Digital marketing refers to all the inbound and outbound methods of connecting businesses with customers online.
We’ve gathered resources for business growth in the form of information that will save you countless hours otherwise spent moving in the wrong direction.
Plus, we throw in some really cool suggestions for free tools for entrepreneurs at the end of this article.
What is the definition of digital marketing? Promoting products or services on digital channels, or across multiple channels.
What are the types of digital marketing?
Content: Without content, you have nothing. People will hit your free content before the paid, and they’ll expect you to prove yourself with free content before trying to close a purchase.
SEO: Making your website as appealing to search engines as possible. Beyond keywords, this includes SEO efforts on and off the actual site pages.
Search Engine Marketing: While the lucky few will rank organically, the rest have to pay to show up on the SERPs (or search engine results pages).
Social Media Marketing: Paying to present your offer to search audiences. How is this different from PPC? PPC is broad—it refers to ads across platforms, like Google’s Display Network.
PPC: As long as you can be patient enough to test and tweak, then adapt to algorithm changes, PPC will be a very useful outreach tool.
Affiliate Marketing: Review products, convert visitors to sales on a retailer site, and you’re making money as an affiliate.
Email Marketing: Most marketers say they’d give up social media marketing before email marketing. Everyone says they hate too much email, but the reality is that they like it. They read it, they click through, and then they buy. What they mean is that they hate irrelevant email content, so make yours click-worthy!
Instant Message Marketing: Glossier has a fun, consistent and effective SMS campaign. Connecting to users at the text level (beyond just simple notification texts) is the future of marketing.
Search engine optimization refers to all the actions you can take to make your website appealing to the algorithms that promote search results.
SEO efforts can occur on-page or off-page, and both are equally important.
You can’t just get a page seen or get an ad seen (even paying for the right) by search engine viewers—you have to offer quality. A quality ad receives a higher Quality Score.
Landing page experience
Steps to SEO Success
A few things have to happen overall to make an SEO strategy work:
The ability for search engines to crawl your website.
Content that answers search queries in a compelling manner.
Keywords optimized for searchers and search engines.
Attract high CTR in rankings via description, URL, and title.
Engaging UX and quick load speed equally great user experience.
Content that’s so great it’s shared.
Get found in SERPs by standing out via schema/snippet markup.
Getting Seen Is More Than Ad Buying & Keywords
If it were that easy, everyone would have first-page ranking.
The way you get your business there is by doing the truly challenging work of crafting SEO strategies tailored to click with your audience. This results in not just making your business visible in organic searches, but increasing the visibility of your brand overall.
Marketing work is ongoing—you can’t simply just make performance tweaks and back out. Over time you’ll continue to improve the search engine optimization of our your website. Ultimately your goal will be to drive more of the right traffic to your website, where it can be converted into customers.
Build a Strong Foundation With On-Page Tactics: If your fundamentals like on-page SEO aren’t solid, nothing else matters.
Increase Awareness With Social Media: You want your brand talked about because this improves SEO in many ways, like boosting backlinks.
Create Value With Content Marketing: Become a resource first, and you’ll grow a sizable audience that can be tapped for conversion.
Always Focusing on Conversion Optimization: Anyone can drive traffic, but it’s driving optimal traffic on the cusp of conversion that counts.
How Search Engines Work
Not many people can answer the question of how exactly search engines work, despite their ubiquitous daily usage across the globe.
The internet is a vast pool of content. It needs to be organized and presented, based on the highest degree of relevance. Searchers need answers, and search engines provide them.
Search engines crawl the internet for content, index it, and then rank it based on relevance.
A path for crawling is created as a search engine fetches a few web pages and then follows the links on those pages. When it finds relevant content, it adds it to the index.
Are all of your pages found by Google? Type “site:yourdomain.com” into Google and see if it can crawl your entire site. You may find your home page and a few interior pages, but not all interior pages.
Keywords are just part of SEO today, and it’s much harder to rank, because you actually have to create good content consistently. That means you or a content manager needs to create content on a regular schedule.
Onsite SEO: The basics of your site’s SEO infrastructure, such as meta tags and image tags, may be holding back your SEO ranking. Every page must be optimized properly to rank.
Longform Content: Google is rewarding long-form content that addresses searcher intent. This means that it takes context into account to help figure out intent. The most thorough answer to questions that also match intent will be ranked highest. Most content is incomplete, so always make sure to write blog posts with a follow-through mindset.
Local SEO: Local searches are increasing, and customers are usually looking for a solution soon, if not same-day. Be the solution provider that shows up first and gets the customer.
Today’s Search Terms: Search terms are changing. People use speech-to-text more and more, which lengthens search terms and makes them more casual.
Ranking for Bad Content: You’ll see sites, particularly B2B, ranking for what is essentially slightly better than AI copy. This could be because of the considerable strength of their backlinks. Don’t follow the temptation to post low-quality articles and web pages—even if you build some traffic in the short-term, it’s a poor long-term strategy.
Without SEO, you won’t be found. Implementing SEO fundamentals, creating content, and staying up with trends is the constant standard that determines whether you get shown to searchers or not. You might provide the best solution in your market, but without getting found you’ll never get to share it and scale.
This SEO technique is for optimizing individual web pages to earn more relevant traffic and rank higher in search engines.
All the on-page elements: Quality content, correct keyword placement, solid keyword selection, page titling appropriately written.
Internal linking (vs direct linking): Linking to other pages on your site (this is a basic requirement for search engines, such as a button leading to a signup form).
The foundation of SEO is backlinks, or references from other sites to yours. This is like digital street cred. If you’re the new kid on the block, you won’t have any, but if you’re the seasoned vet, you’ll be hard to bring down.
Off-page SEO improves rank through link-building and promotion methods like social bookmarking, website design, and blogging.
All the off-page elements: Link building, link exchange, increasing link popularity/
Direct linking: Sending people directly to an outside website, such as an online retailer.
Techniques: Article submission, blog directory submission, forum submission, social bookmarking sites, social media engagement, contributing as a guest author, and influencer outreach.
Types of Digital Marketing
Determine what your digital strategy needs are and what you are capable of:
What can you afford to outsource.
What can you handle yourself.
Why wait for traffic to arrive when you can just pay for it? That’s the point of search engine marketing, or putting ads up in the space around search engine results, otherwise known as PPC ads.
If you’re new, you’ll need to pay for some ads to get some traffic unless you’re creating great content.
But that traffic will only turn into cash if you have a great offer to move, some product or service people can’t do without even though you’re relatively unproven (leverage all the social proof you can).
Keywords cost money, with bids being placed on them. You’ll only be able to afford the keywords within your budget. With the best keywords (most searched for, most close to what you’re selling, which brings in the most qualified traffic), you’ll likely have to get creative with your PPC strategy, finding affordable keywords that have been neglected.
Keywords change over time: Searchers are using longer keywords now as they speak phrases into their phones. This is why campaigns don’t stay successful forever; user input changes, so the landing page becomes irrelevant if too many factors change.
Everyone loves content. Way before the internet there were books and plays—content people either upvoted or downvoted with their wallets.
The dynamics are the same today online with blog posts, videos and social clips … people just like to be entertained.
Content delivers that entertainment. Even if it’s educational, informational, only safe for work … content is becoming more fun, more casual, more entertaining while increasing its quality and going further to answer key reader questions.
Why is content marketing so essential?
Content marketing doesn’t require you to pay for PPC. You’re playing the long-term here, and with that you have to deliver value.
Content pays off in traffic and SEO results for as long as its live on a website, which could obviously be decades.
Content is the best way to keep the SEO gods happy.
Also content separates the true experts from the pretenders. There is only so long you can copy content and clone ideas before you lose out to the big creators. Google wants to reward good content
If you can’t create content that will get read, just stick to crafting a high-functioning PPC strategy across channels.
How do I Decide To Entertain or To Educate?
Most audiences respond to entertainment, education, or both. Maybe your brand can’t swing wacky memes or even real attempts at humor (although many brands on Twitter have proven contrary to what you’d expect), so you need to educate your audience instead.
Maybe your audience likes a mix of entertainment and education, or simply educational materials presented in a way that has some humor and fun thrown in (memes breaking up article topics for example)
“I wish I’d known this when I started”: This question always leads you to content that will be truly helpful to your readers.
Hiring a specialist to oversee your PPC automation is important. Don’t try to automate your PPC ads if you don’t have the proper amount of time to do it correctly. Leaving your ads up to automation without understanding how third-party software works can take your campaigns off track.
Here are four tips to save your PPC campaigns:
Align organic results and PPC ads
Match your add to the intent of the search (and you need to discover that intent first, which you can by looking at the organic search results Google delivers for the same keywords)
Instead of paying for high-cost keywords, find more affordable variations with low competition and healthy popularity.
When your brand is searched for, you need to show up for all the top results, so that the page is dominated by your option for conversion. PPC ad, company profile popout on Google, top organic search results … dominate it all.
Social Media Marketing
When you create content for use on social media platforms, and it promotes a product or service, you’re marketing using the power of social media. By jumping into a community, and fostering one of your own, you’ll help customers out and find new ones along the way.
Social media is not a fast-converting method. It’s more about nurturing leads and staying top of mind until a customer is ready to make a purchase.
Social media platforms are a tool. They evolve and add new features every year.
Ads: Ad platforms have ad builders now that make advertising easy for anyone. Images and copy can be automatically A/B tested for optimal results. Keep in mind that people are not ready to buy usually on social media, so your ads need to drive to a free offer, not a landing page trying to get them to make a big purchase.
Platforms: You know them. Find the ones that matter most to your audience and put all your effort there.
Perform audience research: If you don’t understand your audience, the rest of your efforts will fall flat even if you follow all the social media tips for 2022. Learn who your audience is and where they hang out so that you can deliver the content they want, at the right place, at the right time.
There’s a simple four-step trajectory to figuring out what makes your audience tick:
1. Collect demographic data.
2. Identify their favorite social platforms.
3. Analyze competitor strategy.
4. Confirm your hunches with surveys.
Methods For Social Media Marketing Success
There are many methods for SMM, and you should explore them all at your own pace.
Analyze Competition: While your audience is valuable, you’re not the first one to tap them, so get a headstart on your research by seeing what your competitors have already unearthed.
How big is your audience? The audience doesn’t have to be big, but you do need to understand its size to market to it properly. The smaller an audience is, the more niche it becomes, meaning you have to have increased authority through a high level of relatability and insider knowledge.
What are your buyer personas? Your audience isn’t made up of one type of customer, so you need to figure out how to lump people into general customer types. Then you can dig deeper and find out more about each segment, or persona.
How do they interact? All segments/audiences don’t act the same way. Some respond to surveys, some don’t; some comment on posts yet don’t buy, while others lurk but convert on your actual site.
Platform Analytics: Every social media platform has analytics—Twitter Analytics, Facebook Analytics, Instagram Business Tools, YouTube Studio. Leverage these built-in stats to understand how your content is performing.
Third-Party Tools: While you can learn a lot from platforms themselves, third-party tools allow you to take insights and analytics further while saving you money over expensive team analytics services.
Web Research: Not all social media research should happen on social media platforms themselves. Once you’ve identified your audience, the rest of the internet can provide a lot of expanded insight: forums, reviews, blogs, news, Google trends, and surveys. Dig until you identify trends.
Connect with your audience: Once you’ve identified your audience and separated it into segments, it’s time to create a dialogue with segment-specific outreach, surveys, and quick responses.
Optimize content for each platform: Every social media platform has its own idiosyncrasies, meaning you need to tailor your content to each. Sometimes this means making entirely different content for each platform your users like, but other times this simply means tweaking a content idea.
Develop a hashtag strategy: The number of hashtags you use depends on the platform, from 1-2 on Twitter, 2-3 on LinkedIn to 9-30 on Instagram. The fewer you use, the more they need to count. Popular hashtags might seem like the way to go, but more competition means less opportunity to rank, so don’t throw out niche hashtags, just like with Google keywords. Also remember that people are performing longer searches largely due to voice-to-chat.
Leverage short-form videos: People want just the meat, stripped right off the bone, so give it to ‘em with short-form videos of your best content. Educational, explainer, jokes … find what bite-sized content matters most to your community and deliver it consistently.
Develop a social audio strategy: Audio-only social content is on the rise with apps like Clubhouse, so it’s important you develop a strategy to handle this new content medium. The big benefit of audio content is that you can listen to it while you do other things, like drive (that old device, the radio, must have been onto something).
Utilize brand-relevant trends: Stay on top of current trends, identify the ones that pertain to your brand, and tap into their power. Big influencers are losing power to communities where any creator can become a player, no matter how small. Social is where it’s at: ads and commerce are growing, marketers can now accurately measure social efforts, and customer service is shifting to social platforms because it’s faster and more personal.
Collaborate with creators & influencers: Anyone can be a creator now with a strong pull within a small community, meaning you don’t have to link with big social names not accessible to everyone. Identify which of your products or services would be best paired with which creator/influencer, then let the influencer market it as they see fit. Their opinions are what their audience wants, and they can simply walk away if they don’t like working with you.
Audit performance & strategize: Analyze your social efforts across all platforms and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. This is the simple essence of a social media audit. Remember your social media work is never done, so get into an audit schedule (usually quarterly works well).
Why mention AdWords when we already tackled PPC?
AdWords, which is synonymous with PPC, you only pay for clicks. That means you only pay for performance, which is great.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to set up ads sub-optimally and get a bunch of unqualified traffic, which does nothing. Lots of people have lots thousands on AdWords campaigns they set and forgot.
But AdWords is about creating multiple ads, testing them against one another, leaving the best ones running while pausing the ones that don’t.
Keeping an open mind and letting the conversions guide you will ensure you don’t leave any opportunities on the table.
Three Tip Recipe For Success
PPC ads are often labeled as instant traffic. But this is not necessarily qualified traffic, and your ad copy quality + bid amount determine how well your ad is shown. AdWords performance takes time, and most people lose money because they spend too much too fast or expect results to happen too quickly.
Don’t devote a huge budget
You don’t just buy ad clicks, you bid on them. Whoever pays the most for a particular keyword, and also has the highest quality ad, wins the bid.
You can set your budget according to a few metrics, and you can change it manually or automatically, where Google sets the price you pay per click.
Target ROAS: Google will create a spend target based on how you assign value to each conversion.
Additional conversions: When you optimize for conversions on your site, it will cost more, but it’s better than mistakenly optimizing for click-throughs of your ad, only to find your traffic on-site bouncing.
More visibility: Increase your reach across platforms where ads are shown. You’d be surprised where they can insert a tiny, short ad these days. And if nobody clicks, you don’t pay.
More traffic: Your landing page rocks, but you don’t have enough eyeballs.
What Google means by quality is following their instructions. They walk you through creating a quality ad; then as data comes in, they offer continuous suggestions.
These actually are more like forced improvements, because if you don’t implement them, your quality score will be lowered.
What happens when your quality score lowers? Your ad doesn’t get shown as much, or costs more when you do get a click.
It’s better to just leverage Google’s suggestions as often as you can. However, when it makes a suggestion you know won’t work … you’ve definitely encountered one of the challenges of decision-making within the world of PPC advertising.
Ad Areas to Address
Once you’ve launched an ad or three, and have seen a bit of data, you can start improving assumed areas of weakness.
The ad copy and the page it lands on determines whether you get conversions. It’s not enough to convert at the ad, because that’s just a gatekeeper for the landing page. If your landing page isn’t performing, you’ll spend on leads for no reason.
Affiliates sell things, like skin cream, and when you send someone from your site to theirs, you get paid. Affiliate marketing is a great source of passive income once you do the hard work to get it up and running.
You should be interested in the products you promote, or come off as scammy or disingenuous and fail to get many conversions.
Everything comes back to content creation in some way with digital marketing. It’s not easy to create content consistency around affiliate products.
Sell as a Merchant
The other side of affiliate marketing is creating products to sell, then linking up with affiliate networks that will promote. It’s like a remote sales and marketing team you contract as needed, and pay only based on minimum performance thresholds .
Create an idea.
Create the product.
If you want to be an affiliate marketer, and you know you need to create content, the only topic solution you have is the product review. Product reviews are clearly popular on YouTube, known as unboxings.
Start reviewing products on a relevant platform: There are so many products out there that need eyeballs. The good thing is that you have ready-made content, as long as you know how to present product reviews in an engaging way. Nobody wants to see some boring overlong video they have to scroll through to find the nuggets they need to help make a purchasing decision.
Build an email list: When you post a video or review to the internet, you’re gambling as to anyone seeing your content. But when you have an email list you can tap you can invite them to free events like the joint-venture webinars in the next step.
Make sales via webinars: Connect with your audience and promote products they’re likely to love. Both businesses (the merchant and the affiliate) will usually host the webinar. The host of the webinar gets a cut of the sales made by the presenter to the new audience.
Use PPC to scale: Once you’ve exhausted audience building, you just need to drive fresh eyes to your proven offers.
The Importance of Picking the Right Product
If you don’t pick the right product type to promote, it’s impossible to succeed as an affiliate marketer.
Strategic alignment: Where does your audience live?
Content alignment: What specific content within your niche do they like most?
Offer alignment: What offers of those specific products do they respond to?
A/B Test: Compare multiple versions to find the highest-performing creative (a draft of an ad with copy and sometimes images). Often what works is the opposite of assumption, so make sure you create a wide variety of creatives, instead of just small variations on the same theme (unless your particular audience has narrowed you to that point).
Iterate pain points: At first you’ll understand what you think are all of the pain points, or all of the aspects of the pain points, that your audience holds. As you learn of new challenges they face, you should modify your offers to speak to this pain, in an effort to increase conversions.
Do you want the chance to build an unlimited audience that you own, instead of one dictated by algorithms that leave your reach in the dust when they decide changes are due?
Ask Permission: Always build your own email lists, instead of buying them.
Always use CTAs: Readers need to know what to do, and you need to get the timing of when you ask 100% right.
Shorter is better: Some audiences like long-form rambling, and entertaining emails, but most conversion revolves around concision. If you have the pain point and messaging correct, it shouldn’t take many words to click through (then you can worry about landing page optimization).
Engaging titles that keep promises: Breaking title promises smacks of clickbait. Only promise what you can deliver, and sell it big in the title.
If you operate a local shop, traffic from the next state over means nothing. You need members of your community to find your business right when they need it. If your competitor performed better SEO, they’ll be seen first, and they’ll get the flat tire service fee; they’ll sell the steak dinner with a bottle of pricey Cabernet.
Our Local SEO Solutions
It’s no secret SEO providers are everywhere, making it even more difficult to pick who’s right for your goals. In the end, it comes down to who has the best ability to maximize your results … for the best price, of course. Local SEO solutions pay for themselves many times over, usually with great ROI.
Localized Optimization: If you aren’t on the first page as a local business owner, you aren’t being found. Optimizing will get you as close to the top as possible so that you get the visibility your business deserves.
Tracking & Reports: Track your keywords and issue monthly reports showing how your rankings have improved over time. To keep getting results from local SEO, you have to keep investing.`
Citation Building: Business directories are a key source of local exposure. Make sure you’re clearly listed and highly visible in each directory, improving your local search ranking. Without confirmation from well-regarded indexes, it’s hard to know if a local business’s contact info and other details are accurate.
Brand Reputation: Interacting with comments, good and bad, about your business is a great way to be an open-minded and transparent business owner.
The Top 4 Digital Marketing Free Tools For Business Owners
There are so many free tools for business owners that it’s hard to keep track (and many that start free but auto-withdraw following a free trial). Besides social media platforms (free tech tools that anyone can leverage) that are understood to be a part of the online marketing toolkit, these five other free tools are equally important.
Hubspot: You’ve probably heard of this CRM tool, but maybe you haven’t signed up for it yet, or haven’t converted to a paid version. Ideal for those focusing on scalability via modules for operation managers, customer support teams, sales executives, and marketers.
Cobiro: This platform walks you through PPC ads on Google. Free for less than 51 members, it’ll help you optimize for Google Shopping and Google search. Ideally, this is for local business owners who need to reach their target audience at a high ROI.
Supermetrics: This tool extracts data from up to dozens of sources (price increases as sources are added). Connect Google Analytics with Supermetrics and Excel and create up to 100 queries per data at no charge.
Hootsuite: To spread a consistent and strategic plan across social media, you need this tool. Schedule up to 30 messages across three social media profiles and stop missing marketing opportunities.
Putting it All Together into a Strategy
So, how do you craft all the tools and skills, and tips above into one cohesive marketing strategy?
Fortunately, it’s not that difficult, if you understand your customer. So start there, and research them until you know them better than they know themselves.
From that understanding comes the goals and performance indicators you will need to create a framework for your strategy.
What needs to happen? What conversion numbers do you want to hit? How many sales do you need to lock in to break even? What are your customer segments? What is the lifetime value of a potential customer? What’s the cost of acquiring a customer?
Once you create a strategy, you launch it, then test and tweak over time. This is iteration, the continuous incremental push towards a better version of your offer over time.
The questions data points you to are endless. The digital marketing strategy formulation process unfolds in four stages:
Research your audience: Whatever base knowledge of your audience you have, research means building on that. The better you understand your audience, the more tailored your marketing. More work upfront turns into easy implementation and data interpretation, so your investment is worth it.
Set Goals & KPIs: Do you want to spread awareness? Do you want to increase CTR on-page? Do you want to focus on CTR for the ads themselves? Are you running an experiment to discover negative keywords?
Create Strategy: During this phase, you need to pick marketing channels to focus on more than the others. Test ads on each channel and see what your audience responds to most. Test both different targeted
Iterate: Many variables affect digital marketing. Trends change, customers change, competitors change, algorithms change … on a whim … which is why you should always move with change and improve continuously. Marketing effectiveness declines over time if you don’t update as things change.
Digital marketing is a vast landscape, and it takes a lot of work to get established. But patience with digital marketing will allow you to become proficient. Once proficient, a lot of momentum will sustain itself, so don’t be afraid that digital marketing strategies will do nothing but eat up your time in perpetuity.
If you are reading this article, you have an offer you want to present to your customers. But how do you go about doing that? And what do you do when presented with the weaknesses of either your offer or your marketing efforts?
Here’s a 6-step summary that will lead you to digital marketing success:
Understand your customers
Adjust your offer
Identify your marketing techniques
Craft a strategy
Improve over time