Digital Marketing is a catch-all term for any kind of marketing that is done through electronic means. It covers all web marketing plus channels like email and SMS. If it involves an electronic device (except traditional TV and radio advertising), it falls into digital marketing.
We now spend so much time online that it’s made a big dent into the effectiveness of traditional marketing channels and turned digital marketing into the darling of the sales and marketing industry. Marketers have to meet the audience where they are. Instead of the television, it’s the smartphone and laptop.
Digital marketing is a huge topic and can be hard to wrap your head around. There are so many different channels and tactics that it is very confusing to new marketers to build a comprehensive digital marketing plan for their clients. And if professional marketers are confused, think of how confused new business owners are!
In this article, we’ll go into the core tactics and channels for digital marketing so you can get a sense of how to construct campaigns yourself.
Let’s start by looking at the major types of marketing collateral within digital marketing. Each type of collateral plays different roles. Thankfully, you don’t need them all. It’s a little like choosing the right tool for the job. Some are essential, others not so much, but you need to be aware of them.
Here is a list of the types of collateral you can expect to create for a digital marketing campaign:
- Your main website
- Branding (look-and-feel of the website, colors, fonts, etc.)
- Additional website content (blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, infographics, website services, anything downloadable from your site)
- Social media
- Off-site content about your brand (reviews and PR, guest posts)
- Email campaigns
- SMS campaigns
Again, you don’t need all of these. But depending on how you wish to market your brand different ones gain more importance.
Digital Marketing Approaches
Digital marketing isn’t always about making a sale. There are promotional goals as well. Unlike traditional advertising, you’re not just promoting to humans. Here are some goals that your business might have in a digital marketing campaign:
Search Engine Optimization – The art and science of causing your website to be listed in a higher position on search engines. This increases the amount of free traffic your website gets. Traffic from SEO improvements is often called “organic” traffic.
Content Marketing – The production of marketing collateral, usually informative or entertaining in nature, that creates awareness of your brand, increases traffic, boost leads, and/or creates conversions.
Social Media Marketing – Ways of promoting your brand and content on a particular social media channel. Can also be used to generate leads.
Email Marketing – Using email as a way to communicate marketing messages to customers who have opted-in to receive them. Often used as a way to get people to come back to your website after they’ve visited once before.
Pay-Per-Click – A method of traffic generation that uses small ads on a major platform (e.g. Google) that you pay for every time someone clicks one. Google AdWords is by far the most well-known PPC platform, but there are others.
Online PR – Much like traditional PR, online PR is the skill of getting other websites to promote your business through things like press releases and guest articles.
Affiliate Marketing – Some businesses allow affiliates to create websites to sell a product or service. These affiliates earn a commission off of the sales they make.
Native Advertising – A newer entry in the field, native advertising is much like PPC, but instead of text ads, it uses pieces of content on your website as the bait.
Marketing Automation – The use of software to automate one or more aspects of your total digital marketing campaign. Usually used to minimize repetitive tasks.
Inbound Vs. Outbound
Digital marketing can be further classified as either inbound or outbound. Outbound marketing pushes advertisements out to the wider web without care about who sees it. The core goal is to get as many eyeballs on it as possible. Inbound marketing takes the opposite approach by using marketing collateral that is interesting, useful, or entertaining to draw them into the brand. Some digital marketing approaches, like PPC, use a hybrid of the two.
In general, inbound marketing is more effective than outbound marketing. A customer that converts through inbound methods is often heavily invested in the brand’s message at the time of purchase. A full inbound marketing campaign works on the concept of a funnel. Each stage of the funnel both guides and weeds out customers so that by the time they convert, that customer is an excellent lead for the next sale.
B2B vs B2C
Just like traditional advertising, there are B2B and B2C approaches for digital marketing. Many of the same principles apply to both. You still need to identify your audience, figure out how to attract them, and create collateral that will get their attention.
In a B2B context, the core goal of digital marketing is to get the lead to speak with a salesperson. It’s all about attracting the best leads so that sales can work their magic and create the conversion. Besides the website, digital marketers might try things like promotional activities on LinkedIn (social media) or increasing brand awareness through online PR.
B2C is all about getting the customer to buy as quickly as possible unless you’re selling something of high value where a traditional salesperson approach is better. Calls to action are bolder than in a B2B campaign. Information about a product or a service is much easier to find since the customer won’t be talking to a salesperson. Quick lead scoring and conversion is the name of the game.
Digital marketing didn’t create a revolution just because it happens on an electronic device. Marketing analytics have let marketers study every step of the buying process to see what works and what doesn’t. It also proves to business owners what the ROI of different tactics are.
If you’ve never worked in marketing prior to the digital analytics revolution, this was a huge shift in how things were done before. Some of the things that can be measured included:
- Number of website visitors and their activities in real time
- Where people find your digital marketing collateral
- Demographic information about your visitors
- How they respond to marketing messages (do they convert? Do they snub it?)
- How much revenue each channel brings in (though this can be difficult with some channels)
Through analytics, you can see what works, what doesn’t, and what needs improvement. It can also let salespeople know just how valuable a particular lead is by how they interact with marketing materials prior to a sales contact. Google lead scoring to learn more about this process.
You can also measure how much each piece of marketing material helped or hindered your cause. When you mail out a flyer, you have no idea how many people saw it and how many just discarded it. You have to make an educated guess based on sales before and after. Analytics can let you know just how many people saw a post, left a comment, opened an email, viewed an SMS message, or any other activity you want the viewer to do.
Is it Expensive?
The expense of a campaign depends on which tactics you pursue and the inherent costs of making a piece of marketing collateral. But it can be much cheaper than it first appears.
For instance, if you have a website and a blog or article base, focusing your marketing on creating more organic traffic through quality articles and SEO techniques doesn’t cost much beyond the research time to create good content and paying a writer. If you do it all yourself, it’s just a time investment.
However, if you’re making videos, creating infographics, purchasing email lists, or buying PPC ads, then there will be costs involved. How much all depends on your approach and how much attention you want to make.
An Example Campaign
You probably know the sales acronym AIDA (Attention, Interest, Decision, Action). This is an example of a marketing funnel. Different pieces of digital content guide people who come into contact with the funnel toward a purchase.
At the attention phase, the goal is to attract the kind of people you want to purchase your items, the ones who are most likely to buy. Thus, content that is informative, interesting, and easy to share like blog posts, videos, and infographics are great at this phase.
Next, interest. Longer pieces of content are used to further prove that you have something worth the attention of the potential buyer. Ebooks, whitepapers, lists of features, or longer webinars stoke the initial attention into interest.
Decision is when you put your call to action in front of the customer. This is often called conversion in digital marketing. Conversion is any action you want your customers to do. It can be a sale, but it can also be giving you marketing information like an email address. And if all goes well, they take action and you get paid.
Done well and at low cost, digital marketing can take around six months to show serious returns. If you opt for paid options like PPC, that time can be driven down significantly. This was only a high-level overview, but it should equip you to start understanding other material on digital marketing that we’ll be writing about in the near future. Watch this space.