Changes in consumer media consumption and new technology are compelling marketers to align their advertising and promotions to harmonize with the growing influence of the internet and new media. Advertising and promotions that use traditional media will remain viable options, especially for local market activity. However, digital marketing techniques offer convincing advertising and promotion capabilities that were not available to small business owners just a few years ago.

Surge in Digital Content

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that 77 percent of American households had a computer as of October 2010. Moreover, 90 percent of the computer households subscribe to a broadband service, according to a Leichtman Research Group study released in September 2012. This increase in connectivity speeds has triggered a deluge of digitized content that is changing the way consumers make buying decisions. Consumers commonly go online to research, compare and evaluate before shopping. For instance, many people go online to review weekly circulars and print coupons that they receive by email before buying the weekly groceries.

Digital Omnivores

An explosion in mobile digital devices is creating what Mark Donovan, senior vice president at comScore, calls "digital omnivores." Digital omnivores maintain internet access throughout the day. Nielsen Research reported in May 2012 that 50.4 percent of U.S. consumers use smart phones as their mobile handset. Pew Research reported that the number of Americans owning digital tablet devices grew from 18 percent to an amazing 29 percent in the one-month period from December 2011 to January 2012. Digital omnivores are targets for location-based promotions. Your restaurant or retail promotions that target digital omnivores could produce surprisingly quick results; 70 percent of mobile searches result in consumer action within one hour, according to Yusuf Mehdi of Microsoft.

Customized Advertising and Promotions

Traditional media remain viable in many instances. The profusion of specialized programs on cable TV may offer excellent promotion opportunities for you. It would be difficult to ignore golf programming if you owned a sporting goods store. The surge in digital content and the emergence of digital omnivores, however, create real opportunities to shift from high-cost, mass market to low-cost targeted advertising and promotions. Branding, formerly the playground of big business with huge mass-advertising budgets, is now possible for small businesses. By employing digital marketing techniques, you can engage your customers in two-way communication. This allows you to customize your branding messages and promotional offers for small, even micro, audiences that reflect their desires and preferences.

Digital Marketing Tools

Digital marketing signals the switch to promotional media for advertising and promotions. Accordingly, it is well-suited for small businesses. You can target audiences with greater precision and at significantly lower costs. In effect, you can now build your brand and offer promotions using the same digital media tools. For instance, content marketing -- media content that you develop for blogs, white papers and newsletters -- is growing in popularity because of its outstanding branding effectiveness, and it's basically free. Your digital marketing tools include your website, content marketing, online advertising, online and offline public relations initiatives and your engagement in social media.