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What Is Digital Marketing? A Simple Guide

Digital marketing, internet marketing, online marketing… you can call it anything you want. Marketing your business online is something you can’t ignore these days. Moreover, the number of people using the Internet has increased over the past decade. This has changed the way people purchase products today.

So, what is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is a marketing method used by businesses to interact with their potential customers and influence them to purchase their products or services. Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing connects with their potential customers online.

According to many marketing experts, digital marketing refers to marketing efforts to increase brand awareness and convince online users to buy.

Here are some of the common digital marketing assets used by organizations to attract potential customers:

  • Website
  • Social media networks
  • User-Generated Content (UGC)
  • Online content (articles, videos, infographic, eBooks, etc)
  • Online tools (SaaS, web-based applications)

These are just some of the basic assets. As digital marketing is constantly evolving, the list of digital marketing assets are continuously growing.

Apart from digital marketing assets, various digital marketing strategies required to get digital assets in front of potential customers.

What’s the point of developing digital assets if they are not getting enough attention from the target audience?

So, let’s get going.

 

Digital Marketing Strategies

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  2. Paid Search Advertising
  3. Paid Social Advertising
  4. Social Media Marketing
  5. Content Marketing
  6. Email Marketing
  7. Native Advertising
  8. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

** These are the basic digital marketing strategies. The list might grow in near future with the rapid growth in technology

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a digital marketing discipline that focuses on the practice of optimizing content to appear on search engine organic search results.

Some of the top SEO statistics that you should be aware of:

  • 68% of online experiences begin with search engines – BrightEdge
  • 92.96% of global traffic comes from Google Search, Google Images and Google Maps. – SparkToro
  • SEO generates 1000% more traffic than organic social media. – BrightEdge
  • Leads generated from SEO have a 14.6% close rate. – HubSpot

 

If you want to reap long-term benefits from search engines like Google, SEO is the best digital marketing initiative that you should incorporate. Unlike other digital marketing strategies, SEO takes time and you need to consider factors like competition, keywords difficulty, etc.

Check out some of my best articles that will help you improve your SEO knowledge:

 

Paid Search Advertising

Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo allow businesses to run paid ads on their search result pages (SERPs). Paid search marketing is a digital marketing strategy that helps businesses like yours to connect with their target market. Getting in front of people that are searching for products or services related to your business.

Some of the top paid search advertising stats you should be aware of:

  • Paid ads have an 11.38% CTR (Click-Through-Rate) on Google – Sparktoro
  • PPC visitors are 50% more likely to purchase something than organic visitors – Unbounce
  • Search ads can increase brand awareness by 80% – Google
  • 75% of people that click on ads said search ads make it easier to find the information they’re looking for – Search Engine Land

 

This smart paid advertising method often referred to as pay-per-click. You will place a bid to get placement on search engines for your targeted keywords, then you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. This applies to Google Search Ads and Google Display Ads.

The common misconception about paid search is that you need to pay a lot to drive quality leads to your website. But, it’s the exact opposite. A well-designed paid search campaigns can generate impressive results. It’s all about trial and error to identify what your target market is actually looking for and provide solutions to their pain points.

If you want to drive instant traffic to your website rather than relying on SEO, paid search advertising is something you can start with. But don’t ignore SEO efforts. SEO provides greater ROI compared to any other digital marketing strategies in the long -run

Check out some of the best resources on paid search advertising:

 

Paid Social Media Advertising 

If you’ve been using social media platforms for quite some, you should have realized that the organic reach of social media posts has declined tremendously over the years. If you want to get in front of social media users, you have to run social media ads.

Paid social media advertising is a digital marketing strategy that displays marketing messages on top social media channels. It’s a form of pay-per-click advertising that allows you to reach a specific target market. Like I’ve mentioned earlier in paid search advertising, you pay only if the user takes an action.

These are some of the most popular social media platforms for increasing brand awareness:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • TikTok
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat

Some of the top paid social media advertising stats you should be aware of:

  • 54% of social browsers use social media to research products and services – GlobalWebIndex
  • Marketers are spending more on social media advertising; with social media ad spend amounting to more than $89 billion (RM370 billion) – Statista
  • 72% of B2B marketers who use paid channels online use paid social channels –  Content Marketing Institute

 

Social media advertising develops brand identity for your business. As more and more people are spending their time on social media channels, you definitely want to appear in front of this huge crowd. As a business owner, you want your brand to be recognized.

I know that most social media marketer might argue with me on this. According to a recent study by Econsultancy, only about 22% of businesses are satisfied with their social media conversion rates. However, I will admit that social media advertising is still an effective tool for generating quality leads for your business but you got to do it right.

Check out some of the best resources on paid social media advertising:

 

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing or SMM is a digital marketing strategy which involves creating and sharing valuable yet attractive content on social media networks to reach marketing and branding goals. This digital marketing initiative includes activities like posting updates in the form of text, images and videos to reach and engage target audience.

Did you know that about 51% (3.96 billion) of the world’s population are active on various social media platforms? 

Marketing your products or services on social media channels is critical than ever for any organization today.

Some of the top paid social media marketing stats you should be aware of:

  • 73% of marketers believe social media marketing has been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business – Buffer
  • 71% of consumers who had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family – Forbes
  • 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations on social media – Fourcommunications

You don’t want to miss the opportunity to appear in front of your target audience. But, social media marketing that achieves great success relies on several crucial elements:

  1. Create clear business goals
  2. Develop buyer persona
  3. Understand the needs of your target audience
  4. Create and share relevant content to your target audience
  5. Choose the right social media channels that suit your products and services

Check out some of the best resources on paid social media marketing:

 

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a strategic digital marketing approach that focused on developing and distributing valuable content assets that are valuable and relevant. The ultimate objective of content marketing is to attract the target audience and encourage them to take the right action that is profitable for the business.

Some of the top content marketing stats you should be aware of:

  • 70% of people would rather get information about a company or learning something from an article or blog post rather than from traditional advertisement – Demand Metric
  • 65% of B2B content consumers strongly agree they have higher preferences for credible content from industry influencers – Demand Gen Report
  • Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small business without – Impact

Content marketing is one of the best ways to provide solutions to your potential customer’s problem. If you’re able to solve their small problems by providing guides and tutorials, they are more likely to purchase your products or services soon. It’s all about building a relationship with your audience by providing them what they need without being sales oriented.

Check out some of the best resources on content marketing:

 

Email Marketing

Did you know email is used more than other platforms?

According to Statista, there are 3.9 billion daily email users and the number is expected to climb to 4.3 billion by 2023.

Email marketing is one of the most underrated digital marketing strategies. But, compared to other strategies, email marketing is highly effective in converting prospects to paying customers. It also turn one-time buyers to loyal long-term customers.

I agree that you get bombarded with unsolicited spam emails every single day. Despite this reason, email marketing remains the best way to nurture leads and guide them through the sales funnel.

Some of the top email marketing stats you should be aware of:

  • Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as 760% increase in revenue – Campaign Monitor
  • For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42 – DMA
  • 90% of content marketers say email engagement is the top metric they track to measure content performance – Content Marketing Institute

 

With email marketing, you’ll be able to retain your customers and make repetitive sales which increase the LTV (Life Time Value) of each customer. Email has always been the best communication channel apart from social media channels. So, don’t look down on email marketing and make sure to leverage the great benefits it can offer to your business.

Check out some of the best resources on email marketing:

 

Native Advertising

Native advertising is a form of paid advertising that uses content like articles, blog posts, infographic on websites. They’re a bit different compared to paid search and social ads because they don’t look like ads.

You might come across the recommended contents after reading an article. Some of the content is promoted contents where the site gets paid when someone clicks on it. These contents will have a similar context but re-directs to some other website when you click on them.

Although native advertising is legit, the trust and relationship between the publishing site and its audience might get in the long run. The click-through rates of native ads are higher than typical paid ads and it also offer greater user engagement.

Some of the top email marketing stats you should be aware of:

  • Native Ads receive 18% more purchase intent of users compared to banner ads – Sharethrough
  • 53% more attention to Native Ads compared to banner ads – Forbes
  • Native Display Ads produce a CTR 8.8X compared to typical display ads – Media Radar

The engagement of a website heavily relies on its ability to retain the visitor’s attention. Native advertising blends in perfectly with other contents in the site where the content appears in the same style and format.

If you have a big digital marketing budget, you can resort to native advertising and the return will be good only when it’s done right.

Check out some of the best resources on native advertising:

 

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Why do people visit your website?

You don’t want someone to visit your site without taking any action. You want to measure how many people are actually taking action on your website. This is where conversion rate optimization comes in. It’s a systematic process that increases the percentage of visitors to take the desired action.

The CRO strategy help businesses to understand how their potential customers are moving through their website and the actions they take while identifying reasons for visitors to leave without taking any action.

You can use all the other digital marketing strategies to drive traffic to your website. But how to convert those traffic to paying customers? Conversion rate optimization (CRO) focuses on two main aspects:

  1. Reduce the friction in your sales funnel
  2. Enhancing the value that you offer your customers

Even small changes in your landing pages can significantly increase the conversion rate.

Some of the top conversion rate optimization stats you should be aware of:

  • 56% of marketers say A/B testing is their preferred CRO method – Econsultancy
  • Companies see a 55% increase in leads when increasing their number of landing pages from 10 to 15 – HubSpot
  • Including a video on a landing page can increase conversion rate by more than 80% – Unbounce

The first impression is the best. Some might be impressed with your landing pages and some might not. Different target market have different intent in visiting your website. Utilizing CRO strategies can help craft landing pages that suit a particular target market.

Check out some of the best resources on conversion rate optimization (CRO):

 

Marketing your business online is not an easy task. As a business owner, you want to focus on your business and let the experts handle the implementation of digital marketing strategies. But, it’s good to acquire fundamental knowledge about digital marketing.

 

How to Get Started with Digital Marketing?

Did you know that running an effective digital marketing campaign requires the ability to integrate multiple digital marketing strategies?

In this section, I’m sharing step by step guide to get started with digital marketing.

Step 1: Identify Your Target Market

Who is your target market?

What types of people do you want to target?

Before you plan and implement digital marketing strategies, you need to know your target market.

If you already have a website that’s integrated with analytics, you can generate reports that can provide information of visitors behaviour. If you’re just starting then you got to do some research.

Check on your competitors. Gather the following information from your competitors:

  • Check their list of followers on social media channels.
  • Read their reviews on Facebook and Google My Business listing.
  • Check whether they are listed on directories and review sites like Yelp.
  • Analyze their company blog (if they have one) and check on their comments.

Once you gather the necessary information you’ll be able to determine your target market. Sometimes you will identify the market your competitors missed out as well.

Without a defined target audience you’ll be wasting your resources targeting irrelevant people.

 

Step 2: Develop Buyer Personas

Developing a buyer persona for your brand is essential. You just need to describe your potential customers in-detail which includes the following elements:

  • Demographic
  • Geographic
  • Psychographic

Let’s say you’re opening an organic grocery store in your locality. Usually, organic goods are pricier compared to conventional goods. So, your ideal customer will likely have some disposable income and concern about their health. Let’s develop the buyer persona for your future organic store.

This is Carmen. Carmen is a 48 years old HR manager with an income of RM100,000 a year. She is health conscious and spend 3 to 4 days at the gym working out. She does not dine in at restaurants regularly and prefer home-cooked food. Although Carmen likes to save money, she is willing to spend on things that ensure a healthy lifestyle.

This is an example of an ideal customer for your organic grocery store. The more information you get the list down about your potential customers, the better. It will help you narrow down the most ideal customer for your business. Your experience and knowledge of your industry plays a vital role in developing a buyer persona as well.

Take it slow and consistently upgrade your buyer persona until you get the most suitable one.

Note: There are many templates freely available online to develop buyer personas. Choose the one that is suitable for your business.

 

Step 3: Define Your Digital Marketing Budget

Most digital marketing campaigns fail due to insufficient budget. You can’t expect to make RM100,000 by investing RM1,000. Although digital marketing is one of the cheapest forms of marketing, you need the right budget to reach your target audience.

You can use this benchmark:

The total marketing budget for small and medium businesses are usually between 5% to 15% of total revenue. From my personal experience, you can allocate 10% to 50% of your marketing budget for digital marketing.

Let’s say your yearly revenue is RM 1,000,000.

You allocate 15% of your revenue for marketing.

RM 1,000,000 x 15% = RM150,000

From the total marketing budget, you can allocate 50% for digital marketing.

RM 150,000 x 50% = RM 75,000

You can invest RM75,000 per year for your digital marketing efforts. If we divide them by 12 months, then you can invest RM6,250 per month.

This is just an estimation. If your business can fully rely on digital marketing, then you can allocate a higher percentage around 70% to 80%.

If you want to get a better understanding of digital marketing pricing in Malaysia, you should check out the following article.

Digital Marketing Pricing Guide For Malaysian Businesses

 

Step 4: Define Your Digital Marketing Goals

Every digital marketer knows the importance of identifying the right marketing goals. Without goals, it’s hard to implement strategies that generate desired results. You need to make sure the marketing goals you develop are result-oriented and measurable.

Wrong digital marketing goal: Increase the organic search traffic to my website and develop two outstanding landing pages

Right digital marketing goal: Increase the organic search traffic to my website by 40% in 6 months and develop two landing pages that offer: free checklist and free step-by-step guide. The landing pages will be published in November and December.

As you can see the right digital marketing goal is more detailed with a reasonable timeline. When you have such goals, it’s easier to track them and get them accomplished promptly.

 

Step 4: Choose the Digital Marketing Strategies You Want To Use

Most businesses want to utilize as many digital marketing strategies as possible. But, it depends on your target market and stages of the customer journey. In some scenarios, you need to experiment with each digital channels to identify the ones that work best for your business.

Best digital marketing strategies for B2B businesses:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content Marketing
  • Paid search ads (Google, Bing, Yahoo)
  • Social Media Marketing (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter)
  • Email Marketing

Best digital marketing strategies for B2C businesses:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content Marketing
  • Paid search ads (Google, Bing, Yahoo)
  • Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok)
  • Email Marketing

 

Note: Digital marketing strategies that suit your business also depends on your business nature. 

 

Step 5: Choose The Right KPIs To Track

Now you know which digital marketing strategy to use for your business. The next thing, you need to identify the right key performance indicators to track. Tracking these KPIs will determine the success of your digital marketing campaigns.

Let’s use the digital marketing goal we’ve discussed earlier. Increase the site’s organic search traffic by 40%. You need to track several KPIs to find out whether you were able to achieve your digital marketing goal.

Following are the metrics you should be tracking:

  1. Organic traffic (compare previous organic search traffic)
  2. Keyword rankings – you want to make sure you’re ranking for keywords relevant to your business. You don’t want to drive wrong search traffic to your site.
  3. Average CTR of keywords from Google Search Console – you can improve your CTR and increase your organic search traffic

You can check out other important metrics you should track if you’re running SEO campaign:

10 Best SEO Metrics To Monitor in 2020

The following resource will help you choose the right KPIs for different digital marketing strategies:

70 Digital Marketing KPIs for Small to Midsize Businesses

 

Step 6: Analyze Results

Analyzing your results is one of the most important steps in running successful digital marketing campaigns.

Did your SEO campaign manage to increase your organic search traffic by 40% within 6 months?

Did your digital marketing strategy worked?

You can measure and analyze your results using analytical tools like Google Analytics.

You also want to know whether your revenue is growing. If your revenue is not growing, then you should consider making changes to your digital marketing strategies.

Some digital marketing strategies might take slightly longer time to show results. You need to make sure the tasks related to your digital strategies are being implemented systematically without any flaws.

So, how long does it take to see ROI from digital marketing initiatives?

It can take months to start seeing results from your digital marketing efforts. You need to stick to your digital marketing strategy about 6 to 12 months to see positive results in terms of ROI.

Always remember that digital marketing is not a “quick fix”. It’s about quality and consistency.

 

Conclusion

Digital marketing is here to stay. Only the strategies might change. There are a lot of work involved in developing result-oriented digital marketing campaigns. Search engines and social media platforms are consistently changing their algorithms to provide greater user experience for their users.

I hope I’ve explained everything that you need to know about digital marketing. I love to help businesses to understand and apply the right digital marketing strategies to the next level.

Naven Pillai

An experienced digital marketing strategist with 8+ years of experience. Helped various small and medium businesses to generate massive traffic from digital marketing channels. In addition to digital marketing consulting work, Naven owns multiple authority sites that generates passive income.

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