Digital media have influenced the way marketing by providing a range of channels through which potential customers can be reached. In the 21st century, digital media such as social networking sites have significantly influenced marketing by allowing marketers to interact with potential customers unlike in traditional media where companies did not get feedback or reviews on their products. Internet access through mobile phones has increased user activity in the online community, and this has caused marketers to increase advertising through the various websites. New forms of digital media like interactive television are likely to have an immense impact in the marketing sector. Companies that have adopted the use of Wi-Fi are already recording increased customer base.
Digital media refer to any media that can be accessed through the application of mobile phones computers, or any other digital device. The use of digital media as a means of marketing has gained a lot of popularity especially because of the ever-increasing Internet use by many people. Companies have diversified their marketing strategies to incorporate the use of digital media such as social networking sites, mobile devices, video sharing sites such as YouTube and blogs, as a means of attracting potential customers. Furthermore, the use of digital media in marketing is not only limited to the Internet, but also includes use of digital media such as outdoor advertising LED screens. The use of digital media through the Internet allows easier and faster sharing of information among customers and businesses. Further, companies using digital media can be able to have a competitive advantage over other companies that have not started using digital media. Moreover, the use of digital media becomes beneficial in cases where the business may want to conduct research on how to reach new markets without incurring many costs.
Social Networking Sites
Over the past few years, users of social networking sites have increased rapidly. This has resulted in marketers accessing the social sites to be able to attain out new and potential consumers (Pride and Ferrell, 2011). The most popular social network sites currently include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and MySpace. In most of these sites, marketers have the opportunity to advertise their products. Marketing through social networking has become critical since a majority of people use these sites. According to Pride and Ferrell (2011), approximately twothirds of the population in United States visited social network sites, in 2009. For example, in a Pew Internet sample, 59 percent of the users indicated that they visited at least one social networking site. In addition, this survey showed that 92 percent of the social network users used FaceBook 18 percent used LinkedIn, and 13 percent used Twitter (Hampton, Goulet, Rainie and Purcell, 2011). Marketers are using fan pages in Facebook to generate interest and excitement about their products to consumers.
According to Fawzy and Dworski (2010), marketing by use of mobile phones has gained popularity because of SMS marketing, mobile web and multimedia messaging. In addition, mobile phones like the iPhone and other mobile phones that allow users to access Internet provide marketers with new ways of reaching their target consumers. Likewise, the use of Smartphone allows users to access emails through their phones and provides users with a wide range of web applications. According to Network Solutions (2011), the U.S has 73.3 million Smartphone users. In addition, approximately 80 % of Smartphone users use their phones for shopping.
Use of podcasts has increased in the business world. Initially designed for radio and music broadcasts, marketers are now using them to provide information to users. Podcast allow users to download information either as video or audio files. This has made it more convenient for the users in terms of accessing information than when using traditional media. According to Pride and Ferrell (2011), television networks have incorporated the use of podcasts for most of their shows as a means of generating profit. Companies and marketers who use podcasts can be able to increase customer loyalty and promote their products.
Differences between Digital Media and Traditional Media
Traditional media include posters, newspapers, billboards and leaflets. Compared to digital media, traditional media can only reach a limited number of potential consumers. In addition, operating costs incurred in using traditional media in advertising are usually higher than those incurred in digital advertising. Users of digital media have direct contact with information, which they want. In addition, the use of digital media provides users with a wide range of options to choose from unlike with traditional media. Marketers using digital media can be able to obtain direct responses from potential consumers. In traditional media, flow of information is usually from the marketer to the consumer with no feedback.
Benefits of Digital Media
Digital media provide a number of benefits to its users (Kavoori, 2010). Some of these benefits include sharing, socializing, addressability, interacting, accessibility and communicating. The use of digital media has transformed how people share media. For instance, the uses of blogs, websites have increased how users share personal information. Anyone with access to Internet can be able to share information. In addition, digital media such as digital cameras have enabled various users to show their works online.
According to Pride and Ferrell (2011), digital media allow marketers to use websites to provide information on product types that meet the needs of the various users. Through addressability, a marketer may be able to recognize potential customers before they make a purchase. Use of social media enhances addressability by offering a platform that acts as a meeting point for users with common interests in similar products. Consequently, companies that have access to social media can be able to get vital information concerning consumer tastes and preferences. This will help the company in improving its products. Furthermore, companies can be able to develop relationships with customers thereby increasing the number of consumers purchasing their products.
In terms of socializing, digital media have changed the way people socialize (Kavoori, 2010). Digital media have provided many channels of socialization to many users. Social media such as Facebook and MySpace have provided platforms through which its users can be able to post their opinions and ideas. Consequently, posting ideas allows users to engage other members using the social media to provide responses to different posts and in the process promote socialization. Marketers use the social media to generate reviews and opinions about their products from potential customers. Furthermore, social media allow marketers to obtain potential customers through interacting with them on the social platform.
Introduction of the Internet has resulted to a large number of marketing information to be available online (Pride and Ferrell 2011). Likewise, digital media have made it easier for clients to access marketing information on various products. The use of mobile computing devices and PDAs has enhanced access to information concerning different businesses and their products. Consequently, consumers can be able to know valuable information concerning different products such as prices of products and their reviews, which places them at a better level of making the right purchasing decision.
In the past, means of communication among people were limited to some extent because of lack of sufficient technology. Digital media have now revolutionized communication by increasing mobility (Kavoori, 2010). Further, digital media such as cell phones allow users to communicate freely regardless of their geographic location. In addition, the cell phone provides basic human communication forms such as writing and talking where the respondent can get immediate feedback.
The use of digital media has transformed the levels of interaction among its users (Kavoori, 2010). While traditional media such as television involved passive interaction from their users, digital media has allowed users to be actively involved in interactions with one another. Various blogs on different issues allow users to be able to respond and engage in discussions. Interaction can best be seen through digital media such as video games that actively involves the user. Marketers can be able to interact with potential consumers through the various blogs and in the process reduce costs or saves that are incurred in advertising using traditional media (Pride and Ferrell, 2011). Additionally, companies will be able to attain a wider consumer base since most of the consumers currently are using digital media.
Issues Regarding the Design and Use of Websites and Their Impact on the Success of Marketing Communication
A key foundational concept in the design of websites is text (Potts, 2007). The advantage with text is that it is easily searchable and is easily moved from file to file. Clients visit websites to access information so the web designer must ensure the content is findable, available, and accessible. Search engines such as Google, yahoo and MSN, are more than directories of names and addresses. Search engines assist in indexing every word of the website, hence providing a better presentation of the business and the geographical location of the business.
Clients usually search with words that make sense to them that is, plain, short, common words. Websites that use everyday common language appear more appealing to customers and hence attracting a wider client base. Writing for your clients is always essential. This can be achieved by first avoiding complications and secondly by writing what your client wants to read and how they want to read it. Providing all the information helps clients to have a clear understanding about your business and its location. Good website content should contain short paragraphs that focus on one idea and rarely exceeding three sentences. This style helps to organize the text content into easily digestible chunks and helps the eye to travel easily from block to block.
The website serves a substantial number of people suffering disabilities. The first step to meeting the needs of disabled user is to understand what they usually go through. Some of the handicaps many everyday users come across include visual impairment, mobility impairment, hearing impairment, and epilepsy. Depending on the seriousness, semi-blind clients can use technology such as screen readers, or increase the size of their text in their browsers to assist then in using websites. Mobile impaired clients lack skills to operate traditional computer equipment such as a mouse. They prefer using a key board exclusively since it requires less movement and hand eye coordination. Hearing impairment is not a serious problem in HTML web design. It becomes a concern in multimedia development where voice is the only source of direction. Video content becomes inaccessible unless closed captions are included. Flashing advertisements on websites may trigger epilepsy hence the designer should avoid flashing applications.
Web design and architecture is similar to building architecture (Potts, 2007). Web design and architecture requires proper planning with a focus on organization and usability. Proper planning helps to avoid broken links and inconsistent buttons. To avoid these pitfalls consider three key points such as organizing content, determining the sites main sections, and visualizing the architecture. The web consists of billions of pages of text, images, video, sound and more. Organization of all that content is what makes it useful to the Internet users. Proper creation of hierarchies, categories, and architectures allows users to use, search, and reference the virtually infinite library of images, video easily. The website is a small part of the greater structure. From the start, the web designer must carefully map out how the site’s pages will interact together and not only form a cohesive whole, but also to fit within the greater network. Determining the sites main sections is a critical step in the design process. Deciding on these categories requires a blend of key reference points such as web best practices, previous work done before and project requirements. Once the main sections have been decided on, visualizing the architecture is the next critical stage. Different tools are essential in visualizing the architecture of a website. Each tool presents data in a slightly different way. A mind map encourages rapid and free associative thinking. Formal-hierarchical diagram requires site designers to think about content in cascading path or client is naturally exploring content without using search engines.
Future Technologies and Their Likely Impact on Marketing Communications
An example of a future technology that is likely to have an impact in marketing communications is interactive television. According to Boone and Kurtz (2012), interactive television entails a television package that provides users with a return path option through which they can be able to interact and provide direct feedback to commercials and programs using their remote controls. Use of this technology provides marketers with information on the attitudes and behavior of consumers. Consequently, this information will assist the marketers to be able to know the products types that consumers want. Linking of the Internet with digital television will allow consumers to be able to view videos online without using a computer. Virgin Media is an example of how digital television is being used together with the Internet. In addition, it provides users with the ability to rate programs. Schmid (2011) suggests that interactive television will allow banks to offer home banking services. Marketers and companies that want to increase their sales should invest in marketing through interactive television.
Another technology that is gaining popularity is the use of Wi-Fi. Hotels and other companies are providing free Internet via Wi-Fi. This allows customers with computers and additional digital devices to access the Internet. Customers will visit hotels and other cafes with Wi-Fi for the sole purposes of using the free Internet. In the process, companies and Hotels are able to offer their products to customers. For example, Starbucks provides a Wi-Fi hotspot through which customers can enjoy unlimited free internet (Starbucks, 2012).
Digital media are evolving at a high rate. Marketers are adapting to the new digital media technologies so that they can be able to compete in the various businesses. The use of social sites has had a real impact in the marketing of products of the various companies. For instance in websites such as Facebook, companies are establishing fan pages through which consumers can comment and provide reviews on the products offered by the company. Companies are also utilizing video sharing sites such as YouTube to market their products. For instance, a search for iPhone 5 on Google, although not yet released, will provide video links to a site such as YouTube. The use of digital media has increased the level of convenience among customers and marketers. Customers have easier access to different information on products the use of the various digital media. Furthermore, digital media reduce the printing of information for advertising using posters or leaflets and this may reduce the cost of advertising incurred by the marketers. Introduction of new technology media is likely to have a large impact on the various marketing strategies. For marketers that want to increase sales, adoption of these new technologies may prove to be beneficial as in improving the level of interaction between customers and the companies.
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