Today I finished the two week FutureLearn Course based around explaining what digital marketing is, what it looks like and how we can use it for optimal results. To supplement my current low level of practical marketing experience, I am engaging in courses like this to bring my industry knowledge up a gear. For example, it is essential to understand the plethora of specific terminology and processes within marketing. With social and digital marketing become ever-present and important in driving impressions, engagement and successful business, I thought this would be a very worthwhile investment of my time.

The course was adapted for FutureLearn by the global technology company Accenture. They noted that more than half of the advertising spending in the UK is on some form of digital marketing, qualifying how important it is.

The first week involved introducing the concept of digital marketing, why it is important and different forms of it. Digital marketing (DM henceforth) is how organisations and brands can reach out to their consumers in the 21st Century, it allows and facilitates real-time engagement, exposure to your brand across the whole world, the ability to track how effective your advertising is and allows the development of business-consumer relationships like we have never seen. Although the course mentioned the low-cost nature of DM and how easy it is now for companies to develop, I think that this actually creates a more saturated market with higher levels of competition – if every beauty brand, for example, has access to the same low-cost marketing tools, it takes more to stand out amongst competitors.

This relates to the following activity, recognising the distinct aims of DM: first of all ensure that you are reaching the intended audience, engaging your target audience through accessible online advertising, motivating the audience to take action such as visiting your website, spending efficiently/as little as possible through self-perpetuating campaigns driven by consumers and ultimately expecting a return on investment.

The main types of digital marketing explored in the course were banners (visual website advertising), pay per click (inorganic results on search engines), SEO (improving visibility through searches) and email marketing. Finally, we considered an integrated DM strategy to see how two or more could not only function simultaneously but help each other too. For example, a brand that ensures strong SEO will benefit from greater traffic on their webpage or social media pages, this could be from more relevant keyword research or a more appropriate URL. A user-friendly website that motivates the consumer to navigate it can combine with email marketing to ensure that consumer comes back. The promise of a certain discount from their first purchase and more in the future captures their basic information and will now be added to the brand’s database for email marketing. In 2015, 44% of consumers made a purchase as a result of an email they received. This example shows how multiple DM tactics can work together to drive up engagement and success.

The final activity prompted you to consider working for a supermarket’s marketing team (Asda), choosing a consumer profile and explaining which DM technique you would choose to target them. I chose Daisy, a mother of three children under the age of 10, all starting a new school year. I explained that because Asda offers not only groceries, but also clothing and home furnishings/accessories, she may be looking to replace school uniform/supplies and she will be absolutely looking to feed the children, potentially also through packed lunches. I would use email marketing primarily, to let her know all of the relevant offers on school uniform and price cuts or deals on popular grocery items bought by households with children. These are the products she would be most interested in, so I would limit the SEO and PPC marketing because she is already likely to know what her options are in terms of supermarkets, so she needs to be informed of why she should choose Asda over competitors. Banner marketing could also be beneficial to increase her brand awareness of Asda when using the internet for other purposes.

Overall, I found the course enjoyable and simple to comprehend, a good starting point for learning more about digital marketing which I am very much interested in!

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