Digital marketing got your head spinning? We’re not going to lie; it can be daunting as a new marketer to understand what digital marketing encompasses—and which aspects you should leverage for your business. We’re here to help!
WHAT IS DIGITAL MARKETING?
You need to reach people where they are, and people are spending a lot of time online. There are 4.5 billion internet users—nearly 60 percent of the world’s population. The average internet user spends more than 100 days of the year online. Cumulatively, the world will spend 1.25 billion years online in 2020.
Digital or “online” marketing is any form of marketing that happens electronically or on the web. Now that the internet is so integral to our daily lives, it’s the best way to reach most people. That’s why a digital marketing presence is imperative today.
Don’t fret if your digital presence isn’t where it should be (or doesn’t exist at all). It’s easier than ever to get started and begin to see results!
DIGITAL MARKETING CHANNELS
“Digital marketing” encompasses several channels:
The hub of your digital marketing.
- Social Media
Channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
This is pretty self-explanatory.
- Search Marketing
The umbrella over search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM, a type of PPC).
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
Ads for which you pay-per-click, such as display, search, social, and remarketing ads.
People often include video, content marketing, affiliate marketing, inbound marketing, sponsored content, native advertising, online PR, and marketing automation in lists of digital marketing “channels.” We see these as strategies or tactics rather than channels, so we did not include them in this overview. We encourage you to read up on them to see if they make sense for you as you craft your digital strategy.
WHICH CHANNELS SHOULD YOU USE?
Here’s a look at what each digital marketing channel helps you accomplish. While all of these tactics can be used in tandem as part of a digital marketing ecosystem, you may find that some are more practical for your business at this juncture than others.
A website is an essential aspect of a digital marketing presence. If your business has an online presence, it needs a website. It is the hub to which all of your other digital efforts lead. It’s where you can tell your full story and convince your audience. It’s where you convert viewers into leads and leads into customers. Thankfully, it can be relatively simple and inexpensive to create a website yourself with a tool such as Squarespace or WordPress.
When speaking of websites, search engine optimization (SEO) is an important topic to cover. We’ll discuss SEO in more detail below, but it is one of the reasons why you may consider having a blog on your website. (Check out our blog Should You Start a Blog For Your Business? for more information.)
Social media is hyped as something that all businesses need to leverage in this day and age. That’s true—to an extent. Your business should have certain social media profiles and some level of activity, but effective use of social media marketing really varies based on your industry and offerings. (Check out our blog Should Your Business Be On Social Media? for more information.)
The benefits of social media can be quantitative (website referral traffic), but they’re also qualitative. A basic social presence can humanize your brand and increase authenticity. It’s also a great avenue for connecting with customers or providing support.
Maybe email seems like a bit of an outdated tactic. But the stats are in: Email is still one of the most effective marketing practices. Depending on the scale of your business, email marketing campaigns can be an extremely powerful tool. They allow you to keep up with and nurture a wider audience than you could through direct mail but still personalize based on segments. A word of warning: Be careful to be a good steward of the email addresses your audience members entrust you with.
Where’s the first place you go when you’re looking for a product or service? We’d guess you said a search engine. 87% of shoppers now begin product searches online. So you need your business to show up in search engine results! You can work to improve the search rankings of your website with SEO. SEO is an organic (unpaid) strategy that deals with enhancing on-page, off-page, and technical components of your site. (Check out our blog What is SEO, and how does it work? for more information.)
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a type of PPC advertising that is a paid strategy for getting your website to the top of search results. SEM can be extremely effective because your ads appear when a search engine user expresses intent to purchase what you offer.
PPC ad types other than search include display, social, and remarketing ads.
Digital display ads are the banner or graphic ads that appear on websites and apps. They are useful for targeting your audience on websites they are likely to visit or in apps they are likely to use.
Social advertisements appear on social media platforms. They’re great for expanding your social media reach, and they offer great targeting options. They can also be extremely affordable—as little as a fraction of a cent per impression.
Remarketing ads are not a separate channel or placement, but a specific, targeted ad approach. They are used to target ads to people who have already visited or taken action on your website. This makes them extremely powerful, as you’re speaking to people who you know already have interest in what you offer.
DIGITAL MARKETING & THE BUYER’S JOURNEY
Keep the Buyer’s Journey in mind when planning your digital marketing campaigns. If you are not familiar with the Buyer’s Journey, it’s a way of looking at the journey a customer takes to purchase your product. Simple Buyer’s Journey models look like this:
You need to serve each stage of the funnel in your digital marketing. Most channels can be used across the funnel, though some may make more sense for specifics stages. Take a look below for examples of how to use each channel in each stage.
- Website: Provide top-level information about the problems your product solves in website content and blog posts.
- Social Media: Send out engaging content that shows people you exist and what you have to offer. Share a helpful blog post, work with an influencer, or maybe join in on conversations relevant to your industry or product using hashtags or curated content.
- Email: Start gathering contact information by providing valuable and helpful content. Don’t purchase email addresses!
- SEO/SEM: Answer awareness-level questions that your customers search for through your website content, blog posts, and paid search ads.
- PPC: Run social and display ads with awareness-level content targeted toward a relevant audience.
- Website: Provide in-depth information on your offerings as well as resources such as case studies, access to product samples, and demo videos.
- Social Media: Provide further detail on your offerings, testimonials from happy customers, and links to high-value content—such as e-books or guides—to encourage people to consider purchasing.
- Email: Send further information, including your high-value content, to leads you’ve gathered.
- SEO/SEM: Create content and run ads that answer relevant queries or position you against the competition.
- PPC: Remarket to past website visitors to nurture them down the funnel.
- Website: Provide content that helps the prospect make a decision, such as competitive comparisons, case studies, and customer testimonials. Offer consultations and demos.
- Social Media: Leverage special offers, social proof, and further in-depth product information.
- Email: Share targeted, personalized communication that encourages your contacts to buy now.
- SEO/SEM: Remarket to past website visitors with decision-level content.
- PPC (Remarketing): Remarket using decision-level content.
Note that the three-stage Buyer’s Journey is a simplified version. A purchase should not be the last step of a customer’s journey with your company. You must have a plan for how you will take care of and retain your customers post-purchase—as well as encourage them to refer others to you or spread the word about you—through your digital marketing. Maybe that’s in the form of a follow-up email drip campaign thanking them for their purchase and making sure they are satisfied with their purchase and can easily leave a review. Maybe it’s a how-to guide on your website or blog that helps them make the most of their purchase. Perhaps it’s customized recommendations based on your past purchase in the form of remarketing ads. It could also be great customer service on Twitter or other social platforms.
MEASURE YOUR DIGITAL MARKETING
One of the beautiful things about digital marketing is how easy it is to measure compared to traditional marketing avenues. The data is at your fingertips! Here are some common key performance indicators (KPIs) against which to track the success of your digital efforts (though it’s not a comprehensive list):
- Sales: It seems like a no-brainer, but sales should absolutely be the end goal of your digital efforts.
- Leads: Leads lead to sales. You want your digital efforts to drive more leads!
Where to find these metrics: Unless you have a sales or marketing automation platform, like HubSpot or SharpSpring, tracking sales dollars and leads, you’ll have to keep track yourself.
- Website Traffic: How many people are visiting your website?
- Bounce Rate: Are they visiting more than one page?
- Session Duration: How long are they staying?
- Website Conversions: How many are filling out forms, signing up for your email list, making purchases?
Where to find these metrics: A free Google Analytics account.
- Audience Size: How many people are following you?
- Social Media Engagement: Do they care about your social posts? Total Engagements On a Post ÷ Total Followers X 100 = Post Engagement Rate
- Website or Landing Page Referrals: How many site visits does social drive?
Where to find these metrics: Paid social benchmarking tools like Rival IQ can help you with social metrics. Or, keep track of audience size and social post engagement yourself. Referrals can be tracked in Google Analytics.
- Email List Size: How many people are subscribed to your emails?
- Open Rate: How many people open your emails?
- Click Rate: How many click through to learn more?
- Website or Landing Page Referrals: How many site visits does email drive?
Where to find these metrics: If you are sending emails through a tool such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact, it will provide open rate and click rate, and you’ll be able to keep segmented email lists. Referrals can be tracked in Google Analytics.
- Website Traffic (Organic): How many people are finding and visiting your site through organic search results?
- Keyword Rankings: How is your site ranking organically for specific keywords?
- Website Traffic (Paid): How many website visits are being driven by paid search ads?
Where to find these metrics: Organic and paid traffic metrics can be tracked in Google Analytics. There are many tools for checking keyword rankings. Most, like SEMrush and Ubersuggest, have limited free services as well as powerful paid versions.
- Ad Clicks: How many people clicked on your ads?
- Click-Through-Rate (CTR): What is the rate at which people are engaging with your ads? Clicks ÷ Impressions = CTR
- Cost-Per-Click (CPC): How much are you spending per click? Total Cost of Ad Campaign ÷ Number of Clicks = CPC
- Conversions: How many conversions were there? What is the conversion rate of your ads? Number of Conversions ÷ Number of Total Ad Interactions = CR
- Cost Per Conversion: How much did each conversion cost? Total Cost of Campaign ÷ Number of Conversions = Cost Per Conversion
- Impressions: How many times your content was displayed (not necessarily how many times it was seen).
- Cost Per Mille (CPM): The cost per one thousand impressions. Total Cost of Campaign ÷ Number of Impressions X 1,000 = CPM
Where to find these metrics: In your ad platform (e.g., Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Perfect Audience), you’ll be able to find all of the above metrics.
Tracking the success of your efforts might seem tedious, but it’s necessary! Numbers help you definitively determine which tactics are working, which need to be fixed or optimized, and which should be dropped.
How often should you measure? That depends on the size of your business and campaigns. Maybe a quick daily review of top metrics is in order. You may also decide on a weekly review. Consider monthly performance reports that benchmark data against your goals and past performance. More in-depth quarterly and yearly reports will help shape strategy.
DIGITAL MARKETING & PRIVACY
Digital marketing can be incredibly effective because it provides powerful targeting options and better-than-ever access to our specific audiences. But that also means we have to make customer privacy a priority. Respect the information your leads and customers entrust you with. Secure it well, and don’t use it excessively. Comply with laws like GDPR, CCPA, and CANSPAM. If you use the power of digital marketing responsibly, you’ll increase trust in and wellbeing toward your brand.
The nature of digital marketing is that it changes quickly. It’s important to keep up, but also to stand by proven tactics and communicate with your audience consistently. And don’t forget traditional tactics like print or events. Craft a holistic marketing plan that takes a good mix of tactics into account.
We invite you to reach out with any questions you may still have about digital marketing, or to let us know how your digital presence is going!
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