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What is Digital Marketing? A Guide for Beginners

what is digital marketing

Marketing is about attracting attention and having people recognize your brand, which means they buy your goods or services. Traditional marketing has existed for as long as people have bought and sold things.

But today’s marketing requires an understanding of the digital world because more people are online than ever, and that shows no signs of slowing down. This article answers the question, “What is digital marketing?” We will define digital marketing and explore the various types of digital marketing, the benefits, methods, and examples.

So, What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing consists of all marketing efforts that use digital technology, such as smartphones, personal computers, televisions, and tablets. Although digital marketing, online marketing, and Internet marketing are often used interchangeably, digital marketing isn’t limited to the Internet. In contrast, the Internet and online marketing rely on the Internet to communicate their message.

You could say that Internet marketing is a sub-group of digital marketing, but not vice versa.

However, suppose we’re using digital marketing to refer to Internet marketing. In that case, we should add digital marketing covers the creation and dissemination of content via digital media channels such as e-mail, landing pages, websites, social media, and mobile applications, and promoting that content with an assortment of strategies across earned, paid, or owned digital channels, including content syndication, e-mail, SEO, SEM, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social, text, and others.

So, when you’re asked, “What is online marketing?” you can safely and accurately reply, “It’s a form of digital marketing.”

But remember, these terms are often used interchangeably. Someone who knows what Internet marketing is can assume that digital marketing is the same thing, while someone else insists that these are separate entities. When discussing these topics, note the context.

Let’s look now at the types of digital marketing.

Types of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing manifests itself in many forms. Here’s a rundown of the common types of digital marketing to better help answer the question: what is digital marketing?.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This often-used digital marketing strategy optimizes your website to show up or “rank” higher on a search engine results page (SERP), thereby ideally increasing the amount of free (or organic) traffic the website receives. This strategy relies on the idea that most people using a search engine typically only look at the first page of the search results and, even further, only look at the first few results, starting at the top of the SERP. The digital channels most benefit from SEO include websites, blogs, and infographics.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

This approach is different from SEO. SEM services like Google Ads and Bing Ads place paid advertisements onto search engines, seamlessly fitting in with search results.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the easiest, most cost-effective digital advertising methods. Unfortunately, it also gets deleted from many people’s inboxes without ever getting opened! Businesses use e-mail marketing to communicate with customers and people who signed up for their mailing lists. Typical email content includes:

  • Blog subscription newsletters
  • Customer welcome e-mails
  • Follow-up e-mails to website visitors
  • Holiday promotions to loyalty program members

Content Marketing

Content marketing covers creating and promoting content assets to generate brand awareness, customers, traffic growth, and lead generation. Content marketing attracts customers using quality content such as:

  • Blog posts
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Newsletters
  • Video or audio content
  • White papers

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing drives traffic and brand awareness by engaging people in discussions on social media channels. These channels include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat

Social media marketing relies on audience participation and is a reliable way of attracting attention to a company’s brand. Digital marketers use viral campaigns on social media channels to partner with popular content creators or dovetail into a current hot trend as part of a larger online marketing strategy.

Affiliate or Influencer Marketing

Affiliate marketing lets a third party make money by promoting the company that’s doing the marketing. The affiliated company or individual influencer typically reviews the advertised product or service. This marketing type work as a revenue-sharing model. The affiliate gets a commission whenever the customer buys the promoted item, and the merchant pays the affiliate for every sale the latter helps the company make. Influencers typically have large followings, so the business gets a built-in audience.

Pay-Per-Click (or PPC) Advertising

Pay-per-click is a form of digital marketing where the advertiser pays a set fee every time a visitor clicks on their digital ad. So, rather than paying a fixed amount to run targeted ads on an online channel constantly, the advertiser only pays for the ads that people actually interact with. Google Ads is one of the most common types of PPC, letting businesses pay for the top slots on Google’s search engine results pages (or SERP) at a price “per click” of the placed links. Algorithms prioritize the available ads based on a series of factors, including:

  • Ad Quality
  • Bid Amount
  • Keyword relevance
  • Landing page quality

Then, the PPC ads are placed at the top of the search engine result pages based on the above factors whenever conducting a specific search.

Instant Messaging Marketing

Instant messaging is a trendy means of communication, so why not take advantage of it for marketing purposes? Businesses can send messages directly to mobiles phone via text or on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Instant message marketing is a fast and easy way to inform the audience about flash sales, new product releases, or the status of their current orders.

Native Advertising

Native advertising involves mainly content-led advertisements that are typically featured alongside other, non-paid content. It’s a way to get people to read ads without realizing they’re doing so, blending the ad with entertaining content.

Marketing Automation

This digital marketing strategy uses software to automate basic marketing operations such as sending emails, tracking and reporting campaigns, or scheduling social media posts.

Online PR

Many organizations and businesses have a Public Relations department. This form of digital marketing takes the tasks generally assigned to the PR department and simply applies them to the Internet. These activities include media outreach, engaging with comments left on the organization’s website, and engaging with reviewers.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing involves attracting, engaging, and entertaining prospective customers at every point in the buyer’s journey. Digital marketers incorporate most of the digital marketing types in this list into an inbound marketing strategy to create a customer experience that works with the customer instead of opposing them. Inbound marketing strategy uses video marketing, e-mail contact lists, and blogging instead of traditional commercial advertising, e-mail spam, or pop-up ads.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content involves paying a third party to create and promote content highlighting the business services, products, or brand. This tactic commonly uses blog posts or articles to achieve this end.

Now that we have a good idea of what forms of digital marketing are available today, let’s look at the advantages of digital marketing.

What Are the Benefits of Digital Marketing?

The digital revolution has changed how we do many things today, including how we market our goods and services. The benefits of digital marketing are wide-ranging and include the following:

  • It’s easy to scale. Digital marketers can increase or decrease their efforts depending on the need. Additionally, marketers can better focus their efforts on their preferred audience and avoid demographic groups with little to no interest in the business’s goods or services. Also, digital marketing resources are easier to personalize, increasing the chance of successful conversions.
  • It’s cost-effective. This advantage relates to scalability. Digital outreach is cheaper than traditional methods, and the scalability means that digital marketers don’t have to pay for resources they don’t use.
  • It gives businesses a direct line to engage with their customers. Digital technology allows marketers to communicate with their customers in real-time and vice-versa.
  • It quickly and transparently measures and analyzes results. One of the primary benefits of digital technology is that it’s fast and, in many instances, instantaneous. As a result, marketers can get an accurate measure of their digital campaign’s success quickly. Thus, they can react to the results and make course corrections faster.
  • It offers a convenient avenue for marketers to learn from their customers, the market, and the competition. In addition, digital technology puts rapid outreach into the hands of businesses and clients, enabling the former to learn and grow.
  • It levels the playing field. Since digital resources are relatively inexpensive, small to medium businesses can have access to the same powerful tools as the big guys enjoy. A solitary entrepreneur working out of their garage can reach the same number of people as the mega-corporation headquartered in a giant skyscraper.

What is Internet Marketing: How to Create a Digital Marketing Campaign

So you’re convinced of digital marketing’s effectiveness and want to launch a digital marketing campaign. Where do you even start? Here’s how.

  • Define your campaign’s goals. For example, are you trying to increase your customer base? Or do you want to boost brand awareness? Or it’s straightforward, boosting the sales of a particular product or service.
  • Identify the target audience. Who is the product or service aimed at? The digital marketing methods you choose will depend heavily on who the audience is.
  • Establish the budget for each digital channel you will use. Digital marketing may be cheaper than traditional advertising but it still costs something. Your budget will depend on which digital media you use. For instance, e-mail marketing is inexpensive. However, pay-per-click can be pricey if you’re obliged to make high bids.
  • Strike a sound balance between paid and free digital resources. You can build up your organic (read: free) outreach using social media, SEO, and certain forms of content marketing. However, your digital campaign should incorporate these resources with paid advertising forms.
  • Create engaging content. This step covers videos, blog posts, PPC ads, emails, newsletters, and more. Remember, you must keep your audience engaged, interested, and entertained. That gets you clicks, and those clicks can become leads.
  • Optimize digital assets for mobile users. Doesn’t it seem like everyone’s on their phone in public these days? Mobile usage has skyrocketed, so if you want your marketing campaign to reach the most people, you must optimize your efforts for smartphone users.
  • Conduct keyword research. The right keywords will get search engine users onto your pages, so conduct keyword research and create a list of high-performing keywords that relate to your business’s products and services. Remember that there are likely many other businesses like yours, so you must incorporate a sound SEO strategy to ensure your enterprise stands out. As a result, it appears higher on search engine results pages (SERP).
  • Adjust based on the resulting measured analytics. Once you have your long-term marketing campaign, you must consider the resulting analytics. Are your pages getting more visits? Are some pages underperforming? Your marketing team must be able to pivot based on what the analytics tell you. This effort keeps your marketing campaigns fresh and compelling.

What is Digital Marketing and Does It Work for All Businesses?

In a word, yes.

It doesn’t matter what your company sells, how big it is, or what business you run. Digital marketing is flexibile, scalable, and customizable to fit any business strategy and budget.

However, not every digital marketing strategy suits every business. It depends on the organization. Also, some companies are business-to-business (B2B), which means their marketers must focus on generating leads online and focus efforts on business-focused channels. On the other hand, business-to-consumer (B2C) companies sell to consumers, focusing less on lead building and more on customer outreach and delivering a pleasant user experience.

Would You Like a Future in Digital Marketing?

Now that we’ve answered the question “What is digital marketing?”, here’s a new question: Does a digital marketing career interest you? The UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Business Management offers a comprehensive online digital marketing bootcamp that will give you the skills you need to get your digital marketing career going in just six months. You will learn through live online classes, masterclasses from UMass Amherst faculty, hands-on projects in integrated labs, and more.

According to Glassdoor.com, digital marketing professionals in the United States can make an average of $58,351 annually. So, don’t delay. Instead, sign up for this valuable and informative bootcamp today and start a fun and lucrative career in a fast-growing industry.

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