• Marketing ,

What is Digital Marketing? A Guide for the Uninitiated

‘What is digital marketing!?’
If you’re a SME owner, scrolling through Google and muttering that question under your breath, then you have come to the right place!
Digital marketing has a rep for being expensive, flooded with jargon and more changeable than the Scottish weather. In reality, though, only the final point in that list is really true.
In this article, I’ll guide you through the world of digital marketing as I see it. I’m the newbie – fresh-faced and jargon-free, still worshipping at the YouTube channels of Brian Dean and Rand Fishkin.
Expect colloquialisms, gloriously basic analogies and a layman’s guide to why digital marketers do some of the odd things they do.
I might never get to the bottom of why our content marketers love cinnamon bagels so much, but you can be sure that we’ll finish up by understanding why they talk about PPC. A lot.
Ready? Here we go!
what is digital marketing: jump in!
Down there is the sea of Digital Marketing. And we’re about to jump in! Yay!

What is Digital Marketing?

Here’s the thing …
I secretly think that no one really knows. As long as the internet keeps growing and adapting, the parameters of what digital marketing is will never stop changing. So, now that we’ve got that important disclaimer out the way, we’ll start with the things we CAN know for sure.
In the simplest terms, you could describe digital marketing as marketing that involves a screen. If you’re using social media, a website or google adverts to get in touch with your prospective and existing customers, then you’re doing it. Hooray!
Technically, this definition also includes TV, but for now, we will stick to the internet-based media that lend themselves well to tried and tested digital marketing strategy.
The speed of online communication means that digital marketing campaigns win and fail fast. One huge advantage is the fact that you can measure the response to a digital marketing campaign in detail.
If you put a poster up on the subway, you can’t calculate exactly how many people have seen it. If you boost an ad on Facebook, you can find out how many have seen it, how many have clicked and even select your intended audience. Got a product with women aged 25-45 in mind? Then use your money only promoting it to them, and forget about sending it to the teenage boy crowd. Clever!
Your marketing campaigns will become research in their own right. You’re getting sales AND getting to know your client base. Simultaneously. Groovy! That’s digital marketing, baby.

What is your Digital Business Presence?

Got a Facebook or Twitter account for your business? Etsy page? Fully fledged website? Great!
Are they any good, though?
In order for any digital marketing campaign to be successful, it is essential that these platforms are at their best before a single email/tweet/ad can be sent.
No matter how wildly successful your campaign is, you won’t be able to make sales if prospective customers arrive and can’t find exactly what they are looking for straight away.
There are numerous things to consider when designing a website and online campaign:

Check out your competitors’ sites, make notes of sites with great usability that you really enjoyed interacting with, and have a think about what your dream site would really look like. Once you’ve found that lovely balance between aesthetics and practicality, you’re laughing (in a good, happy way).

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is another big umbrella within the vast umbrella of Digital Marketing, but every action taken towards SEO is essentially making your website nicer for Google to read, even when it’s raining (that was a pun) (sorry). A few examples of SEO practices include:

  • Creating site-maps
  • Link-building and Guest-posting
  • Improving site-loading times
  • Optimising content for mobile/tablet screens

And much more. This field of digital marketing will continue to change and adapt as long as the search engine algorithms continue to change. Ie, indefinitely!
For practical advice on SEO that you can start to implicate right now, check out our free SEO checklist for Scottish businesses.

Content Marketing

When asking ‘What is Digital Marketing?’, it’s only a matter of time before content marketing comes up. Here is a brief overview of what good content marketing can achieve:
Let’s say, for example, that you run Sunshine Bakery. You use a program such as Ahrefs and you discover the top 20 keywords for which your site ranks. This means that every time somebody searches those words, or combination of keywords, you appear relatively high in the search terms. Maybe you’re even on page one of Google.
You have a look through your list. You discover that you rank top or really high for:

  • ‘sunshine bakery’
  • ‘bakery on ____ street’
  • ‘bakery in _____’.

Brilliant! But not the best.
Why not?
These results shows us that most of the people coming to your site from Google already know about your business. Sure, the guy googling ‘bakery in ______’ might genuinely be looking for some bakery, ANY bakery and he doesn’t have yours in particular in mind. Just has an urgent need for baked goods, pronto. I can relate.
However, the other searches suggest that these users are not about to discover your business for the first time. Rather, they are looking for info on something they already know about. Now that’s all great news, but let’s have a look at how we can take it further!
How can we attract the new customers on Google?
Content marketing. Surprise!  
Content marketing works by anticipating which keywords potential new customers, who have never heard of Sunshine Bakery before, are likely to type into Google. Things like:

  • ‘gluten free bakery’
  • ‘victoria sponge cake’
  • ‘organic bread’
  • ‘birthday cake’

We’ll use a combination of common sense, evil genius, and serious sifting through some big data to find those cheeky little related keywords which bring big business.
Then, we will make sure that your site starts ranking for your keywords, by writing fabulous content and building up Sunshine Bakery’s brand identity to include these important little phrases.
This will help people find you. Soon, you will be welcoming all those who don’t yet realise that your business is fabulous and just what they have been looking for.

Pay per Click Marketing (PPC)

PPC involves paying for ad placement at the top of the search engine results, and if you do this with Google Adwords, you will only pay for that placement once someone clicks on your ads.
At the end of the day, PPC works like an auction. Your bid, and your ad ranking, will help you get to the coveted spot at the top of Google for the keywords that you really want to rank for. This means that the top spot won’t necessarily go to the highest bidder. It will go to the site which Google thinks is going to be the best fit for the search enquiry it is dealing with.
All this happens in a matter of milliseconds. It’s like the dramatic Antiques Roadshow auction, but super fast. Imagine that the antiques experts were racing in Ferraris, rather than that cute little vintage car they drive around in the opening credits.
But, if we’re sticking with the feeble but fun Antiques Roadshow analogy, then it’s important to note that PPC needs more than just a quick win at auction to be successful.
If your fabulous 1920s loo roll holder attracts lots of attention at auction (ie, your adwords ad wins the click on the search) but then falls apart once the delighted winner gets it home (ie the user clicks on your ad and doesn’t see exactly what they are looking for straight away), then you are throwing your adwords budget down a big, old drain. Fiona Bruce is sad, we’re sad, and the potential client is a speck in the distance.
Don’t even ask about the state of the 1920s loo roll holder.
PPC only works successfully if you are taking the time to improve your website, too. If someone clicks through but can’t find what they need and gives up, you’ve just lost out on paying for an ad that couldn’t deliver.

Social Media Marketing

Your social media pages are an important part of brand identity. They give your customers, and prospective customers, the chance to communicate with you directly, and publicly.
A cool head and careful proofreading are key when responding to customer comments, especially complaints, on a public platform. The way you deal with these things can help to build up trust and confidence in your business, even when things seem to have gone wrong.
Social media also offers ways of running campaigns to help new customers find you. Native advertising is an example of this – it refers to situations where advertising is contained alongside non-advertorial content and the two share similarities. When you boost your Facebook posts or Instagrams to reach a wider audience, you are carrying out digital marketing.
There are tactics here, too. We want big visuals, shareable and engaging content and a puppy picture won’t go amiss depending on your industry.

Email Marketing

One of the more straight-forward tactics of the lot, email marketing, is getting more and more difficult. The reason why? Big data, small impact.
How many unread emails do you currently have in your inbox? How many times do you clear out your ‘promotions’ tab on Gmail without so much as glancing at a subject line? Have you ever googled ‘how do i direct all emails directly into the bin, thanks’ at busy times?
Just us?
Okay. Moving swiftly on!
As open-rates on email marketing campaigns get lower and lower, your marketing needs to get cleverer. This is already changing, as personalisation comes to the top of the latest marketing ideas. If you can send people emails that are proven to contain information of interest, then your emails will be opened, and your customers will be intrigued. Nay, delighted!

Affiliate Marketing

We now live in a world where blogging, instagramming and ‘influencing’ are full-time jobs. Love it or loathe it, it’s a fact, and the bloggers are making the big bucks and hitting the big traffic.
Affiliate marketing means getting your product or service recommended on a popular, trusted site, and paying the host site each time they direct someone to make a sale.
You can also give free samples or trials to bloggers in return for a review. A positive referral is worth its weight in gold: there is so much choice out there that most blogger opinions are fairly well respected.
No matter what your industry is, there will be an expert, a thought leader, a source of wisdom. And if you can align yourself with their gospel (blog, vlog, Twitter, etc), then that’s digital marketing.

Well, thanks for staying with me! I hope you’ve enjoyed this whirlwind tour around the various parts of a digital marketing campaign. Got comments, questions, or thoughts? Please get in touch, we can’t wait to hear from you.

Sidse Sorensen
Digital Marketing Coordinator

With experience in tech, startup and the public sector, Sidse brings an unbelievable wealth of talent to the marketing team at Digital Impact. Sidse heads up the internal marketing team at Digital Impact and writes for a wide range of clients and niches.

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