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What Is Digital Marketing? Definition & Examples

Updated: November 25, 2022

When running a business, it can be difficult to attract customers. You could have the perfect business model, the best products, and incredible service. But if consumers don’t know you exist, you won’t be successful. 

With the internet, you can quickly reach customers who are looking for businesses like yours without having to leave your storefront. Digital marketing makes you visible to people online through search engines, social media, advertisements, and websites. This article covers the why and how behind digital marketing along with the different channels that support it. 

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    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    • Digital marketing strategies use the internet and digital devices to reach consumers within a target market.
    • It covers a wide range of channels, including email, content marketing, social media, etc. Digital marketing is essentially any form of marketing that exists in the digital world. 
    • Using a wide range of digital channels together acts as a marketing funnel to continuously generate leads. 

    What Is Digital Marketing?

    Digital marketing is the process of leveraging online marketing tactics to reach customers. The primary purpose behind it is to promote and sell products and services through a wide variety of digital channels. 

    A common misconception is that digital marketing is just advertising pop-ups. That’s one way to look at it, but there are multiple ways to connect with customers and promote your business online. Some of these channels include: 

    • Social media
    • Text messages
    • Websites
    • Search engines
    • Email
    • Videos
    • Mobile apps

    Some experts in this area believe digital marketing is an entirely new space compared to traditional marketing methods. Since it’s new territory it requires a new way of approaching customers, strategizing, and communicating with them. With the information that’s available on each consumer and their online behaviors, you’re able to target your advertisements to people who are more likely to purchase your products. 

    The process of digital marketing involves targeting a specific segment of a customer base. This is done through search result ads, email ads, and promoted tweets. Essentially anything that facilitates a two-way interaction between consumers and businesses.

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    The Value of Digital Marketing

    Digital marketing helps businesses reach a larger target audience compared to just the people walking through their doors. It also levels the playing field between large companies and small businesses. Traditional marketing focused on advertising to customers through print, radio, or commercials on TV. All of these are expensive to do. 

    Digital marketing makes space for content that’s engaging, and attractive to specific customer bases. Many times this is much more cost-effective than billboards with your business plastered on them.

    Digital marketing offers a new way to connect with customers that isn’t one-sided. Marketing your business online allows you to meet your customers where they’re spending an average of six hours and 56 minutes each day. 

    Since most online activity is recorded and analyzed it provides major value to all kinds of businesses. Digital marketing adds value to businesses in the following ways–

    • It’s easy to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. Marketing tools offer real-time data flows, and website traffic info. These metrics allow you to pivot and make adjustments to your marketing strategy swiftly. 
    • Companies now have insight into who their target customers are, what they respond to, and how to reach them.
    • It’s accessible to businesses of various sizes, industries, and business models. Some of the most effective advertising platforms are free or come at an affordable price. 

    Major companies recognize the value in using digital marketing and have used it year over year to increase the effectiveness of their advertising efforts and rake in massive profits. So companies are willing to spend a huge amount of time, energy, and money marketing themselves on social media and other online platforms.

    The Advantages of Digital Marketing

    With about 70% of people making their purchasing decisions online, it’s easy to see why digital marketing is effective in today’s world. There are several ways that digital marketing outpaces traditional methods in providing benefits to businesses. 

    Many of these benefits come from the increased availability of consumer data with the advent of the internet and social media. It’s also due to the amount of time people now spend online and how that’s become a part of the customer journey during the buying process. 

    Global Reach

    Digital marketing has a far wider reach than more traditional forms of marketing. Consider what traditional advertising offers–commercials, billboards, and radio ads. These all cast a wide net. Meaning they’re built to reach a broad audience. But they’re limited in just how broad they can be. Go across state lines and you no longer have access to the same radio station. Not going down the street with the billboard? Then you don’t even see it. 

    When you post an advertisement online, anyone within your geographical limit can see it. This makes it easier to grow your market reach. 

    With digital marketing, you have the potential to get customers from around the world. And they’re customers who are statistically more likely to become a customer due to the interests and behaviors that align them with your target audience.

    A Tighter Focus

    Even with the global reach of digital marketing efforts, you can still focus on the customers that are most likely to buy from you. 

    With radio, magazines, or TV advertisements you can’t really control who sees them. At best you can make an educated guess with demographic data. Even if you research the customer base on each medium, you still can’t wholly control the viewership. 

    In contrast, digital marketing allows you to identify your target audience and get super specific. From there, your outreach efforts are no longer a shot in the dark. You can use information about your target customer to send personalized emails, push ads that are specific to a segment of your customer base, or send high converting marketing messages to specific customers.

    Cost Efficiency

    Digital marketing carries an overall lower cost than traditional advertising. Getting a prime tv slot for your commercial, printing an ad in the local paper, or paying for a few minutes of radio time comes with high overhead costs. 

    With digital marketing strategies, you can create content at a much lower cost and potentially reach more people. In some cases, a single piece of content can drive visitors to your business as long as it’s active. 

    Another cost-saving feature of internet marketing is the fact that since you can see the effectiveness of your efforts in real-time, you’re able to see when it’s not working. 

    These valuable insights enable you to quickly pivot your strategy. You can easily control how much money is dedicated to certain ad campaigns. So you get more out of the money you spend on marketing. 

    Results Monitoring

    Traditional marketing relies on customer surveys and feedback. It requires you to ask customers how they found you, what drove their purchase, and other questions. Since this information is usually collected through an email or online form it’s difficult to get accurate results. 

    With digital marketing, it’s simple to monitor results. Digital marketing software automatically tracks the number of conversions you get, your cost per click, and other important metrics. Allowing you to easily measure your return on investment, or ROI. 

    Not only do you get a better understanding of what strategies work but you also get to understand the best ways to engage with your customer through these metrics.

    Understanding consumer behavior requires us to look at how businesses engage with their customers throughout the customer journey.

    Better Engagement

    Businesses need to engage with their audience as early as possible in the customer journey to encourage conversion. Each consumer is at various stages of the buyer’s journey. But getting to them in the early stages can be hugely beneficial. 

    Using digital marketing allows you to guide customers through the marketing funnel from start to finish. You can follow the entire journey of your customers and understand and analyze how the funnel is performing.

    With social media as a major platform for businesses to interact with their customers, there’s an opportunity to involve consumers in things like new product releases, get their opinions on the company, and address problems head-on. Driving engagement through digital channels creates a new level of brand loyalty. 

    More Connection

    Digital marketing allows you to communicate with your audience in real-time. Whether that’s via social media or any other digital platform. But more importantly, it lets your customers communicate with you. 

    More connection with customers creates more buzz around your business. If you post a social media message and people start commenting, it increases visibility and generates interest. If they share and repost, then your business could gain even more sales leads. With the right conversion process in place, you’re able to transition those leads to paying customers. 

    This connection also benefits your customers. Their level of engagement grows as they feel more connected to your business. This creates something known as brand loyalty. This is when a customer will choose your brand over others because of their connection with the brand story, values, or offerings. Customers who connect on a deeper level with a business are more likely to become lifetime customers. 

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    The 8 Digital Marketing Channels

    There are several ways to channel digital marketing. Each channel creates a touchpoint for customers to interact with the business. Some have a goal of raising brand awareness. Others aim to close the sale. Let’s take a look at the eight most common channels:

    1. Website Marketing

    Websites are used as the centerpieces of digital marketing activities. A company with a good website knows how powerful it can be. As the centerpiece, it’s needed to execute several other online marketing activities. Emailing, content creating, and pay-per-click all have the goal of driving customers to visit the website in order to complete a purchase. 

    A website should represent the product, brand, and service clearly and memorably. It should be easy to use, mobile-friendly, and speedy to load. 

    2. Content Marketing

    The goal of content marketing is to reach potential customers by using a variety of content distributed across multiple platforms. Content takes many forms and each aims to meet customers at specific points in their buying journey. Here are some examples of different types of content: 

    • Blog posts
    • Sponsored content
    • Videos
    • Social media posts
    • Product pages
    • Infographics
    • Ebooks

    Content is usually published on a website, through social media, on mobile apps, or on other digital platforms. Content marketers then promote the content through email marketing, SEO, and social media platforms. 

    3. Email Marketing

    Some may say that email marketing is an outdated concept. However, it’s still one of the most effective digital marketing strategies. According to datareportal.com, approximately 80.2% of people in the United States still used their email at least once a month in April 2021. Making this form of customer communication a viable marketing option. 

    Sometimes email gets a bad reputation. We’ve all received poorly constructed emails that try to steal your personal information or immediately try to sell you things you don’t need. Email marketing isn’t about spamming email messages full of offers. It is the process of specifically targeting potential customers on an email list with value-driven content.

    Valuable content in an email could be–

    • A relatable brand story
    • An introduction or welcome
    • Providing helpful information that’s relevant to the customer 
    • Sharing personalized offers

    A successful email marketing campaign also contains five attributes: 

    1. Trustworthy
    2. Coordinated across channels
    3. Strategic
    4. Conversational
    5. Relevant

    This may require multiple emails to earn a sale, but it’s an effective tactic. Once leads have been gathered, businesses can create customer acquisition funnels. This is a series of emails that aim to turn leads into customers. 

    4. Social Media Marketing

    The main goal of a social media marketing campaign is brand awareness. A company with good brand awareness can establish what’s known as social trust. This is where when faced with a choice, consumers will pick the product that they ‘trust’ the most. This tends to be the product that they’ve heard of. 

    Social media marketing can also be used to generate leads, or even as a direct sales channel. Since there are several different social media platforms each one requires a different social media strategy to be successful. This can be very time-consuming so many business owners hire a social media manager to handle the job. 

    Some parts of social media marketing overlap with content marketing. Many times the content pieces are promoted and distributed through social media channels. 

    5. Video Marketing

    This is considered one of the most popular channels at the current time. Companies can find great success by utilizing video marketing via online video platforms. This includes Facebook Videos and Instagram. Perhaps the most successful platforms to use are YouTube and TikTok. 

    By integrating video content with advertisements and SEO, businesses can broaden their marketing campaigns and target specific audiences. Video content has the added benefit of being compelling and easily marketable. 

    6. SMS Messaging

    Reaching customers on their mobile devices is a simple way to maintain contact while informing them of the latest offerings, deals, and brand news.

    Organizations can use SMS or text messaging to directly contact consumers with information. This could be about their latest promotions or giving opportunities to specific customers. As technology advances, many charities have also utilized a text-to-give process that allows customers to directly pay via a text messaging service. 

    7. Affiliate Marketing

    One of the older forms of marketing, the internet has brought affiliate marketing back into the equation. Affiliate marketing can be broken down into two different examples:

    1. There is the process of influencers promoting other people’s products in return for payment. This may be through a commission every time a sale is made, or through singular payments for each promotion. 
    2. Some affiliate programs pay large sums of money to websites to sell their products. An example of this would be Amazon selling its products via different websites through unique seller links. 

    What’s interesting about affiliate marketing is that it can overlap with a few other marketing channels. Affiliate marketers can use email marketing, social media, video, and content to promote products for a fee. 

    8. Pay Per Click Advertising

    Pay per click, or PPC, advertising allows marketers to reach a variety of digital platforms through paid ads. A PPC campaign can be set up on platforms such as Google, LinkedIn, or Twitter. It is the process of paying to have their product displayed on a website. Then each time the advert is clicked on by a consumer, a payment is made to the advertiser. 

    The how and when of consumers seeing a PPC advert is slightly complicated. When there is a gap available to be filled, the engine will fill the spot according to an instant auction. PPC advertising uses an algorithm that prioritizes each available ad based on several factors, including:

    • Ad quality
    • Keyword relevance
    • Landing page quality
    • Bid amount

    You will see examples of this type of advertising on almost any website you visit. 

    Summary

    Digital marketing allows businesses to reach customers in ways that traditional methods can’t. There are a variety of channels that fall under the digital umbrella. The benefit behind it is being able to use customer data to reach the consumers that are most likely to support your business. 

    This requires value-added content, targeted advertisements, and open communication with customers to name a few. With the right digital marketing plan, you can raise brand awareness, improve engagement and increase sales. 

    Freshbooks accounting software is designed to help digital marketing agencies tackle their finances with ease. You can easily invoice your clients, track employee hours and manage expenses in one place. A multitude of app integrations makes it simple to transfer information without the hassle. Try Freshbooks accounting software for digital marketing free for 30 days and see how you can improve your business.

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    FAQs About Digital Marketing

    What Is SEO?

    SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is the process of improving your online visibility through the use of keywords that relate to your business. Search engines such as Google collect information from websites to determine how useful it is for certain searches. It returns the results with quality content and keywords that fit the best.

    What Is a Brand?

    A brand is a term that refers to a business and marketing concept. It helps people to identify a particular company, product, service, or individual. A brand is intangible, they are something that is built to shape perception.

    What Is Brand Awareness?

    Brand awareness is a marketing term. It describes the degree to which consumers will recognize a product by its name. Creating brand awareness is tricky. Yet it is a key step in being able to successfully promote a new product, or when reviving an older brand.

    What are digital marketing tools?

    Digital marketing tools assist in reaching the target audience. They include social media platforms, email marketing tools, analytics, design, and content creation.

    What is the difference between branding and digital marketing?

    Branding is the act of designing a business’s personality and how it presents itself to customers. Digital marketing is promoting the business and its products or services through online methods.

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