Digital marketing. Those two words alone have often left many business owners feeling a little out-of-depth, despite their efforts to tread waters in the marketing world.
It has been the topic of many blogs (this one adding to the masses), and still remains the one thing that all of us need help and guidance with.
For a quick explanation, digital marketing is how a business electronically markets its products or services to a target audience.
So, is a post on a social media platform like Facebook considered digital marketing?
What about purchasing digital advertising services like Google AdWords, is that digital marketing?
Are interactive product tutorials considered?
Yes! That’s digital marketing too.
Looking to get your business started with digital marketing? Then our Digital Marketing 101 guide is here to help you.
Alternatively, if you’re not going to do this, share this post with your marketing team to help them get the most out of their role.
The Old Ways
Before we dive into digital marketing, let’s cover the old ways.
Over the years, business tycoons have used every trick-of-the-trade – in order to outsource their brand and gain a wider audience, enabling them to grow their business, and reach their lofty ambitions.
You’re probably aware of some of the long-standing marketing techniques of old:
- Radio Broadcasting
- Cold Calling
That’s just to name a few!
And the one that sticks in everyone’s minds is billboards.
Yes. I said it. Billboards.
But now, in this age run by smartphones and digital technology, those old marketing tools are simply a thing of the past. They are outdated and “old-fashioned”, lying somewhere between vintage and geriatric in the marketing world.
Not to mention that this is an expensive way to get your brand message across.
While we don’t feel that billboards are entirely useless when it comes to advertising your business, we’re here to let you know that there are other (perhaps more effective and cheaper) ways to market your business.
In order to make marketing a success for your business, you need to use strategies and techniques that will create lasting bonds with your target audience.
You need to make your name linger in their minds – so much so that they will come running to you to rectify their problems.
Let’s focus on marketing strategies that will enrich and extenuate your brand.
A Brief History of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing has been around for years which may surprise you, since most people associate it with things like online banner ads or social media posts.
Digital advertising began with the invention of the radio around 1900. Up until that point, the public didn’t have a way to access information outside of the written word, so to hear advertisements over the radio was a big deal.
The radio and its role in delivering digital messages is considered an “offline” digital marketing tool and was integral in shaping how people sent and received marketing messages.
Today, we buy subscriptions to radio services like Pandora and Sirius XM to avoid hearing these same kinds of commercials people marvelled at in the 1900s.
As time marches on, so too does marketing and how consumers prefer to receive information.
Hello, World Wide Web!
In terms of major milestones in marketing communications, the TV was the next big event giving marketers a black and white, then colourful, way to deliver messages about their brands.
The introduction of the Internet to the public in the 1990s was a huge milestone in the marketing world.
Since many homes now had personal computers, the Internet gave businesses seemingly limitless ways to engage and sell to their target audience.
This “World Wide Web” provided a 24/7 medium that allowed businesses to advertise directly to their consumers, not to mention the data mining possibilities, customer support, and social engagement opportunities that would soon appear on the horizon.
Enter the New Age of Digital Marketing
First things first:
It is important to understand digital marketing is not just “one thing” a new business owner must “do” to gain online attention and market share.
It’s a continual practice of presenting your brand through digital marketing assets and methodologies in an innovative way that grabs the attention of your consumer.
And to do it effectively, you need a solid digital marketing strategy.
According to Wired, the average adult Brit spends more time online than doing anything else in their life.
Their research shows that the average person spends nearly nine hours each day on media and communication, and at least 98% of homes and businesses have access to 4G Internet access from at least one provider.
That means your audience is ready and waiting to see some killer digital marketing from your business. The term “digital marketing” might leave you scratching your head, after all — what is it anyway?
Simply put, it’s when you make an effort to sell your products or services using electronic devices.
Your digital marketing efforts might consist of:
- Your website
- Local SEO
- Online Ratings and Reviews
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Pay Per Click
- Affiliate Marketing
- Chat Bots
- Marketing Automation
As this is Digital Marketing 101, let’s take a crash course!
Some business may just have a social media page for their business portal. But, nothing can replace a good business website.
Follow our top web design tips to make sure your business website is doing the best job it can for your business.
This is the home of your business. People will go to your website when they want to find out more about you.
A website that’s been designed by a website design agency, offers a more professional and tailored experience than if you don’t have a website.
This is because you can have a site designed and developed exactly to your business needs.
Whereas having a social media page, may end up looking like other business social media pages.
It also ties you into a platform, making them responsible for your business’ online success, but that’s a different post altogether!
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Being a sharp and savvy entrepreneur, you’ll know full well what is meant by Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Many online sites describe SEO as the array of techniques used to “increase the number of hits” on your website in order to get you high on the search engine list, as it were.
But this up-to-date marketing technique brings about many great things for your business. Especially if you don’t fall into one of the common website design complaints that real website visitors make.
You are optimising your online content and you are, in effect, getting your brand name to stand out from the rest by getting consumers to search for you.
You are exactly what they are looking for, and they can see that from the first few pages of Google.
So swatting up on the best SEO techniques will help you and your business to stream past other marketers, and get you in the visual line of your consumers.
You’re then just one click away from boosting your business.
Local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Put simply, if you have a local business such as a shop, optimising your website also means making sure people can still find you in real life.
Let’s put together a scenario to gain a better understanding of this:
If you are not getting customers into your physical building, but are targeting an audience that is in your geographical area, you need to capitalise on local SEO.
First of all, claim your free Google Business listing.
Then, you can write about your local area, as well as mentioning other areas close by. You should also add your business to other local search directories and indexes.
Doing this is called using citations to grow your local SEO efforts.
Online Ratings and Reviews
Online ratings and reviews are a big factor when it comes to digital marketing. This is because people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Bright Local suggest:
86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses and 91% of 18-34-year-old consumers are the ones that trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
You can have your business reviewed on:
There are more options, but you should start with these three!
This is one of the most important steps when it comes to digital marketing, and it takes innovation and planning to get this right.
Content marketing is an ongoing, formulated, plan that you as a business or company owner creates in order to establish strong, meaningful relationships with your objective audience.
It entails crafting first-class, usable content that speaks to your audience and holds meaning for them.
They can see that what they are receiving from you is to their benefit, and you never let them down in this regard. It is reliable and consistent marketing that will reach the hearts of consumers and will get them using your services regularly.
Content marketing is about creating a story that will engage your target audience and make them feel a part of it – make them feel like the protagonist of your business.
The way you word your brand and portray yourself on digital media holds such a powerful influence on your consumer and will then be remembered by them.
That being the case, the visible design of all your content needs to be applicable to your audience and true to your brand.
Think about how the look and feel and design of your content will come across to your audience. This should be considered as part of your brand strategy.
Make sure your products and services are structured in such a way that will add volume to your content and increase how much your audience consumes.
Your content involves everything related to your business or company – your website, email features, print ads, blog posts and images – all of it!
Check out this post for help improving your content marketing.
Making sure everything is accurate and designed with the consumer in mind will fast track your business and market it right onto your doorstep. To ensure this happens, work with a professional design agency to help you!
Content marketing includes things like:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Social content
- Landing pages
Each of these should provide valuable information to a specified target market so that when it’s time to buy, they know who to trust.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms or websites to market your business and sell whatever it is you sell.
It’s how you share with your audience the outstanding content you’ve created, and it provides a way to communicate with your target market so your brand remains top-of-mind when they do need your product or services.
By being the newest (and one of the most effective) forms of growing your business, marketing using social media can skyrocket your brand and draw you closer to your target audience.
Various entrepreneurs have used a variety of social media platforms to promote their services and products using simple, but effective, approaches.
It enables your consumers to share, comment and like media, products, and services you have produced. In turn, allowing you to start building a relationship with them through the small chunks of social media interaction you share together.
One huge plus in favour of social media marketing is that it is a less direct, more effective way of getting existing clients to take up your services or, even better, refer you to others.
Comparing social media marketing to email marketing, it’s true that the latter can seem a little overt and pushy (despite its track record of success), it is, in some ways, an older marketing technique when compared to marketing on social media.
Think about every time you get an email from a company that you may or may not have subscribed to.
How many times do you actually open that email? And when you do, how many times do you actually do something about it?
In comparison, social media marketing stands it’s ground when it comes to consumers viewing, reading and even sharing content.
It is so easy to do, and everyone’s on it!
Getting involved with new internet technology and media will streamline your business and get your brand into the viewer’s minds, hauling in more clients who will spread the word with just one click.
To be honest, email marketing may be considered an older form of digital marketing and may seem a little dated in terms of how it looks to customers.
But, when done effectively, it can revive old clients that you haven’t heard from in a while. And it may even get them using your services again.
You are letting your target audience know what you are doing and how it can benefit them by sharing your updates via your email list. They see it and automatically think of you and what you can offer them.
If they are an old client, they may remember how you solved their business problems and got them to where they are today.
And yes, they may not do anything there and then, but your steady and consistent stream of updates will let them know that you are always there for them when they need you.
But, as stated before, some facets of email marketing are outdated.
You need to be careful not to come across as desperate by pushing your services like you’re selling groceries.
No one’s going to buy into a “you can’t do without it!” type slogan. That’s been and gone and is old news, just like those billboards we mentioned earlier.
Try to see email marketing as a way to keep your company in the minds of your audience and a way to gently knock on their digital door.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
Pay-per-click advertising is exactly how it sounds:
Advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked by a visitor so they essentially buy visits to their site.
When you use a search engine and the first two links appear shaded, or are a different colour or if they outright say they are an advertisement, those are PPC ads.
A business bids on keywords so that when a visitor searches for what they sell, their ad appears. Each time that ad is clicked, the business pays the search engine a small fee.
As a digital marketer, you may decide to invest in this form of technology by paying for your ads to be seen and clicked, therefore increasing traffic and readers to your site.
Here’s the deal:
In terms of digital marketing, it is a quick and easy way of winning traffic. Pay per click adverts allows potential customers to see your name above your competitors.
Again, this boils down to your content marketing and the design and user-friendliness of your ad being effective.
When executed correctly, you will source traffic instantly by the nature of the ad alone.
As with everything else, you are in control of how your brand translates to your audience; therefore how your ad is viewed online will depend on how you have created it.
The content and design of your advert will have a deep bearing on how your message transcends to your target audience. So make it count.
The best strategy for using PPC adverts, is to use dedicated landing pages for your newfound traffic, rather than directing everyone to your website’s homepage.
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning money by recommending and marketing another business’ products or services in return for a commission if your efforts result in a sale.
Based on your industry, there are opportunities to team up with different enterprises like sellers, distributors, and manufacturers to promote what they have to offer in exchange for a percentage of the sale.
In simple terms:
You can increase your business earnings by generating income from other companies marketing for you.
You outsource your ads to others who then make the sale, and you then generate a steady stream of income from what they make.
Of course, it then means you have to be diligent when it comes to choosing others to market for you. Your brand and your clients are the most important thing, so no matter how you choose to connect with existing and new customers, you must keep in mind how you are visually appearing to outsiders.
Always think of ways to attract and retain your target audience!
To engage with people who go on your website, you can use chatbots. These can engage with potential customers in various ways from helping them navigate your website to answering frequently asked questions.
This will save you time answering the same questions over and over again and can provide quicker responses than if you were typing the answers yourself.
We’ve secured several highly qualified leads through the chatbot we use on our website.
Marketing automation can dramatically help you with your digital marketing.
Here are some pros of marketing automation:
- You can automate repetitive tasks such as following people who tweet about your business
- It allows you to send emails to people who fill out forms on your website
- You can even schedule your blog posts and social media posts.
If you are serious about digital marketing, you should consider automating some of the processes to make your life easier. But before you do that, you need to have a marketing plan put in place, which we will get to soon.
First, let’s take a look at a company who excel at digital marketing.
Ever Heard of TOMS Shoes?
Of course you have!
First of all:
A successful digital marketing campaign tells a compelling story through a variety of mediums. This story resonates with a businesses’ target market and keeps them engaged and interacting with the brand on a consistent basis.
TOMS do exactly that.
They operate a One for One® business model developed by the Founder Blake Mycoskie that helps a person in need for every product sold by the company.
TOMS Shoes has helped others by providing over 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need, and TOMS Eyewear has given the gift of sight to those who need help thanks to the same “buy one, give one” model.
The company also have initiatives to provide safe water solutions to countries in need and birth kits to remote areas to help women safely deliver their children.
How TOMS Succeeds in Digital Marketing
Every successful digital strategy starts with a story that resonates with its consumers, and as a company, TOMS has plenty of these heartwarming stories to share while promoting their product and brand.
Let’s take a look at an example of how they use digital marketing to sell and promote their brand worldwide:
Annual “One Day Without Shoes” Campaign
TOMS “One Day Without Shoes” social media campaign asks people to go barefoot for a day in May to raise awareness for children’s health and education.
They invite people to share pictures of their bare feet on Instagram, and for each picture, a pair of shoes is donated to a child who needs them. In 2016 the campaign gave 27,435 shoes to children across ten countries.
According to Marketingweek.com:
“As a result of the 2016 event Toms donated 27,435 shoes to children worldwide. ODWS engaged more than 3.5 million people on all social media channels, with the #WithoutShoes hashtag producing 17 million impressions across Toms’ own social platforms and 62 million impressions in total. This engagement was measured using customer experience management platform Sprinklr, which aggregates interactions on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by campaign. The single day’s activity secured more than 250 media placements.”
This digital marketing campaign did three things well:
- It promoted the TOMS brand and its core mission to a large audience in a short period of time via social media with photos and videos that resonated with their consumers.
- The one-day-only event created an organic “do-good-feel-good” marketing buzz about their company and products.
- User-generated content was an integral part of the campaign spreading awareness and online attention TOMS would not receive otherwise.
As a brand, TOMS has implemented what Mycoskie says is his “scrappy and resourceful” marketing strategy which has some traditional marketing elements. He believes digital marketing initiatives help the TOMS brand connect with their customers in a more genuine way, and it is a more affordable way to spread their mission worldwide.
Creating Your Own Digital Marketing Plan
Whether you are excited about creating your first digital marketing plan, or you are dragging your virtual heels, let’s get started because your customers expect it (and your competition is most likely already there.)
Step One: Write Your Story
Before you tell the world who you are and why you matter, you need to write it down.
More than just what is listed on your “About Us” section on your website (although this is a great place to start and should be included in this narrative), your story needs to be a virtual walk with your customer about the history of your business, and more importantly, the future plans for your enterprise.
One of the best examples of telling a compelling story is Mr Walt Disney. Sure, he was in the business of telling stories with his characters, but the Disney brand started with him, and people want to know about it.
In 1920 he was just a cartoonist with a vision; today, The Walt Disney Company is one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.
His business has a story that interests and excites his target audience, and believe it or not, your story will too.
As you write your story, you will begin to gather elements to use in your digital marketing strategy to sell your business.
Once you define your brand, you can sell it using SEO-friendly keywords, imagery, messaging, and concepts that will remain consistent throughout your digital and traditional marketing materials.
If you are just beginning to brand your business, check out this post for some helpful tips.
Step Two: Build Your Website (Skip to Step 3 if you have one already)
Now that you have the planning part of your branding strategy complete, it’s time to put yourself out there!
If you don’t already have a website, have one created professionally! Or, if you really don’t have the budget, check out our comparison of available platforms.
It should look professional, have an appealing layout and attractive design, and it should be easy to update and manage.
If creating and launching a website sounds like too much of a challenge to take on yourself, after all, you do have a business to manage, hire someone to do it for you!
Your website is the virtual storefront for your brand!
It needs to be perfect to be profitable. Before hiring your web designer, clue yourself up on the website design process to give you the best chance of success.
Step Three: Optimize Your Website
If your website already exists, make sure you are taking full advantage of the online marketplace.
You may think, “I’ve already spent too much time and money on this website already! It might not be perfect, but it’s fine.”
The question you must ask yourself is this:
Do you like money and would you like more?
If you don’t optimize your site, you could stand to lose a lot of money.
Your website is critical to your overall success as a business.
For many, this is the first encounter they will have with your business, and you need to make a good first impression as a trustworthy, reliable brand.
If you have an e-commerce sitefo, you have to make your website stand out among a sea of online retailers that are selling the same thing you offer. How is your website setting your business above these virtual competitors?
Our favourite website optimisation tools include:
- Google Optimize
Check them out if you want to get started with website optimisation!
Step Four: Measure Your Website
You may have the jazziest website out there, but if it isn’t working, who cares? More importantly, why isn’t it working?
All of your digital marketing efforts must be measured to gauge effectiveness.
That’s why you answer that age-old question, “How did you hear about us?” online or in-person at retailers regardless what they sell; they want to know how their marketing dollars are performing and which mediums work.
One way to measure the effectiveness of your website is to use analytics software like Google Analytics to find out information about who is visiting your website, and what content and links are the most popular.
Google Analytics is free, easy to learn, and can help you learn about your online audience.
Step Five: Begin Your Inbound Marketing Journey
Once you have a dynamite website and tools to measure its effectiveness, it’s time to start promoting it using inbound marketing strategies.
Inbound marketing is when businesses use digital assets to convince their online target market to buy.
It focuses on using digital assets like:
- Social media posts
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Native advertising
As well as retargeted ads to gain attention and ultimately, sales.
Like we mentioned before regarding digital marketing, inbound marketing is not something you “do,” rather it is a strategic approach to combining different digital assets to attract, convert, and close your online audience.
Once you have a dynamite website and tools to measure its effectiveness, it’s time to start promoting it using inbound marketing strategies. You can find a great list of tools to help you with your work here.
Step Six: Constant Re-Evaluation
As technology evolves and new digital assets enter the market, your digital marketing strategy will change over time.
To make sure your digital plan is on-point, gather a team of marketing professionals that are up-to-date on the latest trends to help your digital plan keep pace with the times and your competition.
If you don’t have a team to help with your digital marketing, hire someone to do it for you!
Hiring a digital expert will help your business remain relevant, and most importantly profitable, in the highly competitive online marketplace.
Conclusion: Digital Marketing 101: How to Get the Most for Your Money
Digital marketing isn’t an easy thing to understand. It takes time, experimentation, and patience.
If you have the time to invest, the best way to save your hard earned money, is to do it yourself.
If you’re short on time, bring in a digital agency to help. The smaller the agency, the more reasonable the budget.
You can do a lot of your digital marketing work yourself. But it’s a question of would you rather invest time, or money?
Investing time keeps the cost down, investing money, frees you up to focus on what you’re good at.
Are you ready to start designing your digital strategy? Comment below how you plan on beginning to incorporate digital marketing into your marketing strategy.