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Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide to Improve Your Business ROI

July 8, 2021

digital marketing

By the time you finish reading this, thousands of digital marketing campaigns will have been launched

The world is all digital, and we're just living in it. We went from newspaper advertisements and billboards to social media banners and online events. Considering that you'd be hard-pressed to find something that wasn't sold online, it was only a matter of time before marketing and advertising became digital as well. 

Regardless of the industry they're in or what their role is, everyone's involved with or impacted by some form of digital marketing or digital marketing services at some point in their lives. If you have a website, social media channels, a blog, or send out emails, you've performed the act of digital marketing. People have become increasingly comfortable using the internet and all that it has to offer. So why not leverage that to strengthen your digital presence?

Let's dive into the world of digital marketing and everything you need to know to be a step ahead of the competition.

Any online marketing effort can fall under the umbrella of digital marketing. Despite being newer than other marketing efforts, digital marketing has become a large part of what drives marketing forward. 

As the internet continues to evolve, digital marketing will continue to grow. In the 2000s, companies flirted with the idea of digital marketing. With social media hitting its stride in the 2010s, digital marketing became a more aspiring strategy to adopt. Today, everyone is doing it. It's no wonder that digital marketing is used interchangeably with the term internet marketing.

Today's marketing experts are expected to demonstrate some level of understanding of digital marketing. We've scratched the surface of digital marketing, but there's still so much to explore and learn.

Importance of digital marketing

To sell something, you need to know where the market is.

With most businesses acquiring their prospects online, it makes sense to focus marketing efforts online as well. However, digital marketing is more than just a method of marketing done online. It's a precise, data-driven form of marketing that any company should take seriously.

Here are a few reasons why digital marketing is essential for fulfilling modern business marketing requirements.

Increasing your reach

The digital world has no borders. 

Customers across the globe will have similar problems or are looking for a solution. If your business can address these needs, it's an excellent market opportunity to engage with them. 

With the help of digital marketing, companies can reach prospects from any part of the world and conduct business with them. It's an excellent way for businesses to become international without physically stepping foot on foreign soil. Today, internationalization has become attainable for small businesses on Instagram that can ship retail goods to different countries that resonate with their products.

On the other hand, digital marketing also increases your reach within a specific geographical region. For example, a billboard or a flyer is visible within a two-mile radius, but a banner ad on Google can be seen by an entire city, state, or country.

Targeting the right set of people

Marketing can be expensive. Paid campaigns require a lot of planning since there's a limited budget allocated. This is where targeting becomes crucial for advertisers and marketers. 

You could launch more broad-based campaigns with only a few demographic filters, but that doesn't mean you'll get more hits on the campaign. For instance, your business could be selling sugar-free vegan ice cream. You could set the campaign for adults in the age group of 18-60 who live in North America, but how many people in this demographic would buy your product? 

Digital marketing allows marketing teams to target customers based on their interests, awareness level, and demographic details. These data points are obtained from users' internet searches, usage, and the information that they put out on social media. Marketers can craft a comprehensive buyer persona from these inputs and push campaigns seen by the right set of people. With this data, retargeting is also possible, allowing marketing professionals to reel lost leads back into the marketing cycle.

If we go back to the ice cream example, your buyer persona tells you that the ideal prospects are vegans in their 20s or early 30s, residing in metropolitan cities like Los Angeles. Focusing your campaign spend on this demographic gives you a better return-on-investment (ROI) on your campaign, and you get leads that exhibit a much higher chance at converting.

Using personalization for persuasion

Being able to target the right set of people also means that there's audience data available at your fingertips. A rough idea of what the target audience wanted was sketched out in traditional marketing, and a standard marketing campaign would be distributed accordingly. With the advent of digital marketing, data for every individual is accounted for and can draw invaluable insights.

Take a ridesharing service like Uber. The problem statement is: providing transport on the go, at any time and any place. 

While this rings true for anyone looking for a ride, people's motivations for using such a service can wildly differ. For example, maybe someone lived in a crowded city and never needed to learn how to drive or get a license. Another might be a senior citizen who can't see well but wants to make regular trips to see their grandchildren who live across the city.

Gathering customer data can help companies like Uber create different ad copy, campaigns, or tailored messaging that hits their intended audience with the right amount of positive impact. Of course, the amount of data collected can be immense, but luckily, customer data platforms can help marketing professionals assemble and segment information into curated personas.

Creating impact without compromising on budget

The beauty of digital marketing is how unbiased it is toward any business. Your business could be a startup or a giant enterprise spread across different continents, but the rules would still be the same. 

With traditional marketing, creativity and research go a long way. But the unspoken rule is that "the one with deeper pockets sees wider results". Billboards and TV ads are expensive. A smaller business can’t compete with a larger company simply because they can’t afford to. 

This is where digital marketing evens the playing field.

Posting an ad online still costs money, but it costs peanuts compared to a nationwide television campaign. With online channels and digital platforms, a small business that started in a garage somewhere could rank better than a giant conglomerate, provided their digital marketing game is strong. 

People have become proficient in creating social profiles and using hashtags, knowing the best times of the day to post, and speaking the language of their target audience. You don't need a lot of money to master these tactics; you just need to understand digital marketing well.

Measuring your impact in real time

You have a billboard propped on a highway. How do you measure its effectiveness or its performance? You could argue that because it’s a busy thoroughfare, a lot of eyes are on your ad.

But your billboard isn't the only one out there, right? What are the chances that someone saw another billboard and not yours? A bigger question would be if someone did see your billboard, how many of them were compelled to buy your product or take any action? What were the results of the billboard?

With digital marketing, all these questions and more are answerable. Everything online is quantifiable. Every click, every comment, and every conversion is accounted for. Digital marketing channels track the engagement rates of every post or ad a business puts out. This is an excellent insight to know which digital marketing campaigns performed well and which ones failed to hit the mark. 

It also sheds light on the source from where leads or new customers originate. By adding d Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters that help track every conversion and its source better; whether from a landing page, social media post, referral, or search engine result, UTM parameters give better visibility to digital marketers about the performance of each online campaign. Knowing the source helps marketing teams hone in on which channels work the best for them and focus most of their efforts on those.

Beyond knowing which channels worked best for a particular campaign, tracking and monitoring a lead's movement before it culminates its journey as a customer is crucial for marketers. A typical battle that marketing teams endure is whether marketing or sales efforts convert a prospect. Digital marketing provides all the data needed to show how a lead was nurtured, for how long, and whether the closure could be attributed to marketing efforts entirely or partially.

Types of digital marketing

Digital marketing encapsulates several individual divisions within marketing. A business may not have all the divisions associated with digital marketing, but that doesn't mean they aren't pursuing a digital marketing strategy. Typically, a combination of different types of digital marketing allows for optimal results.

Let's look at some types of digital marketing businesses use as a part of their marketing strategy.

Websites

From the plain, text-based pages of the late '90s to today's interactive pages that look more lifelike than ever, websites have come a long way.

A no-brainer, websites are the first step into the digital world for businesses. These are not to be confused with splash pages, an introductory screen that greets visitors before they land on the website's homepage. A website is where the target audience begins to interact with a company, indicating that there's some interest generated. If there were ever a place that businesses could put their all in, it would be the humble website.

Websites are busy workers. It’s responsible for building brand awareness, generating interest, educating visitors, and converting prospects. It's important to note that each of these goals is large enough on its own and requires individual focus; a whole website has to carry all this load while looking appealing and interactive.

This is why designing and developing a solid website is vital for any business in the digital age. Good website design not only makes a great impression on internet users, but it should also be compelling enough for a visitor to linger and take action on the page.

While websites are more of a medium than a digital marketing process, they should still be considered essential digital marketing strategies. This holds true even today, with so many companies constantly reworking their websites.

Here are two things that companies get wrong when they conceptualize and design a website for their business:

1. Not having a clear message

A good website should exhibit ARE: Build Awareness, Resonate with the audience, and Educate visitors. Messaging ties all three elements together to create the maximum impact on an individual. However, if your business isn't clear about the messaging, how do you expect your prospects to understand its offerings? 

For example, an amusement park is supposed to be a fun destination with cool rides. But if the flyers advertise a museum attraction instead of the rides, the intended audience (children between the ages of 6-14) will be confused and wouldn't want to go to such a place.

On the other hand, companies that keep trying to chase industry buzzwords will have websites that never see longevity. These are the kinds of organizations that have multiple website revamp projects within a year or two. This usually happens when stakeholders fail to agree on one core message and juggle too many things simultaneously. 

Establishing the right message at the very beginning eliminates the need for any confusion, maintains consistency, and drives a better brand recall with the audience.

2. Making the homepage sound like a sales deck

Can a dictionary substitute a book? Both have words and pages, so why not?

There's a reason why sales presentations cannot be substitutes for a website. One is supposed to push people to convert, while another is supposed to show what's available and what the business does.

A product or service is intended to solve a problem. Customers are smart enough to figure out what they need. So your website should say: "We understand that this is a problem you're facing, and here's what we have to combat it." This may seem similar to what a sales pitch would sound like, but there is a difference.

Any good sales deck is story-driven. A story is crafted around the prospect that the business is engaging. Comparison tables, charts, and statistics are all elements within a sales presentation. 

That doesn't mean websites can't be story-driven. They can. The question is whose story are you going to tell? Internet users that visit a website come from different sources and backgrounds, and have varying needs and problems that have to be solved. Even if a business caters to multiple industries, several unique user profiles within each sector need to be accounted for. You can't mesh dozens of different buyer personas to fit into one standard website copy.

Keep the website relatable to a larger audience. Anything very specific can be covered in a sales deck when interacting with prospects or through content like whitepapers, case studies, videos, and eBooks.

Content marketing

If marketing were a human body, content would be the carbs powering the entire system.

Digital media has only grown more prominent over the years. With the internet becoming far more accessible than ever before, web users have found channels to create, post, and share their content. As a result, there’s so much information out there being produced and only continuing to grow every minute.

When people think about content marketing, blogging is the first thing that comes to mind. While blogs are content in their most traditional form, content marketing isn’t limited by this. Contrary to common belief, content marketing is more than just written content.

Instead, content marketing is a dynamic marketing function responsible for educating the audience, building awareness, generating leads, and increasing a company’s reach and brand recall. From the website copy to the case studies highlighting a product’s efficiency, content marketing forms the core of any marketing or advertising strategy. 

Businesses need to figure out which content form is being consumed the most currently by their target audience. For example, do your prospects prefer reading or do they like video content instead? 

Content forms also depend on which stage of the funnel a potential customer is currently in. For example, if a visitor has no prior knowledge of a business and is in the exploratory phase of their buying process, they’ll need top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content. Examples of TOFU content include blogs, videos, social media posts, infographics, and images.

If the visitor is interested in knowing more about the company and is currently in the evaluation stage of the process, they require middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) content. MOFU content is more technical than TOFU content, with assets like whitepapers, solution briefs, product modules, eBooks, buyer guides, and surveys being provided at this stage.

Finally, if a lead is in the process of being converted into a customer and is in the decision stage, they’ll need bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content. BOFU content is extremely company-centric since this is the phase where prospects need to be sold on the organization's business offerings. BOFU content includes demos, case studies, on-demand webinars, speaker notes at an event, free trials or tutorials, and comparison charts.

TOFU vs. MOFU vs. BOFU

Here are five examples of content marketing being utilized in everyday business operations and their impact:

1. Blogs

Whoever said that blogs were dead probably doesn’t believe in marketing as well.

Beyond being hubs of information, blogs or articles can also provide some of the best ranking opportunities on search engine results pages (SERPs). This is because the more content a business has, the better its visibility online.

That doesn’t mean pumping out loads of content without rhyme or reason will help. Content marketing isn’t that straightforward. There is a strategy involved that comes out from thorough research. 

Companies looking at blogging need to keep these things in mind:

  • First, analyze what’s ranking well currently and observe what kind of content is being created.
  • Understand which topics are popular that are still relevant to the business (Force fitting a viral topic won’t work.)
  • Identify content gaps online that others haven’t covered extensively yet. Again, these are good opportunities to leverage.
  • How much time do users spend on each content piece? Evaluate whether your business should pursue long- or short-form content.

Blogs are primarily created to build awareness, making it a TOFU instrument.  Companies can’t and shouldn’t expect blogs to generate leads and drive conversions. At this stage, a visitor is in its exploration stage. Blogs guide a user through discovering a product or service, understanding how such a product can solve their problem, and educating them on other aspects of the topic.

2. Videos

Videos are the content form of the 21st century. Now that we can record videos using our phones and view them in real-time without needing chunky VCR tapes (remember those?), video content has become more widespread than ever.

Businesses that aren't producing videos for their content needs are seriously missing out. Here are a few statistics to note about video marketing:

  • 80% of video marketers claim that video has directly increased sales.
  • By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic.
  • 84% of people were convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand's video.

Just like blogs, videos are also TOFU content used to increase awareness. The advantage of video content is that one can explain a lot more in a few frames in less time than you could in a few pages. In addition, they’re easy to consume, share, and repurpose as well. For example, soundbites or short video clips highlighting a critical point can be cut and reused as shareable content. 

However, producing videos is a complex skill to master. Not only do you need to know how to use a camera and understand the proper lighting or shooting conditions, but you also need to be adept at editing as well. Videos are easy to record; high-quality videos aren't. The importance of a video editor only seems to grow over the years. Having a good video editor on hand can help a company create quality content that performs well.

3. Podcasts

Podcasts join the ranks of blogs and videos as TOFU content. They're incredible tools for not only building brand awareness but also for establishing thought leadership. Podcasts are also a great way to initiate influencer marketing by having industry experts or "influencers" participate in an episode. This builds the credibility of any company and can be used as a form of social proof.

Like videos, podcasts are sensory forms of content. However, while videos are auditory and visual, podcasts can stand alone with just an audio feed. That's not to say that podcasts can't be visual; many popular podcasts work in a video format.

The key to a successful podcast depends on several factors. Some of these are:

  • Being consistent: This holds for any content strategy, but podcasts generally work best as a series of episodes. Podcasts are slow burners, and they take time to gain momentum and a steady following. Putting out a couple of podcast episodes and halting production won't see any favorable results. They're a long-term investment and need to be pumped regularly, without letting the quality of the content dip.
  • Comfortable speakers: Since podcasts are listened to, how someone speaks can drastically change how the listener perceives the content. Unfortunately, not everyone is a gifted speaker. You don't need to be an orator to run a podcast, but it certainly helps if the host is comfortable speaking and is adept at transitioning between topics seamlessly.
  • Experts on a topic: This is something a few organizations get wrong. When a company decides to create a podcast for their business, they believe that the host or main speaker should be a C-level executive. For obvious reasons, someone in higher management brings credibility and visibility to a show. The problem with such an approach is that senior leaders aren't getting their hands dirty anymore.

    For example, if there's a podcast on cybersecurity, a Chief InfoSec Officer (CIO) would have some good insights on the topic. But the depth of knowledge that a vulnerability analyst would have on the subject is much higher because they work in the field every day. So having a good blend of senior leaders and topic experts is the key to an engaging podcast series.

4. Whitepapers

Whitepapers are text-heavy documents. But unlike a blog or an article, these are more technical and have a business-like tone. Since whitepapers are written for a more informed audience, these are perfect vessels for MOFU content. At this stage of the funnel, leads seek very particular answers about the product and its capabilities that a website or an article can’t cover.

Whitepapers are used to generate leads in the form of gated content. Interested prospects would download a whitepaper after giving out a few details on a lead generation form. Since people are willing to give their data in exchange for content, the whitepaper being offered must be worth their time.

Here are some things you should avoid when putting together a whitepaper:

  • Using too much space to talk about the company: This is still not a sales pitch, so save that content for a deck or a demo presentation. Keep a small section for an “About Us” paragraph if required, but don’t let it become a page long.
  • Repurposing content from ungated sources: If someone’s been exploring a company for a while now, chances are they’ve already skimmed through the blogs and website copy openly available online. Using the exact text in gated content is lazy and leaves a prospect feeling cheated out of giving their details. Instead, whitepapers should add individual value to a lead.
  • Not explaining technical terms: Whitepapers are inherently technical documents. However, not everyone will understand the jargon you’re using. If a whitepaper contains any new words or terms specific to the business but not necessarily to the industry, ensure that the definitions or explanations are covered within the same document. Prospects shouldn’t have to keep Googling what your whitepaper means.

5. Case studies

Like whitepapers, case studies are MOFU content. Marketing teams can generate marketing qualified leads (MQLs) from individuals that provide their details on a form and download a case study. 

Case studies are a prevalent form of obtaining leads. Prospective buyers want to know who’s used the product and how the product helped solve a problem. This is where businesses can highlight their product’s capabilities. Case studies can be text-based or in a video format. Video case studies would have the client speaking about the product favorably. Prospects trust video case studies more since the client's face and words are being displayed.

Affiliate marketing

In affiliate marketing, digital creators partner with brands that align with the content they put out on their channels. These creators promote the brand they tie up with and earn income based on the number of people who purchase merchandise through their affiliate links.

Affiliate marketing is a win-win situation for both the affiliate marketer and the business they’re partnering with. 

Affiliate marketers get a neat cut of every purchase done by a customer using the affiliate link or affiliate discount code. It’s a great side gig for influencers looking at making some extra cash through their content.

Brands or merchants that partner with affiliate marketers get to tap into a loyal audience base that fits their buyer persona to a T. Affiliates work hard to build a steady audience that actively consumes their content. 

People trust these creators or influencers because they’re real people that aren’t actors paid to endorse a product on TV. If an affiliate is using or advocating a product, chances are they use this product and show their support for it. Affiliate marketers amplify a brand’s voice amongst the right crowd and help build credibility around it.

These are the niches that drive the highest number of affiliate programs:

  • Fashion (18.7%)
  • Sporting goods (14.6%)
  • Health and wellness (11.1%)

Email marketing

Email marketing provides the highest ROI than other marketing tactics. Yet, most people get it wrong.

Think back to the last time you received a promotional email. Was it something you clicked on? Or did it immediately get sent to spam?

The reason why people dislike getting promotional emails is that they’re blatantly promotional. “But an email campaign is supposed to be promotional, right?” It is, but there are better ways of going about it.

Email marketing requires a ton of groundwork. “Batch and blast” email strategies are ineffective and should be done away with. Instead, like every other digital marketing strategy, email marketing should be data-driven. 

Did you know? Batch and blast email campaigns include sending one standard email to many email subscribers in an email list. It's also referred to as bulk emailing.

Email segmentation is a shining example of how email marketing strategies can incorporate data. It requires collecting different data types to create a rough idea of what the contact base looks like, the common characteristics shared by people within this list, and how best to group them. 

As opposed to sending large batches of emails to every contact in a CRM, email segmentation helps businesses push relevant messaging to the right set of people.

Some of the benefits of email segmentation include: 

  • Reducing unsubscribe rates
  • Strengthening customer relationships 
  • Crafting email content pertinent to contacts
  • Executing email campaigns that convert
  • Increasing subscriber interaction with emails
  • Enabling lead nurturing
  • Generating more revenue

In email personalization, marketers use the information they have on each individual and create customized email bodies that utilize information specific to one user. This could be in the form of names used in a subject line or addressing a person's designation and location within the email.

By combining segmentation, email personalization becomes much more manageable and highly effective. As a result, subscribers get emails relevant to them, and businesses get successful campaigns that don’t end up in the trash.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

As the name suggests, SEO is the process of optimizing or improving a company’s page on the SERP. Search engines display various links to pages and websites in a particular order that changes from time to time. The position of each page is called its rank. Ranks determine how visible a particular webpage is online to the average internet user.

SEO is often confused with search engine marketing (SEM). The two can be distinguished by one factor: SEO utilizes organic strategies to rank better on SERP, while SEM uses paid methods to appear on SERP.

SEO can be segregated into a few key types:

  • On-page SEO: Looks at the content present on a particular page. On-page SEO focuses on elements like keyword density, the share of voice, search volume, readability, and accessibility to the correct information.
  • Off-page SEO: Focuses on backlinks that could generate external attention. If a web page’s content is informative or valuable, other websites may link it to their pages. A higher number of backlinks pulled by pages with a high domain authority propels a company’s website rankings in the SERP, making it rise toward the top.
  • Technical SEO: Technical SEO, while not related to the content of a page, remains a crucial part of any SEO strategy. Search engines penalize pages that load slowly or have compression issues. Technical SEO experts address these issues and more within the website’s code and fix them immediately.

Social media marketing

Social media has effectively changed the way the internet looks, feels, and sounds today. What was once the watering hole for college students or high school kids has now become a place for all ages and backgrounds across the globe. While organic social media posts don’t generate leads or conversions, it’s vital for building awareness and growing a company’s presence. The future is social, after all.

Since most people spend a considerable chunk of their time on social media, it’s only natural that businesses began to shift their focus on digital platforms. Several social media marketing software tools are available in the market for specific goals to optimize marketing efforts across these platforms.

While most online platforms make up the spectrum of social media, each forum differs widely from one another. Let’s look at five of the biggest social media platforms and how each business can leverage its full potential.

1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform where companies can recruit candidates, post updates about the business, and run digital campaigns for building awareness or generating leads. It's like Facebook for companies. While anyone can create a profile on the platform, LinkedIn predominantly comprises Baby Boomers, Gen X, and older Millennials. It's geared toward a more mature audience.

Because LinkedIn targets a specific demographic and is more for businesses than friends and family, the marketing tactic will change. Here are some elements that digital marketing professionals use on LinkedIn:

  • Gated/ungated content: Social media is a great way to share content. The type of content shared and consumed on LinkedIn are long-form pieces like whitepapers, case studies, press releases (PR), infographics, or articles. A mix of gated and ungated content is used to educate the target audiences and capture leads.
  • Landing pages: Landing pages are proficient at generating leads by offering something of value to a user. This could be gated content in the form of guides or resources or getting visitors to sign up for an email newsletter. Landing pages are predominantly seen on LinkedIn as opposed to other social media platforms.
  • InMail: "Sliding into your DMs" has a very different meaning on LinkedIn. InMail is a message ad sent to specific LinkedIn profiles based on the ad campaign objectives. It's a better approach than cold emailing since the audience is filtered according to the designation, region, industry, and job experience. Marketing experts can also personalize their message ads through dynamic fields that use these attributes.

LinkedIn at a glance:

  • Launch date: May 5, 2003
  • Number of users: 756 million (as of 2021)
  • Revenue model: Advertisements, LinkedIn Premium
  • Primary business marketing focus: B2B
  • Average cost per click (CPC): $5.26
  • Average cost per lead (CPL): $15-$300
  • Average cost per 1000 impressions (CPM): $8.56-$11.78
  • Ad formats available: Video, banner, carousel image, text, spotlight, InMail (or message/conversation), and event ads
  • Campaign duration: Fixed or lifetime
  • Campaign objectives: Brand awareness, website visits, engagement (likes, comments, shares), video views, lead generation, website conversions, job applicants

*Figures obtained from LinkedIn, LinkedIn Business, Webfx, The B2BHouse, and HubSpot

2. Instagram

Instagram is dominated by the youth, specifically Millennials and Gen Z users. It's one of the youngest platforms to come out and has since snowballed into a worldwide phenomenon. 

Starting as a digital photo album where users could post pictures of their day-to-day lives and get likes or "hearts" under each post, Instagram's become a zeitgeist of cultural change. Users today can share videos, have live streams, create Reels or 15-second video and audio clips, set up stores for e-commerce, and now even create and publish blogs or articles in a recent update. 

While influencer marketing isn't a new thing, Instagram has managed to become a breeding ground for influencers, paving the way for young "Insta-stars" that partner with brands ranging from apparel and skincare to home decor and restaurants. 

Instagram is B2C-focused, not having a sizable B2B audience established as of now. But the platform is known for regular updates and introducing new features that increase the longevity of the social media channel. 

With its large user base, Instagram is an ideal platform for advertising. Back in the late 2010s, advertising on Instagram was inexpensive. However, with the platform becoming more crowded and more users utilizing Instagram ads to reach new audiences, ad costs have steadily increased over the years.

Instagram at a glance:

  • Launch date: October 6, 2010
  • Number of users: 1.07 billion (as of 2021)
  • Revenue model: Advertisements
  • Primary business marketing focus: B2C
  • Average cost per click (CPC): $0.5-$3
  • Average cost per lead (CPL): $10.89
  • Average cost per 1000 impressions (CPM): $6.70-$8.50
  • Ad formats available: Single image, IGTV or video, carousel, Instagram shopping, explore, and story ads
  • Campaign duration: Fixed or lifetime
  • Campaign objectives: App installs, brand awareness, reach, website traffic, post engagement, video views

*Figures obtained from Instagram, Wordstream, Falcon.io, and Lyfe Marketing

3. Facebook

Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms with a whopping 2.85 billion users. Back in the late 2000s, Facebook was extremely popular amongst the younger crowd. Today, most active users on Facebook are Gen X, Gen Y or Millennials, and a few Baby Boomers who are comfortable using digital technology.

Because of the sheer volume of active users on Facebook spread worldwide, marketers and advertisers include Facebook as a focal point for their digital campaign efforts. Today Facebook marketing has become a subset of its own within social media marketing. Like Instagram, Facebook is also B2C-focused rather than B2B. But there are some instances of B2B marketing occurring on the platform with businesses eyeing Facebook's user pool for brand awareness and event announcements.

Facebook at a glance:

  • Launch date: February 4, 2004
  • Number of users: 2.85 billion (as of 2021)
  • Revenue model: Advertisements
  • Primary business marketing focus: B2C/B2B
  • Average cost per click (CPC): $1.86-$2.92
  • Average cost per lead (CPL): $7.64-$13.68
  • Average cost per 1000 impressions (CPM): $8.96-$12.72
  • Ad formats available: Photo, video, carousel, playables, stories, slideshows, collectibles, and messenger ads
  • Campaign duration: Fixed or lifetime
  • Campaign objectives: Brand awareness, reach, app installs, engagement (likes, comments, shares), video views, lead generation/driving a business action, store visits.

*Figures obtained from Facebook, Wordstream, RevealBot, and Facebook Business

4. Twitter

Twitter is a microblogging and social networking service where posts and messages are called ‘tweets’. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter imposes a strict character limit on each tweet. Each tweet couldn’t exceed 144 characters until 2017 when the character limit increased to 280.

Twitter embraced hashtags to group relevant content within the platform after users complained about seeing unorganized and irrelevant content on their feed. Today, the concept of hashtags is prevalent across all social media platforms, with Instagram incorporating them within their DNA from the first day that the platform launched back in 2010.

Twitter has become synonymous with celebrities and famous personalities within an industry sharing their views succinctly in tweets and images. This is due to the platform’s capacity to get topics ‘trending’ and gain worldwide attention and engagement. While most social media platforms are capable of going viral, Twitter has seen several instances of virality within the channel.

Twitter at a glance:

  • Launch date: July 15, 2006
  • Number of users: 192 million (active users as of 2021)
  • Revenue model: Advertisements
  • Primary business marketing focus: B2C/B2B
  • Average cost per click (CPC): $0.33-$0.60
  • Average cost per lead (CPL): $7.64-$13.68
  • Average cost per 1000 impressions (CPM): $6.46-$8.68
  • Ad formats available: Image ads, video ads, carousel ads, moment ads, text ads, polls, conversation buttons, website buttons, app buttons, branded hashtags, branded notifications, and live streams
  • Campaign duration: Fixed or lifetime
  • Cost of promoted trends: $100,000-$200,000/day
  • Campaign objectives: App installs, brand awareness, reach, website traffic, tweet engagements, video views, trending hashtags.

*Figures obtained from Twitter, Statista, Twitter Business, and Webfx

5. YouTube

YouTube is the most popular video-sharing platform in the world. YouTube has videos on every subject matter imaginable, from educational content to entertainment.  Many entertainers made their start from YouTube and have catapulted into stardom. Taking inspiration from TV channels and incorporating it within the platform, users with a YouTube account also have channels to produce and post content on.

It's helped popularize trends, making content or people go viral, with videos that earn millions of views every minute. Since being acquired by Google in 2006, YouTube has managed to be the premier video platform for all demographics.

Running ads on YouTube can be done by creating a Google Ads account and setting up a campaign. Since it's a video-sharing platform, naturally, most of the ads are in a video format. However, there are banner ads that redirect visitors to another website or a video once clicked.

YouTube at a glance:

  • Launch date: February 14, 2005
  • Number of users: 2.3 billion (as of 2021)
  • Revenue model: Advertisements, YouTube Premium, SuperChat, channel memberships, creator's merchandise
  • Primary business marketing focus: B2C
  • Average cost per click (CPC): $0.58
  • Average cost per view (CPV): $0.03
  • Average cost per lead (CPL): $54-$200
  • Average cost per 1000 impressions (CPM): $3.50-$5.10
  • Ad formats available: Skippable video ads, non-skippable video ads, bumper ads, and overlay ads
  • Campaign duration: Fixed or lifetime
  • Campaign objectives: Brand awareness, search/reach, shopping, app installs, engagement (views, comments, shares)

*Figures obtained from Google, Influencer Marketing Hub, Wordstream, and RevealBot

Marketing automation

Marketing automation isn't directly associated with content creation, promotion, and advertising like the other types of marketing we've covered so far, but it's also considered to be another type of digital marketing. With so many channels and platforms available online, it becomes hard to monitor and publish digital tasks simultaneously. Marketing automation tools can streamline all these tasks to save time and provide an omnichannel experience for both marketers and customers.

Marketing automation tools essentially automate digital marketing processes. From posting on social media to sending out an email campaign, most manual tasks that are time-sensitive can be created beforehand and published at a scheduled date and time, depending on the requirements.

So far, we've covered various types of digital marketing. Social media is only one facet but is still one of the most prominent aspects of digital marketing. With all of these social media platforms, advertising plays a huge role. Campaigns and ads are a no-brainer considering that social media provides a large pool of people whose interests, online activity, and other profile data are all available to digital marketers. Running campaigns targeted at a specific persona or audience segment improves their performance and shows favorable results.

The question is: how do you measure the performance of a digital marketing campaign?

How to measure the performance of a digital marketing campaign

One of the most significant advantages of digital marketing or digital advertising is that they're data-driven. There isn't any ambiguity in launching ads and knowing where most of the ad spend has gone. Naturally, there are metrics used to measure the effectiveness of any digital marketing campaign. 

Here are some of the most important metrics used to evaluate the performance of a digital ad:

Click-through-rate (CTR)

CTR is a common term used in other forms of digital marketing but has a strong association with social media campaigns. In simple terms, it measures the total interaction users have with a campaign they see. The interaction here is in the form of clicks.

Click-Through Rate (CTR) = (Number of clicks ÷ Number of impressions) x 100

Cost per mille (CPM)

CPM is the cost of an ad campaign for every 1000 impressions. This metric is used for broader campaigns that target a large number of people at a time. In general, CPM costs are lower than other campaign methods. Once the platform distributing the ads approves the campaign, the digital ad posts only get charged for every impression created. Here, "impression" isn't singular but is instead in the thousands.

This metric is helpful for campaigns where the main goal is building awareness. A campaign that has more specific targets ideally shouldn't be using CPM. 

Cost Per Impression (CPM) = (Cost to an Advertiser) ÷ (1000 impressions)

Pay per click (PPC)

PPC refers to the method of paying for the ad that users click. It's a term used within online advertising platforms such as Google and Facebook. Whether you're running paid search ads, product listing ads (PLA), or social media campaigns, if you have a fixed budget, understanding the average PPC it costs for your business's industry is an excellent place to start. 

PPC advertising works on the principle of auctions. Suppose you've set up campaigns on social media or used Google AdWords (Google's pay-per-click advertising platform). In that case, you'd know that any campaign is set up by fixing the audience, campaign objectives, ad format, and finally, the budget. When setting the budget for the campaign, usually, a maximum amount needs to be established. There's a bid placed on the targeted keywords.

The effectiveness of a Pay per Click (PPC) ad can be deduced from profit per impression or profit per click.

  • Profit Per Impression = (Revenue Profit) ÷ (Number of Impressions)
  • Profit Per Click = (Revenue Profit) ÷ (Number of Ad Clicks)

Cost per click (CPC)

In comparison, CPC refers to the cost of every click of an advertisement or campaign within the platform itself. 

PPC ads are what a business would run online, irrespective of the platform or channel. CPC is the cost of a PPC ad within a specific channel. CPC is a tangible, absolute value since the cost of every click is transparent. PPC isn’t as straightforward since it requires assessing the performance of a campaign across several parameters like clicks, impressions, profit, or loss generated.

Cost Per Click (CPC) = Cost to and Advertiser ÷ Number of clicks

Lifetime value

Lifetime value refers to the value of revenue generated from an individual over the customer life cycle. The lifetime value of a customer should always be greater than the cost of acquiring one. If the acquisition cost is much higher than the value obtained from a customer, it’s a futile exercise, and such an individual shouldn’t be chased beyond a certain point.

A good rule of thumb is: Cost per Click ÷ Conversion Rate < Lifetime Value

Here are some more formulas used to calculate the performance of any digital campaign:

  • Cost Per Lead (CPL) = Cost to the Advertiser ÷ Number of Leads generated from an ad
  • Effective Cost Per Mille (eCPM) = ( Total Earning ÷Total number of Impression ) x 1000
  • Effective Cost Per Click (eCPC) = Total Earning ÷ Total number of Clicks
  • Effective Cost Per Action (eCPA) = Total Earning ÷ Total number of actions
  • Return on Investment (ROI) = (Total Revenue – Total Cost) ÷ Total Cost
  • Ad Rank = CPC Bid x Quality Score
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) = (Revenue ÷ Spend)
    Or
    (Revenue + Goal Value) ÷ Cost

Digital marketing vs. inbound marketing

Digital marketing and inbound marketing are often used interchangeably. 

Digital marketing vs. inbound marketing (2)Digital marketing is a set of tasks or actions using tools or activities on a digital medium to achieve short-term goals. Digital marketing is excellent at building awareness, increasing visibility, and growing traffic.

Inbound marketing utilizes digital marketing tactics on a long-term basis, keeping a defined marketing strategy in mind. Typically inbound marketing is instrumental in acquiring qualified leads and converting them into customers. Inbound marketing isn’t possible without digital marketing, so both of them go hand in hand.

Difference between B2B and B2C digital marketing

The main difference between B2B and B2C digital marketing lies in the intent of the buyer.

B2B businesses sell products or services that usually require a more considerable commitment in the form of time, money, or both. B2B products are often subscription-based, requiring customers to be nurtured over a period of time. 

B2C businesses sell a commodity that’s usually a one-time purchase. The sales cycle is quick, and the journey from awareness to the checkout stage is far shorter than in a B2B process.

Digital marketing for a B2B company shifts in tone, messaging, the platforms that should be focused on, and the content produced. A social media platform like Instagram isn’t ideal for a B2B organization to advertise on, whereas it’s perfect for a B2C company. 

Similarly, the type of emails and the frequency at which email campaigns are sent to a contact list differs from a B2B and a B2C company. In both cases, sending too many emails isn’t a pleasant experience for subscribers, but B2C companies can get away with sending more email updates than their B2B counterparts. Unconventional subject lines, GIFs, and images are comfortable in a B2C email campaign but not so much in a B2B campaign.

B2B digital marketing

B2C digital marketing

The tone of content and messaging is more professional.

The style of content and messaging is more casual.

LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are the preferred platforms.

Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are the preferred platforms.

Email campaigns are informative, crisp, and sporadic in nature.

Email campaigns are informal, exciting, and more frequent in nature.

Digital campaign expenditure is usually high.

Digital campaign expenditure is usually low.

Content formats like whitepapers, case studies, and infographics are more prevalent.

Content formats like pictures, blogs, and 15 or 30-second videos are more prevalent.

Role of a digital marketer

Most marketers today are digital marketers. The term digital marketer is too broad to describe what an individual does. Any marketer whose work involves interacting with the online world is considered to be a digital marketer. Let’s look at a few types of digital marketers and what they do.

  • Content marketing specialists: Content marketing specialists are more than content writers. They research keywords and trends, produce content in various formats (textual, visual, auditory), and plan a content strategy ahead of time. Content marketing specialists cannot be substitutes for a social media marketer who creates captions and posts. That’s like having an accountant handle investment banking. One is not the same as the other.
  • SEO specialists: SEO specialists are up to date with any search engine update, map keywords that need to be targeted by the content team, monitor rises or dips in the traffic of a page and understand what contributed to that change, perform hygienic checks of pages periodically, and optimizes page performance to ensure it ranks better on SERP. These are just a few of the many things an SEO specialist handles in a day’s work.
  • Social media marketers: Social media marketers look after all the social channels, create captions and posts for the company’s social media handle, interact with followers and responding to their comments, incorporate elements like polls, videos, or live streams to engage with the audience, and most importantly, create a consistent feed with regular posts. Social media marketing isn’t as simple as posting one picture and throwing a couple of hashtags around. There’s a lot of thought and research involved to ensure each post has extensive reach and tons of engagement. 
  • Designers: Designers are responsible for creating eye-catching visuals that people see on social media, merchandise, or a company’s website. Designers are tasked with making assets and designs that look good and resonate with the audience and invoke a feeling. Good designers understand placement, positioning and are adept at designing or animation tools like Illustrator and Photoshop.
  • Video editors: Considering videos have become the most consumed content format in the digital era, it’s no surprise that a good video editor goes a long way. Video editors take raw footage and clean it up frame-by-frame. They incorporate audio, graphics, sound effects, special effects, and animations to make videos look good and convey the message as clearly as possible to the viewer. Video editors ensure that the transitions in a video are seamless. Since the raw footage they receive is shot at different camera angles, care is taken to ensure that the footage is assembled into one cohesive video that tells a story.

Digital marketing strategies at every organization level

Digital marketing should be a strategy in every organization. How each organization adopts digital marketing depends on factors like company size, market recognition, the industry they function in, and the budget they have at their disposal. While digital marketing is universal, its implementation and execution aren't uniform from organization to organization.

Here are a few ways companies at any level can adopt digital marketing.

Startups

Startups face two problems from the get-go: budget and recognition. What startups need is a digital marketing strategy that builds awareness around the brand and is also cost-effective and budget-friendly.

It’s important to remember that while there are cost-friendly and organic digital marketing strategies, they still cost money. Assuming that organic means free is a cardinal sin in the marketing world.

At a startup level, getting the word out is pivotal for gaining recognition, acquiring customers, and seeing growth. Keeping the campaign goals as awareness helps companies stay focused and maximize results as opposed to having multiple goals and spreading themselves thin.

Here are a few things startups should consider when designing their digital marketing strategy.

  • Produce good content: Content is the currency of the digital world. The more content you produce, the more value you'll see. Having a solid content marketing strategy in place helps businesses amplify their voice or messaging across the internet. While it’s a great strategy to pursue for all organizations at any level, it reaps tremendous results for startups on a smaller budget. Producing good content doesn’t require copious amounts of capital to be invested, unlike paid digital ads. All you need are sound content creators who understand the industry and the target audience, and a well-thought-out content calendar that's maintained all year-'round.
  • Focus on getting your SEO right: Good content means nothing if it’s not visible to the right people. SEO goes hand-in-hand with content marketing. It does help pages rank better, which is always a good outcome, but it also allows content teams to produce better material. SEO teams know which keywords and trends should be covered and work hard at optimizing written content to ensure it has better visibility. The only investment required for SEO is a good SEO tool to help map keywords, track rankings, view content gaps from competitors, and monitor backlink opportunities.
  • Generate buzz using social media: A common misconception is that social media is for B2C companies and that B2B organizations can get away without well-planned social media pages. That can’t be farther from the truth. Social media is an incredible marketing tool for any business for two reasons: it allows the audience to interact with the brand directly, and it’s completely free (if you exclude paid social media campaigns). For companies on a tight budget, social media is a great avenue to get the word across and generate some buzz. The investment required for social media marketing involves having a social media specialist comfortable with different platforms, a designer who can make eye-catching banners and infographics in the brand’s colors, and a social media calendar.
  • Create a purpose-driven website: Since startups don't have a strong presence at this stage, potential customers looking for a product or solution won't be aware of a company's offerings until they read or hear about it. A robust website that explains what the business has to offer and respects design aspects boost a startup's presence. Since a lot of time and effort is involved in designing and developing a website, it's best to embark on a website project once and not have to revisit it in a few months. Companies that redo their websites multiple times risk looking inconsistent to visitors and leave prospects confused. The motto should be "do it once but do it well." Beyond the web content and design, websites must provide exemplary user interface design (UI design) and good user experience (UX). These two elements ensure that a website ranks better on SERP and has a good domain authority.
  • Nurture high-quality leads through email marketing: Email marketing is a no-brainer for startups. It’s one of the cheapest forms of marketing and gives the highest ROI for a low investment. Once startups have gathered enough contacts, nurturing them through emails is a great way to establish a relationship, get a pulse check on each prospect’s interest levels, and accelerate conversations forward. The only investment required for email marketing is an email automation tool that automatically sends out scheduled emails to a contact list. It also gives insight into how many people unsubscribed, opened their emails, and clicked on links within an email.

Emerging/midsize organizations

At this level, companies have a bit more room to play around with. Budgets are considerably better than what startups can afford to spend, and businesses steadily built up a presence over the years. At this stage, scale or growth are the main goals.

Emerging businesses would keep lead generation as the campaign objective. They can achieve this by focusing on a few paid strategies while simultaneously utilizing organic tactics. There’s no escaping paid campaigns. While organic methods do show results, they’re more of a long-term game. Content and pages can’t rank in a few days. It takes weeks, sometimes months, to rank high on SERP. Midsize organizations need to see results faster before the competition captures the market share.

Businesses at this level should consider the following when designing their digital marketing strategy.

  • Stay on top of marketing goals with a dedicated PPC expert: Paid campaigns are a delicate balance. On one hand, they show massive results and generate a sizable amount of leads or prospects. On the other hand, they cost money. Campaigns have to be thought through to ensure budgets are optimized without compromising on results. This is where having a PPC expert on board helps. PPC experts set up campaigns across different platforms or channels, keeping the budget in mind. They know how much ad spend needs to be allocated to a particular platform, what ad format works best on a medium, and how much they can spend on a campaign to show the maximum results without going overboard. Campaigns are a number game. Having an expert who can crunch numbers while strategizing the next ad is a godsend for any company.
  • Control your image with public relations: Press releases can be organic, but most times, PR and its distribution is a paid effort. Over time, emerging businesses will witness highlights that are significant milestones in a company’s lifetime. Spreading that news across the industry improves an organization’s standing, reputation, and impression. Media channels, social media platforms, in-person engagements, or public figures that act as advocates help amplify the news and increase its reach. Having a designated public relations professional helps businesses with their PR strategy. A public relations expert helps manage a company’s image and paints a favorable picture to the public. They also mitigate negative press that could be generated during a crisis.
  • Investing in paid search engine marketing: We know that SEO is a long-term organic strategy. Search engine marketing (SEM) is a paid strategy that puts promoted listings at the top of a results page. When you Google “buy a watch,” you might see the following results show up:

product listing ads example

These are two different formats of SEM. At the very top, you see images of different watches, their prices, and their ratings. These are called product listing ads (PLAs). PLAs take up valuable real estate (the very top of a results page) and quickly list key details that a customer would be interested in. Furthermore, these ads are ideal for companies targeting individuals that have high intent to buy. Notice how the keyword “buy” in the search engine resulted in such a PLA. Other keywords like deal or discount also prop up similar results.

The second link is an ad as well, but this time there aren’t any images, no details about the pricing, and no ratings. It simply reads “Men’s Watches on Sale & Clearance - Fossil,” followed by a short description and jump links to pages within the website that potential customers interested in buying something would visit. These are called text-based ads, and they also appear on the top of the results page.

Enterprises/established leaders

Organizations at this level should ideally adopt all the strategies we’ve covered so far. Companies at this stage have a comfortable budget to work with and have a team of marketing experts overseeing different aspects. Campaigns will only continue to grow in frequency, size, and quality.

While most aspects of digital marketing are taken care of, businesses at this stage should look at ways to connect with their customers and audience at a more personal level. Customers are automatically distrustful of large corporations since everything at the end of the day is business. As companies grow bigger, they begin to lose that human touch. Focusing on activities that provide value to the end-user is a great way to re-establish that connection with the audience.

Let’s look at a few things that established companies can consider when designing their digital marketing strategy.

  • Sharing knowledge to the audience through podcasts: There are several experts on different topics that work within a large organization. Having a podcast where the goal is to share that knowledge with interested parties makes people feel like they’re receiving something valuable. It also gives people the impression that an actual human with tangible experience and ideas contributes to the success of a large company, as opposed to the image of a bunch of individuals in suits sitting in a boardroom. Podcasts with a well-thought-out format are a great knowledge-sharing tool that humanizes companies.
  • Providing value to customers through online courses/knowledge center: Large enterprises would’ve picked up a lot of things along the way. They also sell a range of elaborate products, solutions, services, or platforms. Creating a series of guides is one way of helping end-users extract value out of their purchase. But companies that have some budget to spare should consider investing in a learning center. Companies can create knowledge centers or academies that have short video tutorials on every aspect of a topic or company product. These videos can be shared online, and help spread the word across.

    Additionally, these knowledge centers can have online certification courses on topics related to the industry the business operates in or empowering users to be skilled at the company’s product. People love sharing their certificates on social media platforms like LinkedIn. This advertises the company’s certification course and boosts its value for free. Furthermore, certifications make users feel they’ve earned something and puts the company in a good light.

Digital marketing isn't about the medium; it's about building relationships

There are many reasons why a company of any size should adopt digital marketing strategies for its business. It's data-driven which makes it precise, quantifiable, and justifiable. But the biggest reason why an organization should look into digital marketing is its innate ability to provide personalization. It's marketing that speaks to the audience, not at the audience. Digital marketing isn’t some new-fangled way of doing marketing. Only the medium has changed; the principles remain the same. At its core, marketing should resonate with the audience and empower them with enough information to complete a conversion.

Whether a business is large with a budget to play with, or small that needs to be frugal with its marketing spend, there's a digital marketing strategy out there for everyone. Look at what your company's immediate requirements are and hammer out the details of the business goals. Identifying which digital marketing strategy you need at every stage of the funnel is half the battle. Digital marketing has leveled the playing field for businesses of all sizes. Anyone can win the digital game as long as they have their strategies in place.

Learn how you can achieve conversion rate optimization through your digital marketing efforts in this guide.

digital marketing services
The competition is only one click away

Gain an edge over your competitors with the help of digital marketing services.

digital marketing services
The competition is only one click away

Gain an edge over your competitors with the help of digital marketing services.

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