What Is Digital Marketing? What Exactly?
In an age of digitisation digital marketing encompasses a gamut of things from SEO, SEM, Email Marketing to Social media, Inbound so on and so forth.
So what exactly is ‘Digital Marketing’? In simple words as defined by Hubspot.
Digital marketing is an umbrella term for all of your online marketing efforts. Businesses leverage digital channels such as Google search, social media, email, and their websites to connect with their current and prospective customers.
Today, every industry has one or more digital assets. If you haven’t invested in digital yet, your business is as good as not existent. From entrepreneurs running a one-man business to big corporations everyone has one digital platform to showcase their products and services. Even as individuals we are branding and marketing ourselves day-in and day-out through our social media channels aren’t we?
For businesses it makes more sense than ever to not just build digital assets but also to invest and strategically market them.
So what can be your digital assets?
- Your website
- Social media channels - Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube etc.
- Assets you create for each of these assets - e-books, slideshare presentations, infographic, videos etc.
Why digital marketing is important?
So, now that you have built all these assets why you should look at marketing it. So, here is a simple analogy - consider you have opened a small cafe - will cooking delicious food will be enough? Won't you go tell about your cafe to friends and family first and then to others through may be pamphlets, hoardings etc. Or at best you would at least put a banner outside to let passers-by know that there is a cafe here. Same goes with your digital assets.
There are 3.4 Billion internet users globally, which is half the world’s population. We wouldn't be exaggerating if we say that almost more than half of your customer base is also a part of this vast digital universe.
Further, customers are more and more inclined to engage on digital medium than on traditional medium. Why is it important for businesses to invest in digital at this point of time?
- Today’s technology savvy customers are used to and expect customised interactions. Personalised communications, customised offers, reminders, relevant notifications are the basic kind of interactions they expect from brands. Digital marketing enables brands do this.
- People are engaging more and more with the digital medium - The amount of time adults spent with digital media in 2016 grew from the previous year, with average time increasing to 5.6 hours a day—up from 5.4 hours in 2015. Of that, mobile accounted for 3.1 hours (increasing from 2.8 in 2015) while desktops stayed flat at 2.2 hours. Other connected devices made up the remaining 0.4 hours.
- Prudent brands have already realised this and exactly why internet ad spends exceeded TV spends in 2016. Of the internet ad spending, Google and Facebook continued to take the lion’s share, accounting for 85 percent of all growth in the U.S. Last year, Google experienced 20 percent growth over its 2015 revenue, while Facebook grew by 62 percent. Clearly if you are not online, you are not even a part of the race.
- Digital Marketing helps you measure the exact ROI of your marketing efforts. So, marketers have to no longer go by their gut feelings before devising strategy, they have numbers on their side.
What all comes under digital marketing?
The universe of digital marketing is vast. Here are the 6 basic categories which completes this universe
1. Content Marketing/Inbound Marketing
‘Content is the king’, you might have heard this phrase a lot of time. In this digital age content is not only the king but also the sepoy on the front line as well.
Whatever be the platform quality content will help you win the digital marketing war. There are businesses which start with one channel and awesome content and still see success.
Content marketing and Inbound can be used interchangeably both referring to pull customers to your digital assets by offering them relevant, helpful and quality content.
According to Hubspot - Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing does not need to fight for potential customers attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, you attract qualified prospects and build trust and credibility for your business.
2. Search Engine Optimisation
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is an important part of any Digital Marketing Strategy. SEO is optimising your website content for it to rank on the first page of the SERP or Search Engine Ranking Page. In simple words if you have content make sure it shows up.
Why is digital marketing important?
The SERP shows two kinds of content when a visitor inputs a query - Organic and Paid ads. And, more than 94% of the all the clicks happen on the organic results.
1. Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing is Paid search are the sponsored ads which appear at the top of the Search Engine Page. (Add an image of the Google ads). The most used ad network is Google’s ad network. It is easy to set up you just need to have a Google Ad Sense account and set up the campaign for a particular keyword you would want to show up for. The amount you spend on the ads will depend on the fact that what kind of competition the keyword you have chosen has. But before you set up a paid search campaign you have to be sure that at least the basic SEO on your website/landing page (wherever you are want the visitor to reach after they click your ad) has been taken care of. This is because where your ad ranks will also depend on the quality of your domain and the quality score of your ad.
2. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is marketing of your social media channels and gaining visibility for your brand and/or acquiring leads through them. (Whatever might be the objective of your website). So while there are an umpteen number of social media channels out there, each one of them has a specific modus operandi and has to be dealt with accordingly.
Some basic tips to follow while creating a social media strategy are:
- Define an objective for your channels – building brand/ driving traffic to your website/ lead generation etc.
- Pick the channels which are suited to your business – don’t spread thin on each one of them.
- Plan your campaigns on a monthly or at best on a quarterly basis – social media is changing everyday so, don’t over plan. Create a social media content calendar which is in line with the content that is going on your website. These two are the 2 wheels of one vehicle; make sure they are in sync.
- There are innumerable metrics you can measure on social media, skip the ones which are not relevant to you. Choose the metrics to measure to gage the performance of your campaigns.
3. Email Marketing
Remember those days when you would get a post card telling you about the new store across the street or informing you about a new business that has opened in your city or an upcoming event etc. Email marketing is the digital format of those direct marketing communication, where house addresses are replaced by email addresses, and a generic communication replaced by a personalised one with an option to measure the success of your campaigns. However, there is one another very big difference –the best practices of email marketing say that you must NOT buy a email list and bombard unsuspecting recipients with the information about the new jazzy software/product/beverage your company developed.
These emails should be rightfully acquired through your website and social media channels through your content distribution and promotion efforts.
4. Mobile Marketing
By the year 2020 almost half of the planet’s population will own a smartphone. Obviously it is more important than ever for brands to have a mobile strategy in place. Whether you have an app or not you should use the medium to reach out to your customers through in-app advertising, Whatsapp for business etc.
How to set up a successful digital marketing process:
As we have seen that Digital Marketing has innumerable facets. So how do one starts with creating a strategy which drives results? Here are some basic businesses can follow to create a successful digital marketing strategy.
1) Define objective
Like any business/marketing plan of you start without defining the objective of your digital marketing strategy, you are bound to reach nowhere.
So answer this: What is it that I want to achieve through my digital marketing platform? The answers can lie anywhere in from brand visibility, awareness, generating leads etc. Whatever is your mission statement, it should be in line with your business’s larger marketing plan.
For most businesses (largely B2C) digital marketing gets a step motherly treatment. While all the love and attention is showered on the ATL and BTL channels, digital marketing is often implemented as an afterthought. In this digital age undermining the power of digital is the gravest mistake any marketer can make.
2) Set your key performance indicators
Once you have the objective ready, set the how will you rate the success of your strategy. It can be MQLs you will achieve or the sales you will achieve (if you are an e-commerce business) or can be the number of visitors you will drive on a website (this can be the case for news publishing site or a blog etc.) For setting your KPIs also keep in mind the below basic tips:
- Start by understanding what are the metrics that matter for business and business goals.
- Be realistic – don’t over commit and under deliver.
- Identify how you will measure your KPIs- you may choose to use tools like Google analytics for website, BuzzSumo for social media etc. Or you could also choose to have a overall marketing automation tool.
3) Learn from the past
If you are not setting up a digital marketing plan for the first time. You must keep a track of your earlier campaigns and performance. Then decide, whether you need to alter some parameters. You can then also measure YoY of MoM performance- that is up to your business requirement. If you are in a business where numbers change every fortnight, you would want to do a monthly comparison. If you are using Google Analytics you can use the Google’s benchmarking option to see those results on your dashboard. And, most importantly if keep a track of your competitors. SEMrush can help you do that easily. For new businesses it will also help them in setting a benchmark to follow.
4) Understand your audience and communicate in their language
For any marketing strategy understanding your target audience is the most important step, and the same goes for digital marketing as well. Imagine trying to give a motivating speech in Chinese to a group of people who understand only French. Either your audience will walk away or they will be drowsing on their seats, if you are really lucky you might get some nods from listeners just for courtesy sake. If you don’t understand your audience this is what that will happen with your digital marketing plan as well.
Here are some basic tips you can follow to understand your audience
- Start with basics – know their demographics – age, gender, location, economic stability etc.
- Understand their psychographics – their needs, what motivates them etc.
- Based on the information above create a buyer’s persona.
- You can use Google Analytic’s audience report to understand your audience better.
5) Identify how much total budget and how much of that will you be able to spend on digital marketing
Finalising on a budget will help you to exactly identify and prioritise your digital marketing activities. Would you need an automation tool or Google Analytics in enough? Will you spend on sponsored posts on social media or on Google Ad network? How much will you spend on you social media sponsored campaigns? Will you be able to hold contests and offer give-aways etc. all these questions will be answered only when you have a proper understanding of the budget you have.
6) Most importantly – make a flexible plan
The world of digital marketing changes every day. So when you make a plan try to make short term plans to achieve long term goals. The best thing about digital marketing is that whichever asset your customer visits they leave their footsteps. So, you can always augment and course correct your plan and you should.
Below are some tips for creating a digital marketing plan.
- Create a calendar – it can be monthly/quarterly/yearly basis your business objective.
- Identify the key campaigns you will be executing.
- Create a execution strategy for your digital channels.
Some common questions entrepreneurs/marketers ask before starting their digital marketing journey.
Does Digital Marketing Work for All Businesses? B2B and B2C?
There is no doubt whether digital marketing is required for every business whether B2B or B2C. However, the approach will differ for each. First and foremost what is a B2B and B2C BUSINESS?
B2B or Business to Business company is when your end customer is an enterprise. For e.g. if you are selling a CRM software product to businesses, you are a B2B business.
B2C or Business to community marketing is when your end user is an individual. For e.g. FMCG or food tech enterprises are B2C businesses.
For B2B (Business to Business)
If your business is B2B, your digital marketing efforts will mostly aim to get in touch with the decision maker of the company it can be the CEO, CTO, CMO, Digital Manager, It Manager etc. depending upon what are you selling. Therefore your strategy will revolve around getting these prospects, nurturing them and handing over their details to sales team for further action.
For B2C (Business to Consumer)
If you are into a B2C business, your aim can either be to attract customers to your website for a purchase, getting more visibility for your brand or simply enhance your brand presence. If your goal is to get more customers you would most probably measure your performance on the basis of the number of final sales that took place through the digital marketing efforts. Also, your will also need to build an accelerated buyer’s journey – you will have clearly showcase your product, track the user journey on your website, have strong CTA’s etc.
What Kind of Content Should I Be Creating?
You should aim at creating content that is:
- Informational and engaging (atleast engaging)
- Relevant to your target audience.
- SEO friendly Shareable
- Platform specific
So to create the content with the qualities mentioned above you must take in to account the below:
- Who you're creating the content for? Your Audience?
- What problem is it going to solve in your TG’s life or how will it add value to them?
- Is it unique?
- The formats you'll focus on
- The channels where it will be published
- How you will schedule and manage creation and publication?
Most importantly do remember that each content piece you create should solve specific purpose in your customer’s life. Today’s customers are short on time and attention both so that should be kept into account.
Below are 7 steps that will help you create great quality content
- Define a goal.
- Build a buyer’s persona
- Audit your content – can you repurpose some content?
- Build a content management system – tools like hubspot help.
- Brainstorm more often on content ideas with your team
- Determine the kind of content you would create – blog posts, ebook, infographics, podcasts, etc.
- Have a content calendar in place.
How Long Does It Take to See Digital Marketing Results?
The best thing about digital marketing is that it is measurable. So, you can almost immediately see the results of your campaigns. Though paid campaigns will show results immediately, organic efforts takes time to show the results.
It takes a long term and consistent effort to build a successful digital marketing strategy and you must keep at it to see positive results.
According to the digital marketing guru Neil Patel ‘’ It can take three months to even begin seeing the results of those efforts.’’
So patience and persistence is the key when it comes to organic digital marketing efforts. But, if you are thinking you would rather go for paid campaigns and see results. That definitely is not the right way to go about it. Paid campaigns might show you some results but those will be short term and is your content game is not up to the mark you will see even those results diminishing over a period of time.
Here is how long it will take your paid and organic content efforts to show results
Paid Search Marketing
If you target the right keywords and bid competitive amount chances are you will see traffic rise almost immediately. However, to see long term effect you would have to do it continuously. And most importantly just investing money and doing the right keyword targeting will not make sure that your d shows up on top. Landing page will play a very important role in that.
Search Engine Marketing
Your SEO and paid search campaigns should be done hand in hand. While SEO is the backbone of your digital marketing efforts paid search will support it. An SEO campaign might take somewhere between 6-8 months to really show positive results, and you have to consistently keep up with the changing trends of the industry. Content marketing is an important part of your SEO initiatives.
Social Media Marketing
Social media might not give you leads immediately (of course that depends on the kind of campaign you are doing). However, it will boost your SEO efforts for sure. Most brands use social media as platforms to raise awareness. The number of followers you have can a be a great measurement on how your social media campaign is doing. However don’t buy followers it will only boost your ego and will not serve any real purpose. If you use it actively and generate engaging content there are less chances that your social media account will not get followers.
Do I Need a Big Budget for Digital Marketing?
How much should you spend on digital marketing? This remains a difficult question to answer for most marketers.
However, with digital marketing you can actually start with your unpaid efforts with zero-budget. Further, it really depends on the elements you choose for your digital media plan.
If you already have a website you can set up your digital marketing channels without any investing anything much like your personal social media accounts or a blog etc.
If your approach majorly encompasses inbound marketing then the good news is you can focus on creating awesome content first, if you are not planning to outsource the work you would only have to invest time behind it.
For paid campaigns of course you would need to spend some money, but you can always pause a campaign if it is not working so that you don’t end up spending the entire money and then realise that the campaign did not work, unlike the traditional media.
Probably the reason why this year the internet marketing spends exceeded TV spends.
For easing out the confusion let’s see what are the industry trends when it comes to digital marketing
We can see spends on Email marketing, Social media and Paid search are seeing the highest interest. However, the above chart may be good for your reference you would have to distribute these spends according to your business spends.
For e.g. even though Facebook sees maximum investments when it comes to social media, you might find LinkedIN though in the expensive side works for you better.
According to an emarketer survey Facebook is expected to continue its reign as king, with 90% of social media users utilizing in the platform. Instagram is expected to grow, from 32% penetration to 47% by 2020. Pinterest and Twitter will continue to have relatively low penetration, peaking at around 33% of users by 2020.
Does that mean you should invest in each of these? The answer is yes and no both. If you think all these platforms are beneficial, are in line with your business, and you have deep pockets go ahead. If not then pick and choose what works best for you and work accordingly.
So does that mean businesses are not spending on traditional medium at all? Of course not. According to the emarketer survey mentioned above marketers plan to spend 40% of their total marketing budget on digital media.
So, whether you are big multinational, start-up, there is no way that you could not be on the digital platform if you want to succeed. And, for that the first and most important is choosing a partner who would make your digital marketing ambition a reality.