What is digital marketing?
Digital Marketing | Marketing | July 27th, 2018
Contributor Phil Robinson. Partner, Founder + CE
Digital marketing encompasses all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and their websites to connect with current and prospective customers.
With how accessible the internet is today, would you believe me if I told you the number of people who go online every day is still increasing?
Marketing has always been about connecting with your audience in the right place and at the right time. Today, that means you need to meet them where they are already hanging out: online!
How Do You Define Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is defined by the use of numerous digital tactics and channels to connect with customers where they spend much of their time: online. From the website itself to a business’s online branding assets — digital advertising, email marketing, online brochures, and beyond — there’s a spectrum of tactics that fall under the umbrella of “digital marketing.”
Digital Marketing Tactics and Examples
The best digital marketers have a clear picture of how each digital marketing campaign supports their overarching goals. And depending on the goals of their marketing strategy, marketers can support a larger campaign through the free and paid channels at their disposal.
A content marketer, for example, can create a series of blog posts that serve to generate leads from a new ebook the business recently created. The company’s social media marketer might then help promote these blog posts through paid and organic posts on the business’s social media accounts. Perhaps the email marketer creates an email campaign to send those who download the ebook more information on the company. We’ll talk more about these specific digital marketers in a minute.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common digital marketing tactics and the channels involved in each one.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This is the process of optimizing your website to “rank” higher in search engine results pages, thereby increasing the amount of organic (or free) traffic your website receives. The channels that benefit from SEO include:
This term denotes the creation and promotion of content assets for the purpose of generating brand awareness, traffic growth, lead generation, and customers. The channels that can play a part in your content marketing strategy include:
- Blog posts.
- Ebooks and whitepapers.
- Online brochures and lookbooks.
Social Media Marketing
This practice promotes your brand and your content on social media channels to increase brand awareness, drive traffic, and generate leads for your business. The channels you can use in social media marketing include:
PPC is a method of driving traffic to your website by paying a publisher every time your ad is clicked. One of the most common types of PPC is Google AdWords, which allows you to pay for top slots on Google’s search engine results pages at a price “per click” of the links you place. Other channels where you can use PPC include:
- Paid ads on Facebook.
- Promoted Tweets on Twitter.
- Sponsored Messages on LinkedIn.
This is a type of performance-based advertising where you receive commission for promoting someone else’s products or services on your website. Affiliate marketing channels include:
- Hosting video ads through the YouTube Partner Program.
- Posting affiliate links from your social media accounts.
Native advertising refers to advertisements that are primarily content-led and featured on a platform alongside other, non-paid content. BuzzFeed-sponsored posts are a good example. Many people also consider social media advertising to be “native” — Facebook advertising and Instagram advertising, for example.
Marketing automation refers to the software that serves to automate your basic marketing operations. Many marketing departments can automate repetitive tasks they would otherwise do manually, such as:
- Email newsletters.
- Social media post scheduling.
- Contact list updating.
- Lead-nurturing workflows.
- Campaign tracking and reporting.
Companies use email marketing as a way of communicating with their audiences. Email is often used to promote content, discounts and events, as well as to direct people toward the business’s website. The types of emails you might send in an email marketing campaign include:
- Blog subscription newsletters.
- Follow-up emails to website visitors who downloaded something.
- Customer welcome emails.
- Holiday promotions to loyalty program members.
- Tips or similar series emails for customer nurturing.
Online PR is the practice of securing earned online coverage with digital publications, blogs, and other content-based websites. It’s much like traditional PR, but in the online space. The channels you can use to maximize your PR efforts include:
- Reporter outreach via social media.
- Engaging online reviews of your company.
- Engaging comments on your personal website or blog.
Inbound marketing refers to the “full-funnel” approach to attracting, engaging, and delighting customers using online content. You can use every digital marketing tactic listed above throughout an inbound marketing strategy.
Does Digital Marketing Work for All Businesses?
Digital marketing can work for any business in any industry. Regardless of what your company sells, digital marketing still involves building out buyer personas to identify your audience’s needs, and creating valuable online content. However, that’s not to say all businesses should implement a digital marketing strategy in the same way.
B2B Digital Marketing
If your company is business-to-business (B2B), your digital marketing efforts are likely to be centered around online lead generation. Usually, the end goal is for someone to speak to a salesperson. For that reason, the role of your marketing strategy is to attract and convert the highest quality leads for your salespeople via your website and supporting digital channels.
Beyond your website, you’ll probably choose to focus your efforts on business-focused channels like LinkedIn where your demographic is spending their time online.
B2C Digital Marketing
If your company is business-to-consumer (B2C), depending on the price point of your products, it’s likely that the goal of your digital marketing efforts is to attract people to your website and have them become customers without ever needing to speak to a salesperson.
For that reason, you’re probably less likely to focus on ‘leads’ in their traditional sense, and more likely to focus on building an accelerated buyer’s journey, from the moment someone lands on your website, to the moment that they make a purchase. This will often mean your product features in your content higher up in the marketing funnel than it might for a B2B business, and you might need to use stronger calls-to-action (CTAs).
For B2C companies, channels like Instagram and Pinterest can often be more valuable than business-focused platforms LinkedIn.
What Are the Benefits of Digital Marketing?
Unlike most offline marketing efforts, digital marketing allows marketers to see accurate results in real time. If you’ve ever put an advert in a newspaper, you’ll know how difficult it is to estimate how many people actually flipped to that page and paid attention to your ad. There’s no surefire way to know if that ad was responsible for any sales at all.
On the other hand, with digital marketing, you can measure the ROI of pretty much any aspect of your marketing efforts.
Here are some examples:
With digital marketing, you can see the exact number of people who have viewed your website’s homepage in real time by using digital analytics software, available in marketing platforms like HubSpot.
You can also see how many pages they visited, what device they were using, and where they came from. There are many other components digital analytics data too.
This intelligence helps you to prioritise which marketing channels to spend more or less time on, based on the number of people those channels are driving to your website. For example, if only 10% of your traffic is coming from organic search, you know that you probably need to spend some time on SEO to increase that percentage.
With offline marketing, it’s very difficult to tell how people are interacting with your brand before they have an interaction with a salesperson or make a purchase. With digital marketing, you can identify trends and patterns in people’s behaviour before they’ve reached the final stage in their buyer’s journey, meaning you can make more informed decisions about how to attract them to your website right at the top of the marketing funnel.
Content Performance and Lead Generation
Imagine you’ve created a product brochure and posted it through people’s letterboxes — that brochure is a form of content, albeit offline. The problem is that you have no idea how many people opened your brochure or how many people threw it straight into the trash.
Now imagine you had that brochure on your website instead. You can measure exactly how many people viewed the page where and where it’s hosted. Then you can collect the contact details of those who download it by using forms. Not only can you measure how many people are engaging with your content, but you’re also generating qualified leads when people download it.
Do I Need a Big Budget for Digital Marketing?
As with anything, it really depends on what elements of digital marketing you’re looking to add to your strategy.
If you’re focusing on inbound techniques like SEO, social media, and content creation for a preexisting website, the good news is you don’t need very much budget at all. With inbound marketing, the main focus is on creating high quality content that your audience will want to consume, which unless you’re planning to outsource the work, the only investment you’ll need is your time.
With outbound techniques like online advertising and purchasing email lists, there is undoubtedly some expense. What it costs comes down to what kind of visibility you want to receive as a result of the advertising.
For example, implementing PPC using Google AdWords. You’ll bid against other companies in your industry to appear at the top of Google’s search results for keywords associated with your business. Depending on the competitiveness of the keyword, this can be reasonably affordable, or extremely expensive, which is why it’s a good idea to focus building your organic reach, too.
I’m Ready to Try Digital Marketing. Now What?
There’s a huge amount of information freely available online about digital marketing and what we find from the people we talk to is that it’s massively overwhelming. It’s like an elaborate underground network of tunnels and once you’re down that rabbit hole with so many paths to choose which direction do you even go?
The general consensus from the business owners we talk to about digital marketing is this:
- They know they WANT to do it .
- They know they NEED to do it.
- But they just don’t know where to start.
It comes down to recognising and understanding that digital marketing is essentially like a foreign language, only a foreign language doesn’t change eery five minutes…So we believe you need to ask yourself 3 questions…
- Do I want to learn this new language myself and keep up-to-date with the changes, and if so;
- Do I have the time to learn it along with running my business? or;
- Do I just need a translator?
If you’re not sure, please feel free to get in touch and book a free, no obligation discovery meeting as to your best options to conquer the minefield going forward. Book a free consultation hereBack