In his book Understanding Digital Marketing: Marketing Strategies for Engaging the Digital Generation, Damian Ryan presents to his readers the benefits of marketing through the increasing digital technologies of our time. Ryan explains the process of the evolution of digital marketing, and then proceeds to give his readers four steps for success in the different areas of the digital business world: research, plan, enact, and analyze. Ryan’s well written book includes a vast wealth information that forces both the small-business owner and the big corporation CEO to rethink the way he approaches marketing in the digital generation.
The main appeal of Ryan’s book lies in its ability to apply to all types of readers who confront technology in their business. Ryan describes the almost universal application of digital technology stating, “It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, it’s a fairly safe bet that an increasing number of your target market rely on digital technology every day to research, evaluate, and purchase the products and services they consume” (Ryan 19). Almost every business owner can benefit from having a digital marketing strategy. Ryan points out to his readers that not having a digital marketing strategy can only hurt one’s business, as competitors will use digital marketing to target their customers and increase their business, stealing valuable customers.
Ryan explicitly states at the beginning of his book that his main objective is not only to help his audience define their digital marketing strategy, but also to enable his readers to enact their digital marketing strategy and continue to tweak it to serve to the needs of their businesses. In his “Our Chapter Pledge to You” at the beginning of each chapter, Ryan outlines the questions that he wants his audience to be able to answer at the end of the chapter. For example, in the chapter “The Search for Success” the “Our Chapter Pledge to You” includes such questions as “What is a search engine, and how does it work?” and “How do I optimize my website for the search engines?” These questions at the beginning of each chapter prepare the reader for the upcoming material and allow the reader to follow the author’s objectives as he proceeds through the book.
As already stated, Ryan generally argues that most businesses, if not all, need a digital marketing strategy. Above all, Ryan emphasizes that the internet represents a business’s “Window to the digital world” (Ryan 36). According to Ryan, the internet allows a business owner to take the traditional marketing mix of the four Ps of place, price, product, and promotion to a whole new level. In terms of place, Ryan stresses the immense growth of the internet and the width and diversity of population that the internet reaches. Ryan devotes his entire first chapter to describing the growth of the internet in addition to other digital media with indisputable facts stating, “As of March 2011 the figure sits at 2.1 billion people. That’s about a third of the global population… and it’s still climbing,” and “In 2004, 2005, and 2006 online advertising spend enjoyed unprecedented growth of over 30 per cent per annum” (Ryan 12, 14). Ryan reveals the internet as allowing the consumer to control the Ps of price and product like never before. Price-comparing sites and customer feedback through are only two of the many examples that Ryan presents to his readers that demonstrate the new era of consumer power through the internet. However, according to Ryan, the internet most importantly revolutionizes the way businesses can promote their products and ideals. Through the internet, businesses can target a specific marketing audience and use data analytics to track the progress of promoting their products online. Ryan devotes a chapter of his book to each of the following promotion strategies: a business’s website, search engine optimization, pay-per-click search advertising, affiliate marketing and strategic partnerships, online public relations, social networking, email marketing, mobile marketing, and customer relationship management. By the time he has finished reading the book, the reader has effectively learned how to research, plan, enact, and analyze the effectiveness of each promotional strategy and now can determine which digital marketing strategies to employ in his business.
Ryan not only successfully uses evidence and persuasion to convince his readers of the validity of his arguments in favor of digital marketing, but he also ensures that his objectives reach and solidify themselves in the mind of his reader. In addition to the “Our Chapter Pledge to You” proposing his objectives at the beginning of each chapter, Ryan follows up with a case study at the end of each chapter to ensure that his readers have fully understood his objectives and can apply them to the real business world. For example, at the end of the chapter “Affiliate Marketing and Strategic Partnerships,” Ryan includes a case study about an affiliate program between the two companies Maximuscle and Mythings. In this study, Maximuscle elected to use myThings personalization to optimize web content targeting returning customers. As a result, “Maximuscle reported that the return conversation rates for visitors exposed to the myThings retargeting were up by 362 per cent,” and both companies benefited from the mutual program as they experienced higher click-through rates (Ryan 211). This particular case study reinforces Ryan’s objective questions he presents at the beginning of the chapter, “What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?” and “What can affiliate marketing do for my business?” More importantly, the case studies apply the objectives that the reader has learned from the author to the broader concept of the real business world.
Ryan’s writing style and the inclusion of learning materials such as “Our Chapter Pledge to You” and case studies demonstrate how he caters to the need of his audience. Ryan knows that his audience ranges from ordinary uneducated entrepreneurs to CEOs of a big companies. Ryan’s writes without fluff, attempting to make his readers experience light and easy, not burdensome. Ryan utilizes bullet points to emphasize certain points to his audience, and big headlines to summarize each following paragraph. He also adds variety to his book through the inclusion of relevant quotes at the beginning of each chapter, and sometimes includes an interesting business scenario or interview to maintain the reader’s interest.
In conclusion, every person attempting to advance the digital marketing aspect of their business should read Understanding Digital Marketing by Damian Ryan. In this digital generation, digital marketing strategies are no longer optional for most companies and businesses. Fortunately, Understanding Digital Marketing is an easy-to-read book that gives business owners the opportunity to obtain accurate and concise information about digital marketing in a non-burdensome and interesting way.