What Is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing, also called online marketing, is the promotion of brands to connect with potential customers using the internet and other forms of digital communication. This includes not only email, social media, and web-based advertising, but also text and multimedia messages as a marketing channel.
Essentially, any marketing which uses electronic devices and can be used by marketing specialists to convey promotional messaging and measure its impact through your customer journey. In practice, digital marketing typically refers to marketing campaigns that appear on a computer, phone, tablet, or other devices. It can take many forms, including online video, display ads, search engine marketing, paid social ads and social media posts. Digital marketing is often compared to “traditional marketing” such as magazine ads, billboards, and direct mail. Oddly, television is usually lumped in with traditional marketing.
Types Of Digital Marketing
There are as many specializations within digital marketing as there are ways of interacting using digital media. Here are a few key examples.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is technically a marketing tool rather than a form of marketing in itself. The Balance defines it as “the art and science of making web pages attractive to search engines.”
The “art and science” part of SEO is what’s most important. SEO is a science because it requires you to research and weigh different contributing factors to achieve the highest possible ranking. Today, the most important elements to consider when optimizing a web page include:
- Quality of content
- Level of user engagement
- Number and quality of inbound links
The strategic use of these factors makes SEO a science, but the unpredictability involved makes it an art.
In SEO, there’s no quantifiable rubric or consistent rule for ranking highly. Google changes its algorithm almost constantly, so it’s impossible to make exact predictions. What you can do is closely monitor your page’s performance and make adjustments accordingly.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing means driving traffic and brand awareness by engaging people in discussion online. The most popular platforms for social media marketing are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with LinkedIn and YouTube not far behind.
Because social media marketing involves active audience participation, it has become a popular way of getting attention. It’s the most popular content medium for B2C marketers at 96%, and it’s gaining ground in the B2B sphere as well. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 61% of B2B content marketers increased their use of social media this year.
Social media marketing offers built-in engagement metrics, which are extremely useful in helping you to understand how well you’re reaching your audience. You get to decide which types of interactions mean the most to you, whether that means the number of shares, comments, or total clicks to your website.
Direct purchase may not even be a goal of your social media marketing strategy. Many brands use social media marketing to start dialogues with audiences rather than encourage them to spend money right away. This is especially common in brands that target older audiences or offer products and services not appropriate for impulse buys. It all depends on your company’s goals.
SEO is a major factor in content marketing, a strategy based on the distribution of relevant and valuable content to a target audience.
As in any marketing strategy, the goal of content marketing is to attract leads that ultimately convert into customers. But it does so differently than traditional advertising. Instead of enticing prospects with the potential value from a product or service, it offers value for free in the form of written material.
Content marketing matters and there are plenty of stats to prove it:
- 84% of consumers expect companies to produce entertaining and helpful content experiences
- 62% of companies that have at least 5,000 employees produce content daily
- 92% of marketers believe that their company values content as an important asset
As effective as content marketing is, it can be tricky. Content marketing writers need to be able to rank highly in search engine results while also engaging people who will read the material, share it, and interact further with the brand. When the content is relevant, it can establish strong relationships throughout the pipeline.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is posting an ad on a platform and paying every time someone clicks on it.
How and when people see your ad is a bit more complicated. When a spot is available on a search engine results page, also known as a SERP, the engine fills the spot with what is essentially an instant auction. An algorithm prioritizes each available ad based on a number of factors, including:
- Ad quality
- Keyword relevance
- Landing page quality
- Bid amount
Each PPC campaign has 1 or more target actions that viewers are meant to complete after clicking an ad. These actions are known as conversions, and they can be transactional or non-transactional. Making a purchase is a conversion, but so is a newsletter signup or a call made to your home office.
Whatever you choose as your target conversions, you can track them via your chosen platform to see how your campaign is doing.
The concept of email marketing is simple—you send a promotional message and hope that your prospect clicks on it. However, the execution is much more complex. First of all, you have to make sure that your emails are wanted. This means having an opt-in list that does the following:
- Individualizes the content, both in the body and in the subject line
- States clearly what kind of emails the subscriber will get
- Offers a clear unsubscribe option
- Integrates both transactional and promotional emails
You want your prospects to see your campaign as a valued service, not just as a promotional tool.
Email marketing is a proven, effective technique all on its own: 89% of surveyed professionals named it as their most effective lead generator.
It can be even better if you incorporate other techniques such as marketing automation, which lets you segment and schedule your emails so that they meet your customer’s needs more effectively.
The Benefits Of Digital Marketing For Your Business
Digital marketing should be one of the primary focuses of almost any business’s overall marketing strategy. Never before has there been a way to stay in such consistent contact with your customers, and nothing else offers the level of personalization that digital data can provide. The more you embrace the possibilities of digital marketing, the more you’ll be able to realize your company’s growth potential. These are a few of the benefits.
A Broad Geographic Reach
When you post an ad online, people can see it no matter where they are (provided you haven’t limited your ad geographically). This makes it easy to grow your business’s market reach.
Digital marketing not only reaches a broader audience than traditional marketing but also carries a lower cost. Overhead costs for newspaper ads, television spots, and other traditional marketing opportunities can be high. They also give you less control over whether your target audiences will see those messages in the first place.
With digital marketing, you can create just 1 content piece that draws visitors to your blog as long as it’s active. You can create an email marketing campaign that delivers messages to targeted customer lists on a schedule, and it’s easy to change that schedule or the content if you need to do so.
When you add it all up, digital marketing gives you much more flexibility and customer contact for your ad spend.
To know whether your marketing strategy works, you have to find out how many customers it attracts and how much revenue it ultimately drives. But how do you do that with a non-digital marketing strategy?
There’s always the traditional option of asking each customer, “How did you find us?”
Unfortunately, that doesn’t work in all industries. Many companies don’t get to have one-on-one conversations with their customers, and surveys don’t always get complete results.
With digital marketing, results monitoring is simple. Digital marketing software and platforms automatically track the number of desired conversions that you get, whether that means email open rates, visits to your home page, or direct purchases.
Digital marketing allows you to gather customer data in a way that offline marketing can’t. Data collected digitally tends to be much more precise and specific.
Imagine you offer financial services and want to send out special offers to people who have looked at your products. You know you’ll get better results if you target the offer to the person’s interest, so you decide to prepare 2 campaigns. One is for young families who have looked at your life insurance products, and the other is for millennial entrepreneurs who have considered your retirement plans.
How do you gather all of that data without automated tracking? How many phone records would you have to go through or customer profiles? And how do you know who has or hasn’t read the brochure you sent out?
With digital marketing, all of this information is already at your fingertips.
More Connection With Customers
Digital marketing lets you communicate with your customers in real-time. More importantly, it lets them communicate with you.
Think about your social media strategy. It’s great when your target audience sees your latest post, but it’s even better when they comment on it or share it. It means more buzz surrounding your product or service, as well as increased visibility every time someone joins the conversation.
Interactivity benefits your customers as well. Their level of engagement increases as they become active participants in your brand’s story. That sense of ownership can create a strong sense of brand loyalty.
Easy And Convenient Conversions
Digital marketing lets your customers take action immediately after viewing your ad or content. With traditional advertisements, the most immediate result you can hope for is a phone call shortly after someone views your ad. But how often does someone have the time to reach out to a company while they’re doing the dishes, driving down the highway, or updating records at work?
With digital marketing, they can click a link or save a blog post and move along the sales funnel right away. They might not make a purchase immediately, but they’ll stay connected with you and give you a chance to interact with them further.