Every marketer is familiar with the term ‘Digital Marketing’ and many know what it means, however, not many know exactly how to define it or what it entails. Many consider it to be digital advertising, however, that is certainly not all it represents. If we take a step back, we can see that digital marketing encompasses a wide variety of activities and disciplines, including search, social media, email, and website design. It also encompasses analytics, measurement, and reporting and, ultimately, delivering success to the brand.
If we think about traditional marketing, we typically think about large banner ads in mainstream media and email marketing. While these tactics are still a significant piece of the puzzle, today we know that this form of marketing is no longer sufficient.
In 2021, with so much focus on digital and online marketing, it’s time to revisit the definition of these terms and how we can make our businesses thrive in the online era.
What is Digital Marketing?
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment and ask yourself this question: ‘When I think of marketing, what comes to mind?’
If you’re like most businesses, you probably think about ads in general – the things you see on social media or search engine results pages (SERPs). You may think about pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, which bombard consumers with ads that appear on the top of search engine results pages. You may think about displaying ads on mobile websites or apps or showing ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. If you’re running retail stores, you may think about in-store marketing or billboards and bus shelters to draw attention to your products.
If that’s the case, you’re thinking about traditional marketing, which makes sense because that’s all we’ve been taught. However, as previously stated, this form of marketing is no longer sufficient.
To put it simply, digital marketing is the use of digital tools, including websites, blogs, social media, and email, to grow and connect with customers, promote a product, or offer special deals. It is the use of technology to automate marketing tasks, enabling businesses to target and connect with current and potential customers at scale.
These tasks are all considered to be part of the marketing funnel, which begins with attracting audiences to your website and ends with converting those audiences into customers who will buy your products or services online.
If you think about marketing in this way, you’re going to see that it’s a lot more than designing a logo and publishing ads.
Why has Traditional Marketing Become Unnecessary?
While banner ads and billboards may be considered obsolete, that certainly isn’t the case. To begin with, let’s explore the evolution of digital marketing.
In the beginning, when websites were just text-based and nothing more, banner ads appeared to be the best solution to draw in visitors.
This is because, at the time, users could simply view and scan the page to see the ads and have no idea what the page was about. As a result, they had no choice but to click on the ads to find out more. This was especially effective when viewed through a mobile phone because, when you’re driving, you can’t easily click on billboards or other distracting ads.
This method worked extremely well because it used techniques that worked back then. Back then, the goal wasn’t to engage with consumers; it was to simply put a few banner ads on a page and drive traffic to the site. If that traffic converted into a sale, great!
As technology evolved and designs changed to fit the ‘always-on-screen’ world we live in today, so did marketing. We had the convenience of the internet at our fingertips, enabling us to research and learn about any subject we wanted, at the perfect moment. This changed everything. Now, consumers have instant access to a wealth of information. They can find out anything and, in many cases, they are able to learn more about a product or service without ever having to leave the comfort of their homes.
That’s a lot more efficient than having to walk into a retail store, hunt for the information you need, and leave without buying anything. In many cases, you can leave with a coupon for a future purchase. In today’s world, that’s a successful online marketing campaign.
What is Automated Marketing?
Many companies have adopted smarter strategies in an attempt to get the best results from their marketing activities. That’s why you may see some agencies and in-house marketing teams move towards a ‘digital agnostic’ strategy.
While it’s still important to have a website, you may want to consider whether or not you need to maintain one. With so much content available online, it’s increasingly important to have an efficient way to locate the information you need, where you need it. That’s why so many companies turn to automated marketing software, like HubSpot’s Content Optimizer, to automatically format and optimize their blog posts, websites, and social media channels for search engines.
Additionally, automated marketing software can take care of the distribution of content to the right place at the right time. For instance, if you’ve written a blog post about the latest trends in marketing, you might want to consider whether or not you should also post about the recent increase in searches for pumpkin spice and how to make the most of it. With the right software, you can do this in an instant, without having to think about what’s available online or the best way to approach your audience. This is why automated marketing is important.
As a content marketer or in-house content strategist, you will likely be the person responsible for creating content for different platforms, including but not limited to: blogs, websites, social media, and email marketing. Depending on the size and scope of your business, this may mean creating content on multiple platforms.
When working with a digital marketing agency, you will probably be asked to create content for different platforms. You may be asked to create social media posts or send emails to prospective customers. Whatever your specific duties may be, having a clear idea of what constitutes content creation for each platform will help you produce content that will perform well on each channel.
What is Search Marketing?
If you’ve ever shopped online, you may have noticed that search engines like Google and Bing provide the option to ‘buy’ a product or service as well as provide the search results.
Many marketers consider this feature to be a result of search marketing. Essentially, search marketing is all about getting your product or service listed on Google and other search engines when a user performs a search query. In some cases, you may want to perform a search to find a product and, once you’ve found it, buy it directly from the website or apply for a credit card offer. This type of search marketing is called ‘brand search’, ‘product search’, or ‘pay-per-click’ (PPC) marketing. Essentially, it’s about getting your product or service (often referred to as a ‘brand’) ‘into’ the results of a search engine query, whether that’s Google or Bing.
Depending on your product and marketing goals, you may want to consider whether or not search marketing is right for you.
What is Social Media Marketing?
If you’ve ever used social media, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you may have noticed that these platforms are more than just places to post about yourself and your product. Depending on your strategy, you may want to use social media to engage with potential and existing customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
As a marketer, you may want to consider using social media to raise brand awareness, increase website traffic, generate leads, and engage with customers. To do this, you need to follow proper digital marketing etiquette, which is essentially being nice, sharing valuable content, and interacting with your audience. Like search marketing, social media marketing is all about getting your brand (often referred to as a ‘product’ on these platforms) ‘out there’ when a user performs a search query. In many cases, you might want to use social media to find customers, partners, and other stakeholders who can help you achieve your marketing goals.
What is Email Marketing?
Although not as popular as other forms of digital marketing, email marketing can be an incredibly useful tool in your marketing arsenal. To put it simply, email marketing is all about sending emails (typically with marketing lists or subscriber information) to a large number of people who have opted in to receive these emails. Typically, these emails contain a series of automated alerts, including but not limited to: new products, special offers, and discounts.