What is Digital Marketing?

by Teodora Dobrilova

We live in a world, where receiving a text from your refrigerator telling you you’re out of milk is a part of daily life. A few years ago this would have sounded like a bad tech joke.

Massive portions of our lives are now uploaded online. We post photos of our food, dogs, babies. Every small achievement is now a live event on Facebook.

It’s absolutely normal that we’ve started hearing the term “digital marketing” more and more.

But what is digital marketing and why is it important?

Riddle me this.

What’s the point of marketing?

To promote a product or a service to a group of people, right?

Right.

And where is everyone these days?

Well, online, of course.

Enter digital marketing.

Digital marketing is a collective term for all types of digital advertising. It is important to note it isn’t solely online marketing. Although most marketers don’t include them in their strategies, SMS, TV, and radio are all part of it.

Basically, the simplest, most obvious definition of digital marketing is that it encompasses every digital tool.

Having an expertly developed digital marketing plan these days is vital. Don’t believe me?

Maybe these stats will convince you:

  • 47% of all internet users have a Facebook profile.
  • Companies that use inbound marketing see results in around 6 months.
  • As many as 50% of businesses don’t have a clearly developed digital marketing strategy. (And yours will be ahead of them if you have one.)
  • Only 34% of the digital agencies carry out digital marketing strategies.
  • 72% of businesses claim that videos have improved their conversion rates.
  • 90% of customers say that they were influenced to make a purchase after seeing a video.

See?

Digital marketing is the key to success nowadays.

But before we dive deeper, there’s one very important thing we need to cover.

What is digital marketing and what is inbound marketing?

Digital vs. Inbound Marketing

The main point of inbound marketing is to be useful to your audience. This, in turn, allows you to introduce your product or service and draw them in.

It’s all about creating content, such as websites, writing blog posts, and managing social media. In contrast, a banner on a website can never be considered inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing falls under the digital marketing umbrella.

The opposite term would be outbound marketing. It covers general media advertising, face-to-face meetings, and cold contact. Basically, this is the old-school marketing we’re used to – ads on TV, radio, in magazines, billboards, brochures, ad banners, etc.  

So what’s the defining characteristic of inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing aims to draw in customers. Its goal is to be informative and engaging.

Inbound marketing is a powerhouse for results. Companies that use inbound marketing see results in around 6 months and that’s not something to turn a blind eye on.

But it is not only the inbound version of it; digital marketing as a whole has a lot of benefits.

What Are the Benefits of Digital Marketing

The dessert is the best part of a meal. It usually comes last.

Still, let’s just get a taste of it, and hopefully we won’t spoil our appetite. The best part of this approach is:

Digital marketing lets you measure your results in real time.

Of course, getting the end result will take some time, but numbers start piling up almost immediately and you can follow closely how your strategy is working.

Isn’t that great?

Gone are the days of waiting and guessing.

If your ad plays on TV, it takes a lot more effort to estimate how many people saw it and how many of them actually took action after seeing it.

With digital marketing, you can see the benefits sooner and track in real time the performance of your campaign.

Digital marketing also increases awareness.

These days people spend most of their time online. Well, most people at least. Unless you’re in some exotic niche, chances are your audience does so as well. They read the news online, they shop online, they keep in touch online.

A Facebook ad is sure to generate way more traffic than an ad in a local magazine. And it’s going to be more targeted traffic to boot – i.e. people who may actually want to buy from you.

With recent research showing 47% of all internet users have a Facebook profile, your audience is likely on there as well.

And, in case your business is not location-bound, digital marketing gives you global reach. Without you having to move from your chair!

Sounds like the American dream.

Kinda.

Digital marketing also comes at a lower cost. A well-optimized strategy might even cost you nothing.

You read that right.

Put in the needed time, effort, and thought and you might not need to pay.

Mind = blown.

But a great plan is only as great as its goals and objectives.

Digital Marketing Goals and Objectives

As the saying goes, work smarter, not harder.

What do you need to be SMART?

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely goals.

Geddit?

SMART digital marketing goals.

Target a specific area.

Maybe you need more clients.

If that’s the case, make sure you set a measurable goal. 25% increase in clients, for example. That’s pretty specific and easy to measure.

Set attainable goals. 25% increase in customers over a few months is okay. 25% increase in a day is a bit too much to hope for.

Make sure the goal is relevant to your needs. If you don’t need new customers right now but you need to promote a new product to the existing ones, customer acquisition should be a secondary goal.

Take massive action and appreciate that time is a finite resource. You can’t expect miracles for a day, but don’t put off your goal. Set strict deadlines.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s discuss your main assets in the digital marketing world.

Every great warrior needs a good weapon, after all.

Digital Marketing Assets

Certain things can make your marketing efforts online way easier.

Website

Strong web presence is your main asset. Your best tool. Your fastest gun. Your sharpest sword. (Or whatever else gets your imagination going.)

You get the point.

Make sure your website is fast and has a pretty design.

Studies show people nowadays lack the patience to wait for a website to load. More than half will close a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Website design is also crucial.

You know the old saying “Don’t judge a book by the cover”?

Yeah, most people online never read that memo. We do judge websites by their designs. And we judge them hard.

Let’s be honest, we all like looking at pretty things. A lot of us even exit sites with bad designs immediately.

Make sure your gold actually glitters.

Videos

People remember videos more than any other type of content. When it comes to marketing, videos are your friend.

Scratch that. They’re your best friend.

A 3-minute-long video can deliver a lot of information for a short time. That said, it’s only natural that:

72% of businesses claim that posting videos has improved their conversion rates.

That’s not all.

90% of customers say that they were influenced to make a purchase after seeing a video.

Did you say that the cameras are rolling?

Images

Everyone loves pictures.

People are visual creatures. Embrace infographics and photos as part of your marketing strategy.

Consumers also prefer eye-catching product images.

Images are good for long articles and blog posts too. They give the reader the chance to relax for a second.

They are also attention-grabbing and entertaining.


Case in point.

Branding

Branding is the face of the thing you offer.

Again, make it pretty.

🎶 I feel preeeettyyyy, and wittyyyyy and

Nevermind.

A clever name will stick more easily with the audience. Most brand names are either acronyms or completely made up words, so bravely embrace your creative side.

Having an easily distinguishable logo is another crucial part. Once you have a kickass logo you want to put it everywhere.

Facebook cover. Instagram profile picture. Twitter header. Boxes, cups, your cat. Everywhere.

Colors are also vital, so choose them carefully. And make sure they look good together. No one wants to see neon green combined with deep orange.

Written Content

Blog posts, articles, ebooks and basically everything you can use to inform and educate your client about what you offer.

Testimonials and reviews are also good. No one will have full faith in you if you’re tooting your own horn.

Make them interesting and easy to remember. We’re not at uni and no one wants to read long boring lectures.

Social Media

It’s where the magic happens.

You have such a vast choice.

Need to post a video? YouTube and Instagram

Want to publish a photo? Instagram and Pinterest.

Wish you could talk to your customers? Facebook and Twitter.

Nowadays most people do their research first on social media and then everywhere else, so you need to be up there with everyone else.

So, you have your weapons ready and sharpened.

Now let’s talk strategies. We have the digital world to conquer, after all.

Digital Marketing Strategies

Why are good strategies important?

So that you don’t try to invade Russia during the winter, that’s why.

As many as 50% of businesses don’t have a clearly developed digital marketing strategy.

That’s not all.

Only 34% of the digital agencies carry out digital marketing strategies.

Don’t be Napoleon. Check the weather forecast first. Then come up with a good strategy.

Good strategies are the heart of what digital marketing is.

What does a good strategy involve anyway?

Content Marketing

Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of, well, content. And by that, I mean online materials like social media posts, blogs, vlogs, videos, and podcasts. The end goal is to attract new customers.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

That’s an advertising model, which drives traffic to a website. An advertiser places their ad on a website and pays the publisher for every user that clicks on said ad.

PPC works with search engines too, as you can see below.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If your website appears in the top search results, people are more likely to visit it.

Every search engine has the so-called crawlers. On top of other things, they gather content information on the internet.

Something like Varys in Game of Thrones.

You can ensure your site pops up on top when you post optimized content. You have to make sure the crawlers understand it correctly and your visitors find it entertaining. Title tags, keywords, meta descriptions, and all those details need to be taken care of.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The popular search engines – Google, Yahoo, and Bing – allow you to run text ads on the result pages. That’s one of the easiest, most effective ways to target future customers – while they’re searching for a product just like yours!

Being present in the search results can be a massive boon to your business. That’s why SEM is so popular. If, however, you don’t want to deal with the hassles of SEO – there’s an easier way. With PPC, you can just pay to have your listing appear in the search results.

Social Media Marketing

The best thing about social media?

It’s free.

It’s also extremely popular.

You can use any relevant social media platforms to promote your business. It takes a lot of dedication, sure, but in the end, it’s worth it.

Most platforms allow you to pay for promotion, but there are ways around that. If you don’t have the budget, you can just spend more time on them and attract attention naturally.

Still, time is money, so if you can afford it (and you have a good product or service, that people want to buy) – paid promotion is the way to go.

Email Marketing

You’d think that with so many new and fresh options, email marketing will be a little less popular.

But nope. It’s still here and is still going strong.

In fact, email is the best converting channel.

Email marketing is used to advertise promotions, sales, events, and it’s a widely known fact that, most of the time, abandoned shopping cart emails work wonders to bring customers back.

Email might be older tech, but it still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve. Actually, that’s an understatement.

People are starved for personal communication with someone who cares, instead of the usual random marketing messages that mostly only ask for money. Email is a great way to make that kind of communication happen.

Naturally, it touts the best ROI and conversion rates of any marketing channel.

Some of the most reliable email automation tools that can help you take advantage of what email marketing has to offer are:

– MailChimp is one of the best value offerings out there

– Aweber used to be the Gold standard in the email marketing community

– Drip is a relative newcomer that caters to advanced marketers

Affiliate Marketing

This is a way for businesses to invite people to promote their products and services. In return, it pays marketers a cut of the profits they generate.

The retailer or brand chooses an affiliate and a network to publish their ad on. The affiliate gets a commission for every customer gained with his or her help.

It is an extremely popular form on digital marketing with global market share of over $12 billion. Given that it is a performance-based marketing, it can be very affordable as well.

Influencer Marketing

As the name suggests, it involves paying an influencer to promote your product.

Influencers are quite different than celebrities. People nowadays tend to trust normal people with huge followings more than Selena Gomez, for example.

Just make sure you choose the right type of influencer.

I, personally, wouldn’t trust a Twitch streamer promoting Urban Decay lipsticks.

Also, influencers do not get commission per sale – which would be the main difference with affiliate marketing.

Well, we figured out what digital marketing strategies are and why they matter.

Now the question is how to make one?

How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy

There are several effective ways to create digital marketing strategies.

Here are some of them, to help you create a killer digital marketing plan.

Create a Buyer Persona

You need to know who you’re marketing your business to.

Creating a buyer persona is pretty easy. Do your research about your clients – interview some of them, post surveys on your digital marketing channels. Find out the age, gender, location, and occupation of your customers and use that information to create one or more buyer personas.

If you want optimal results, you can’t sell aforementioned Urban Decay lipsticks to people whose prime interest is cars.

Well, you can, but if said people are women, between the ages of 18 and 40, with above average income, and your lipsticks are all named after fancy car brands.

Now you see why creating a buyer persona is important.

Identify Your Goals

You always need a marketing goal. But make sure it’s an achievable one.

(Do not invade Russia during winter, this is not a realistic goal.)

Whatever the end goal is, you need to find the right tools for it.

What is the correct strategy for your digital marketing campaigns?

How can you measure your ROI?

Find the answers to these questions before you start.

Plan Your Budget

If you’re going to use paid digital marketing channels, you need to have a clear idea about how much you’re willing to spend.

Be realistic with your strategy.

Look at your existing channels and which ones give you the best ROI. Think of ways to optimize other platforms. Set a fitting deadline. And be flexible – things often change suddenly and you’ll most probably need to adapt your digital marketing strategy on the fly.

Digital Marketing Budget

I wanna be a billionaire so freakin’ bad

Buy all of the things I never had

Uh, I wanna be in the top Google search results…

🎶 🎶 🎶

As with everything else, it depends on which part of the digital marketing world we’re talking about.

There are platforms that allow you to build a website for free. Although you get limited features, you can still get a decent website this way.

All the same, there’s a reason why you shouldn’t. Most free platforms will include their ads on your website – which kind of defeats the purpose of having a website. You won’t get a reputation boost from having a website with spammy ads on it, and you won’t be able to monetize your website either – should you choose to do it.

Thankfully, having a website built for you is more affordable than you’d think. That’s an investment that’s well worth it.

Also, there are plenty of website building platforms with incredibly low entry requirements, both in terms of investment and technical acumen.

For most inbound strategies, even a tight budget is plenty.

Creating organic and engaging content is key here, and you don’t need to be a billionaire to make it work. You mainly need time (and talent, of course) to create high-quality content. Everything else is optional.

If you lack time and talent, you can hire someone to write said content for you. This, of course, would mean you have to spare some money for a freelance or a hired writer.

If you want to work with influencers, you surely need to have a planned budget for your campaign. Other forms of affiliate marketing, pay-per-click, and SEM also require some payment, but they won’t break the bank.

As I mentioned in the beginning, one of the perks of digital marketing is that it’s cheap.

Or at least cheaper than other forms of marketing.

Does this make it suitable for your business?

Is Digital Marketing a Good Option for All Businesses?

For 99.9% of businesses – the answer is yes.

Digital marketing can help all sorts of business. No matter your product or service, digital marketing helps build the “face” of your brand, connecting with your customers or reaching new ones.

Digital Marketing for B2B

If you’re B2B oriented, your best options are a good website, paid search advertising, email marketing, and LinkedIn.

Your goal here should be to reach a specific audience and to get it to speak to one of your salespeople. You need high-quality leads.

Most likely you won’t be talking to amateurs, so you need everything to be flawless.

Digital Marketing for B2C

B2C is comparatively easier than B2B. The prices are not as high and you don’t really need a salesperson involved.

What you absolutely must do for a successful B2C campaign is to make your product or service as attractive as possible.

People like brands that have a personal approach. They also like stories and to feel good about themselves. You’d think those are all obvious points, but for most marketers – they’re not.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest should be the heart of your

social media marketing strategy.

Make sure your social media profiles are aesthetically pleasing, as well as your website. Pretty things attract attention.

In other words, make it instagrammable.

And, while a pretty website can attract an audience, do include call-to-action buttons so they know what to do once on there!

Alright.

Well, young padawan.

You have your weapons.

You have your strategy.

You know your advantages.

How do you know when you’ve won, though?

Digital Marketing ROI

Have you ever wondered what digital marketing ROI is and how exactly to measure it?

All the answers you need to get proceed.

I’m not a very good Yoda, am I? At least it rhymed.

Measuring your ROI means quantifying the returns of your marketing campaigns and estimating how they relate to the time and money you’ve invested.

Measuring ways differ depending on your end goal.

However, here are some of the more popular digital marketing metrics, to help you get a better idea of the situation.

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates tell you what part of the audience you’ve engaged has taken the desired action. The easiest example would be the ratio between site visitors and actual new clients.

Keep a close eye on your conversion rates by channel and by device. It will show you where

you can realistically improve and where your efforts pay no dividends.

Cost Per Lead

There’s a chance this one is obvious. Still – let’s explain it. This is the amount of money a business needs to pay to get a new lead for their business. It’s the most important metric if your goal is getting new leads.

It’s ridiculously simple to come up with this number. You only need to divide your total spend by the total number of leads you got from an ad or a campaign.

Cost Per Acquisition

This metric shows you how much it costs to acquire a new customer. To get the number, divide your marketing costs by the number of sales.

If you spend more money on getting a customer than you earn from their business – that’s called negative ROI. Obviously, those are the kind of campaigns you should avoid.

Lead Close Rate

You may have gotten those leads for cheap, but they’re not worth anything until you close them. This is where the effectiveness of your campaign becomes really obvious.

To improve your lead close rate you need two things – good salespeople and quality leads. Neither of those comes cheap, but it’s the cost of doing business and actually being profitable.

All of this is a convoluted way of saying “You need to spend money to make money”.

Average Order Value

Or in other words, how much money you receive each time someone places an order. To get the average order value, divide your total revenue by the number of orders.

Simple as that.

Customer Lifetime Value

That one’s easy – how much a customer will spend with your business over their lifetime. If you spend $100 to attract a client and they spend only $50 with you over their lifetime – you don’t need to calculate ROI to know it’s bad business. Don’t be too quick to judge, though. If the same customer returns every month and spends $50, then it’s a clear win for you in the long run.

Of course, that’s not all.

There are all kinds of metrics that might be meaningful to your business. These include:

  • Click-through rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Leads acquired
  • Traffic
  • Unique visitors
  • New followers
  • Time spent
  • Page views
  • Conversions
  • Bounce rate
  • Engagement rates

Of course, you don’t need to use them all, if you don’t have the budget.

While big enterprises can afford to measure ROI from all angles, small businesses are advised to choose one or two of those metrics. Conversion rates, Cost Per Acquisition and Customer Lifetime value should give you a clear enough picture.

Sounds a bit overwhelming, doesn’t it?

The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. There are various digital marketing tools to help you with that!

Digital Marketing Tools

The blacksmith needs his hammer. The marketer needs his digital marketing tools.

The difference is the marketer is expected to do a million things a second, which is frankly impossible. And this is where marketing tools come to the rescue.

Here’s a list of the more popular ones.

SEO Tools

SEO tools help research competition, organize content marketing strategy, and help generate organic traffic.

Google Keyword Planner

Your loyal SEO companion.

The best part? It’s completely free.

With Google Keyword Planner keyword planning is as easy as breathing.

You’ll be able to find keywords by phrases, categories, and websites. You’ll be able to follow search volume trends and see forecasts for your keywords, which will be based on your budget.

Google Keyword Planner also allows you to narrow results based on demographics.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is brilliant for SEO, for it offers you insight into your competitors’ business. It shows you where they rank, where they get their traffic from, how many backlinks they have and all kinds of other useful snippets.

You can also use it to get:

  • Backlink profiles
  • Search traffic analysis
  • Paid search traffic analysis
  • Keyword search volume and difficulty score
  • Clicks

Ahrefs uses different SEO metrics for all website analysis, so you get optimal results.

Analytics Tools

Tools that help you analyze the performance of your web presence – site, social media, email efforts – are an absolute necessity. Here are some of the most robust free options available.

Google Analytics

I admit it, Google Analytics looks a bit scary at first. But fear not, it is actually your friend.

It’s divided into distinct sections, each with its own set of tools:

  • Dashboards
  • Shortcuts
  • Intelligence
  • Events
  • Real-Time
  • Audience
  • Acquisition
  • Behavior
  • Conversions

The ones you need the most are Audience, Acquisition, and Behaviour.

Audience shows data about your website visitors and their demographics, the browsers, and devices they used to access your site.

Acquisition tells you how people found your site, whether it was with the help of a search engine, social media, etc.

Behavior helps you understand the way visitors interact with your site, which pages they spend more time on and which are not as popular.

Yandex Session Replay

Meet the Russian equivalent of Google Analytics. While they do share some features, Yandex has some hidden gems.

It can be used for any website worldwide, including those in China. And we all know how Google is with China.

One of the unique features of Yandex are the heat maps. They show where the user’s cursor has spend the most time on the page – in the form of a heat map. More clicks – more heat.

Session replays are another miracle of a feature. It allows you to play a recording of the most important actions the users have taken on your website. You can play it anytime.

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager lets you add tags to the content on your website. Tags, then, share information about your website with another data source – like Analytics.

The tool is divided into three sections:

  • Tags – Tracking pixels from third-party tools or snippets of the JavaScript
  • Triggers – They tell the Tag Manager how long to fire a tag
  • Variables – Any additional information that GTM needs

The good thing about GTM is it is quite easy to use, so you won’t need the help of your programmer friends.

Hootsuite

What’s Iron Man without Jarvis?

What’s a digital marketer without Hootsuite, our loyal social media helper?

We can’t always post on time, with our busy schedules and all. Thankfully, Hootsuite’s got us covered.

You can schedule numerous posts to be uploaded on social media, with tags and keywords preloaded. You can also upload your content on a cloud, so that it’s easily accessible for your team.

Hootsuite also tracks ROI, conversions, and public conversations about your posts for you.

Design

I already mentioned the importance of attractive design and branding. Here is a tool that can help you craft eye-catching content.

Canva

Do you have any designer skills?

If you don’t, Canva is here to help you create beautiful things.

It’s a drag-and-drop platform, that lets you create basically anything – from logos to presentations and social media posts.

They have a rich collection of fonts, images, and icons for you to choose from.

What are you waiting for?

Go create!

Project Management

Managing a successful digital marketing project might involve different degrees of remote collaboration. Maybe you’ll have to hire a professional designer from across the world or a talented copywriter.

Here are several powerful tools for remote project management.

Asana

Asana is a management system which makes life easier.

With Asana you can create projects and assign them to team members. You can also map out deadlines and track every project’s status.

Basically, it’s everything you need to do anyway, made easier by a compact digital marketing tool.

Trello

Trello is a visual management tool, which can also help your team stay organized.

It is user-friendly and extremely easy to navigate. It can be used along with other platforms and apps, such as Google Drive, Slack, Evernote, etc.

The only downside would be that it doesn’t allow time tracking, but that doesn’t seem to be hurting its popularity.

Slack

Gone are the days of Skype. Businesses nowadays use Slack.

It’s user-friendly. It allows you to create different channels for different topics. It has a lot of other tools. It’s everything your business can ask for. (Aside from more clients and greater profits, that is.)

Alright, we’re nearing the end of the article. Whew, that was long!

But we did learn quite a few new things, didn’t we?

Key Takeouts

We started the article with one question in mind – what is digital marketing?

We figured out that digital marketing is an umbrella term for all things marketing, that rely on digital technology.

We found out that digital marketing has a lot advantages over traditional marketing – it allows you to track your results in real time, it has a worldwide reach, and is generally cheaper.

We were reminded that we have to work SMART, not hard. Realistic goals and objectives are the key for all digital marketing strategies.

We learned what the key components for a successful digital marketing strategy are. We discovered how big of a budget we’ll need.

We were taught how to calculate our ROI and what tools can we use to help us navigate in the vast digital marketing world.

You’re now ready to conquer. Go for it!

 

FAQ

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is an umbrella term for all types of digital advertising. It includes social media marketing, content creating, email marketing, SEM, SEO, SMS, TV, and radio. Basically, all forms of marketing that rely on the digital.

Does my business need digital marketing?

Yes. It’s a digital world and you can find a huge pool of potential clients online.

Digital marketing also gives you a wider reach than traditional marketing.

Finally, it is proven to work for almost any type of business.

Can I blend digital and traditional marketing?

Of course, you can. It’s a free country.

Jokes aside, blending them will give you optimal results. It will help you reach more people than any of the approaches on its own.

Also, studies have shown that the more often people encounter your brand, the more they’ll trust it. Traditional marketing helps take advantage of that fact, when used alongside its digital cousin.

Do I need a digital marketing agency?

Digital marketing is no joke. It might look like it’s all fun and games, (and for the most part – it is) but it’s also time-consuming and there are a million little tasks you’d have to juggle with.

If you can’t afford an in-house digital marketing team, then a digital marketing agency is an adequate option.

Do I need a digital marketing strategy?

Technically, you always have a strategy. Shooting in the dark is a strategy too. Just not a very good one.

To get the most out of your marketing, you need a clearly defined strategy and SMART goals.

Think about them carefully and thoroughly before executing your plan.

Hopefully, this article helped you gain a sense of what digital marketing is. Till next time!

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