What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing (also known as data-drivenmarketing) is 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.
At a high level, digital marketing refers to advertising delivered through digital channels such as search engines, websites, social media, email, and mobile apps. While this term covers a wide range of marketing activities, all of which are not universally agreed upon, we’ll focus on the most common types below.
Why digital marketing is important
Digital media is so pervasive that consumers have access to information any time and any place they want it. Gone are the days when the messages people got about your products or services came from you and consisted of only what you wanted them to know. Digital media is an ever-growing source of entertainment, news, shopping and social interaction, and consumers are now exposed not just to what your company says about your brand, but what the media, friends, relatives, peers, etc., are saying as well. And they are more likely to believe them than you. People want brands they can trust, companies that know them, communications that are personalized and relevant, and offers tailored to their needs and preferences.
Manage customer relationships across all channels
Digital marketing and its associated channels are important – but not to the exclusion of all else. It’s not enough to just know your customers; you must know them better than anybody else so you can communicate with them where, when and how they are most receptive to your message. To do that, you need a consolidated view of customer preferences and expectations across all channels – Web, social media, mobile, direct mail, point of sale, etc. Marketers can use this information to create and anticipate consistent, coordinated customer experiences that will move customers along in the buying cycle. The deeper your insight into customer behavior and preferences, the more likely you are to engage them in lucrative interactions.
Challenges facing digital marketers
- Proliferation of digital channels. Consumers use multiple digital channels and a variety of devices that use different protocols, specifications and interfaces – and they interact with those devices in different ways and for different purposes.
- Intensifying competition. Digital channels are relatively cheap, compared with traditional media, making them within reach of practically every business of every size. As a result, it’s becoming a lot harder to capture consumers’ attention.
- Exploding data volumes. Consumers leave behind a huge trail of data in digital channels. It’s extremely difficult to get a handle on all that data, as well as find the right data within exploding data volumes that can help you make the right decisions.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The process of optimizing your website to ‘rank’ higher in search engine results pages, therefore increasing the amount of organic (or free) traffic that your website receives.
The creation and promotion of content assets for the purpose of generating brand awareness, traffic growth, lead generation, or customers.
Inbound marketing refers to the ‘full-funnel’ approach to attracting, converting, closing, and delighting customers using online content.
Social Media Marketing
The practice of promoting your brand and your content on social media channels to increase brand awareness, drive traffic, and generate leads for your business.
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 AdWords.
A type of performance-based advertising where you receive commission for promoting someone else’s products or services on your website.
Native advertising refers to advertisements that are primarily content-led and featured on a platform alongside other, non-paid content. BuzzFeed sponsored posts are a good example, but many people also consider social media advertising to be ‘native’ — for example, Facebook advertising and Instagram advertising.
Marketing automation refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. Many marketing departments have to automate repetitive tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions.
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 towards the business’ website.
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.
What Are the Main Benefits of Digital Marketing?
Unlike most offline marketing efforts, digital marketing allows marketers to see accurate results in real time. If you’ve ever put an advert 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 like HubSpot. 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.
With offline marketing, it’s very difficult to tell how people are interacting with your brand before they have an interaction with a salesperson or make a purchase. With digital marketing, you can identify trends and patterns in people’s behavior before they’ve reached the final stage in their buyer’s journey, meaning you can make more informed decisions about how to attract them to your website right at the top of the marketing funnel.
Content Performance and Lead Generation
Imagine you’ve created a product brochure and posted it through people’s letterboxes — that brochure is a form of content, albeit offline. The problem is that you have no idea how many people opened your brochure or how many people threw it straight into the trash.
Now imagine you had that brochure on your website instead. You can measure exactly how many people viewed the page where it’s hosted, and you can collect the contact details of those who download it by using forms. Not only can you measure how many people are engaging with your content, but you’re also generating qualified leads when people download it.
What Kind of Content Should I Be Creating?
The kind of content you create depends on your audience’s needs at different stages in the buyer’s journey. You should start by creating buyer personas (use these free templates, or try makemypersona.com) to identify what your audience’s goals and challenges are in relation to your business. On a basic level, your online content should aim to help them meet these goals, and overcome their challenges.
Then, you’ll need to think about when they’re most likely to be ready to consume this content in relation to what stage they’re at in their buyer’s journey. We call this content mapping.
With content mapping, the goal is to target content according to:
- The characteristics of the person who will be consuming it (that’s where buyer personas come in).
- How close that person is to making a purchase (i.e., their lifecycle stage).
In terms of the format of your content, there are a lot of different things to try. Here are some options we’d recommend using at each stage of the buyer’s journey:
Do I Need a Big Budget for Digital Marketing?
As with anything, it really depends on what elements of digital marketing you’re looking to add to your strategy.
Presuming you already have a website, if you’re focusing on inbound techniques like SEO, social media, and content creation then the good news is you don’t need very much budget at all. With inbound marketing, the main focus is on creating high quality content that your audience will want to consume, which unless you’re planning to outsource the work, the only investment you’ll need is your time.
With outbound techniques like online advertising and purchasing email lists, there is undoubtedly some expense. What it costs comes down to what kind of visibility you want to receive as a result of the advertising.
For example, to implement PPC using Google AdWords, you’ll bid against other companies in your industry to appear at the top of Google’s search results for keywords associated with your business. Depending on the competitiveness of the keyword, this can be reasonably affordable, or extremely expensive, which is why it’s a good idea to focus building your organic reach, too.