Digital Marketing

What is Digital Marketing: The Ultimate Online Marketing Guide

Digital marketing has transformed the way marketing works. It has disrupted established marketing channels, transformed how we think about the 5 Ps of Marketing (Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People), and caused old tried and true methods to decline in ineffectiveness.

Over the past 15 years, internet-based approaches have slowly taken over. Today’s marketing strategies employ search engines to find audiences, identify search intent, and direct this traffic to businesses. We’re going to explore this transformation, and draw the path from then to now, and into the future.

What You Need To Know About Online Marketing

Traditional advertising channels are radio, television, outdoor and print ads. Their performance is measured in “eye-balls” or reach and impressions. For example, a billboard placed along the side of a busy highway can command a high price because the high volume of daily automobile traffic (and consumers’ eyeballs who possess product and service needs) represents the chance to have your brand seen and consumer behaviour favourably influenced.

A magazine ad’s price is a function of the size of the ad and wherein the publication it was placed, based on an assumption that size and placement were connected to the ability to generate demand. Advertisers pursue sophisticated arguments that extrapolated potential sales from the reach their ad platforms claimed to offer. Of course, it was impossible to prove a sale from an ad. But businesses who ponied up marketing dollars for advertising were obliged to “buy-in” to these assumptions.

Internet marketing introduced consumers, and buyers, to the idea that they could have greater control over their search. They no longer relied on sales reps and brochures collected along their journey to learn about products and services. A rapid transformation in buyer behaviour unfolded as Google, and a host of other search engines raced to deliver good quality internet search results to those using the internet to find solutions.

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As consumer shopping behaviour has shifted online, the value proposition of digital marketing channels has strengthened. Many studies have shown that the ROI is better, and sales costs are lower with digital marketing.

Why Digital Marketing Is Important For Small Business

No matter if you are a brick-and-mortar business or a new startup. It is essential for small businesses to be present online as it provides tons of opportunities irrespective of the marketing budget.

People prefer to spend their time online – watching videos, playing games, researching new products and services and so on. Small businesses need to take advantage of this mass audience to find their potential customers.

Your online presence will make it easy for your customers to find you. Most people search for services or products “near me”, this is where your online presence will help you cater to this audience.

Customers finding your business is just a start. Once a potential customer finds you, he then looks up your web presence. This means a website that offers them further information and takes them ahead in their buyer’s journey. Today, stores or businesses without websites are perceived as illegitimate or not worth investing in.

Digital marketing also allows you to engage with customers who may have questions about your business. Customers tend to trust businesses when they hear back from them. It helps to put a person behind just a business name and web presence.

With digital channels, you can analyse and track your strategy’s performance. This information helps you to adjust your campaigns or offer better communication to your audience.

It is no news that digital marketing offers a higher ROI than any other type of marketing. It is scalable, allows control of the budget and can be adjusted whenever needed. Besides this, digital marketing efforts help to target the right audience, increase brand reputation, and increase revenue.

What Are The Most Effective Digital Marketing Strategies?

When it comes to deciding on a strategy, digital marketing offers an array of solutions. It may seem like an overwhelming task to decide and prioritize some. The answer to the most effective digital marketing strategies lies in your understanding of the business, product or service and demographics.

Unfortunately, there is no one strategy that fits all. An effective digital marketing strategy must consider changing SEO patterns and other changing trends. A successful strategy will need careful monitoring and continual adjustments. Let us look at some of the best digital marketing strategies and when they work best.

The Role Of SEO

The foundation of digital marketing is the website, and the ability to have leads from the website. The transformation from a website as an online “brochure” for the business. Over time, the search engines got better, and Search Engine Optimization was born.

Evolved to what it is today thanks to the increasing sophistication of the search engines to understand search phrases. Early days it was about keywords.

Now being found online is more than using keywords to get onto page 1 of Google. In 2016, after conducting many studies on search phrases and search intent; Google improved their algorithm to understand the search intent better and match them with the results. This has increased the role of content. A single keyword can have different search intent, thus developing content that meets the relevant intent in relation to your business has become key.

Google’s most recent algorithm update was aimed at high-quality user-generated content. The “E-A-T” algorithm update stands for “expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.” This means that content that demonstrates a high level of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness will achieve a better ranking.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, enables your website to be found by the search engines and keeps traffic to your website growing with a range of off-page and on-page strategies. Investing in quality content enhances organic search efforts. On the contrary, the paid search focuses on paid ranking and is referred to as PPC or Pay Per Click. Paid search enables businesses to appear in a prominent spot in search results.

It is fascinating to know that multiple studies have demonstrated that SEO impacts how many clicks PPC ads obtain. A site with solid organic search results will no doubt increase the click-through rate for PPC ads. Thus, it is safe to conclude that keeping your website updated with quality content will deliver consistent results.

The role of SEO strategies is not only to grow the volume of traffic to your website but to also improve the quality of traffic coming to your website. High-quality SEO content climbs in the SERPS (search engine result pages), and this strengthens the authority of your website over time.

How SEO Works

Each of the search engines has crawlers which go out and crawl all the content on the internet. Each of the pages crawled is then indexed and fed to an algorithm that matches your website page to the query that the website user-generated.

When the content is really good and is properly optimized for the search engines, there is alignment between the query and the search result. And this results in your content being presented to someone looking for your goods and services, but whom you would never find if not for the search engines.

SEO is of critical importance to website performance. Investing in a new website and not then hiring an SEO expert is a missed opportunity. And since website developers are not experts in SEO, your website will never generate much organic traffic without carrying out regular monthly SEO. To generate leads from your website, you must first have a strong volume of daily visits since it takes many website visitors to find that one who is looking to buy from you today, this month or this year.

In this case study below, we show improvements in website traffic and leads as a result of monthly SEO and regular blog content to the website over a 3-year period. This new website generated only a few hundred visits per month. In 2020 a lead generation program was implemented which increased new business opportunities generated from organic traffic grew from 2 monthly to 15 monthly over a 10-month period. That is a 700% growth in leads in 10 months!

SEO Implementation and Google Analytics Growth

SEO has become highly complex in response to the growing sophistication of search engines. A strong SEO team includes technically enabled SEO experts, SEO strategists, Content writers and specialized software tools to carry out technical audits, monitor performance, and ensure each step in the process aims at delivering the best impact for your business’s SEO investment.

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 Content Marketing

Today’s consumers are attracted to your offering with high-quality content published regularly on the website. That content can be a wide range of valuable information in the form of web pages, blogs, newsletters, videos, infographics, white papers and more.

In response to the enormous appetite of online marketing for all this kind of information, content marketing was born. This strategic marketing approach centres on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. This content is designed to respond to users at each stage in the buying cycle and to generate profitable customer actions.

The Role of Persona in Content

Today’s top-performing content addresses specific needs. The concept of the buyer persona has been developed to guide the content creation process. The persona or “customer archetype” defines the ideal customer. It’s based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

The buyer persona describes the customer’s needs, problems, and values to provide a highly specific and rich basis from which to then write content that will appeal to them.

The use of persona in content marketing is essential for high performing strategies. Here is what needs to be considered when building a persona:

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Pay Per Click Advertising

There are many names for PPC advertising. Also referred to as online advertising, online marketing, internet advertising, digital advertising, or web advertising, it is a form of marketing and advertising which uses the Internet to deliver promotional marketing messages to consumers.

Here are the essential elements of a successful PPC marketing campaign:

  • Keyword relevance created with PPC keyword lists, ad groups and ad copy
  • Landing page quality with persuasive, relevant content and clear CTAs tailored to the search queries
  • Quality score – a rating by Google of the quality and relevance of your ad campaigns
  • Creative ad copy to stand out against your competition

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Types of PPC

There are two main types of PPC ads – Search Engine Advertising and Advertising on Partner Networks.

In Search Engine Advertising, bids are made on keywords to make their business website appear on the top of the search engine results page. It is a great system as it shows what the searcher is looking for and in return, businesses can invest their dollars in users that are most likely to purchase their product or services.

Popular Examples are – Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Under Advertising on partner networks, a business places ads on a larger network of partner sites. These are mostly remarketing campaigns that are highly targeted to the audience who have shown interest in that product or service.

Examples are – Quora, LinkedIn Groups etc.

Why use Pay-Per-Click marketing?

Here are the benefits of using PPC:

  1. Scalability
  2. Measurability
  3. Flexibility
  4. Quicker Results
  5. Engaging
  6. Conversions

Social Media Marketing

With so many people on Social Media today, creating a presence for your business on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok has become an essential way to stay in touch with current customers, find new customers as well stay on top of key industry trends.

Essential reasons to be on Social Media

  1. You get to tell your story to your audience, better connecting you to your potential customers. It is a faster and easier way of communication. It works both ways – customers can raise their concerns and queries and businesses can address them.
  2. There is no other platform that can connect you to the world audience. This is the biggest set of people who chose to be there each day and you have the chance to build quality relations with them and raise brand awareness.
  3. Social presence directly influences your website traffic.
  4. An established business on social media will easily attract more potential customers as people often rely on social media presence and online reviews to get a better idea about the company.
  5. You can keep a close eye on your competition. It is always worth monitoring and finding better ways to educate and entertain your audience and find unique ways to promote what your business does well.

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Website Development

Today’s top-performing websites are designed to be accountable for business growth when managed properly.

Your website reflects your brand, your reputation, your expertise, and your professionalism. Not only does the website branding need to be highly professional in today’s competitive online world, but the website design must also offer the best user experience.

The website’s content management system and web hosting must provide fast upload speed, security, reliable uptime metrics and comprehensive SEO features. There is a range of CMS options, from custom website development to WordPress, Magento, Shopify, and Squarespace as popular CMS options. Which is right for your business?

Taking the lowest cost option when planning a new website or a website refresh can cost much more one or two years down the road when the website is not generating any results. Do not make the mistake of approaching your website as an online brochure.

Website Development in Toronto

Today websites are made for gaining business information as well as a marketing tool. Your website needs to be set up for assisting visitors in their (buyer) journey. Think of building a website as building a sales tool.

You can run into several problems if you invest in a cheap website:

  1. Slow loading speed
  2. Unappealing look and feel
  3. Mediocre images and videos
  4. Copy that is not compelling
  5. Security Concerns

Asking the right questions before you embark on a website project allows you to focus in on finding the right fit for your business, can save you money by avoiding scope creep, and result in a much more efficient website development process for your internal team as well as your website development partner.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing is a business methodology that attracts new customers to your business through the creation of valuable content and experiences tailored specifically for them. They find this content online because they are searching for it, or because it has been served to them by a search engine or social media algorithm.

In contrast, outbound marketing interrupts people with content they don’t necessarily want. Inbound marketing forms new connections to your business by people who are looking for what you sell because it solves problems they already have.

What is a Sales Funnel in Digital Marketing? 

There was a time when a new business was found through existing relationships, through word of mouth, at trade shows and events. Sales teams were required to allocate time to cold calling and following up on leads sourced from purchased lists of industry contacts, as part of their sales activities.

And a sales rep’s skill was measured on their close rate. To close a sale is meant to convince a buyer to commit to one solution, over other competitive options. Strong sales skills meant the ability to influence buyers and make more sales.

Let’s start by defining what is a lead. A lead is a revenue opportunity: a person or business who is interested in your products or services. They reveal themselves as a lead after accepting an offer, requesting information, or filling out a form for a trial or subscription.

Lead Generation in Digital Marketing refers to the strategies to find new sales leads for your business. A lead is measured as a new customer generating an enquiry about your business or expressing interest in your products or services.

Business leads follow a life cycle, as they transition through the buying stages of awareness to engagement and then to conversion. HubSpot, a valued source of marketing tools and expertise has developed this buyer journey paradigm. It clarifies today’s online consumer purchase behaviour:

Source: Hubspot

The 3-Step Lead Generation Process

  1. Being found: A potential customer finds your website because your content came up in their online search or found your content or offers on social media. In other words, your marketing channels bring you new business opportunities.
  2. Making an Offer: An offer is something that the potential customer will value. They fill in a form which collects their contact information which is exchanged for the offer that you then provide to them when they accept it.  The offer is made and accepted by clicking a “Call to action” (CTA) button.
  3. Seeing a Landing Page: The offer brings them to a simple webpage or “landing page” which provides details on the offer. Once their details are provided, the offer can then be downloaded or emailed to them.

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Why Email Marketing Is Still Important

Email marketing is a proven content marketing strategy that increases brand awareness, grows qualified website traffic, and generates leads for your business. Emailing is one of the single greatest tools that business owners have at their disposal. In fact, 64% of companies surveyed consider it the most effective marketing channel.

There are many benefits to an email marketing program. The cost to implement email marketing is low when compared to other marketing channels. And the return on investment is incredibly high. A recent study revealed an average return on email marketing of $38 for every dollar invested, or 3800%.

If it’s time to rethink email marketing for your business, here are the most important questions businesses are asking:

  1. Whether to send out cold email outreach or marketing emails?
  2. How to grow an email list?
  3. How often should you send an email?
  4. How to avoid the junk folder?
  5. How to increase click-through rate (CTR)?

Difference between cold emailing and newsletters:

Cold Emailing is when the recipient did not subscribe to your emails and does not expect it. You must find the email addresses yourself and make sure they will be positively surprised. The purpose of this type of email is to start a B2B conversation.

A newsletter or Marketing email is sent to people who have chosen to receive information from you. These emails are sent to show subscribers benefits they can unlock by being a customer and are not intended for sales-focused promotions. These emails are sent to nurture the customer’s relationship.

In today’s world, companies are required to embrace a wide variety of digital marketing strategies to survive. Otherwise, these businesses risk being left found easily online with new business going to their competitors. Those who are all behind also are seen as not keeping up with the times by clients.

A highly effective digital marketing strategy should see you on page 1 for high-value search terms, with growth in both traffic and new business being generated from the website. If you’re not seeing these benefits, then it’s time to revisit your tactics.

A top digital marketing agency in Toronto can develop competitive marketing campaigns, customized and individualized to the needs of you, the client. Get in touch with us if you need help identifying the right approach. It is our passion to help businesses grow with digital marketing.