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Digital marketing is typically defined as marketing efforts that involve electronic devices or focus on online platforms, and the need for digital marketing cannot be ignored.
Americans today spend so much time plugged in and using devices that digital is the best opportunity to engage audiences and attract new prospects. In fact, the average American spends over 12 hours each day using electronic media, and that includes nearly five hours watching live television, nearly an hour and a half on their smartphones, and even two and three-quarter hours listening to the radio. When you look at numbers like these, it’s impossible to deny the need for digital marketing.
So what exactly is digital marketing and how can you create an effective strategy for a business? Today’s simple guide will tell you everything you need to know
Understanding the Components of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing covers a wide range of media and strategies that are designed to help you identify, engage, and convert prospects in the digital sphere.
Digital marketing efforts can have a variety of goals, but the most common ones include increasing traffic to your website, driving sales, gaining important customer insights, solidifying your brand’s image, increasing brand awareness, building relationships and trust with your audience, and providing something of value to prospects and customers.
For most marketers, efforts are concentrated on online channels, and the several major tools and platforms of digital marketing that we’ll focus on in more detail later are:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Search engine marketing
Take Stock of Your Digital Marketing Assets
Each digital marketing platform has a number of tools that marketers can use to achieve their goals, and these are sometimes referred to as assets.
These assets can be divided into three categories: owned, paid, and earned:
Owned assets are ones that you create and manage, and they include blogs, websites, social media profiles, emails, brochures, and other forms of written content. These assets provide digital marketers with a great level of control because you're in charge of how they look, how they're optimized, and what audience they're designed to reach.
As the name implies, paid assets are ones you pay for, and they include banner ads and displays, social media ads, pay-per-click, and other online advertising campaigns. Although these assets cost more than owned ones, they can be very effective at driving qualified leads to your site, expanding the reach of your owned assets, and there's a measure of guarantee that they’ll help you reach your goals.
You don’t often have to pay for or create earned assets, but you do have to work for them through customer and industry interactions. Examples of earned assets include product reviews, media coverage, testimonials, guest blogs and other content contributions, and social media posts that others share.
A Closer Look at SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a huge role in digital marketing because it’s all about increasing rankings and making sure your site is visible in order to drive traffic.
For instance, if you ran an independent cell phone retail and e-commerce store and were having to compete with the likes of Apple, then SEO would be your ticket to making sure when a prospect Googled iPhones for sale, your website appeared near the top of the first search engine result page.
SEO can be divided into two categories: on-page and off-page.
- On-page -Involves the technical optimizations that you perform on your own website, and it includes things like creating engaging content, optimizing content and page elements with keywords, improving site speed, creating internal links, using the right URL structure, dividing content using headings, and using title tags.
- Off-page - Mainly focuses on building a strong pool of backlinks to your website, because this tells search engines that your site is authoritative, relevant, and valuable, which is important for higher rankings.
Content is the bread and butter of digital marketing. It’s how you engage and excite prospects, reach new audiences, provide valuable information, and keep your audience informed. The types of content you create and the topics you explore will depend entirely on your audience, but the important thing is that it’s well written or produced, top-quality, authoritative, relevant, and of interest to your audience. Some of the most popular and important types of content include:
- Web page content
- How-to guides
Email may not be the most novel method of digital communication, but it’s still one of the most effective when it comes to marketing.
For one thing, email is ubiquitous: there are 3.7 billion email user s around the globe, so it’s pretty much guaranteed that you can reach your prospects through this channel. Moreover, email marketing is effective, and has one of the highest ROIs of any marketing effort, with each dollar spent bringing a return of $44.
The first step in email marketing is to amass your email list and to get permission from prospects. Next comes creating email content, which can include promotions, product updates, newsletters, videos, links to your latest blog posts and publications, and more.
Once you’ve created the content, it’s important to segment your email list based on things like demographics, purchasing history, and buyer journey stage (more on that later), and to target and personalize emails based on those factors. You'll also have to decide how often you want to correspond with prospects because while some people don’t mind getting daily updates from brands, others will respond better if they hear from you less frequently.
Social Media Marketing
81% of Americans use social media, and more and more brands realize that platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram are valuable resources to find and engage prospects.
To start, locate the platforms that your audience uses the most, and then create profiles for two to four of those networks. Here are some ways you can use social media as part of your digital marketing strategy:
- Identify new prospects
- Engage your audience
- Share the content you’ve created
- Participate in conversations
- Respond to customer complaints and queries
- Promote news about your brand
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM) refers to paid online marketing efforts that are designed to increase visibility and drive traffic to your website.
Examples of SEM include social media ads, sponsored posts, display ads (such as before a video), native ads, and paid search, such as pay-per-click, banner ads, remarketing, and Google shopping ads.
The important things to remember when creating these types of ads is to optimize them with keywords and negative keywords, include a call to action, create the ad with your target audience in mind, and target the ads to reach the right prospects.
The Importance of Measuring Results
Now that we’ve discussed the different tools of the trade, it’s time to talk about another crucial element of digital marketing: metrics and analysis.
The great thing about online digital marketing is that everything can be tracked, measured, and tweaked to constantly ensure the best results.
For instance, when you post on Facebook, you can use the site’s analytics to measure engagement, shares, comments, and other performance metrics. If, for instance, a particular post was shared more than others, garnered more comments, and created more engagement, then you could analyze why that post was successful to reproduce those good results. The same is true with your emails, blogs, website, SEM, and other strategies.
One important tool that should be mentioned here is A/B testing, which allows you to test two nearly identical versions of the same piece of content (such as a landing page, an ad, or an email) to see which one performs best. That way, you can make sure you’re always using the most effective versions of your content.
Integrating Buyer Journey
As digital marketers, it’s important to recognize that people’s online behavior is influenced by where they are in the buyer’s journey, and you should tailor content based on a prospect’s stage.
The buyer’s journey is divided into three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. The awareness stage is when the buyer becomes aware of a problem, and content should be general, informative, and not at all promotional. During consideration, buyers are researching multiple products and trying to determine which ones are a good fit, and content should focus on how your products can solve problems.
The final stage is the decision stage, and this is where content can get more branded and more promotional, but while still focusing on solving problems.
Digital marketing is the only way for modern businesses to maintain visibility in a world where people spend the majority of their days interacting with devices and spending hours online.
There are many aspects to digital marketing, and creating an effective strategy is about using all the different tools, creating content that will drive engagement, and
However, the content you create should be tailored and personalized for different segments of your audience, and you should always track and measure your efforts to ensure success.