In the era of digitization, many companies communicate to their users through the digital medium. They would display ads, send emails and what not. Not a day goes by when my casual browsing is not cluttered with ads popping up every 5 mins about the products that I’m not even interested in. My mailbox is spammed with unsolicited e-mails about products, services, lotteries, colleges etc. trying to grab my attention to which the only action taken by me involves “Ctrl+A” and “delete”.
Digital Media at a glance
Digital marketing is ubiquitous and is the new medium for channelizing the communication to reach the target audience as compared to traditional media. A report by Octane Research states that 80% of Indian marketers feel that integration of campaigns on Digital platforms (email, social and mobile) can help in achieving a significant increase in conversion rates. With a prime focus on customer acquisition for 58% of marketers, every type of business is recognizing the importance of digital marketing and hence trying to leverage it. Therefore, the digital media industry is growing at mammoth 40% y-o-y as compared to other industries that struggle at 5% to 6% growth.
The marketers should realize that there is a fine line between digital marketing and spamming. Let us see the ways in which an orchestrated effort at spreading awareness might become unwanted spams. Often there are a few tweets by someone promoting something. It’s all fine till here. However, when the same tweet is re-shared from the same profile in a recurrent fashion, it takes the status of a spam. If the objective of the marketer behind such an activity is to grab eyeballs of their target audience, then often they are mistaken since people consider such tweets as malicious content and refrain from clicking such posts. In this case, an employee of an advertising agency tweeted the same post 43 times to 43 different people.
2. Emails and newsletters
Email and e-newsletter advertising is one of the most common modes of advertising. However, careless marketing through this channel might turn potentially damaging for any organization. Often people subscribe to services on websites seeking relevant information. However, such an act is rewarded by the flooding of unsolicited mailers and unwanted newsletters. This is one of the many reasons why people see high unsubscribe rates. A survey revealed that 53 percent of users reported of getting many emails from retailers while 44 percent found otherwise. Subscriber engagement can be ensured by sending an email every two weeks according to a research conducted by Campaign Monitor. Besides, a periodic survey should be conducted to analyze the needs of a user. Another step would be to send emails and newsletters only to the users who require and have asked for information.
3. Message Boards
Another way where marketers start spamming in the wake of advertising is using message boards. These
are online forums where netizens sharing a common interest meet for exchanging ideas through posted messages. They meet in this digital space to ask questions, answer a query or simply socialize. Organizations can use message boards to focus on their target audience. For instance, there are many people seeking career guidance on these forums. Coaching institutes have the perfect opportunity to approach these prospects for addressing their queries as well as promoting their services. However, many times a few companies respond to every query by sharing their website link even if it isn’t required and do not add value to the responses. This activity then takes an ugly turn into spamming which causes the target audience to lose interest in the conversation and thus, the efforts by the organization goes in vain. This may also be damaging for the organization since it may fail to attract traffic to their website as it may get flagged by the users as spam.
Netizens can soon face an onslaught of spamming from yet another potential source of digital marketing – chatbots. The advancement in technology has led to the development of chatbots which can revolutionize the service industry. However, every technology has its pros and cons. Chatbots might turn out to be extremely efficient in delivering customer assistance. But, there can be a possibility that the list of potential spammers may include these applications. Currently, chatbots respond to the conversations initiated by users. However, the tables may turn soon and we can witness chatbots initiating such conversations. There need to be strictly enforceable laws that protect the interest of users by restricting unwanted calls and unsolicited conversations. How will the game play out in the future is a point to ponder upon?
Recommendation to marketers
The marketers should take into consideration the interests of users and not resort to blatant advertising on the digital estate. While reaching out to the target audience, they should ensure that consumers get the appropriate response to their queries. Use of big data analysis can be helpful in understanding the profile of users, searching for their usage patterns, understanding their needs and then deploying the appropriate personalized hooks to seek their attention. The marketers should refrain from advertising to people beyond their target audience to safeguard the interests of non-users as well as control their advertising spending. Digital marketers can also make use of programmatic advertising that ensures digital advertisers to target the right audience based on demographics, devices, and online behavior. For example, someone who is an avid reader of the Rolling Stones and enjoy searching for places to visit, it may be appropriate for music companies to target them with advertising in blogs, other forums which may cost them much less than what it would have for Rolling Stones.
Thus, digital marketing is an amazing channel for advertising. But marketers should keep in mind the fine divide between healthy advertisements and spamming. It is for the benefit of the users, society, and companies overall.
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