Digital marketing is the umbrella term for all online marketing initiatives.
Digital marketing includes:
Social Media Marketing
Text Message Marketing
... You get the picture
In today's digital world, businesses of all sizes must implement digital marketing practices to succeed. Traditional methods of advertising aren't yet obsolete, but with the rise of technology over the last decade, businesses need to adapt and grow with modern marketing principles. Hence, the importance of digital marketing.
Why Is Digital Marketing Important?
Digital marketing enables you to target customers most likely to purchase your goods or services and reach a wider audience than you could with conventional techniques. You can also assess progress on a daily basis and make adjustments as necessary. Arguably most importantly, digital marketing is usually more affordable than traditional advertising techniques.
You can concentrate your efforts on the prospects who are most likely to buy your good or service.
All businesses should know who their primary audience is, but seldom are able to solely target them. Most platforms used for digital marketing enable selection or filtering of a target audience.
By narrowing your audience selection in a digital campaign, your marketing dollars are being spent more effectively on relevant targets rather than a large group of varied consumers.
It is more affordable than outbound marketing strategies.
Outbound marketing tactics usually aim to reach a wide group of prospects, unlike strategic digital marketing campaigns. Highway billboards, TV commercials, and radio advertisements are great forms of traditional marketing tactics that work—yet they're relatively ineffective for most small businesses.
As mentioned, your business should know its audience, so when you're marketing directly to them, your opportunity for qualified leads drastically increases and you end up spending less money in the long-term on ineffective strategies.
Regardless which digital marketing tactics you employ, you are generally able to adjust spend as you go, allowing for necessary budgeting changes as results are achieved (or goals are missed).
The level playing field enables you to compete with more established businesses in your industry.
Does a local chain donut shop outrank your mom & pop bakery? Implement a solid local SEO strategy, and you have a chance of outranking them and attracting new customers.
Ever see a large company's social post and think, "I can do this better"? You probably can. But you need a social media marketing strategy in place first.
Those are just two examples, but the possibilities are endless. Small business digital marketing can effectively work to set your company up for success—outperforming more established businesses locally, nationally, and even world-wide.
The difference between you and them is well-developed digital marketing strategy, which starts here.
Results of digital marketing can be tracked.
We live in a data-driven society, hungry for statistics, eager to surpass measurable goals, and quick to retreat when the numbers show a decline.
Businesses need to operate using SMART goals to ensure everything stays on track and they continue to turn a profit time and time again. But how do we know if our money is being spent effectively if we can't track its return?
Enter: digital marketing. The vast majority of digital marketing campaigns can be tracked in a growing number of ways, so you can see your results in real time and pull the plug on an initiative if it isn't proving to be effective.
Some examples of digital marketing initiatives that can be tracked:
Who linked to my website?
What is my email blast's open rate?
Where are most of my site's visitors located?
When is the best time to post on Facebook?
How many people clicked on my advertisement?
A digital marketing plan is simple to modify and adjust.
Once results can be measured and analyzed from digital marketing initiatives, it's wise to regroup on an established cadence to discuss performance and determine whether to pivot your strategy.
For example, if your videos are continually performing much better on Facebook than on YouTube, it may be wise to reduce or eliminate your YouTube efforts and invest more resources in creating Facebook content.
Similarly, if you aren't seeing positive results from social media as a whole, consider switching strategies to focus on website content production (content marketing) and link building to better establish your web presence. In time, you'll be able to launch social media campaigns again, but keep in mind there is no ONE strategy that works for everyone—be flexible!
Thankfully, digital marketing allows for this flexibility. Businesses are able to choose which initiatives to participate in, when to pause, and when to resume again. Not only does this save countless dollars, but you have a strong hand in your business' success by playing it smart and adjusting to where your consumers interact most.
Digital marketing can boost your lead quality and conversion rate.
With a target audience established and keen eye on customer engagement, the quality of your leads are certain to be strongest when employing digital marketing strategies. As such, your conversion rate will increase, resulting in a smaller customer acquisition cost over time.
Digital marketing enables audience engagement at every stage.
Regardless of platform, digital marketing campaigns allow for your consumers to interact with your business on many levels.
→ Organic site traffic and new leads aren't made possible without a website that ranks.
→ 5-star reviews and customer photos aren't feasible without an optimized Google My Business listing.
→ Sales and promotions won't result in revenue without a solid social media marketing plan.
By leveraging digital marketing, businesses are able to connect and engage with their customers at a whole new level. Each tactic serves its own purpose, so it's important to determine which digital marketing processes are most important for your business at each stage of its life—from startups to generational companies.
5 Types of Digital Marketing Services
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
By optimizing your site to "rank" higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), you increase the amount of organic (or free) traffic to your website.
Businesses of all sizes want to outrank their competitors to earn the business of their target audience, making SEO such an imperative digital marketing practice. Without it, your business will fail.
SEO takes many forms:
On-page: This process ensures the proper keywords are being used throughout your site's pages, signaling to Google what your content is all about. Internal and external links also are created through on-page SEO.
Off page: Link building tactics through outreach and company profiles are off-page SEO practices, among others.
Technical: URL structure, page speed, and broken links are just a few elements of technical SEO that must be optimized or fixed in order to rank in the SERPs.
Local SEO helps businesses rank and earn more customers in their local area. Depending on your target base—city, county, or state—local SEO can be implemented in a variety of ways.
Claiming and optimizing your local business listings is the first place to start. A targeted keyword strategy is essential for local SEO in order to succeed, which will vary depending on how far you aim to reach.
Small businesses should especially lean on local SEO to build and maintain a local customer base, then have room to expand and attract more business over time.
2. Content Marketing Strategy
So your website has a blog. But are you using it effectively? Chances are, you're not using your blog content to your advantage. That's where content marketing strategy comes into play.
Content marketing includes an SEO-driven approach to a site's content creation. By first determining your targeted keywords and then analyzing what types of content your competitors have, you can ultimately plan your content for the upcoming month, quarter, or even year.
→ Identifying your keywords allows you to narrow down your content ideas to topics that are relevant to your business.
→ Analyzing competitor content enables you to find "content gaps" between your site and theirs, creating great opportunities for new content.
→ Planning content ahead of time allows you to allocate time and budget more effectively, have less stress in creating topic ideas on the fly, and ultimately get your content ranked higher since it was created for a strategic purpose.
3. Social Media Marketing
Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay and is an extremely effective method of advertising for small businesses. Social platforms each have their phases and trends, so it's important to keep tabs on which social channels can help you best achieve your business needs.
Cross-posting, or the practice of posting the same content across multiple social platforms, is one of the easiest ways to keep your social media channels up-to-date. However, cross-posting is arguably one of the least beneficial practices when it comes to authenticity and customer engagement.
By learning and applying effective social media strategies, your business can see great success. Who doesn't enjoy seeing the number of "likes" on their post increase? Most important, the amount of qualified customers will increase, too.
4. Link Building
In the simplest terms, link building is the process of establishing inbound links to your website to help boost its authority and rank higher in the SERPs.
The quantity of high quality, relevant links pointing to your website helps tell Google that you have good content worth sharing with others. By building quality links to your web pages, your overall domain authority (a score on a scale of 0-100 that shows how "good" a website is) increases, signaling to Google and others that your site is of a certain caliber.
Link building takes many forms. Some tactics are tried and true, others are being created and tested, and some more are on blurred lines of white hat vs black hat (or good vs bad) principles.
Popular link building methods include:
Broken link building
5. Brand Awareness & PR
While two separate principles, brand awareness and public relations (PR) can go hand-in-hand—especially when leveling up your digital marketing strategy.
All businesses should partake in brand awareness efforts to a certain degree. How else are you going to become a household name?
Local businesses can build brand awareness by joining their local chamber of commerce, attending city council meetings, or sponsoring school sports teams, to name a few.
Businesses looking to grow their digital presence can connect with the media and use reporter-backed programs like Help A Reporter Out (HARO) or Qwoted to get mentioned online in high-tier publications.
Public Relations (PR)
Similarly, businesses of all sizes can leverage PR to their advantage when met with success or participating in a newsworthy action.
Opportunities to create press releases and connect with local or national media:
When opening a new business or store location
Acquiring or merging with another brand
Participating in a charity event
Donating a large quantity of something
Achieving a business milestone (i.e. "ABC Company has been operating in Miami for over 50 years")
Build Your Business With Digital Marketing
While it can be overwhelming at first, learning and applying digital marketing principles is imperative to a business' success.
No business is created equally, so do your research and be strategic in deciding which digital marketing methods to use. But keep in mind that the digital world is an ever-changing environment, and digital marketing allows for flexibility so you can get the most out of your money.
Digital marketing can be a difficult undertaking for small businesses, so consider the help of a small business digital marketing agency. Once the groundwork is laid, continual maintenance will ensure a successful, long-lasting digital strategy resulting in higher rankings and more customers.