It wasn’t so long ago that marketing for most Australian businesses meant securing a spot in the phone book and a fraction of a column in the local newspaper.
Those with a healthy budget might have had a radio commercial and for the lucky few doing really well, even an ad on TV.
Today, successful marketing isn’t driven so much by the advertising dollar as it is by audience appeal, the right timing, solid strategy and sometimes, just a bit of good old fashioned luck.
Long gone are the days of weighing up the ROI of a ⅛ vs ¼ page printed newspaper ad. When it comes to digital marketing, there is no simple one-size-fits-all solution.
It’s an all-encompassing blanket term for the new era of marketing, extending beyond merely advertising products and services, to focus on connecting and engaging with potential customers.
What that involves, and how to get it right, is unique to each and every industry. And the perfect mix differs for every company too.
Digital Marketing in Media
In fact, it’s the newspapers and media outlets we once relied so heavily upon for advertising, that have had one of the most radical and successful takeups of digital marketing we have seen in Australia to date.
Only it wasn’t so much a tactical decision as it was a necessary response to changing consumer trends.
Print newspaper circulation has been in decline across Australia for the past 10 years as more readers choose to go online for their news fix. The latest Reuters Institute Digital News Report reveals the number of Australians reading print newspapers each week has fallen to 38%, with 78% of Australians now using online news sources and 52% relying purely on social media to read the headlines.
It is here we have seen major growth in the media’s digital presence, with both national and local newspapers, magazines, radio and television news programs all using social media to publish, and now even live stream the news as it happens. This shift has not only changed the way the news is reported and received, inviting feedback and commentary from readers and viewers like never before, but has also paved the way for a new generation of exclusively digital news platforms such as the highly successful BuzzFeed and Pedestrian.TV.
Not surprisingly, advertising revenue from traditional media is in rapid decline, with newspapers dropping from 27% to just 14% of total ad spend since 2009. Meanwhile internet advertising has risen from 17% to 35% in the same period and is expected to account for at least 50% of total ad spend by 2019.
Despite the uptake of digital news, customers simply aren’t paying to get the news anymore. Most Australian newspaper websites feature a paywall and offer exclusive member-only content, but the Digital News Report shows only 10% of Australians are paying for online news content and most of those who haven’t paid for it, said it was ‘very unlikely’ they ever would.
This continues to be an ongoing battle for the media industry as it writes its new digital chapter.
Fashion, Food and Facebook
Small businesses were among the last to embrace the online marketplace. The potential for a customer base outside their immediate postcode was inconceivable, even laughable, for many.
But that soon changed.
Facebook in particular made an online presence affordable and feasible for businesses that had never even considered ‘going online’.
Now it’s the norm for your local corner store to be on Facebook, have a mailing list and even an online shop. Embracing these digital marketing platforms is what has transformed some small businesses into very big success stories, particularly those in the fields of fashion and food.
Women’s fashion store St Frock is just one stunning example, born from humble beginnings in 2005 as a weekend stall at the Bondi Beach Markets.
For four years, it was simply a relaxing escape from a high pressure job in PR and marketing for founder and fashion enthusiast Sandradee Makejev.
But in October 2009, Sydney was hit by a dust storm. That and predictions of increased rain had Sandradee thinking of other more weather-proof ways to sell her garments. Tired and weary from a hellish day at the markets, Sandradee set up a Facebook page, uploaded a few fuzzy photos, invited some close friends to check it out, and went to bed.
She woke to find she’d made $350 while she was sleeping. Within three months Sandradee had 1600 followers and enough income to quit her job, instead spending her weekdays packing orders on her bedroom floor. Within ten months, she was turning over $480,000 every four weeks.
Today St Frock, the former hobby market stall, is an international online fashion boutique with a bustling team of 35 staff, a 500-square metre warehouse in Ultimo and close to 500,000 followers on Facebook from all over the globe.
Corporates, Commercial & Professional Services
If a market stall can find fame on Facebook, anyone can right? That’s the false impression too many businesses have about digital marketing. It’s not a sure thing, it isn’t easy (well not often anyway) and there are no guarantees.
What works brilliantly for one business, won’t work at all for the next. And knowing which digital marketing platforms to employ, and when, requires careful consideration and skill.
Ultimately it’s about delivering what your audience wants, preferably before they even ask for it. This has seen many corporates, commercial ventures and professional services alike offer practical digital tools like client portals, apps and live chat services, as well as audience capture and engagement methods like blogs and content marketing, EDM and e-newsletters, and audio or video presentations now commonly distributed through social media and live streams.
It is within this sector we tend to see the greatest variations of success using digital marketing. There is a sense that many are still testing the waters with a hit and miss approach to finding what works for them and their target audience. But it’s important to remember every adventure on those ‘waters’ is embarking on unpredictable and unchartered territory.
This promo video of a government agency grad program is a prime example. The so-bad-it’s-good video has been viewed over 200,000 times since capturing the attention of the internet recently, with viewers shocked at how three minutes of corny scripting and forced acting could cost $40,000 to make. But, with the digital world being the unpredictable and ironic beast that it is, the value of the media exposure the clip has received means it has already more than paid for itself.