With people tuning out traditional media, business professionals are turning to digital marketing to build relationships and promote products and services.
Don’t you love junk mail?
Bet you look forward to commercials when you’re watching your favorite T.V. show.
And you just can’t wait for the next telemarketer to interrupt your family dinner.
It’s pretty clear that old-school, in-your-face marketing is about as popular anymore as a used car salesman.
The reason why is the Internet: infinite amounts of information available to us on our terms.So what’s today’s marketer to do?
A new path for marketing professionals
Let’s say you want to know what you can do with a degree in psychology. Where do you turn?
The Internet, of course.
And if Scott Watkins, director of online marketing and lead acquisition at Saint Leo University has his way, you'll clink on a link to the university's career guide for psychology majors, or perhaps a blog post exploring the opportunities available to psychology grads.
Done right, digital or online marketing doesn't feel like marketing. It’s revolutionizing the way companies connect with customers and prospects and creating new job opportunities for graduates of online business degree programs.
Building relationships first, customers second
"People hop online to search, to find things. We try to answer their questions and understand how they want to consume information," Watkins says. "When you share valuable content, the marketing takes care of itself."
Instead of reaching “out” to potential customers and trying to “sell” them on a product or services, marketing professionals now focus on developing relationships with potential customers first, building trust, so that when customers decide – in their own time – that they need a particular product or service, they know where they want to go.
It’s all about drawing customers “in” by providing resources, tools or information – called content – that addresses their needs.
For students focused on a career in marketing, like the students taking online business and marketing courses at Saint Leo University, it's a whole new world.
Content rules in digital marketing
"Marketing is becoming so much more digital and online," Watkins says. But he doesn't expect television, radio and print advertising to go by the wayside.
"There will always be that component, but the younger the audience, the more digital the focus."
That means finding new ways to reach those targets with useful content, like the skills needed to be a successful accountant, achieving life balance, and how to pay for college.
"We identify our target audience; we break it down and dig in. We ask ourselves what they want to know and where they go to get it," he says.
Facebook. Twitter. Google+. Pinterest. YouTube. Instagram.
"We leverage all the channels to get in front of our customers."
But it's about more than initiating a conversation, it's about keeping the conversation going.
A marketer’s end goal: engagement
"The more people we can get to engage with our brand, the more we expand our reach, and hopefully, the more people we can influence," Watkins says, adding that the university posts new stories on its blog two to three times a week on a variety of topics.
Blog posts often end with a question. Comments never go unanswered. There are contests and photos – often across multiple channels.
"We take advantage of every platform, and never stop looking for new ones, "Watkins says. "The world of online is always evolving. There's always a new service, a new advancement in technology. You have to adapt and stay up to date on where things are going in the online world."
And you have to constantly evaluate your efforts.
Know your metrics
"The beauty of the online world is that it's ever trackable. If we put out an article we can see how many hits, where they came from, what search terms were used," Watkins explains.
"We can see that we get 40 percent of traffic from mobile devices, for example, and we can drill down from that. It's a ton of information but we stay focused on getting in front of our audience with the information they want."
That means using tools like podcasts, webcasts, live chats and blog sites to connect with and engage consumers. It means cross-promoting content across channels.
"It's about the engagement," Watkins says. "The more engaged a consumer is the more likely he or she is to interact with us, to become a student or a fan who shares our content. We want to build a relationship and become a trusted source of information for all our audience members.
Think a career in digital marketing might be for you? Tell us why!
Image Credit: Jason A. Howie on Flickr/Creative Commons
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