Everything You Need to Know About Digital Marketing in 2021
Digital marketing takes many forms. It has become a critical part of most businesses’ overall marketing strategy and when done right, it will propel your business forward.
At a high level, digital marketing is the use of online marketing tactics to promote and sell products and services. It sounds simple on the surface, but it’s actually more complicated than that.
Our ultimate guide will walk you through everything you need to know about digital marketing -- what is it, what sets it apart from other marketing methods, how you can utilize it to bring more people to your business, and the key trends and tips you wouldn’t want to miss.
Demystifying Digital Marketing
Digital marketing covers all marketing strategies applied online to promote products and services. It is different from Internet marketing in the sense that digital marketing doesn’t happen exclusively on the Internet, you can also advertise through email, mobile devices, in a video game, or even on a subway platform.
If you follow celebrities or “influencers” on social channels like Instagram and TikTok, you’re already experiencing digital marketing. If you come across ads while you Google, that’s also digital marketing for you. Essentially, if advertising or promotions involve digital communication, it is digital marketing.
Digital marketing is also often mistaken as social media marketing. It is a common misconception, but social media marketing is a part of the digital marketing umbrella. There are many types of digital marketing you can use and those channels can help you attract your best prospects, establish authority in your industry, nurture customer relationships, and add value to your community.
Another common misconception about digital marketing is that it is purely paid advertisement -- wrong. There are many types of digital marketing (which we’ll explore below) and both organic and paid services are present in digital marketing. Understandably, organic practices take a longer time to see results while paid advertisements are much faster, but there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
It may sound overwhelming to understand digital marketing now, but mastering different tactics you can use online will help create a foundation for your business.
Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing is the use of traditional ads and media as a medium. This includes print (newspapers and magazines), radio or TV broadcast, direct mail, telephone, pamphlets, flyers, billboards, and more. Like the advertising techniques used in digital marketing, traditional marketing relies on the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.
Traditional marketing has been around for as long as we can remember, and it’s proven itself effective when done right. In the age of digital transformation, we form new ways to reach an audience and advertise a product -- and now we have digital marketing. The biggest differentiator between the two is the medium through which an audience receives the message. While traditional ads reach the audience through offline marketing, digital marketing uses, well, digital media, such as social media or SEO.
It is important to plan out your marketing strategy, and both traditional and digital mediums have the potential to give your business the best results when properly used.
Importance of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing creates growth.
In a time where people are connected 24/7 online, you need to be where your audiences are. And that’s why digital marketing is important -- it enables marketers and brands to connect to a larger audience and target prospects who are interested in what you offer. It is also more cost-effective than the traditional way of marketing and allows you to monitor or measure success using data analytics.
Posting an ad online is easy and people can see it wherever they are (considering the ad limit you put geographically). This is important in growing your market reach easily and quickly.
Not only does digital marketing reach a wider audience, but it is also very cost-effective. The costs for traditional mediums like newspaper ads, TV commercials, etc., can be high and don’t give you much control over your target audience. With digital marketing, you can create campaigns that target your prospects, whenever and wherever you schedule them.
Analytics and monitoring
Digital marketing allows for quantifiable results since there are software and platforms in place that automatically tracks your spending and revenue. This helps you monitor conversions, open rates, site visits, or purchases.
Digital marketing allows you to be more precise and personalized with the help of customer data, something traditional marketing does not have.
Types of Digital Marketing
There are as many channels in digital marketing as there are ways of engaging using digital media. Here’s a rundown of the common types of digital marketing that most businesses use:
- Website - the centerpiece of all your digital marketing activities. To succeed at digital marketing, you need a strong website that enforces your messaging well. A website is a powerful marketing channel that should represent your brand and product clearly and beautifully. With your website, you can drive leads and sales (inbound marketing) and bring customers using content that add value to them.
Crappy website = crappy results. Key details when building a brand website:
- Speed - You need a fast website. Speed is subjective and may depend on your Internet service, but in general, site visitors leave the page when they do not see anything within three seconds.
- Security - You need a secure website. Learn the difference between HTTPS and HTTP and why you must have the former. Now that information is available at your fingertips, the modern consumers are informed and will therefore demand better and more secure service. This includes areas where visitors need to fill in personal details (e.g. contact forms).
- Mobile-friendly - You need a mobile-friendly website. Most website traffic comes from mobile, surpassing desktop web traffic. You need a website that looks good on mobile just as much as they look good on desktop.
- Design - You need an intuitive website. Having a good user experience means designing a website that looks good and easy to understand, and giving users clear navigation.
- SEO - You need an optimized website. Search engine optimization is another important marketing type that you should incorporate in your website so people can find you via a search engine.
- SEO - short for Search Engine Optimization, SEO is the art of optimizing your content so you can rank high on search engines and appear in the top results using certain keywords. The Balance defines SEO as “the art and science of making web pages attractive to search engines.”
Why science? Well, SEO requires a lot of research and considering different factors to get the highest ranking possible. Some factors include content quality, user engagement, mobile friendliness, quality of inbound links.
Why art? Well, SEO is unpredictable. There is no consistent and quantifiable rubric to rank highly since search engines (especially Google) change their algorithms constantly. The best way to succeed at SEO is to pay attention to your page’s performance and adjust.
- PPC Advertising - short for pay-per-click, paid search or PPC is the paid result on the top or side of a search engine results page (SERP). But it’s not limited to SERP only; PPC is an umbrella term for paid ads online, and you only get charged every time someone clicks on your advertisement (hence, ‘pay-per-click’). These are also considered PPC advertising:
- Facebook ad campaigns
- Instagram ad campaigns
- Twitter ad campaigns
- LinkedIn Messaging
- YouTube ads
- VR and AR ads (immersive)
- Display ads
- Paid search campaigns
- Ecommerce ads
PPC ads depend on data gathered from a person’s online behavior, so they can be very effective. But like SEO, it can be complicated. These are some factors the algorithm considers when it comes to prioritizing PPC ads:
- Quality of the ad
- Relevance of the keyword/s
- Quality of the landing page
- Bid amount
You can freely track your ad performance using your chosen analytics platform.
- Email marketing - Email marketing - one of the oldest but most effective channels, email marketing is reaching out to your prospects via email. Email marketing is a proven lead generator for marketing professionals, and there are different types of email marketing campaigns you can send out:
- Subscription newsletters (blog updates)
- Follow-up emails to those who downloaded resources from your website
- Welcome emails (new subscribers or customers)
- Promotions or discounts for loyal and active members
- Tips or other customer nurturing content
While email marketing is simple and effective, it still has to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and have an opt-in list:
- Allows recipients to unsubscribe to the mailing list
- Adds value to prospects through useful resources and referrals, not just promotional content
- Informs subscribers what kind of emails they should expect from the mailing list
- Combines transactional, educational, and promotional emails
- Social media marketing - using social media channels to promote your product or service, social media marketing is a powerful tool you can incorporate in your marketing efforts.
While there are many social platforms available online, there’s no doubt the top players are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. These platforms are a great way to establish brand awareness and build social trust while engaging with your audience.
- Content marketing - Content marketing - intended to attract leads and convert them into customers, content marketing is another type of digital marketing that distributes relevant and valuable content to a target audience.
The beauty of content marketing is that it is not supposed to be promotional, but rather a resource material to educate and inspire people looking for information. When you give out content that is helpful to your audience, you are positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry and become a go-to for prospects seeking information about the products and services you provide.
Some types of content you can include in your content marketing strategy:
- Blog posts
- Ebooks and white papers
- Affiliate marketing - one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, affiliate marketing allows people, usually influencers, to make money by promoting other people’s business. With this channel, influencers can promote products and earn commission every time a sale is made.
There is a revenue-sharing model in place to protect the merchant and the affiliate. Aside from affiliate platforms like Impact, you can also promote on the YouTube Partner Program or via affiliate links from your social media channels.
Data and Analytics in Digital Marketing
Measuring, monitoring, and evaluating your data provide useful insights to analyze your marketing campaigns and improve their performance. Constantly reviewing your marketing analytics also helps identify which good long-term strategies you should pursue, and which are the strategies that cost more than the profit. In Petyr Baelish’s wise words, knowledge is power.
Here are some of the marketing analytics you should pay attention to in refining and developing your marketing plan:
- Traffic - The traffic source tells you which channels and campaigns you should invest in based on how your visitors are responding to them. This way, you can optimize your marketing spend and abandon underperforming strategies. Traffic sources include socials, organic search, and referrals.
- Site views - This metric monitors the amount of times visitors load your websites and which web pages gain the most traction. If your pages aren’t attracting enough people, you should consider evaluating your SEO efforts and making sure you have the right content and the rights CTAs.
- Average session duration - This metric is influenced by different factors, but it helps you understand your site’s performance based on user experience. In this metric, you can tell if your website is easy to navigate and if your content is worth paying attention to.
- Bounce rate - This metric allows you to know the number of people who leave your website after checking only one page. It gives you a good perspective of how effective your campaigns and landing pages are.
- Conversion rate - This metric indicates how many visitors act on your conversion goals, like downloading a guide or buying a product.
Marketing analytics are extremely important in determining which efforts are paying off and how you can improve your strategies moving forward.
Digital Marketing Tips
To help you develop a killer digital marketing strategy, we’ve compiled a few digital marketing tips you can integrate to get you the best outcomes:
- Research, research, research. - It is important to spend time conducting research and finding data that will support your actions. Like we previously mentioned, results are unpredictable and there is no one fool-proof way to do digital marketing. You need to be ready for sudden changes in customer behavior and have the foresight to prepare yourself.
- Have a strong social media presence in the relevant channels. - You need to identify which social platforms your target audience spends the most of their time. If your product caters to the B2B sector, Linkedin is a good social channel to build an online presence. For B2C, try Facebook and Instagram. Having a strong presence online helps you stand out from the crowd and position you as an industry leader.
- Get creative. - Much of what makes digital marketing campaigns successful is the use of creative banners to attract prospects. Creating eye-catching creatives, be it a landing page or an infographic, is vital in digital marketing and a skill you can use in almost every marketing channel.
- Remember: content is king. - Creating valuable content on your website generates traffic and helps you rank better on search engine results. This means more visibility, authority, and opportunity for you to be discovered by potential customers.
- Spend wisely. - After doing your research and making sure you are running the right marketing campaigns, keep in mind which ones you should invest more money in and which ones can be achieved through organic efforts. You want to spend money where you can yield great results, and maximize your budget accordingly.
Implementing the right digital marketing strategies will get you ahead of your competition and help you grow your business in no time. We hope this ultimate guide in digital marketing leads you in the right direction and yield positive results.