Digital marketing is a general term that covers all kinds of adverting through digital channels. This ranges from search engines and websites to social media, apps and even email. It is a very diverse area of marketing with some areas that overlap. But let’s get a basic introduction to the field.
Paid search is also known as pay per click or PPC advertising. This is the type of advertising that takes place on search engines when you see those sponsored results or ‘ad’ notes beside a search result. When you use paid search, you pay when someone clicks that ad and there are lots of ways to tailor the ad so that the right people are clicking it – people who are interested in your product or service.
PPC ads allow flexibility and visibility for a wide range of business types. Its the quickest approach to gain traffic, but for longevity, the most costly.
Search engine optimisation
Search engine optimisation or SEO is the area of digital marketing that deals with optimising content on a website so that it brings traffic from search engines. This is often known as organic traffic and is the opposite side of paid search – you get search results from SEO techniques, but you don’t pay for it.
SEO is often said to be all about keywords but there is more to it. It is a series of best practices that cover things like navigation and ease of use of the website, internal and external linking and the overall credibility of the site. Roughly it is about the quality of the research you do, the user experience of your website, the content strategy you apply on the website, the social media connections to it and, of course, keywords. And most of all understanding the user intent within your niche.
The better the position on the search page you are, the more traffic you get. 67% of clicks come from the first five results on a search engine results page while 71% of searches result in an organic click on the first page.
At the heart of digital marketing is content marketing. Content is what brings people to your website, provides something to show in search results and data to base paid search on. It is the core element of modern SEO and is also crucial for social media. It also offers value to customers, answering their questions, solving their problems or even offering something fun.
Clever content isn’t promotional, it is educational and inspiring. It helps people, and this makes them see the company as a valuable source of information. It is also great to share on social media and build up engagement and brand recognition.
Social media marketing
If content marketing is one of the pillars of digital marketing, then social media is another. 47% of all internet users are also Facebook users – the site boasts over 2 billion registered users.
People also use social media for more than just sharing videos of their kids or checking out the latest cute cat videos – they use it for research and to engage with brands. There are companies that offer marketing training courses, that help beginners develop the right skills.
Different social media sites have their personalities that require different approaches. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can all be used to build engagement with an audience and that brand recognition. Pinterest is actually more a visual search engine than a social media site and it can be a huge source of traffic – 88% of products purchased are seen through Pinterest. Social media is a great way to build social proof, where happy and engaged customers tell their friends about your company.
Email marketing may be the oldest element of digital marketing but has advanced a lot in recent times as new approaches to marketing have taken over. People use email for a huge range of things and we tend to check out inbox with great frequency – even more so with a smartphone!
Email marketing is no longer about pushing out advertisements and product notifications. Like SEO, it works on being relevant and interesting to readers, to engage with them and start a conversation. It can help bring people to other channels such as the website or social media profiles and is far more strategic than ever before. See this infographic that explains the do’s and donts.
Mobile marketing is about understanding different approaches based on the fact that people use their phones as much or more than they use a desktop computer. Smartphones are a key part of life, allowing us to access the internet anywhere there’s a connection and we make use of them. There are also peculiarities to the smaller screen that have led to mobile-friendly and mobile optimised sites.
Mobile marketing also involves other ways to engage with customers. These range from SMS to chatbots and messenger apps. The key is to integrate mobile marketing with the rest of the digital marketing plan to create a holistic approach.
There are a lot of elements with digital marketing but there are also ways to automate some of it so that it isn’t entirely hands on. This can be things like automatic email sequences or tools to schedule social media updates weeks ahead. It also means there are lots of ways to monitor what works and how to make changes when something isn’t delivering the results desired. Also, see this post “What is marketing automation”
I'm Paul Gordon an SEO freelancer who has spent the last 16 years helping businesses expand and grow through effective SEO strategies.