What are the effects of digital marketing

Online marketing in times of digital change

Digitization brings with it a whole series of qualitative and quantitative changes in all areas of life. It has enormous effects on society as a whole and contributes to the development of a completely new understanding of the economy and society. Buying and consumption behavior is one of the areas that has been affected by the onset of digital change practically since the beginning of the Internet. In parallel with the rapid increase in the importance of the Internet, its influence on purchasing behavior also grew to the same extent. In a survey carried out in 2015, 87 percent of all respondents stated that they had at least occasionally informed themselves about this product online before buying a product offline in brick-and-mortar stores. A study from 2017 shows a clear trend with 63 percent of respondents who shop online at least once a month and also plan to do so more in 2018. However, the consequences of digital change are not only manifesting themselves in the changed purchasing behavior, but logically also have an impact on the associated area of ​​marketing.


Current digital change: The changing role of the internet


There are essentially two factors that characterize purchasing behavior shaped by digital change. One is the online research about a product, the other is the online purchase itself. In the early days of the Internet there was still a largely clear separation between online and offline. In the course of the development, information on products and services was made available to the customer, initially isolated, then increasingly structured. Consumers were able to obtain more and more information about products. In addition to a growing number of large stores that were establishing an online presence and the emergence of the first opportunities for online shopping, another phenomenon worth mentioning was that buyers were able to purchase products or services online more cheaply than in local shops.


In the meantime, however, the digital transformation has long since advanced so far that it can only be understood as an earlier stage of development. However, this consideration of the development stages can be helpful in understanding the extent of the changes caused by digital change. The separation of online and offline has long ceased to exist in large parts of the practice; this is not only evident in the world of work, but also in the area of ​​leisure time and especially with regard to the issue of purchasing behavior. Online and offline seem to merge seamlessly when, for example, the consumer stands in front of the desired product in a shop and searches for further product and price information online with the smartphone, or possibly even buys the product online from another retailer while leaving the shop.


The permanent online support in the form of smartphones and apps, which also brings with it completely new business models, has fundamentally changed the role of the Internet. The virtual and real world no longer exist side by side, but are becoming a new, large and shared reality.



Mixing online shopping and offline shopping: ROPO and showrooming


The fact that 87 percent of the respondents in a 2015 study stated that they at least occasionally search online for the product that they would then buy offline shows the relevance and also the mixture of online shopping and offline shopping. This phenomenon even has a specific name: Research Online, Purchase Offline (ROPO for short). The testing of a product in brick-and-mortar retail plays a decisive role for 65 percent of the consumers surveyed. The aforementioned study makes it clear that online and offline channels are often used alternately and mixed in a purchasing process.


Another - quasi reversed - phenomenon is so-called showrooming. Products are checked by consumers in the shop and may also be consulted by the sellers on site in order to then buy the product online. Around 10 percent of those surveyed regularly or frequently do showrooming, while a good three quarters have done it at least once. For brick-and-mortar retailers, this phenomenon sometimes has drastic negative effects in the form of lost revenue.


A decisive factor that contributes to the mix-up described is the increasingly widespread use of mobile devices, which enable consumers to act online and offline at the same time.



Go online shopping as "special" shopping


Regardless of whether online shopping or offline shopping, there is one point where the consumer usually has one and the same wish: He wants to have the opportunity to browse, to find out more, and independently of any actual purchase interest, i.e. out of pure curiosity and pure interest , look for offers. With this type of virtual “strolling”, the shopping experience as such is an important, if not the primary goal for many consumers. This is probably one of the most important points when it comes to adapting the marketing area to the new ones Forms of buying behavior goes. In 2017, only 17 percent said in a survey that a direct interest in buying motivated them to visit a website. The interest of most of the respondents was of a more general nature. This illustrates the aspect that online shopping is increasingly becoming a buying experience similar to conventional “going shopping”. In some cases, identical factors play a decisive role. It is becoming increasingly important to experience the online shopping experience holistically as a pleasant one. This not only includes convenience, but also a whole range of technical and content-related aspects of an online shop or a certain brand.


The customer journey - that is, the “journey” of a potential customer based on the points of contact with a product or a brand (the so-called touchpoints) - is becoming increasingly relevant. This is mainly due to the fact that the digital tracking of customer activities using tracking technologies is uncomplicated and thus provides a high potential for optimization. The customer journey can therefore not only be traced, but also consciously designed. The holistic recording of the customer journey represents a particularly challenging requirement for advertisers, which is due not least to the aforementioned mixing of online and offline channels.



Online marketing as a logical consequence


In order to counter this changed buying behavior based on the supply side, it was necessary to concentrate the area of ​​marketing on the Internet. The result was the emergence of a new and extensive marketing area: online marketing.


First of all, it was and is currently a logical consequence that the shift in demand to the online area also means a shift on the supply side. This includes, on the one hand, the development of an online business world in the form of online shops, mail order and, finally, services. The associated marketing measures were initially more of a virtual billboard. At the latest with the emergence and increasing importance of search engines, specific online marketing concepts have developed that do not exist in this form in the offline area and could not be implemented.


Another serious point is the expansion of competition. With increasing digitization, many companies are forced to keep up with international competition. In particular, this poses a major marketing challenge to companies whose competition has so far been more likely to be represented within regional borders. For many locally operating companies, this means a multiplication of their previous competition. However, on the other hand, this also implies a larger potential sales market and new opportunities. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, sophisticated marketing concepts will be required in the future.



New challenges for marketing


One of the new challenges in connection with online marketing is the increasing personalization of advertising. Due to the data left by consumers, there are great opportunities here that can be used successfully. Linked to this is the extremely relevant area of ​​search engine optimization. On the other hand, there is a new aspect and thus also a new challenge in the phenomenon that the customer has become part of the value chain. Both through the data that he leaves behind through his activities and which have a very direct impact on production or logistics processes, as well as through the content, recommendations and reviews that he produces. By writing test reports or product reviews, for example, the customer has at least partially taken over the consulting work himself.

Another point is the direct reaction to one of the trends listed above: The online shopping experience must be understood as such and offered holistically.


There are various approaches that allow adaptation to the changed conditions and make successful online marketing possible. In addition, there are various concepts and methods that we want to present in the future as part of a series of information.