The term digital marketing refers to the use of digital channels to market products and services in order to reach consumers. This type of marketing involves the use of websites, mobile devices, social media, search engines, and other similar channels. Digital marketing became popular with the advent of the internet in the 1990s.
Digital marketing involves some of the same principles as traditional marketing and is often considered a new way for companies to approach consumers and understand their behavior. Companies often combine traditional and digital marketing techniques in their strategies.
Why Digital Marketing Matters
Remember billboards? I do.
As a young kid in California, my experiences from the back seat of our car mostly alternated between: “Mom, when are we there?” and “Uh, look, McDonald’s, can we go?” whenever one of those 10-foot billboards popped up on the side of the road.
Growing up with Indian parents, the answer to both of those would, most times, be the same: “not yet.”
In 2015, many of my clients spent hundreds of millions of dollars on billboard advertising.
Today, most companies have moved to online marketing.
That’s because Google and Facebook generate more revenue than any traditional media company. After all, they control more eyeballs. That’s why digital marketing matters; it’s where the attention is.
The reason why billboards, like the ones above, will die, is because the future of driving will look like this:
How Digital Marketing Works?
First, you need to specify your digital marketing goals i.e. what you want to achieve with digital marketing. Some common examples are: to increase brand awareness, make more sales, or grow your community.
Then you need to decide which marketing channels can help you achieve your goals. For example, if your goal is to make more sales then running paid campaigns on Google and Facebook is a good starting point.
To make the whole process easier to manage, you can create a plan specifying how much money you’ll spend, define your target audience, define your performance metrics, and other information that will help you control the process.
This is what a digital marketing campaign is all about. Don’t worry if it’s confusing now, there is a more detailed example of how to create a successful digital marketing campaign towards the end of this post.
Before creating your first digital marketing campaign, you need to know the different marketing channels and how they work.
Digital marketing techniques across 7 media channels
here are many online communications techniques that marketers must prioritize to include as part of their communications strategy. Marketers often use paid, owned and earned media to describe investments at a high-level, but it’s more common to refer to six specific digital media channels when selecting specific always-on and campaign investments.
To simplify prioritization, we recommend considering the paid, owned and earned techniques available within six digital media channels or communications tools shown in the next visual. Combining the techniques in this way gives 18 digital communications techniques for businesses to consider. Companies with limited budget for paid media can focus on Owned and Earned techniques.
1 Search engine marketing
Gaining visibility on a search engine to encourage click-through to a website when the user types a specific keyword phrase. Two key search marketing techniques are paid placements using pay-per-click via Google Ads or Bing, and placements in the natural or organic listings using search engine optimisation (SEO) where no charge is made for clicks from the search engine.
SEO can be considered owned media since it involves on-page optimisation by improving the relevance of content and technical improvements to the website to improve crawlability monitored through Google Search Console. SEO also has an Earned media component where visibility in the search engines can be improved by getting relevant ‘backlinks’ from websites which effectively count as a citation or vote.
2 Social media marketing
The primary goal of a social media marketing campaign is brand awareness and establishing social trust. As you go deeper into social media marketing, you can use it to get leads or even as a direct sales channel. Promoted posts and tweets are two examples of social media marketing.
The top of the funnel is awareness. This is the stage where you can use Facebook ads to introduce your brand to Facebook users. Your goal at this stage is to get your ad in front of as many people as possible and gain new followers.
The second step is discovery. During this stage, you can start engaging with your audience by answering their questions on Messenger or email, and by providing value through your blog posts and FB postings.
The third step is consideration. At this stage, your goal is to get people (that showed an interest in your brand) and pass them through the middle of the funnel and get them to visit your website, engage with your page, install your app, and send you a message, etc.
The fourth step is conversion. This is the final step where you try to convince people that enter your funnel to convert. A conversion can be anything that has value for your business like the sale of a product or service or a visit to your store.
3. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
PPC advertising gives you the ability to reach internet users on a number of networks through paid ads.
You can set up PPC campaigns on Google, Bing, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook and show your ads to people searching for terms related to your products or services.
PPC campaigns can segment users based on their demographic characteristics (age, gender, etc) or even their particular interests or location.
Every time a user clicks on your ads, you pay a fee to the provider (and thus the term pay per click).
4. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest forms of marketing, and the internet has brought new life to this old standby. With affiliate marketing, influencers promote other people’s products and get a commission every time a sale is made or a lead is introduced. Many well-known companies like Amazon have affiliate programs that pay out millions of dollars per month to websites that sell their products.
As mentioned, the quality of your content is a key component of an optimized page. As a result, 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 potential value from a product or service, it offers value for free in the form of written material, such as:
• Blog posts
• Video or audio transcripts
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.
To create effective content that’s highly relevant and engaging, it’s important to identify your audience. Who are you ultimately trying to reach with your content marketing efforts? Once you have a better grasp of your audience, you can determine the type of content you’ll create. You can use many formats of content in your content marketing, including videos, blog posts, printable worksheets, and more.
Regardless of which content you create, it’s a good idea to follow content marketing best practices. This means making content that’s grammatically correct, free of errors, easy to understand, relevant, and interesting. Your content should also funnel readers to the next stage in the pipeline, whether that’s a free consultation with a sales representative or a signup page.
Despite the increased use of social media networks, email marketing is still one of the most effective digital marketing channels.
Many people confuse email marketing with the hundreds of spam email messages we all receive per day, but that’s not what email marketing is all about.
Email marketing is the medium to get in touch with your potential customers or the people interested in your brand and this entails that these people want to hear from you and you are not hijacking their inbox.
In fact, many successful online businesses and marketers use all other digital marketing channels to add leads to their email lists, and then through email marketing, they create a number of funnels to turn those leads into customers.
Mobile marketing is a digital marketing strategy that allows you to engage with your target audience on their mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This can be via SMS and MMS messages, social media notifications, mobile app alerts, and more.
It’s crucial to ensure that all content is optimized for mobile devices. According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans own a smartphone, so your marketing efforts can go a long way when you create content for computer and mobile screens
The benefits of digital marketing
Digital marketing has become prominent largely because it reaches such a wide audience of people. However, it also offers a number of other advantages that can boost your marketing efforts. These are a few of the benefits of digital marketing.
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 and connect with a larger audience across different digital channels.
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 Challenges
Digital marketing poses special challenges for its purveyors. Digital channels proliferate rapidly, and digital marketers have to keep up with how these channels work, how they’re used by receivers, and how to use these channels to effectively market their products or services.
It’s becoming more difficult to capture receivers’ attention because receivers are increasingly inundated with competing ads. Digital marketers also find it challenging to analyze the vast troves of data they capture and then exploit this information in new marketing efforts.
The challenge of capturing and using data effectively highlights that digital marketing requires an approach to marketing based on a deep understanding of consumer behavior. For example, it may require a company to analyze new forms of consumer behavior, such as using website heatmaps to learn more about the customer journey.
What is the role of a digital marketing manager?
The role of a digital marketing manager or a digital marketing consultant is to create a well-defined digital marketing strategy. It’s his job to decide which channels to use, where to allocate the budget, and in what order.
The DMM has also the role to oversee the work of the other managers and make sure that everybody is working towards the same goals.
A typical ‘digital marketing team’ has the following roles:
A person with skills and good knowledge related to:
- Social Media
- Content marketing
- PPC advertising
SEO Experts are not digital marketing managers. A digital marketing manager has a broad understanding of ALL digital marketing channels and not just SEO.
Most successful digital marketing managers are experienced SEOs who have working experience with other marketing channels as well.
Content marketing manager
A content marketing manager is responsible to create and execute the content marketing plan. He is the person to decide what type of content to create and what channels to utilize.
Social media manager
A social media manager is responsible for the promotion of a company through various social channels. He works closely with the content marketing manager to push the right content to the right people at the right time.
Depending on the team structure, you may decide to have a dedicated SEO manager that can assist the Digital Marketing Manager with SEO related tasks.
A PPC manager is responsible for running paid campaigns on different platforms, mainly Google Ads, Facebook Ads (including Instagram), and Bing.
PPC managers can become certified in Google Ads or Facebook, which is another way to prove their qualifications.
Email marketing manager
The job of an email marketing manager is to ensure that any email leads created through all the other channels are entered into suitable email funnels that will eventually lead to conversions.
Sending a newsletter every now and then is not email marketing. A proper email marketing campaign turns leads into customers and this is the reason you need to have a dedicated manager to monitor these activities.
Digital marketing KPIs
Digital marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to measure marketing campaign performance. Digital marketers can use a number of KPIs to track results. As you work through your strategy, determining which specific digital marketing KPIs to use makes it easier to determine targets and goals and to measure campaign performance, including the following data:
- Returning visitors to website. Indicates engagement because visitors are coming back to your website/landing page to consume more content or take a specific action.
- First visit. Understand how people are finding your website and how engaged they are once they do.
- Web traffic sources. Shows how people are finding your website/landing page.
- Total visits. The number of single browsing sessions by individual visitors to your site.
- Total unique visits. The number of people who have visited your website/landing page.
- Click-through rate (CTR). The percentage of people who clicked on a CTA or link.
- Average time on page. The average amount of time all users spend on a single page.
- Marketing ROI (return on investment). How much revenue a marketing campaign is earning compared to the cost of running that campaign.
Future of digital marketing
It all started with mobile, which has impacted digital marketing in a huge way. Consumer behavior has changed with the times. Customers now expect more from their brands, and micromoments count. What is a micromoment? It involves a consumer interacting with a brand at the touch of a button and in real time. The challenge for digital marketers now lies in intersecting people at micromoments with relevant marketing messaging that adds to their lives rather than disrupting them.
Customers now expect a unique, connected, and seamless experience across all channels and instant gratification. You only have a micromoment to capture their attention and hold it with a strong message and a delightful, engaging experience. If you don’t, they will move on to the next offer. This has made the old methods of marketing obsolete.
Modern marketers must adopt a mobile-first approach with their global audiences. You must keep in in mind that customers:
- Desire to all be treated uniquely.
- Are in charge. They decide when, where, and how they’ll interact with your brand. They want a frictionless experience and to be able to start a conversation on any channel, which can carry seamlessly onto another channel if they choose.
- Wish to be served in the least amount of time possible but with the most convenience.
- The walls between B2C and B2B are breaking down. The delightful experiences people have had with B2C are making them expect more of the same from B2B, but really, you are always marketing to people, regardless of whether it is B2B or B2C. You could say that it is now B2ME.
This might be the future, but the future is now. It is happening right in front of everyone’s eyes. You cannot afford to be left behind. In fact, you best get ahead of the curve.
But what actions can a smart, savvy digital marketer take?
- Adopt a data-first mindset. Having more data fluidity and making better use of the data you have will allow you to better understand customers and anticipate their needs and not waste even an iota of their time.
- Push automation and intelligence to the max. You’ll need marketing automation to capture a huge amount of data and serve customers in real time.
- You must treat every customer uniquely, differently, and appropriately. You need to take the intelligence you derive from micromoments and stitch them together for a fuller picture of your customer. That’s how you create a more connected experience.
- Embrace omnichannel fluidity. You have to be ready to engage with customers across any channel and in real time and keep up with them if they go from channel to channel.