What is Digital Marketing and Why Is It Important for Your Business?

Digital marketing involves the tools, processes, content, and techniques used to increase an organization’s or company’s profits, traffic, or any other goal that involves the digital world. There are multiple kinds of digital marketing, including:

  • Search Engine Marketing and Optimization
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Pay-Per-Click Advertising
  • Display Advertising
  • User Interface Development
  • Artificial Intelligence Development
  •  Email Marketing

All of these fields involve different aspects of online marketing. Though the basics of digital marketing generally stay the same, each organization will have different goals and needs. That’s why other kinds of skills are often needed to become a successful person in the digital marketing industry.

People can see the results of digital marketing efforts every day. These campaigns can be seen in pop-up ads on a website, sponsored results in a search engine, mobile game ads for rewards, emails offering discounts, and notifications from food delivery services offering free shipping. As more people use internet services and mobile applications, businesses need to find innovative ways to reach their audience, and that is where digital marketing comes in.

Why is Digital Marketing Important Today More Than Ever?

More than half of the world’s population is an internet user, while about 80% of those in the United States are internet users. With so many people actively online at once, organizations must use effective digital marketing strategies to grow and succeed. The growth of businesses that are solely online also means that digital marketing is the primary promotion method of many companies now.

When digital marketing best practices are implemented, organizations and companies can reach an enormous audience. Plus, online marketing is usually less expensive but leads to more results. A company that wants to promote a new product would experience better results from a targeted online marketing campaign versus a more expensive billboard that only reaches a limited audience.

Digital marketing techniques can also provide unique ways for organizations and companies to grow their audience, increase profits, and build a better relationship with past and future customers. Small businesses can use digital marketing to improve their organizations and expand with fewer resources. If these smaller companies used the same amount of resources for other marketing efforts locally, they might not find the same success.

Taking a Look at How Digital Marketing Works

Digital marketing is a big industry that encompasses multiple different platforms, advertising campaigns, and knowledge. Specialists who work in the industry will have to become skilled at many different subjects to be successful, some of which include:

  • Social Media
  • Search Engines
  • Data Analysis
  • Copywriting
  • Advertising Campaigns
  • Communication
  • Creative Thinking
  • HTML Editing
  • ECommerce

Using a combination of marketing skills geared toward the digital world, marketers can complete digital campaigns and help organizations with whatever marketing goals they may have. A Digital Marketing Specialist can use social media to increase audience numbers, utilize search engine optimization to increase website traffic, and utilize copywriting skills to create content new readers will want to share.

Since there are so many different aspects to this kind of marketing, it can be beneficial to obtain a digital marketing degree, digital marketing online certificate, or some other form of education.

Digital Marketing Education

There are multiple avenues individuals can take if they want to obtain a digital marketing education. This includes both formal and informal educational paths.

Some universities offer a digital marketing online degree, while others only provide a digital marketing course. In either case, having an official institution on a resume can set some applicants over the rest, which is why formal education is important to consider. Even if a person takes a couple of digital marketing online classes, having that education can be key to getting a position at a marketing firm.

Another option is getting a digital marketing certificate. Companies like Hootsuite, Google, and HubSpot offer digital marketing programs for those wanting a flexible and potentially more affordable educational route. These programs may not have the acclaim like a university degree might, but combined with experience, a digital marketing course can prove to be extremely beneficial.

Other less-known companies sometimes offer digital marketing bootcamp classes. These courses are designed to give students a basic understanding of online marketing methods and skills, so they cannot be mistaken for more formal education.

No matter the kind of digital marketing classes that are completed, it is important to pair it with ample experience. Most companies require experience and proof of successful advertising campaigns, so try and practice skills as much as possible.

A/B Testing

Although A/B testing is not confined to just digital marketing, it is an incredibly important tool that determines how digital marketing tools, processes, and methods work.

A/B Testing puts two versions of something against each other. In digital marketing, this tool can be used to compare two versions of a webpage, advertisement, and content to see which performs better. For example, a company can compare two similar Facebook advertising campaigns to see which one led to more click-throughs and comments.

A/B testing can be a great way to improve digital marketing strategies. Every audience has different wants and needs, and this tool can give companies and organizations the insight they need to keep growing.

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing, or SEM, specifically focuses on improving an organization or business’s position on a search engine. This kind of marketing also involves paid advertisements on a search engine results page.

If a company sells shoes, they want their company to show up first when a person searches for “green shoes” on Google. However, there are many things a business can do to either hide from search engine results or improve their standing, which is where SEM tactics come into play.

Search engine marketing is a particularly difficult set of the industry, which is why there are so many digital marketing jobs in this area. Usually, companies will employ a digital marketing expert to help them create the best product listings.

There are many things businesses can do to increase their rankings on search engines, the first being advertisements. Usually, when a person searches for something on Google, there will be multiple sponsored links or product listings at the top. These companies have bought a paid search to increase their search engine optimization and get more traffic to a specific link.

Businesses can also promote a product on a search engine by paying for a spot in the “Shopping” category. When an individual searches for a product, that listing will show up based on the target words and phrases.

However, paying for sponsored positions on a search engine only gets companies so far. Using the right keywords, appealing to the right audience, and choosing the correct descriptions are all important.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the key aspects of digital marketing. This is the basic strategy of making your website appear higher on search engine results. The idea is to increase and improve website traffic to get more visitors that turn into customers.

While search engine marketing focuses on both paid and organic ways to increase ranking, search engine optimization focuses specifically on ways to organically boost search engine listings. This usually requires in-depth keyword research, researching phrases favored by search engines, and creating better search engine titles.

There are a couple of steps that can help businesses improve their search engine optimization, including:

  • Make websites readable for search engine crawlers
  •  Publish specific & relatable content people search for
  • Optimize keywords for both searchers and search engines
  • Create a compelling and user-friendly website
  • Make content that is worth sharing
  • Increase ratings through optimized titles, urls, and descriptions
  • Learn and implement effective schemas and snippets

The goal of SEO strategies is to improve the content, listings, and website of a product or brand to better favor searchers and the Google algorithm.

Content Marketing

Content marketing focuses on creating the most relevant, profitable, and accessible content for a brand’s marketing needs. Since this requires more knowledge in copywriting, keywords, and search engine optimization, positions in this field usually require more digital marketing training.

Although content marketing is a key part of digital marketing, it also holds importance in other facets of marketing, like print marketing. Additionally, content marketing was the key marketing strategy before the internet was created. Before online technology existed, content marketing promoted products through magazines, billboards, and newspaper articles.

Content marketing is a major part of digital marketing as the words and symbols a reader digests directly relate to a business’s success. Good content marketing can also make or break other marketing initiatives.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing focuses on all the marketing aspects needed for social media platforms. Some of the most popular platforms companies market on include:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  •  TikTok
  • Youtube
  • LinkedIn

Many digital marketing entry-level jobs will be based on social media. However, this is not because of its lack of difficulty. Although many businesses have written off social media as a fun way to communicate, its exponential growth means most individuals with a phone are actively using multiple social media platforms for extended periods throughout the day. Social media marketing focuses on this fact and attempts to improve marketing efforts through effortless contact.

Though it was once seen as an unneeded aspect of a marketing strategy, social media marketing has grown to be an essential part of every business plan. Every platform has its own rules, advertising guidelines, audience types, and digital marketing tools, so it can be hard to find what works best for each account.

Some companies have used social media to revolutionize their business. For example, Wendy’s fast food restaurant is known for snarky remarks and jokes on their social media accounts, which has consistently increased its revenue and brand image. For instance, when one follower suggested McDonald’s was coming out with a spicy nugget to compete with Wendy’s, the company said McDonald’s, “Must have scraped up all of BKs leftovers and slapped mcprice tag on it.” 

Although there isn’t a clear educational path for social media marketing, more courses, classes, and programs are being made available. In this kind of marketing, it is important to stay updated about the changes social media platforms make because it can completely change how advertising campaigns are viewed on devices or increase the features marketers can use.

There are plenty of social media marketing tools available for individuals to use to make posting, planning, creating, and scheduling content a lot easier. Some of these platforms are HootSuite, Buffer, CoSchedule, Sprout Social, Facebook Analytics, Canva, and Bitly.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion rate optimization is a digital marketing strategy that attempts to convert visitors into customers. A conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of successful purchases by the number of visitors, then multiplying that number by 100 to find a percentage.

The idea behind conversion rate optimization is to increase that rate by any means necessary. This could include website design updates, better call-to-action statements, and changes in the ad content. By continuously optimizing conversion rates, businesses can learn how to make more money using fewer resources.

Increasing conversion rates can mean implementing a lot of different marketing strategies and adapting them to a specific audience. Individuals working to increase these rates have to be skilled in creative thinking and adaptability to make marketing strategies across multiple digital platforms work more effectively.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a form of digital marketing that focuses on emails to complete campaigns. Since emailing was one of the original forms of digital communication, email marketing has been one established way to advertise and inform audiences of deals and new content.

First, an organization or business needs to set up a contact list, or a list of individuals that will be sent regular emails. These lists can be created from information collected from the website, analytics from marketing services, or even purchased from another company, though the latter option is not recommended.

The most important aspect of an email marketing campaign is good copy. An email has to be relevant, include excellent images and media, have a persuasive call-to-action statement, and be compelling to the reader. Having all these elements can improve the chance of a successful email newsletter.

Some of the best email marketing services available are:

  • MailChimp
  •  HubSpot Email Marketing Software
  • Constant Contact
  • Omnisend
  • Sendinblue
  • ActiveCampaign
  • GetRespond

These services can make it a bit easier to send out messages to a large contact list. Many of these marketing services also provide analytics and improved contact lists, which can help improve campaigns in the future. One useful tool that is frequently used in email marketing campaigns is A/B Testing.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is when companies and individuals called “affiliates” work together to promote certain products or services.

First, affiliates partner with a company or organization to promote products and/or services. These affiliates will use a link provided by the business and share it through a social media post, blog, or other platforms. Once a person clicks on that link, they are sent to the website with a specific tracker set in place.

After the individual makes a purchase using this link, it is processed through the company’s checkout system, with that tracker still in place. Once the purchase is confirmed, a commission is sent to the affiliate, and the process starts over.

Affiliate Marketing Payment

There are a couple of different ways that affiliates can get paid from the companies and organizations they partner with, including payment made per sale, lead, and click.

When an affiliate is paid per sale, they either get a set dollar amount or a percentage of the sale as a reward for leading customers to make a purchase. Although this kind of commission is ideal for those wanting to make real money, affiliates must actively promote products on their platforms to encourage their audience to complete sales.

A less common form of affiliate marketing is payment through clicks. Affiliates in this kind of partnership will get paid to increase website traffic through a specific link. They can get a commission for every visitor they bring in or from a percentage of increased website traffic for a period of time.

Affiliates participating in payment through leads don’t have to complete a sale but instead focus on bringing more clientele to an organization, private practice, or another kind of business. They may get paid for each lead that is sent or only after a lead purchases a product or service.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing can be a beneficial digital marketing strategy for both influencers and businesses alike.

Individuals are more likely to trust a product or service when it is recommended by a friend or family member. Businesses that utilize affiliate marketing may find more success than some other forms of advertisement, as real people work to promote a product or service with their graphics, images, or experiences.

Influencers looking to expand their audience and collaboration opportunities may benefit from affiliate marketing, as it can connect individuals with a smaller audience with bigger name companies. It can also be a good way to earn some passive income without working full time for a company.

Affiliate Marketing Programs

Although individuals may be able to set up a partnership for affiliate marketing with organizations and companies directly, there are multiple programs out there that can make it easier for people to connect with marketing opportunities. Some of the companies offering top-rated affiliate programs are:

  • HubSpot
  • Amazon Associates
  • Fiverr
  • Awin
  • CJ Affiliate

There are plenty of different affiliate programs available. For the most success, it is best to choose one that is within the individual’s niche. A beauty blogger can choose to work with affiliate programs for makeup companies, but might choose to decline partnership with restaurants or food delivery services.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Unlike pay-per-click affiliate marketing, pay-per-click advertising is a form of digital marketing where advertisers pay websites every time a visitor clicks on their ad. This can be an ad directly on another website or one that pops up through a search engine.

Search engine marketing is one of the most popular pay-per-click advertising methods on the market. When people search for something, the first two or three link results are usually sponsored. If a person clicks on that sponsored link, the website has to pay the search engine a flat fee. Products or services can also show up in the “shopping category.”

One of the most popular search engine marketing platforms is the Google PPC program. Google is the top search engine, so their platform can prove to be very beneficial to advertisers who want their products, services, or content promoted to a larger audience.

When creating a pay-per-click advertising campaign, search engine optimization is important. Using the right keywords, phrases, location settings, and budget can improve the chance of an individual clicking on the ad. Doing tons of audience research and campaign testing can help improve ads of this nature in the future.

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