I started blogging when I was in college. It was therapeutic and blogging back then was different than it is now. There was a community I became a part of, and I loved every minute of it.
About ten years later, I started a personal development blog with the intent of starting a business. It became crystal clear that the game had changed and I needed to change with the times.
Because I had a solid background in engineering, I was able to find the similarities between what I had experience in doing (software engineering) and the world of digital marketing. I dove in headfirst and learned everything I could. I ended up starting my own web design and brand strategy business and I couldn’t be happier. It all started with digital marketing and digital strategy.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is a huge part of any good business strategy these days. We don’t live in a brick and mortar only world anymore. In the post-pandemic economy, people are more entrenched in the online world than ever before.
Digital marketing is using technology and the Internet to put your services or products in front of your ideal clients and create brand awareness. There are a number of different pieces and areas of digital marketing so let’s break some of them down.
Your digital strategy can help you with your lead generation, brand awareness, and your overall marketing efforts. It can help you get in front of your ideal potential customer and grow your business.
Every business needs a solid digital marketing strategy in order to survive in an online world. There are no two ways about it. There are thousands of digital marketing tactics out there that can be used. It all needs to work together in a comprehensive marketing strategy.
The first thing that we’re going to talk about is email marketing. And what’s so special about email marketing is that you own it. It’s not something that an outside company controls, like Facebook for example.
I love my Facebook group for a lot of different reasons. . It’s just one of those things where I would love to hang out on Facebook all day and just market there. That would make me feel so happy.
But it’s not a good business decision. Let’s say tomorrow, Mark Zuckerberg decides to shut down Facebook. I don’t think that’s ever going to happen but there’s always a chance.
That being said, what is likely is that organic strategies that are working right now that a lot of people are depending on, could potentially go away and turn into paid opportunities. And this has already happened on Facebook.
So for example, Facebook Pages used to get amazing reach. Facebook made it against their terms to sell from a personal page. So businesses that wanted to play by the rules needed a Facebook page for their business.
These businesses would post to it multiple times a day. They got amazing organic reach. And there were entire companies whose only strategy was to have a Facebook business page. That was it. And they got burned. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen like that anymore.
You can certainly still use Facebook business pages. You should have a Facebook business page. Unfortunately, Facebook has become a pay to play marketing tactic.
In order for you to really get any reach, you have to spend money. Now for a business that’s not in a position to spend money, it’s a little bit more difficult. Organic reach on page posts is way down, leaving companies who use that as their strategy to pay for advertisements just to get seen.
When this change happened, a lot of businesses disappeared overnight. Their marketing plan didn’t take the advertisement costs into account and they couldn’t sustain it. Which brings me back to email marketing.
With email marketing, you have control over that. You own that list. And what I mean is that if I have your name and your email address, it doesn’t matter what platform I’m on. It doesn’t matter what the deal is. Basically, every single email provider, every single company, nearly the entire Internet needs to shut down for that email not to work anymore.
It’s just such a standard part of our Internet. It’s going to take a lot for people to not have email anymore.
Email is so important because you own that list. Now, does email get the highest open rates? No. Can you guarantee that you’re ending up in someone’s inbox? No, but you do own the list.
There are 3.9 billion daily email users. This number is expected to climb to 4.3 billion by 2023 (Statista, 2020). It is worth it to start building a list from day one.
The first step is always email because you own it.
Social Media Marketing
Next we have social media. These are platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok. Each one of these is a different marketing channel where you can attract more of your ideal clients and customers.
You’ll notice that Pinterest is not in there because Pinterest is not a social media platform and I will die on that hill.
Social media is such a key part of digital marketing because there is a social aspect of it. The social aspect cannot be understated because it has revolutionized the marketing world.
Before marketing hit the Internet, there would be traditional marketing agencies (think MadMen) that would create marketing messages for a company or brand. Those messages would be pushed out to the masses.
People either bought the product or they didn’t. And that’s how you knew if you had a good ad, because if people started buying your product and your numbers went up. Chances are, it was because of the ad.
Social media and the Internet has completely changed the way that we market. It’s also completely changed the way that we view marketing because now it’s a give and take. So not only do we use social media to project out messages, but we use it to listen to what people say back to us.
There are conversations happening about and around our products and services that are happening in a more public setting than every before. There are brands that wake up one day to massive increases in orders because a celebrity gave them an organic shout out. And just as many (if not more) brands that way up to no sales because of a misstep that blew up over night.
You can’t discredit how the conversation has changed fundamentally how we market our businesses in this digital marketing space.
Businesses can use this back and forth to their benefit on social media.
For example, I could ask my Facebook group what is the thing that you’re struggling with most when it comes to marketing? Hopefully, a conversation will start where I can get key insights into the challenges that my ideal clients are going through when it comes to marketing.
Social media provides so much research and insights into our ideal clients. It’s crazy to me that not everyone is utilizing it to its full potential.
Search Engine Marketing
Next, we have search engine marketing (and it’s child search engine optimization or SEO). This is marketing by optimizing content (like this blog post) to appear higher on a search engine like Google or Pinterest.
Pinterest is not a social media platform. It is a visual search engine. This marketing channel allows you to search for a term and see a number of visual representations of what Pinterest thinks you are looking for.
Google is the classic search engine that we all know and love (mostly). With Google, you type in the term that you are looking for. You then get a set of results. There’s a digital marketing strategy to all of this because you can optimize your content so that it will hopefully rank higher in Google using SEO.
The first few results on a Google search are going to get the majority of the traffic. People don’t want to look on the sixth page of Google results to get the answer to their question. Chances are, they are going to stick to the first page of results, and most likely to the top three results on the page.
Occupying the first few spots then becomes the ultimate goal. There are over 200 ranking signals that each web page sends to Google and they aren’t published anywhere. The only way to know how to optimize is to analyze what is ranking and reverse-engineering the entire process.
It sounds like a lot of work because it is. But if you get good quality traffic (and lots of it) to your website where you are selling products and services, there’s a lot of money to be made.
If search engine optimization is going to be a part of your marketing strategy, then you’re most likely going to have to hire a digital marketer to help with this particular digital channel.
Because the algorithms are always changing you need to have someone who is always analyzing the shifts and changes so that you can continue to rank and stay high in the rankings.
There are other ways of using search engines to get traffic as well. Google has a robust map that lists businesses. A digital marketing strategy may include optimizing a website or business listing to rank higher on the map.
Google also has a social aspect using Google My Business. That listing can be optimized to rank higher in the search results as Google tends to display several of these listings for certain searches. This is another (and easier) digital marketing tactic that small businesses can use without hiring a digital marketing company to help them rank.
We can’t talk about digital marketing and search engines without talking about content marketing.
Content marketing is when a business creates content through the form of a blog or article post, podcast, or video channel, to show off an area of expertise. This particular marketing strategy is time-consuming but has many advantages.
Not only can it help you attract new clients, but it also can help encourage people who are on the fence about hiring you. For service providers without a product, it can be difficult to sell when you are starting out and don’t have a lot of social proof. Content marketing helps mitigate that challenge.
When you put content out there showing that you know what you’re talking about and positioning yourself as an expert, you can show people that you can be trusted with their time and money. If you are a service provider, working content marketing into your marketing campaign is never a bad idea and can help boost your credibility.
Content also helps you with your SEO objectives as well, as the more content you have on your website, the more pages you have to rank.
This is also a great example of something called inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a group of marketing tactics (that includes content marketing, SEO marketing, and social media marketing) where you are putting your business out there for your target audience to find you. It’s a more passive approach (as opposed to cold calling or direct messaging).
We also need to talk about digital advertising. While most of what we’ve been talking about thus far has to do with organic marketing, sometimes it’s better to throw money at a problem to help speed things up.
Advertising can help you raise brand awareness and to get in front of your target audience much faster than using organic marketing tactics alone.
You can run ads on social media, search engines (called PPC campaigns), on specific websites, email lists (called solo ads), and so many other places. Solo ads are when you pay someone with a large email list to promote your product or service. They are a great way to get more brand awareness because many people will see your business name and services.
If you are involved with content marketing, you can run a sponsored post on your website. This is when someone pays you to write an article about their product and then share it with your target audience.
Affiliate marketing is when you recommend a product or service using a specific link. If someone from your audience clicks on the link and ends up making a purchase, you’d get a commission.
This is different from a sponsored post because you aren’t guarenteed any money and it’s a much more flexible arrangement. You have to have an established audience and a strong brand already to land sponsored posts, but affiliate marketing tends to have a much lower threshold. You can still generate a lot of money through afiiliate marketing, however.
Amazon runs a large affiliate marketing program. You get 5% off of Amazon affiliate links. But what’s special about this program is that it’s for anything they purchased within 24 hours. Other companies have really good affiliate programs. It’s actually one of the reasons why you see Bluehost recommended so much cause they have a fantastic affiliate program.
To Wrap It Up
There are many different strategies that can be used in digital marketing to get yourself in front of your ideal clients and to grow your business. Because of that, it can feel overwhelming at times.
For a small business, it’s usually smart to start with organic strategies and to slowly add more marketing channels as you see success and growth. Eventually, you’ll want to hire a digital marketing service to help you with your marketing goals.
If you’d like someone to take a look at your digital marketing plan, let’s schedule a Clarity Call. You can book today and be one giant step closer to achieving your business goals.