Digital Marketing for Dummies

Does all of the buzz about digital marketing have you feeling overwhelmed?

Not to worry, I have put together a quick guide to digital marketing for dummies to help you out. In this guide, we will break down what we mean by the term ‘digital marketing’. We will identify ways that you can effectively use digital media right now to cash in on the action. And we will leave you with a simple formula to put your own strategy in place.


What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is the promotion of goods or services using technology. Think social media influencers, email sequences, landing pages, sponsored posts, and blog posts. The average consumer spends at least two hours online every single day engaging in social media. So, what is digital marketing? It is how brands promote goods and services using digital mediums. 

In this quick guide to digital marketing for dummies, we will take a look at what you need to know to hit the ground running.


How it all Started

The term ‘Digital Marketing’ did not become relevant until the 2000s, but the movement towards a digital world began in 1981 when IBM released the first home computer.

By the end of the decade, storage capacities on personal computers had reached 100 MB. Within that same decade, ACT released the first database software. Marketers and sales teams shifted their focus from pushing products to building relationships.

In 1991, the world wide web became a thing. On August 6, 1991, the internet became publicly available. By the mid-’90s there were 16 million internet users. 

Year-by-year, internet usage continued to grow and become more accessible. By 2002, internet users reached 558 million worldwide.

The year 2004 saw the launch and growth of major digital brands like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Youtube followed in 2005 and Twitter in 2006. Social media became an integral part of consumerism. It completely disrupted the way that people shop and make purchases, changing the landscape forever and demanding the evolution of marketing strategies.

The first iPhone was released in 2007 making the internet more mobile and more integral to how people interact with brands, products, and companies.

A host of analytical software was created by 2010 which allowed for better tracking and reporting of marketing efforts in the digital space. The tools were finally available for marketers to get serious about building digital marketing strategies to leverage the power of the internet to reach customers.

2010 also marked the turning point where society became truly dependent on the internet. From social media interactions to product research; users take to the internet for information, community, and entertainment.


Breaking it Down

Digital marketing uses technology like the internet and mobile devices to target consumers and influence behaviors. It has transformed the way that brands promote their goods or services. And it has forever changed the way that consumers shop.

Technology has made it easier than ever to get real, measurable data. Marketers can see real-time results for every marketing effort. Pageviews, engagements, and shares can all be measured and compared. With data-driven marketing, the digital world makes it easier for brands to easily identify what is working and what is not.


Types of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing comes in many forms. Traditional ad campaigns have evolved into the digital space in the form of sponsored content. Social media platforms provide plenty of opportunities to connect with target audiences. And, a growing trend towards value-driven marketing concepts continues to shape how brands can leverage the digital world to reach consumers.


Social Media Marketing

Popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat are online communities where the average users are already spending upwards of two hours per day. 

The platform already has user engagement. Finding the right audience and purchasing a bit of real estate on their feed through sponsored posts or influencers can be a game-changer in any marketing strategy.


SEO Marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) uses strategic practices aimed at improving your rank in search engines. With almost 2 billion websites on the internet, your content is the proverbial needle in the haystack. Luckily, SEO is an effective way to make sure your content shows up in search results.

75% of users never scroll past the first page of search engine results. Great content is important, but it is only part of the process. Actively working to make sure that users can find your content is just as important.


Pay-per-Click Advertising

Digital advertising with a little more of a familiar feel still exists. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is one of the earlier forms of digital marketing. Companies will place small banner ads on websites with high traffic and pay for each click on their advertisement.


Public Relations in the Digital World

Public relations is all about managing reputations. The digital world provides the opportunity to spread information faster than any other medium. Good or bad, if anyone is talking about your brand, the world will know. 


Digital public relations provides the opportunity to control the narrative for your brand so that content shared will positively impact your brand or company.


Content Marketing

Content marketing speaks to what is important to modern consumers. Providing authentic value in the place of sales pitches and ad gimmicks put the focus on building relationships. This type of digital marketing utilizes the content on your website to attract and engage prospective customers. 

Instead of the hard-sell, content marketing focuses on providing supplemental education that builds trust and loyalty. It takes a significant time commitment to create valuable content. It is more of a long-game in building relationships with customers that will pledge their loyalty to your brand instead of one-offs and quick converting sales.


Email Marketing

Email marketing is all about building a list of leads and then marketing directly to that list. It is another way to provide valuable content.

Email marketing is a great way to build a sales funnel that walks prospective customers through the sales process. From the first introduction to closing the sale, an effective email sequence can be a high-converting marketing tool.


Viral Marketing

To go ‘viral’ means to spread rapidly through a chain reaction. Much like a virus, a piece of content that has hit a viral note has become extremely popular with users. The more that it is liked and shared, the more users that see it. This activity sets off a chain reaction that causes the content to become extremely visible.

The upside is that digital marketers can see impressive results from leveraging the visibility of viral content. The downside is that it is all about timing. It is difficult to predict the potential and timing of viral content. It is usually more of a happy accident.

The only advice here is to focus on providing quality content. Add a little pizazz with quirky humor or popular themes and you might just find yourself going viral.


Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is about partnering with other brands or services to get in front of their audience. In the digital space, affiliate marketing looks like ads, links, and posts placed on someone else’s website. When a customer makes a purchase through one of these advertisements, a commission is paid to the affiliate partner.


Why Does Your Business Need a Digital Marketing Strategy?

It is easy to get overwhelmed with the busy-ness of digital marketing activities. Creating ad campaigns, writing blog posts, and sending email sequences is a lot of work. When that work is not tied to a goal, the results tend to fall flat of expectations. 

A digital marketing strategy does not have to be complicated. It just has to be a plan for what your business is trying to accomplish and how you will do it. This quick guide for digital marketing for dummies outlines a very straightforward plan that anyone can follow.

Consumer behavior has evolved to fully embrace the digital world. Online shopping is convenient, accessible, and efficient. Shoppers can check multiple stores and find the best deals and coupons in a fraction of the time as brick-and-mortar shopping. 

Most shoppers actively check online reviews before making a significant purchase. The numbers say 81% of consumers research online before making a commitment.

Shoppers are actively seeking out information on products and services online. This is where they are spending a large portion of their time and there are dozens of ways to reach them. Taking a pass on the opportunity to get your brand in front of their eyes is basically like throwing in the towel on your marketing game. 


Digital Marketing Mistakes

An inspiring story about how someone’s amateur video went viral can be good motivation to pull the trigger. Before you go all-in with digital marketing, let’s take a look at what can go wrong.


Wrong Platform

In the excitement of creating what they are sure will be the next big thing on the internet, some skip the legwork. The ease of digital marketing does not replace the ABC’s of good marketing strategies. Identifying and understanding your target audience is still the foundation of building a successful campaign,

Not all social media platforms are created equal. Find out where your target audience lives online and build your strategy around that platform.

Lack of Focus

Don’t try to be everything for everyone. Pick one or two strategies and focus on those. As you scale your business, you can scale your digital marketing efforts to include additional platforms. Just because there are a dozen popular social media platforms doesn’t mean that you have to build a presence on all of them right now. 

Decide what you are going to focus on and work on quality and consistency.


Not Tying to a Goal

Getting busy designing an ad campaign without understanding what you are trying to accomplish is a sure sign of impending failure. In the world of digital marketing, sales funnels have become the standard for directing user activity to an intended outcome.

Think about a typical welcome email sequence. When a user visits a website and voluntarily provides their email address in exchange for whatever carrot is being dangled in front of them, they are added to an email list. But collecting email addresses is not the intended activity. The owner of the website will then send a sequence of emails intended to move the prospective customer through the sales process. 


How to Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy

A digital marketing strategy is just a plan for how your brand will utilize digital mediums to reach customers. Your digital marketing strategy does not have to be complex to be effective. In any case, the most effective plan is the one that you will use. If you are a ‘scratch it on a napkin’ kind of person, it doesn’t have to be anything fancier than that. 


6 Easy to Follow Steps for Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy

  1. Conduct market research.
  2. Pick a Method (and a platform).
  3. Set a Goal
  4. Brainstorm Marketing or Content Ideas.
  5. Identify key metrics.
  6. Evaluate the data and Rework the Plan.

Let’s take a moment to break down the steps we have outlined in the digital marketing for dummies guide.


Get to Know your Target Audience (and their online behaviors)

What is the first piece of advice ever written in any marketing tutorial? It is to identify your target audience. This is one thing that hasn’t changed much in the world of marketing. Any successful marketing campaign starts with identifying and understanding the target audience. 

Market research has evolved in the digital world. There is so much more information available and metrics to track that brands can really pinpoint subgroups of ideal customers. This helps brands create highly targeted and effective ads instead of the one-size-fits-all approach that has been used for decades.


Focus on One Method and Platform at a Time 

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of marketing possibilities available in the digital world. Not everyone is on the same social media platforms or uses the same search engines. Still, avoid the draw to be everywhere at once. Users reward value and consistency over quantity, always.

Pick any one of the top social media platforms and the pool of users that match a particular target audience profile are plentiful. Focus on building your brand using one single method with quality content and consistent application.


Set Goals 

Identify specific, measurable goals to tie all marketing activities. Do you want to attract new customers? Increase in sales revenue? Increase brand loyalty and returning customers? Just making these types of broad statements is not enough to get actionable results. 

Instead of ‘attract new customers’, you might say ‘generate 40 new quality leads per month’.

Instead of ‘increase brand loyalty and engagement’, you might say ‘send an email sequence with a minimum 25% open rate’.


Brainstorm Digital Marketing Activities

Start with a clear idea of what you would like to accomplish. Get busy thinking of all of the ways that you can use your chosen method and platform to accomplish your goal. What ideas do you have for content topics? What about headlines for ad campaigns? 

Do a brain dump of every idea that comes to mind. The final list can always be edited to only include the best or most practical ideas.


Identify Key Metrics to Measure Success

Decide upfront what metric you will measure and how you will decide if a particular activity was successful. Will you use A/B testing for ad campaigns? What are the minimum number of views, clickthroughs, or engagements needed to be successful? 

The correct answer might vary depending on your niche, target audience, or platform. Having a hard number that is the same as everyone else’s is not as important as just making a decision on what you will consider successful.


Review and Realign Often

Putting a digital marketing strategy together is not a one-and-done activity. It is a tool that should continue to grow and evolve with your business. Stay on top of what is working and stop wasting time with what is not. 

It is a good idea to stay with the times and embrace the trends in the digital world. Is your strategy compatible with mobile devices? How about voice search? Are you using video in your content? These are some of the biggest trends of 2020 that are dominating the digital world and deserve a place in your plan.


How to Track your Progress

Tracking your progress is the only way to know if you are on the right path. Thankfully data is inherent to the digital world. There is no shortage of information, you will just need the right analytical tools to gather and review it.


What Metrics Should You Look at?

Understanding what numbers you should be looking at and what they mean will help you make effective digital marketing choices. Here are some examples based on some of the most popular and trending forms of digital marketing.

Email Marketing: There are two numbers that are really indicative of performance for email sequences. The open rate (number of recipients who open your emails. And the clickthrough rate (the number of recipients who click through on the call to action in your email).

Social Media Marketing: Social media platforms are dynamic and can be used to achieve many goals. Your goal will determine what numbers you should be watching. For engagement, track likes shares and comments on posts. For conversion, create posts or advertisements with a specific call to action. 

Content Marketing: For each piece of content, measure page views, bounce rates, engagement, and reach. You will want to know how well different types of content are performing compared to one another. 

Search Engine Optimization: This one is pretty straightforward. Track page rank for a website, pages, or specific content based on predetermined keywords. 

We have really covered a lot of information in this quick guide to digital marketing for dummies. As a quick recap, before you go, the takeaway here is that every business of every size will benefit from digital marketing.

There is a buffet of choices to fit every need. Whether you are interested in budget-friendly options or low-maintenance solutions, digital marketing solutions are completely scalable. I love to talk more about how we can make digital marketing work for your business. Book a free consultation today.


 Author: Melvin Figueroa
 Founder, Mello Multimedia

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