So you have a business and you’ve been told you need ‘digital marketing’. Or perhaps you’ve been asked what you plan to do for ‘digital marketing’. But what is ‘digital marketing’ and why is it so important?
I know a little about a lot when it comes to digital marketing, but I’ve never taken the time to go deep into thinking about what it is, why it’s important, or how it works. Like most, I know it’s necessary for a business to pay attention and do digital marketing. But where do you even start to learn about digital marketing if you don’t know anything? I got you.
We’ve done a little research. Here’s the first read—the WHAT of Digital Marketing:
Digital marketing is defined in many ways, but at the most basic level, it includes marketing via online channels to promote your business, products, or services. This encompasses your website, blog, social media channels, SEO, paid digital advertising, email campaigns, mobile apps, and text/SMS campaigns.
The primary goal of digital marketing is to gain exposure for your business so people can discover it and eventually turn it into customers. So again, anything that happens online and encourages the discovery of your business falls into the digital marketing category.
Deciding what channels you need to prioritize in your digital marketing plan will depend on the nature of your business, how much time you have, and what budget you have to work with. Here is a quick overview to consider:
Website: This is the hub of your business presence online. It is helpful to own the domain name that exactly or closely fits your brand name. You will be using it in all marketing materials, so if it closely mimics your company name, it is more valuable.
SEO: Search Engine Optimization allows search engines like Google or Bing to recognize your website as being relevant to search terms people use to find your business. Creating a list of these keywords and using them throughout your website content helps. The titles and descriptions used within your website’s metadata will likely be the text that shows in actual search results. SEO is quite complex, so just ensuring you use the top keywords you want your website to index for and optimizing the titles and descriptions for each page within your website is a good starting point.
Blog: Adding a blog to your website is a great way to improve your SEO rankings and keep your existing customers engaged. Having a blog allows you to include keywords that are relevant to your business naturally, and therefore gives search engines an opportunity to display your website to new users. All of this increases organic (unpaid) traffic to your website, so it is a very good thing.
Social Media: Social media channels also provide a free option to connect people to your business. Which channels you include and prioritize will depend on your audience. For example, Instagram is quickly becoming a platform that is considered a “second home page” for product-based businesses. Businesses should claim their listings on reference sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, OpenTable, and TripAdvisor and all have customer ratings and/or reviews to consider. Overall, social media channels provide a great way to promote your business and keep your customer base engaged with and informed about your business.
Email: Building an email database is valuable for every business. Staying in touch with current and potential customers is an affordable way to disseminate information about promotions, events, sales, and new products/services. With email providers like Mailchimp, this can be a low to no-cost option for reaching your customers.
Paid Digital Advertising: As the name indicates, paid digital advertising includes any advertising that costs money. Whether through PPC (pay per click) ads, banner ads, video ads, or product inclusion (paying to have your product featured in online content), there are many options to target and advertise to your audience. Running a paid advertising campaign usually requires some knowledge about the nuances of each channel, but it is highly measurable so you can ensure you tailor your spending to desired results.
Digital marketing is a big space, but there are ways to make the various channels work for your business. It is also continuously evolving which means businesses need to evaluate their efforts and strategies often. The good news is that there are tons of ways to promote your business online no matter what your budget level and there are a lot of resources to help business owners learn more about the digital marketing space.
Stay tuned for the WHY of digital marketing, Part 2 of this series.
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