What is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing encompasses a wide variety of marketing tactics that marketers execute using digital channels. These marketing efforts promote your brand and products through organic and paid platforms. From social media to paid advertising on third-party websites, digital marketing is an umbrella term that can include:
  • SEO
  • User Experience
  • Branding
  • Paid Search Ads
  • Email marketing
  • Customer Advocacy Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • …and more
 

What is the Point of Digital Marketing?

Marketing is ever-present in our daily lives and has been around for hundreds of years. With the increasing amount of technology surrounding us, it is not surprising that marketing has moved from its birthplace in the physical world to the digital one. Digital marketing works to reach your customers where they are already spending their time, by showing up first in a local search or creating a campaign to get user-generated content from clients on social media.

Creating awareness and engagement online is something only using digital marketing tactics can achieve. By building online communities and creating marketing that does more than sell products and services, companies can convert customers into loyal brand advocates.

When customers share their experiences organically on social, it drives conversations about the content you create, which is valuable because this helps your brand reach more people, both online and offline.

 

Getting Started

Getting started with digital marketing can feel daunting. With so many different marketing avenues, software, and potential ways to track your efforts, it can be hard to know where to begin.

Before you begin building your strategy, take some time to do a Resource-Based Analysis/Competitive Analysis of your business. Using this method is preferred to the older and less accurate SWOT analysis. A resource-based view is when a business owner looks inside their company to find sources of competitive advantage.

Tangible Assets are physical entities such as land, buildings, machinery, equipment, etc.

Intangible Assets include everything that has no physical presence, but can still be owned. Examples are brand reputation, trademarks, and intellectual property.

Heterogeneous is the assumption that companies achieve competitive advantage by using their different bundles of resources in various ways to outperform each other, even if they share the same industry.

Immobile is the assumption that resources are not mobile and do not move between companies in the short term. This assumption means that companies can not replicate their competition's resources and implement the same strategies.

Although heterogeneous and immobile resources are crucial to achieving a competitive advantage, it is not enough to sustain that advantage. The next step is to use the VRIO framework to examine if resources are valuable, rare, costly to imitate, and organized. The utility of the resources in your company are only as valuable as your ability to demonstrate their true value.

Ask yourself the following questions...

Is the Resource Valuable? Resources are valuable if they help organizations increase the value offered to their customers. 

Is the Resource Rare? Resources that can only be obtained by one or a few companies are considered rare. 

Is the Resource Imitatable? A resource must be costly to imitate or substitute for competitors if a company wants to retain continued competitive advantage.

Is the Company Optimally Organized? The resources do not present any advantage for a company if the organization is not prepared to seize their value. 

Taking the time to assess your competitive advantage will help you determine your goals and build the roadmap towards accomplishing them.

 

Plan Your Strategy

1 - Goal Setting
Create a few long-term and short-term goals that you can use as the foundation for your marketing strategy. Be sure to use actionable words and include a specific metric that you would like to meet. Use the SMART goal methodology (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely).

Potential goals may include lead generation, increasing sales of a product, growing your social media audience, building an email marketing list, or sending traffic to your blog.

Examples:
  • Increase social media following by 10% by June 30th
  • Rank first for our top 5 keywords on Google.

2 - Know Your Brand
To be able to market your brand properly, you need to understand the unique service proposition (USP) that you offer and to know the story that you want to share with the world. Consider some of the following questions:
  • What problem do you solve for your customers?
  • What do you do that no other company offers?
  • Why do you do what you do?

Understanding your brand also means recognizing the services and companies in your field that are offering comparable products or who your primary competitors are. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the digital marketing strategies of your direct and indirect competitors. How is your organization unique? How can your marketing efforts stand out above the rest?

As you work to understand your brand, you will also start to uncover the Key Performance Indicators that matter most to you. Once you have these KPIs, it is a great time to begin to consider what benchmarks you want to reach. Is it more important to have a large social following or to get more clicks from a paid ad? There are no right answers but understanding which metrics matter to your business’s growth will help you consistently evaluate your marketing efforts as you execute them.

3 - Know Your People
Your audience is coming to you because you offer something different. By determining what your unique selling point was in step 2, you have prepared yourself to define your target audiences. Create 2-4 personas that embody the key characteristics, demographics, and pain points that your customers have in common.
Dig in a little deeper on each of your personas, define how they communicate, the places where they spend the most time, and what they do for fun. While these personas do not represent a real person, personifying your audience through these personas will help you shape the words and messages you share through your marketing efforts.

If you have current customers or users, use data to determine the worth of each one. What does it cost to acquire a new user? What is their lifetime value to you as a customer?

Acquiring a new customer will always be more expensive than retaining your current client base, so think about where you tend to see a drop from customers or leads. We will talk more about this during the client acquisition section.

4 - Budget
Determining your budget from the beginning will help you funnel and focus your marketing efforts. Investing your money into the channels that are most likely to help you achieve your goals will be more valuable than spreading your budget too thin over many different strategies.

The US Small Business Administration recommends spending 7-8% of your gross revenue in marketing and advertising.

 

Do You Have What You Need to Start?

A quick checklist

  • Do you have a website?

  • Are you using Google My Business?
  • Do you have social profiles set up?
    • Facebook
    • Instagram
    • Twitter
    • LinkedIn
    • YouTube
  • Do you have a branding document?
    • Logo
    • Colors
    • Fonts
  • Have you considered any additional software?
    • CRM
    • Email Marketing
    • Social Media Scheduling
 

Digital Marketing Tactics

Digital marketing takes place across the internet, and marketers should pursue many different avenues. Not all the following techniques will be useful for your business, as they will not be relevant for all the personas within your audience. Determining the best use of your budget and time based on your business goals will help you focus your initiatives to achieve the best results.

 

SEO

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is all the tactics marketers use to optimize websites and online content to appear on search engine result pages (SERP). When your website appears in the SERP's top-ranking results, you have more opportunities for potential customers to find your site organically. You can optimize your site using relevant keywords and phrases that relate directly to the words that potential clients may use to find your product or services. Creating content that answers questions that they may be asking, or relevant topics will also lead to more discovery opportunities. Google remains the leading search engine in many countries, but if you are promoting your business internationally, you will need to consider the other search engines that exist. Google aims to serve users with relevant information at the right time.

Some of the factors that can influence your Domain Authority and ranking on a SERP include:
  • The relevancy of your content to the search terms
  • Use of the keywords within your content that users are searching.
  • Links to/from your website
  • Whether or not search engine bots can correctly index your website.

Ways that you can improve your SEO include:
Tools and Resources:

 

Paid Advertising (PPC)

Pay-Per-Click, or PPC, is marketing where you pay every time someone clicks on an ad. Search engines, social media platforms, and third-party websites offer this style of paid marketing that allows you to put your business out front. To be successful in PPC, the price that you are willing to pay per click should be significantly lower than what you could make per click.

Write your ad, set a budget, check on keywords, and review the conversion rate.
Display ads use data on someone’s search and click history to determine which ads to show, businesses monetize web traffic as advertisers pay to have promotions displayed.

Sponsored social posts, learn where and when your audience is most active. This kind of paid advertising can be used for influencer marketing or running paid social media ads to build awareness.

Tools and Resources:  

Email Marketing

Email marketing consists of sending emails directly to your potential and current customers. One of the most significant benefits of email marketing is that as customers and prospects opt-in to your emails, you do not need to rely on the algorithms of other platforms to reach and grow your email list.

Using an email automation platform like MailChimp, Hubspot, or ConvertKit can help to create automatic emails that send to your contacts based on different trigger events or actions. Many email marketing campaigns start with a lead magnet or content offer—something valuable that you give someone for free in exchange for their email address. Lead magnets can include white papers, webinars, free products, coupons, assessments, or a call.

Use email marketing to introduce your brand to people who are new to your services, to highlight content, remarket to people who have previously purchased from your company, or to promote an event.

Tools and Resources:  

Customer Advocacy Marketing

Customer Advocacy Marketing Centers on having your customers have conversations and share their experiences with others. Not only do they share your message with a wider audience, by talking about positive interactions they become brand advocates for free.

Not only do consumers trust word of mouth and personal recommendations above traditional marketing, you can leverage online conversations as user generated content in your own content strategy. Creating additional positive experiences and opportunities to thank clients for referrals can build trust with your loyal customers and build genuine relationships that will last.
 

Content Marketing

Content marketing includes any digital effort that uses content, ranging from blogs, infographics, eBooks, videos, etc. The content here focuses on providing valuable and educational information that connects with your target audience.

More than simply selling a product, you are building opportunities for potential customers to find your brand as well as developing content that is shareable across different platforms. The goal of content marketing is ultimately to drive people to become customers by building brand awareness through storytelling.

Content marketing is a long-term strategy that ties into many different aspects of the broader marketing umbrella. The blogs you write will inevitably be shared across social platforms and will improve your SEO, so it becomes a regular part of your marketing plan. However, one of the keys of content marketing is to do it consistently and to build the resources that will truly help your audience.

Tools and Resources:

 

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a free, organic way to use social platforms to market your business. The world of social media is broad and oftentimes confusing to navigate, so one of the keys is to determine which platforms are more relevant to your ideal client. Focusing your efforts on one platform and creating consistent, high quality content that generates engagement will be more impactful than sharing non-relevant content on every platform that exists.

Through social media, brands can create brand awareness and build community. Hashtags, geotagging, messaging, and social sharing all help get your business in front of more people.

Tools and Resources:

 

Client Acquisition and Retention

Whether you use all these digital marketing branches to attract potential customers or focus on one to draw in new leads, you are working on your client acquisition strategy. Client acquisition is the process of getting new clients, and client retention is the effort you spend keeping the clients you already have.

Consider the goals of your online content and advertisements. Are you aiming to educate, inspire, or entertain?
When you first begin to attract leads, you need to aim to educate them about your products and services or inspire them to act. When you market to a current customer, your goal should be to educate them on how they can get the most from your product or service, inspire them to re-purchase, or entertain them and keep your brand front of mind.

 

When Will You See Results from Digital Marketing?

Some efforts, like PPC Advertising, can lead to an immediate increase in sales or leads. Other tactics, such as content marketing and SEO, will take longer and may be less obvious funnel touchpoints. However, they are all ways a potential customer can discover, learn about, and purchase from your brand.

 

Next Steps

As you move forward implementing your digital marketing strategy, remember that testing and pivoting is critical to long-term success. As the digital landscape changes and evolves, your marketing techniques will need to adapt to respond over time. A piece of marketing that gets a high level of engagement at one point will not always resonate or reach your audience the same way over time—nor will it speak to other personas in the same way.

Continue to learn from industry experts and speak to professionals so that you are up to date with the latest trends and emerging technologies. Through a continued and quality effort applying your marketing strategy, you will be able to build the digital communities that will drive your sales for the long-term.
 
  Get help planning by downloading our  Interactive Digital Marketing Workbook

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Author

Jenna Lakoff, Digital Marketing Specialist
Jenna E. Lakoff

Lead Digital Marketing Specialist

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