Digital Marketing has taken over the world of business with absolutely no signs of stopping, in fact, online marketing strategies are more necessary than ever before.
This is, in part, due to the ever-growing reliance on technology in the lives of consumers, as well as the consumer’s newfound power when interacting with various brands and businesses in the world.
Put simply, consumers DO NOT behave the way they did before online marketing. Consumers now have far more power and control over which digital advertisements they pay attention to and/or interact with.
Let me put into perspective just how much time the average person spends online, and why this time is a precious and valuable resource to brands that wish to increase their visibility, sales, and overall growth through digital marketing avenues.
We all have 24 hours in a day. Subtract 8 for sleep and you’re left with 16 productive hours. Of those 16 hours, studies have shown that the average American spends an entire 8.8 hours online per day. That’s over HALF of our productive time.
And every other brand, influencer, and business out there is competing for a slice of that precious consumer interaction. Yikes…
In this article, I’ll be showing you how to get a slice of that precious consumer attention. By the end of this article, I want you to have an excellent understanding of digital marketing basics, and the options available for you to begin clarifying your own digital marketing strategy.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing, also known as online marketing, is an overarching term to describe the process of converting prospects into leads and then (hopefully) into customers through online digital channels.
Put simply, digital marketing is a sales funnel that progresses the consumer life-cycle through various media and online interactions between the consumer and your brand.
Here are some common pieces to various digital marketing strategies:
- Your Website
- Social Media Marketing
We’ll delve into each of these subjects in a bit more context later on, but now it’s time to ask a very important question.
Why is Digital Marketing Necessary
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20-30 years, you’ve likely witnessed, first hand, the societal transformation that digital technology has had on the world.
Here’s the quick and dirty. Nowadays, 97% of people search to buy things online. So, without any kind of digital presence, how do you expect to get in front of any potential customers? The answer? You won’t.
With that quick point out of the way, let’s talk about the various digital marketing channels that you can implement in your business to make an impact on your bottom line.
Digital Marketing 101: Digital Marketing Channels
Here is a detailed description of the most popular digital marketing channels that almost every brand is using nowadays.
Your website is your bread and butter when it comes to online marketing. Most businesses that provide a product or service in-house will want a transaction to take place directly on their website itself.
A well-designed website is not only the most basic form of digital marketing, but also the most necessary. Over 70% of people judge the legitimacy of a brand based solely on the design, functionality, and experience of that brand’s website.
After all, there is a reason why in the “hub and spoke” content marketing model for digital advertising, your website acts as the central “hub” of which all other online marketing channels are the “spokes.”
But here’s the catch. Not only does your website need to exist, but it needs to be optimized to be even remotely successful for search engines. Here’s how you can optimize a website so that it can perform it’s best and get your brand the attention it deserves.
Your website needs to be QUICK. This has to do with the immediate gratification that comes with such a fast online world. The consumer doesn’t want to wait for your website for very long. After clicking on a link, your website needs to display something in less than 3 seconds otherwise the drop-off rate of your website increases more than 50%.
Web security is a big thing when it comes to Google, the largest search engine in the world (and where most of your website traffic will come from). Put simply, securing your website with what is called an SSL/TSL certificate will increase the legitimacy of your website in the eyes of Google, and therefore cause Google to present it more often in relevant searches.
For a rudimentary check to see how secure your site is, find the beginning of your domain URL and check for the “HTTPS.” If it’s just “HTTP” then you may have security issues holding your website back from peak performance.
There is nothing more annoying, aggravating, and frustrating to a consumer in today’s world than a poor user experience. The design of your website should flow. There needs to be an easy-to-scan sight line that allows me to immediately infer what your brand is and what you sell. Without it, you’re missing out on tons of brand recognition and potential sales.
Most brands can improve their UX (user experience) by adding clear calls to action as well as a statement of the consumer problem that the brand solves.
SEO is essentially how “search-able” you are in search engines. By playing along with the rules that Google (and other search engines) put into place, your website will be rewarded with higher-quality traffic based on relevant searches. We’ll talk more about this further on.
Website Mobile Optimization:
Your website needs to transform to fit the medium through which a consumer may view it. With most web browsing happening through mobile sources nowadays, your UX needs to comply with both desktop and mobile devices.
Put simply, your website needs to remain easy to navigate and understand whether someone views it on a phone, tablet, or desktop computer.
For a website performance, SEO, Best Practice, and Accessibility checker, download Lighthouse for Chrome.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Online traffic comes in two flavors:
Search Engine Marketing consists of the various ways in which you can place your website in front of consumers in search results. To put it simply, you will increase your website/brand’s exposure by ensuring that two specific things are optimized: SEO and Paid Advertising.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is just one facet of SEM, but an undeniably important one nonetheless. SEO is how you optimize your website content to rank higher organically in search results. The higher you rank in search results, the greater the number of clicks your website will receive.
Search engines like Google don’t have physical eyes. They use “crawlers” to “crawl” your website and define what the website is about and who to show it to in search results.
They can’t break down a picture into its meaningful components like humans can, so they have to rely on clues. More specifically, clues that we must leave for them in the form of keywords, alt text, descriptions, and more.
There’s so much more to SEO than initially meets the eye, which explains how some people have been able to make a handsome living doing nothing but SEO alone. It’s a very, VERY important part of digital marketing and SEM.
When done right, SEO optimization is likely the most reliable, organic, and influential factor on a brand’s bottom-line. SEO optimization, due to (often) being a one-time investment, also benefits from some of the highest ROI because results can compound over time.
For an article that solely discusses SEO and the factors therein, click here.
Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
Pay-Per-Click advertising is exactly what it sounds like. You have the power to make ads and define keywords to be promoted on top of search results, and only pay when somebody clicks on your advertisement. The true power here is that, by clicking on your ad, the consumer acknowledges that your brand exists and has captured their attention even for a moment.
This is powerful stuff. In fact, Google states that businesses average $2 of income for every $1 they spend on digital advertisments.
The world of paid advertising is not limited merely to search engine marketing, but also includes advertising on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and more.
The key here is to first ensure that you are advertising where your customers are, and are not diving into an advertising channel without doing your due diligence about how to define your perfect market and reach them effectively.
There is lots of confusion around these two terms, and they are NOT interchangeable.
Remarketing is where you take an existing consumer base and offer a complementary or supplementary product/service to them to increase sales. The big thing here is that these people have already bought from you before, and now you are using them to sell something different or new.
Remarketing is often done via email because email is one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing with some of the highest returns available. And chances are high that somebody who has purchased from your brand in the past has given you their email as well.
Retargeting, however, is when you feel as though you are being tracked, even followed, around the internet with advertisements. Perhaps you visit a website and view a product once, and then you notice that very same product displayed to you on other websites at (seemingly) random. This absolutely occurs with intention.
This is done with Cookies. Cookies are small bits of code that help search engines define user activity. These codes help search engines track and place advertisements in front of the same people that viewed them, even on other websites or across the internet.
Here’s what this means for you as a brand. With retargeting, you can…
- Create consistent brand awareness on channels other than your own website.
- Consistently enforce sales by showing relevant consumer-searched products/services.
There’s more to add to this list but these are the main benefits of Retargeting.
The next facet of digital marketing is not about a specific online marketing channel, but rather a process. More specifically, a process which works to automate the transition of consumers in your sales funnel from unaware prospects to loyal and engaged consumers.
Automated marketing is simply defined as any kind of marketing message that is triggered to be released automatically. The trigger for which is often a consumer action. For example, signing up to a newsletter.
Oftentimes we see this in email marketing. Nowadays, companies will have a pre-made list of marketing emails that is “dripped” to consumers who recently sign up to their newsletter. This form of automated email marketing is just one of a vast amount of automated marketing strategies out there.
Note: “Drip” simply means that an automated marketing system is sending out content at regular intervals. Often called a “content drip”, the interval of time between automated messages is also called the “drip rate”.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has taken the world by storm in recent years. Not only are more people using social media than ever before, but how often can you scroll on social media before witnessing an ad? Not long. And the numbers back this up.
In a single day, it is estimated that consumers are exposed to nearly 10,000 marketing/branding messages. That’s 10,000 opportunities for a brand to make an impact; or get lost in the crowd.
Here are just a few of the most popular social media marketing channels that brands use:
Any of these social media platforms can be a very influential part of a brand’s digital marketing strategies. After all, it’s the nature of social media to connect people with other people, brands included.
When considering social media marketing, you’ll have to ask some very specific questions. Here are a few general ones to get you started:
- Which social media platform does my target market use most frequently?
- How can you optimize your posts for search or discovery on these channels?
- Can you promote or advertise on the selected channels?
- How can you funnel interested people from social media to your website?
These questions will act as a baseline for any brand that is starting out on social media. For more in depth consideration on social media impact and how your brand can stand out, feel free to contact me by clicking HERE.
Digital Marketing: The First Step
When constructing your digital marketing strategy, the most important factor is defining what success looks like to your organization/brand/etc. Only then will the pieces start falling into place.
To begin with, you will need to select KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that are indicative of overall business success. Without tracking these numbers, you’ll fail to accurately recognize how much of an impact your digital marketing strategy is having on your organization.
For example, let’s say I’m the head of a budding new brand focused on building awareness in the marketplace. When I advertise online, my KPI’s will be focused on outreach, impressions, and engagement.
Now, let’s say I’m an established brand with a quality consumer base, but I want to optimize my advertising for ROI/ROA (Return On Investment/Return On Ad-Spend). This will help my brand make more money overall. In this case, my KPI will be related to reducing Cost/Conversion, increasing Conversion Value, and increasing conversion rate.
Overall, Digital marketing is how you get a leg up on your competitors by:
- Being more organically searchable long-term (SEO)
2. Using advertisements to promote in the short-term (Paid Advertising)
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