What is Digital Marketing?
Let’s cover the basics and benefits of digital marketing.
When you hear the word marketing, you may think of flashy advertising, PR stunts or the smooth-talking professionals of the TV show Mad Men. Today’s marketing approach is so much more than its humble roots in print ads. It’s not your grandparent’s marketing strategy. It’s fully digital, automated, and intertwined with the internet.
We call it digital marketing.
According to 2019 Pew Research, 9 in every 10 American adults use the internet. With that stat in mind, incorporating digital marketing into your company’s marketing strategy is a no-brainer, but where do you start?
Who or what should you include — or not include — in your strategy? Which digital marketing channels are right for your business? Should your company do-it-yourself or get support with a digital marketing agency? Read on for these answers in this guide to navigating digital marketing for your business.
Let’s cover the basics and benefits of digital marketing.
Digital marketing encompasses any type of marketing tactic that uses an electronic device or digital channels. While that does sound broad, the realm of it is vast and we’ll cover the most common channels and tools used later on in this guide.
It’s also important to know what isn’t under the umbrella of digital marketing. This would include traditional sponsorships and booths at in-person trade shows and conferences, direct mail, print advertisements or product displays. To be clear, we’re not saying that these non-digital marketing tactics are ineffective, but in general they are less dynamic, more costly and all around more difficult to execute successfully. Luckily, digital devices and the internet have made most things, including marketing your business, a lot easier to execute.
That’s not the only benefit of digital marketing.
A digital marketing strategy can give your business a presence across the world and not solely in your local geographical market. Digital marketing also makes it easier than ever to measure campaign results and marketing ROI with analytics built into many marketing platforms and tools. Lastly, digital marketing allows you to personalize your content in order to target specific audiences that are likely to engage with your brand. Needless to say, you cannot easily achieve that level of personalization and segmentation solely with non-digital marketing tactics.
Take notes. Your marketing plan will need this.
A company’s digital marketing strategy should be as unique as a fingerprint. In fact, every digital marketer should carefully create their strategy to include their company’s specific goals, target audience, resources, and current budget.
Without further ado, let’s get into how to create an effective digital marketing strategy:
Every company has overall goals it wants to achieve for their business, such as becoming an industry leader or increasing overall revenue. The good news is that digital marketing efforts can help achieve those and many other goals.
The bad news is that most marketers don’t take the time to figure out how they will execute and measure the success of their digital marketing strategy for those business goals. That’s like flying a plane without a radar to guide you to your destination. NEVER fly blindly into digital marketing.
A solid marketing strategy should have clear objectives and quantifiable results that tie into the company’s business goals. Document which objectives your department can accomplish and what figures you can track to find success.
For example, one of your objectives could be to increase sales of this product through the company website. Your key results, in this case, could be increasing website visits by 20 percent and increasing website conversions by 30 percent. Whatever the key results may be, they should at the very least be realistic and quantifiable.
In addition, it’s now easier than ever to measure and report digital marketing efforts due to advancements in business intelligence software. Tools like Google Analytics, SEMrush, and BuzzSumo are just a few of many used by digital marketers to track their results and determine if their tactics are working or not.
If you do decide to invest into digital marketing, remember that there is no room for hunches or educated guesses in your strategy. Be sure to plan what your strategy will achieve — objectives — and how you will measure it — key results —.
You already know who your audience is, but do you know how to target them online? This question represents the crux of digital marketing promotion. In traditional marketing, promotion means targeting broadly through non-digital channels like state-wide billboard advertisements or in-store displays through a huge retailer.
In digital marketing, promotion means targeting a specific persona with a mix of digital channels, like blogs and videos for health-conscious gym-goers. It’s a complete 180 from the spray and pray promotion of marketing past.
Promoting to an online-only audience requires building personas: in-depth profiles of a particular subset of your current customers. Your business may have only one persona or many of them. You can even create personas for decision-makers or influencers of your brand.
Personas tend to include the person’s demographic information, their needs, likes, dislikes, and challenges. Doing this exercise helps to determine which digital marketing tactics and channels to use for each. For example, if one of your personas represents female customers who are below 25 years old, love fashion, and mostly buy merchandise at a discounted price, you could target them with a special discount through an email marketing campaign or ad retargeting campaign during seasonal clearances.
As you can tell by now, successfully targeting online means fully understanding your customer segments from the inside out. While this approach will have some trial and error moments, it’s hugely important for your success.
This one is really important for you to consider in your strategy.
Digital marketing channels are the vessels in which you’ll carry out your campaigns. There are many of them and there may be some you’ve never heard of before as new ones develop alongside technology. However, you’ll learn about the most common paid, owned, and earned digital marketing channels and why they are worth using.
Paid media channels include ones that require payment in order to attract and convert your target audience. Some examples include display ads, social media ads, affiliate marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) and paid search ads. What’s great about paid media is that it’s easy to target specific personas and see the results.
For example, when launching a PPC ad on Google, you can submit your own ad copy, choose which keywords to bid on, and analyze your clicks inside Google’s ad platform.
On the flip side, paid media — like the name implies — can get expensive if it’s not properly maintained. If you’re unable to analyze your spend against what is being generated from paid media channels, you won’t be able to get a clear ROI from it. Companies will often outsource paid media efforts to digital marketing agencies to ensure they’re getting the most value from these channels.
For companies just starting digital marketing, this channel is the most practical to begin with. Owned media covers elements produced and controlled by your company. This includes the pages and posts on your website and your social media plus any content your company creates, from eBooks to emails. Content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing tend to be the larger contributors to owned media for most companies.
The major difference between owned and paid media, however, is the method of how they bring in customers. While your paid media pushes customers towards your website, owned media pulls customers in. That’s because owned media’s purpose is to provide value to customers that are searching for solutions online.
There is also an increased level of control in owned media, but it’s often difficult for companies to scale the production and distribution of their owned channels. It usually takes a larger staff or the help of an agency.
Measuring ROI of owned media is also pretty simple. Tools like Google Analytics can plug into websites to measure visitors and conversions. Analytical tools are built into most social media and email marketing platforms so every piece of content is measurable. Building owned media takes time upfront, but you will reap the benefits once you have tons of personalized, helpful, and insightful content pulling customers right to your company.
Earned media is also known as word of mouth or publicity. More accurately, it’s any media that wasn’t created or paid for by your company. It’s created organically from others on the web and it often sprouts indirectly from paid and owned media efforts. Some examples include coverage or reviews from media outlets, organic search engine results from search engine optimization (SEO), and social media posts from others sharing your content or talking about your company. These channels can be an endless source of awareness, credibility and reach for your company, but it’s not without some effort.
To earn media channels, you can do a few things. Take the time to promote your content for social media shares, press outlets and influencers. Build relationships with your target audience online. At minimum do basic SEO practices so your content will garner higher page rankings on search engines. Calculating ROI for this particular channel is not easy since it’s time-dependent, however, having some earned media is great social proof for your company. If consumers see your brand is liked and valued by many, those consumers are more likely to follow suit.
Optimizing your digital marketing budget may not be the most exciting part, but it is incredibly important. Your marketing budget will partly direct your strategy in determining which channels you’ll use and which resources you’ll need.
Every company, including yours, will have a different number in mind for their budget. Whether your budget is large or small, be sure to consider which media channels provide the most value to your overall business goals. As we covered in the previous section, every media channel has a particular cost associated with it.
In addition, consider your employees’ skills and their time when determining your spend.
Oftentimes in-house marketers specialize in a particular channel or simply don’t have the bandwidth to cover all the work needed to achieve the strategy objectives along with their usual duties.
You should seriously consider using a digital marketing agency, especially if you are just beginning your digital marketing efforts or simply need more staff to carry out the work. An agency can also act as a strategic partner to your company by offering new ideas or tools to maximize your results while keeping your budget in mind.
Don’t think you won’t be able to make any adjustments on your spend if you aren’t getting your desired key results at first. You can always change the allocations in your budget to better meet your objectives. In fact, the best digital marketers internalize that it’s okay to fail and try something new.
Let us help you get there.
Marketing is constantly evolving. Thirty years ago, email marketing was taking off. Ten years ago, social media was quickly becoming a standard marketing channel. Today, these and many other digital marketing tactics are ubiquitous in businesses all over the world. With this guide, you can transform marketing into a fully digital function in your company.
Think you will need help navigating this? Let us show you the way.
At Trifactor, we merge creative design, digital and video to bring you the best results.