What (exactly) is Digital Marketing?
Living in the digital age can be overwhelming for some, especially if you weren’t born with a cell phone in your hand like Generation Z. All this talk about digital marketing that and social media this has small to mid-size business owners alike scratching their heads and quickly trying to acclimate to the latest marketing trends. While the concept of digital marketing is extremely diverse and can be talked about for hours upon hours, in a nut shell:
“Digital marketing is simply devising a strategic plan around the promotion of a product or brand using digital initiatives.”
If you were still confused a bit by the definition, you’re not alone; we’re going to paint a more visual picture for you since there are various forms of digital marketing. Here are some of the most popular marketing strategies for small to midsize businesses:
- Email Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing aka SEM (paid opportunities)
- Search Engine Optimization aka SEO (organic opportunities)
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing aka SMM
- Influencer Marketing
Now that you’re sitting there nodding your head because you’ve heard some of these (if not all of these) marketing buzzwords being thrown around, we’ll further delve into each category to shed more light into each marketing strategy.
Starting off with one of the veterans in the digital world, email marketing has been around since the birth of the Internet – and for a good reason. It works! (When strategically planned of course). Email marketing is used to keep current customers/clients (as well as prospects) updated on your brand and builds trust over time (consistency is key). Businesses can use systems such as MailChimp to create and schedule e-blasts to its customer list; depending on what industry your business is in will depend on the frequency you send out e-blasts. Additionally, email marketing tends to be a popular strategy as it’s extremely cost-effective and it’s extremely easy to track your ROI with today’s easily accessible technology.
The challenging part of email marketing is accumulating your opt-in subscribers; users must always give permission before you send them an e-blast or you could eventually end up in some sticky circumstances. While it’s popular to offer discounts and share current incentives with customers through email marketing, I personally love doing email sequences as they add a layer of personalization to the mix. (If you want to learn more about email sequences, drop me a line here.)
- Search Engine Marketing aka SEM
SEM is set-up through a Search Engine’s advertising platform such as Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) or Bing Ads and focuses on serving paid ads to users based upon their search criteria as well as the targeting options that were inputted into the SEM campaign. (These are the most popular search engine platforms at the current moment for all PPC, pay-per-click advertising.) Having SEM in your marketing mix as a small business owner increases:
- Overall website traffic and visibility
- Brand awareness
- Lead acquisition
There are a bunch of different ways ads could bet set-up within these SEM advertising platforms, so for the sake of being overwhelmed we will focus on search ads, display ads, and remarketing ads.
- Search ads are triggered by a user’s keyword or phrase that they input into the search bar. Dependent on how saturated your industry is, your CPC (cost per click) will vary drastically so we can’t even give you an estimate on cost. Search ads will usually be the first 3 or 4 ads before organic results. Here is an example of an ad we were served when we typed in “interior designer” from our Morris County office location.
- Display ads (aka banner ads) are similar to search ads as they are triggered by a user’s input into the search engine, however these banner ads are served across websites that are in the Google Display Network. Banner ads come in various sizes for desktop, tablet, and mobile to ensure there is never a missed opportunity to get in front of your prospective customer. An example of a display advertising looks like the below:
- Remarketing ads (also known as banner ads) are similar to display ads in a sense that they are served across websites also in the Google Display Network – but can only be served to people who have visited your website! Thanks to a tiny little pixel on your website, SEM advertising platforms can push ads to people who have visited your website and even show an ad specific to the product you were viewing. Think about that time you viewed a TV online and then kept seeing an ad for it everywhere…yep, that is remarketing.
- Search Engine Optimization aka SEO
Increasingly becoming a popular buzzword I hear often from clientele is good ol’ Search Engine Optimization, better known as SEO. Simply put, SEO is a marketing practice that focuses on increasing website traffic by growing visibility in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). That sounds lovely but how does one exactly “gain visibility in Google’s SERPs”? While there are a bunch of different areas that correlate to a strong SEO presence online, we’ll tap into what would be the first focus area for any business owner starting an SEO campaign.
Website. Website. Website. (Referred to in the industry as on-the-page factors) One of the major components of a solid SEO campaign is your website and the other components (seriously) don’t even matter if your website isn’t up to par. When Google or Bing crawls the pages of your website, it’s looking for quality and relevant content – are all the pages on your website well written, are you using the keywords pertaining to your industry, are the pages topical and so forth. Next the search engines are going to look at the crawlability of your website, which in layman’s terms means that Google (or whatever search engine you’re using) is able to index your website – aka people are able to find your website on the SERPs.
The last area for our on-the-page SEO factors would be HTML: this is going to be your website’s headers, titles, descriptions, and structure of your website. Search Engine Land created this amazing SEO Periodic Table which I’ve attached below and will further delve into the topics we just grazed (as well as the ones we didn’t even touch upon).
- Content Marketing
Living in a world where content is king, businesses need to not only be creative on what content they pushout to the public but additionally how they rollout their content. Content marketing is just what it sounds like; it is the act of creating and distributing useful content through videos, articles, blogs, and webinars (etc.) that aims to build relationships with customers and prospects by stimulating interests through those creative tactics. In fact, what I’m doing right now would be considered content marketing; I’m writing an informative blog post that aims to enlighten readers and shed light on an invasive topic, “What exactly is digital marketing!?” Think of content marketing as educational, not promotional – or think of it as storytelling and you’ll be good to go.
Just like the other areas of digital marketing that we’ve learnt about so far in this blog post, content marketing has many layers so we’ll focus on step one. In order to have a strong content marketing strategy, you will need to attract visitors before you can start promoting your business or services, let alone converting them. Forms of content marketing that attract new visitors are articles, blogs, and website content. This is where your buyer personas are truly going to come in-hand so you can properly decipher the buyer’s journey in order to formulate topical blog posts that would pertain to their interests.
- Social Media Marketing
Ah, social media marketing. By now everybody and their mother has heard about “social media marketing” and understands the importance of upholding a consistent social presence – but not everybody can implement a successful social media strategy. Before we get ahead of ourselves, social media marketing is when a business or brand utilizes social media platforms (think Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc.) to promote its services or products through creative content. Let’s take a look at our Instagram page for example (@letsbmedia), we post daily, directing users to articles or exciting news pertaining to our industry.
Our posts have a certain aesthetic as well as theme we’ve developed in-house; this ensures that users know what they are getting when they follow our page and aids in building a niche following.
As like any other marketing strategy, social media is no different and needs a carefully crafted plan as to when and what a company is going to distribute to its audience. Social media marketing is wonderful because it allows businesses to create its own voice through the social platforms and allows direct interaction with customers as well as real-time responses. While it’s definitely beneficial to add some dollars into a social media strategy, this marketing tactic would be considered organic. Having organic marketing strategies in-place is a necessity as younger generations can read through the lines and want 100% transparency when choosing a brand, which makes social media marketing necessary for businesses big and small.
- Influencer Marketing
Last but not least would be a more modern-day digital marketing tactic, Influencer Marketing. What is influencer marketing? Well for starters, influencer marketing is similar to social media marketing and content marketing in a sense that all these tactics aim at building relationships and generating goodwill over a period of time– it’s not about an instant ROI but instead truly growing credibility. An influencer can be anyone; brands will identify an influential person on a social media platform (of its choice) that has a following that is in-line with its target demographic.
The whole idea of influencer marketing is that this “social media star” is going to be able to influence its following to try your brand’s product or service; this is done through live stories on Instagram, videos/ posts on social pages, IGTV, and YouTube to name a few. Marketing agencies like ours (Let’s B Media) will research key-influencers in an industry and create a timeline of events around current marketing initiatives for the influencer. Remember, influencers should always be compensated for their time and should always be genuine in their word about your product or service; this builds credibility with the audience as followers want to see the good, bad, and the ugly – not just a neatly scripted video with raving reviews about your business.
A great example of influencer marketing (and personal favorite here in the office) is @FoodBabyNy’s Instagram account. The owner of the account (Mike Chau) is based out of Queens, N.Y. and frequents restaurants, bakeries, pizzerias, and eateries in the area; some of the places @FoodBabyNY visits are strategized beforehand (influencer marketing) and some of the posts are strictly organic, meaning he went there by choice, not because he was incentivized to.
Regardless if your business has a brick-and-mortar location or your presence is online, digital marketing will aid in growing your brand. Dependent on your objectives and budget, at least a few of these marketing strategies listed above will be a fit for your business model and something you could implement with little-to-no turnaround time.