If you have attended those meetings or conferences, where each person seems out to impress – possibly to the depths of scaring – others. Then you must have noticed that those who have a grasp of the discipline tend to use certain big words more often.
For instance, I once attended this meeting about blockchain technology, and I could tell a good number of folks in attendance did not quite understand what that term meant. Never mind that they threw the word into the conversation now and then.
The next area where I find many people using buzzwords is in digital marketing, the buzzword being ‘digital marketing.’ So what is it? That is precisely what we are going to explore in this article.
What is Digital Marketing?
I’ll tell you what, if you want to appear smart, in the midst of marketers. Be sure to drop the buzzword ‘digital marketing’ now and then. Lol! On a more serious note, let us define digital marketing, shall we?
Digital Marketing is the Marketing of a Commodity Via Digital Technology Platforms
These platforms include, but not limited to, the internet, digital displays, mobile phones, and telephones. In a nutshell, digital marketing is inseparable from technology; it rides on the back of technology. Without technology, there will be no digital marketing.
Technology runs pretty much every aspect of our modern world. You need to communicate with a friend, you will call them on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You need to order food. You will use the internet and an internet-enabled device. You need to acquire knowledge; the tutorials on the internet are your go-to school.
I could go on and on with examples, but I believe the point has been driven home. The bottom line is, if you want to reach an American today, you have to reach them digitally. We are constantly on our smartphones and computers. So any messages sent to us and expected to reach using any other platforms will likely not reach us in the manner and time expected.
Research by Statista.com shows the typical American spends 12 hours daily using an electronic media device. Of the 12 hours, at least five hours is spent watching live TV, another one and a half hour swapping, tapping, and scrolling on their smartphones, and two and three-quarter hours tuned in to the radio.
The remaining hours are shared between sleep and spending time with family and friends. Armed with that knowledge, it becomes a no-brainer that if you want to seek out their attention, you are better off doing it via digital media.
Debunking the Concept of Digital Marketing
You might be about to clear high school, thinking of changing careers or looking for a side hustle. While digital marketing is a lucrative industry, it is also quite extensive, with many media platforms and strategies used to communicate the message to the target audience.
Different people do it for various reasons, but the most common being driving online traffic towards a given website, converting that traffic to make sales, and finally gaining insight on customer behavior.
The most significant part of a digital marketer’s efforts will be concentrated on online platforms. Some of which we have listed below:
- Social Media marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
- Content Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing
- Web Design
- Graphics Design
- Email Marketing
There are many more platforms we have not included above. Like we said, digital marketing as an industry is quite broad. To list all the platforms above may take an entire page, ‘and then some.’
Types of Digital Marketing Assets
In your efforts to market a particular commodity online, you must first start by owning a digital asset. That asset will then help you sell whatever you are trying to sell. There are countless digital assets when it comes to online marketing, but they all fall under any of the following three categories:
- Owned Digital Asset
As the name suggests, owned digital assets are digital platforms that you create and manage by yourself. They include a website, mobile applications, blogs, email addresses, social media accounts and their respective groups, pages, and channels.
Owned digital asset gives you a great deal of control with regards to how you want the message about your commodity put out. You can change the look, tweak the settings, and features to better entice your target market.
2. Paid Digital Asset
A Paid Digital Asset, is a digital platform you pay to carry or convey a message about your product. These include paid Ad-banners, social media ads, and pay-per-click ads, among other online ad campaigns.
These types of assets typically cost several times over the owned digital assets. However, they tend to give your message a frontline view to your target audience. Used correctly, paid digital assets can boost your marketing efforts ten folds.
Though they cannot be used very frequently as the advertising budget could easily cannibalize the capital needed to run other business functions.
3. Earned Digital Asset
With Earned Digital Assets, you hardly ever need to part with your time and money to use them. Although you will need a product, so unique that it attracts interest from independent third parties.
Take, for instance, when a media house comes to cover your product on their channel. A news blog site decides to post a review of your commodity. A user takes to the comment section of your website or social media and gives a review and their experience using your product or service.
These are assets that, ideally, you should not have any control over. I used the words ‘ideally, you should not have any control over,’ because in this modern age of fierce competition. We know of uncouth business with dirty underhand tactics where they pay bloggers, fake reviewers, and followers to leave positive comments about their products.
Types of Digital Marketing Activities
Above, we have talked about types of digital assets, things that help you propagate the positive message to entice customers to purchase your product. Now, let us delve into the kinds of activities you will be actively doing to persuade your target customers to buy your product.
There is a broad spectrum of activities that make up digital marketing — some of which are worlds apart, like copywriting and web design. In our example, one activity needs linguistic skills while the other needs the understanding of computer languages.
Be that as it may, let us dig deep into a few of the most popular digital marketing activities. Without much further ado, they are as follows:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
I deliberately begin with SEO, because it plays a critical role when it comes to making it in the online digital world, or running in losses. That is because search engines play a crucial role on the internet.
When most people are looking for information online, the first point of contact is often a search engine. Google takes the lead as the most popular search engine commanding up to 60% of the internet search queries.
Google’s ubiquitous influence on the internet is the reason it is a must that any digital marketer worth his or her salt understands how it works. You must know how Google crawls for information on a website, what standards they have placed for them to index a website among other things.
That said, SEO can be broken down into two main categories; on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
- On-Page SEO: This term refers to the technical tweaking and optimization you can do to your owned digital assets. In the case of a website, how fast the pages load, how well does the web pages view on mobile devices, how engaging and relevant is your content, do you have the right URL structure, are the copy with clear headings and tags?
- Off-Page SEO: On this front, you mainly need to focus on building a pool of strong backlinks to your website. A backlink tells a search engine bot that you are an authority, valuable, and relevant source for a given keyword. The more authoritative the website linking back to you, the more a vote of confidence the backlinks give to your site.
Admittedly, a new business will have to spend a considerable amount of time, money, and employ due diligence when it comes to SEO. A lot of new businesses eager to have their website ranked at the top of the search engine results page have been duped by quack SEO experts.
Experts who promise overnight success, while in reality, it would be virtually impossible to rank that high, that fast. Good SEO strategy requires a lot of due diligence and adherence to the set Google standards for web design, website copy, page load speeds, and over good user experience.
2. Content Marketing
In marketing, content is the life source of a successful campaign. ‘Content is King,’ many a time that adage has been thrown left, right, and center, but it remains nonetheless true. You need to have website copies with content that excites and engages your target audience.
Content that makes visitors want to share, new audience want to come back again and make the readers, viewers, listeners take the desired action. Don’t forget, you might have very interesting content, but the delivery of the message could be flawed. That is just as bad as not having good content in the first place.
An exciting message needs to be communicated in a well-written, well-produced, and top-quality copy. Don’t make your target audience struggle to get the message you are trying to put across. Make it an easy digest information and given them a good time while they consume your content.
These content can be disseminated in any of the following ways:
By saying ‘content marketing,’ I mean the copy of your message must be written in a manner that will take the least amount of time for the target audience to understand it. It must also be exciting, relevant, informative, and some humor will go a long way.
3. Email Marketing
Despite people’s best efforts to forget about emailing, it is still an integral part of 21st Century communication. Not to mention, it is the anchor of virtually all your online accounts; most online accounts will be opened pegged on your email address.
So it is safe to say that emails are here to stay, and as a marketer, you will be doing yourself an injustice if you were to neglect marketing tool. Stats have it that there are at least 3.7 billion email accounts around the world; that a pretty big market to ignore.
Now, any quack with a laptop or a smartphone can type up a message and email it, but that is how you get yourself spammed for life. If you want to experience why seasoned marketers say email marketing has one of the highest ROI of any marketing campaign. You will need a strategy; with the right strategy, every dollar spent on email marketing brings back $44.
The first thing you want to do is amass as many relevant email addresses as possible. I don’t mean you go and buy them off the dark web and start bombarding people in their inbox with unsolicited messages. No, have an email subscription form on your site, where visitors can opt for email alerts for your newsletters and promotions.
Now that you have their permission to contact them, you need to draft up content with ‘glue.’ That is, email them content that will excite them enough for them to want to take the desired action, such as making a purchase, subscribing to your channel, and so on.
The strategies of email marketing is a discipline by itself, and although we can go into its entirety here, we would give you some pointers. Get your email list, and then segment them based on demographics, buyer journey stage, and purchase history among others.
Then curate content tailored to each segment. That way, your audience will look forward to opening and reading your emails. As opposed to you sending them general information that is not of immediate importance to them, and with time, they begin dismissing your email.
4. Social Media Marketing
The internet democratized information, giving everyone a chance to be educated easily fast. However, it was social media that democratized people’s rights to be heard. Social media gave everyone a voice since you don’t need the knowledge or funds to set up and promote your website or other digital assets.
Now that everyone has a voice, everyone wants to talk. And talk they do; the first thing an average American does when they get up is to look at their phone for updates on social media. Statistics have it that up to 81% of Americans are on social media.
Brands have realized that if they want to pass a message to the masses, they must go to the platforms where they spend their time. Thus, the entrance of brands and marketers in full force across the social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn among others.
As a marketer, before you take the plunge into social media marketing. You should know the right strategy, which in a nutshell, entails knowing which platform has most of your target audience. What are the peak times, when most of them are heavily present on the platform?
Once you have established that, you need to create highly engaging and relevant content for your target audience. So you have identified where your target audience is, and have in hand content that will likely engage and excite them. The next step seems rather obvious; you need to post it.
But how do you post it? As soon as you are done creating the content? No, there is the right and wrong time to post content on social media. Now, there is no rule cast on stone here; you need to find out on your own what time to most of your target audience come online.
Do they get on social media while stuck in traffic on their way to work or back home? Do they come online during lunch breaks? Or do they spend their evenings resting their mind off work stuff by taking in the distractions on social media?
Once you accurately answer that, you are on your way to rock star social media marketing. Be sure not to post content that is merely hard-selling your products, instead give insights of help to your audience using your products. Show them how this or that product can help them with this or the other problem.
You also need to participate in the conversations, should a post you put up elicit a comment from your audience. Sometimes that calls for you participating in other people’s posts related to your industry. Remember, it is social media, so you are expected to get social.
5. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
People seem to have a good grasp of what SEO is, but not so much when it comes to SEM. Well, SEM entails you as the marketer paying a search engine service to increase the visibility of your site.
Have you ever searched for something on Google, then at the very top of the search engine result page, the first two or three listings have ‘Ad’ displayed next to the site? These are websites that have paid Google to move them in front of the organic ranking queue for better visibility.
SEM costs quite a bit of money, and that is why most businesses would do it once in a while. If you don’t have the budget to pay Google to move you up the queue, then you are better off mastering SEO for organic rise up the listings.
SEM is not limited to search engines alone; the same principle is available on social media and can be seen as sponsored posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. They are also available in ads served on mobile apps. Ad-banners and Google shopping ads. Generally, all the pay-per-click ads.
One thing you must remember when creating ads for SEM-types of ads is that you must optimize them with the relevant keywords and a call to action.
Strategize Based on Analytics and Reports
The above-mentioned tools of trade are just some of the major digital marketing activities. There are many others I did not include on my list, and I suggest you read some of our previous postings, a few of which go into depth of a more comprehensive list of digital marketing activities.
At this juncture, I want to delve into another critical part of digital marketing. A part that will act as your GPS as you sail through the dark ocean waters that is digital marketing, the analytics and reports.
The good with digital technology is that almost any event can be tracked and measured easily and quickly. Take, for instance, when you post a tweet on Twitter, you can get the analytics such as engagement, comments, shares, and impressions, among other things.
Going over these metrics, you can make informed decisions on which posts are engaging, and which ones are not. From such intelligence report, you can now avoid the less engaging types of posts and focus more on those that are highly engaging, and this applies across all digital marketing platforms, not just Twitter.
You can check the metrics of your posts on Facebook, Instagram, blog posts, SEMs, and emails, among other strategies. Based on the insights obtained from those metrics, you can tweak your next post to be better; more engaging, high conversion, and greater leads.
A/B Testing Tool
Speaking of metrics, analytics, and reports, there is another critical digital marketing tool, called A/B Testing, which any marketer ought to know and utilize regularly. A/B Testing, as the name suggests, is a type of test that allows you to test ‘plan A’ and ‘plan B’ at the same time.
You get to test out two almost identical versions of the same content. It could be landing page, an ad that you are running, or email sent out. Then, you wait for the results and see which one was more effective. The most impressive result will inform your future marketing efforts.
Understanding the Buyer Journey
The need to understand your target audience cannot be overemphasized. It is not enough to know who are your customers, where they are, and how to attract them to your digital assets. Once they are aboard your digital asset (website, app, social media pages, etc.), you now must know where they are on their purchase journey.
A buyer’s journey to making a purchase can be categorized under three stages:
- Awareness – At this stage, the buyer is aware of the existence of a need or want for a specific product or service. Such types of buyers need to be served with content that is general and informative. They do not want to be bombarded with promotional messages. No, tell them how your product or service can help them satisfy their want or need.
- Consideration – On this stage, the buyer is out on a fact-finding mission. Comparing various available options for addressing their needs or wants. The content you serve them should go into the depth about how it can help them meet their desires.
- Decision – A customer that is on the decision stage has pretty much done their homework and zeroed in on the product they are going to get. Although you should continue explaining how your product will solve their problem, put more focus on the branding and promotion of your product.
Any entity wanting to do business in these current times, they must embrace digital marketing. Otherwise, they are assured of being left in the dust by their competition, particularly those are embraced it.
As we have mentioned, digital marketing is a multidisciplinary sector, and having a ‘Jack of all trades mentality’ can be your undoing. You need to employ a professional well-endowed in a particular field of digital marketing – copywriting, SEO expert, social media marketer, SEM expert, etc. – instead of trying to juggle everything on your own.
However, if you are a startup or working on a tight budget, you can always outsource some of these tasks to digital marketing agencies, some of whom can work within your budget. Instead of struggling to pay an in-house expert, because in any case, you will not afford to employ all the experts for the various fields.
On the other hand, if you are thinking of pursuing a career in digital marketing. You can get started quickly and affordably. There are numerous online classes you can take up, in addition to attending classes across colleges and universities in America at affordable tuition fees. Check out our earlier publications for more details on getting certified as a professional digital marketer.
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