From the 1st Industrial Revolution to the current 4th Industrial Revolution today, we have travelled a long way to reach "The Digital Era" where Digital Marketing plays an important role to reach the consumers of today who have chosen to be more and more present on the digital platforms for their needs and wants. From the inception of internet in the public domain in the early 90s, Digital Marketing started to speed up its reach and has grown to become a place to work. Digital Marketing is overthrowing the old typical marketing concepts and growing globally with giant tech companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, to name a few in the leading positions. BMW, Coca Cola, EasyJet, Knorr, Levi’s, Starbucks and many others have transformed their reach to consumers using digital medium as digital marketing goes cheaper but more effective compared to traditional forms of marketing.
Surveys show that the top 3 digital marketing channel’s businesses are social media marketing (81 per cent), a website (78 per cent), and email marketing (69 per cent). According to IDC, 85 per cent of enterprise decision-makers say they have a time frame of two years to make significant inroads into digital transformation or they will fall behind their competitors and suffer financially.Bangladesh is also not behind as the potential of digital marketing has grown over 100 digital marketing agencies and firms in the country serving a 1000-1500 crore taka local market as well as catering to the international markets, that also within the past few years, especially after the penetration of the 3G network in October 2014. All 10,60,840 or more local businesses are potential customers to this new form of marketing, enabling these new digital marketing agencies to serve the needs.
However, to understand the current condition and future of digital marketing industries, Mr. Ishraq Dhali, Managing Director of Magnito Digital said that the current condition of digital marketing in Bangladesh is increasing in an exponential manner. As people are spending a lot of their times over social media, small as well as big budget companies are heading towards digital marketing to reach these consumers and have an increased sales of their products and services. He also added that in terms of the online content, videos are quite effective than other types of contents.
Talking about the barriers, Mr. Dhali expressed that there are many barriers in this field. Firstly, skill and knowledge gap is present in both the companies and also the consumers’ sides. To elaborate this point, he states that, having a skilled employee is tough in this field as there is still lack of proper institutional degrees for digital marketing. Moreover, teaching people about the trend is also tough.
Furthermore, CEO of many companies are still stuck in the boxed thinking of traditional marketing as the only approach to reach targeted audience. Asking possible paths to solutions, Mr. Dhali stated that open-mindedness and collaboration among both the brands and agencies are needed to resolve the problems. Government has to also take necessary initiatives to make skilled employees. In addition, Mr. Dhali said every digital marketing student must learn the Facebook blueprint and it must be added as a mandatory learning in digital marketing education curriculum.
In the same context, Sumaiya Mutiatur Rasul, the Director of Sugar Communications Limited has said, nowadays most of the people understand digital marketing as only Facebook Marketing, whereas, Facebook is just one platform of digital marketing. As most of the online users in the country use Facebook, which ranks as the 4th most visited website, as seen on alexa.com, almost all the online digital marketing campaigns and activities are becoming Facebook centered which is not sufficient to cater to the complete market need.
According to Ms. Rasul, the main obstacles an agency or marketers face are the little amount of knowledge of the client or the company officials. Moreover, the brands of the country set limitations of exploring innovative methods to experiment on the digital platform for better consumer reach and sales. Furthermore, she said, quick changing contracts by the clients are also another challenging issue for any agency to sustain services at a profitable growth rate. To illustrate, if a company hires an agency for its digital marketing, sometimes they make a contract for three or four months. Initially understanding a brand and making effective plans need time which is a problem if the duration is short. Another problem stated by Ms. Rasul is lack of having skilled employees on this field, which corroborates the opinion of Mr. Dhali.To eradicate these problems and having a better future of digital marketing, she mentioned some solutions and suggestions. Firstly, collaboration between clients and marketers must improve. Secondly, there should be more institutions for making skilled and effective employees, as they are more into the latest trends and technologies. Lastly, she said companies like Unilever, Square, Rancon, etc., as well as marketing agencies should have intern program for students at an early age like after finishing HSC and working in the digital marketing department, thus benefiting both the companies and the students.
As the global economy is turning towards digital platforms at a rapid speed, organizations have to reach the customers through Digital Marketing and ignoring this vital platform can become detrimental to the sustainability of their business.
The writers are Kamal Hossain,CEO and Digital Marketing Trainerat Softech Informatics, ex BRACUniversity Faculty of eBusinessand Management InformationSystems & Muhammad SalahUddin, Research Assistant and student of BRAC University