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What is Digital Marketing?

Different trends in digital marketing come and go, there is always something new to try. So let's start with a basic definition of what digital marketing is and how it should properly be used for the best interests of any growing business.

Digital marketing (also known as online marketing or Internet marketing) is far more than merely a website or social media account.

The demand for digital marketing is on the increase. To get the most from the amazing range of marketing resources available, which all go under this sometimes misunderstood umbrella phrase, you have to first understand the wider scope of digital marketing.

Growth of digital marketing vs internet marketing and online marketing

Different Types Of Digital Marketing (or Channels)

There are lots of different aspects of marketing in this digital age.

It’s probably best to think of these as different "channels", as this is what they are referred to by digital marketers. Each of the digital channels has its own job to do as part of an overall strategy to win new customers, improve your online presence or to raise brand awareness.

Depending on what you are marketing, and on whether it is a product or a service, some channels will be more effective than others in getting your message across. It may be that some of the marketing channels available will simply not be suitable for your own business. That is why it is so important to select the correct digital channels.

What are the popular digital channels?

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Display advertising
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Online PR
  • Video content (and advertising)
  • Mobile marketing

As each channel grows in both diversity and complexity, new skills and processes will be needed to take full advantage of each particular one. To get the most from your digital marketing strategy and marketing campaigns, it is beneficial to execute each channel in an orderly fashion.

what is a digital marketing strategy

Download a copy of my digital marketing roadmap here

You will have to decide whether you want to learn these skills yourself through online marketing courses or if it might be better to hire people who are already experts in each.

Different Aspects Of Digital Marketing

As previously mentioned, digital marketing encompasses much more than just a website or social media marketing. We need to consider how the audience of each channel chooses to interact with the material being presented to them so that we can harness each of the channels to our advantage.

Some of these will be more relevant to your business than others, while some will be totally irrelevant. You need to select which channel will work best for your own business.

Given that everyone seems to use search engines (with Google.com being the most popular) to find information, more often than not, search engine optimization (SEO ) and paid search using Google Adwords (or Google Ads as it is now known) is a good starting point.

Two other key channels that I recommend you use are content marketing and email marketing. Using a marketing automation system to send out your marketing emails will make your life so much easier.

what is digital marketing and using a marketing automation system

If you try other channels, it should be fairly obvious what will work for your particular products and services.

Here are some aspects of the digital world you should familiarise yourself with:    

Devices – mobile devices along with computers, tablets, Smart TVs and gaming consoles are the most common devices used by people to access the internet. The chances are you are within reach of your mobile device right now - and this is often your first port of call when you browse the internet.

Channels - are also known as mediums. These are items such as websites, blogs, podcasts, social media, organic search, paid search, paid media (incorporating mobile ads and banner digital advertising) software apps and email.

Platforms – this is where social media comes in, and the number of social media platforms is huge and will only get bigger, as more and more tastes and interests are being catered for. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Instagram are all examples of digital platforms. They allow you to set up your own channel(s) to promote your products and services.

Digital media - consists of a variety of free and paid methods of communicating with audiences. Media can be video, infographics, text-based content, photos. Digital marketers use different media types as part of their digital marketing tactics to interact with audiences.

Technology – this is what we use to actually facilitate digital marketing to end-users.  This can be the technology used to build a website, to automate email marketing sequences as part of a funnel, to enable in-app advertising on mobile devices or to successfully perform a pay-per-click campaign.

Data – this is possibly the most valuable thing marketers have. By using different channels, it is possible to collect data about your actual customers and potential customers. When the data is combined, it will allow you to create accurate customer personas, and more importantly, enable your marketing to present the "right message, to the right person, at the right time ". 

What Else Is Digital Marketing Known As?

Every sector has its jargon and its own buzzwords. Digital marketing has its fair share.

Most of it is useful, but sometimes the habit of giving something a name just for the sake of it simply causes needless confusion. People in different areas of marketing are calling the same things by different names, which hardly helps.

Digital marketing is a term used to promote and/or inform a potential audience about the products or services you are offering across the various channels via the Internet. The difference in the terms used to describe this (such as online marketing and Internet marketing) is purely semantic. They essentially all mean the same thing.

It would be easy to get sidetracked about the definition of something. So instead, let’s concentrate on the differences between marketing and digital marketing.

Traditional marketing has been around for hundreds of years, using the resources and the technology (or lack of it) available at the time. Examples include print, direct mail (postal mail), billboard advertising, TV and radio.

Traditional billboard advertising

Whereas, digital marketing is simply marketing brought up to date, and primarily uses internet technologies. In fact, it would be strange to perform a marketing campaign nowadays without a large percentage of it being digital marketing.

Or to put it another way, most marketing has now become digital marketing because of the digital technologies used. In fact, when we talk about marketing in a modern sense, we really mean digital marketing.

This includes, but is not limited to, websites, search engine marketing, content marketing, mobile apps, email and of course social media accounts.

There are various ways in which we can use these to get our message across. An interior design business may use Pinterest to their advantage, while an accountant is more likely to achieve success using pay-per-click, organic search or Linkedin. Music tutors and recording artists will make use of video to promote themselves, while physicists probably won’t.

What Is Digital Marketing About?

Wikipedia states that digital marketing is:

"the marketing of products or services using digital technologies on the Internet, through mobile phone Apps, display advertising, and any other digital mediums. Digital marketing channels are systems based on the Internet that can create, accelerate, and transmit product value from producer to a consumer terminal, through digital networks."

(Reference: Wikipedia)

What makes marketing so interesting today is the sheer diversity of the digital media available and the extent to which this media can be used and (as some would say) manipulated to the best ends of our marketing purposes.

The multi-channel nature of digital marketing provides different ways in which we can showcase and promote a product or service in ways which are best suited to a particular channel or a particular platform.

The most important of these is perhaps search engine optimization (SEO).

Most individuals will use a search engine as part of their quest to find information, so achieving a prominent position on page one of the search results is paramount.

Getting your website, or individual web pages, to achieve a high ranking position on search engine results pages for relevant search keyword terms involves a lot of skill and knowledge. But the results can transform your business.

SEO has its correlatives in other fields of digital marketing. For example, the process and skills required to achieve a high ranking for your Android mobile app in Google Play Store are called App Store Optimisation (ASO).

A more recent process is commonly known as Answer Engine Optimisation (AEO), where a digital marketer will create content which answers users questions in a concise manner for the purpose of ranking highly in search engines.

All this is not to say that traditional media is not relevant to your marketing efforts any more; far from it.

An overarching marketing campaign can integrate traditional methods of marketing, encompassing print media, TV, radio, direct mail campaigns and even billboard posters, if they are applicable to the particular sector you are targetting, and if it is what people to buy into.

What matters is that we integrate all these media types (traditional and digital) as seamlessly as possible, so that your brand is marketed in the best possible light. 

What Is The Job Of Digital Marketing?

We should not lose sight of the role of digital marketing and the more traditional types, as what all forms of marketing have in common - is the promotion of your brand.

Marshall McLuhan’s mantra that “the medium is the message” holds true today as robustly as it ever did.

The only difference perhaps is that the digital version may be a little too keen to be judged according to how many followers, “friends” or “likes” something has.

Seeking Facebook likes for digital mkt purposes

In my opinion, this is a degree of vanity - which is there more for the benefit of whichever social media platform utilises such things, rather than a true measure of marketing effectiveness.

So the traditional functions of marketing can be easily accommodated into the digital era. The Internet is therefore used to identify customers’ needs, wants and aspirations.

This is followed up by specific channels being able to provide information, offer online chat engagement, facilitate simple and easy purchase or sign-up options - and all the legal necessities that go with the purchase process.

Finally, purchasers of your products may be turned into lifetime advocates of your brand through achieving customer satisfaction from the positive user experience which they received.

Conclusion

In conclusion, digital marketing is the skilful use of digital technologies and the appropriate digital channels to raise awareness of your brand and to promote your products or services.

The skills necessary to perform effective marketing are ever-broadening, so it is increasingly less likely that one person within your organisation has the ability to credibly perform every task.

It is more likely that you, or individuals within your organisation, will require additional training on the various aspects of digital marketing. Alternatively, you may have to hire marketing experts to undertake these tasks on your behalf.

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About the author

David Reid

David Reid

David previously worked with Europe’s No.1 Marketing Agency & the World’s No.6 biggest Integrated Marketing Agency, seeing first-hand how £150 million+ campaigns are executed to create household brands. Now he is the CEO of YewBiz and is focused on helping small businesses.

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