Just a short decade ago, the typical American would walk over to a computer, take a seat, and engage with the internet for a limited amount of time before completing their session and moving on.
A decade before that, the internet was vastly unknown by many people beyond “You’ve Got Mail!” Today, most of us carry the internet in the palm of our hands.
In fact, the most recent numbers show that 77 per cent of Americans now own a smartphone.
What’s more, 20 per cent of this group has no other way of accessing the web beyond their smartphones–and this number is steadily climbing every year.
We turn to the web to solve everyday problems, from learning how to make a simple household repair to sourcing expensive equipment at work.
Along with instant access, people are becoming increasingly resistant to traditional advertising methods such as TV commercials, print ads, and radio broadcasts.
Businesses still need to get the word out about their products and services, and people still want to learn about new ways to solve problems.
Digital marketing is how the two are brought back together again, and the landscape looks a lot different from the old days.
What is Digital Marketing?
In short, digital marketing is all marketing activities that require interaction with a digital device or the internet.
Businesses use a variety of digital channels to engage with customers, including social media, email, websites, and search engines.
Each of these channels serves different functions and offers different opportunities, so digital marketing is broken down into several avenues:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO). When people use search engines like Google and Bing, the search engines want to bring the most relevant content in response to searches.
SEO is the process of getting more traffic to your website from these searches.
Learn more about SEO in our Omology Guide.
- Content Marketing. This process is about attracting customers by providing valuable information to a defined audience of potential customers.
Learn more about Content in our Omology Guide.
- Social Media Marketing. Getting attention is the name of the game with social media marketing.
Whether it’s website traffic, brand recognition, or straight sales, the dozens of social media networks available make this avenue possible for all types of businesses.
Learn more about Social Media in our Omology Guide.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC). In this model, advertisers pay whenever one of their ads are clicked. Ads can be served up on websites, or more frequently, in a list of search results from a search engine.
Learn more about Paid Advertising in our Omology Guide.
- Affiliate Marketing. This strategy involves one company or person promoting the products and services of another.
When a purchase is made, the promoter gets a share of the sale.
- Native Advertising. This is another form of paid advertising, but rather than traditional advertisements, the ads match the look and feel of their location.
For example, rather than a banner ad on a news site, the ad would appear more like an article.
- Marketing Automation. Using software to automate repetitive marketing functions such as email, social media updates, and website actions are what marketing automation is all about.
Learn more about Email Marketing in our Omology Guide.
- Email Marketing. Just like it sounds, email marketing uses email to make connections and build relationships with customers.
It’s also nothing like the SPAM of yesterday!
- Online PR. Much like traditional PR, online PR uses web space to influence buyers by way of bloggers and other online influencers.
Learn more about Online Marketing in our Omology Guide.
- Conversion Optimization. This process is about creating an online experience for users that encourages intended actions such as filling out a form or making a purchase.
It involves understanding how visitors move through your site and what roadblocks are getting in their way.
Learn more about Digital Marketing in our Omology Guide.
- Analytics. With all this technology going into marketing, the behind-the-scenes work of analytics involves looking at activities and statistics to predict future behaviour and further tailor your marketing efforts.
What to do first can often be confusing.
If you want to remove this confusion and get a prioritised list of what you should fix, start, adjust, consider using our platform Omologist.com to analyse and prioritise what you should do.
What Are the Main Benefits of Digital Marketing?
The primary benefit of digital marketing is to reach the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
In other words, all the people who are fast-forwarding past television commercials, flipping through radio stations during breaks, and tuning out pop-ups and other intrusive methods of advertising still want to be reached.
It’s just a matter of finding where they are and making connections in a way that makes sense in today’s marketplace.
Digital marketing is also cost-effective and helps level the playing field for small businesses that may not have the big budgets to compete with major corporations.
One source found that the average small business can reach over a thousand people for under $3.00 using digital methods.
Achieving a similar reach from television would be around $30; direct mail would cost almost $60!
Plus, you’ll only be targeting your ideal customers rather than funnelling thousands of dollars into a broadcast or billboard that will be ineffective for the majority of viewers.
Understanding how well your efforts are working is also much easier with digital, and you can check in for up-to-date results on most of your activities whenever you like.
Real-time metrics mean you can make small changes to stop spending on what’s not working and double down on what is.
Does Digital Marketing Work for All Businesses? B2B and B2C?
In a word: yes! Digital marketing is the right choice for every type of business: big or small, B2B or B2C, industrial or commercial.
Because your strategies will be tailored to your ideal customers, you only have to choose the avenues that make sense for you.
It might be easy to convince you that digital marketing works for consumer-facing companies but consider the fact that 94 per cent of B2B buyers research online before reaching a purchase decision.
That’s just about everyone. The key to making digital marketing work for your business is to take a deep dive into understanding who your customers are and how they gather information before making a purchase.
Then, align your digital assets with their needs.
The Stages of Digital Marketing
The stages of digital marketing, sometimes called the buyer’s journey, refer to the typical process that people go through when making a purchase.
The beginning of the journey, or the first stage, is awareness.
People in this stage have a problem, and they are looking for answers, data, opinions, and insight as they search for a solution.
The second stage is the evaluation. At this stop, buyers are digging into the various possibilities they discovered in the first stage.
They’re comparing, contrasting, and approaching a conclusion on whether one product or service is a good fit or not.
The final stage, or conversion, is when people are determining what it would take to become a customer. In this stop, prices, implementation, delivery, and other details come into play and will eventually sway a buyer toward their final purchase decision.
Digital marketing seeks to meet potential buyers every step of the way and offer helpful information that will keep them moving down the path, and hopefully result in choosing your company’s products or services.
How do I get started?
Every digital marketing avenue starts with an in-depth look at your best customers.
Who are they?
What are their motivations and goals?
What are their problems, and how can you solve them?
The more information you can gather and the more details you can provide, the better your strategies will be.
The next step is choosing the avenues that are right for your business and developing a strategy for each, while also understanding how each avenue can help boost the effectiveness of the others.
Here are a few examples:
- Content Strategy. More than just blogging, your content strategy should seek to engage prospects at every step of the buyer’s journey.
In the awareness stage, blogs and social media posts will help get the word out while also boosting your SEO. Long-form or “premium” content such as ebooks and whitepapers will help convert casual researchers into leads that you can funnel into your email marketing or automation strategies.
Premium content can also help push prospects in the evaluation stage through the conversion stage by addressing doubts, roadblocks, and pain points.
- Search Engine Optimization Strategy. Your strategy here boils down to understanding what people type into search engines when they want to solve a problem, and matching the appropriate content with their search intentions.
It also involves some technical bits to make sure that search engines can find and categorize your web pages and content appropriately.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Strategy. The best strategies will strike a balance between paid ads and unpaid (organic) results.
By targeting important keywords and search terms with paid ads, you can get the digital marketing ball rolling a bit quicker.
- Social Media Strategy. All businesses can benefit from social media. Even the most niche markets have at least a small community on LinkedIn or in member-driven forums.
Step one is to find out where your audience is hanging out online; step two is to find the right content that will be helpful and informative while also nudging them toward your company.
- Email Strategy. Gone are the spammy days of yesterday when an appropriate strategy including buying lists of email addresses and blasting everyone with your ads.
Today’s email marketers start by getting permission from the recipients–usually using a combination of SEO/SEM and content–to show how your messaging will be beneficial.
Then, a carefully crafted series of messages slowly bring your readers along the journey toward a sale.
- Conversion Optimization Strategy. The smallest details can have an enormous impact on how people behave while browsing your website.
By analyzing where people are coming from before they visit, what they are engaging with while present, and where prospects drop off, you can start to pinpoint what works for your audience so you can do more of it, and start eliminating dead ends.
- Ongoing Analysis. Once you implement your strategy, you will want to better understand what needs to be adjusted, started or stopped.
Omologist.com can analyse your data on an ongoing basis and flag opportunities and issues.
How Long Will It Take to See Results?
Paid efforts like pay-per-click and search engine marketing tend to produce quicker results.
In most cases, you’ll see a lift in traffic almost immediately once your campaigns are in place.
The results, however, will only last as long as you’re putting money into them.
Lasting results tend to come from unpaid efforts like SEO, content marketing, and email.
Of course, these will all take significantly longer to produce results.
For these strategies, it can take a few weeks–or even months–before your website traffic and leads start rolling in.
In most cases, the more time and effort you put in, the better and faster the results.
The best results are usually found with a good balance of paid and unpaid strategies.
Paid avenues can get things moving quickly while you get your other avenues off the ground.
Then, once you’re rolling, you may be able to back off from paid or shift your budget to pursue new markets and audiences.
What Should My Budget Be for Digital Marketing?
The good thing about digital marketing is that it can be done at all levels. If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to dedicate a huge percentage of your overall budget to see results.
Most small businesses and startups can manage digital marketing on their own, and the related costs come down to how much time you can invest in your strategies, and maybe be chipping in a little to a few paid avenues to get started. Digital marketing is also scalable.
Your strategies–and corresponding budget–can grow with you. As you start to see results and as your customer base grows, you can expand to more avenues or hire someone who can dedicate all their time to your digital strategies.
When you’re ready, you can fill up an entire marketing department or outsource your digital marketing to a professional firm.
To get an idea of what other businesses are doing, one survey found that half of all small businesses spent less than $10,000 on digital marketing last year.
The other half–and what major corporations are spending–were often many times that figure.
Let’s Get Digital
Digital marketing has moved far beyond a phase or a fad in modern marketing. As more people get–and stay–connected, the greater the demand for digital solutions for everyday activities.
For you, that means finding ways to engage with your audiences online and boosting your sales by creating an online presence that is helpful, informative, and trustworthy.
Digital marketing is how you get there.