For the past three months, I’ve been using this blog as a part of my digital marketing class at Western Washington University with Mark Staton – among other things. Unfortunately, that class concludes today. Before I rehash some things I’ve learned this quarter – let’s take a lot at how this blog has performed traffic-wise since October.
So Long and Thanks For All The Clicks
It was pretty cool watching more and more traffic come to this blog throughout the past few months. It was even cooler seeing how the traffic would increase or decrease given my changing effort throughout the quarter. I did not share any post through social networks until week 42 – the result of which is clearly shown in the chart. The week with the most traffic, week 43, was when I changed the appearance of the blog to the current theme (which I find a lot more appealing than the original) and promoted that through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as well. It was also in this week that I discovered that you can simply submit a URL to StumbleUpon for free and have it pop up when other people stumble. This was probably the most beneficial tactic I took in increasing traffic to the blog – about 50 percent of the traffic to this site comes from StumbleUpon.
Weeks 44-46 saw a decrease in traffic because I honestly didn’t put forth as much effort at promoting my posts (or sometimes writing them for that matter). In week 47, after Mark re-announced that a part of the class grade consisted of demonstrating an steady increase in site traffic, I put forth more effort in promoting the posts through social media and I also began commenting on a decent amount of other blogs with similar content, linking to my site in each comment. This proved useful as well because it helped me gain about 20 more followers. While 20 doesn’t sound like a lot (and maybe it’s not) – I’ve definitely learned that followers, in this case people who’ve opted to stay informed about this blog through email updates, are much better sources of repeat traffic and are more likely to actually engage with content – commenting, liking and sharing the 13,909 words within this blog.
The Internet & Globalization
It was awesome to look at all the different places that the blog traffic came from throughout the quarter. This blog has been read (or at least StumbleUpon-ed for a second) on every continent except Antarctica (they’re next). For most of human history, the average person never travelled more than 3 miles from where they were born. Today, thanks largely in part to the Internet, people can be in their room at home and yet be able to experience something or connect with something originating from the opposite side of the world. We take it for granted now but when you think about it, that’s pretty crazy. I will probably never go to Estonia or the Isle of Man or many of the countries highlighted on the map above, but in a way – part of me already has. That’s a big thing I’ve realized in this class this quarter – the Internet and other digital media have helped globalize humanity – albeit in sometimes superficial ways.
This globalization has only begun. As of 2012,only 34 percent of the world’s population has Internet access. Interestingly enough, the areas of the world with the lowest internet penetration also have the fastest penetration growth rates – only 15 percent of Africa had internet access at the end of 2012 yet the total internet penetration there grew by 3,606 percent between 2000 and 2012!
Besides connecting us globally, the internet and digital media have made information more accessible than ever before. 50 years ago, people didn’t have the convenience of YouTube or Google to teach them how to do things or help them search for information. Believe it or not – people actually had to ask and learn things from other people! Crazy. This has huge marketing implications. Consumers and customers are smarter than ever before. Successful companies and brands recognize this. They value and treat their customers well throughout the entire customer-business interaction because they realize that if they piss off or try to swindle a customer – that customer can easily let 500 of his friends and followers know in 140 characters or less. This is where social caring, one of my favorite topics of this quarter, can really be beneficial for a company or brand.
So how do we as marketers take this abundance of information brought on by the Internet and turn it into something actionable and useful? Digital marketing and database management has an answer to that. Databases are becoming increasingly common and increasingly important to modern businesses. Database marketing and programming languages like Structure Query Language help to sift through a company’s haystack of data to get to the needle that drives a business’s decision-making processes.
Wanna see the creepy yet awesome results that can be produced by solid database marketing? You don’t need to pee on a stick to see if you’re pregnant anymore… Target can go ahead and tell you that. Read how they do it here.
To summarize, here’s what I’ve learned this quarter about digital marketing. It’s fast-paced. It’s constantly changing and updating itself. It is an intersection of technical and creative marketing. It is a huge, fast-growing industry that will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. It is more affordable than some traditional marketing methods and far easier to measure. But, I think Professor Staton said it best – “digital marketing is sexy, sexy stuff.”