The GlossaryMarketing defines digital marketing as the market that "encompasses all sales and communication activities conducted by a company through the use of digital tools and channels, often in synergy with other traditional marketing tools to create an integrated, personalised and interactive communication that can help the company to develop and increase the loyalty of its customer base."
This discipline studies market behaviour and user interaction, using the latest tools and technologies, with the aim of directing companies towards using digital marketing for their business.
The term, in its literal meaning, originates from digital market with the addition of the gerund -ing, indicating the active participation of companies in the market. In contrast to traditional marketing, the world of digital marketing uses a type of advertising communication that through technology can reach a wider target audience and promotes the web as the main platform on which to base the company's business.
Digital marketing enables companies to improve sales and continuous optimisation, with visible and wide-ranging results. The digital marketing market in Italy has an annual turnover of more than €30 billion, employing 600.000 people (data: Osservatorio Tech Company del Politecnico di Milano).
From traditional to digital marketing: why?
According to a cross channel research conducted by PXR Italy, each person spends an average of 145 minutes (about 2 hours and a half) surfing on social networks and exchanging text messages on instant messaging apps. According to Italian data, Italians spend 6 hours and 9 minutes a day on the Internet, of which 1 hour and 47 minutes on social networks (data: Report 2022 by We Are Social and Hootsuite).
The time spent on social media has seen an increase over the years, leading companies to increase their social communication in order to reach as many users as possible. In these years characterised by a global pandemic, brands have tried to accelerate digital transformation, i.e. reinventing themselves and adapting to new user needs and the current social context.
Qui entra in gioco il digital marketing: la pubblicità si sposta online, come anche il commercio. L’Italia, secondo i dati del report Global Ad Spend Forecasts di dentsu international, è al quinto posto globale per crescita nel settore advertising nel 2021, seguita da India, Inghilterra, Francia e Canada. Inoltre, le previsioni sono del tutto positive: l’ipotesi di crescita del 2022 è del 5,9%.
This is where digital marketing comes in: advertising is moving online, as is commerce. Italy, according to data from the Global Ad Spend Forecasts report by dentsu international, is in fifth place globally for growth in the advertising sector in 2021, followed by India, England, France and Canada. Moreover, the forecasts are quite positive: the growth hypothesis for 2022 is 5,9%.
Digital marketing: how does it work?
We can highlight 4 phases that characterise the functioning of a process leading to the sale of a product/service through digital marketing.
- React: In the first phase, the aim is to reach potential customers through targeted and precise strategies. The most commonly used techniques include SEO (search engine optimisation), online advertising, public relations and social media marketing;
- Act: this is the second phase and consists of undertaking promotion and advertising actions towards prospects - the definition of a potential customer - and leading them to the company;
- Convert: In the third phase, prospects must become actual customers, increasing the brand's online and offline sales. To get a better idea of your customer base, you use optimisation and measurement techniques such as marketing KPIs (performance metrics). In addition, e-commerce sites are monitored using special tools and web analytics;
- Engage: the fourth and final stage of digital marketing: it enables the creation of a close relationship with customers based on trust. It is important that the company also maintains a good consistency; in this way, loyal users will remain loyal.
Developments and opportunities: present and future
The Tech Company of the Politecnico di Milano carried out an analysis of the balance sheets of over 10.000 hi-tech companies. From 2013 to 2018, the revenues of the companies analysed, through digital marketing, saw an increase of 8,9 percentage points, also resulting from the birth of new companies and various start-ups. Moreover, in 2021 Italian e-commerce recorded a record in sales: 25% of companies grew economically.
However, only 30% of brands using digital marketing techniques are able to identify the target audience of their visitors and, consequently, perform a market analysis on sales. A necessary tool for marketing strategies are corporate apps: 45% of Italian brands have one, but only 10% of these apps offer the same services as those available on corporate websites.
Is it possible that, partly because of the changes brought about by the pandemic, the traditional marketing market is doomed to extinction?