Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Ins and Outs of Digital Marketing

Kelsey Miller

With native advertising peaking a lot of journalists' concern about the future of storytelling and journalism as a whole, I want to make it very clear that journalism isn't going ANYWHERE. The New York Times wrote an article discussing their fears of marketers taking over journalism, and if the New York Times is worried, then that probably means many others are also concerned. 

People rely on news outlets to deliver the news, NOT advertisers. Only 11 percent of people said they highly trusted advertisers, according to The Atlantic. The thought that marketers and advertisers can write well is one thing, but when people know that corporations are the ones behind the keyboard, it is certainly not as credible.

Looking through a PR perspective, it only makes sense that people respond best to native advertising. The concept of digital marketing evolves every day with the changing times and is still a relatively new concept. 

One of the more effective digital marketing strategies is inbound marketing. This complements native advertising in that people usually don't know they are reading about a company because the content doesn't scream as a sales pitch. The belief of inbound marketing is to let your consumers come to you, let them call the shots and lead the way to the sale, make them fall in love with your product or service and they will naturally do all of the advertising for you.

It sounds a little deceptive or just too good to be true, but there is a science and method to the madness. This method is extremely well received by consumers because marketers and advertisers finally have the technology to listen to their customers, and not constantly throw their brand in your face. 

Inbound marketing involves content marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), email marketing, social media, blogs and free gifts to help nurture customers into choosing to learn about their brand versus feeling forced to listen or watch a commercial or sales pitch. They broke down what they call, The Buyer's Journey into three stages: the Awareness, Consideration and Decision stage. You would market to someone differently in the awareness stage than you would the decision stage by using different channels to reach them. 

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The ideology behind the Awareness stage is to help the consumer find a problem. Say you wanted to research about healthy snacks in college and you stumbled across an article that talked about snacks that are secretly unhealthy, you would realize that you weren't as conscious of healthy snacks as you originally thought. You may choose to leave after and research other snacks on another website, or you may continue to search the site for other insight.

If you download a free eGuide on their site and receive a cookbook, you will most likely need to give your name and email. When you disclose your email, you unknowingly disclose your social media handles and much much more. This also gives the marketer a chance to send emails about updates. When you receive and enjoy the eBook and the email content, you are in the Awareness stage of the Buyer's Journey. 

If you find yourself at this site learning more about healthy eating and keep reading about their product, we'll say it is prepackaged non-processed food, the savvy company will keep track of every interaction you have with their website and email marketing. This is when you enter the decision stage. When you, as the consumer, hit a certain amount of interactions, it cues the marketing team to alert a salesperson to contact you about the product. This method gets excellent conversion rates simply because they nurture their customers and let them more or less come to them.

If you're interested in learning more about inbound marketing, check out HubSpot Academy to learn the ins and outs of inbound marketing. There, you can earn an inbound certification, free of charge. 

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