Marketing is the process by which organizations direct their messages at the right people at the right time. Where do most people (including the right ones) spend most of their time today? You guessed it. On the Internet – they are connecting with friends and colleagues on social media, following current affairs on news sites and blogs and browsing eCommerce stores looking for gifts and other purchases. They’re even paying their bills, banking and ordering groceries from their PCs or laptops at home, or while on the move or at work via their mobile devices. If organizations expect to meet their best prospects and customers where they are, then they must be marketing their services and products online and reaching targeted consumers through their electronic devices. Enter digital marketing.
Digital marketing is quite simply the act of promoting and selling products and services using digital technologies – predominantly on the Internet. It encompasses a broad range of channels and platforms, from social media marketing to content marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing (SEM), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and much more.
Let’s be realistic – today, digital marketing is simply marketing. Why? Because – to say it again – rule number one of marketing is to reach the right people with the right offer at the right time in the right place. Digital marketing most certainly puts your organization in the right place – online channels. Nielsen’s most recent “Total Audience Report” reveals that US adults are spending 10-and-a-half hours per day consuming media on electronic and Internet-connected devices, including smart TVs, home computers, smartphones and tablets.
Since adults are spending so many of their waking hours online, digital marketing also ensures organizations are able to reach their audience at the right time – which, in fact, must be any time. New data from Pew Research reveals more than eight of ten (81%) US adults go online at least daily, with 28% (increasing to 48% in the 18–29 age bracket) reporting almost constant Internet usage.
As such, traditional offline marketing simply isn’t as effective as it once was. Why? First, because people are spending much less time engaging with offline media, and also because offline marketing is inherently ephemeral. A TV commercial (which can cost the earth), for instance, might last all of 30 seconds and then it’s gone forever – and if your target audience misses it, so too is your money. Similarly, a direct mail (i.e., junk mail) piece might convert a handful of recipients, but most people will simply throw it in the trash as soon as they find it in their mailbox. A billboard poster might turn a few heads for a few weeks, but eventually, it will become tiresome and blend into the background, and you then must purchase new space to see any meaningful returns.
Digital marketing messages can theoretically last forever. Because they exist in a digital form, they can be accessed any time, sent at any time and sent directly to anyone (at any time) on your contact list – making digital marketing assets a much wiser, long-term investment.
Making the right offer to the right people (in the right place at the right time) – well, that all comes down to the utilization of data analytics and various digital marketing strategies and technologies.
Here’s a quick rundown of the most common digital marketing tactics, and notice how they all mesh together.
Digital Marketing Is…
As defined by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Content fuels your digital marketing engine. An organization doesn’t have an online presence without it. From blogs to eBooks, white papers, online Webinars, email marketing messages, infographics and videos, brands, retailers and all businesses need digital content to build brand awareness; generate demand, traffic and leads; maximize search engine optimization (SEO); and demonstrate their industry expertise with a leading voice.
According to the CMI, 96% of the most successful B2B content marketers say they have built trust and credibility with their audience through content, while B2C marketers have used content marketing successfully during the last twelve months to create brand awareness, build credibility/trust, educate audiences, build loyalty with existing customers and more.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing involves promoting your brand – and your content – across social media channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Social media is a powerful and effective channel to connect with your target market, helping you and all other businesses to build relationships with customers, increase brand awareness, drive traffic, generate leads and even improve customer service.
It’s not just B2C brands and retailers that reap enormous advantages from utilizing social media – 75% of B2B buyers now use social media to support their purchase decisions.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is crucial to digital marketing. It is the process of optimizing your Website to perform better during an organic search, thereby increasing the amount of free traffic to your Website.
Improving your search engine ranking is key to increasing the visibility of your content, products and services. As the old joke goes – the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google search results. A solid SEO strategy will put your business on the first page of Google searches, helping your business grow and ensuring it is discoverable to a large number of Web users.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
PPC is a digital marketing model used to drive traffic to Websites on which an advertiser (i.e., your organization) pays a publisher (usually a search engine, Website owner or network of Websites) each time the advertiser’s ad is clicked.
A good PPC campaign involves market research, keyword research, budget planning, creative copywriting, graphic design, results analysis and continuous optimization.
Marketing automation tools enable digital marketers to automate various marketing tasks and help them to communicate with the right prospects at the right time. For example, with email automation, an organization can create custom emails that will be automatically sent to targeted recipients each time they, for instance, download an eBook, automating large portions of the lead nurturing process.
Other marketing automation tools allow marketers to schedule social media posts weeks or months in advance, so the team can focus on more critical matters, such as content creation. Marketing automation tools will also generate campaign tracking data and reporting, allowing an organization to see precisely which of its campaigns are working, and which aren’t.
Data is the heartbeat of your digital marketing engine. Without it, it’s impossible to make informed decisions as to where you must invest your efforts to achieve success. By its very nature, digital marketing means any ten given customers may reach the same destination via ten different paths and interactions. This is precisely why extracting data and performing meaningful, real-time analysis of it is key to understanding the impact of each of your digital marketing channels.
When a customer interacts with your business online – be it on Facebook, Twitter, the comment section on your blog, via email or through a customer service instant chat – what are they trying to do or find? Are they looking for a product, service, experience or information? What brought them to that channel? Did they start with a search on Google, click on a PPC ad, switch to a social platform, and then perform another search to return to your home page? Data analytics provide you with insight into all customers’ journeys, and thereby help you optimize the various paths to purchase you create.
Your Digital Marketing Strategy
With your customers spending so much time online, numerous digital marketing tactics enable you to meet them precisely where they are – any time. Organizations need a robust strategy, however, to ensure all tactics are aligned and the relevant data is being collected and analyzed. A content campaign might be devised, for example, to use a company’s blog to generate leads from a new eBook. Social media marketing tactics must then be deployed to promote those blog posts through paid and organic posts on the business’s social media accounts. Then, email marketing and automation step forward to send those who downloaded the eBook more information about the company, further content offers, etc. It all requires careful planning, data analysis and continuous optimization of each part of each campaign.
The long and the short of it is that there is no silver bullet to digital marketing. It requires a sound, well-researched strategy, well-documented plan and a team of experienced and professionals with the right tools to execute that plan.
GoTo Marketers is a full-service digital marketing agency with experts in each key digital channel. From content and social to SEO, data analytics and marketing automation, we work with you to ensure the best results across all of your campaigns. Get in touch to find out how our proactive marketing solutions can grow your business and generate the maximum value from marketing you want, need and deserve.