Understanding Digital Marketing For Beginners

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To some people, ‘digital marketing’ is just a fancy buzzword that makes people sound smart when they are talking about blogging or online business. The term was first coined in 2000, but the actual practice has been around for much longer.

So what is it, exactly?

Digital Marketing Defined

Digital marketing refers to any type of marketing that involves the use of electronic devices or the internet. This encompasses digital channels like social media, search engines, websites, and email that marketers use to connect with their current and prospective customers.

Digital marketing doesn’t necessarily involve content marketing, social media, Google ads, or retargeting and it can be conducted both online and offline.

When it comes to Digital Online Marketing, there are 7 main categories which are as follows:

  • SEO (Search engine optimization)
  • SEM (Search engine marketing)
  • SMM (Social Media Marketing)
  • PPC (Pay-per-click advertising)
  • Content marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Email marketing

There is also an offline aspect to digital marketing, but since offline marketing isn’t nearly as effective as it once was, and considering that the number of people who use the internet daily is increasing, I think we’ll just ignore the offline marketing side of this for now and focus our attention on the digital online marketing side of things…

Successful marketing has always come down to the ability to connect with your audience at the right time and in the right place. In today’s world, it means meeting them where they are already spending most of their time: On the internet.

Enter Digital Online Marketing.

In many posts on our blog, we discuss inbound marketing as an extremely effective means of attracting, engaging, and pleasing your customers online. But some marketers still have a few questions when it comes to digital marketing.

There are those who think that digital marketing and inbound marketing are one and the same thing, but that is not so. There are some minor differences between the two types of marketing that we are going to discuss below.

In digital marketing, a variety of digital tactics and channels are used to connect with customers online. This includes everything from the actual website itself to the online branding assets of the business – email marketing, digital advertising, online brochures, and so on. There is a whole spectrum of tactics that come under the ‘digital marketing’ umbrella.

Examples of Digital Marketing Tactics

As a digital marketer, you should have a clear vision of how each one of your digital marketing campaigns supports your overarching goals. Depending on the aim of your marketing strategy, you can support larger campaigns through various free and paid channels at your disposal.

For instance, you could write a series of blog posts to generate leads from one of your lead magnets and then promote those blog posts using paid and organic posts on your social media accounts. You could then create an email campaign to send more information about your blog or product to those people who downloaded the lead magnet.

Here are some of the common tactics and the channels involved in each one:

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

This is the process whereby you optimize your site to get higher rankings in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Higher ranks mean more organic (free) traffic to your site. The following channels benefit from SEO:

  • Blogs
  • Websites
  • Infographics

Content Marketing

This refers to the process of creating and promoting content assets in an effort to generate brand awareness, drive traffic, boost lead generation, and increase customers. Some of the channels that are involved in content marketing strategies are:

  • Blog posts
  • Ebooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Infographics
  • Online brochures

Social Media Marketing

This is a practice that uses social media channels to promote your content in order to increase brand awareness, grow traffic, and get leads for your business. The social media marketing channels include:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • Google+

PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

PPC is a way of sending traffic to your site by paying publishers each time your ad is clicked. An example of this is Google AdWords where you pay for a top spot on the Google search results page. Other examples of PPC channels are:

  • Twitter – Promoted tweets
  • Facebook – Paid Ads
  • LinkedIn – Sponsored Messages

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing involves performance-based advertising where you promote someone else’s products or services on your own site, and you receive a commission for each sale you make. Some channels for affiliate channels include:

  • Using your social media accounts to post affiliate links
  • Using the YouTube Partner Program to host video ads

Native Advertising

This primarily involves ads that are content-led and displayed alongside non-paid content on various platforms. Some examples of native ads are:

  • Sponsored posts
  • Facebook Ads
  • Instagram Ads.

Marketing Automation

A few posts back, we spoke about market automation, which is basically any type of software that automates your basic marketing processes. Some of the repetitive tasks that you can automate include:

  • Sending out email newsletters
  • Scheduling social media posts
  • Updating your contact list
  • Campaign tracking and reporting
  • Lead-nurturing workflows

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great way to communicate with your audience, and email is also an effective way to promote your content, discounts, events, and so on. It’s also one way you can use to direct people to your site. You can send different types of emails in your marketing campaigns including:

  • Blog subscription newsletters
  • Customer welcome emails
  • Follow-up emails to visitors who downloaded your lead magnet
  • ‘Tips and tricks’ series emails to nurture customers

Online PR

This refers to the practice of getting online coverage on content-based sites like blogs, digital publications, etc. it’s similar to traditional PR, except that it’s online. Listed below are the channels that you can leverage for maximum effectiveness:

  • Engaging comments on your blog
  • Customer Outreach via social media
  • Engaging online reviews of your product

Inbound Marketing Defined

This is the ‘full funnel’ approach marketers use to attract, engage, and satisfy their customers through their online content. Each of the digital marketing tactics listed above can be used through inbound marketing strategies.

The Main Role of Digital Marketers in Today’s Online World

Roles are ever changing online, and these days the main purpose of the digital marketer is to drive brand awareness and generate leads through the free and paid channels that they have at their disposal. Such channels include their website or blog, social media, search engine rankings, display ads, email, etc.

Digital marketers have to focus on various KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for each particular channel in order to measure performance across each one properly. For instance, if you’re focusing on SEO, then you could measure the blog’s ‘organic traffic’ to see how many visitors found a page via Google’s search.

While the big companies may have different people in various digital marketing roles, as a blogger, all the assorted tasks fall to you, which means your digital marketing is carried out across many marketing roles.

Unless you’re one of those big brands who can afford multiple specialists who can each focus on one or two of your digital channels, you will undoubtedly find yourself owning a great many digital marketing tactics at the same time.

Digital Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing: What’s the Difference?

While these two may seem very similar on the surface since they both primarily occur online and focus on the creation of digital content, there are some differences. First of all, the definition of digital marketing doesn’t differentiate between push marketing tactics and pull marketing tactics (also known as ‘inbound’ and ‘outbound’ marketing).

Both of these can still fall under the digital marketing umbrella. Some digital outbound tactics, like the garish banner ads we see online, are aimed at displaying a marketing message in front of as many eyeballs as possible with no regard to whether or not it’s welcomed or even relevant.

Digital inbound tactics, on the other hand, are employed by (smart) marketers in attracting their ideal audience to their sites by providing them with useful, helpful, valuable assets. A blog is a simple but powerful inbound digital marketing asset. It allows your site to capitalize on all the important terms that your ideal customers search for online.

Inbound marketing, ultimately, is a method of using digital marketing assets to attract and engage customers online while digital marketing is simply the umbrella term for describing any kind of online marketing tactics, whether they are considered inbound or outbound.

This Works For Every Business

Digital marketing works for all types of businesses in any industry. Regardless of what you sell, digital marketing will still involve the process of developing buyer personas to determine the needs of your audience and create valuable content. But, that isn’t to say that all businesses or blogs need to implement digital marketing strategies in the same way.

The Benefits of Digital Marketing

One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is that, unlike offline marketing methods, it allows you to see accurate results of your efforts in real time. For instance, if you place an ad in the newspaper there is no way of knowing how many people saw it, and you won’t know if it’s responsible for any sales. But, with digital marketing, you can easily measure your ROI for every aspect of your marketing strategy.

This kind of intelligence can help you in prioritizing the marketing channels that you should spend more (or less) time on according to the number of visitors the channel is driving to your site. For instance, if you’re getting only about 10% of your traffic from organic search, then it’s a sign that you need to spend a bit more time on your SEO to boost that percentage.

Also, offline marketing makes it virtually impossible to tell how prospects interact with your brand prior to buying, but with digital marketing, you’re able to identify the trends and patterns in your prospects’ behaviors before they even reach that final stage of the buyer’s journey. This allows you to make informed decisions about the methods of attracting them to your site at the top of your marketing funnel.

Measuring Content Performance and Generating Leads

Another example has to do with the performance of your online content as well as lead generation. Just imagine that you have a product catalog that you created and posted in a thousand mailboxes. The catalog is also content, albeit offline. However, the issue here is that there is no way of knowing how many people actually opened your catalog and how many simply tossed it into the trash.

But, if you had that same catalog content on your site, you could measure the exact number of people who view it and you could also collect the details of those visitors who download the catalog using forms. This means that you’ll not only be able to measure the number of people who engage with your content, but you’ll also generate qualified leads in the form of those visitors who download it.

Attribution Modeling

Attribution modeling allows you to identify patterns and trends in the way your ideal customers are conducting research and buying your product. This helps you in making more informed choices as to which parts of your marketing strategy to devote more attention to as well as determining which aspects of your sales cycle could use some refining.

By creating an effective digital marketing strategy and combining it with the proper tools and technologies, you will be able to trace all your sales back to the customers’ first digital touch-point with your business.

Being able to connect these dots between sales and marketing using digital technologies is extremely important because it will assist you in improving your customers’ journey through the purchasing cycle and will ultimately reflect positively on your bottom line.

In Conclusion

That’s the main scoop on digital marketing, and as you can see, there are a lot of opportunities available for the savvy marketer. If you’re ready to take your digital marketing to the next level, use the tips and tactics in this article as your guide and watch your traffic, lead generation, and product sales soar.

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->Steven

12 comments on “Understanding Digital Marketing For Beginners

  1. Kris

    I find digital marketing to be quite hard! You really need to get it right the first time or customers will just look away, there are no second chances with digital marketing.
    With conventional marketing face to face you can change your tactics depending on customer reactions, but with digital marketing, you don’t fully know what they are thinking and you don’t even know if they are the right fit for the product or service. There is a lot to learn about digital marketing, great article.

    Reply
    1. Steven Post author

      You make a good point, there is no switching tactics online, in the moment at least. You can experiment though, which is encouraged, use split testing to test methods. There is always a better tactic and split testing is the best way to find them, do it continuously to refine your funnel.

      Thanks for the comment Kris!

      Reply
  2. Lady Esther

    Hi Steven,
    As a newbie in the marketing digital business, i am glad to read this blog or article. I agree with Kris, digital marketing looks to be quite hard. I am still working on getting my website done and still look at the “WordPress” trying to create a blog or an article that would be interesting, target the audiences or visitor that is look for my keywords. I am still trying to understand SEO and other concepts that need to understood and use to make a website rank.
    I have to tell you that I only use the internet for shopping and checking my email at work or the personal one which is in “AOL”. But since I decided to become an affiliate marketer, my views of digital marketing have open up and plenty of new information is coming in and I am trying to organize it and use it at best as possible.
    Your article or blog has giving me much to think about and also plenty to learn. I still worry that I will not be able to write a blog or article to bring, engage or attract the customer online. Thank you for breaking down the different categories for digital online marketing. I do know of a few of them but your article has given me additional information to learn and consider.
    I agree with you as digital marketer we are able to use many of the different tactics, social media etc. To me at the moment it seems a little difficult to juggle, handle and create so many ways to attract, target, and engage a visitor. But I guess as time pass and i continue to practice more and give it more time I will get better at it and find my niche to success,
    Thank you for the article .

    Reply
    1. Steven Post author

      It will get easier with practice. Running a site can be overwhelming at first but with time you will find a routine and things will fall into place.

      Thanks for the comment Lady Esther!

      Reply
  3. John

    Hi Steven,
    this is a great post highlighting the many different ways of digital marketing and gave me a great insight into them.
    The benefits you describe are key – being able to track which ones are working allows you to reinvest in ones that are working and not waste money hoping it might work.
    Great post,
    John

    Reply
  4. Stella

    Hi Steven,

    This is very timely! I happened to put up a Facebook page about one of my niches in 2015. I boosted a page now and then did not know much about sales funnels or email marketing funnels.

    As I have gained over 400 followers, I thought I should take it more seriously and start engaging with my followers. I find it fun and am now working on an email marketing strategy. It is a good idea to focus on one marketing strategy at a time and get really good with it.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Steven Post author

      Sounds like you already have a strong base to start with. This will help get things going quicker for you.

      Thanks for the comment Stella!

      Reply
  5. Wendy Rahilly

    Very informative post! Digital marketing is huge in today’s world. I myself implement many forms of it, particularly blogging, email marketing, SEO and affiliate marketing.

    I think a great complement to your post would be how Google Analytics can help with tracking your stats and seeing where your traffic is coming from, etc. I use it all the time and it really helps me see the areas of my blog where I’m doing well and the ones where I need improvement.

    I’d be interested to learn a little more about Attribution Modeling. Will you be posting anymore on this?

    Reply
    1. Steven Post author

      Possibly. Maybe I’ll come up with a more intermediate post similar to this in the future.

      Thanks for the comment Wendy!

      Reply
  6. Kenny

    This is such a great site for beginners and I can say that if all newbie online marketers read your article they would be less likely to fall victim to scammers and sham sites as at least they could gain a rudimentary grasp of the fundamentals of what online marketing is. I find your site to be honest and to the point, which I like. Thank you and please do carry on creating the great content in the future. Thanks Kenny 

    Reply
    1. Steven Post author

      There is a lot of garbage out there beginners fall victim to, sadly. It has always been my intention to save, if only a few, beginners from loss to this garbage.

      Thanks for the kind words Kenny!

      Reply

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