What Is Digital Marketing? A Guide to Marketing in Today’s Digital World

In the world of business development and branding, going digital is all the buzz. So just what is digital marketing and how can we use it to grow our businesses?

Digital Marketing Defined

Digital marketing is the advertising and promotion of businesses and their brands through digital media channels. Digital media, at the moment, includes websites, social media, radio, television, mobile and even forms of traditionally non-digital media such as billboards and transit signs. Essentially any marketing media that is delivered electronically is considered digital marketing.

This leaves only various forms of person-to-person (P2P) marketing, print advertising and direct marketing outside of the digital marketing umbrella. Even then, print ads, direct mail, print directories, billboards and posters are all starting to connect to their digital counterparts. With items like URL landing pages, QR codes, web banner advertising, online directories and text codes, traditional marketing and advertising almost always has a digital marketing connection.

Why the Focus on Digital Media?

The shift to digital media is being driven by marketing agencies, business owners and consumers alike. The ever-increasing demand to show quantifiable results makes going digital a dream for the digital marketing agency. Most digital media, including websites, social media and mobile advertising is much easier to track than traditional marketing media such as print advertising.

For business owners, many forms of digital advertising are very low cost. Having a web presence, engaging customers in conversations through social media and e-mail marketing are low cost alternatives to print advertising and direct mail. These digital channels are available to businesses of any size, and help to even the playing field for start-ups, small businesses and independent consultants seeking new business.

For consumers, the fast pace of life makes digital advertising a must. When consumers are in need of goods and services, gone are the days of thumbing through a phonebook to find them. Now, we whip out our mobile devices or head to our computers for answers – and we find them fast.

Using Digital Media to Build Your Business and Brand

No matter what size your business is – large or small to medium sized business / enterprise (SMB or SME) – you can effectively market your business through low-cost digital channels. The foundation of your marketing efforts will be your website. Invest wisely in your website, and be sure that it does the following:

  • Adequately represents your business and brand (look and feel, messaging)
  • Adequately speaks to your target audience
  • Can be found by searchers on top search engines
  • Is up-to-date and easily navigable
  • Provides multiple channels for customer communication
  • Connects to other marketing efforts

It is recommended that you work with a professional web design firm that is skilled in web development and search engine optimization. Because your website is the foundation to and from which all other digital channels will lead, it should be considered one of your top business investments.

Once you have your website complete, the next steps would be to launch regular monthly or bi-monthly e-mail campaigns, and connect with customers via social media. If you are truly on a shoestring budget, these are efforts that can be done in-house (by someone with the proper knowledge) or for a low cost by an outside digital marketing agency. Be sure that all of your efforts lead customers back to your website where they can fully engage with your business, products and services, and choose the channels through which they contact you.

If you’re interested in getting aggressive with search marketing, you can set aside some digital marketing dollars for search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising. Many businesses today rely heavily on being found online to gain new customers. A common misconception among business owners is that simply having a website means that customers will find it. Not so. Your site must be built with specific key words and phrases, meta data, page content and linking strategies that will help it reach top search rankings.

Because many key words and phrases have stiff competition for top search rankings, you will need to supplement your organic search engine optimization efforts with pay-per-click advertising. Getting established with pay-per-click advertising campaigns can be a little daunting, but with a little time, effort and instruction, that too can be accomplished in-house, or for a reasonable cost through an outside digital marketing agency.

Beyond e-mail, social media marketing and search engine marketing, you can venture into a host of other digital marketing efforts. Mobile advertising, radio, television, electronic billboards and much more are available as marketing outlets. Whatever digital efforts you choose, they should all connect and tie into your foundation – your company website.

If you have the means, a wise investment would be to engage the services of a digital marketing agency to assist in your marketing efforts. Today, many digital agencies offer multiple levels of service to accommodate businesses large and small.

THe Difference Between Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing

It utilizes an assortment of digital channels like SEO (search engine optimization), social media and PPC (pay per click) to entice audiences towards a prospective brand. Digital marketing uses internet as the core medium of promotion which can be accessed using electronic gadgets like computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Internet marketing techniques such as search engine marketing (SEM), e-mails form an integral part of digital marketing. Moreover, it also includes non-internet channels like short messaging service (SMS) and multimedia messaging service (MMS), callbacks, etc. All these different channels form an integrated part of digital marketing. Digital marketing is considered a BTL Below-The-Line marketing as it targets a smaller and more concentrated group and works on forming loyal customers and creating conversions.

SMO or (SMM), on the other hand, is a branch or subset of digital marketing that excels at promotion using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and so forth. It makes the use of social media for the purpose of marketing. Social media relies heavily on the interaction of the users, sharing information and forming a community of sorts and hence has a ‘social’ element to it. It utilizes the creation of artistic content which is presented accordingly to lure the audience towards your products or services and create a brand following.

According to Zephoria Digital Marketing Consultants, there are over 1.71 billion monthly active Facebook users worldwide. This means that statistically Facebook is too big to ignore and hence, should be a vital part of your social media marketing strategies. Online video consumption on such platforms has been on a steady rise and is the next big thing in terms of marketing strategies. SMM is also a BTL Below-The-Line marketing as it relates to segregated groups formed over common interests on social media platforms.

Companies looking to address their marketing needs need to choose between a digital marketing agency or a specialist agency. If you are looking for someone to plan out your entire marketing strategy, then a digital marketing agency would be a good choice. However, if you are looking for someone to only handle the social media aspect of your strategy, then you are better off working with a specialist agency.

With the extreme popularity of digital media, people are more willing to incorporate digital marketing into their everyday lifestyle. As per the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) report, Internet ad revenues in the United States reached a staggering $27.5 billion in the first half of 2015.This has opened up several job opportunities world over. There is a high demand; however, we experience a dearth in the skilled workforce as people are still coming to terms with the rapid evolution of digital media.

To meet the increasing demands of talented individuals, there are several online courses in digital marketing available. A quick Google search on this topic will enlist a host of institutes that offer the mentioned lessons. The courses run for a number of days where all the related topics under the umbrella of digital marketing are addressed. Students gain valuable insights into the subject that enables them to carve a niche for themselves.

The digital marketing course includes basic understanding of marketing and advertising concepts and fundamental knowledge of statistical and analytical tools. They are also given comprehensive information about email marketing, SEO/SEM, pay per click, mobile marketing, online video among others.

Social media marketing courses include an in-depth understanding of the principles of social media, major social media sites, social media strategy and measuring social media. It offers a look into the strengths and weaknesses of the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. and delves deeper into the newest trends surfacing on social media.Social media is an indispensable part of digital media strategy. SM platforms are leveraged for the purpose of branding of a product or service as it provides a more interactive medium open for a two-way conversation. Digital marketing is more relevant in terms of creating brand awareness, marketing or reputation management. Although they have different online applications, they serve the larger purpose of brand advancement and customer conversion into leads and sales. Consumers have become more brand conscious with active participation and most spoilt for choice with the plethora of options available online. Their share in the overall marketing strategy has grown manifold rendering traditional strategy techniques obsolete. The rate at which digital media is advancing, it won’t be far fetched to imagine a future where virtual reality has transpired to every aspect of our existence.

3 Digital Marketing Mistakes You Should Be Careful About in 2015

As the year 2015 progresses, the message is loud and clear. Digital marketing is here to stay and is consistently becoming an important consideration of marketing budget for most companies. Companies now are spending equal amounts for TV and on digital. So what now? Well if your website is not fulfilling the latest developments or you are not doing Content Marketing or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or else developing some strategy for Search Engine Marketing, you might well start doing so. However, buying into the hype of different digital jargons seen online or on social media without a true understanding of the results of digital marketing efforts may turn your marketing effort into a damp squib without the expected results. Here are the 3 biggest mistakes in digital marketing often made by most companies.

Mistake 1: Poor Planning

One biggest mistake that is made in digital marketing is the absence of an organized cohesive strategy, resulting in a waste of valuable time and money, not to mention the loss of opportunity. Before investing, you should plan the following for effective digital marketing:

· Understand your market: A sound understanding of a brand’s competitors, customer demographics, geographical boundaries, existing distribution channel, and knowledge of market trends (both about the product and demographic).

· Perform a SWOT analysis: Find your opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses.

· Clear definition of your marketing objectives: What results you are looking for with your marketing efforts and what KPI’s and goals will you use for measuring success?

· Have a budget: What is your budget for this marketing effort and what are the individual marketing channels?

Mistake 2: Unrealistic Expectations

It should be noted at the very outset that digital should not be taken to mean instant results, especially with companies who are new to this digital marketing practice. In fact, it takes some time for digital campaigns to develop, optimize and improve to get the results you expect for. It is imperative that clients are given realistic expectations. Here are the average timelines per service offered:

Pay Per Click Campaign: 90 days.

Search Engine Optimization: 90 – 180 days.

Social Media: 30 days.

Mistake 3: Not Being Informed

The presence of new analytics software makes it easy to track and analyze every view, every click and every dollar. However, what is important is to be informed about how the marketing budget is being spent by the company. So if a marketing agency is working for a brand, important data points should be known to key stakeholders. Hence, if it is a PPC campaign, you should have the knowledge of how to log into AdWords and also be able to check the account history as well as follow any account modifications. This should be true with the different digital aspects. You should have a fair knowledge of the KPI’s, the terms and best practices.

If you don’t have the time to go through learning materials, hire a consultant who could run audits and help in removing unqualified work. This will keep the primary marketing agency and staff on their toes and save you money.