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 other websites to connect with current and prospective customers.
Digital marketing as defined by a Business
The best digital marketers clearly understand 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.
Digital Marketing Examples
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay Per Click (PPC)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Native Advertising
- Marketing Automation
- Email Marketing
- Online PR
- Inbound Marketing
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 websites, blogs, and infographics.
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: Writing and publishing articles on a company blog helps you demonstrate your industry expertise and generates organic search traffic for your business. This ultimately gives you more opportunities to convert website visitors into leads for your sales team.
Ebooks and whitepapers: Ebooks, whitepapers, and similar long-form content help further educate website visitors. It also allows you to exchange content for a reader’s contact information, generating leads for your company and moving people through the buyer’s journey.
Infographics: Sometimes, readers want you to show, not tell. Infographics are a form of visual content that helps website visitors visualize a concept you want to help them learn.
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. You can use channels in social media marketing, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
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 Ads, 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:
This is a type of performance-based advertising where you receive a 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. Facebook advertising and Instagram advertising, are some examples of these advertisements.
Marketing automation refers to the software that serves to automate basic marketing operations. Many marketing departments can automate repetitive tasks they would otherwise do manually, such as:
Email automation doesn’t just allow you to send emails to your subscribers automatically. It can also help you shrink and expand your contact list as needed, so your newsletters are only going to the people who want to see them in their inboxes.
Social media post scheduling
You need to post frequently if you want to grow your organization’s presence on a social network. This makes manual posting a bit of an unruly process. Social media scheduling tools push your content to your social media channels for you to spend more time focusing on content strategy.
Generating leads, and converting those leads into customers, can be a long process. You can automate that process by sending leads specific emails and content once they fit certain criteria, such as when they download and open an ebook.
Campaign tracking and reporting
Marketing campaigns can include a ton of different people, emails, content, web pages, phone calls, and more. Marketing automation can help you sort everything you work on by the campaign it’s serving and then track the performance of that campaign based on the progress all of these components make over time.
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 of 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:
For example, talking to journalists on Twitter is a great way to develop a relationship with the press that produces earned media opportunities for your company.
Engaging online reviews of your company:
When someone reviews your company online, whether that review is good or bad, your instinct might be not to touch it. On the contrary, engaging company reviews help you humanize your brand and deliver powerful messaging that protects your reputation.
Engaging comments on your personal website or blog
Similar to how you’d respond to reviews of your company, responding to the people reading your content is the best way to generate productive conversation around your industry.
Inbound marketing refers to a marketing methodology wherein you attract, engage, and delight customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey. You can use every digital marketing tactic listed above throughout an inbound marketing strategy to create a customer experience that works with the customer, not against them. Here are some classic examples of inbound marketing versus traditional marketing:
Blogging vs. pop-up ads
Video marketing vs. commercial advertising
Email contact lists vs. email spam
Role of a Digital Marketer
Digital marketers are in charge of driving brand awareness and lead generation through all the free and paid digital channels that are at a company’s disposal. These channels include social media, the company’s own website, search engine rankings, email, display advertising, and the company’s blog.
The digital marketer usually focuses on a different key performance indicator (KPI) for each channel so they can properly measure the company’s performance across each one. A digital marketer who’s in charge of SEO, for example, measures their website’s “organic traffic” — that traffic coming from website visitors who found a page of the business’s website via a Google search.
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.
The role of digital marketing in a company
Unlike most offline marketing efforts, digital marketing allows marketers to see accurate results in real time. If you’ve ever put an advertisement 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. You can also see how many pages they visited, what device they were using, and where they came from, amongst other digital analytics data.
This intelligence helps you to prioritize 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.
How long will it take to see results from my content?
With digital marketing, it can often feel like you’re able to see results much faster than you might with offline marketing due to the fact it’s easier to measure ROI. However, it ultimately depends on the scale and effectiveness of your digital marketing strategy.
By investing time in building detailed buyer personas and creating high-quality online content that attracts and converts your audience, you can expect to see strong results within the first six months.
If paid advertising is in your digital strategy, results come even quicker. However, it’s advisable to prioritize building organic (or ‘free’) reach through content, SEO, and social media for long-term success.
Do I need a big budget for digital marketing?
As with anything, it depends on what elements of digital marketing you want to add to your strategy. When using inbound techniques like SEO, social media, and content creation for an existing website, you don’t need a big budget. In inbound marketing, the primary focus is on creating high-quality content that your audience will want to consume. Unless you’re planning to outsource the work, the only investment you’ll need is your time.
Benefits of Digital Marketing
Having a strong digital presence will help you in multiple ways:
- It will make it easier to create awareness and engagement both before and after the sale
- It will help you convert new buyers into rabid fans who buy more (and more often)
- It will kickstart word-of-mouth and social sharing—and all the benefits that come with them
- It will shorten the buyer’s journey by presenting the right offers at the right time
Both digital and traditional marketing convey product or service value from producer to end user through a supply chain. For instance, a typical digital marketing channel is email. Organizations can keep users informed about activities and promotions by subscribing to the newsletter related to their consumption. Besides the traditional approach, the cost-effective nature and efficiency of digital marketing channels are essential features in the sharing economy.