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How digital marketing evolved over time: A bibliometric analysis on scopus database

Mohammad faruk.

a Department of Business Administration, Bangladesh Army International University of Science and Technology, Cumilla, Bangladesh

Mahfuzur Rahman

b Department of Marketing, Comilla University, Cumilla, Bangladesh

Shahedul Hasan

c East Delta University, Chattogram, Bangladesh

Associated Data

Data will be made available on request.

Nowadays, a large number of customers are spending their time on social and digital media for a variety of purposes ranging from information searching to the final purchase of products. Responding to this shift, marketers are spending a significant part of the advertising budget on digital marketing. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to review articles on digital marketing to identify top themes, determine the current status of research in digital marketing and indicate how influential works have shaped it. This research has reviewed 925 papers published between 2000 and 2019 in Scopus by applying bibliometrics analysis. These results show that on average 2.18 authors have contributed to every single paper on digital marketing and the collaboration index is 2.71. The top contributing countries in the digital marketing field are USA, India and UK. The study also identifies three dominant clusters in digital marketing research, e.g., 1) strategic planning with digital marketing 2) mobile marketing with apps development and 3) dealing with demographic profiles of customers.

1. Introduction

It is reported that, in December 1995, internet users were only 16 million. On the other hand, in June 2019, the number increased to 4,536 million which cover 58.8% of the total world population that amounting to 7.71 billion ( Busca and Bertrandias, 2020 ). It is estimated that everyday people spend, on average, 6 h and 42 min online and by 2021, 73% of e-commerce sales will be generated through the mobile platform ( Mandal, 2017 ). Moreover, the 4 th industrial revolution has begun with the invention of web 4.0, the internet of things (IoT), blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics and 4g/5g internet speed ( Kerren, 2014 ). These technological inventions have significantly affected the lifestyle of consumers and the way marketers communicate with their customers. In 2004, Facebook came into the market, followed by many other social networking sites in later years. People had accepted these social media at an exponential rate affecting the way people communicated and interacted with each other.

After the induction of world wide web technology, people have become used to the virtual world. When people (e.g., customers) shifted to the internet or virtual marketplace, marketers focused their marketing attention on this market. Consumers are spending more time on social media for a variety of purposes ranging from brand information searching to the final purchase of products. Consumers’ shifting from traditional media to digital media enables marketers to reach, notify, engage, sell to, study about and provide services to the targeted audience more effectively and efficiently. Responding to this fundamental shifting of consumers from traditional to digital media, marketers are continuously trying to grab the opportunity by devising product, price, place and promotion strategies for this marketplace. Therefore, scholars have investigated different aspects of digital marketing (DM).

While reviewing the literature, it is noticed very few research studies were focused on identifying and analyzing the development of themes and clusters in this arena by applying bibliometric analysis ( Ghorbani et al., 2021 ; Kim et al., 2019 ; León-Castro et al., 2021 ). Ghorbani et al. (2021) conducted a bibliometric analysis to identify key trends and patterns in the field of DM by investigating 924 research articles published in the Scopus database. However, given the importance of digital marketing, more systematic literature reviews are necessary for this field. Kim et al. (2019) undertook a bibliometric analysis that was more focused on digital marketing communication (DMC) and hence, studies other than DMC were ignored. León-Castro et al. (2021) covered only a web of science database to run a bibliometric analysis on digital marketing, but the keywords focused on more specific aspects of DM such as “influencer”, “ewom”, “youtube”, “instagram” and “facebook”.

However, finding out how scholarly works on digital marketing practice and theory have been developed over time and contributed to DM literature is limited. Analyzing which journals, countries and authors are contributing more in the field of digital marketing was also nascent. The authors have exactly taken the endeavour to address these issues. Since this study will analyze all the major scholarly articles that are published in the Scopus database, it will pave the way for future researchers who intend to research digital marketing.

Considering the limitations of the past studies on DM, the study has been undertaken to serve several purposes such as a) to identify the evolution of DM literature over time by applying a bibliometric analysis; b) to assess and synthesize 925 Scopus papers and offer future research directions in the field of DM.

The significant contribution of this study includes identifying which are the journals and authors that contributed the most in the development of digital marketing. It also contributes by explaining the emergent themes in DM along with identifying the most cited journals in this sector. Moreover, the co-citation networks that exist between most cited researches and the schools of thought that exist in co-citation networks have also been investigated thoroughly.

This paper is organized into several parts. The following section contains a literature review followed by the research methodology. The next section includes results and discussion from the bibliometric analysis of the articles published in Scopus between 2000 and 2019. The final part of the paper includes the conclusion and implications from theoretical and practical perspectives along with limitations and future research directions.

2. Literature review

With the advent of social media and development in the web and mobile apps technologies, communication has become much easier than that of past decades ( Khomenko et al., 2020 ). Since modern customers are spending their time in digital media, marketers have also developed strategies and tactics to reach them through these media. Therefore, a significant amount of scholarly research had been conducted on different aspects such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, content marketing, video marketing and many others ( Jimenez, 2020 ). This study presents an intensive analysis of scholarly works done and published by scholars from different countries on this revolutionary field of marketing between 2000 to 2019. Digital marketing opens up new opportunities for reaching, informing, and engaging consumers, as well as providing and selling goods and services. Digital marketing is projected to remain at the forefront of the technological transition in the future ( Ko, 2019 ; Lamberton and Stephen, 2016 ; Martín-Consuegra et al., 2018 ). Millions of people's daily lives have been transformed by digital marketing through social and mobile media, which has expanded into popular social media practices and often leads to the formation of customer relationships ( Fujita et al., 2017 ; Han et al., 2016 ; Kim, 2018 ; Woodside and Mir, 2019 ).

As more marketing researchers and professionals have dedicated themselves to digital technologies, the speed of transition has quickened. The digital marketing model has changed from selling unique goods and services to marketing campaigns that are introduced across digital platforms to now make use of digital resources. Social media has existed for over the past decade for several different purposes such as blogging, video and photography/photo-sharing using mobile phones ( Fujita et al., 2017 ; Han et al., 2016 ; Kim, 2018 ). Virtual technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) seem to be replacing traditional approaches to marketing suggesting new territory for marketing researchers to pursue ( Brodie and Juric, 2018 ; Guercini et al., 2018 ; Kim and Yang, 2018 , J. Kim et al., 2018 ; Taylor and Costello, 2017 ; Zhang and Dholakia, 2018 ).

Marketers soon noticed the networking advantages of social networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, and invested $51.3 billion on global social network ads in 2017, up 55.4% from 2016 ( Cooper, 2020 ). The amount spent on digital ads is expected to rise 17.7% in 2018, accounting for $273 billion (44%) of the $629 billion spent on advertising globally ( McNair, 2018 ). In 2017, mobile ad spending rose by 39%, and it is projected to rise by another 27% in 2018, accounting for 55% of all digital ad spending ( Magna Global, 2017 ). The growing concentration of advertising dollars demonstrates digital marketing's effectiveness in targeting audiences and achieving growth goals such as increased revenue, brand recognition, consumer loyalty, lead generation, and lower customer acquisition and service costs ( Labrecque et al., 2013 ; Lamberton and Stephen, 2016 ; Tuten, 2020 ).

The way businesses market themselves is changing as a result of social media, posing new obstacles as well as opportunities ( Arora and Sanni, 2019 ; Dwivedi et al., 2015 , 2017 ; Hossain et al., 2019 ; Nisar et al., 2018 ; Wang and Herrando, 2019 ). Digital marketing, whether used inappropriately or by unskilled practitioners, may harm businesses ( Aswani et al., 2018 ). As a result, businesses must gain social media expertise ( Braojos-Gomez et al., 2015 ). Companies should focus on aligning their digital marketing strategies with their overall business goals ( Tafesse and Wien, 2018 ; Thorpe, 2018 ). When used strategically, social media marketing may lead to increased consumer satisfaction and perceived value ( Chen and Lin, 2019 ; Pacauskas et al., 2018 ), co-creation ( Kamboj et al., 2018 ; Zhang et al., 2017 ), brand loyalty ( Laroche et al., 2013 ; Shanahan et al., 2019 ) and positive attitude ( Laroche et al., 2013 ).

Furthermore, social media has opened up new avenues for marketers to obtain audience experience by researching online user-generated content, electronic word of mouth (eWOM) conversations ( Chang et al., 2019 ; Liu et al., 2019 ; Xu et al., 2017 ), and online communities ( Chang et al., 2019 ; Habibi et al., 2014 ; Liu et al., 2018 ). Consumer reviews are a large part of social media, and they throw up questions about content accuracy, credibility, usefulness, and validity ( Ismagilova et al., 2017 ; Kapoor et al., 2018 ; Singh et al., 2017 ). Consumer preferences and purchasing habits can be affected by online feedback, which can affect a company's results ( Ismagilova et al., 2020 ; Kawaf and Istanbulluoglu, 2019 ; Shareef et al., 2018 ; Yerasani et al., 2019 ).

A variety of factors can influence digital marketing activities and practices. Some research, for example, looked at the impact of new laws on digital marketing ( Hemsley, 2018 ; Sposit, 2019 ). Furthermore, social media marketing research has begun to concentrate on developing markets, where the adoption rate of social media marketing is lower than the developed countries ( Christino et al., 2019 ; Liu et al., 2019 ). Some businesses in these developing countries continue to rely on conventional media for product and service ads because they are more trustworthy than social media platforms ( Ali et al., 2016 ; Olanrewaju et al., 2020 ). Therefore, this article aims at assessing different paradigms of published articles on DM and finding out how these studies evolved. In addition, finding out what are the dominant themes in this area of research is also a concern of this paper.

3. Methodology

Bibliometric analysis along with a citation and co-citation analysis presents a powerful way to analyze the patterns and characteristics of already published papers in any scholarly field. It may also help to find out the school of thought, if any, in any specific area of study ( Mandal, 2017 ; Christie, 2008 ). The bibliometric analysis takes the objective philosophy and employs a quantitative investigation method on written documents (i.e., journals, books, websites). Citation and co-citation analysis focus on finding out the emergent themes in specific areas of study, the impact of different journals and different schools of thought ( Nyagadza, 2020 ). Going beyond merely counting and collating citations, previous studies have pointed out the nature and course of development of a discipline to assess which journals and authors have created value to other researchers by collaboration.

Bibliometric studies, such as citation and co-citation analyses, are useful for delving into the trends and characteristics of what has been written, making it easier to explore, organize, and articulate work done in a particular discipline ( Diodato, 1994 ; Ferreira et al., 2014 ). Bibliometric analyses can help to guide collection growth, define institutional scholarship strengths and citation/co-citation trends, and identify possible schools of thought in a discipline ( Lewis and Alpi, 2017 ). For a comprehensive investigation of written source documents (e.g., academic journal papers and books), bibliometric research uses citation and co-citation analyses as an analytical tool for inspecting part or the entirety of a scholarly discipline ( Diodato, 1994 ; Ferreira et al., 2014 ; Nerur et al., 2008 ; Ramos-Rodríguez and Ruíz-Navarro, 2004 ; Shafique, 2013 ).

The researchers have adopted objectivist research philosophy since it focuses on quantitative methods of analysis and bibliometric analysis is a powerful quantitative tool to analyze published documents in any scholarly area ( Diodato and Gellatly, 2013 ). The authors have mined the bibliometric data from the Scopus database with the keyword “Digital Marketing”. Digital marketing is the common keyword across different papers, however, articles with other related keywords such as “social networking online”, “social media sales”, “electronic commerce”, “data mining”, “information systems” were considered. Scopus database was selected by the authors since they had authorized access to this database only. Hence analysis on other prominent databases such as Web of Science can be considered in future research.

After loading the dataset, it is observed that it contains 935 articles in total starting from 1982. However, the authors have applied the “publication year” filtering strategy and kept the data from 2000 to 2019. This period is chosen since the proliferation of the internet began in the 21st century. In the case of “document type”, all types of documents (i.e., article, book, book chapter, conference paper, conference review, editorial, short survey, note review) were considered. All types of documents were considered since the author had applied only one keyword “digital marketing” for retrieving data and it only produced 935 articles. In addition, the authors wanted to investigate the theoretical and practical development of digital marketing throughout every scholarly research field and understand the relationship among them. Other studies also applied a similar technique to represent the whole DM research ( Ghorbani et al., 2021 ). About “total citation”, the full range of citations from 0 to 305 were considered since the authors wanted to consider both highly cited articles and lowly cited articles and this helps to identify the difference between good work and mediocre research work. In addition, about “source by Bradford Law Zones”, all the sources were considered. This filtration has produced 925 papers finally which are to be analyzed. After retrieving the data from the Scopus database, with the help of the bibliometrics package of R programming, the data were analyzed.

4. Results and discussion

4.1. summary statistics.

This chapter presents analysis and findings from bibliometric analysis of 925 documents related to digital marketing published between 2000 and 2019. Table 1 presents the summary findings from the analysis. The documents that were published in this period in the Scopus database received 5.076 citations on average. The higher average citations per document indicate a speedy growth of scholarly papers in the field of DM. The results also showed that 2015 unique authors have contributed to the digital marketing field in this period, who got impressions of 2359 times. In addition, single-author documents counted as 262. On average, 2.18 authors contributed to completing each document while every single author contributed to at least 0.459 documents. Documents per author counted to 0.459 while co-authors per document are 2.55. This signifies that in the development of digital marketing, a good amount of research studies are done in collaboration with other authors which is again confirmed in the collaboration index of 2.71. However, a significant amount of single-author articles are also undertaken.

Table 1

Summary statistics.

4.2. Performance analysis

Figure 1 showed the key trends in annual scientific production in the DM field. The timeline can be broadly divided into two main decades with varying trends in annual publications. Although research on digital marketing and related topics had begun as early as 2000, digital marketing studies were almost overlooked by the researchers during the first decade (2000–2010). Therefore, the actual proliferation commenced after 2010 meaning in the second decade (2010–2020) and as time passes, research in this domain has grown exponentially. This growth can be attributed to the increasing number of internet and social media users in the 2000s ( Ghorbani et al., 2021 ). When we see the research development from the perspective of Pareto's law, in only 4 years' time period (2016–2019), 70% (648) of the research papers were published in Scopus on digital marketing. Contemporary studies are found to focus more on marketing science issues accompanied by modern information technology tools and techniques such as artificial intelligence, big data, deep learning etc.

Figure 1

Annual scientific production in digital marketing.

4.3. Relationship between authors, keywords and sources

Figure 2 contained three field analyses showing the relationship between authors, keywords and sources where the left column contained the name of authors, the middle column contained keywords and the right column contained the journal name. This confirms that most of the authors have considered digital marketing as their keyword. However, “social media marketing”, “internet”, “machine learning”, “web 2.0”, “social networks”, “customer relationship management”, “Facebook”, “Twitter” and many others closely related keywords with digital marketing had also been used in different research articles. A new trend is represented by social media for companies that strive to communicate with their customers using both online and offline media. For example, popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and corporate blogs are increasingly used by the Fortune 500 companies in their marketing communication campaigns ( Markos-Kujbus and Gati, 2012 ). Previous researchers who used digital marketing as their keyword also found to include the above-listed keywords. But this is also clear from the data that focus on digital marketing is higher than any other keywords. The reason for this consideration can be justified with the proliferation of the use of digital marketing compared to other semantic terminologies which can also be used to mean the same thing. Almost every journal contributed equally, although some journals such as Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice, are pioneering the advancement in this field. Although mobile marketing is a powerfully dominant domain of digital marketing ( Cheng et al., 2013 ), this area is yet to be explored. Therefore, future researchers can contribute to this domain.

Figure 2

Three field analyses in digital marketing.

4.4. Performance of academic journals

To identify the most contributing journals, Figure 3 showed that the “Journal of Direct Data and Digital Marketing Practice” had the highest contribution in this domain. This journal solely published 46 research papers within the specified period amounted to almost 5% of the total publications. However, this journal of Springer has last published articles in June 2016 and till then it is not being published anymore. That means the top-most contributing journal is out of the market and thereby creating a gap in the field and providing other journals to fill the gap. “Journal of Digital and Social Media Marketing” has published 10 papers and “Journal of Marketing Education” has also contributed 10 papers in this domain. Moreover, another critical point to be noted here, the Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing is not on the top contributing list, although this journal is contributing significantly in the domain with its strong editorial board.

Figure 3

Most contributing journal in digital marketing.

4.5. Source growth of digital marketing over time

As we explained earlier in this paper, “Journal of Direct Data and Digital Marketing Practice” had contributed the most in the digital marketing research area. However, the contribution of this journal has decreased significantly in recent times (see Figure 4 ). On the contrary, the contribution of sources like the “International Journal of Recent Technology and Engineering” is increasing exponentially. Adobe Research, Amity University, Yonsei University are found to be the most contributing parties in the scholarly publications on digital marketing. However, other universities such as Chaoyang University of Technology, Jaypee Business School, and the University of Florida have also kept significant contributions in this domain.

Figure 4

Source growth of digital marketing over time.

4.6. Contribution by countries

In the case of the contribution of different countries in scholarly works on digital marketing, the bibliometric analysis found that the USA had contributed the most (223 papers). Surprisingly researchers from India have achieved the second position in contributing to this emerging field of study (187 papers). However, this is a powerful point that in the case of MCP or author collaboration with the authors from other countries, the USA ranked 1st while the UK ranked 2nd. India's authors have not secured the second position in this area. In addition, the UK has kept a significant amount of contribution and other countries such as Indonesia, Spain, Korea, Portugal, Brazil, and France's contributions are average.

As the contribution from the USA, UK and India are the most, theoretically, this is expected that collaboration among researchers in these countries would be the highest. This expectation is confirmed with this Figure 5 . As a country Australia does not have many contributions, however, different authors from this country have collaborated significantly with authors from other countries. From a continental analytical point of view, it is observed that North America and Europe contributed the most followed by Asia. However, South America and Africa are completely void of any kind of notable contribution. This can be attributed to the economic and demographic development of the countries. Most of the countries in South America and Africa are not developed as other contributing countries. Another interesting insight is also observed in this analysis, which is the “North-South gap”. Countries located north of the equator are observed to contribute more than the countries located south of the equator.

Figure 5

Authors' collaboration around the world.

4.7. Bibliographic links of academic journals

This bibliometric analysis identified 3 dominant research clusters in digital marketing, as illustrated in Figure 6 . Each cluster has a significant amount of difference from other clusters. As identified with the analysis, the biggest cluster in digital marketing is about strategic planning with digital marketing. Another dominant research domain in digital marketing focuses on mobile marketing with apps development. In addition, the third cluster on digital marketing concentrates especially on dealing with demographic profiles of customers along with website marketing metrics. In addition, the word-cloud analysis expresses which keyword was discussed the most in these 925 papers published from 2000 to 2019 in Scopus. Digital marketing is the central word which is accompanied by other dominant keywords such as commerce, marketing, social networking online, social media sales and internet. Another amazing insight generated from this cluster analysis, e.g., three clusters represents three different facets of marketing; the green-coloured cluster represents societal and humane aspects of marketing while the red- coloured cluster represents the fundamental philosophical and strategic aspects of marketing (i.e., consumer behaviour, strategic planning, information management, social media, public relations) and the blue coloured cluster represents the recent development of digital marketing because of the proliferation of extensive data generation (i.e., database management, data mining, artificial management). But here one inconsistency can be noticed that theoretically big data analytics should fall in the blue coloured cluster but here it falls in the red coloured cluster and the authors are unable to explain the reason for this which can also be considered as a limitation of the article. Although digital marketing has received its importance after the advent of social media after 2000, it is considered in the red coloured cluster. That means digital marketing must be considered as the fundamental part of marketing and it must be given its due importance from the implicational aspect while the theory and philosophy remain the same.

Figure 6

Cluster analysis in digital marketing research.

5. Conclusion and implications

The bibliometric study provides a comprehensive picture of specific research fields and enables researchers to focus on unique areas to add new results and knowledge to the literature ( Ghorbani et al., 2021 ). In summary, this can be firmly claimed that the growth in the field of DM research has started in 2014. Three dominant themes of study have been developed including a strategic framework, mobile marketing and apps development and demographic analysis with web analytics. As a country, USA, UK and India contributed the most to this development. In the last half-decade, digital marketing has evolved as a buzzword. Revolution has been created by electronic commerce in business by transforming the physical aspect of delivery to the virtual aspect of marketing and selling. Digital marketing has become an integral part of any marketing and sales strategy ( Bhojaraja and Muniraju, 2018 ).

Analysis of the DM literature through bibliometric analysis will assist both the academicians and practitioners in various ways. First of all, this study will inform academic researchers and digital marketers regarding the evolution, trends and history of digital marketing. This paper will also inform about the most researched domains under DM, hence, enables researchers to identify research gaps to be filled by further studies in the future. The analysis shows that digital marketing is the single most keyword used in most of the studies. The other areas along with DM should also be investigated including consumer behaviour, social networks, machine learning, big data, advertising, mobile marketing, web 2.0, branding and so forth. Secondly, the study shows that research on DM has received tremendous focus since 2010 due to the growth of the internet and social media. As social media allure customers to speak for the brands, global companies increasingly focus on digital marketing as an effective tool of brand communication ( Bhuyan and Rahman, 2014 ). Thus, digital marketers should ensure the best use of digital media in brand communication. Third, the analysis reveals that DM literature is the most prevalent in the countries like USA, UK and India. Future researchers should focus on other parts of the world especially the developing countries regarding the prospects of digital marketing.

Finally, there are three dominant clusters are identified from the analysis. Strategic planning with digital marketing is the largest cluster suggesting the significant domain for both researchers and policymakers. After happening the latest technological revolution in businesses, digital marketing has become more prominent and widely practised. The methods of traditional marketing are completely replaced by those of digital marketing. Nowadays, marketers are forced to use the internet and digital technology for selling and promoting their products and services. Therefore, both the prospects and challenges of digital marketing must be properly detected and analyzed by marketers to set the best marketing plan and communication goals ( Bhojaraja and Muniraju, 2018 ). Mobile marketing with apps development is another domain identified from the cluster analysis. The rate of smartphone penetration and mobile applications is going up day by day due to availability and affordability. Therefore, markers should adopt mobile marketing such as banner ads on apps, SMS marketing and so forth to reach the target customers. The last research cluster is demographic profiles of customers along with website marketing metrics. The outcomes of marketing investment can easily be measured using digital marketing metrics. The effectiveness and quality of online content can also be evaluated and audited with the help of digital marketing ( Bhojaraja and Muniraju, 2018 ).

5.1. Limitations of the study and future research direction

This study does not include the major works indexed in another significant database (i.e. web of science), which is the major limitation of the study. In addition to that, documents were explored using the only keyword “Digital Marketing”, hence, other relevant keywords were not considered. Only one keyword is chosen to keep the analysis simple and to make it easier for the authors to interpret the analysis. Hence, further researches can be conducted to get a more holistic view by considering other strongly related keywords such as “online marketing”, “social media marketing”, “email marketing”, “affiliate marketing” and “mobile marketing”.

In future, how big data analytics and artificial intelligence are going to affect the digital marketing landscape can be explored. How marketing research has been shaped in the digital marketing field can also be an interesting pathway to pursue future research. Why USA, UK and India have contributed the most, on the other hand, why Canada, Australia, Germany, Russia, France and others are lagging in contributing to this field should also be analyzed.


Author contribution statement.

All authors listed have significantly contributed to the development and the writing of this article.

Funding statement

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability statement

Declaration of interests statement.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Additional information

No additional information is available for this paper.


We are grateful to Dr Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Associate Professor, BTM, Islamic University of Technology for helping to retrieve the (.bib) data file from the Scopus database.

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Cogent Business & Management

Open access

The effect of digital marketing transformation trends on consumers’ purchase intention in B2B businesses: The moderating role of brand awareness

1. Introduction

2. theoretical background, 3. research hypotheses and model, 4. research methodology, 6. discussion, 7. conclusion, disclosure statement, additional information.

Digital marketing transformation is one of the important elements in a business’s long-term plan. Furthermore, choosing the most optimizing and suitable marketing strategy is not really simple with B2B enterprise. Based on the theory of planned behavior and the theory of consumer behavior, this study aims to explain the effects digital marketing forms on customer attitudes toward digital marketing and purchase intention. Research sample with a size of 210 potential customers, from the important people in the B2B purchasing chain at the enterprise. After being tested through partial least squares structural equation modelling techniques, resulted in 3 out of 4 digital marketing forms were rated as important and appropriate. Furthermore, the study also explored that brand awareness only moderates the relationship between attitude toward digital marketing and customer purchase intention. The results would help managers have the right direction for the business strategy to adapt and develop the business despite any difficult circumstances.

These days, digital marketing has become part of people’s daily lives around the world. As of January 2021, there were 4.66 billion internet users worldwide—59.5% of the global population (Statista, Citation 2021 ). Vietnam alone has 70.3% of the population using the Internet, an increase of 0.8% over the same period last year. In addition, people are spending more and more time on the internet, not only to search for information about products and services but also to communicate with other customers about their experiences and interactions with businesses. Digital marketing has been proven to change shopper behavior (Khwaja et al., Citation 2020 ). Many businesses have responded that social media and digital marketing have become integral components of their business marketing plan (Cait Lamberton & Stephen, Citation 2016 ). The use of digital marketing allows companies to achieve their marketing goals at a relatively low cost (Ajina & Tvaronavičienė, Citation 2019 ). Organizations can significantly benefit from the creation of social media, an integral element of the overall business strategy (Salma et al., Citation 2016 ).

For B2B enterprises, lasting relationships only develop gradually over time (Quinton & Wilson, Citation 2016 ). Different from B2C business, because no previous research has determined which digital marketing medium is important in B2B relationships, use to contribute to optimizing customer’s purchase intention (Guesalaga, Citation 2016 ).

digital marketing research papers

Published online:

Table 1. sample demographic characteristics.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, not only the needs and buying behavior of customers have been changing partly, but also internet and social media have contributed to changing it (Yogesh, Citation 2021 ). It was consumers who were spending more time buying online that digital marketing thrives during the pandemic (Coresight Research, Citation 2020 ). Furthermore, digital platforms are strongly believed to be a sustainable growth strategy (Verhoef et al., Citation 2021 ). The motives emphasize the significance of the digital marketing transformation for the survival of the business. While everyone must isolate at home and limit direct contact to minimize the possibility of infection; enterprises must grasp the situation and pay attention to develop their online marketing channels quickly (Al-Hattami & Gomez Corona, Citation 2021 )

Measuring the effectiveness of each strategy in attracting purchases has huge implications for digital marketing at this time and in the future of B2B businesses. In the context of the covid 19 pandemic, the significant question is: Which digital marketing methods affect B2B customer purchase intention? and the aim of the study was shaped based on the lack of research on this issue. First of all, the study finds out the impact of digital marketing on customers’ attitudes towards digital marketing and purchase intentions at B2B businesses in the context of the complicated Covid situation in Vietnam. Secondly, study the moderating role of Brand awareness and the mediating role of customer attitude factors toward digital marketing in this study.

To accomplish this research objective, consumer behavior theory (Kotler et al., Citation 2007 ) is suitable to explain the relationships between digital marketing, customer attitudes towards marketing, and purchase intention. The fact that marketers understand what factors have influenced customers, then optimize to lead to purchase intention, and behavioral intention is also a key factor when evaluating the actual behavior of customers (Fishbein & Ajzen, Citation 1977 ).

The rest of the study is structured as follows: Part 2 introduces the literature on current forms of digital marketing and B2B customers’ purchase intentions in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The third part is the presentation of the model and the hypothesis. Research methods and scales will be presented in detail in section 4 of the paper. Research results will be presented in section 5 . And an in-depth discussion in the 6 sections. Finally, the conclusion with a brief assessment of the limitations of the study as well as suggestions for future research.

2.1. Digital marketing

Over the past two decades, brands and businesses have changed because of digitalization. This strategy is becoming more and more popular and especially when it is gradually becoming a global trend. The American Marketing Association provides an overarching definition of digital marketing, encompassing most of the activities, organizations, and processes stimulated by digital technologies to communicate, create and bring value to customers (American Marketing Association, Citation 2013 ). However, according to Royle and Laing ( Citation 2014 ) digital marketing is a sub-branch of traditional marketing and uses modern channels to place products and mainly to communicate with stakeholders. Media such as web, e-mail, wireless media combined with digital data are the tools that manage all activities in digital marketing (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, Citation 2019 ). On the other hand, Todor ( Citation 2016 ) found that digital marketing is not traditional marketing driven by digital factors, but rather a new approach with its own characteristics and dynamics, which are well understood so that effective marketing tactics and strategies can be selected. Likewise, Dara ( Citation 2016 ) argues that digital marketing effectively increases the reach of customers’ perceptions and purchasing behavior. From the above definitions, it is easy to see that the common point of digital marketing includes 3 main factors: Using digital media, approaching customers in a digital and interactive with them.

2.2. Forms of digital marketing

Although mention to Digital marketing, can not think of effective online advertising channels such as Facebook Ads, Google Ads or email marketing, affiliate marketing, forgetting that the essence of digital marketing is marketing on a digital platform.

Digital marketing has some basic forms such as Content Marketing (Silbert Jose, Citation 2021 ); Social Media Marketing (Wang et al., Citation 2016 ); Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC; Karjaluoto & Leinonen, Citation 2009 ); Affiliate Marketing; Native Advertising; Marketing Automation; Email Marketing (Goic et al., Citation 2021 )

2.3. Customer attitudes towards digital marketing

According to Kotler ( Citation 2000 ), an individual’s attitude is their evaluations, feelings of emotional attachment, and propensity to act toward some object or idea, it will be changed over time as individuals approach new concepts about those ideas or objects (Shaouf et al., Citation 2016 ). Specifically, Attitudes towards digital marketing as customer behavior towards digital marketing, it can be indicated through a consumer’s positive or negative response to particular digital marketing (MacKenzie & Lutz, Citation 1989 ). Besides, Mehta ( Citation 2000 ) said that consumers’ attitude towards advertising is one of the indicators that affect advertising effectiveness because purchase intention will increase when the attitude towards advertising is more positive (Hameed et al., Citation 2020 ). In this study, attitude toward digital marketing is considered an important variable in assessing the success of digital marketing forms (Eid et al., Citation 2020 ). The key aspect here is the perception of the advertising medium, which strongly reflects consumer attitudes towards forms of digital marketing.

2.4. Purchase intention of B2B customers

Purchase intention is an attitude towards certain products or services (Soebagyo, Citation 2014 ) whereby it is expressed in a willingness to buy, ability to buy, intention to buy in the future home brands that they want, similar to decision making (Mirabi et al., Citation 2015 ). In this study, purchase intention is understood as the combination of consumers’ interest in a product and the ability to buy that product (A. J. Kim & Ko, Citation 2010 ). Many previous studies support the view that attitudes and preferences towards a brand or product will be directly related to the purchase intention of the customer (Mai et al., Citation 2021 ; Peña-García et al., Citation 2020 ). Nevertheless, the purchase intention in the B2B model is different from the B2C model. Furthermore, compared with B2C, the B2B purchase intention process is typically longer, more technical, and more complex (Lilien, Citation 2016 ). Therefore, B2B business marketing strategies are also more different.

2.5. Theory of consumer behavior and theory of planned behavior

This study attempts to find out the relationship between forms of digital marketing, customer attitudes towards marketing, and purchase intention. Accordingly, the theory of consumer behavior by Kotler (Kotler et al., Citation 2007 ) demonstrates that marketing activities affect purchase intention and generate customers’ certain reactions, specifically in this study such as search engine advertising, social media, content marketing, and email marketing. These strategies will affect customers and bring about many different reactions. Combined with individual attitudes, one of the three main elements of the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, Citation 1991 ), both positive and negative attitudes influence the performance of that behavior, the attitude towards the marketing that businesses apply to approach B2B customers was mentioned. Moreover, the theory of planned behavior provides a brief explanation of the informative and motivational influences on behavior and can be considered a model of intentional processing (Ajzen, Citation 1991 ).

3.1. Research hypotheses

There are many forms of digital marketing in the market, this study presented the 4 most commonly used and trending methods. Four methods were identified from various sources: search engine advertising (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, Citation 2019 ), Content Marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing (Forbes, Citation 2014 ). Besides, the mediating role of customers’ attitudes towards marketing in the relationship between these digital marketing forms and purchase intention was emphasized; Brand awareness plays moderating role between the relationship of digital marketing, customer attitudes towards marketing, and purchase intention.

3.1.1. Search engine advertising

H 1a : Search engine advertising has a positive effect on customer attitudes towards digital marketing of B2B businesses

H 1b : Search engine advertising has a positive effect on customers purchase intention of B2B businesses

3.1.2. Content marketing

H 2a : Content marketing has a positive effect on customer attitudes towards digital marketing of B2B businesses

H 2b : Content marketing has a positive effect on customers purchase intention of B2B businesses

3.1.3. Social media

H 3a : Social media has a positive effect on customer attitudes towards digital marketing of B2B businesses

H 3b : Social media has a positive effect on customers purchase intention of B2B businesses

3.1.4. Email marketing

H 4a : Email marketing has a positive effect on customer attitudes towards digital marketing of B2B businesses

H 4b : Email marketing has a positive effect on customers purchase intention of B2B businesses

3.1.5. Attitude toward digital marketing

H 5 : Attitude toward digital marketing of B2B businesses has a positive effect on purchase intention.

H 6 (a-d) : Attitude toward digital marketing of B2B businesses as a mediating factor between:

Search engine advertising and customers purchase intention

Content marketing and customers purchase intention

Social media and customers purchase intention

Email marketing and customers purchase intention

3.1.6. Brand awareness

The positive relationship between search engine advertising and attitude toward digital marketing will be strengthened.

The positive relationship between content marketing and attitude toward digital marketing will be strengthened.

The positive relationship between social media and attitude toward digital marketing will be strengthened.

The positive relationship between email marketing and attitude toward digital marketing will be strengthened.

The positive relationship between customer attitudes towards digital marketing and customers purchase intention will be strengthened.

Figure 1. Proposed research model.

4.1. Measures

Table 2. scale accuracy analyses, 4.2. data colection.

Considering the impact of the Covid-19 the survey was collected online. The data collection is carried out in the last 4 months of 2021. The survey respondents are mainly business people who have been intending to buy from B2B enterprises in the mechanical industry in Vietnam. We target the survey subjects who are responsible for purchasing decisions at B2B businesses, not only business owners but also managers and personnel in related departments. The majority of those participants are on average 40–45 years old and provide us with a lot of substantial information about the impact of digital marketing. The results of the questionnaire will be investigated in many aspects of digital marketing strategy implementation, because of the variety of career levels. After removing a few incomplete answers out of a total of 227 forms received from respondents, we resolved to 210 responses that met all the criteria for a completed questionnaire full of information. The normality of the data was confirmed.

For data analysis, partial least squares structural equations modeling (PLS-SEM) were considered the best choice for this case, because of the core of our research model and hypothesized relationships were explanations and prediction, and given the expected managerial implications of the study (Ringle et al., Citation 2015 ), with the SPSS 24.0 software and Smartpls 3.3 for assessing the measurements and estimate the model parameters. Measurement model evaluation and structural model evaluation are two steps in performing the analysis (J. Hair et al., Citation 2010 ).

5.1. Descriptive statistics for sample

A total of 210 valid observations were accessed and the demographic details are shown in Table 1 . Male-dominant respondents reach 75.7%, which is almost twice as high as the number of female respondents (24.3%). Most of them have an important role in the company such as Director/Business Owner with 42.9% and CEO/Manager with 29.5%, 10% from Self-employed position and finally, employees just have 17.6%. Up to 69.5% of respondents answered that their business model is B2B, much higher than B2C (26.2 %) and C2C (3.8%).

5.2. Measurement model

Harman’s single factor is used here because the correlation relationship between the dependent and independent variables is affected by the problem of the common method bias (Podsakoff et al., Citation 2003 ). One fixed factor goes along with the other six. The total variance extracted for these 7 factors is 69.92%. The common method bias is not a serious problem (Podsakoff et al., Citation 2003 ) since the first factor accounts for only 27.6% of the total variance extracted for the entire model (<50%).

Cronbach’s alpha, composite reliability (J. Hair et al., Citation 2010 ), and RhoA coefficient (Dijkstra & Henseler, Citation 2015 ) are the coefficients used to evaluate internal consistency reliability. Convergent validity was assessed through Outer loading of observed variables and average variance extracted (AVE). The scale is accepted when the AVE value is greater than 0.5 and the outer loading value is greater than 0.7 (J. Hair et al., Citation 2010 ). Evaluation of the significance of the data by performing Bootstrap 5,000 times (J. Hair et al., Citation 2010 ).

From Table 2 , it can be seen that the Cronbach’s Alpha coefficient of the concepts is in the range [0.7–0.8], the composite reliability is in the range [0.8–0.9] and the RhoA coefficient is > 0.5, which shows that the scales are achieved reliability (J. Hair et al., Citation 2010 ) The SM5 variable has an outer loading = 0.373 less than 0.7, so it was removed from the model after performing the convergence value test. Therefore, the study has met the criteria of convergence value after removing the SM5 variable from the model, and the AVE and outer loading values of the observed boundaries are satisfactory. ( Table 2 )

Table 3. Fornell-Larcker criterion

Table 4. heterotrait-monotrait ratio (htmt).

Furthermore, the scale reached the discriminant value after running Bootstrap 5,000 times showing that the confidence interval results from the HTMT value were from 2.5% to 97.5% excluding the value 1.

5.3. Structural model

5.3.1. direct impact.

To evaluate the phenomenon of multicollinearity between independent variables, the variance inflation factor (VIF) will be used. The research model is divided into 3 models with 1 dependent variable because there are many dependent variables. The scale has no multicollinearity phenomenon due to the result of the coefficient VIF < 2.

Figure 2. PLS-SEM analysis results of the theoretical model.

Table 5. Hypotheses testing results

Besides, the out-of-sample predictive power is evaluated through predictive relevance (Q 2 ). The results of Table 5 also show that the predictive power of the model (J. Hair et al., Citation 2010 ) is also supported because the Q 2 coefficients of the dependent variables are all larger than 0.

As suggested by J. F. Hair et al. ( Citation 2017 ), the statistical significance of the regression coefficients was tested through the Bootstrap procedure 5,000 times. From Table 5 and Figure 2 , it is shown that with more than 95% confidence, the relationships in the theoretical model include: H 1a , H 2a , H 2b , H 3a , H 5 have statistical significance. The remaining relationships are not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.

5.3.2. Mediating effects

Testing the mediating role of Attitude toward digital marketing in the relationship between the factors of Content marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing, Search Engine Advertising, and Purchase Intention is considered as the important objective of this study. The mediating effects can be measured by two factors: the relationship between Digital Marketing factors such as Content Marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing, and Search Engine Advertising Attitude towards Marketing and the relationship between the factors Attitude towards Marketing and Purchase Intention (Cheung & Lau, Citation 2008 ).

Table 6. Tests for mediator effects

5.3.3. moderating effects.

After evaluating the measurement model with the presence of a moderator variable, the concept of measuring Brand Awareness is reliable (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.816, Composite Reliability = 0.879, and value (AVE = 0.646, square root of AVE of Brand Awareness is greater than the correlation coefficient between constructs, HTMT < 0.9 and the confidence interval of Brand Awareness HTMT value does not contain 1)

Next, use the 2—stage approach of Chin et al. ( Citation 2003 ) to evaluate the impact of the Brand Awareness. In the first stage, estimate the main impact model. Stage 2, multiply the moderator variables and exogenous variables to measure the interaction term.

Table 7. Tests for moderating effects

This study was conducted to evaluate the impact of digital marketing strategies on attitudes toward marketing and the purchase intentions of customers. Understanding customer attitudes towards a particular digital marketing strategy and developing it can close the customer perception gap in B2B businesses (Dash et al., Citation 2021 ) This study attempted to evaluate the results based on a cross-sectional sample of 210 people with an interest in buying from a B2B business.

Offering some new insights into the adoption of digital marketing in B2B businesses during the pandemic is also one of the important functions of this study. In addition, during the pandemic, when people are active in a virtual environment, the study also outlines the impact of the pandemic on B2B businesses and how to apply sensitive digital marketing strategies to adapt to the environment.

Four digital marketing strategies have been studied here with eight hypotheses about the relationship between them and attitudes towards marketing and purchase intention. Three of them, Search Engine Advertising, Social media, content marketing are considered to have a positive impact on the customer attitude toward digital marketing in B2B businesses, respectively the hypotheses H 1a , H 2a , H 3a . The results of this study support these three hypotheses, reinforcing the findings of previous studies on the effects Search Engine Advertising (Punjani & Kumar, Citation 2021 ), Social media (Alalwan, Citation 2018 ; Kundu, Citation 2021 ) and content marketing (Molina et al., Citation 2020 ; Olson et al., Citation 2021 ; Sahni et al., Citation 2018 ) in influencing attitudes through marketing. On the other hand, the results on the impact of social media and content marketing contradict the earlier Dash et al. ( Citation 2021 ) study in the B2B context. A satisfactory explanation for this research result may be that the survey respondents did not want to delve into the product features and did not properly decode the information sent by the advertiser.

As for the effect on purchase intention, only the H 3B hypothesis is supported that content marketing has a positive and significant effect on this factor, which is consistent with the results reported in previous literature on content marketing (Kong et al., Citation 2021 ; Olson et al., Citation 2021 ) reinforces the idea that content strategy is an important key to determining marketing effectiveness (Molina et al., Citation 2020 ). All three relationships between Search Engine Advertising, Social media, and email marketing on purchase intention were not supported in this study (Chalil et al., Citation 2020 ; Kundu, Citation 2021 ).

Research results also provide support for hypothesis H 5 about the impact of customer attitude toward Digital Marketing and purchase intention. Repeatedly, this finding is completely consistent with previous studies by Oscar and Louis ( Citation 2021 ) and Wahid and Ahmed ( Citation 2011 ). Furthermore, the factor of customer attitude toward digital marketing plays a mediating role in this study. It is the mediator between search engine advertising, social media, content marketing, and customer purchase intention (H6a-c). When customers have a more positive attitude towards digital strategies, more likely they are to buy. The other factor is that email marketing has no impact on both customers’ attitudes towards digital marketing and purchase intention (H6d), which reinforces some of the earlier studies of Olson et al. ( Citation 2021 ) and Rehman et al. ( Citation 2014 )

Last but not least, the study also discovered the moderating role of brand awareness. However, like Kim’s previous study (Kim, Citation 2018 ) brand awareness only plays a moderating role in the relationship between customers’ attitudes towards digital marketing and purchase intention (H7e), and with 4 marketing strategies, the role is not significant (H7a-d).

The related issues of advertising are increasing rapidly, becoming the focus of attention of both researchers and practitioners in the marketing sector. Therefore, this study was conducted to expand the current understanding of the main aspects related to digital marketing and their impact on customer purchase intention.

7.1. Theoretical contributions

It was not by accident that digital marketing becomes more and more important these days, especially when businesses are getting used to interacting with users on a global scale and solving important digital marketing problems (Dash et al., Citation 2021 ). The various effects of current popular digital marketing strategies have been specifically pointed out by the study. However, in the B2B business environment, there is still little research on these relationships as well as the impact of digital marketing strategies on customer attitudes and purchase intentions. Therefore, by capturing some of the key elements of the current research model, it provides some specific significant theoretical contributions as follows:

Foremost, the study contributes to the previous research literature in expanding understanding of the role digital marketing plays in B2B businesses. Over the years, researchers have become increasingly interested in the direct impact of digital marketing on B2B businesses, so the study’s findings add to an increasingly popular field of research.

Secondly, the study has extended the theory of consumer behavior by (a) Confirming the relationship between customer attitudes towards digital marketing has a significant impact on the purchase intention of customers (b) testing the role of brand awareness in this relationship in the Vietnamese market. This is quite important in terms of the branding building process as well as identifying the right digital marketing strategies in mechanical enterprises’ business plans.

This study also generalizes the impact of digital marketing methods on B2B businesses during the pandemic. As such, it provides some background for future research on the deep impact of digital marketing approaches in a variety of contexts. With the continuous development of technology, geographical, demographic or other industry contexts will potentially become new avenues of research.

7.2. Practical contributions

No one could have predicted or foreseen the state of the Covid-19 pandemic development. However, in order to survive and adapt in a difficult context, people must change to be more suitable and come up with a treatment plan to face them. The results of the study have provided an understanding of effective and appropriate digital marketing strategies for B2B businesses when major communication activity is done through the virtual world and public devices technology, this can help businesses have a foundation and come up with a way to reach their customers more effectively.

Regarding digital marketing strategy, enterprises can consider three strategies, namely search engine advertising, social media, and content marketing to increase the positivity of customers’ attitudes towards customers. Thereby affecting the purchase intention of customers. Moreover, content marketing is an extremely important factor because it affects both the customer’s attitude toward digital marketing and also purchases intention. Combining interesting, useful content with other methods can help create breakthrough effects. By determining the digital marketing strategies that work with their business model, mechanical businesses can save a lot of unnecessary costs if they comprehensive investment without selectivity in all campaigns existing digital marketing strategies in the market especially in the difficult situation in all aspects due to the pandemic impact.

In addition, increasing brand awareness is something to consider and focus on in long-term marketing plans. Because research shows that brand awareness has a direct impact on the relationship between attitude toward digital marketing and purchase intention. And B2B purchases have to go through many stages of thorough research, having a powerful brand that can trust and positively impact customers and it will be a huge outstanding compared to other competitors in the same industry.

7.3. Limitations and directions for future research

Although this study has successfully shown the impact of digital marketing factors on customers’ attitudes and purchase intention, there are still some limitations in this study and may be considered to be addressed in the future. One of the limitations of this study is the geographical approach, we surveyed the scale of mechanical businesses in Ho Chi Minh City. Therefore, the data are generalized only.

Another limitation is the number of digital marketing strategies that were devised through expert interviews and data relatively little. Furthermore, It can’t be denied that many digital marketing platforms are emerging and challenging the sustained effectiveness of current methods shown in the study. Therefore, it is not possible to make general statements about the effectiveness of these digital marketing strategies as well as universally applicable to most industries. Nevertheless, this is also a potential development direction for expansion in future research. In addition, culture and generation are also considered as challenging criteria to create combinations of methods currently under consideration.

*SM5 (Make sure the information about the product is supplied completely)

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

Table A1. Indicator of each variable

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Effectiveness of Digital Marketing in the Challenging Age: An Empirical Study

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International Journal of Management Science and Business Administration Volume 1, Issue 5, April 2015, Pages 69-80 Effectiveness of Digital Marketing in the Challenging Age: An Empirical Study DOI: 10.18775/ijmsba.1849-5664-5419.2014.15.1006 URL:  dx.doi.org/10.18775/ijmsba.1849-5664-5419.2014.15.1006 Afrina Yasmin, Sadia Tasneem, Kaniz Fatema Department of Business Administration, Northern University Bangladesh Department of Business Administration, Asian University of Bangladesh

Abstract : Marketers are faced with new challenges and opportunities within this digital age. Digital marketing is the utilization of electronic media by the marketers to promote the products or services into the market. The main objective of digital marketing is attracting customers and allowing them to interact with the brand through digital media. This article focuses on the importance of digital marketing for both marketers and consumers. We examine the effect of digital marketing on the firms’ sales. Additionally the differences between traditional marketing and digital marketing in this paper are presented. This study has described various forms of digital marketing, effectiveness of it and the impact it has on firm’s sales. The examined sample consists of one hundred fifty firms and fifty executives which have been randomly selected to prove the effectiveness of digital marketing. Collected data has been analyzed with the help of various statistical tools and techniques.

Keywords: Digital marketing, Promotion, Effectiveness, Customer reach


 1.  Introduction

Digital marketing is one type of marketing being widely used to promote products or services and to reach consumers using digital channels. Digital marketing extends beyond internet marketing including channels that do not require the use of Internet. It includes mobile phones (both SMS and MMS), social media marketing, display advertising, search engine marketing and many other forms of digital media. digital marketing review digital marketing review

Through digital media, consumers can access information any time and any place where they want. With the presence of digital media, consumers do not just rely on what the company says about their brand but also they can follow what the media, friends, associations, peers, etc., are saying as well. Digital marketing is a broad term that refers to various promotional techniques deployed to reach customers via digital technologies. Digital marketing embodies an extensive selection of service, product and brand marketing tactics which mainly use Internet as a core promotional medium in addition to mobile and traditional TV and radio.  Canon iMage Gateway helps consumers share their digital photos with friends online. L’Oréal’s brand Lancôme uses email newsletters to keep in touch with customers and hence tries to strengthen customer brand loyalty (Merisavo et al., 2004). Magazine publishers can activate and drive their customers into Internet with e-mails and SMS messages to improve re-subscription rate (Merisavo et al., 2004).

Marketers increasingly bring brands closer to consumers’ everyday life. The changing role of customers as co-producers of value is becoming increasingly important (Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2004). Khan and Mahapatra (2009) remarked that technology plays a vital role in improving the quality of services provided by the business units. According to Hoge (1993), electronic marketing (EM) is a transfer of goods or services from seller to buyer involving one or more electronic methods or media. E-Marketing began with the use of telegraphs in the nineteenth century. With the invention and mass acceptance of the telephone, radio, television, and then cable television, electronic media has become the dominant marketing force. McDonald’s uses online channel to reinforce brand messages and relationships. They have built online communities for children, such as the Happy Meal website with educative and entertaining games to keep customers always close to themselves (Rowley 2004). Reinartz and Kumar (2003) found that the number of mailing efforts by the company is positively linked with company profitability over time. The primary advantages of social media marketing is reducing costs and enhancing the reach. The cost of a social media platform is typically lower than other marketing platforms such as face-to-face sales or sales with a help of middlemen or distributors. In addition, social media marketing allows firms to reach customers that may not be accessible due to temporal and locational limitations of existing distribution channels. Generally, main advantage of social media is that it can enable companies to increase reach and reduce costs (Watson et al. 2002; Sheth and Sharma 2005).

According to Chaffey (2011), social media marketing involves “encouraging customer communications on company’s own website or through its social presence”. Social media marketing is one important technique in digital marketing as companies can use social media form to distribute their messages to their target audience without paying for the publishers or distributor that is characteristic for traditional marketing. Digital marketing, electronic marketing, e-marketing and Internet marketing are all similar terms which, simply put, refer to “marketing online whether via websites, online ads, opt-in emails, interactive kiosks, interactive TV or mobiles” (Chaffey and Smith, 2008). Giese and Gote (2000) finds that customer information satisfaction (CIS) for digital marketing can be conceptualized as a sum of affective response of varying intensity that follows consumption and is stimulated by focal aspects of sales activities, information systems (websites), digital products/services, customer support, after-sales service and company culture.

Waghmare (2012) pointed out that many countries in Asia are taking advantage of e-commerce through opening up, which is essential for promoting competition and diffusion of Internet technologies. Zia and Manish (2012) found that currently, shoppers in metropolitan India are being driven by e-commerce: these consumers are booking travels, buying consumer electronics and books online. Although spending per online buyer remains low, some 59% of online consumers in metropolitan India already make purchases online at least once in a month. Dave Chaffey (2002) defines e-marketing as “application of digital technologies – online channels (web, e-mail, databases, plus mobile/wireless and digital TV) to contribute to marketing activities aimed at achieving profit acquisition and customers retention (within a multi-channel buying process and customer lifecycle) by improving customer knowledge (of their profiles, behavior, value and loyalty drivers) and further delivering integrated communications and online services that match customers’ individual needs. Chaffey’s definition reflects the relationship marketing concept; it emphasizes that it should not be technology that drives e-marketing, but the business model. All types of social media provide an opportunity to present company itself or its products to dynamic communities and individuals that may show interest (Roberts and Kraynak, 2008). According to Gurau (2008), online marketing environment raises a series of opportunities and also challenges for social media marketing practitioners. digital marketing review

The main objective of this paper is to identify the effectiveness of digital marketing in the competitive market. The supportive objectives are following: digital marketing review

2.  Theoretical and Conceptual Framework

2.1 traditional marketing versus digital marketing.

Traditional marketing is the most recognizable form of marketing. Traditional marketing is non-digital way used to promote the product or services of business entity. On the other hand, digital marketing is the marketing of products or services using digital channels to reach consumers. Some comparisons are presented below: digital marketing review

Table 1: Traditional marketing and digital marketing comparison

Advertising mediums that might be used as part of digital marketing strategy of a business could include promotional efforts made via Internet, social media, mobile phones, electronic billboards, as well as via digital television and radio channels. Digital marketing is a sub branch of traditional marketing and uses modern digital channels for the placement of products e.g. downloadable music, primarily for communicating with stakeholders e.g. customers and investors about brand, products and business progress. digital marketing review

2.2 Various Elements of Digital Marketing

There are various elements by which digital marketing is formed. All forms operate through electronic devices. The most important elements of digital marketing are given below:

(i) Online Advertising

Online advertising is a very important part of digital marketing. It is also called internet advertising through which company can deliver the message about the products or services. Internet-based advertising provides the content and ads that best matches to consumer interests. Publishers put about their products or services on their websites so that consumers or users get free information. Advertisers should place more effective and relevant ads online. Through online advertising, company well controls its budget and it has full control on time. digital marketing review

(ii) Email Marketing

When message about the products or services is sent through email to the existing or potential consumer, it is defined as email marketing. Direct digital marketing is used to send ads, to build brand and customer loyalty, to build customer trust and to make brand awareness. Company can promote its products and services by using this element of digital marketing easily. It is relatively low cost comparing to advertising or other forms of media exposure. Company can bring complete attention of the customer by creating attractive mix of graphics, text and links on the products and services. digital marketing review digital marketing review

(iii) Social Media

Today, social media marketing is one of the most important digital marketing channels. It is a computer-based tool that allows people to create, exchange ideas, information and pictures about the company’s product or services. According to Nielsen, internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type. Social media marketing networks include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Through Facebook, company can promote events concerning product and services, run promotions that comply with the Facebook guidelines and explore new opportunities. Through Twitter, company can increase the awareness and visibility of their brand. It is the best tool for the promotion of company’s products and services. In LinkedIn, professionals write their profile and share information with others. Company can develop their profile in LinkedIn so that the professionals can view and can get more information about the company’s product and services. Google+ is also social media network that is more effective than other social media like Facebook, Twitter. It is not only simple social media network but also it is an authorship tool that links web-content directly with its owner. digital marketing review

(iv)Text Messaging

It is a way to send information about the products and services from cellular and smart phone devices. By using phone devices, company can send information in the form of text (SMS), pictures, video or audio (MMS). Marketing through cellphone SMS (Short Message Service) became increasingly popular in the early 2000s in Europe and some parts of Asia. One can send order confirmations, shipping alerts using text message. Using SMS for campaigns get faster and more substantial results. Under this technique, companies can send marketing messages to their customers in real-time, any time and can be confident that the message will be seen. Company can create a questionnaire and obtain valuable customer feedback essential to develop their products or services in future. digital marketing review digital marketing review

(v) Affiliate Marketing:

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing. In this type of marketing, a company rewards affiliates for each visitor or customer they bring by marketing efforts they create on behalf of company. Industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as “retailer” or “brand”), the network, the publisher (also known as “the affiliate”) and the customer. The market has grown in such complexity resulting in the emergence of a secondary tier of players including affiliate management agencies, super-affiliates and specialized third party vendors. There are two ways to approach affiliate marketing: Company can offer an affiliate program to others or it can sign up to be another business’s affiliate. If company wants to drive an affiliate program, then, the company owner has to pay affiliates a commission fee for every lead or sale they drive to company’s website. Company’s main goal here is to find affiliates who can reach untapped markets. For example, a company with an e-zine may become a good affiliate because its subscribers are hungry for resources. So, introducing one’s offer through “trusted” company can grab the attention of prospects which might not have otherwise reached. digital marketing review

(vi) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a website appears in the search result list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine users. SEO may target different kinds of search including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines. digital marketing review

(vii) Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay-per-click marketing is a way of using search engine advertising to generate clicks to your website rather than “earning” those clicks organically. Pay per click is good for searchers and advertisers. It is the best way for company’s ads since it brings low cost and greater engagement with the products and services.

2.3 Advantages Digital Marketing Brings to Customers

With rapid technological developments, digital marketing has changed customers buying behavior. It has brought various advantages to the consumers as given below:

(i) Stay Updated with Products or Services

Digital marketing technologies allow the consumers to stay with the company information updated. Nowadays a lot of consumer can access internet any place anytime and companies are continuously updating information about their products or services. digital marketing review

(ii) Greater Engagement

With digital marketing, consumers can engage with the company’s various activities. Consumers can visit company’s website, read information about the products or services and make purchases online and provide feedback. digital marketing review

(iii) Clear Information About the Products or Services

Through digital marketing, consumers get clear information about the products or services. There is a little chance of misinterpretation of the information taken from sales person in a retail store. However, Internet provides comprehensive product information which customers can rely on and make purchase decision. digital marketing review

(iv) Easy Comparison with Others

Since many companies are trying to promote their products or services using digital marketing, it is becoming the greatest advantage for the customer in terms that customers can make comparison among products or services by different suppliers in cost and time friendly way. Customers don’t need to visit a number of different retail outlets in order to gain knowledge about the products or services. digital marketing review

(v) 24/7 Shopping

Since internet is available all day long, there is no time restriction for when customer wants to buy a product online. digital marketing review

(vi) Share Content of the Products or Services

Digital marketing gives viewers a chance to share the content of the product or services to others. Using digital media, one can easily transfer and get information about the characteristics of the product or services to others.

(vii) Apparent Pricing

Company shows the prices of products or services through digital marketing channel and this makes prices very clear and transparent for the customers. Company may regularly changes the prices or gives special offers on their products or services and customers are always in advantages by getting informed instantly by just looking at any one mean of digital marketing.

(viii) Enables Instant Purchase

With traditional marketing, customers first watch the advertisement and then find relevant physical store to purchase the products or services. However, with digital marketing, customers can purchase the products or services instantly.

 3.  Methodology of the Study

Methodology comes from systematic and theoretical analysis of the methods to evaluate suitability of one specific method to apply to a field of study. It typically encompasses concepts such as paradigm, theoretical model, phases and quantitative or qualitative techniques. This study is conducted based on both primary and secondary data sources.

Primary Sources:

Primary source is a source from where we collect first-hand information or original data on a topic. Interview technique was used with structured questionnaire for the collection of primary data.

Secondary Sources:

Secondary source is a source from where we collect data that has already been collected by someone. We have collected secondary data from the published financial statements of the firms, newspaper and articles. For the purpose of this study, we have selected one hundred fifty firms randomly which are using digital marketing system to sell their products to customers. Additionally, we also collected data from 50 executives from sample and other different firms to know their opinion on the effectiveness of digital marketing.

Collected data and information has been organized, explained and analyzed by using different statistical tools and techniques. This study shows results both in descriptive and analytical way.

4.  Analysis and Discussion

4.1 correlation analysis.

To show the correlation between the various elements of digital marketing and increased sales, we have collected data from one hundred fifty firms who are taking the various techniques or elements of digital marketing. Results are given below:

Table  2:  Correlations

From the above table, we can conclude that the every element of digital marketing is positively related to sales increase. It indicates that all elements of digital marketing show positive effect on firm’s sales. Online advertising, email marketing, social media and search engine optimization (SEO) are highly positively correlated with sales increase since showing value of r to be .869, .873, .840 and .840 respectively. The value of r of text messaging, affiliate marketing and pay per click (PPC) are .667, .560 and .560 which also shows low positive correlation with sales increase.

4.2 Analysis of Digital Marketing

Digital media is so pervasive that consumers have access to information any time and any place they want. It was long ago when the messages people got about specific products or services consisted of only what a company wanted them to know.

Table  3:  Model Summary

From the above table, we can conclude that almost all the variables having weight explaining with great extent its relationship with digital marketing. For example, stay updated with products or services is explained by 71.80% of digital marketing and the remaining 28.20% is explained by other factor. Greater engagement is explained by 51.60% of digital marketing and the remaining 48.40% is explained by other factor. Clear Information about the products or services is explained by 62.90% of digital marketing and the remaining 37.10% is explained by other factor. We can also see from the above table that F value is bigger more than 80 indicating the strength of the model.

Coefficient of different variables:

The coefficient of different variables in relation with independent variables will be discussed below:

Table 4:  Coefficients Analysis for Dependent Variable -Stay updated with products or services

Unstandardized Coefficients (B) indicates that if independent variable is zero (0) then what is the impact on dependent variable? Here if we don’t use digital marketing then stay updated with products or services will be 2.882. Standardized Coefficients (β) indicates that if independent variable is increase by 1% then what will be the impact on dependent variable. Here if the usage rate digital marketing is 1% then 84.70% stay updated with products or services will be happened.

 5.  Concluding Remarks and Proposal

Digital channel in marketing has become essential part of strategy of many companies. Nowadays, even for small business owner there is a very cheap and efficient way to market his/her products or services. Digital marketing has no boundaries. Company can use any devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, televisions, game consoles, digital billboards, and media such as social media, SEO (search engine optimization), videos, content, e-mail and lot more to promote company itself and its products and services. Digital marketing may succeed more if it considers user needs as a top priority. Just like “Rome was not built in a day,” so, digital marketing results won’t also come without attempt, without trial (and error). The watchwords “test, learn and evolve” should be at the heart of all digital marketing initiatives. Companies should create innovative customer experiences and specific strategies for media to identify the best path for driving up digital marketing performance.

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