In this article, we’d like to lay down the foundational structure of digital marketing, including what it is, the three pillars making it, how to develop a tailored digital marketing strategy, etc.
What’s Digital Marketing?
At its core, digital marketing is the process of marketing your products or services through digital channels. It’s an umbrella term encapsulating so many marketing strategies, including social media, email, SEO, PR, and other electronic mediums to reach your target audience.
Unlike traditional marketing, such as TV, billboards, print, radio, etc., digital marketing is primarily data-driven. It relies on analysing data collected through various digital channels and using the collected data to improve your marketing strategy.
The Three Pillars of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is not a stand-alone entity but rather a combination of three critical pillars:
- User Journey
- Digital Channels
- Creative and Content
1# User Journey
The user journey is the first pillar of digital marketing. It maps out the customer’s experience with your brand, from their initial engagement with you to their ultimate purchase and post-purchase behavior.
It typically starts with the awareness stage and ends with product or service purchase and brand advocacy:
- Brand Awareness: Getting your target audience to be aware of your product or service
- Interest/Consideration: Encouraging potential customers to learn more about your product or service
- Purchase: Getting customers to buy your product or service
- Post-purchase/Advocacy/Brand Loyalty: Ensuring customers are satisfied with their purchase and encouraging them to return or recommend you to others
A typical customer will first interact with your content or creatives on various digital channels (displays ads, social media, search) and land on your website or landing page. Depending on how well you’ve designed your website and creatives, they may then progress down the funnel.
The ultimate goal is to get them to buy your product or service, but you also want to ensure they’re satisfied with their purchase that they can advocate for you.
2# Design Channels
Design channels are the second pillars of a successful digital marketing strategy. They consist of all the digital channels you use to communicate your marketing message and reach your target customers
The main channels are:
Digital channels are the avenues where customers will first come into contact with your marketing message. Or we could say it’s where your traffic or users first get to hear or learn about your business.
People use search engines to research, shop, and learn about products and services. Google alone handles over 40,000 search queries every second (that translates to over 3.5 billion search queries per day and 1.2 trillion per year globally), so it’s no wonder that organic search is a key component of any digital marketing strategy.
Google places organic search results right below paid search ads.
SEO is a long-term marketing strategy that focuses on improving your website’s content, structure, and on-page optimization so that you can rank higher in search engine results pages for the keywords and phrases related to your business.
Google Ads is the most popular paid search platform. It allows businesses to place ads above and below the organic search results and on the right-hand side of the page.
Paid search is a great way to get your business in front of people already interested in what you have to offer. You can target your ads by location, demographics, interests, and more.
Email marketing is still one of the most effective digital marketing channels available. It’s a great way to stay in touch with your customers, promote new products and services, and increase loyalty.
Email marketing can be as simple as sending a weekly or monthly email newsletter, or it can be more complex, like automated email marketing campaigns based on customer behaviour.
Display advertising is a form of online advertising that uses text, images, or other multimedia to promote a product or service. Display ads are typically placed on websites that cater to a specific audience or that sell a specific type of product or service.
Referrals are one of the most cost-effective ways to generate leads and traffic for your business. When someone clicks a link to your website from another website, that’s considered referral traffic.
Referral traffic can come from various sources, including social media, blogs, and directories.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing can be defined as the process of using social media platforms to interact with potential and current customers and create relationships with them.
Social media marketing can be used to promote your products and services, increase brand awareness, and drive traffic to your website.
There are many different social media platforms to choose from, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat.
How do The Different Digital Channels Impact Businesses?
These are just a few examples of the available digital channels that businesses can use to reach their target customers. But how do these digital channels impact businesses?
First, digital marketing campaigns usually involve integrating multiple digital channel touchpoints. That means that your marketing message will be delivered through various channels, including social media, organic search, paid search, email marketing, and display advertising.
However, do not confuse this with omnichannel, which also involves engaging customers via multiple digital channels.
However, do not confuse this with omnichannel, which also involves engaging customers via multiple digital channels. The only difference is that while omnichannel focus on providing a more unified, consistent, and seamless customer experience regardless of channel (online and offline), digital marketing campaigns are more focused on using different channels to achieve specific marketing objectives.
Second, digital marketing is measurable. You can track how many people interacted with your campaign, how they interacted, and what actions they took after interacting with your campaign. This data can help you fine-tune your campaigns and make them more effective.
Third, digital marketing is flexible. You can change and adapt your campaigns as needed to meet your customers’ needs better.
Fourth, digital marketing is cost-effective. You can reach many people with relatively lower costs than traditional marketing methods.
Two great examples of omnichannel digital strategies are brochures that in-print QR codes to link customers back to their online store and membership programs that tailor product recommendations based on past purchases.
Digital marketing can be (in fact, should be) integrated with offline marketing. For example, in-store displays that include a QR code that links to a special offer on the company’s website or loyalty cards that unlock exclusive discounts for program members.
The digital channel to select will vary depending on the following factors:
- Marketing Objectives: What are you trying to achieve with your marketing campaign?
- Target Audience: Who are you trying to reach? What platforms can they be found? What are their touchpoints?
- Budget: How much money do you intend to spend on your marketing campaign?
- Campaign Type: What type of campaign are you running (i.e., online or offline)?
- Workforce: Do you have the workforce to manage and execute the digital marketing campaign across multiple channels? And do you have the necessary skills and knowledge to execute the campaign?
- Timing: When do you want to launch your marketing campaign?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start formulating a plan for your digital marketing campaign.
3# Creative and Content
The third and last pillar of digital marketing is creatives and content. That encompasses both the creative aspects of marketing (e.g., designing graphics, videos, writing copy) and the creation and distribution of valuable content (e.g., blog posts, infographics, eBooks).
Creatives encompass the following:
- Text ads
- Ad banners
- video ads
While content encompasses the following:
- Blog articles
- Explainer videos
Creativity and content are how you will deliver your marketing message to your target audience. It’s how you catch their attention and persuade them to take action.
Why Digital Marketing?
Now that you know what digital marketing is and the three pillars that support it, let’s find out why it’s important for your business.
- Reach a large audience with low costs: With digital marketing, you can reach large masses with relatively low costs compared to traditional marketing methods.
- Measurable results: You can track how many people interacted with your campaign, how they interacted, and what actions they took after interacting with your campaign. This data can help you fine-tune your campaigns and make them more effective.
And yes, tracking your marketing campaign is as simple as going through digital analytics tools such as Google Data Studio, Google Analytics, and Adobe Analytics.
Through the deployment of digital analytics, you can measure how well your visitors are interacting with not just your website pages but all digital channels, including emails, SMS, social media, and even paid search ads.
Every point that a user interacts with your business is its own set of data that you can measure and act upon.
Digital marketing allows you to personalize your marketing messages based on the interests and needs of your target audience. That increases your target audience’s chances of responding to your marketing messages.
With digital marketing, you can achieve a higher level of engagement with your target audience than you could with traditional marketing methods.
Digital marketing is often more effective and efficient than traditional marketing methods, resulting in a higher return on investment (ROI).
Efficiency in Optimization
With Media buying, marketers can purchase ad spaces across different websites and mobile applications and review live reports in real-time. As a result, they can pause or stop the campaign if it is not meeting their desired results.
Digital marketing is an efficient way to reach your target audience without wasting time and money on ineffective marketing methods.
What’s a Digital Marketing Strategy?
A digital marketing strategy is a plan that defines how you will use digital marketing to achieve your business goals. It includes the channels you will use, the tactics you will employ, and the budget you will allocate.
Your digital marketing strategy should be tailored to your specific business and its needs. For example, if you are a small business, you may focus on SEO and social media marketing. If you are a larger business, you may focus on digital advertising and lead generation campaigns.
The goal of your digital marketing strategy is to ensure that all your digital marketing efforts are working together toward achieving your business goals.
A digital marketing strategy differs from a digital marketing campaign in that it refers to the master plan or blueprint to achieve a macro or long-term goal. In contrast, a digital marketing campaign refers to a specific, time-bound plan or a set of tactics used to achieve a short-term goal.
Why is a Digital Marketing Strategy Important for Your Business?
You’ve heard the adage, failure to plan is planning to fail. That is just as true for digital marketing as it is for any other aspect of a business. If you don’t have a plan for your digital marketing efforts, you are likely to waste time and money on ineffective campaigns.
A digital marketing strategy helps to optimize your workflow implementation, allocate resources efficiently, and measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaigns.
It also ensures that all your digital marketing efforts work together towards a common business goal you’ve set for yourself.
Consequently, this sets room for continuous improvement and fine-tuning of the process.
Without an effective digital marketing strategy, a business is likely to experience any or all of the following:
- Lack of direction and focus
- Inconsistent results
- Poor resource utilization
- Wastage of time and money
- Lack of integration between digital marketing channels
To create an effective digital marketing strategy for your business, you need to understand the following:
- Your business goals
- Your customers’ needs and wants
- The channels and tactics that will work best for you
- Your budget constraints
The Key Components of a Digital Marketing Strategy
A digital marketing strategy has a few core components:
Defining Your Brand:
Your brand is what sets you apart from your competitors. It’s what makes you unique.
To create a successful digital marketing strategy, you’ll first need to define your brand. That includes developing a clear and concise mission statement, target audience, and values.
What’s the Unique Selling Point (USP) of Your Product or Service?
Determining Your Target Audience:
Who are you targeting with your digital marketing?
That demands that you create buyer personas – fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customer.
It includes age, gender, job title, income level, marital status, etc.
Defining SMART Goals:
To achieve your business goals, you need to set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals (SMART Goals).
For example, if you want to increase brand awareness among 25-34-year-old females, your goal could be to “Increase brand awareness among 25-34-year-old females by 10% within six months.”
Identifying Target Markets:
Not everyone is a potential customer. You need to identify and focus on the most likely markets to buy from you. That includes understanding your competition and what they’re doing to attract customers.
You can use tools such as the Google Ads Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Facebook Audience, and the Alexa Traffic Rank to help you determine your target markets.
Performing Competitive Analysis:
To stay ahead of your competition, you need to know what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. That includes analyzing their website, social media presence, and marketing campaigns.
You can use tools like the Similarweb, Social Bakers, and SEMrush to analyze your competition. You want to conduct a SWOT analysis after this to identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Allocating and Managing Resources Appropriately:
To run a successful digital marketing campaign, you must ensure that your resources are being used effectively. That includes understanding your budget constraints and allocating your funds accordingly.
Resources include workforce and budget, as well as the tools and tactics you’ll be using.
You also have to make sure that your marketing channels work together seamlessly to achieve your business goals.
Reviewing and Optimizing Your Digital Marketing Campaigns:
Use digital analytics tools such as Google Analytics to track your progress and see how well your campaigns are performing. If a campaign isn’t meeting your expectations, be prepared to make the necessary changes.
Make sure you’re also testing new tactics and channels to see if they can help you achieve your business goals.
How to Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy?
Now that you understand the key components of a digital marketing strategy, let’s take a look at how to develop one for your business.
A digital marketing strategy essentially involves setting marketing objectives based on your business goals and then developing tactics to achieve those objectives.
It also involves selecting the right digital marketing channels, determining channel-specific content/creatives delivery tactics, and defining macro and micro KPIs (key performance indicators) to track progress.
Before creating a digital marketing campaign, you first need to work on a strategy. Part of creating this strategy involves creating a customer journey and touchpoint maps that resemble the diagram below:
This customer journey map acts as a reference document to determine which digital channels to use and which to exclude.
Here’s an example of a digital marketing implementation process:
Here’s an article you want to read to learn more about digital marketing planning:
Digital Marketing Examples
Now that we’ve covered the basics of digital marketing, let’s take a look at some specific examples of how it can be used to reach your target markets.
Digital Marketing Channels
There are many different digital marketing channels you can use to reach your target markets.
Some of the most common ones include:
- Organic/paid search
Each of these channels can be used to reach different parts of your target market. For example, paid advertising can be used to attract new customers, while email marketing can be used to stay in touch with existing customers and get them to return and purchase more of your products and services.
Digital Marketing Tactics
Once you’ve selected the digital marketing channels you’ll be using, go ahead and determine the specific tactics you’ll be using to deliver your content/creatives. Some common tactics include:
Digital Marketing Objectives
Before developing your digital marketing strategy, you first need to set some marketing objectives based on your business goals. Some common digital marketing objectives include:
These objectives can be achieved using various digital marketing channels and tactics. For example, increasing website traffic can be achieved through SEO, while increasing brand awareness can be achieved through social media marketing.
Digital Marketing KPIs
Once you’ve set your marketing objectives, you need to track your progress by defining key performance indicators (KPIs).
Some common digital marketing KPIs include:
Website traffic can be tracked through Google Analytics, while conversion rates can be tracked through a CRM system.
Developing a digital marketing strategy can seem daunting at first, but if you break it down into its individual parts, it’s not as difficult as it looks.
Here’s an example of Equinet Academy’s digital marketing strategy. As you can see, their digital marketing strategy covers various digital channels, including Email Marketing, SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, etc.
1# In the Awareness Stage
The company uses Facebook-sponsored posts (content marketing and social media marketing).
The company targets people based on their interests, age, and location.
They will also use ads that promote their website to increase traffic.
2# In the Evaluation Stage
The company sends out email messages to new subscribers informing them of upcoming digital marketing course schedules. (Email Marketing).
They also have a course recommendation tool, where users get to answer a few questions and receive course recommendations. (Content Marketing)
3# In the Engagement Stage
The company uses social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to build relationships with its followers by sharing relevant content. (Social Media Marketing)
They also use retargeting ads on social media to target people who have visited their website but have not yet converted. (Paid Advertising)
4# In the Purchase Stage
The company uses retargeting ads on social media to target people who have visited their website but have not yet converted. (Paid Advertising and Social Media Marketing).
They also use a lead magnet on their website to collect information from potential customers. (Lead Generation)
The company has a blog on their website, and they use it to generate leads by publishing content that is relevant to their target market. (Content Marketing).
5# In the Advocacy Stage
The company emails its customers a course follow-up survey to get feedback. (Email Marketing)
They also send them follow-up reminders to attend group mentorship sessions. (Email Marketing)
Equinet uses digital marketing to educate people about the latest trends in the industry. They offer courses and certifications to help you build a successful career in digital marketing. Visit their website to learn more:
Now that we have a general understanding of digital marketing, let’s take a look at some of the latest trends in the industry.
- The use of chatbots: Chatbots are computer programs that can mimic human conversation. They are becoming increasingly popular and can provide customer service, promote products or services, or gather feedback from customers.
- The use of virtual reality: Virtual reality is a technology that allows people to experience simulated environments. It is becoming more popular and can be used to create immersive experiences for customers.
- The use of augmented reality: Augmented reality is a technology that combines the real world with digital content. It is becoming more popular and can be used to provide interactive experiences for customers.
- The use of voice search: Voice search is a technology that allows people to search for information by speaking into a device such as a smartphone or home assistant. It is becoming more popular and can be used to provide hands-free access to information.
- Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence is a technology that allows machines to learn and perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. It is becoming more popular and can be used to improve customer experience.
- The use of machine learning: Machine learning is a process by which computers learn from data without being explicitly programmed. It is becoming more popular and can be used to improve the accuracy of predictions made by algorithms.
- Big Data: Big data is a term used to describe the large volume of data available due to the growth of digital technologies. It is becoming more popular and can be used to improve the accuracy of business decisions.
- Metaverse: The Metaverse will revolutionize how we interact with the digital world. It is a virtual reality platform that allows people to create and share virtual experiences. It is still in development, but significant strides have already been made, and it’s just a matter of time before everyone hops in.
- The internet of things: The internet of things refers to the trend of connecting everyday objects to the internet. That allows these objects to send and receive data, which can be used to improve the efficiency of processes or provide customer insights.
Overall, digital marketing strategies can be broken up into the following framework: