I got my first lesson in marketing during my freshman year of high school when I joined the yearbook committee. We took turns broadcasting our best sales pitch during the morning announcements, and we were shocked when we didn’t sell the necessary quota of books.
We went to our yearbook advisor complaining about our disappointing quarterly figures. “Well, of course, you aren’t selling any books,” she said. “You aren’t promoting them where your classmates are, you’re promoting where you think they are.”
This lesson still rings true. You have to market your brand, products, and services where your target audience actually spends their time.
According to Pew Research, 81 percent of Americans go online on a daily basis. Of that 81 percent, 28 percent report going online constantly. As the world’s population headed into lockdown, we saw these numbers surge between 50 and 70 percent.
These statistics make a compelling case for why your business needs to create a strategic digital plan that works to expand your brand’s online presence.
- What is digital marketing?
- The importance of digital marketing for businesses
- What is considered digital marketing?
- Measuring your digital marketing success
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is any marketing effort that is done online or on an electronic device. This includes leveraging channels such as search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with current and prospective clients.
There are several different ways you can approach digital marketing, but first, let’s discuss why digital marketing is important for all businesses.
The importance of digital marketing for businesses
According to my iPhone screen time report, I spend an average of almost 5 hours a day on my phone (I know, I’m working on it!). The majority of this time is spent on apps where digital messages from your business could reach me.
Advertising platforms allow you to control how much you spend, allowing all businesses to stay within their target budget.
Lastly, the reporting capabilities are vast and make it easy to identify a customer’s purchase journey and their pain points.
Since digital marketing tactics are so accessible, it’s easy to get carried away. Be sure to have a strategic plan in place to ensure that your campaigns align with your business’s overarching marketing goals.
What is considered digital marketing?
There are many types of strategies that fall under digital marketing. Here, we’ll discuss SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, PPC advertising, affiliate marketing, and email marketing.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the process of trying to get your website content to rank naturally in search engines. While it does take time, ranking organically doesn’t cost your business money.
The higher you rank on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), the more likely a user will click on your content.
There are three main types of SEO.
- On-page SEO: This refers to any changes you make on the web page, both to the HTML and the content. To improve on-page SEO, you’ll want to consider refreshing old content to ensure it still targets a relevant keyword, answers questions users are looking for, and functions properly.
- Off-site SEO: This refers to external forces that could affect your SEO. This includes backlinks, aka inbound links, which involve other sites directing linking to your content on their pages. Improve your off-site SEO by improving content, building relationships with influencers in your industry, writing guest blogs, and developing and participating in forums and discussion boards.
Content marketing involves strategically creating content that demonstrates your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Google refers to this E-A-T.
There are a lot of strategies for approaching content marketing, but the key is to remember that Google and other search engines have one core responsibility: to deliver the best, most relevant content to users when they search. Great content does just that – it addresses the users’ needs, establishes trust, and encourages action.
There are various articles out there describing how to create great content. Some may work for your business and some may not. Here is what we have found to be effective time and time again across several industries:
- Find out what your users need or want to know more about.
- Do your research. Don’t make the assumption that you an expert on any topic.
- Consider SEO and ensure your content is SERP friendly.
- Track performance.
- Go back and reoptimize as needed.
Social media marketing
No other digital marketing technique allows a business to interact directly with current and future customers as easily as social media. It’s a cost-effective avenue for businesses to receive feedback, get new ideas, and present the human side of a brand.
Organic social is any promotion a business does on a social media platform that does not require advertising spend. Paid social is the process of promoting your business using advertising dollars to “boost” your message.
It’s best practice for businesses to have organic and paid social strategies that compliment each other with strong written and visual content to support both.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising
PPC advertising is a form of internet marketing where businesses pay every time a user clicks on an ad. It’s a way of essentially buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to earn those visits organically.
The most common types of PPC campaigns are built using Google Ads. However, other common platforms include advertisements placed on Bing, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting another business and their products on your site or social media platforms. Companies will typically provide marketers with a specific link their audience can shop through. When a user does shop using your dedicated link, you earn a commission.
For marketers, in order for affiliate marketing to be a strong source of revenue, your audience must have a high level of trust in you and your opinion. Ensure you are selecting the right marketers to help you promote your products. They should have a highly engaged audience, comply with legal requirements, and conduct themselves in a professional manner.
Affiliate marketing is becoming a much more popular digital marketing tactic in recent years, as both brands and affiliate marketers have seen success. In fact, BigCommerce estimates a 10.1% increase in affiliate marketing in the United States each year. This number is expected to reach $6.8 billion in 2020.
If done correctly, email marketing can be extremely effective. It’s a great way to educate users, deliver product announcements, promote sales or discounts, and keep users engaged between purchases.
Effective email marketing takes discipline. Capturing someone’s personal data in the form of an email address is extremely valuable and should be treated as such. Show your audience respect and build trust by offering a way to unsubscribe. In addition, only send emails when they are necessary, never buy email lists, and abide by any regulations and privacy restrictions.
Measuring your digital marketing success
Advances in analytics and marketing automation have paved the way for digital strategies that are rooted in data. Access to reliable metrics can help highlight important company goals such as return on investment (ROI), increased sales, audience growth, and brand reach.
Finding meaningful success in digital marketing takes time, patience, creativity, and testing. Data is an invaluable tool for making advancements and ensuring your strategies are effective.
There are several platforms that can help you gain insight into your marketing tactics. Every major platform typically has its own, and we would encourage you to start there. As you become comfortable, consider creating dashboards that pull data from multiple sources.
Where should you go from here?
Establishing a strong digital marketing strategy by using a variety of tactics and platforms is important for every business. There is no doubt that digital marketing will continue to grow and become more popular. The first step is understanding all the different approaches you can take to digital marketing and finding the right ones for your business.
Need help with your digital marketing plan? Let’s talk!