldn’t it be treated as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or research?

There are so many advertisements which carry a calling number, especially if you consider real estate and loan advertisements, to capture enquiries. Every real estate advertisement carries an IVR number, because they receive a large number of calls between 6 am and 9 am, when people read newspapers. This volume cannot be handled manually, and so they capture enquiries and call later.

The third carrier of mobile marketing is data, which is now emerging as the most popular marketing medium, with launch of 3G services by telecom operators. One small subset of data marketing is WhatsApp marketing, where message is sent on the messaging app to a specific database of mobile numbers. This is not ok to do, because there are no enterprise services provided by WhatsApp. Hence it is managed through many work-arounds. It also reaches people who have opted for DND with their providers. Most big brands do not use this medium.

Next week, we will look at another aspect of in-app advertising and other ways to use mobiles for marketing.

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