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Reaching the right audience in North America. A Digital Marketing perspective

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Digital-Marketing

Marketing has significantly changed during the last years, due to the evolution of the World Wide Web. Nowadays, it is much easier to reach the desired audience, at the right time. When thinking about the means of mass communication, such as newspapers, radio broadcasting and television, which have been present in our lives for many years now, there come some very relevant marketing-related questions: who is a company actually targeting through its mass communication campaigns? How can it know if the targeted consumers have seen the message or have payed attention to it? And, most importantly, how can a company measure the impact of its mass advertising campaigns?

This uncertainty paradigm has changed in the era of Digital Marketing, which has become a marketer’s dream tool, due to the following activities it enables:

  • An easy and fast data gathering: information about both actual and potential customers, regardless of the distance between them and the company, can be collected;
  • Creating databases by using this information;
  • Sending customized emails to the database members;
  • Creating groups of discussion on social media platforms, which only host the targeted audience members. Invite them to communicate with you in a “place of honesty”, where anyone can see what everyone else is sharing and react accordingly;
  • Promoting events to your social media connections;
  • Promptly answering to complains and suggestions;
  • Placing ads for the targeted audience only, by using the Internet;
  • Engaging consumers by developing different product-related games or apps for Facebook or smartphones. This enables creativity and it provides the consumers with both your message and means to have fun;
  • No expensive physical input needed – all it takes is a computer, besides the well-developed skills;
  • Not wasting resources by promoting products to people who are not interested in your company or offer;
  • Measuring the impact of your campaigns by analizing the consumers’ online behaviour: how many of them clicked on your links, when do they click on your Call to Action buttons, how much effort needs to be invested in turning them into actual customers of the company etc.

Targeting, measurement and lack of constraing when it comes to creativity are just some of the reasons why Digital Marketing is better than its older cousin, mass media communication tools. High-performing companies are nowadays aware of the importance of Digital Marketing, and they use it in order to obtain the best possible results, with less effort.

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Digital Marketing in North America

With some of the highest Human Development Index (HDI) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the United States of America and Canada represent powerful states, with huge potential for business development and consumer empowerment. According to The United Nations Development Programme, the USA’s HDI value was 0.914, while Canada had a HDI of 0.902. As shown on Statista, The United States of America ranked the 1st in the 2014 top of the countries by GDP (with 17,416.25 billion U.S. dollars). Canada had a a GDP of 1,793.8 billion U.S. dollars, reaching the 11th place in the same top.

The high values of the HDI and GDP are coming from intense social and economical activities. But in the same time, they are leading to even more intense activities, as marketers need to know exactly how to communicate with these developed communities. Therefore, marketers need to play their role in the efforts of creating a brand-related competitive advantage, as well as in  attracting and maintaining as many customers as possible.

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What social networks do North Americans use?

As mentioned before, Digital Marketing is more efficient than any other form of marketing. In 2014, it was estimated that 86.75% of the United States citizens had access to the internet. Canada had an even higher estimated percentage, namely 92.89% of the population. Therefore, the majority of the consumers can be reached through Digital Marketing means.

When it comes to the development of social media in the United States, in March 2015, Facebook had the highest share of visits (53.4%), followed by Youtube (17.2%), Google+ (4.06%) and Twitter(3.1%). Each of the other analyzed social media networks (Reddit, LinkedIn, Yahoo! Answers, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr) had shares of visits under 2%.

On the other hand, a study conducted this January in Canada by Forum Research shows that Facebook leads by number of users in this area as well. It also leads when it comes to the average number of visits/week (9). This study took into consideration 4 social media networks:  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. The results show that 59% of the Canadians have Facebook accounts, 30% have LinkedIn accounts, 25% have Twitter accounts and 16% have Instagram accounts. However, while Facebook has the highest penetration, Instagram leads in user satisfaction, 39% of users saying that they are “Very satisfied” by this network, while only 27% of the Facebook users stated the same. Instagram is also the second most visited social media network, with 6 visits/week.

Knowing as much information as possible about the social media behaviour of the potential buyers in your area is essential in developing a successful social media marketing campaign. It is important to analyze the use of these networks and all the variables included (e.g. gender, age, education, occupation, income of the users, frequency and time of use). This way, you can make sure that you choose the right network for promoting your brand to the consumers and to get a high ROI.

Of course, social media represents a powerful tool for promoting non-profit organizations too, as well as politicians, celebrities, cities, sport teams or anything else that needs attention and a strong base of supporters. The key is to research, gather and analyze information and use it for developing successful marketing campaigns, targeted on the right people, at the right time.

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Newslettering and blogging your way to success in North America

Sending email-based newsletters represent another way of promoting your products. But you have to pay attention to the different time zones in the United States (which has 5 different time zones) and Canada (6 time zones). You can easily discover which time zone the people from your database come from by asking them to fill in their location when registering for the newsletter. According to a September 2014 Pew Research study, 61% of the American workers consider internet “Very important” for their job. 35% described landline phones as “Very important”, 24% cell phones and smartphones and only 4% described social networks as being of high importance for their job.

Creating a blog and posting relevant content for your organization is another way of getting more customers. The important fact about blogs is that they are great ways of nurturing engagement, and they have an important role in taking people further through the sales funnel: from prospects to actual customers. If you create great content and stories, people will reference to this content on their personal blogs, therefore ensuring more attention will be payed to your platform. According to a 2012 BlogHer and Vision Critical study, 61% of United States online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog.

Content is very important for official websites. Having the right content can lead to higher awareness, better user experience and better results. Another PewResearch study showed that Interned is an extremely important information source to Americans: 72% of them are satisfied with the amount of information available online today, while only 26% feel overwhelmed, and 81% of Americans report their internet and cell phone use have helped them in being better informed about products and services today than they were five years ago.

Paying attention to the characteristics of the North America Internet users is essential in developing your Digital Marketing mix. This way you can reach the right audience, get their attention, nurture their engagement and eventually make them your customers and advocates. Without knowing who you are trying to reach it is impossible to succeed, and Digital Marketing solves this issue once and for good.

Mihai Păculea. Head of Digital Marketing. The KPI Institute

Adrian Şuteu. Digital Marketing Junior Specialist. The KPI Institute

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