The year 2020 has left everyone baffled with the unexpected outbreak of the pandemic that caused the entire world to be placed under a lockdown. Since the only medium to stay connected – with customers during this time – was online, even organizations that did not strongly believe in the idea, have come to realize the importance of using different types of digital marketing media to convey their messages to their clients.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving field that encompasses all means of promoting your product or service through the use of smart electronic devices, and the internet. It also covers platforms like social media, search engines, email, mobile applications, and websites.
Digital acceptance by masses in Pakistan
With the advent of technology, the d developed countries were forced to embrace the paradigm shift in the very concept of how business should be done in modern times. However, in a country like Pakistan, where people tend to strongly resist change, digital systems were introduced much later. Nevertheless, the country has seen a massive transformation with regard to digital acceptance over the past decade, and is now in a race to keep up with the international trends. One of the reasons for this is easy and affordable availability of the internet in the country.
For a densely-populated country like Pakistan where poverty levels are high, and most people struggle to maintain their middle-class lifestyle, buying a smartphone was considered a luxury until affordable options like Q-mobile, Oppo and Huawei were introduced. Initially, people bought smartphones to entertain themselves, and become addicted, as they introduced them to the world of the internet.
Most of these companies have even established their service centers in large cities of Pakistan where these low-cost phones can be repaired at an even lower price. This gives them a further advantage over other famous and expensive international brands.
According to an article in Dawn News, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has reported that mobile phone penetration in Pakistan is being led by comparatively smaller and semi-urban areas like Hyderabad, Sadiqabad, and Bahawalpur, if considered in terms of percentage. This is good news for business owners in Pakistan as it helps increase their access to different segments of the audience by using various types of digital marketing techniques.
Reaching the target market through digital marketing has become possible due to a significant increase in the number of internet users in Pakistan over the last few years. In the financial year 2019, the number of mobile users increased by 3.4 million. What is even more favorable for marketers is the fact that most of these subscribers are young people who actively use social media and digital platforms.
The need of synchronization between different Digital Marketing Platforms
Digital marketing, or online advertising as you may call it, is a complex phenomenon. Why? Because having an increased reach does not mean that businesses can rely on only one type of digital marketing medium. In fact, there needs to be harmony and synchronization between different platforms. For instance, the Facebook page of a brand needs to include a link to its website and the Instagram handle as well. To make the website visible to customers – searching for a product in a similar category – smart search engine optimization practices must also be adopted.
How 2020 made way for increased Digital Marketing in 2021?
The future of digital marketing in Pakistan seems to be bright. Not only because of access to affordable internet, and gadgets, but also because the practice of online shopping has gained momentum in 2020. Previously, most Pakistani people used to be apprehensive about buying things online. Even if they saw the ad on the internet, or read positive reviews on social media, they would prefer going to the outlet in-person to make the purchase of an item.
But now, people are buying their clothes, books, accessories and even medicines online. Consequently, businesses have also started focussing on improving their methods of digital marketing and making them more attractive. Salons have started giving online DIY (do it yourself) tutorials for grooming services.
Customer engagement strategies – like the one mentioned above – tend to boost a brand’s digital footprint. Such strategies allow brands to develop meaningful interactions with customers and help build brand awareness. Other common digital engagement strategies include “tag a friend” contests and quizzes on social media pages and live webinars.
Businesses in Pakistan also improved their refund policies for online purchases during the lockdown. They also updated customers about these policies on digital marketing platforms in attempt to increase online sales. New apps like OctoberNow were also developed in 2020 and the already existing ones like FoodPanda gained more popularity. Promo codes offered by these apps – to avail discount – or a free trial of a product for a certain period of time – are also a type of digital marketing.
Scope of a Future Career in Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is an evolving field in Pakistan and will continue to evolve in 2021 and onwards. The growing demand for digital marketing professionals can be reflected by an increase in the demand for digital marketing courses and certifications. Fresh graduates and emerging marketers can`t imagine working without learning these key skills, whereas, those who were skilled at conventional marketing do not want to be left behind.
The importance of digital marketing for business owners can be reflected by the growing number of digital marketing agencies in Pakistan. Everyone wants to outsource digital marketing services to an agency that specializes in providing these services. Some Pakistani digital marketers are even providing services to international clients.
There are many different types of digital marketing skills. However, the following skills have an increased demand in Pakistan, and are likely to provide rewarding career prospects in 2021 and beyond.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Visibility is the key to a brand’s success. Just like in traditional marketing, you would want your product placed at eye-level on retail store shelves, online businesses want their website to appear amongst the first few links on search engine results pages.
This is made possible by SEO experts through their knowledge of on-site, off-site, and technical SEO strategies.
Social Media Marketing
Businesses now use social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, YouTube to promote their brands. An advertisement placed on a Facebook page, or a video uploaded on a company’s YouTube channel tends to generate millions of views, and customers are enticed to take action after seeing the advert or the video. Once they get enticed, they might buy the product and may become regular customers.
Managing official business pages efficiently with relevant posts on a daily basis, replying to customer queries in a timely manner, running promotional campaigns, and making efforts to make the page more likeable and popular is an art.
Content writers subtly market a brand by writing informative and awareness-generating and promotional blogs that might indicate a need to use the brand’s product or service.
Google Analytics is a free tool by Google that provides an in-depth analysis of the visitors of a website. The insights are helpful for developing your marketing strategy. The most important skill to learn is to gather the data and interpret it to make informed decisions, that will lead you to develop result-oriented strategies.
Even though above mentioned are the most demanded skills in 2021, an aspiring digital marketer must remember that digital marketing itself is a continuously evolving field. They will have to continuously upgrade their skill set if they want to survive in this field beyond 2021.