Digital marketing is a term we’ve all heard, but what does it actually mean? First coined in the 1990s, digital marketing is defined as the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium. Or, more simply, it is any form of marketing products or services via electronic devices.
Digital marketing has been around for nearly a century, when Guglielmo Marconi invented the radio telegraph system, which catapulted the world into a wireless future of communication and sales. After the first wireless telegraph was sent, it didn’t take the world long to figure out how to make money off of it by running ads during radio programs and more. So, yeah, those old timey radio programs Grandma listened to about Kellogg’s Cereal and Red Ryder BB Guns in the 1930s were a form of digital marketing—as are current radio ads. Then, in the 1940s, there was television marketing with commercials both within and during breaks in programming—who can forget all of the cigarette smoking and whiskey-swilling TV ads of the 1950s!? By the 1970s, there was phone marketing—something we are familiar with and truly despise.
The point is that those early years of marketing were instrumental in turning customers into returning, loyal customers and they used the new mediums of the time to do so. Unsurprisingly, we did the same in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the Internet, which opened all sorts of new avenues for reaching consumers, pushing the incorporation of digital platforms into marketing plans and everyday life.
Importantly, the Internet has allowed digital marketers to reach specific consumers, enabling them to narrow their ads through email, mobile messaging, and websites to targeted audiences. Digital marketing campaigns have become increasingly more relevant with each passing year—and there is no projection of this changing anytime soon.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Paid Search/pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
So, while digital marketing encompasses a broad range of advertising, communication, and marketing techniques, we’ll be focusing most of our attention on those that pertain to Internet marketing, which is just one corner of the digital marketing world, as the following nested chart makes clear:
As you can see, within the umbrella of Internet Marketing, you have Social Media, Content, Email, and Mobile Marketing. Then, in a related but slightly separate field, you have Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which incorporates Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) listings.
Let’s break down a few of these and explain why they’re good choices for you, starting with SEM and its buddies SEO and PPC.
SEM is an umbrella term that at its core means to promote your website by increasing its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) via paid advertising. Very simply, it’s the act of marketing a website via search engines. Under this term fall two important digital marketing strategies you should be aware of: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) listings. And, while it may be easy to confuse SEM with SEO, they are two different things.
If you haven’t already read our blog on why Return on Investment (ROI) Tracking is your pain-in-the-ass best friend, do yourself a favor and check it out sometime. It also explains SEO and how it helps you improve your site. But, for your convenience, we’ll repeat some of that great info here.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website easy to find and categorize. Or, put another way, it is about helping your customers find your business in a sea of thousands of other sites. According to Todd Malicoat, “nearly 14 billion searches online take place every month,” and, importantly, SEO helps narrow the playing field by driving your customers towards your site.
It does so by helping you improve your site through monitoring rankings, driving traffic, and increasing awareness in search engines. Or, put another way, this is the nerdy deep dive into how search engines make you money and help you understand the behavior of your customers…some might call this spying. SEOs use software to crawl through webpage content, indexing it into a giant database for quick retrieval, contrasting the searched phrases with that database, and then using sophisticated algorithms to locate and retrieve the site super fast—so that your consumer is targeted quickly and efficiently. And, luckily, there are many companies you can pay to do this for you.
Similar to ads in a newspaper, all search engines have paid search ads, which are known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) listings. Each time your ad is clicked, you pay a fee—which seems like it wouldn’t help you since it causes you to spend money, but wait! It’s worth it because the fee is usually trivial compared to what you earn in return. Essentially, the visit is worth more than what you pay for it, as, for example, you could pay a $1 PPC fee but make a $100 sale.
Google Ads and Amazon are the most common PPC advertising platforms. In 2018, nearly half of all US Internet users started their product searches via Amazon! PPC is a great way to utilize all of the searches to your benefit.
And, according to Portent.com, there are four main benefits to using PPC:
As you can see, PPC is a great digital marketing tool that helps you grow your traffic via platforms that are already seeing a high amount of traffic, but it’s important to note that you may not see immediate returns, and PPC only works as long as you pay.
Content Marketing is an approach that focuses on creating, publishing, and sharing content with the goal of building the reputation and visibility of your brand. Content is anything your company creates for online consumption, such as tweets, blogs, videos, images, etc.,that provide value with each interaction. In other words, it’s a “holistic approach that relies on a broad range of digital marketing tactics.” What’s more is that your consumer expects you to produce content, according to Meaningful Brands.com. 84% of people expect you to produce content that entertains, provides solutions, and creates experiences.
According to Content Marketing Institute, there are three key reasons and benefits for you to use content marketing:
Importantly, content marketing helps you have a relationship with your customers through on-going engagement and influence since you’re serving them content daily or weekly. Or, more simply, content management builds trust.
—Sam Walton, founder of Walmart
Social Media Marketing (SMM) is another form of digital marketing that involves gaining traffic and attention through creating and sharing content on social media sites. Importantly, it allows you to engage with your consumers—just as Sam Walton did when walking through his Walmart. As a catch-all term for sites that provide opportunities for different social interactions, social media is an excellent option to increase brand awareness, achieve a higher quality of sales, drive in-person sales, create a loyal fan base, and improve ROI tracking.
Also, as Brent Barnhart reminds us, social media enables you to have an idea of what your industry is up to—you can view and follow your competitors’ posts and use such information to better position your own brand. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, SnapChat, Tumblr, Whatsapp, YouTube, and LinkedIn are the largest and most popular sites as of the writing of this article.
Social media marketing is a great option because many of the sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, provide their advertisers with information about the likes and dislikes of their consumers. And many networks provide you great options for targeting prospective customers, such as ad targeting and display ads.
Email marketing is another excellent option. You might assume email is no longer a good marketing option, but it absolutely is, especially when you consider email usage. As of 2018, email marketing remains one of the most effective digital marketing techniques. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that people use email more than any other form of online communication. As of the fall of 2018, there were 244.5 million email users in the United States, and 3.8 billion worldwide. 72% of these users check their email via their phones and 51% use their email for shopping. This means that over 120 million people shop through their email!
One final digital marketing strategy is Mobile Marketing, which aims to market your business to mobile device users via smartphones, tablets, and/or other mobile devices, and apps. According to ComScore.com, users are spending more and more time on their mobile devices—approximately 1,600 million users worldwide! And 57% of all digital media usage and smartphone apps “capture more than half of digital media time spent.” Basically, these are just ads that appear on smart devices, but they’re important because of how many users have mobile devices and how much time they spend using them. Not having a mobile marketing strategy could cost you a lot of consumers!
There you have it. Digital marketing in a nutshell—not too intimidating, is it? With so many excellent options available, you’ve got some deciding to do. Luckily, Activator Studios is here to help. Let us know if you have any questions!