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An introduction to Digital Marketing

07 May 2013

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Updated: 15th December 2016

We live in a super-connected world these days and as such, advertising and marketing are no longer the same animals they once were. This is especially true due to the rise of social media, which has changed how businesses communicate with potential and existing clients.

So what exactly is digital marketing and what does it encompass? Basically, it’s a collective term which is used where marketing meets internet technology and other forms of new media.

Digital Marketing includes:

Social media marketing

  • Social media marketing: this has risen hugely in popularity and there are now countless dedicated agencies scattered around the web which promise to help with it. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn are all examples of social networks which can be used as a part of your marketing efforts, although they are far from the only ones.

Social media marketing allows two-way communication between a company and consumer in a way that wasn’t previously seen and it’s safe to say that it has changed business approach to marketing as now, the consumer holds the power.

It’s also based on one of the most effective forms of advertising; word of mouth.

Social media means that communication can be a lot more targeted and personalised than other forms of marketing, as companies get the chance to receive feedback from customers daily.

It’s also useful for making content ‘go viral’, something which can help to strengthen a brand very quickly. It’s brand personality that makes social work so well, as if this is done correctly, across the board, then it can boost engagement considerably.

Search Engine Optimisation

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): is a means of optimising the content of a website in order to gain better placement on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPS). A variety of techniques are employed to achieve this and it’s not a job for amateurs really as there are many pitfalls that could have Google frowning on your site.

SEO includes:

  • Keyword research and usage, on-page and off (within HTML)
  • Link building /outreach blogging
  • Content delivery
  • Site structure
  • Analytics

This is not an exhaustive list, but it does give an indication of how much work is necessary in order to optimise a site.

What is SEO

Search Engine Marketing

  • Search Engine marketing (SEM): is similar to, but incorporates, SEO and uses many of the same techniques as a part of that. The main difference between the two terms is that SEM also includes paid online advertising models, such as pay-per-click (PPC).

PPC advertising models are those such as Google Adwords and Bing, which only require payment when the ad is clicked through to the target website. SEM also requires keyword analysis as the words and phrases used in the ad and site and these need to be monitored carefully to reflect the market and current search engine rules.

Whilst it can be said that SEM encompasses all kinds of digital marketing, it’s more commonly thought of in a narrower niche, to describe paid models.

Email Marketing

  • Email marketing: remains a very effective tool, despite claims that it isn’t as important as social these days. Modern email marketing is just beginning to evolve so that it can be linked to a database in order to personalise it, so that individual groups of customers can be sent mail based on previous purchases and interests.

Content Marketing

  • Content marketing: is a technique where content is produced and distributed with the intention of providing relevant, interesting content to attract and engage a particular audience that a business is targeting. The creation of useful content is a way of developing communication with the customer in order to drive engagement and customer action. Content can mean anything from blogs to videos and whitepapers tend to work well using content marketing techniques too. The goal is to win customer loyalty and retain it. Beyond this, it is important to consistently monitor and analyse the results from your efforts. Using this data-driven marketing approach to your content marketing will ensure you achieve the best results possible.

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Additional Channels

  • SMS marketing: is also highly effective and rising in popularity, due to the fact that many of us no longer go anywhere without our cell phones. This ‘always-on’ aspect means that when SMS marketing is used, it’s highly likely that the customer will at least read the text.
  • Video marketing/video infographics: is again becoming hugely popular and it’s likely that we’ll see an even bigger move in its direction this year as more and more businesses begin to recognise the potential it has. People take in more information when watching video and are more likely to engage, so it’s certainly worth looking at.

Whilst image-based infographics are already hugely popular, making these in the form of a series of frames for video is beginning to really take off in the digital marketing space too.

How digital marketing helps business

These days, it’s important to have a strong online presence, coupled with a great brand that is presented uniformly across all mediums. Digital marketing is an essential part of this for companies who want to utilise the power of the internet in order to boost business.

Taking a look at last year’s figures, let’s see what AdAge discovered when looking at the statistics:

  • 77% of people interact with brands on Facebook by looking at posts and updates
  • 17% share news and experiences with others about the brand
  • 13% post updates about brands they have connected with
  • 56% said they would recommend a brand after becoming a fan on Facebook
  • 34% of digital marketers have generated leads from Twitter
  • 43% of all consumers who are internet-connected use social

A business should always pay attention to where its customers are, and those who have customers on the net with a strong online presence are more likely to succeed. This is even true of local businesses, as with mobile has come location services, making it easy for mobile users to find a company who uses maps on social and its website.

Tried and tested or new media?

In short, both. Marketing is something that should be carried out on as many different mediums as a budget allows. Social media marketing is free, or you can opt to advertise and as such, it’s a valuable resource which shouldn’t be discounted.

As mentioned above, email and SMS certainly still have their place, as do TV, radio and newspaper ads. However, traditional ads such as those in papers or leaflets are no longer trusted by the consumer, so it’s worth concentrating efforts on the internet, SEO, PPC and social.

How can a CMS help?

A CMS is used to manage a website, intranet or portal. It can help to organise workflows to monitor marketing, provide insights into what’s working and what isn’t and help with content delivery and SEO. For the latter, this can be by suggesting keywords, checking readability scores, updating HTML headers across the board and adapting the same content for different devices.

I think you’ll agree that it’s necessary to ensure that the company website can be read on a variety of devices such as PCs, tablets and mobile to ensure a uniform experience and so that potential customers won’t leave due to a site not displaying properly.

Consumers are fickle and easily deterred from a badly performing site and this is something that CMS can help to automate so that the process isn’t long and laborious.

For eCommerce especially, a good CMS can handle orders, stock, online payments and vital aspects to the website, so the ROI can be substantial. This is true of both large and small enterprises, as modern technology has made CMS much more affordable and the advent of cloud computing has meant that a CMS can also be cloud-based and so paid for by licence, monthly.

Overall, digital marketing is an effective means of boosting sales in any industry. There are other means that can be utilised, such as in-app advertising for mobile and social, but these are the most common at the moment.

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