How would you define digital marketing?

How would you define digital marketing? This is a common question that I have to answer from time to time. For that reason, I am going to try and define it in this post.

To understand what digital marketing is, first we need to define marketing.

Table of Contents

What is Marketing? A definition

According to the Oxford dictionary, marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.

This is a very good definition of marketing.

We use marketing to let our services or products be known to other people with the goal of getting leads and sales.

To do that, we need to investigate how to advertise well.

There are different types of marketing:

  • Influencer marketing
  • Relationship marketing
  • Viral marketing
  • Green marketing
  • Keyword marketing
  • Guerilla marketing
  • Outbound marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Search engine optimization

To do any kind of marketing you first need to investigate, and then make a strategic plan of action.

The four P’s of marketing

When studying marketing, in theory we always talk about the four P’s of marketing, or marketing as having a mix of attributes that companies have to configure their products to, to meet the needs and expectations of their customers. These four P’s are:

Product

When we talk about the product, we refer to both the product itself and everything that has to do with it directly, that is, design, utility, characteristics, packaging etc.

Place (location, distribution)

Here we will include everything that has to do with the distribution of our product, like the channels or location. In short, where we are going to sell it or where we will provide and market our products and/or services.

Price

The pricing policy to be followed must be planned, since the positioning of our products and services depends on it. Here we enter the costs, rappel discounts, offers and everything that affects our prices.

Promotion (communication)

Many specialists use promotion and refer to this section as sales promotions (offers). But in reality, this section focuses on communication, on which channels we use and in what way we are going to open the lines of communication with our clients: advertising, social networks, digital marketing strategies, among others.

The marketing plan with the four P’s

So when we are in the design phase of our marketing plan for a product, we must consider the strategy that will help it reach the highest possible number of sales. In this strategy we will contemplate the configuration of the four P’s, that is, the configuration of the marketing mix.

We will define the attributes and characteristics of our product and its packaging. We will decide on which channels we are going to distribute that product, we will finalize its price and we will create a communication strategy, so that the majority of our potential clients know that our product is available in our selected distribution channel.

Developing a marketing strategy in this way is not bad, although with the evolution of commerce and consumption, the paradigm is broader and more complex. With a large number of competitors, it is difficult to differentiate yourself from the competition via your product and/or price.

But now we have four more P’s

Yes, Philp Kotler said in the 90s that only four P´s are not enough to cover the marketing mix.

We have already discussed the first four: product (product), place (distribution), price (price) and promotion (communication); now we will incorporate the other four that we are missing: people, physical evidence, process, partners (strategic alliances).

People

Organizations are made up of people, and these are the ones that provide services, which is something fundamental. Today has a great strategic value since, if we have motivated employees who are in line with the mission, vision and values ​​of our organization, they will be creators of value for our company, and will strive to make our customers’ experience satisfactory.

Physical evidence (presentation, physical appearance)

One of the characteristics that plays against services is that they are intangible, which is why service companies that have a marketing approach strive to make their services tangible, either because of the physical spaces where they are provided (decoration, music, smells) or for articles that reinforce the provision of the service in a tangible way (merchandising, pamphlets, catalogs, manuals, etc.).

We can see this aspect of evolution in practically any type of company: restaurants that have impeccable decoration and presentation of dishes, hairdressers that are decorated and have music adapted to their clients, and even mechanical workshops in which you don’t see even a hint of grease or spilled oil on the floor, and with their tools in impeccable order.

Process

It isn’t important any longer to only have a product in accordance with what the customer demands, but also to take care of all aspects of our production process and to generate value from the acquisition of the raw material, not only for the company but also for all its groups of interest.

In this complexity of business processes and operations, an important focus must be given to their efficiency, complying with the company’s value proposition in a timely manner. That is why the best companies always have professionals working on the optimization of their process—to achieve a real competitive advantage.

Partners (strategic alliances)

Contemplating alliances in marketing is a wise policy, since growing alone is more complicated. Relying on other companies helps us create synergies that allow us to obtain better results in less time.

As a result of many crisis in the past, many suppliers began to worry more about the way in which their clients bought their products; that’s why they began to offer their support to strengthen the points of sale. Of course, this is something that many companies were already doing, but with the contraction of the market, there were more companies who realized that suppliers and intermediaries could join forces to increase their sales.

Another area in which we see many strategic alliances is the internationalization of companies, because if we go to the same market together, we share the costs and minimize risks.

Why do all of these concepts matter for Marketing?

It’s because in order to create a marketing strategy for your company, products or services you need to use all of these concepts.

Ok, right now we all know what marketing is, but…

How would you define digital marketing?

So If someone aske me: How would you define Digital Marketing? My answer is: Digital marketing is the act of selling your products or services using the internet. It’s as simple as that.

By the internet I mean social media platforms, search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo), websites, mobile devices and email.

The internet provides new technologies that we can use to promote our products or services, but to use them properly we need to know the basic concepts of marketing.

What is the mistake that people make when they want to do digital marketing?

A mistake people make is that they forget about the basic concepts of marketing. They forget about the eight P´s.

Let’s explain this with a common example.

One day my friend who works as a dentist told me that he needed a website. I said, “Ok, you want to be on the internet—that’s good. But… Why?” And he couldn’t give an answer; he just wanted to be on the internet.

Later, I explained to him that having a website is part of a larger marketing strategy.

If you are a business owner and you want to promote your product or services to more people, you need to think about the eight P´s.

For example, I did this for my friend.

Product: He is selling his expertise and experience as a dentist.

Place: He has a physical place to attend to his patients.

Price: He has different prices according to what people need.

Promotion: Until that point, everything had been through word of mouth (the most powerful tool in marketing).

People: It’s just a secretary, a nurse and him.

Physical evidence: At this point, I told him that he has to show evidence of his experience for people. From the moment someone sets foot in his place, they need to feel safe.

Process: He needs to have a process, because the more people he can see, the more money he will be able to make.

Partners: In order for him to grow, he needs to find another dentist in case he cannot do certain procedures.

After compiling all of this information, I told my friend:

You always have people coming to see you because your patients recommend you and that is good, but in order to have a place on the internet you need to have partners. You will be busy with people, you need a steady process, you need to bring experience and to think about hiring more people.

While talking about his business, he realized that he had never asked his patients for information.

So now he knows their addresses, phone numbers, emails and if they use social media.

With that information, he now knows how to be on the internet.

Defining Digital Marketing

I just told you that digital marketing is all about promoting your business, products or services on the internet.

But promoting something on the internet is time consuming. Why? Let’s find out.

Now that my friend has new information and now that I know he has good promotion through word of mouth, he needs a website because people will look for him on the internet for information.

A web page is not enough in Digital Marketing

Many people still think that a web page is the solution for all their business problems. People think that once they have a web page they will immediately get sales, but that isn’t true.

Once you have a web page, you have to start working on search engine optimization (SEO).

Some agencies sell web pages with basic SEO. There is no such thing as basic SEO. I know this because, in my early career, I sold web pages with basic SEO.

If you want to know more about SEO and what to do once you have your website, read this post: Search Engine Optimization Tutorial for Beginners.

Social media is hard work

Yes, social media is hard work because you need to choose the right social media platforms for your business, product or service.

My recommendation is not to be everywhere, just be where your future clients are.

In the case of my friend, all of his clients have a Facebook account (no surprises there) and an Instagram account.

So, regardless of the rise of TikTok, the right way for him is to make content for Instagram; right now he can make reels or small videos showing his work.

Now you could say, “I can repurpose the videos for other platforms”.

Yes you can, but every social media platform is different and the audience is different.

So in other words, would you like to watch the same video everywhere you go?

It’s the same with social media platforms. Every platform has a purpose.

One thing you have to take into consideration is that all social platforms are businesses, so the organic reach is not big.

It is sad and frustrating but it is the truth.

If you want to know how to create a social media strategy, read this post: How to create a social media marketing plan to promote your business.

Advertising in Digital Marketing

Advertising on the internet is a good choice for reaching new audiences.

The two options right now are Meta Advertising (Facebook and Instagram) and Google Ads.

There are several tutorials on YouTube that show you how to master these two advertising companies.

But my advice on how you can do great advertising on the internet is to know your audience. That is the secret.

If you want to learn a methodology for understanding your audience, read this post: Customer Empathy Map. How to answer the 7 questions.

As you can see, everything in digital marketing is interconnected and it is a lot of work.

To think that, just because you have a web page or a fan page on Facebook it means that your business problems are solved, is a big mistake.

What you need to do in digital marketing is to create an ecosystem for your business, brand or services. You can read more about it in this post: Digital Marketing Ecosystem: The first step of a great Marketing Strategy.

Now you know that a good digital marketing strategy is the sum of all parts to get the results you want.

Digital marketing is not only social media, it is not only SEO, it is everything.

Is Digital Marketing Better than Traditional Marketing?

Well, this is a tough question to answer.

The only difference between traditional and digital marketing is the return of investment (ROI).

Let me explain this.

For example, if you spent $200 on a newspaper ad, how would you know if that ad had gotten you sales or leads? It is difficult to find this out.

But, if you spent the same amount of money on Facebook Ads or Google Ads, you would know exactly how many people saw your ad and, depending on the goals of the ad campaign, you would know if that ad had gotten you sales or leads.

For me, that is the beauty of digital marketing; everything is measurable.

The Digital Marketing Strategy

Now that you know what digital marketing is, you can start creating a digital marketing strategy for your business, brand or service. For this, you will need to know some digital marketing methods.

My best digital marketing strategy that I am using right now to promote a startup involves a combination of:

  • search engine optimization
  • social media marketing
  • paid advertising.

But before I start to combine these approaches, the first thing I do is:

Define the target audience 

If I don’t know who my target audience is, I can’t develop a digital marketing strategy. 

What you have to do is write down who you think your ideal customer is.

One way of doing this is to make a customer empathy map. To learn how to do this, read this post: Customer Empathy Map: How to Answer the 7 Questions.

You need to do this; a digital marketing plan has zero value if you don’t know who your target audience is.

Define the goals

The goals have to be S.M.A.R.T.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

An example of a S.M.A.R.T goal could be:

We will use smart bots to respond to our Facebook inbox to lower our response rate by 10 minutes by the end of the month.

It’s important to set goals, because without them you have no way of measuring success or your return on investment (ROI).

Once I have my goals clearly defined I begin with the strategy.

What makes up a digital marketing strategy?

A basic digital strategy  has:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization might sound like an advanced digital marketing strategy, but it isn’t.

SEO is a process. It can take months to see organic traffic coming to your website or blog, but once you get the organic traffic the chances of getting leads or sales are high.

Social Media Marketing

A common mistake that startups, brands or companies make is being on every social media channel.

What I did was to choose the right ones according to where my target audience would be. For example, a younger audience would be on TikTok or Instagram. For a more general audience, Facebook is a good choice.

The next step was to create content specifically for that social media platform.

A social media marketing plan has to evolve; it’s not written in stone. Remember, social media evolves too.

Today, TikTok is the king of social media, tomorrow, who knows?

You can read about how to create a social media strategy here.

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising can help to accelerate the process of getting leads and sales, but it should be reserved for when you have the budget to do it.

If not, you have to rely on SEO and social media to get leads and sales.

But mixing these three approaches has so far been my best digital marketing strategy. Though, when we have the budget to do paid advertising we get more leads and sales.

You need to make these efforts in order to be successful in digital marketing.

What is Internet marketing? Is it the same as digital marketing?

You may have heard the term Internet marketing

This term refers to all the marketing activities you can do on the internet, including:

  • website content and design
  • email marketing
  • social media
  • blogging
  • video/podcasting
  • online ads
  • sponsorships and paid promotions.

You can use Internet marketing to work on the brand of your business, to sell your products or to get leads.

What you need to do to implement all of these actions is have a strategy and know exactly what each of these concepts is.

Website Content and Design for Digital Marketing

A business website allows customers to:

  • find your business online
  • locate your business address or find its contact information
  • discover your products or services
  • sign up for your email list
  • request more information
  • make purchases.

Email Marketing

You can use this approach to collect customer emails either through purchases or website sign-ups, then send emails to share important information, encourage purchases, and build relationships.

Email allows you to reach customers individually and in a personal way. A 2019 retail study looking at more than one billion shopping sessions found that email marketing had a conversion rate of 2.5%, compared to only 1.1% for social media. (The highest conversion rate was direct referral, at 3.0%)

Social Media

Most consumers use some kind of social media, though the type you focus on should depend on the behavior of your target market.

More than 90% of 18 to 29 year-olds use social media of some kind, and while usage decreases with age, it can still be used to reach consumers in all age brackets. More than 60% of those over the age of 65 use some kind of social media, and those numbers are likely to keep growing.

Older consumers are more likely to use a platform like Facebook, for example; millennials often use Instagram; and younger consumers are more interested in video platforms, such as TikTok or YouTube.

Find out where your ideal customers spend their time and focus your efforts there.

Bloging

Blogging allows you to increase your website’s SEO by adding articles and posts around certain targeted keywords. This increases the likelihood that customers will find and visit your website as a result of an online search.

You can also write for other people’s blogs, magazines, or websites. This can increase your audience and put your business in front of more potential customers.

Video and Podcasting

Some creators who make videos or podcasts use that as their sole business. Other times, businesses use these platforms to establish expertise, connect with others in the industry, and create a funnel for new customers to find and develop an interest in their products or services.

Podcasts especially are growing in popularity. More than 100 million Americans listen to podcasts every month.

Online Ads

Online ads can take a variety of forms.

Pay-per-click advertisements placed in search engines target particular search terms that potential customers might use. Targeted ads on social media are designed to reach specific segments of the platform’s users, who might be interested in your business’s products, services, and promotions.

You can also place sidebar ads on other people’s websites or in their email marketing. Online ads are most effective when they are “congruent,” or relevant to where they appear or what the target audience is searching for.

Personalization can also increase the response rate to online ads, especially at the early stages of consumers’ decision-making process. However, personalization is most effective when ads appear in congruent locations.

Sponsorships and Paid Promotions

You can take advantage of an audience that someone else has built with sponsorship or paid promotions. These marketing campaigns allow you to pay someone whose audience matches your target market to discuss, use, promote, or share your products and services with their followers.

This can both increase brand awareness and drive sales, especially if you pair the campaign with a targeted promo code or special offer.

Now that you know all the concepts, you need to apply them to your Internet marketing strategy.

For example, if you have a website or blog, you will need to promote it if you want to have leads or sales; SEO takes time.

To promote your website you can use social media, video, or online ads with the goal of driving traffic to your website.

All those actions have to be made within an Internet marketing strategy.

Applying the Digital in Marketing: your Digital Marketing Efforts

To apply the digital side of marketing you need to create valuable content that works within a digital marketing strategy

What is content marketing?

In content marketing, your business focuses on reaching, engaging, and connecting with consumers via content. This content, which can include videos, blog posts, infographics and more, provides value to users. It’s not, however, sales-orientated copy — it’s informational.

For example, if you run a business that sells ski and snowboard supplies, you could write an article about what a beginner needs for their first outing. You could also write articles on how to take care of a snowboard, and what accessories can help improve your skiing performance.

With these individual pieces of content, you target specific keywords.

Your article about snowboard care, for instance, may target the key phrase, “how to maintain a snowboard,” or, “how to wax a snowboard”.

No matter what format you choose for your content, it’s critical that it’s relevant and beneficial to your audience. You want to create original and high-quality content that makes users share it with their friends, family, coworkers, and other people in their social network.

What is the goal of content marketing?

The overall goal of content marketing as a digital media strategy is to provide valuable information to your target audience, increase traffic, and generate conversions. From a technical standpoint, content marketing also focuses on optimizing your content for search engines to improve your visibility in search results.

Why use content marketing as a digital marketing strategy?

With the ability to connect with audiences throughout the buying funnel, as well as double website conversion rates, content marketing is a smart digital marketing strategy to use. The best part is that it costs 62% less than traditional marketing efforts.

A few other reasons to use content marketing in your digital marketing campaign strategy?

It generates 54% more leads than traditional marketing

Content marketing is a long-term and ongoing strategy that delivers an impressive ROI. That ROI includes new leads and clients for your business, as well as increases in your conversion rates. Content marketing provides these results by targeting every stage of your buying funnel.

More than 60% of users prefer companies that create content

In today’s online marketplace, users have a lot of power. They can choose to read or ignore your company’s messages, whether they’re promotional or informational. Many, however, respond well to informational content from companies, which is why content marketing is so essential now.

The Digital Marketing Channels for Brand Awareness 

Mobile Marketing

Mobile phone usage increases every single day. It’s important to develop and serve content that is targeted to mobile users. Furthermore, geo-targeting capabilities on mobile phones use location information to recommend products or services more conveniently.

Smartphone users spend a lot of their time on apps and games, which can make a profitable marketing channel – as well as collect customer data. Use mobile trends to help you increase sales by creating mobile-friendly shopping experiences. Modern consumers also prefer businesses who can deliver valuable information right to their devices. You can use a mobile strategy to create demand for products and services.

Focus on quick loading pages, compressed images, top-to-bottom scrolling, and large buttons and font sizes, because mobile loading time is crucial. It’s also worth exploring mobile technologies like QR codes which customers can scan to visit your website or take other actions. 

Display Advertising

This form of advertising allows users to leverage images, audio, and video to better communicate their advertising message. Advertisers use this media on websites, email platforms, social media, and several other digital channels that offer ad placements, usually in the form of a banner.

Rather than relying on keywords, the success of display ads depends on how well you can match your ad to the host website’s audience to drive conversions.

PR

Public relations is another powerful digital marketing channel and one that often gets less attention than the others on the list. A good PR strategy will earn you mentions in publications your audience is reading, which both increases brand awareness and can result in authoritative links that boost your SEO. 

Modern PR also includes pitching guest posts and thought leadership articles on relevant websites. By writing on topics your audience cares about in high-profile industry publications, you build trust in the voices that represent your brand, even if the content isn’t directly about your products. 

Video

With more than 1.8 billion users, YouTube is one of the most popular websites on the Internet, which goes to show just how much people like watching videos. Sure, some of those are cat videos, but consumers also partake in brand videos. Over one third of consumers said they prefer video to other types of brand content, and 53% have said they’re more likely to engage with a brand after viewing a video. 

Video marketing overlaps with content marketing. It can be a useful form of content for providing helpful information and answers to common questions your customers have, and can be promoted on social media and in ads just like written content

Programmatic

Programmatic advertising is the automated buying and selling of digital ads using software. The traditional method includes requests for proposals, tenders, quotes and human negotiation. Programmatic buying uses machines and algorithms to purchase display space. Many formats and channels are supported with programmatic advertising. Ads can be placed on mobile, desktop, tablet, connected TV and more. 

It should be included in your digital marketing mix because it’s efficient. It is designed to do away with old-fashioned, hit-or-miss campaign design. Now you can rely on an algorithm that will determine where your ad money is best spent. All you have to do is feed your programmatic solution some information about your campaign as well as KPIs and you’re all set! The system will not only launch your campaign, but it will also monitor your ad spend to look for areas of improvement.

Video Advertising

Internet users everywhere enjoy video content – in fact, 85% of Internet users in the US watch video content monthly. Some trends to watch out for include increased user-generated content, and additional usage on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Also look out for increased live streaming activity and real-time webinars. Don’t forget to integrate the material you leverage on your digital signage, particularly user-generated video. 

Integrated Digital Signage

Digital signage continues to grow in importance, but having a smart strategy around it is what can set an organization apart. While you consider content for other digital marketing channels, don’t forget to factor in digital signage opportunities.

Digital signage can provide a great foundation for internal communication. But it can also offer more user-generated content on social media and feedback sites. Additionally, you can use digital signage to drive traffic to your website or other channels. Integrate digital screens with your other marketing channels by using existing videos, images, client testimonials, etc.

If you use digital signage to generate traffic, interest, or upsell opportunities, choose content that will resonate with the audience present. Also, be sure to segment content times based on who will be passing by and when. You can leverage data pulled from your other digital marketing channels to inform these strategies. 

Considerations in Determining the Right Digital Marketing Channels for your Business

Digital marketing channels are far from a one-size-fits-all approach. Exactly which ones will work for you depend on a variety of factors. Ask yourself the following questions:

What is your brand? – Some industries are a more natural fit for promoting online. What is the nature of your business, and does your brand voice lend itself to digital marketing? 

What is your budget? – There are a lot of things you can do for free or for very little expense in the digital realm.

Which channels do you want to use, and how many? – ­This will be heavily dependent on what you are willing and able to spend. 

What are your marketing goals? – Do you want to generate leads, make customers more loyal, be viewed as more of a thought leader, or increase sales per order? Each channel has its own unique benefits and you need to use the ones that are best suited to meet your objectives. 

Who is your audience? – Who are your customers and what is the best way to reach them? 

Is your audience online? – Good marketing requires meeting your audience where they are. If you have done your research and see that your target audience doesn’t spend time online, it might not make sense to invest there. On the other hand, proper research can show you which digital marketing channels will be most profitable. 

What resources do you have? – If you don’t have any staff available to manage the components of a digital program, it might not be worth your time. Successful digital marketing channels tend to leverage a lot of content and require leveraging analytics and reporting

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