The internet created a different world. The jury’s still out as to whether it’s definitely a better world. Either way, it’s the one we live in now. Because of the internet, the ways we all work, shop, learn, and play have changed. The things that people pay attention to have changed. The way we talk to each other has changed. How do we respond to all that change? We certainly can’t keep doing things the way they were always done before. That’s a good way to get left behind, especially when it comes to marketing. The internet depends on connections between digital devices like computers and smartphones. That’s why we call the search for customers using those tools digital marketing. But what is digital marketing, really?
Digital Marketing Basics
Marketing has always been about the problem of helping people learn about products and services that can improve their lives.
In the past, you could say things were simpler. There were only so many ways to try to contact the customer, and only so many ways for them to buy the product.
Now, the digital landscape has dramatically opened up new ways for customers to interact with sellers. It started with email and the first basic websites. It has been growing at an exponential pace since then. In the years since the advent of the smartphone, social media networks have nearly replaced newspapers and television channels.
One particularly huge aspect of digital marketing is online search. People use the internet the way they used to use libraries to discover new information. For marketers, this is a huge advantage, because you can’t really fill libraries and their books with ads.
But you can definitely do that on the results page of a search engine like Google.
For that reason, much of digital marketing is geared towards making sure that your company’s products and services appear near the top or beginning of those search engine results pages, or SERPs. In that case, we can be talking about either ads or the content itself.
Keep in mind that although search engines on the internet are one of the largest components of digital marketing, they aren’t everything. Digital marketing still does include some resources that are not necessarily connected to the internet, such as mobile phone text messages. That’s why we call it digital marketing, and not just online marketing. All digital devices and connections are included!
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Because the internet and the digital landscape generally are relatively new components of our society, they’re constantly changing. An important aspect of digital marketing is making sure that you’re aware of the latest trends and techniques. What worked as recently as five years ago may be completely irrelevant today. Likewise, the technologies that are most useful today may mean nothing just a few years down the road.
Consider one particularly potent example of this. A little over a decade ago, Myspace was one of the biggest social media networks that had ever been designed. It was by far the most popular way for young people to communicate with each other. Now though, Myspace is essentially gone from the scene. It was largely replaced by Facebook, which is itself now currently struggling to retain its young audience. At the time of this writing, most young people interact on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
So, remember that what you read here should at best be considered just a starting point. To truly succeed in digital marketing, you’ll need to be constantly learning about these and other new upcoming techniques. That said, let’s take a look at some of the key activities that are currently the greatest contributors towards digital marketing success.
SEM / SEO / Content Marketing
We touched on this concept a little bit already. SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to activities that help content on web pages to appear high on search engine results pages. What that basically means is that you’ll need to know, to a basic degree, how a search engine’s algorithm works.
This doesn’t necessarily mean getting into complex mathematics or programming. The code behind a web page can affect how it appears to search engines. Mostly, though, it has to do with how the content itself is written.
It’s about using the correct keywords in the right ways, and with the right frequency. The search engine that finds your page will recognize it as useful and high-quality content. It will be apparent that it will answer somebody’s question well.
The more effort you put into improving the genuine quality of your content, the easier it will be to appear on the top of a search engine result.
The umbrella term SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, includes SEO, content marketing, and also more traditional strategies such as pay-per-click advertising. In the end, the objective of all of these is to increase your ranking on a search engine results page.
That, in turn, can have another objective. You don’t just want people to notice and read your content; you want them to engage with it. One of the primary purposes of content creation is lead generation. By driving people’s interest in what you have to say, you can encourage them to provide you with their email address, or other means of contact, so that you can follow up with them via newsletters or direct sales calls.
Social Media Marketing and Influencers
Activities in the social media sphere are a little bit different. Rather than just focusing on appearing first or on top, these activities have more to do with leveraging existing relationships, and building new ones using social media network tools.
This can include simply placing advertisements along the sides or in the middle of a feed on a social media page, but it can also include posting original content on social media to drive interest in your brand.
One sector that’s particularly hot right now is the concept of influencers. These are people who are active on social media channels and have large audiences that routinely follow them and pay attention to what they post.
You have to be careful when you’re interacting with influencers, because there are many out there who claim to be more useful than they really are.
In the case of those who are genuinely popular, however, reaching an agreement with one of them to promote your products or services can result in far more business traffic then your typical celebrity endorsement of yesteryear.
Influencers are most particularly prevalent in certain social networks, especially Instagram and Twitter.
Email marketing has kind of a bad reputation, much like telemarketing. Decision makers at many companies have full email inboxes that are because of the hundreds of daily email marketing messages that they receive.
Competing with this tidal wave is difficult, but you can do it. When it’s done right, it is rewarding.
As with SEO, the key to successful email marketing is genuine helpfulness. Definitely don’t send spam. Be careful about even sending out edited form letters. The best and most effective emails are concise, visually appealing, and highly personalized.
Successful email marketing can be the key to reaching great business deals with clients that prefer for you not to contact them by any other means.
Mobile Marketing, Including Apps
The interesting thing about mobile marketing is that it includes everything that we’ve already talked about here. This is because most mobile devices are now connected to the internet. This is why you need to make sure to optimize all of your online content not only for people with desktops, but can also be adapted instantly to those who are viewing it on a smartphone screen.
Beyond that, mobile marketing has a lot to do with getting people to download and use specific applications or programs. Whether you invite them to purchase those apps at a minimal cost per person, or you include advertisements within free apps, it’s a highly lucrative sector of digital marketing.
One of the key considerations towards success in this sub-sector is making sure that the ads you use are not intrusive. Obviously, you want to get the customer’s attention, but if you do it in a way that’s annoying and interferes with their regular mobile device use, it can backfire badly.
Why You Need to Think About Digital Marketing
Almost all of us now spend the majority of our waking hours connected to the internet, and of that time, nearly two-thirds of it is through the use of a mobile device which provides additional ways of interacting in the digital landscape.
If your marketing efforts aren’t geared towards meeting your customers where they are within that digital landscape, you won’t find them.
Digital marketing is now by far the most important aspect of marketing as a whole. Make sure that you start with the digital marketing techniques that are most directly relevant to your business, and keep growing them.
Digital marketing is the key to business success in the 21st century!