Business | Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing: What It Is and How It Can Help You Grow Your Business
The phrase “digital marketing” pops up everywhere. It’s become something of a buzzword in all sorts of different industries. But what is it exactly? And what can it do for your business?
Simply put, digital marketing is an umbrella term used to describe all marketing efforts that exist via digital channels. You can think of your company’s entire online presence as existing within a digital marketing framework. Whether you’re talking about email campaigns, blog posts, social media engagement, search engine optimization, paid ads and search engine marketing, or even just the functionality of your organization’s website, it all falls under the digital marketing
Why Is Digital Marketing Important?
In 2018, the web is an integral part of how the typical person interfaces with the world around them. 8 out of 10 people do their shopping online. At the same time, attention spans continue to decrease. Between the prevalence of digital channels and the limited amount of attention coming from potential customers, your ability to attract new leads through digital marketing is critical to the success of your business.
Years ago, digital marketing would have comprised a small component of your company’s overall marketing presence. Now, things have changed. In fact, the average company now spends 35% or more of its marketing budget on digital marketing each year. Direct response marketing via digital channels is no longer optional: it’s essential.
The Benefits of Digital Marketing
John Wanamaker, a pioneer of early 20th-century marketing, famously said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don't know which half.” This quote sums up one of the biggest problems with traditional advertising: measuring effectiveness is a major challenge. Sure, you can run focus groups and gather data before a campaign, and you can even conduct polls afterward to gauge effectiveness. Ultimately, though, marketing has traditionally involved a lot of ad spending without any accompanying metrics.
Digital marketing is completely different. Thanks to the analytics available to you, measuring the results of your marketing efforts has never been easier. With an effective digital marketing campaign, it’s possible to track precisely how many new visitors are coming to your website and where those visitors originate from. Are your organic search efforts paying off? Should you be focusing more on social media? Thanks to the wealth of data available to you, these questions can be answered in a relatively straightforward way.
Paid advertising is an area where the analytics associated with digital marketing can be particularly effective. In the old days of marketing, running a TV ad or paying for a series of billboards was both expensive and potentially ineffective. Now, you can spend a fixed amount on your search engine marketing budget and immediately gauge your results. How many leads have you generated? What percentage of clicks result in conversions? This data allows for fine-tuning of your marketing expenditures over time, with minimal risk involved.
Identifying Digital Marketing Channels
As we’ve already mentioned, there are a number of options available to you when it comes to creating a digital marketing campaign. Let’s take a look at some of the most common avenues.
Blogging. For the marketing novice, the idea of using a blog as a marketing tool might sound a bit odd. For digital marketers, though, blogging is hugely important. “Content marketing,” as strategic blogging is often called, can generate a huge amount of organic traffic for your website. When visitors search for a keyword or phrase related to your business and stumble upon some useful content on your site, you have the opportunity to guide them to purchase — or at least turn them into a lead.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is at the core of any effective digital marketing strategy. Without a properly optimized website, you may as well not have any web presence at all. While paid search is important, nothing can replace organic search traffic. SEO involves making both technical and content-based adjustments to your web presence and can be incredibly complex.
Social Media. Engaging your customer base through social media is key. The data is clear: Millennials want authenticity from brands, and authentic communication with your customers via social media is essential.
E-mail Marketing. If you think email is dead (or at least on its way out), the numbers would say otherwise. By some measurements, the return on investment (ROI) for email marketing can be as high as $44 for every $1 spent. That’s a 4,400% return! Despite the amount of time that people spend on social media, email continues to be a highly effective means of connecting with customers and leads.
Paid Advertising. Virtually every digital marketing campaign involves at least some paid ad spend. Paid advertising can take the form of search engine ads, social media ads, and so-called display advertising or remarketing: the ads that pop up along the periphery of your browser based on sites you’ve recently visited.
Owned, Earned, and Paid Assets
Understanding each of the above pieces is one thing. Bringing them together into an effective marketing strategy is another. A helpful way to think about formulating a strategy involves grouping the above channels into three asset categories: owned, earned, and paid assets.
Owned assets include the content that your brand has full control over creating and distributing. Your social media profiles, blog posts, and overall web presence are all considered to be owned assets. Earned assets include all of the attention your brand receives from outside sources. This is promotional content that you can influence, but can’t directly control. Examples include social media shares, recommendations between friends, and news stories. Lastly, paid assets are those items that you must pay for directly: search engine marketing, social media ads, and Google Display Network advertising are all examples.
Owned assets can pay off big in the long run, but can involve a huge time investment upfront. Earned assets are just as valuable, if not more so -- but they’re equally time-consuming, and they can only be steered, not controlled. Paid assets can produce some of the quickest returns, but you’re ultimately limited by your budget.
Bringing It All Together
A solid digital marketing strategy involves bringing together the right balance of owned, earned, and paid assets into a comprehensive, multifaceted campaign. This isn’t an easy thing to achieve, and experience is key. Without a doubt, though, digital marketing is essential to the success of any business in 2018 and beyond. If you connect with the right digital marketing firm, the sky’s the limit when it comes to long-term growth, return on investment, and customer satisfaction.