Digital marketing is one of the most dynamic and versatile careers of the 21st century. With the rise of technology and the increasing importance of digital marketing, businesses of all sizes are seeking capable marketers to help them navigate the digital landscape and connect with their target audience.
In this guide, we’ll break down what you need to know to get started in the digital marketing industry. We’ll walk you through the fundamentals, key components, relevant terminology, and the tips and tools that can guide you toward success.
Digital marketing 101
Digital marketing is an umbrella term that encompasses all forms of marketing delivered through the Internet. From content to email marketing, to search engine optimization and social media marketing – as long as it’s on the Internet and accessible to digital devices, it’s considered to be a part of digital marketing.
With the explosive growth of technology and the Internet in recent decades, digital marketing has become an integral element of conducting modern businesses and connecting with target audiences.
There are a variety of key elements you should consider when tackling digital marketing:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of optimizing a website to rank higher on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. A higher ranking can help a website to appear in the top search results, thus increasing its visibility and attracting more traffic. A strong SEO strategy involves keyword research, creating high-quality content, and building backlinks.
- Email marketing
Email marketing is a cost-effective way to reach and engage with customers and your target audience. By collecting email addresses from customers and subscribers, businesses can send targeted messages and promotions directly to their inboxes. Successful email marketing can be achieved by providing value in your content, crafting a compelling subject line to promote opens, and using a clear call to action.
- Content marketing
The core of content marketing is rooted in crafting and sharing valuable, relevant, and engaging content to attract and retain your target audience. Content marketing is a broad term used to describe a variety of practices, such as blog posts, videos, emails, and social media content. These tactics focus on providing value upfront and building trust with your target audiences to achieve a variety of objectives, rather than solely promoting your company’s product or service.
- Social media marketing
Social media can be a powerful tool. There are few channels that provide near-unfettered access to global audiences quite like social media. By publishing valuable, engaging content, interacting with your audience, and curating a strong presence on social media platforms, you can build brand awareness and connect with people in your target audience. Establishing a relationship with your audience allows you to build a reliable community and trust, which can be leveraged in converting potential customers.
The most popular social media marketing channels are:
- Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
PPC advertising can be an effective way to reach potential customers. Companies can create ads and bid on keywords they think their target audience will search for. When a user clicks on the ad, they are directed to the advertiser’s website. These ads are typically triggered when people search for targeted keywords on search engines.
This type of advertising is particularly incentivizing, as companies only pay for users that click their ads, rather than the number of impressions delivered.
- Mobile marketing
Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets can be a valuable means of reaching your target audience. Mobile marketing tactics focus on mobile-specific channels, such as in-app messaging, SMS marketing, and mobile-optimized websites. These techniques are most effective when used in combination with other marketing disciplines.
However, as the digital ecosystem changes, innovative digital marketing channels continue to gain traction.
Brief history of digital marketing
The emergence of digital marketing was catalyzed by vast technological innovation and the birth of the Internet in the late 1990s. In the early days, companies primarily used technology to automate and streamline their marketing processes. As the internet became more widespread, digital marketing evolved into a sophisticated industry, providing businesses with new opportunities to reach and engage with their target audience.
Search engines, such as Google, were introduced during this time – revolutionizing the way people search for information online. This was a turning point for digital marketing, as companies started to realize the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic to their websites.
Less than a decade later, the growing popularity of mobile devices and social media platforms further transformed the way people used the Internet and as a result, digital marketing as a whole.
Today, digital marketing is an essential pillar of modern-day business. As technology continues to evolve in unimaginable ways, new digital channels will rise and fall with the changing landscape. Augmented Reality (AR), the Metaverse, and Web3 are teeming with opportunity for businesses and companies alike. Regardless of technology’s success and failures that may lie ahead, digital marketing is here to stay.
Terms to know
Also known as “split testing.” The practice of testing slightly different versions of content among smaller groups to determine which is more performative. A/B testing can be used to optimize landing pages, social posts, emails, and other types of content.
The percentage of users that interact with a product or service. For example, conversion rate might be defined as the number of website visitors who make a purchase divided by the total number of site visitors.
Writing text relating to advertisements and published content. At its core, copywriting is about using words to persuade readers to take a specific action.
Cost per mile (mille = thousand in Latin). A pricing model used to charge advertisers based on the number of times their ad is displayed to users, usually, 1,000 impressions per dollar spent.
The frequency in which users interact with a website, app, or advertisement. Engagement rate can be calculated by taking the number of people that have interacted with a particular piece of content and dividing by the number of overall people that have seen the same piece of content.
Advertising that relies on users’ locations. Geotargeting allows advertisers to use location data to deliver ads to specific audiences and is most commonly used to target local prospects.
Key Performance Indicator. A metric used to measure the success of advertising campaigns by comparing key metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and total revenue generated against set targets or benchmarks.
Informational data that is used to describe content. Metadata supports SEO by helping search engines organize and classify content, ultimately improving indexing and visibility.
A component of SEO. Tactics used to improve SERP rankings, outside of your website. This is inclusive of backlinks, link building, guest blogging, as well as organic and paid mentions of your brand.
A component of SEO. Tactics that can be directly applied to your website to improve SERP rankings, which allow search engines to better understand and classify your content. Procedures include improving site content, metadata, internal link building, and technical optimization.
Pay Per Click. A type of online advertising in which advertisers pay for each time their ads are clicked by users rather than paying a flat fee for each ad impression.
A tactic that uses ads to target online users who have previously visited a website or performed a certain action (e.g., clicked on a link). Remarketing is often used in conjunction with other digital marketing strategies such as SEO, social media marketing, and email marketing.
Personalizing your marketing efforts to meet the needs of small, specific groups, rather than trying to appeal to a generalized, broad audience.
Search Engine Marketing. Marketing efforts associated with search engines, such as search engine optimization and PPC advertisements.
Search Engine Optimization. Strategies related to boosting visibility and increasing rankings on search engine results pages (SERP). The higher your content is ranked, the more likely it is to garner traffic.
Search engine results page. The displayed results page from search engine queries, which typically includes paid ads and organic results.
An on-page, non-content related component of SEO, that contributes to higher SERP rankings. This includes improving server speed, optimizing crawlability, and structured data, to name a few.
- Diversify your channels. Using a variety of digital marketing channels can help you reach a larger audience and increase conversions. If resources allow, incorporate several channels to promote growth such as PPC ads, email, social media, and content marketing.
- Use data to inform your decisions. Data is an essential tool for marketers. It’s easy to get caught up in subjective ____. Collecting and analyzing data will help you understand your target audience and make informed decisions about your strategy and execution.
- Invest in SEO. It might sound obvious, but it’s easy to put SEO efforts to the backburner – it’s not a quick win. Although the benefits won’t be immediate, the long-term advantages of boosted rankings on search engine results pages (SERP) can be significant. The higher your content is ranked, the more visible it is and more likely to be clicked.
- Stay up-to-date with industry trends. Digital marketing is constantly evolving and is reflective of the Internet’s exorbitant rate of innovation. Maintaining an up-to-date working knowledge of the industry and Internet trends overall is critical for producing successful digital marketing campaigns. Attending conferences, networking, and reading industry-related articles and newsletters are great ways to continue learning all that you can.
Tools and resources
With the continual use of digital channels, it’s important for digital marketers to have access to the best tools and resources to succeed. Here are some of the most popular options among digital marketers:
Sites like Ahrefs and Moz help digital marketers optimize websites for search engines. Many SEO tools offer a variety of services, such as site audits, keyword research, and competitor analysis, which can identify areas of opportunity and be used to guide your overall SEO strategy and future content. Additionally, these SEO-focused sites can be used to improve your existing content by optimizing headlines, meta tags, and keyword usage.
Email marketing tools
Email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp and ConvertKit can be used to streamline email processes relating to creation, distribution, and performance analysis. These tools provide a range of features, including email templates, automation, and segmentation.
PPC advertising are typically managed through search engines’ owned hubs, such as Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. These sites provide a platform for creating, managing, and tracking the success of PPC campaigns.
Digital marketing involves a variety of complex practices and tactics used to build rapport with target audiences. Although the diverse techniques can be daunting, with the right tools in your arsenal, a thirst for continual learning, and a passion for creative marketing endeavors, you can achieve success a digital marketer – regardless of your previous experience.
For more info about pursuing digital marketing as a career, read our in-depth Guide to Digital Marketing!