Updated: Jul 5
In this day and age, a world without the internet is unimaginable. With over 4.5 billion active users across the globe, the web has become the main hub for sharing and disseminating information - whether it’s updates about family, news in science and politics, or entertainment passed between friends.
This transition to the online world has also changed the way businesses promote their products and services. Like most things, the field of marketing has come to revolve around the web - with website creation, social media and online ads largely taking the place of billboards, cold calls and print ads.
In this article, we’ll dive into what digital marketing is and how we can help you use it to promote your brand. We’ll also break down the different types of digital marketing so you can learn about the specific practices that will benefit your business.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is defined as the use of digital channels to promote a product or service. The goal of this approach is to connect with customers online - the place where they spend the most time seeking information or entertainment.
Digital marketing is a broad practice, simply because there are so many online channels available. Posting on social media is a form of digital marketing, as are email marketing and blogging. Together, the promotional content on these various platforms forms a cohesive online marketing strategy.
Benefits of digital marketing
Every company - from large international organizations to independent brick-and-mortar stores - can gain from advertising themselves online. Here are some of the ways digital marketing can benefit your business:
Building brand awareness by putting your stamp on the web
Engaging prospective customers and generating leads
Deepening customer relationships and building a loyal customer base
Guiding customers through the marketing funnel, from the first touchpoint to the sale
Types of digital marketing
Digital marketing isn’t a single practice but, instead, is the sum of several elements. Some of the most common examples of digital marketing include:
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Social media marketing
Pay per click (PPC)
Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
While this may seem like a lot, keep in mind that you don’t need to implement each and every one of these practices. However, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with them so that you gain a better understanding of which methods should go into your own marketing strategy.
01. Search engine optimization (SEO)
A foundational element of digital marketing, SEO is the practice of optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results. When your website appears as a top result on Google and other search engines, people are more likely to click on your link, learn about your brand, and perhaps even become customers.
There are three broad ways to improve your website’s SEO:
On-page SEO involves optimizing the pages on your website by conducting keyword research. When you incorporate strategic keywords throughout your site, you can rank high on search engine results pages and guide customers through the sales funnel with relevant, authoritative content.
Off-page SEO is about improving your SEO by looking at pages external to your website. Inbound links to your website - known as backlinks - are a critical component of off page SEO. Networking with publishers, writing guest posts, and providing information-rich content on your blog can help improve your off-page SEO.
Technical SEO deals with the backend elements of your website such as coding, structured data, image compression and more. Optimizing these elements can make it easier for search engines to “read” your site and improve your page speed.
02. Content marketing
Closely tied to SEO, content marketing is also a core component of digital marketing. This involves creating and promoting content with the goals of building brand awareness, increasing traffic to your website, generating leads and converting customers.
The content you create can take many forms:
Blog posts: Starting a blog - and using strategic, long tail keywords in your articles - is a great way to bring traffic to your site and engage your customers.
E-books and white papers: Adding in-depth, long-form content to your website establishes your expertise in the industry and builds trust among your audience. You can also offer this content for download in exchange for your readers’ contact information, helping you generate leads.
Videos: Website content doesn’t need to be in written form. Adding videos to your website is an engaging way to provide valuable information to your audience.
Infographics: Another form of visual content, infographics are a fun, helpful way to make information easier for readers to conceptualize. Complex explanations and statistics are particularly well-suited to this content format.
Podcasts: This audible content format is a useful way to strengthen your connection with your audience and build a loyal community around your brand. To start a podcast, try repurposing existing website content, such as blog posts, and adapting it for audio.
Webinars: A merging of “web” and “seminar,” webinars further engage your audience, establish your authority, and delight customers with the extra value they provide.
03. Social media marketing
Another cornerstone of a strong digital marketing strategy is social media marketing. This involves promoting your brand on social channels in order to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, and capture leads. You can do this by creating posts on popular social media channels such as:
Your posts can include anything from insightful blog articles to videos of your product in action. Choose channels on which your audience is most active; often, this is a factor of their demographics, such as age and location, as well as their interests.
04. Pay per click (PPC)
Some digital marketing methods, such as blogging, SEO, and social media posting are organic - meaning that they draw traffic “naturally” to your business rather than requiring that you spend money directly. Other practices, however, come with a price tag.
PPC, an acronym for pay per click, is a particularly powerful form of paid online advertising. Like SEO, PPC is a type of search engine marketing, or SEM. If you’re familiar with posts labeled “Ad” at the top and bottom of Google search results pages, you’ve already seen PPC in action.
By this model, advertisers pay a fee every time their link is clicked. As with other forms of digital marketing, the goal of PPC is to drive traffic to a website in order to generate leads and make sales.
Generally, PPC is used on either search engines or social media platforms:
Google: Search engine marketing PPC is most commonly associated with Google Ads. Take a look at this article to learn how to advertise on Google.
Facebook: You can further use the pay per click model to advertise on Facebook. Creating paid Facebook posts helps you expand your reach, exposing your content to people who don’t follow you.
LinkedIn: You can also do PPC on LinkedIn, helping you get in front of professional audiences.
Twitter: Likewise, you can use Twitter Ads to target your relevant audience and expand your reach.
05. Native advertising
Native advertising, too, is a popular online marketing model. In contrast to large pop-ups and other intrusive ads, native ads match the format and tone of the platform on which they appear.
Native ads often appear on websites, and they display content that “blends in” with surrounding articles or blog posts. For example, they might appear as a video embedded within a blog post, or as recommended reading at the bottom of the page.
The goal of native advertising is to guide users to click on content that will take them to your company’s page. If the advertised content is unobtrusive and highly relevant to the material at hand, users may be more enticed to click.
06. Affiliate marketing