What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is the umbrella term for all marketing efforts in the online environment. The new digital era provides businesses with far greater potential to reach niche audiences than traditional marketing activities in the past. Digital marketing has become so powerful that companies can employ tactics from the traditional marketing mix in the online environment. Advertising, public relations, sales promotion, sales, and direct marketing can all be carried out in the digital environment at a more cost-effective rate, while also reaching a larger pool of potential customers. With users spending twice as much time online as they did twelve years ago, there are more opportunities to reach users on mobile apps, search engines, social media platforms, and more. The targeting capabilities of advertising platforms make it easier than ever to carve out target audiences and buy an ad at a fraction of the cost. Developing personal connections with users and communicating on a one-to-one basis has also given companies the ability to showcase personalities that could have never been done with traditional advertising
We are truly living in the golden age of marketing. Creative writers, graphic designers, data analysts, and strategists alike have numerous opportunities to showcase their skills on an international level.
What are the tactics of Digital Marketing?
“Digital marketing” is a broad term and encompasses a myriad of tactics that can be used to promote brands in a positive light. Here is a quick list of all digital marketing tactics:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is the process of increasing a website’s rankings for salient keywords on search engines. Search engines such as Google and Bing have evolved quite a bit over the past 10 years, with every new algorithm update curbing underhanded tactics to manipulate search engines. SEO involves a strategic blend of content writing, onsite technical optimization, and link building to develop trust and authority with search engines. While some momentum can be generated within 30-60 days, businesses will feel the true impact of search engine optimization over the course of six-12 months.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising / Digital Media Buying
Referred to as PPC Advertising, the realm of digital media buying has evolved past the typical cost-per-click advertising that was prevalent at the beginning of the century. The most common form of PPC Advertising is Google Adwords, where businesses can advertise ahead of all organic listing in a variety of ad formats. Media buying has grown to include all types of display advertising, social media advertising, and contextual promotion, where companies can bid on a cost-per-click model or traditional cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) basis.
Social Media Marketing
While using social media platforms to market businesses was a novelty many years ago, it has truly become a viable tactic for all types of companies, regardless of the target audience. Promoting your brand and developing a community can be achieved by engaging with users and sharing pertinent content, positioning your company as a thought leader within your niche. Earned and paid media campaigns can be launched on all of the major platforms, which includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, and more.
Traditional direct response marketing tactics can be employed in a digital format via email marketing campaigns. Whether you’re building newsletter lists to educate users or push potential customers through strategic funnels, email marketing is a tactic that all types of companies can use to broadcast special offers, promotions, discounts, and exclusive content. Platforms such as MailChimp, iContact, and Constant Contact make it relatively easy to setup campaigns in minutes, integrate email captures with your website, and initiate split-testing to optimize performance.
Online PR & Content Marketing
While many strategists usually separate the online PR and content marketing, they mesh so well together and serve the same purpose: broadcasting your message and generating brand equity. Content marketing goes hand-in-hand with search engine optimization, which includes the creation and promotion of various content assets, such as blogs, infographic, whitepapers, ebooks, videos, and more. Online PR, on the other hand, is a digital marketing tactic in which companies will secure coverage from well-known digital outlets via influencer marketing, blogger outreach, or press release distribution websites.
Also known as performance marketing, affiliate marketing is similar to media buying except for the fact that companies will only pay out commissions to publishers if certain commissions are met. This type of performance-based advertising can be lucrative for well-known brands and publishers alike but can prove to be futile if conversions are lacking. Typical commission structure for affiliate marketing campaigns sees publishers get paid on a cost-per-lead basis or percentage of sales, which largely depends on the products and services being promoted.
Also known as sponsored content, native advertising can be a worthwhile endeavour for companies that want to have content seen by a larger audience. For example, popular content publishers such as Buzzfeed will accept guest post content with brands for a fee, seamlessly integrating the content within its feed on the website and social media channels.
What are the main benefits of Digital Marketing?
As with traditional marketing tacitcs, there are a myraid of benefits that can be derived from digital marketing campaigns. However, the success of campaigns largely depends on foundation of the strategy and how well it is executed by marketing teams and agencies. That said, here are some of the main benefits of digtal marketing.
Increased website traffic
While this seems like a no-brainer, this is actually a difficult concept to grasp for businesses that are not savvy with regards to digital marketing. Typical brick and mortar companies may not fully understand the benefit of increased website traffic if there is no direct link to tracking sales offsite. However, by using any analytics software, you will be able to track the number of users that are coming to your website and gauge the performance of your online marketing initiatives.
Full tracking & transparency
If you’re using Google Analytics, which is the most popular digital analytics software, you’ll be able to track all of the following:
- The total number of sessions on your website.
- The total number of users that accessed your website.
- Average session duration.
- The number of people that immediately left the website, also known as the bounce rate.
- The total number of conversions (assuming you setup goal and conversion tracking).
- Where users are coming from by region.
- The devices that are being used to access your website.
The amount of data you can analyze is significantly larger than the data that can be analyzed from traditional marketing campaigns. By optimizing your conversion tracking, you will be able to calculate the following metrics to gauge your performance accurately:
- Cost-per-click (CPC)
- Click-through rates (CTR)
- Cost-per-lead (CPL)
- Cost-per-acquisition (CPA)
- Return on ad spend (ROAS)
- Average order value
- Cost-per-install (CPI) – for mobile apps
- Conversion rate
The ultimate benefit of marketing in a digital environment is the ability to generate a profit above and beyond other marketing activities. As mentioned in the previous two paragraphs, having the ability to track all pertinent metrics will allow you to gauge the effectiveness of certain campaigns and optimize accordingly. Once you start seeing leads and/or sales being generated from your website, you will be able to increase budgets and continue to bring your cost-per-acquisition down, making digital marketing a viable endeavour. However, it takes a significand amount of work, effort, and optimization to generate revenue online. If you’re starting out from scratch, you will need to have the patience to accumulate data, test different tactics, and optimzie accordingly to discover which blend of digital marketing works best for your business.
What kind of budget do I need for Digital Marketing?
When it comes to building your brand’s presence online, you can do it with a small budget or an unlimited budget. However, spending more doesn’t necessarily translate into more conversion if the strategy is not executed well enough. Additionally, marketing budgets will fluctuate wildly based on a number of factors, which includes how long your website has been around (SEO), the average cost-per-click on media buying platforms, the amount of competition online, etc.
If you’re just starting out with a brand new website selling products with an ecommerce website, you may need to invest more resources into building up your brand equity online and acquiring new customers. This may require a budget for search engine optimization, PPC advertising, social media marketing, and more. However, if you have limited resources, carving out a budget for campaigns that will yield immediate results may give you enough cash flow, later on, to build up your website organically and create a community on social media platforms.
The most important decision you will have when it comes to digital marketing is whether or not to outsource the work. While yours truly may be a little biased, it may be worth it to invest the extra marketing budget with experienced agencies that have the experience to work on a variety of campaigns. Unless you have an entire marketing department dedicated to online initiatives, it would be prudent to enlist the help of agencies or consultants to at least help build a digital strategy. In some cases, full-service agencies will have the marketing prowess, industry experience, creative design skills, and programmers available to help launch any type of campaign for your company. That said, if you’re lacking the resources to hire professionals for help, then the size of your budget will be determined by the amount you’re willing to spend on media buying platforms. Everything else, such as SEO, social media marketing, and more, can be done in-house, but it’s still important to attribute an hourly cost to those initiatives to associate performance-based metrics to each campaign.
I’m ready to start with Digital Marketing….now what?
If this is your first venture online, then you need to do a competitive analysis and get an understanding of all potential opportunities and threats in the industry. Having a keen eye on what works for competitors will help you understand where you need to start when developing your strategy and how much you will need to potentially invest in online advertising. If you’re already managing internet marketing campaigns with little-to-no success, it may be time to do a complete evaluation of all campaigns and activities being undertaken and seeing where you can optimize performance. There are a plethora of resources online that can help you diagnose potential issues with existing campaigns and what can be done to turn performance around.
The most important part about digital marketing, other than tracking everything down to the last detail, is to have fun. The more vibrant and fresh your marketing campaigns are, the more likely you will be able to cut through the online clutter and generate customers.