When it comes to the success of any business, marketing is a critical component. By definition, marketing is the act of promoting, selling, or otherwise raising awareness of a brand, product, or service. Despite this clear-cut explanation, marketing is simply an umbrella term that encompasses a plethora of intricate processes and practices. In years past, a company’s marketing plan may have been as simple as mailing postcards to potential customers, running an ad on the radio, or filming a commercial.
Along with technological advances in society, however, the industry has expanded exponentially. Today, one of the most imperative pieces of any marketing strategy lies in digital marketing. While brick-and-mortar businesses, in particular, find themselves questioning: Is digital marketing important for my business? Experts in the field reply every time with an astounding, assured: yes!
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is a component of marketing that pertains strictly to digital avenues like social media, mobile marketing, websites, search engines, and other online platforms to promote brands, products, or services.
Why is Digital Marketing Important?
In the U.S. alone, there are a whopping 218.8 million digital buyers who regularly make purchases online. Without an effective digital marketing strategy in place, a business misses out on all of these potential purchases. Even brick-and-mortar businesses who question, “Is digital marketing important?” can take advantage of digital marketing opportunities like local SEO, which directs local buyers to their products or services through their smartphones.
Brand Building/Reputation Management
Every business has competitors who offer a similar service to consumers. A consumer choosing one business over another often amounts to matters like branding or reputation. A brand that creates a strong online persona stands out from the crowd, which resonates with buyers.
Likewise, online comments or bad reviews can be extremely detrimental to business. Being present online also allows businesses to manage their reputation by responding to negative reviews promptly. This aids in showing potential and existing customers that the brand is concerned with the customer experience.
Improved Visibility and Reach
Small or local businesses may question, “Is digital marketing important?” because they fail to understand the improved visibility and reach offered. For instance, in a small town, a business has limited opportunities to make a sale. Buyers must be within a limited distance to purchase in person. Online, the reach is global, and marketing methods are much more cost-effective.
Through a method known as SEO (search engine optimization), businesses can allow their websites to be found by anyone in the world who leans on a search engine for answers. Even those who do not wish to expand to e-commerce or provide services within a digital platform can benefit by increasing their online visibility. Local SEO, for example, is the process of optimizing a website for a local crowd. This means that if your business sells cookies, anyone within a nearby radius who is searching for cookies will see your business information when performing a search. It is also a helpful way to allow local visitors to find your address, contact information, and hours of operation.
Highly Targeted Marketing Campaigns
Advertising in the past allowed marketers to target a general demographic. For example, a business selling music products could advertise by running a spot on a jazz music radio station. Today’s digital marketing goes much further. In the online realm, marketers have access to a plethora of information regarding consumers. They can use information like their age, buying behaviors, interests, and location to cater to each campaign. This leads to a highly targeted marketing effort, which typically bolsters engagement.
Unlike traditional means of marketing with radio ads or flyers, businesses that use digital marketing are presented with the ability to continuously measure the success of their campaigns. This is done by tracking what is known in the field as “metrics”. These metrics include matters like website traffic, conversion, and engagement rates, along with overall revenue generated.
Additionally, digital marketing tools like Google Analytics and YouTube Analytics offer valuable insight into the behavior of customers. By combining all metrics and tools, strategies and budgets can be adjusted accordingly. All of this data is essential in determining the success of digital marketing efforts and allows business owners to make well-informed decisions.
How Much Will Digital Marketing Cost Your Business?
Digital marketing is surprisingly cost-effective when compared to more traditional means of marketing and advertising. Ultimately, the cost will depend on the type of digital marketing efforts used. Some efforts will have little to no cost, such as creating a business page on social media or claiming a business listing on company directories and review platforms. Others, such as PPC (pay-per-click), can be a substantial investment.
Digital marketing is highly customizable in terms of practices used and budget. Before beginning any digital marketing journey, it is important to set realistic goals and develop a budget. For some businesses, it may be helpful to hire a digital marketing agency to assist with this process, while others may opt to have existing employees handle the basics. In either scenario, be sure to track metrics and the return on your investment (ROI) so it is easy to understand which practices are successful for the business and which are not. Much of digital marketing is trial and error; however, being skilled in the arena is immensely helpful and saves money over time because you do not have to hire outside sources for digital marketing.
Types of Digital Marketing
The field of digital marketing is diverse and offers a plethora of options to businesses that are interested in improving their online marketing efforts. These include, but are not limited to::
Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of optimizing a website to align with the algorithms and recommendations of search engines. This means technically configuring the website as needed and creating content that contains carefully selected keywords and phrases. When done correctly, this drastically boosts website ranking on SERP (search engine results page). Because around 75 percent of searchers never navigate beyond the first page, this can drastically increase organic website traffic and, in turn, conversions and sales.
PPC is a form of advertising that allows businesses to place an ad on a search engine result page or a social media platform. Each time it is clicked, the business pays a fee. The fee varies widely based on the specific search terms targeted.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing is a practice that involves sharing optimized content or advertisements through various social media platforms. This is more complicated than simply posting on social media and hoping for the best. It utilizes research on the target audience and relies on analytical data. It can also include the use of social media influencers.
Email marketing is also referred to as “email blasts” in the industry. You likely receive several of these in your inbox daily. Newsletters, special offers, updates, and sales reminders sent directly to your inbox are examples of email marketing. While sending an email seems straightforward, it requires a data-driven approach, fantastic copywriting, and working knowledge of mailing lists and platforms like MailChimp or Constant Contact.
Content can take many different forms, from blog posts and infographics to videos. Content marketing is the act of creating content to curate an interest in a brand, service, or product. Despite this, it is not obviously promotional and aims to inform and educate or entertain an audience. It helps engage with target audiences and deepen brand loyalty.
Affiliate marketing is an arrangement between parties where a business pays an external source (such as another website) for promoting its brand. product, or services. Those who do the promotional work receive a percentage of the profit made through referrals.
Many organizations do not rely solely on just one method but aim to create a unique blend of digital marketing efforts that fall in line with their particular goals or needs.
Why is Digital Marketing Important for Business?
Digital marketing is important for businesses because it provides them with opportunities that would otherwise be missed. This not only aids in improving profit margins but spreads awareness about the brand, allowing the business to expand global reach, manage its reputation, and reach out to its target audiences through its native use of the internet and various digital platforms.
Become a Digital Marketing Expert in Six Months
Now that you understand why digital marketing is so important, you might wonder how you can get into this exciting field. However, diving into digital marketing can be intimidating for those who have limited experience with the terminology and tools of the trade. Despite this, understanding digital marketing campaigns, metrics, and the benefits of each process is an invaluable skill set in today’s digital landscape.
You can learn how to use tools like Ahrefs, YouTube Analytics, Semrush, Google Ads, social media platforms, and more in the UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management online Digital Marketing Bootcamp. This bootcamp offers six months of interactive, engaging lessons and real-world projects on everything from SEO and email marketing to social media marketing to prepare participants for a rewarding career in digital marketing. Get started today!