What is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing is an all-encompassing umbrella term used to describe marketing across digital channels including search engines, Social Media, email and your brand's own website. Using these digital channels, digital marketing professionals are able to connect brands and businesses with current clients and new audience rife with potential customers.

Digital marketing is a burgeoning field and the importance of digital marketing is only growing. People are spending more time online than they ever have before, this means that offline marketing is not nearly as effective as it used to be. With this in mind, investing your brand's time and resources in digital marketing is becoming increasingly imperative.

With all of that being said, the question remains, what exactly is digital marketing?

Digital Marketing in a Nutshell:

Digital marketing is very similar to inbound marketing. In fact, a number of in bound marketers will say that the two are synonymous. The reality is, however, that while both focus on ways to entice, convert, close and delight customers, there are subtle differences between the two marketing facets. 

With digital marketing, a strategy is created using a series of digital assets. These assets are then woven into a web of tactics. This digital web then becomes digital strategy.

Digital Assets: Digital assets include

  • Your brand's website
  • Blog posts
  • Ebooks and whitepapers
  • Infographics
  • Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
  • Earned online coverage (PR, Social Media, and reviews)
  • Online brochures and lookbooks
  • Branding assets (logos, fonts, etc.)

Digital Tactics: Digital marketing tactics include

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): This involves the fine-tuning of your brand's website to improve you website's ranking on a search engine results page (SERP). The higher-up your website ranks on an SERP, the more traffic your website will experience.

Content Marketing: Content marketing is the creation and curation of various forms of content (blog posts, videos, infographics, etc.) which drive brand awareness, increase traffic, increase lead generation and grow a brand's customer or client base.

Inbound Marketing: Inbound marketing guides customers through the full sales funnel.  As I mentioned earlier, it entices, converts, closes and delights customers.

Social Media Marketing: Social Media Marketing leverages your brand's Social Media profiles to grow your online audience. Successful Social Media Marketing will involve careful content curation, the sharing of your brand's own, unique content, and will increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website and increase leads for your brand or business.

PPC (Pay-Per-Click): PPC is a method of advertising where a publisher places your add on their website or content and you pay each time your advertisement is clicked. Google AdWords is the most common type of PPC advertising.

Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is performance based advertising where your brand advertises your products on a publishers website and the publisher receives a commission for each product or service that is sold through their marketing efforts.

Native Advertising: Native advertising is paid, content driven advertising that typically appears alongside non-paid content. Buzzfeed's sponsored posts are a great example of native advertising. 

Many digital marketing professionals also refer to paid Social Media posts as native advertising. Paid Facebook and paid Instagram posts, which are integrated into users' timelines, can be considered native advertising.

Marketing Automation: The refers to software which automated marketing actions. We talk about marketing automation in our article where we explain what happened to us when we decided to tried Instagram automation. There is also software available which automates email, Social Media posting and other website actions.

Email Marketing: Email marketing is the use of email to communicate with a brand's customer or client base. Email marketing involves e-newsletters, e-blasts and other marketing material designed to keep customers informed and connected.

Online PR: This is similar to traditional PR but is conducting in the digital sphere. It involves securing digital coverage through online publications, blogs and other content-based digital platforms

What's the Difference Between Digital Marketing and Inbound Marketing?

While digital marketing and inbound marketing might seem to be synonymous, there is a key difference between the two marketing strategies. While both aim to entice and attract customers, digital marketing does not draw a line between push and pull marketing tactics. 

Push Marketing (outbound marketing): This is when a brand or business puts their message in front of potential customers or clients who have not expressed a desire to buy that brand's products or services. To be successful, push marketing requires a broad reach.

Pull Marketing (inbound marketing): This is when a brand or business attempts to draw customers to them. The goal of pull marketing is to increase brand awareness and to create demand for a brand's product or services.

Both outbound and inbound marketing strategies fall under the purview of digital marketing. Some examples of outbound marketing as it relates to digital marketing would include banner advertising, content syndication, PPC advertising and more. Inbound marketing would include content creation, SEO, organic Social Media posts and more.

With this is mind, it becomes clear that the difference between inbound marketing is that, while the goal of inbound marketing is to attract, convert, close and delight online customers, digital marketing is an all-encompassing term which includes inbound and outbound marketing using digital assets and tactics.

Who Needs Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing can work to the benefits of any business working in any industry. While digital marketing seems to be a relatively new phenomenon, it is similar to traditional marketing in that it it involves building a beer persona which helps to build a marketing strategy by surmising your customers' needs and then creating valuable online content to meet those needs.

While digital marketing can benefit business and brands in all niches and industries, a cookie-cutter approach to digital marketing does not. Each brand, operating in each niche, has unique challenges and a digital marketing strategy will need to be implemented to meet this unique strategies. What works for one brand cannot automatically be applied to another brand.

Digital Marketing for B2B and B2C

When applying digital marketing to B2B and B2C businesses, fundamental differences in the way that a digital marketing strategy is applied will arise.

For B2B: Typical digital marketing strategies for B2B businesses focus on online lead generation. The goal is to attract and convert very high-quality leads using your brand's website as well as your Social Media channels. 

For B2C:  While the digital marketing for a B2C business will vary widely, typically, the goal of your brand's digital strategy will be to draw customers to your brand' website and make it possible/desirable for them to convert and make purchases without needing to talk to sales people.

In the B2C sphere, digital marketing is less about lead-generation and instead focuses on guiding visitors to your brand's website through a condensed buyer's journey. This type of digital marketing will necessitate that your brand's content be placed higher up in your marketing funnel and will include clear and strong CTAs (call-to-action).

What Will Digital Marketing do for You?

The biggest advantage of digital marketing over traditional marketing is that digital marketers are able to measure the results of digital marketing efforts in real-time. With traditional marketing, there isn't a clear way of measuring how many people saw an advertisement in a local paper of on television. Conversely, with digital marketing, it is possible to measure almost all aspects of your digital marketing strategy. This means it will be possible to determine what works and use successful efforts to build even greater success.

Here are some of aspects of digital marketing that can be measured in real time:

Website Traffic: Digital marketing tools make it possible to see exactly how many people have visited your brand's website and how they behaved while they were on your page. Using analytics software such as Google Analytics, you can see where your visitors came from (i.e. were they directed to your website from another website, via a search engine or through Social Media), what pages they visited, what device they were using to view your page, and so much more.

Being able to accurately measure how your digital marketing efforts are performing allows you to build a digital strategy the focuses on your top performing digital channels and to build upon digital content that resonated with your brand's online audience. An example would be that, when examining the source of traffic to your website, you find that only 9% of the traffic to your website is organic, it would be beneficial to invest your time and resources into SEO.

With traditional marketing, it is next to impossible to measure anything except how your customer behaves once they interact with your physical business, whether this is the purchasing decisions that your customers make in your stores, or the services they enlist. Digital marketing stands in stark contrast to traditional marketing in this way. With digital marketing, you are able to measure your customers' behaviour long before they make purchasing decisions, or even decide to interact with your brand. This will allows you to build a more effective digital strategy that will attract and delight online customers.

Content Performance and Lead Generation: With traditional marketing, there are a number of ways that you can invest time and resources in content creation. If you are a hotel, for example, you might print up fliers advertising special rates for your hotel's off season. You'd then deliver these flier to people's homes, but you'd have no way to measure who looked at the fliers, let alone how many people viewed your flier and then booked at stay at your hotel.

When you publish content on digital channels, it suddenly becomes possible to measure who looks at that content AND how they interact with that content. Publishing your flier online also gives you the option of making that content downloadable. Making a flier or brochure downloadable opens up the opportunity for e-mail collection by implementing forms. In this way, digital content makes lead generation possible.

Attribution Modeling: An effective digital marketing strategy will give you the information necessary to track each customers' activity back to their first digital touchpoint with your business. This is termed attribution modelling, and it allows your business to make informed decisions about where to invest your time and energy as you move forward with your digital marketing efforts. 

Recognising the correlation between marketing and sales is hugely important. Companies who recognise the correlation between marketing and sales experience a 20% annual growth rate, compared with the 4% decline that companies who don't recognise the correlation experience.

What Types of Content Should Your Create?

The type of content you create for your business will vary wildly and depend upon the needs of your customers and clients along their buyers' journey. Creating a buyer persona will help you determine the challenges or problems that your customers are hoping to address with your product or service. The content that your brand or business create should address these challenges.

Now that you've created your buyers' persona, identified the problems that your customers are looking to address with your product or service and used this information as a basis for the type of content you will create to add value to your customers' lives, it's time to think about when this content will be of use to your customer as they progress along their buyers' journey. This strategy is called content mapping.

Content mapping makes it possible to target customers based on who will be consuming the content (this information is provided in the buyer persona that you built), and how close that individual is to making a purchase.

Awareness Stage:

Blog Posts: Well-written and pertinent blog posts are a great way of increasing your brand's organic reach. Using carefully researched and strategically placed keywords will also maximise SEO benefits.

Infographics: These are among some of the most sharable content. They allow you to share your brand's message as succinctly as possible. The sharability of infographics means your brand is more likely to be found via Social Media.

Video Content: Like infographics, short and pertinent videos are some of the most shareable content. Being more sharable means that your brand is more likely to be found and engaged with on Social Media.

Consideration Stage:

Ebooks: Ebooks allow you to cover a pertinent topic more comprehensively and to impart valuable knowledge in a more complete way than with blog posts or video content. Comprehensively explaining a topic that is of value to your customer positions you as an authority within your niche and it also provides an opportunity for lead generation as your customers will be inclined to give you their contact details in exchange for your ebook.

Research Reports: Much like ebooks, research reports provide a platform for comprehensively explaining a given topics that relates to your industry or niche. Research reports are also a high value content piece that creates opportunities for lead generation.

Webinars: Webinars are generally very detailed and offer a more interactive approach than video content. A successful webinar will comprehensively cover a given topic which adds value to your customers' lives. It is more detailed than a blog post or infographic and that is why it is valuable to the consideration stage of a buyers' journey.

Decision Stage:

Case Studies: Case studies help you positively influence a customer in their buyers' journey as they provide an opportunity to showcase your successes and gives tangible examples of the value of your product or service by providing an example of what you have done for other customers in the past.

Testimonials: Testimonials from current or past clients and customers is another way to positively influence customers on their buyers' journey. There are a number of different forms that testimonials can take for your business. You could include brief snippets from reviews that your customers have left for you, you could include images of customers using your products, or, you could create a branded hashtag and use a widget to pole Social Media posts for that hashtag to display them on your website.

Do The Results of Digital Marketing Take a Long Time to See?

While it might sound like we are promising immediate results with digital marketing because there is the immediate ability to measure ROI in real time, this isn't the case. The timing and immediacy of the results you achieve through digital marketing will depend upon the strategy that you implement.

If you manage your expectations and take the time necessary to build thorough buyer personas in order to accurately understand who your ideal customer is, and then you focus you digital marketing efforts on creating high-quality and valuable content that serves to attract and convert your ideal customer, you're are likely to begin to see measurable results within the first six-months of the implementation of your digital strategy.

When you throw paid advertising into the mix of your digital strategy, you will see accelerated results. While this might seem desirable, for long-term and sustainable results, you will need to build your organic reach through content creation, SEO, and Social Media. With this in mind, it makes sense to begin building your buyer person and attracting customers before investing in paid advertising.

Is Digital Marketing Expensive?

The cost associated with digital marketing for your brand will depend a lot upon what elements of a digital strategy you are looking to implement and, of course, as with all things, you get what you paid for with regards to the quality of the digital marketing strategy you implement for your business.

If your brand already has a website and your goal with digital marketing is to focus on SEO, content creation, and Social Media Marketing, you aren't looking at a particular hefty cost. The cost of these expenditures, will depend upon how much you are needing to outsource and how much you are going to be able to tackle on your own. When determining how much of your budget you are going to dedicate to these elements of digital marketing, it is important to be realistic about your abilities and that value of your time. 

If you are not a competent writer, invest in content creation. If your time is better spent elsewhere, outsource, outsource, outsource.

In general, outbound marketing techniques cost a little bit more money. Tactics like buying advertising space and email lists can stretch your budget. The amount of money you spend on outbound marketing will depend upon how much visibility you are hoping for.

An example of this is PPC advertising with Google AdWords. With AdWords, you bid against other companies and businesses in your industry to rank higher for keywords that are relevant to your business. If there is not a lot of competition for a particular keyword, PPC advertising can be very affordable. If there is more competition, however, costs can run a bit higher.

What About Mobile Marketing?

Many studies have concluded that as much at 60% of all digital media is consumed with mobiles devices. This makes mobile marketing an important aspect of digital marketing. To successfully market your brand to mobile users, it is necessary to optimise all of your digital content for mobile devices, including your advertisements, images and Social Media posts. 

To be successful with mobile marketing, you need to ensure that visitors to your website, and those who interest with your content from a mobile device, has the same positive experience as those users who are on a desktop computer. 

What's Next?

Now that you are somewhat well versed in the ins and outs of digital marketing, it is time to start building a digital marketing strategy. Stay tuned to SoBu Social Media Marketing's blog for tips, tricks, advice & how-to guides on building a digital strategy.