What is Digital Marketing?
If you have your own business, then you’ll have repeatedly heard that digital marketing is the best way to promote your business. That being said, the term digital marketing is so broad – and consists of so many ideas – that some business owners soon become overwhelmed and give up on the idea of using digital marketing to grow their business altogether. But this is a costly mistake.
When you take a little time to understand it better, you’ll soon realise that you’re already familiar with many of the tools and technology found within digital marketing. Shortly after that, you’ll discover the vast number of ways digital marketing can help you generate more leads, build brand awareness, and communicate with your target audience more effectively.
This article offers an introduction to digital marketing and explores how it can help you grow your business.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is the practice of promoting your brand and reaching potential customers through digital tools, technology, and resources. Digital marketing can be defined in several ways but what can be agreed upon is that’s it’s carried out online.
Digital Marketing Vs Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing is how companies reached people and promoted their goods and services before the explosion in computers and the internet. This includes print media, like billboards, posters, newspaper and magazine ads; broadcast media, television and radio ads; direct mail, like catalogues and flyers; and telemarketing and press releases. In contrast to digital marketing, traditional marketing methods are carried out offline.
One of the significant advantages of digital marketing is that it allows you to target prospects far more effectively than traditional methods. To illustrate this, let’s use a billboard as an example. The primary influence you have with a billboard is where you choose to put it up. You could put it in a busy, metropolitan area where it has the chance to be seen by many people. Or, if it promotes a luxury brand, you could put it up in an affluent area where the average person has a higher income. But aside from putting a billboard in a place that maximises visibility, you have no control over who sees it.
Digital marketing, by contrast, allows you to target potential customers with varying accuracy. You can target them according to something relatively simple, like the keywords they search for, as you would in SEO and content marketing. Or, you can target prospects by their gender, various demographics (age, income, etc.), and even their hobbies and interests, publishing ads on social media platforms like Facebook.
Also, even more importantly, it’s easier to measure digital marketing methods’ effectiveness than it is with traditional marketing. While certain types of conventional marketing are quantifiable, like telemarketing and direct mail, all digital marketing forms can be measured with analytics. This makes it easier to decide whether you should continue a marketing campaign as it is or if it needs to be tweaked to reach your target market better.
What Are the Core Elements of Digital Marketing?
Although digital marketing is a broad term that encompasses many things, it has a handful of key elements at its core.
A digital marketing strategy is the first step in getting started with digital marketing as it provides clarity on what to do. A strategy helps you narrow down your choices within the digital marketing mix – (the platforms, tools, formats at your disposal) – as they relate to your business.
For example, if your target market is businesses rather than consumers, then LinkedIn and email marketing should feature in a digital strategy.
If your business has a very visual product or service, then image-based platforms like Instagram and Pinterest should be prioritised.
Your strategy should cover
- Who: The target audience you’re looking to reach
- Where: The platforms you’re going to reach them
- How: The format you’re going to use
- What: Your exact marketing message
Content both refers to the format you’re going to use to communicate with your audience (text, video, image, etc.) and the message itself, namely what your products or services are, what their benefits are, and how they fulfill a need or solve a problem for your prospect.
Automation is one of the huge benefits of digital marketing over traditional marketing methods. Once you’ve decided on a direction for your digital marketing efforts, you can harness the power of digital tools and technology to automate your digital marketing activity. This includes scheduling social media posts, sending out a series of emails when a prospect subscribes to your mailing list, campaign tracking, and any other task that can be carried out automatically.
A marketing campaign is a series of promotional actions designed to get your core audience to take a specific action. Ultimately, this will be to buy a service or product, but you might want them to do something in the lead-up to their purchase– such as signing up for a webinar or downloading a piece of content.
Designating certain activity as a campaign allows you to track its effectiveness and take the appropriate action based on its success. If, on the one hand, a campaign resulted in many sales, you know you can repeat it. If, conversely, it wasn’t as successful as you hoped, then you tweak the campaign to make it more appealing to your target audience.
A massive benefit of digital marketing campaigns is running more than one alongside each other – using a concept called split testing. For example, if you’re torn between two promotional emails you want to send out, you could send one email to a test group of subscribers and the second email to another. Then, after seeing which email got the better response, you can then send it on to the rest of your mailing list.
One of the main advantages of digital marketing is that it’s easier to measure your efforts’ effectiveness than with traditional marketing methods – which is made possible through analytics. Analytics is the computational analysis of data or statistics, or, in other words, the process of measuring how well your target audience responds to your digital marketing campaigns. Analytics tools give you various ways of quickly interpreting data so you can use it to improve your marketing strategies and campaigns.
What Are the Types of Digital Marketing?
There are lots of digital marketing types, some of which may be familiar to you, and many of them intersect.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the process of designing and improving your website, so it appears higher in your target audience’s search engine ranking pages (SERPs). It’s well-known that around 75% of people never look past the first page of the search engines when looking for something – and that number jumps up to over 90% when it comes to those who don’t look past the second page. SEO is about getting your business onto that first page of results.
SEO can be broken down into two categories:
On-page SEO: This refers to things you do on your website to improve its ranking, including:
- Image Names, Alt Tags, and Captions;
- Site Navigation;
- Site Speed.
Off-page SEO: This refers to everything that can be done away from your site to increase its search engine ranking. This mainly concerns backlinking, which is how many other websites link back to pages within your site.
Online advertising or ‘Ads’ is the process of promoting a product or service in an advertisement on a digital platform. These ads can take the form of text, images, or video. This could be on a webpage, in search engine results, in an email, or within an app. The most well-known form of online adverting is Google Ads. This is an example of paid search with which you pay to have your business feature more prominently on results pages. Google Ads is also a prime example of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which requires you to pay the publisher (in this case – Google) a fee each time someone clicks on your ad.
Content marketing is the process of attracting prospects to your website through the creation and promotion of information that your target audience will find valuable. This is achieved by the careful inclusion of particular words and phrases, known as keywords, that your target audience is searching for. If, for example, you run an accountancy firm, then creating useful content surrounding tax savings and other financial matters will attract prospects who are already actively looking for that information.
Your content could be in a variety of formats, such as:
- Text: Blog posts, articles, white papers, eBooks, email
- Images: Pictures, infographics
- Video: Tutorials, talking heads, courses, webinars
- Audio: Podcasts
- Apps: Games, bespoke calculators
Email marketing is the process of persuading prospects to purchase your products or services via email. Even though email was one of the earliest forms of digital marketing – it’s still surprisingly effective. It stands to reason that as long as email is a widely-used form of communication, email marketing will be an effective form of promotion.
The first step in an email marketing campaign is to get prospects to subscribe to your mailing list by giving you their email address. To entice them to do that, you have to provide them with something valuable in return. This could be something upfront, such as an eBook or the offer of a free quote, or the promise of continuous value, such as an informative newsletter or exclusive discounts.
Social media marketing involves using social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, to reach your target audience. Social media marketing is excellent for increasing consumer awareness about your brand. It also allows you to directly interact with your target market to discover their needs and concerns.
Social media can be used as a marketing channel in its own right and form part of a content marketing strategy.
Within social media marketing, you also have the concept of influencer marketing. This is where you utilise people with large media followings, known as influencers, to promote your brand.
Mobile marketing is the promotion of products or services via smartphones and other mobile devices. This includes advertising through SMS text messages or ads featured in apps downloaded by the user. Because most people now mainly access the internet through handheld devices, mobile marketing includes optimising webpages and other digital mediums, so they appear correctly.
What are the 5 Ds of Digital Marketing?
The 5 Ds of digital marketing are:
- Digital Devices
- Digital Platform
- Digital Media
- Digital Data
- Digital Technology
These are the various devices you can communicate with your target audience. This primarily refers to computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones and includes smart TVs, smartwatches, and video game consoles like Xboxes and PS5s. Users use these to interact with browsers, websites, and applications online.
This is where you intend to reach your target audience, whether it be through search engines, webpages, emails, or social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
When it comes to choosing a digital platform – go where your target audience is. This ends up being influenced by several factors such as age, gender, whether they’re a business or consumer, etc.
This is the media you intend to use to connect with your target audience on your chosen digital platforms. The term digital media refers to the medium, like websites, web and mobile apps, or even video games, and its formats, such as text, video, or images.
Digital data is all the information about your potential customers, from basic contact details to more in-depth knowledge. Through the use of analytics, you can use this information to better connect with them and encourage them to purchase your products or services, or at the very least, to make them better aware of your brand.
These are electronic devices, tools, systems, and resources that make digital marketing possible. It started with computers – the backbone that gave us the power to generate, store rapidly, and process data, which ushered in the digital age. This then gave rise to the internet, browsers that allow us to view increasingly sophisticated websites, search engines, social media platforms, and smartphones.
Now, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) (even seemingly simple things like predictive search and chatbots are forms of AT), the Internet of Things (IoT), and even virtual reality (VR) are helping to take digital marketing to the next level.
What Are the 4 Ps of Digital Marketing?
Another way to view digital marketing is through the 4 Ps, which are:
People want to do business with companies that make them feel something. They want to be a part of something. It’s why Apple was much more effective than Microsoft; Apple made the outsiders feel connected. It’s why Nike can sell a shoe made in China for hundreds of dollars. People want to be a part of something. You can help people be a part of your business by having a clear vision, establishing your why, identifying your values, and having a meaningful mission.
This refers to the practicalities of your digital marketing strategy: how you successfully execute it. This includes the digital tools you’ll use to reach your target audience, how you use the platforms where prospects can be found, the media you use to communicate your message, and how often. The process also refers to how you use analytics to measure your marketing campaigns and how you use the digital data they produce to improve how you communicate with your target audience.
Also sometimes referred to as ‘place’, this is the digital marketing channel to promote your product. This will be where you can find significant amounts of your target audience.
For example, if you have a wedding-related business, your product will be visual and lend itself well to images. Your target audience will also be overwhelmingly female, so using image-based platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, where most users are women.
This refers to the action you take to sell the product – the actual marketing of your brand. This includes the content used in promoting your message, text, images, video, etc., and putting it where your target audience is likely to see it. Sending emails, Instagram posts, uploading videos to YouTube, and publishing blog posts are all forms of promotion.
How to get started with digital marketing for your business?
The first step in getting started with digital marketing for your business to create a digital marketing strategy. This will define who your target audience is, where they can be found, and the type of digital marketing that will most effectively reach them.
A digital marketing strategy is crucial because it will focus your efforts and makes sure you’re using the correct tools, platforms, and technology from the vast available selection. In short, getting your digital marketing strategy will save you significant time, effort, and money, while helping you reach your business’ growth goals faster.