There’s a lot of talk about digital marketing right now, and you’ve probably used the term yourself, but what is it, exactly, and how can it help you grow your business?
It’s helpful first to distinguish between traditional marketing and digital marketing.
Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing
At their core, they’re both marketing: the act of moving goods and services from the producer to the consumer, and it can encompass all stages of the process including market research, product conception, advertising/messaging, product delivery and post-purchase activities such as reviews and referrals.
Before there was digital marketing, there was only one kind of marketing – what we now call traditional marketing.
But with the advent of the internet, the new methods for marketing necessitated a way to distinguish those methods that use the internet and its associated electronic devices and those which do not, and that is the defining difference between the two:
Traditional Marketing uses conventional methods such as printed materials, broadcast (television and radio), postal mail and telephone calls.
Digital Marketing uses online approaches in a variety of forms, such as websites, email, text messages, social media, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, referral marketing and sophisticated automation and tracking.
But wait, there’s more…
Digital marketing not only uses these various online techniques, it uses them together to create an interconnected process of engaging, tracking, measuring and optimizing the consumer’s interaction with a particular brand or company.
So even though both types are ‘marketing,’ digital marketing takes marketing to a higher tier of effectiveness, providing opportunities to engage with consumers on their terms.
And that’s where things really get exciting, because digital marketing makes it possible to create relationships with those consumers, long before they become customers.
These relationships develop out of familiarity and trust and are built because you as the marketer are able to put yourself and your product and offer help where those consumers are spending their time online: participating on social media channels, using search engines, clicking ads, reading emails, browsing websites and watching videos.
Digital Marketing Helps Consumers Find You
In some cases, the consumer is actively looking for your product by using search engines. They may not know you exist yet, but by searching for a solution to a problem or an answer to a question they have, they learn you exist when your ‘digital assets’ appear in the search results.
These assets could be content marketing pieces such as blog posts, social media pages or posts, videos, infographics, reviews left by previous customers, downloadable resources or online tools such as quizzes.
By using paid ads within the search engines and by optimizing your website content for search, you can increase the likelihood that your ads and content will show up early in their search.
Digital Marketing Helps You Find Consumers
In other cases, consumers aren’t looking for you, but if you understand the persona of your ideal customer, you can look for them and ‘show up’ where they are.
Using the advertising capability of social media platforms, for example, you can target and offer helpful content to people who match the characteristics of your targeted prospects.
And it only gets better from there…
Once these consumers begin interacting with your digital assets, you can start identifying them, tracking their behavior and ‘showing up’ more frequently where they are spending time.
For example, they may give you their email address in exchange for a downloadable resource, or they may ‘like’ your page on Facebook.
From this point, you can use email marketing, retargeting, permission-based texting and phone calls, chat bots, video marketing, free offers, and a whole host of other ‘digital marketing’ tactics to build a trusting, help-based relationship with these consumers.
But you won’t be using these tactics blindly.
As Edwards Deming, Grandfather of the Lean Startup, said…
“In God we trust; all others must bring data”
One of the main strengths of digital marketing is the ability to measure the performance of your efforts across the channels you use.
You don’t have to guess whether your marketing is effective or profitable, because you can use KPIs or Key Performance Indicators to determine what is working and what is not.
These KPIs vary depending on what is important to you and the kind of marketing you are doing. They could be YouTube channel subscribers, email open and click rates, time spent on website pages, number of opt-ins on a landing page, likes or shares on social media posts, paid and organic traffic hits, mobile vs desktop views and of course, return on investment for all methods.
Based on the metrics you measure, you can constantly ‘course correct’ to create an ongoing, effective digital marketing strategy.
A Smart Way to Achieve Your Marketing Objectives
When used effectively, digital marketing is a smart way to achieve your marketing objectives by creating awareness of your product for your target market, establishing a trusting relationship with them, tracking their engagement with your brand, and then turning them into customers and raving fans.