The short version.
Digital Marketing is a specialized area of Marketing that applies techniques designed to increase exposure or sales using digital technologies. Or simply put: it’s a way to increase sales or exposure using computers, tablets and phones.
The long version.
You have a shop, or a single product. Maybe a book or a mobile app. You want to increase your sales.
Or perhaps you’re running a political or awareness campaign. Maybe you have a brand. Or you simply have an idea or you’re promoting an event. You want as many people as possible to find out about it.
This is exactly what Digital Marketing does for you. It includes a lot of techniques, some of which you might already be using without even knowing they fall under the Digital Marketing umbrella. The target, as stated above, is to increase exposure/reach and sales. Here are some of the techniques that Digital Marketers use to achieve your goals:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Search engine marketing (SEM) and Paid Advertising
- Content marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Content automation
- Social media marketing
- E-mail direct marketing (newsletters)
- Display advertising
- E-books, optical disks and games, mobile apps
- SMS and MMS marketing
- Callback and on-hold mobile ring tones
Let’s talk in more detail about some of the most important aspects of Digital Marketing.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Let’s face it: everybody uses search engines to find stuff online. So this is a big and very important subject. Why? It simply doesn’t matter if you have a great website or page if people can’t find it! And while there are other ways to get traffic to your site, ranking high in search engines will be the most dependable traffic source you will have in the long run. Optimizing for search engines is essential!
There are two types of SEO:
- On page SEO refers to the things your site needs to have implemented in the code and content (without getting into detail, this includes the correct: title tags, meta tags, URLs and navigation structure, image attributes, site map, heading tags, keyword density, page loading times, etc.).
- Off page SEO refers to all the things you can do outside your site (link building, blogger outreach, social media etc.).
SEO is a sustained effort, it’s not something you do once and you can forget about it – search engines’ rating formulas update frequently and it takes constant monitoring and adapting to keep ahead of the competition. It’s also a long term effort, some changes take weeks before returning any results.
But again, let’s face it: everybody is doing SEO (to some extent). SEO is not enough anymore – to get ahead of the competition, to achieve set goals, SEO is simply not enough anymore.
Search engine marketing (SEM) and Paid Advertising
SEM is all about increasing visibility in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) – do something to have your link be more visible than the rest (increasing the chance people will actually click it). Just to be clear, the broader SEM field also includes SEO (after all, having your site reach top positions on search engines results pages through SEO, meets the “be more visible than the rest” requirement) – but for better understanding I wanted to talk about them separately.
So how do you increase your link visibility in search engines results pages? Mainly through paid advertising: all major search engines provide an advertising service (like Google AdWords or Bing Ads). Unfortunately, buying search engine advertising (or at least doing it right) is not simple; it involves a lot of research, monitoring and optimizing.
The first big decision you have to make is what search engine will you advertise on? This is answered by the initial research you’ll have to complete: target audience – demographics, age, sex, geographical location; these are some of the things that point out the best suited search engine you should advertise on (this also tells you what search engine you should do SEO for). Then there’s the keywords research (deciding what keywords to advertise for), which includes some competition research. If your most obvious keywords choices have a very strong competition advertising, it might be a smart choice to invest on other, less obvious, “long-tail” keywords. After some more research (does your target audience respond better to text or images? what time of day are they online? etc.) you can set up the campaigns and start monitoring performance, search trend, etc. The campaigns’ parameters are constantly shifting so constant monitoring and adjusting are an integral part of search engine advertising, otherwise your costs will get out of control and your reach will plummet.
Social media marketing
Having your site/page show up high in search results is great! You get a steady stream of people interested in what you have to offer. But you could always use more! More people finding out about you, more visitors to your page, more conversions, more sales. And while everybody uses search engines to find things they’re looking for, what about the people that don’t yet know they’re looking for something? Enter social media: the best way for you to get in front of even more people. But social media is not simply about advertising your stuff, it’s a lot more than that: building an audience, shifting desires, getting feedback, customer support, contests and so much more. Social media is a huge opportunity with many different options and possibilities. Unfortunately, this also makes it complex. Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, are just a few of the popular portals people use every day, each with its own specifics and requirements; some focused on text, some on images and some on videos. What portals will you approach, what will you post, how often, when?
Building a presence on social media requires a perfect understanding on what you’re offering, a lot of research and a lot of trial and error. It’s a marathon, not a sprint: building a following and keeping it, converting it and expanding it, changing trends… And then there’s paid advertising on social media portals, something you can’t successfully run without a good understanding of your audience. So it takes time, patience and lots of research.
But once that’s done (correctly), you can expect another steady stream of people interested in what you have to offer.
E-mail Marketing is a cost-effective way for you to reach your users and keep them engaged, interested and always coming back.
Unfortunately, not many business administrators are aware of the great value “subscribers” bring to their sites. Newsletter marketing is many times ignored because when first bringing a site live there are very few users accessing it (therefore no need to run a daily/weekly newsletter). And as the user base grows, the newsletter aspect is too often simply… forgotten.
Make sure you don’t make that mistake! Start collecting subscribers now and in a few months you will have a valuable marketing asset at your disposal.
But more to the point: what exactly is a “newsletter” and how can you use it? Well… It’s a cheap way of achieving your goals by sending some emails.
However, things aren’t quite that simple. There are certain laws that govern this practice that you should obey. Most notable: you should never send unsolicited emails. This means that each user must have previously agreed to receive that particular newsletter from you (usually via a “Subscribe” feature on your site/page).
There are two ways of dealing with newsletters.
You can manage everything on your own. This means collecting the data from your site and informing your users, building a mailing list and manually sending each mail from your own email provider. This is OK if you have a small subscriber base (<100) and don’t send emails too often.
But as your subscriber base grows, you will find it to be increasingly difficult to manage things on your own. This is where the use of online services specialized in newsletters comes in. These service providers manage everything for you (except writing the content of the newsletters, of course) so you can focus on the important stuff (delivering high quality content to your subscribers).
There are many such services, most of which provide you with a free version/trial you can safely use until you decide to go with their paid subscriptions.
Best practices regarding newsletters:
- Content is king. As with the rest of your site, the most important thing is to provide your readers with good, quality content. Otherwise they will simply ignore your emails and after a while unsubscribe from your newsletter.
- Don’t forget to include links to your site. Seems obvious, right? You’d be surprised…
- Decide what the purpose of each mailing list is: keeping subscribers informed, asking opinions, running surveys or the most common, driving traffic back to your site. It’s best to have more than one mailing list so that you don’t mix the interests of your subscribers (unless intended).
- If the purpose of a newsletter is to drive traffic to your website, make sure you “tease” the reader enough to click the link and read more about that particular subject on your site.
- Always include a working unsubscribe link in your emails!
- Don’t flood your readers with too many emails.
- Make a mailing schedule and stick to it (regardless if it’s daily, weekly etc.). It’s always good to have your readers anticipate the arrival of the next newsletter.
- Make sure you send your emails when users are most likely to read it! It doesn’t matter if you make a great email with great content, but it’s addressed to elderly people and you send it at 4 am…
- Keep the subscribe form on your website short and “friendly”: don’t ask for more information than you actually need (most times just the email address will suffice).
- Make sure your emails are displayed correctly on mobile devices. Lots of users (even half in some parts of the world) read emails from their phone or tablet.
Optimizing your site for end-user interaction and conversion
This is a big subject, many times neglected. We will discuss it fully in a future post.
For now, if you would like to read more into what we’ve discussed so far, I’m going in a lot more detail in this post: OPTIMIZING and MARKETING your website – The ultimate guide for beginners.