What Is Digital Marketing & Why Is It Important?
Have you come across the phrase 'digital marketing' recently? Or how about online marketing? Chances are you have. And chances are it’s pretty unclear what this actually entails. I'll admit this is one of the places you see the phrase 'digital marketing' being mentioned a lot. But it's essentially what we're doing. Digital marketing encompasses everything we do on a daily basis.
Simply, digital marketing means to use the web to grow your business. You apply different online techniques to expand your business reach, and you market products or services through various digital channels.
Digital marketing moves at the speed of light. As soon as we've learnt one thing, something new appears that we have to get to grips with. When you're a beginner in the industry like I was, this can be really challenging. You can read all the advice in the world. But what you focus on is ultimately down to your decision and what your instincts tell you.
You don’t have to worry if you’ve never done marketing before. I hadn’t really, until I started blogging two years ago. And the truth is, you don’t need to do a marketing degree to understand how it works. What’s more important before that, is to actually understand what goes into digital marketing.
In this post, I’m going to go through the seven main components that make up digital marketing. I’m going to take you through each of them to understand what’s involved and how you can work on them altogether to create a really awesome digital marketing strategy.
Online marketing is made up of lots of different components that all work in sync together to enhance and grow your online presence. You'll probably have heard of all these factors before, individually. But when they're implemented in digital marketing, they're all working together as one. They all interlink and act differently than if you were to work on them alone. What ties them together is strategy.
So here we go with the components - Branding, Design, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing and Analytics.
The way branding works has increased in value so much over the last few years. It's not just Coca-Cola or Topshop that are brands now. We're creating our own. INTHEFROW is a brand. Jennypurr is a brand. Elle & Company is a brand. A Branch of Holly is a brand. You encompass your brand online and that's why it's such an important feature of digital marketing.
Your brand allows you to do one thing - stand out.
The online world is saturated. It's not impossible to become noticed, but it's definitely getting much harder. Creating an in depth, personal brand means you create something that people can identify with. It's a style that brings all the elements of your brand together across every area of digital marketing. Your website, email newsletter, social media channels - everything screams "Your Brand".
There are two major areas to focus on in branding. I find these come under visual elements and written elements.
Visual elements include things like your colour scheme, logo, fonts and image style. Written elements are all about your digital identity - your tone of voice, your content and how you speak to your community.
Ask the pros and this is the first thing they'll tell you - you've got to get your brand completely clear in your mind before starting anything else. This is something I learnt the hard way, but what I'm changing for my next venture. Define your brand and you're already halfway there.
I bet you also know how important it is to get the design of your website right. In every generic post on advice for bloggers, design is always brought up. This is something I've also learnt the hard way. If I were to give any advice to a serious beginner today it would be this - don't buy a template.
Customise your website by yourself, and if not, get someone to do it for you. It's such a crucial part of digital marketing.
Every element of your website needs to work together to get people to do something. You want to direct users to certain places and tell them exactly what your brand is about. If they can't figure it out or find what they want, they'll leave. You want to keep them engaged - the longer they're engaged, the longer they'll stay on your site and the more likely they’ll take action. This could be anything from leaving a comment, to signing up for your mailing list or buying a product.
This part is otherwise known as your design strategy.
Now, I'm not here in this post to tell you how to go about deciding the design for your website. That's for another day. But it's just important to pick the right platform (I'd recommend Squarespace), make sure everything is in line with your brand, and have definite call to actions on your website - making sure it's clear what you want people to do when they visit your site.
But it's not as simple as web design anymore. Mobile is becoming a huge player in digital marketing - traffic from mobile has increased by 200 per cent since 2010. And after Google's recent update that shook up the online world, we're right to pay attention to it. Noticed this when searching on your mobile lately?
See how it says "mobile-friendly" next to my website? When you're searching on your mobile, Google will tell you whether a site is mobile friendly or not. Because of this update, some of the biggest sites online dropped many places in search engines because they weren't responsive. This is why Squarespace is a great platform, because it automatically creates a mobile version of your site in your package.
#3 Content Marketing
This is another phrase that's making its way around our industry. But before we go on to talk about this point, I just wanted to clear up the meaning of it with you.
Some people hear the phrase 'content marketing' and get scared. They think it requires a completely different set of skills compared to blogging. When actually, it's quite the same.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:
"A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience - and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action."
So really, content marketing is basically what you're doing for your blog already. Maybe you just haven't realised it yet.
When you visit somewhere online, you want something. You're looking for information to answer your questions or solve your problems. If you find a site that does that for you, you'll keep going back again and again.
As managers of websites, it's our job to be a resource for our audience. We need to create not only useful content, but problem-solving content.
Content marketing means you're filling your site with high value, intentional helpful content, whilst actively attracting people to your site. Knowing your target audience means you know what they're struggling with. If you can solve their problems through your content, you add value to their experience and add them to your loyal community.
How to do content marketing is a whole different blog post altogether! But this is just to get you thinking about the possibilities of content marketing for your own website.
Your Task - Put yourself in your reader's shoes - what do they come to your site for? How you help them? What do they want to know that you could answer through your content?
I know some of you will want to skip over this point. And I know some of you will read articles that tell you to forget SEO. I get that there are more important things to focus on. SEO isn't something I focus a great deal on for my own website. But it's my day job. If you want new people to find your website, SEO is one of the ways to do that.
Search engines represent the first place someone will see your website if they're looking for what you offer. Based on what the user searches for, Google will show them the most useful, trusted and relevant web pages that answer their query.
Google alone sees 12.5 billion searches each month. So some may ignore it. But there's no denying that search engines are a great opportunity to drive visitors to your site.
There's no real step by step answer as to how to make your site visible in search engines. Most factors that determine this are unknown. There are a few things that have an impact, such as keywords, content length, links pointing to your site and popularity. But that's why people get frustrated - SEO means growing your online presence organically, which means it takes time. With this strategy, patience is key.
#5 Social Media Marketing
Apart from content marketing, social media is my favourite part of running my online presence. Interacting with my audience and other people in my industry is such a great way to get your name out there. You can build a relevant, engaged and active community across different social media channels, whilst having a lot of fun doing it!
Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn - each platform offers something completely different and you can utilise each one uniquely. But it's important to choose wisely. Sure, get an account with every platform and be active on all of them. Then when it comes to your social media strategy, focus your efforts on the channels where your audience are. If your community aren't active on Facebook, don't spend too much time on there. If your community is really active on Twitter, you'd want to be on there the most. If you share content that's useful to them and always strive to help people on social media, you'll be soon be seen as a place of authority and trust on there.
Further Reading: How To Really Up Your Twitter Game
#6 Email Marketing
Email marketing is underrated. Lately, I've seen a lot of people online saying something very similar to each other - don't wait to start your email list.
You don't need a huge audience or loads of followers before you start your list. It'd better to start from nothing. Then, as people find your site, you can take them on the journey with you from the beginning, through your email marketing strategy.
Your email newsletter, whether sent out weekly, biweekly or monthly, works as an extension of your content marketing strategy. The group of people you start to build up through your email list are your VIP's so the trick is to send them different content to what people see on your blog. Special offers, an exclusive blog post or freebies are great ways to spoil the people on your email list.
Working on all these strategies is super amazing for your website, whatever industry you're in. But what's important is to analyse your efforts to see what's working, and what needs refining.
Analysing your online presence strategy is crucial. Whether you base this on your Google Analytics, how many social media followers you get in a day, or how many people take action through an email you send to them - seeing what's working and what isn't helps you hone in on your strategy even more and make it really specific to what's important to you and what you want to achieve.
Further reading: How To Analyse Your Website's Performance
I hope this has answered your questions as to what digital marketing actually is, and what's involved in it. I realise this is a basic overview but that's exactly what the point of this post was. Some people are unaware of this and I wanted to help explain this to all of you.
I'm also planning on expanding on each of these points in their own separate posts, if that would be something that interests you? They each deserve their own explanation and I can also show you how you can actively use them for your own website starting right now.
Are you clearer now about what's involved in digital marketing? Do you feel confident that you actually work on each of these elements for your own website? Let me know in the comments!
Wondering how these elements of digital marketing can help you be found online?