digital marketing acm

Digital Marketing: A Guide

According to Forrester, companies will invest more than $140 billion on digital marketing, also known as online marketing, in a few years. That’s because digital marketing offers a powerful and cost-effective way to promote your business to its target audience. Learn more about the basics of digital marketing now in this online marketing guide!

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is the marketing and advertising of a business, person, product, or service using online channels, electronic devices, and digital technologies. A few examples of digital marketing include social media, email, pay-per-click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), and more.

How is digital marketing different from traditional marketing?

The difference between traditional marketing and digital marketing is simple.

Traditional marketing uses offline channels, while digital marketing uses online channels. A traditional marketing campaign, for example, may use billboards, radio ads, and news stories, while a digital marketing campaign may use social media, blog posts, and email to promote a business and its offerings.

Why is digital marketing important?

For companies today, digital marketing matters because it offers:

  • Multiple online marketing strategies
  • Cost-effective marketing solutions
  • Level playing field
  • Advanced targeting and personalization options
  • Accurate campaign tracking and measurement
  • Continuous campaign performance feedback

You can learn more about digital marketing’s benefits below.

Digital marketing offers multiple online marketing strategies

With online marketing, your company can pick from a range of tactics. Examples of digital marketing tactics include:

  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Content marketing
  • Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
  • Social media marketing and advertising
  • And more

You have options, which isn’t the case when using traditional marketing. With traditional marketing, you have fewer choices. You only have a couple of channels available, like radio, print, and TV, and many of these channels are expensive, which limits your choices further.

Choosing to use Internet marketing gives your company access to a range of strategies. You can pick the ones that match your business, goals, and target market the best, which helps you maximize the impact of online marketing on your bottom line.

Digital marketing offers cost-effective marketing solutions

Price is another benefit of digital marketing.

Compared to traditional marketing, online marketing is extremely cost-effective. If you advertise online, whether on social media, websites, or search engines, you set your budget and bid for ad space. You have complete control over how much you spend, which isn’t the case when buying a billboard.

Plus, you can stop your strategy at any time. If you launch a PPC campaign, for instance, and see that it isn’t performing, you can go ahead and pause that campaign. In comparison, once you buy a billboard, you have it for that entire duration, whether it works or not.

Digital marketing offers a level playing field

If you’re a small-to-midsized business (SMB), digital marketing also helps your company stand apart from larger brands. That’s because online marketing offers cost-effective solutions, like SEO, that can help your business reach its audience.

With SEO as a digital marketing strategy, for example, your business can optimize your content for long-tail searches, or searches that feature three or more words, like “hvac residential maintenance services” or “how to clean house gutters.”

This approach can help your company bypass big brands and reach your target market.

You don’t have to worry about how your online marketing budget will compete with larger brands, either. Digital marketing offers several cost-effective strategies, including SEO, that you can use to get your products or services in front of your audience.

Digital marketing offers advanced targeting and personalization options

Making web marketing a part of your business strategy also gives you access to a range of advanced targeting and personalization options. Traditional marketing, which is broader, can’t compete with what digital marketing can provide you when it comes to targeting.

For example, with online marketing, you can use targeting options like:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Marital status
  • Hobbies
  • Device
  • And more

These targeting options can help you amplify the other benefits of digital marketing, like its cost-effectiveness. If you launch a PPC campaign, for example, you could use targeting options like location and device to focus your ads on users most likely to convert, like by visiting your brick-and-mortar store.

Online marketing also makes it possible to personalize content with information like the following:

  • Name
  • Interests
  • Purchase behavior

Creating a personalized experience for users, whether via your email marketing campaign or website, can lead to better marketing results. An email that recommends products based on a subscriber’s past purchase behavior, for example, can lead to another sale and even a word-of-mouth recommendation.

Digital marketing targeting options graphic

Digital marketing offers accurate campaign tracking and measurement

Online marketing solves a traditional marketing problem — tracking.

With traditional marketing, it’s difficult to track whether someone found your business via a billboard, radio ad, or newspaper feature. When you can’t track your marketing efforts, you can’t measure their performance, which makes it challenging to prove marketing’s worth.

It’s easy to track the performance and results of digital marketing.

Tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Ads make monitoring your strategy easy. With Google Analytics, for example, you can track website traffic, user behavior, and website conversions. In comparison, Google Ads provides a 360-degree view of your PPC ads. These types of website analytics are absolutely integral to any digital marketing strategy worth its salt.

Even better, you can use programs like Google Data Studio to compile all your digital marketing data into easy-to-read and easy-to-share reports. Tools like these help you showcase, as well as analyze, the performance of online marketing.

Digital marketing offers continuous campaign performance feedback

Making digital marketing a part of your business strategy also gives you access to a marketing approach that provides constant feedback on your campaign’s performance, whether it’s your SEO strategy or PPC ads.

For example, if you launch a PPC campaign and update your targeting to exclude mobile devices, you may notice a sudden drop in conversions. That immediate response helps you react fast. You can undo your targeting update and get your campaign back to optimal performance.

Even long-term strategies, like SEO, provide constant feedback.

For instance, you can see if your keyword targeting strategy works well by analyzing your website traffic and website conversion rates. This analysis can help you uncover other areas for improvement, too, like your site’s design and usability, as well as content quality.

With all its benefits, digital marketing is a massive asset for companies, including yours.

How does digital marketing work?

You know the definition of digital marketing, but how does digital marketing work?

Online marketing works by developing a coordinated, omni-channel strategy that supports your target audience’s unique buying journey. That means your business uses multiple channels, like social, email, and search, to support an overarching strategy, like generating brand awareness, leads, or sales.

Digital marketing cycle graphic

For perspective, think about this digital marketing example:

  • Goal: Earn leads
  • Channels: Search, email
  • Strategy:
    • Write a blog post that targets a middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) need.
    • Optimize the blog post for search engines and users.
    • Include a downloadable resource that requires users to share their email address.
    • Build a drip campaign for those email subscribers to move them to conversion.
Digital marketing targeting graphic

It’s a basic example, but the above scenario shows how companies can use digital marketing to achieve global goals, like attracting leads. While you can use online marketing channels by themselves, they work best when used together, which is one of the biggest challenges for digital marketers.

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