(This post is intended to be an educational piece for both business owners and digital marketing aspirants)
By now, you might have heard the term “Digital Marketing”. But, like many others, probably you don’t have much clarity regarding the subject. So, what exactly is it? How can you make a career in digital marketing? What are the things that come under the purview of digital marketing?
Well, this mega-guide will answer all your questions. So, read on to understand the basics of Digital Marketing.
Definition of Digital Marketing
Wikipedia does a pretty decent job at explaining what Digital Marketing is:
“Digital marketing is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.”
So, you get the idea.
However, if that definition sounds a little too difficult for you, I’ve come up with an easy-to-understand definition of digital marketing for you.
Digital marketing is any kind of marketing that exists online. This is probably the easiest definition of digital marketing that’s both apt and self-explanatory.
Businesses, individuals, companies leverage an array of digital channels such as Google/Bing/Yahoo search, Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, and of course, their websites to connect with their target audience.
The assets that fall under the umbrella of Digital Marketing spans the spectrum from digital advertising to Social Media Marketing, email marketing, SEO and beyond.
Before we delve into the technicalities of Digital Marketing, it is important for you to know the importance of digital marketing for business.
Why is Digital Marketing important for business?
Consumer buying habits have shifted rapidly over the last few years. On an average, people are spending thrice the amount of time online than they did 4 years ago.
So, what does it mean for a business? It simply means that your customers have really changed the way they shop and buy.
It’s not the same as it used to be a decade ago; people simply don’t walk up to a store and buy a product anymore. Consumers have started to embrace online shopping and they even research about a product or service through the internet, read online reviews, etc before purchasing it.
So, offline marketing techniques such as newspaper ads, billboards, etc. are not as effective as it used to be a decade ago. You need to have a smart and modern marketing plan in place that can help you connect with your potential customers in the digital realm. And that’s exactly how a digital marketing campaign comes into play.
Moreover, your customers are on the internet today. So, that’s where you should meet them, right?
The assets and tactics that come under Digital Marketing
To brew up a digital marketing plan that works, you will need to put your digital assets together. In this section, I will give you a quick rundown of some of the most important digital marketing assets. Take a look at these assets and pay close attention to the details on how to put these assets to good use.
Your website (business/company website)
Your website is the face of your business in the digital world and most of the time; your digital marketing strategies will revolve around your website.
Improving the visibility of the website and getting it in front of the right audience is of paramount importance. Of course, to make that happen and drive traffic to your website, you will need the help of other assets as mentioned below.
Optimize your website
Optimizing the website is an important piece of the puzzle too. You can do all the marketing you want, drive a lot of traffic to your website and wait for the revenue to boom up. But, if your website is not optimized properly, the bounce rate will shoot through the roof and you will end up losing visitors as fast as you’ve earned them.
So, make sure you optimize your website in terms of page load time, design and responsiveness.
Unless they are fixed on something too fancy, I advise all my clients to go for a clutter-free design, which makes it easy for the visitors to navigate. On top of that, a simple design can go a long way in reducing the page load time.
As a quick note, I would like to add that optimizing your business website for mobiles and tablets is instrumental to digital success.
If it were up to me, I’d say blogging should be considered as one of the core tenets of Digital Marketing. However, this might not go down well with all the digital marketers though.
Now, you might be thinking whether blog posts are really essential. Well, being someone who works with small businesses as a digital marketing consultant, I can certainly relate to you the way you think.
I often have a hard time convincing my clients to include weekly blog posts as a part of their online marketing campaigns.
But, let me tell you that blog posts are one the best and rather, an inexpensive way to get meaningful traffic.
Every time you publish a blog, it adds one more indexed page to your website, which effectively translates to one more opportunity for your website to pop up in Search pages (Google, Bing, Yahoo).
There are plenty of benefits of blogging including SEO, long-term results, thought leadership, etc. We will talk about that in details in some other post
For now, let’s just stick to the fact that blogs posts are an integral part of digital marketing strategies and it is undoubtedly one of the most important assets that you have. So, if you are just starting out on your online marketing journey, try to crank out a blog post or two every week to gain a steady source of traffic.
Social Media Channels
Ever since people like you and me started flocking to the Social media sites, marketing gurus sensed an opportunity to harness the power of social media for business promotion.
As you are already aware by now, Social Media channels are one of the most powerful digital marketing assets that you have access to.
If done right, Social Media Marketing alone can generate tonnes of leads and drive an insane amount of traffic to a website leading to a tremendous increase in revenue.
Social Media channels are very powerful and hold tremendous potential but in order to execute a successful social media marketing campaign, you need to have patience, experience, and skill.
The fact that more than 1.5 billion people use Facebook makes it very clear why social media is such a powerful tool for digital marketing. Your customers are already on the Social media sites and most importantly, they are spending a lot of time there.
So, in a way, they are waiting to be “promoted to”. So, all you need to do is hop onto the social networks and start marketing your products or services.
I would like to mention a very important thing that you need to remember before you embark on your digital marketing journey (social media marketing to be more specific).
Not all social media channels will give you the same result.
For instance, marketing on Instagram might result in a higher ROI for a painting company than marketing on Facebook. Similarly, let’s say you run a Business consultancy firm. In that case, marketing on Twitter or LinkedIn might be a better choice for you.
After all, it depends on you or your digital marketing consultant to evaluate and determine the channel that works the best for your business. That way, you will be able to invest your time and money in the right platform.
Whitepapers and eBooks
Have you heard about white papers? If you are in the UK, white papers would mean a government report or proposal. A scientist working on the latest tech would say that a white paper is a theory behind a brand new piece of tech. So, you see that the definition of white papers depends on the type of industry.
However, we aren’t dealing with Politics or Technology here; so we can rule out the previous definitions.
If you trying to use digital marketing for business, this is the only definition of white papers that you need to know: A white paper is an authoritative report on a particular subject that presents a complex problem and provides an in-depth solution to it.
So, how does it help your digital marketing campaign? Well, you have a provided a solution to a particular problem and surely, you must have used some methodology. Now, this white paper will educate your target audience about your methodology. So, isn’t it a great way to promote your methodology to your readers? If they believe your methodology, they are probably going to buy your product or service because they consider you as a credible, helpful source.
Secondly, you can use white papers as lead capturing tools. You are giving away the solution to a complex issue to your audience free of cost. So, you deserve something in return, right? A resounding yes!
So, make sure you capture the details of your audience like name, email ids, etc while making your white papers available to them. You can do that by simply creating a form on your web page that allows readers to download a white paper by entering their personal data like name or email.
Keep in mind that whitepapers aren’t just product pitches and you shouldn’t use them to sell your products.
EBooks, on the other hand, are less serious and colorful versions of whitepapers.
Infographics are a great way to connect with your target audience and power your digital marketing campaigns. If we are to believe the age-old adage that a picture says a hundred words, then an infographic is worth at least a thousand. Infographics are also likely to be shared more by people, thereby amplifying the reach of your business and message.
Besides, it’s pretty easy to create an infographic these days. You can use free templates from websites like Canva and with a few tweaks and edits, you can have your infographic built in an hour, However, if time is a luxury you can’t afford, then it would be wise to hire a freelance graphic designer to do the job for you.
Apart from the assets mentioned above, Digital Marketing also makes the use of assets like Paid PR coverage, influencer marketing, etc. However, these strategies will set you back by a few hundred dollars and that’s why these should be considered as advanced strategies.
Digital Marketing Tactics
So far, we’ve learned about the digital marketing assets. But, for optimum utilization of these assets, we need to have the right digital marketing tactics at our fingertips.
In the next the section, I will give you a brief overview of the most effective online marketing tactics. Well, I know that you’ve been reading this for quite some time now and it’s a lot of info to take in. So, I promise to keep the next section short and sweet.
So let’s begin!
Search Engine Optimization(SEO)
SEO refers to the process of optimizing a website to improve its rank in the SERPs. You already know how important it is for websites to show up on the first page of Google. But, with thousands of websites competing against each other, how do you ensure that your website shows up on top?
Well, that’s where SEO comes into play. Although a subset of digital marketing, SEO in itself is a huge subject and it takes a considerable amount of time and effort to master SEO strategies.
Keyword Research, Link Building, Social Signals, page speed optimization are some of the key aspects of SEO. Search Engine Optimization strategies also vary based on whether you are trying to rank your website locally or globally. We will talk about SEO in the upcoming posts. For now, just keep in mind that SEO is the key to improving your online presence and visibility.
You have probably heard about “Content is King” a thousand times. Well, it won’t hurt to read it one more time then, right?
Content marketing is all about creating valuable content that genuinely helps your target audience. It could be in the form of blog posts, informative articles, white papers, videos, etc.
Let me tell you that Content marketing has tremendous potential to fuel digital marketing campaigns if the strategy is well thought out.
For instance, let us suppose that you own a painting company or you are working as a digital marketing consultant with a painting company. How can you implement content marketing in this scenario?
Well, first identify your goals from the digital marketing campaign that you are running. In this case, your goals are to find leads and at the same to convert a small percentage of those leads into sales. So, how can you acquire these leads through content marketing? By publishing content that answers questions or solves specific problems of your potential customers, you have a high chance of attracting new leads.
For instance, an article on “How to repaint old kitchen cabinets” is a great choice for a painting company to attract new leads and make their presence felt on search engines.
Besides, content marketing helps you position yourself as an expert in your industry. As you publish informative content that genuinely helps people, your potential customers will start trusting you and whenever they need any service specific to your business, they will prefer you over others.
Now, imagine the following scenario.
Suppose a local car audio store is trying to ramp up its digital marketing campaign with the help of content marketing. Can you suggest a suitable blog post for the car audio store’s digital marketing plans? Let me know in the comment section.
Social Media Marketing
You all know about social media, right? Whether we like it or not, Social Media is undoubtedly the biggest highlight of the 21st century. It holds the potential to turn table overnight and to be honest, social media has done so a countless number of times.
So, it goes without saying that for any business…..literally, ANY BUSINESS, Social Media is a great place to find customers.
Well, simply because of the massive number of users that are using the social networks at any given time. And more importantly, the amount of time they are spending on social networks.
No wonder, Social Media has turned out to be a hotspot for companies trying to attract new leads and boost their business outreach.
So, the next time you see a “Sponsored Post” on Facebook, remember it’s a part of Social Media Marketing. These days Social Media Marketing is pretty big and businesses, both small and large are spending a huge chunk of their digital marketing efforts on social networks.
The key to successful social media marketing lies in identifying the type of content that resonates with your target audience, striking the perfect balance between “helpful content” and “promotional content”.
At the same time, it is necessary to keep the advertisement costs in check. Let’s face the fact that organic results are great but they are not going to take us too far. At some point, social media marketing will have to go for paid social advertising to achieve the results they seek. So, lowering the CPA and improving the conversion rate is the key. Also, trying to listen to your target audience through social media and tailor content according to your audience’s wish list.
There is no clear-cut strategy for social media marketing. What works for me might not be very rewarding for you. The type of business you own and your target audience plays a big role in determining the ideal social media strategy.
But, the basics of digital marketing definitely apply to social media. So, keep posting valuable content, don’t be too promotional, try lowering ad costs, improve conversion rate, engage in social listening, improve the reach of your/ your client’s business and …..well, that pretty much sums it up.
PPC is a popular model of advertising in the digital world. As the name suggests, PPC is all about advertisers paying a certain fee every time their ads are clicked. Hence the name, Pay Per Click.
If you have a lot of budget to go with, setting up PPC campaigns could be a great way to jumpstart your digital marketing journey.
But, keep in mind that PPC is a way to “buy” clicks rather than “earning” them. So, PPC advertising might cost you a lot of money in the long run. Unless you are someone like Amazon or Flipkart or a business with deep pockets, PPC alone is not a long-term solution for your business. You need to combine PPC campaigns with SEO and SMM so that you don’t have to rely on paid clicks all the time.
A healthy blend of paid and organic traffic (traffic which is obtained naturally without paying for advertising costs) is what you need to craft a winning online marketing campaign.
Search Engine Advertising is by far the most popular model of Pay Per Click advertising. You might have already noticed that most of the time, you search for something on Google, you get results that are mentioned as [“Ad”].
To make this clear let me show you an example.
I am going to type the phrase “Learn Digital Marketing” in Google and we will see what comes up.
Well, here you go!
So, what do you notice? You see that the top four results are mentioned are ads. It means the people running the websites/business(the top four ad results) pay Google a certain amount of money every time their links are clicked.
Similarly, the sponsored content on the right side from Amazon is also a similar example of PPC although it is known as “Advertising on Google Shopping”.
Setting up a successful PPC campaign takes time and a little bit of experimentation. So, before you dive into PPC, make sure you are aware of what it takes to create a cost-effective and rewarding PPC campaign.
Affiliate Marketing is a method where you pay others a certain amount of money to promote your business through their channels.
Let me give you a few examples to make this clear to you.
Suppose, you own a beauty and healthcare product and you are looking to launch your product through digital channels. But, you don’t have any established digital channels like influential blogs, YouTube Channels or popular social media profiles. So, what’s your course of action in such a scenario? Will you spend the next 12-15 months in building digital marketing channels?
Well, obviously not. Instead, you will approach someone who already owns these powerful digital channels such a blogs, YouTube channels or social media accounts.
But, that person isn’t going to promote or sell products on your behalf for free, right?
So, instead, you as a business owner or digital marketing consultant will pay the influencer (the person who owns blogs, social accounts, etc) a pre-determined percentage every time your product is sold through the channels owned by that particular person.
Affiliate marketing is great in the sense that you don’t have to spend time or money in building channels, promoting products or developing marketing strategies. You simply find out someone who is willing to sell products on your behalf and pay them a certain percentage as commission (usually 5% – 50%) every time a sale is made.
Typically, bloggers, YouTubers who drive a good amount of traffic to their blogs and channels respectively are affiliate marketers. However, while choosing an affiliate marketer for your business, make sure your product is relevant to their niche.
For instance, consider that you are working as a digital marketing consultant for a motorbike accessories business. In that case, approach a blogger who writes about motorbikes or about the automotive industry as a whole.
A lot of people feel Email Marketing is dead and probably it is. But, as far as my experience is concerned, Email Marketing is still one of the most powerful tactics in Digital Marketing.
The success of an email Marketing campaign depends on how well you execute it. If you are simply spamming someone’s mailbox multiple times a day, your email marketing campaign is destined to be a failure.
However, if you send your message with a healthy mix of attractive graphics, minimal text and informative links to people that are genuinely interested in your business area, Email Marketing can be very rewarding.
The fact that you can reach thousands of potential customers at an incredibly low price makes Email Marketing a very attractive proposition to digital marketers and business owners.
If you are running an email marketing campaign, chances are you need to experiment multiple times before you get it right. By tweaking your emails, changing the subject lines, etc and most importantly, tracking results are every mass mailings, you can be really good at email marketing.
So, in this guide, we’ve taken a detailed look at some of the most important assets and tactics of digital marketing. However, there are other tactics like Online PR, Influencer Marketing, Marketing Automation, etc which also come under the purview of online marketing. Since this guide is for the beginners, I’ve refrained from talking about these advanced techniques. For now, you can read this guide and it will give you a good idea on the aspects of digital marketing.
If you are getting started with digital marketing, check out these free tools that can improve your digital marketing campaigns greatly.
If you have any questions, you can mention it in the comment section. I will do my best to respond to your queries quickly.