When you run a business, you need to figure out how to reach potential customers who want the products or services you offer. Traditional marketing can work, but it’s old-fashioned and limited. There are newer, better ways to market your brand.
With smartphones and easier access to the internet, modern consumers are going digital. The best place to reach these technologically savvy prospects is through virtual platforms.
So, if you plan to create a new website or develop your social media presence to reach your target audience and grow your business, then you need to know how digital marketing works.
Read on to learn:
- What is digital marketing?
- What are types of digital marketing?
- Why is digital marketing important?
- What does a digital marketer do?
- What businesses does digital marketing work for?
- Getting started with digital marketing
What is digital marketing?
Whenever you use the internet to inform people about your brand, you’re doing digital marketing. You can use any type of digital marketing channel including social media posts, email, and content marketing to engage potential consumers.
What are the types of digital marketing?
If you’re still wondering how digital marketing works in real life, here are a few practical examples. There are many types of digital marketing, and we’ve outlined the pro’s and con’s of each below.
1. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, also called search advertising, is a type of digital marketing that empowers you to pay only for the clicks you get on your ad. PPC campaigns involve a thorough search and analysis of keywords relevant to your product or service. You can use applications such as Google AdWords or Google Keyword Planner for your keyword research.
Among the most common types paid ads out of PPC providers is Google Ads.
The quality score of your website will determine whether you get a spot-on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
Other channels that use PPC include Sponsored Messages on LinkedIn and paid Facebook ads.
- Provides quick results and precise targeting.
- Allows for easy budget control.
- Can be costly, with expenses mounting if not managed properly.
- Click fraud can also drain budgets.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO utilizes tactics that help you rank higher on SERPs so you can reach more potential customers. On-page SEO is everything you do on your website to win clients including engaging content and great website design.
Off-page SEO is everything you do outside the website including the use of backlinks. SEO can help you optimize your digital presence and increase conversion rates when you act as a blogger for your website’s content.
- Generates organic, sustainable traffic.
- Enhances website credibility and user trust.
- Takes time to see significant results.
- Requires continuous effort to maintain rankings.
3. Email Marketing
Email marketing is a fantastic way to boost interest and awareness from potential clients that already like your business enough to join your mailing list.
A smart digital marketer uses a variety of marketing channels to add leads to their email list. To build an email list, you need to create engaging content for your target customers so they can see the value of hearing what you have to say.
When you send out emails to the people on your email list, you need to write enticing subject lines and define the best time to send emails.
The contents of your emails can be:
- General newsletter information from your business
- New product and or service announcements
- Special event invitations.
- Coupons and special offers
The idea is to use your emails to nurture your client relationships and improve customer retention.
- Highly cost-effective for reaching a targeted audience.
- Allows for personalized communication.
- Risk of emails being marked as spam.
- Response rates can vary widely.
4. Video Marketing
Video is a wonderful medium for conducting a marketing campaign that showcases your products or services. High-quality video content helps increase customer engagement and boosts website traffic.
YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google with more than two billion users. Lots of potential customers search for information on YouTube before making a purchasing decision.
You can use video marketing on YouTube or Facebook to demonstrate products or services and educate your viewers.
- Engages users effectively with visual content.
- Can convey complex messages in an engaging manner.
- Production costs can be high.
- Requires a platform for hosting and distribution.
5. Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Social media has dominated digital media lately. Popular social media channels include:
The greatest benefits of social media are its accessibility and affordability. When you market on these platforms, your aim should be to create brand awareness and build social trust among your followers and the wider digital population.
- Enables direct engagement with a broad audience.
- Offers valuable customer insights.
- Can be time-consuming to manage.
- Success depends on platform algorithm changes.
6. Affiliate Marketing
When you do affiliate marketing, you don’t directly promote your products or services. Instead, you incentivize other content creators (affiliates) to advertise your product. You give affiliates a unique link and whenever a reader clicks on it and makes a purchase, the content creator earns a commission.
Many companies, including Bluehost, offer affiliate programs. It’s an easy way to outsource your digital marketing without an upfront cost.
- Low risk for advertisers, as payment is based on performance.
- Expands reach through affiliate partners.
- Requires effective affiliate management.
- Competition can lead to lower commissions.
7. Content Marketing
Content marketing involves creating assets that answer specific questions in a user’s mind.
Your content might include:
- Online tutorials
Your content marketing strategy and efforts should be geared towards providing high-quality content and relevant resources to your audience. You don’t want your content to feel like an advertisement. Instead, help people solve their problems and make decisions as they experience your brand.
- Builds brand authority and trust.
- Provides long-term value through evergreen content.
- Takes time to see significant ROI.
- Requires consistent content creation and promotion.
8. Mobile Marketing
Mobile marketing targets users on their smartphones and tablets, utilizing tactics such as:
- Mobile apps
- SMS marketing
- Location-based services
It engages with audiences where they spend a significant portion of their online time. It offers the advantage of reaching users on the go and is highly personalized.
- Effective in reaching users in real-time.
- High potential for personalization and targeting.
- Requires optimization for various mobile devices and platforms.
- Intrusive mobile ads can lead to user annoyance.
9. Viral Marketing
Viral marketing leverages social media sites, sharing and word-of-mouth to quickly spread a marketing message or content across the internet. It relies on the audience’s enthusiasm and interest in sharing content within their social networks.
- Can generate massive exposure and brand awareness rapidly.
- Often cost-effective as it relies on organic sharing.
- Difficult to predict or control virality.
- Content may not always align with the brand’s image or goals when shared widely.
Why is digital marketing important?
There are many reasons to move toward digital marketing. It is a more affordable way to reach a wider audience and directly engage with them. You can also gather valuable insights from digital marketing campaigns so you can make better decisions.
Let’s dig deeper to understand why and how digital marketing works.
1. Minimize advertising costs
The high cost of traditional marketing is a challenge for small businesses. And, you always have to compete with large businesses for ad space.
Digital marketing can be a small business savior. Read on to learn how digital marketing works to help minimize marketing expenses and reach a larger audience.
2. Reach a larger audience
Digital marketing defies the limitations of your physical location — you can reach more people wherever they are. Connect with people across the world and on-the-go when potential consumers use their mobile devices to access the web.
3. Target your ideal customers
Traditional marketing strategies like radio advertisements and billboards can be a leap in the dark. You might have a specific audience in mind, but you don’t know whether those marketing mediums reach them or not.
Digital marketing makes it easier to ensure you reach the right people for your content. With search engine optimization (SEO), you can connect with clients that are purposely searching for what you have to offer. Similarly, pay-per-click and social media strategies empower you to target the type of consumer who will be interested in your products and services.
4. Get important insight into your marketing campaign efforts
Because of its digital nature, it’s much easier to assess whether the type of digital marketing you’re using is working or not. You can see how many website visitors you get, what content they view most, and how long they spend on specific pages. You use the information to adjust your campaign and enhance future marketing efforts.
Proper digital marketing analysis will also help you allocate resources and budget. This reduces unnecessary expenses and keeps you focused on the strategies that get the best results.
5. Offer clients an effective customer engagement platform
With digital marketing, not only can you reach the customers who are most likely to be interested in your products or services, but you can also get their feedback. Have a real-time one-on-one conversation and gain valuable insight into your brand. This a privilege you won’t get from traditional marketing methods.
What does a digital marketer do?
Whether you decide to hire an SEO agency, PPC agency, or hire an internal digital marketing team, it’s important to know what happens behind the scenes. The basic role of a digital marketer is to generate leads and build brand recognition using various types of digital marketing strategies, including:
- Social media
- Online advertisements
- Email marketing
A digital marketer should understand how digital marketing works across the digital channels they are using. Let’s explore some of the topics digital marketers need to understand.
1. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
It’s important to have a deep understanding of how search engine marketing (SEM) works. You also need to be fluent in SEO best practices to maximize your different types of online marketing efforts.
2. Content Marketing
Online marketing is virtually impossible without valuable content. A digital marketer should understand all aspects of online media and why high-quality content is important to successful marketing campaigns.
Digital marketers ensure virtual content is truly useful and relevant to solve your customers’ issues. Don’t forget: SEO engines rank better quality webpages and information higher in the SERPs.
3. Data Analysis
It is crucial that digital marketers not only understand how to generate and gather data but also how to analyze and use the information. Base your decisions on consumer behavior and you’ll make better choices on website optimization, attracting new customers, and retaining current customers.
4. Digital Technologies
A digital marketer must understand how to use various aspects of technology in marketing. They should also stay informed about the latest changes and adapt quickly to new standards.
Skills with content management systems (CMS), coding, and an assortment of digital marketing tools and services can make a digital marketer especially well-suited for their job.
5. Basic Video Editing
Apart from improving your rank on Google’s SERPs, videos can improve user engagement. A solid understanding of how to edit and write video scripts is crucial.
What businesses does digital marketing work for?
The type of digital marketing you use will depend on whether your target audience is a business or an individual consumer. Regardless of the target customer, you can use various digital marketing tactics to market your brand.
B2B digital marketing means a business markets its products and services to other businesses. You’re dealing with individuals making a purchase for their organization rather than their own consumption. When software as a service (SaaS) companies sell software to other businesses it’s an example of how digital marketing works for B2B organizations.
B2C marketing promotes products or services for personal use. This strategy also focuses on driving traffic to your website, generating leads and converting them into customers. An example of this type of digital marketing is an online store that sells men’s and women’s shoes.
Getting started with digital marketing
You’re probably wondering where to begin and how you are going to become a fabulous digital marketer. There is no fixed way to start digital marketing — you must be flexible and innovative.
But here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Set goals: Have an end in mind. What do you want to accomplish with your digital marketing strategy?
- Identify your target customer: Customize your content to various target audiences. Your target audience could differ with age, gender, or interests.
- Determine a marketing budget: Figure out how much money you intend to spend on your digital marketing.
- Create and optimize your content: Develop content for the specific channel you’re going to use. Whether it’s a PPC ad or social media post the content should be relevant and engaging.
- Optimize your digital marketing assets for mobile devices: Adopt a mobile-first strategy, especially if you’re a B2C marketer. Figure out how to optimize your website for mobile devices.
- Do keyword research: Without keyword research, it’s hard for search engines to find your business.
- Revise your strategies if necessary: If you’re already using digital marketing channels, think of areas that could need adjustments.
Final thoughts: Types of digital marketing and how digital marketing works
You now know how digital marketing works. It’s an inexpensive, wide-reaching way to engage potential customers with your brand and eventually make them your repeat customers.
You can use many different types of digital marketing channels, including PPC campaigns, emails, and SEO. These are excellent ways to reach a lot of people on a small budget. You can also get real-time results that help you make better decisions for your business. However, the very first step to a successful digital marketing campaign is obtaining a reliable website host.
Common questions regarding digital marketing
In 2023, the digital marketing landscape is increasingly pivoting towards immersive experiences like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) advertising. There’s a growing emphasis on data privacy, with more brands leveraging first-party data. Additionally, conversational marketing through chatbots and AI-driven customer interactions continues to rise, while sustainability and social responsibility messaging resonate more with consumers.
Consider platforms like HubSpot for inbound marketing, SEMrush for SEO and competitor analysis, Hootsuite or Buffer for social media management, and Google Analytics for detailed website analytics. Email marketing platforms like Mailchimp or ConvertKit remain crucial, and CRM systems like Salesforce provide comprehensive customer relationship management solutions.
To select the best channels, first, understand your target audience’s online behavior and preferences. Conduct thorough market research, competitor analysis, and audience segmentation. Consider factors like demographic information, online behavior, and preferred platforms. It’s essential to test, analyze, and iterate to find the most effective channels for your niche.
Voice search is steadily gaining traction, driven by the proliferation of smart speakers and voice-activated assistants. As people become more comfortable using voice commands, brands will need to optimize for conversational queries and consider voice search in their SEO strategies, anticipating a more seamless and integrated user experience.
To optimize your web page for AI and SGE, focus on natural language and question-based queries. Ensure your website loads quickly and is mobile-friendly. Develop FAQ sections addressing common queries in your industry. Implement structured data markup to enhance search engine understanding, and aim for featured snippets by providing concise, authoritative answers to common questions.
To personalize content effectively, gather and analyze relevant customer data, ensuring you adhere to privacy regulations. Segment your audience based on behavior, demographics, or preferences. Utilize AI and machine learning for predictive analytics. Create dynamic content that adjusts based on user behavior and preferences. Lastly, test, measure, and refine your strategies regularly to ensure relevance and effectiveness.