Digital marketing is the use of the Internet, mobile devices, social media, search engines, and other channels to reach consumers. This is a broad field that helps to attract customers via mobile devices, on a subway platform, in a video game, or via a smartphone app.

Role of Digital Marketing to a company

While traditional marketing might exist in print ads, phone communication, or physical marketing, digital marketing can occur electronically and online. This means that there are a number of endless possibilities for brands including email, video, social media, or website-based marketing opportunities. The global pandemic CoVid19 has boosted the need for digital marketing and teleworking in recent times.

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing

Traditional Marketing Digital Marketing
Advertising or Marketing via Media, Direct mail, Broadcasts, and Telephone. Marketing which uses the internet as a medium.  
Oldest Form of Marketing Modern form of Marketing, which uses new trends and strategies.  
Cost of Marketing is very high as compared to Online Marketing   The cost of Marketing is comparatively low as with the Traditional Form of Marketing.
There is no proper way to measure the insights, and we cannot analyze Customer Reach.   There are many ways to measure the insights, which helps us analyze customer behavior
We cannot predict the future of our business as we do not have enough insights data, of audience reach.   As we have Enough data, it is helpful for us to analyze the audience and make changes.

5 essential strategies for creating an effective Digital Marketing plan

  • Prepare a plan

You need to have a clear vision of what your business wants to achieve. Establish right tactics that helps your business to go to the right path by setting a proper goal.  

There are number of strategies that can be incorporated such as blogs, SEO tactics, social media, content marketing, webinars and more. Select the digital marketing tools that are right for your customers and execute the plan.

  • Get a website

The website should be a place for customers to find information about you and to create relationship with the end user. Build a website which is easy to navigate so the customers find it easy to use. A good website helps you to engage with the customers effectively and complete an action online (Eg: Purchasing a product/service online)

  • Be active on Social Media

Social media helps us to stay connected to our customers and generate new platforms for ways to communicate and advertise. These platforms boost your company’s awareness by reaching to a large number of audience and drives traffic to the website via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Check the statistics conducted in early 2020 about social media in today’s world.

  1. The number of people around the world using the internet has grown to 4.54 billion, an increase of 7 percent (298 million new users) compared to January 2019.
  2. Worldwide, there are 3.80 billion social media users in January 2020, with this number increasing by more than 9 percent (321 million new users) since this time last year.
  3. Globally, more than 5.19 billion people now use mobile phones, with user numbers up by 124 million (2.4 percent) over the past year.

In simple words we can say that more than 50% of world’s population are using internet and are active on social media. Therefore it’s a wise decision to use social media to market your products and services.

  • Do SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and online advertising

This is the process of optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results pages, thereby increasing the amount of organic (or free) traffic your website receives. Therefore certain keywords are required to be built in and adopted into your website. This helps in driving more traffic to your website and social media account. When you fail to integrate good SEO measures, you could lose customer traffic to your competitors.

Through online advertising you will be able to track and measure your results in order to attain and maximize what works and doesn’t work for your website’s growth.

  • Make blogs, webinars and videos.

Blogs provide information about new products or services, informational insight, community engagement and acts as a voice to develop better customer relationships. Blogs also help position your company as an industry leader and drive traffic to your website.

Benefits of Digital Marketing

  • With digital marketing, you can have an idea of the exact number of people who have viewed your website’s homepage in real time. With Google analytics, you can track statistics and information about your website as such. 
    • Number of people visiting your business page
    • Geographic location
    • Gender, age and interests of the visitors
    • How much time they are spending on your site
    • Source of traffic from various gadgets
    • Website bounce rates
    • How the traffic has changed over time
  • Digital marketing lets you save your money to a substantial extent. This has the potential to replace costly advertising channels such as television, radio and yellow pages.
  • Unlike traditional methods, you can see in real time what’s working and what’s not for your online business – You can monitor the reach (Number of people who have actually seen the Advertisement) and engagement (Likes, comments and shares) in real time. When you feel like you haven’t received the response as you expected, you can pause or stop the advertisement. For Example : When you put an advertisement in a newspaper, you know how difficult it is to estimate how many people actually flipped to that page and paid attention to your ad.  But in Digital marketing you can analyze how many people have actually seen the advertisement, clicked the link and engaged with it.
  • Globally reach your customers by finding new markets and trading globally.
  • The campaigning can be customized as per your requirement. You can select your target audience based on their geographic location, gender, age, interests and similar pages they follow.
  • Creator studio on Facebook and Instagram helps you to schedule your posts. Let’s say you have a new promotion and want to inform your followers on a particular day and particular time. You can create the post few days earlier, preload the content and schedule it to the date you want to post.
  • The selection of budget for your campaign is totally your choice. The budget range and number of days you want to run the campaigning can be adjusted according to your preference.
  • You can make changes as you go. For example once you start a campaign on social media you can pause the campaign in between if you don’t receive the response as you expected. You can completely stop the campaign and start off with a fresh one.
  • Get to know your audience and allow them to know you personally by developing a conversation via messenger or email. This helps to create brand loyalty.

Covid19 and Digital marketing

Sales revenue has tumbled out due to the global pandemic Covid19. During the first few months people were advised not to gather in public and half of the world was locked down. Therefore we were compelled to do our transactions and purchases online that boosted the need for e-commerce platforms and internet marketing. The country was locked down for few months and people were not allowed to travel anywhere. But with the help of internet marketing and e-commerce platform, vendors were able to supply the necessities to consumer’s doorstep without any hassle. Thanks to technology!

Being unable to find the vaccine against the disease half of the world is still practicing social distancing. Work from home has become the new normal and this has escalated the need for digital marketing at a greater scale.  

Even if you are not selling your products online, you must consider digital marketing to grow your company. Because the main purpose of digital marketing is to channel traffic to your website or social media pages, engage with your target audience and encourage them to be your consumer.

Challenges to Digital Marketing in Sri Lanka

1) Computer literacy

Sri Lanka faces significant challenges to digital marketing due to the low level of computer literacy when compared to other developing and developed countries. Even though the number of mobile connections in Sri Lanka in January 2020 was equivalent to 149% of the total population (source – the estimated computer literacy (ability to use computers) rate is 31% and digital literacy (understanding how to use web browsers, search engines and other internet tools) rate is 47% only. – Department of Census and Statistics Sri Lanka.

The majority of the population are lacking in computer literacy and are doubtful on using an e-commerce platform. Yet slowly but steadily this concept is changing. People are keen towards learning about social media and internet. A recent study showed that people from all age groups are using internet and they know the basics in Facebook such as liking, commenting, sharing and using the messenger app.

2) Internet connectivity

The Sri Lankan mobile ecosystem is strong and well established with the development of 3G and 4G connectivity in urban and most of the semi-urban areas. A recent study showed that Sri Lankan government is planning to move from 4G towards 5G in near future. However the prevalence of basic mobile phones over smartphones is another drawback faced by the digital marketers. For example the basic mobile phone would not have the access to Internet and App store/ Play store. Therefore a basic mobile phone user won’t be able to make use of E-commerce facility. The higher price charged for smart phones makes is un-affordable for many people. The government can reduce the price of smart phone to make it more affordable or encourage local production to increase the supply of it.

3)  Low speed internet connections.

Certain semi-urban areas in Sri Lanka does not have proper coverage which makes it difficult for the user to use internet and social media. This is a factor which we can’t control upon. The Telecommunication industry and private mobile network providers must focus more on development in semi urban areas.

4)  Psychological factors of the consumer

From the buyers perspective they won’t feel satisfied unless they touch, smell, taste or try on tangible goods before purchasing. This is a common psychological factor of a citizen of a developing country like Sri Lanka. Especially the older generation who are used to brick and mortar system are bonded into that method of buying do not wish to go digital. This creates a limitation in online marketing and e-commerce. But this concept has slowly changed after CoVid19. There are some industry standard for e-commerce vendors to reassure customers by having liberal return policies and COD (Cash on Delivery) options which has encouraged the buyers to opt for e-commerce facilities.

5) Lack of knowledge in marketing.

 Digital marketing education is still generally low in developing countries. People are not aware of digital marketing and its benefits which makes it difficult to apply in real.