Book Review: Understanding Digital Marketing – Marketing strategies for engaging the digital generation (Damian Ryan and Calvin Jones)

Posted on: June 11, 2011

As far as I can make out, this book is one of those set for the CIM/CAM Diploma in Digital Marketing, It provides an excellent introduction to digital marketing. It’s a relatively easy and quick to read 276 pages although as well as the glossary and index it would have been good to have a list of the various (mostly American) web site references and tools (I compiled my own after reading it – let me know if you’d like a copy).

The chapters are:

1.         Going digital – the evolution of marketing

2.         Strategic thinking

3.         Your window to the digital world

4.         The search for success

5.         Website intelligence and ROI

6.         Email marketing

7.         Social media and online consumer engagement

8.         Online PR and reputation management

9.         Affiliate marketing and strategic partnerships

10.        Digital media creative

11.        A lot to look forward to

As expected, the preface starts with some statistics about the explosive growth of the online world – although throughout the book I feel that it’s impossible to keep up to date as even the 2008-2010 stats provided seem out of date. Although the fact that it took TV 22 years to reach 50m households and the Internet just five to achieve same level of penetration is a sobering thought.

The first chapter provides a fairly standard overview of the impact of technology on marketing and the birth of the Internet and the dramatic developments once Google and broadband came on the scene. The key messages of the book “it isn’t about technology or broadcasting but about people and engaging in conversations” and “the consumer is now in control” make an early appearance. The UK’s online advertising market noted at $2.64 billion in 2007 (IAB suggests that this is 10.5% of the total advertising spend compared to radio at 3.5%, consumer mags at 4.5%, outdoor at 5.1%, national press at 11.4% and TV at 22.7%. There’s the Jupiter research about the seven key ways in which the adoption of new technology is affecting consumer behaviour.

Chapter two on strategic thinking stresses the need to accommodate the dual digital impact of broadened reach and narrowed focus. Thankfully, the key message here is still that you need to thoroughly understand your market, how much your clients are using digital technology and how your business can best use technology to build enduring and mutually rewarding relationships with them. There’s then a review of behaviour of the digital consumer (comfortable with the medium, want it all and they want it now, they’re in control, they’re fickle and they’re vocal). I love the quote “Word of mouth on steroids” and the reminder to influence the influencers.

Chapter three is concerned with web site and the important role it plays in being the hub of your digital marketing activity and a conversion engine. There’s good guidance on building your web site (particularly bearing in mind your aims, your markets and how you will measure success) and some excellent, pragmatic advice on good web design and writing effective web content.

Search is the main topic of chapter four. Any book would struggle to keep up with the ever-changing nature of this topic but again there are some good stats about the extent of the online world and the focus on relevance (key words and great content) and authority (quality inbound links). There’s helpful link building tips and an exploration of the benefits of PPC while your SEO kicks in. Black hat and negative SEO are touched on.

Web site intelligence and return on investment as a chapter I found a little disappointing. There’s some decent stuff on analytics, KPIs and testing but it left me wanting more. Chapter six on email marketing I found more helpful and there is one small reference to accountancy firms using it to keep in touch with clients (otherwise the book is almost entirely consumer marketing focused). There was, however, great clarity on the laws and regulations around permissions and warnings about spamming although I was alarmed that the warning about using your main domain name wasn’t apparent. There’s good lists of Do’s and Don’ts for email design and email copywriting.

Chapter seven on social media and online consumer engagement provided a basic introduction to the various tools and rules of engagement and inviting a response but I would suggest you take a look at the Inbound Marketing book I reviewed back in February 2010 (http://kimtasso1.wpengine.com/inbound-marketing-getting-found-using-google-social-media-and-blogs) which I think is excellent.

Surprisingly, for me, chapter eight on online PR and reputation management was the highlight of the book. There’s basic media relations advice here – but tailored to the very different online world and I particularly liked the material on blogger outreach. The advice on how to monitor your on-line reputation – and act when things go wrong – is excellent and likely to be helpful to all firms.

The chapter on affiliate marketing and strategic partnerships was less relevant to the professions at present and the chapter on digital marketing creative was likely to be beyond the budgets of all but the largest PSFs. I liked the line “moved away from the age of interruptions to the age of engagement” but recognise the difficulty this poses to social media averse lawyers, accountants and surveyors no matter what their marketing and business development folk might say.

The final chapter on future developments is a good summary and flags, as you would expect, continuing rapid change, humanising and personalising search, social search, mobile and geolocation, privacy and data protection, tracking and measuring behaviour and blurring lines and integrating media.

So overall it looks like a good, solid introduction with some sound, practical advice – and certainly good for the young marketing practitioner. But I suspect most senior marketers in the professions – digital natives or not – will hopefully know the majority of what the book covers and will want more strategic guidance, help with internal engagement and thoughts about preparing for the future.

 

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