What is Digital Marketing?

For those of us immersed in the digital world, digital marketing is like a second skin. We know full well how powerful it is, and we know just how to leverage its potential to produce results. Results which are far greater than anything achievable by conventional marketing means.

If you’ve never dealt with digital marketing before, however, this can feel like a huge step into the great unknown. You’ll be bombarded by terms that you’ve never heard of before, you’ll read articles about “click-through rates”, “funnels”, “lists”, “keywords” and so on. But don’t let that scare you.

Understanding digital marketing is crucial in the online world of today and you should look at it as just the next logical step on your road to success.

The traditional (or conventional if you will) marketing strategies of yesterday were very successful because there was nothing else competing for the people’s attention. If you were to sit down and watch a TV program or series, you’d have little choice but to endure the ads that were broadcasted during the breaks. They were effective because they reached the consumer directly… In reality, that’s precisely what digital marketing does, except in a, well, digital, way.

Where you once had TV advertisements, you now have YouTube and stream ads. Instead of leaflets in the mail, we’ve got digital newsletters. And instead of billboards by the roadside, there now are Google Ads on search results and websites.

But beyond the very basics, how does digital marketing actually work? After all, that’s what you came here to find out – that’s why you’re reading this – isn’t it? Keep reading until the end, and you’re guaranteed to walk away with a firm grasp on a multitude of tried and tested digital marketing strategies, proven to raise sales and boost profits!

Defining Digital Marketing

The textbook definition of digital marketing goes as follows:

“Digital marketing is the act of marketing products or services by leveraging digital technologies on the Internet.” This includes the use of tactics like search marketing, email marketing, remarketing, display advertising and more.

But, as we have already mentioned above, conceptually, digital marketing isn’t all that different from its predecessors. It’s still all about being at the right place at the right time. And, with the help of the wonderful invention that is the Internet, we can perform that task even easier.

Today, almost everyone is online. We’re hanging out with our friends and family on social media, we get our news from websites and blogs, and we shop online for most of our needs. That is precisely what gives digital marketing its power – the ability to target your potential customers when they’re looking for what you’ve got to sell in real time!

Digital Marketing … how does it work?

Digital marketing aims to create touch points with your prospective clients. This is achieved by facilitating interactions through a variety of channels – be it social media platforms, e-mails, videos or discussion forums, you always want to be sparking conversations. Given enough time, this will establish a certain feeling of familiarity and trust in your prospective clients, and once they’re ready to buy, they’re going to look for you.

But that’s oversimplifying it.

There’s much more to digital marketing than merely “being out there”. You want to be inciting urgency, albeit subtly. You want to continually push your potential clients towards their purchase, bit by bit. And that’s exactly where the immense potential comes into play.. If you push too hard or too fast, you’re just going to turn people away. You’re going to appear as an annoying hustler, trying to prey on them. You want to be compelling and alluring, yet thoughtful and considerate.

Good marketing is also about being more than a mere digital “peddler”. And that’s exactly where the digital marketing of today shines! Leveraging the appropriate techniques allows you to transform your online persona into a trusted friend for your potential customers. You’re putting them in a position where you’re the one making recommendations, and they’re eagerly listening (and hopefully – buying).

But how would you do that in practice?

Let’s say that you’re looking for a new blender. If you consider yourself a smart shopper, you’d naturally give yourself a bit of time to research your options before you decide on the brand and model.

So, you’d naturally hop on the internet and start searching.

You’d start by having a look at the “best brands” and what they cost. After you get an idea of what your options are, you’d start looking for reviews, ask your friends and relatives for advice, start comparing features, and so on. That’s scenario A.

Scenario B starts off with an email.

Let’s assume that you were signed up for a newsletter, say from a natural living and wellness blog. One day, they decide to write about smoothies and smoothie recipes. So you click on their links, give the article a read and decide that you do, in fact, need a new blender.

Coincidently, this same article also points you to a couple of blenders that are excellent for the job!

And, even though you’re definitely interested, you aren’t quite ready to pull out your wallet just yet.

You still want to do a bit of research before you make a purchase.

And, just like in Scenario A, you open a new tab, load up Google and start searching, comparing prices, reading reviews, and weighing up your options.

Only once you feel like you’ve gathered enough intel, you’ll feel like spending your money, and usually, you’ll give it to the brand which gave you the best information.

How to succeed in Digital Marketing

So how do you succeed in digital marketing? Let’s recap:

  • You want to build a relationship
  • You want to give out the right information at the right time
  • You want to nudge your prospects in the right direction
  • And finally – you want to send the right message

And how do you achieve all of that? You need the right strategy! Here are a couple of tactics that, when properly combined, are guaranteed to help you win at digital marketing:

  • Content marketing – creating the right content with the right message
  • Advertising – being in front of your clients at the right time (which is almost all of the time!)
  • Social media – establishing your authority, conversing with your potential clients and building relationships
  • Email – giving your prospects a nudge in the right direction
  • Search marketing – magically appearing in front of your prospective client’s eyes just when they need you
  • Website analytics – analysing your progress
  • Conversion rate optimisation – improving your website and advertisements by using analytics

All of these tactics are valid, and all of them will help you out on your journey. But here’s the thing – you absolutely do need all of them! Sure, implementing one or two of them in your marketing efforts will give your business a significant boost, but if you truly want to succeed, you will need to work on each of them at the same time!

And Does it Work? You bet it does!

In comparison with its conventional counterpart, digital marketing is much faster, easier to keep track of and cheaper! It also allows you to get up close and personal with your prospects which is an immense bonus over what we had in the past! Digital marketing offers you an incredible number of channels to communicate your message, along with the ability to reach anyone, no matter where they live!

But wait … there’s more!

Today, marketing is also much faster than it ever was in the past! No more do you need to sit there and wait for the printers to churn out thousands of leaflets. All that you’ve got to do is write out a simple text document, and your email campaign is good to go on the same day! Not only that, but you’ll be able to tell how well you did mere minutes after clicking the “send” button! This allows you to make changes on the fly, saving you time, effort and resources in the process!

Digital marketing is also more effective than conventional marketing ever was! We’re now able to achieve levels of transparency that we never dreamed of before, which allow us to engage with customers on a much deeper and more personal level. No more are we just cold and distant corporate entities – we’re real people, just like they are! We can build real relationships, build authority, develop trust and ultimately – improve our engagements – far easier. The buyers of today are true and loyal fans of their favourite products. They’re our friends.

To put it bluntly, the conventional marketing of the past was selfish. It was a one-way conversation, an endless drone of “buy our stuff”, with the customer never having a say in the matter. Customers were forced to conform to whatever the business decided was convenient.

But no more!

Digital marketing gives our clients a voice, an opportunity to speak up and tell us whether they like what we’re doing and advise us on how we can improve. Not only is that incredibly appealing to the client, but it is also immensely useful for us as businesses. It lets us know exactly what we need to do and empowers us to do it right.

Do your customers prefer Twitter? Or maybe, Facebook is more down their ally. Heck, why not Tumblr? The Internet gives you all the flexibility that you’ve always wanted and more! You’re given the opportunity to build a thriving community exactly where your customers are, transforming the buyer’s journey into an exciting, one-of-a-lifetime adventure.

Final thoughts

The Internet has brought marketing to the next level. It allows us to not only achieve much better results by investing far less effort and resources but also leaves our customers much more satisfied with the final results. What’s not to like?

What are your thoughts? Is digital marketing part of your marketing strategy?

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