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Definition and Basic Overview of Digital Marketing

This digital marketing guide aims to provide you with a basic overview and a fundamental understanding of digital marketing.

Digital marketing refers to any type of marketing activity that applies any forms of digital technology. Digital marketing activities include conducting market research using digital marketing research tools such as Google Keyword Planner, analysing marketing performance using digital analytics software such as Adobe Analytics, and launching digital display ads using digital advertising platforms such as Google Marketing Platform.

Compared to traditional advertising methods such as print, billboards, and TV, digital marketing is primarily data-driven. Many popular digital advertising platforms today provide access to campaign reports for comprehensive data analysis.

What are Digital Channels?

In digital marketing, a digital channel is the way goods and services get to the consumer electronically.

Examples of digital channels include:

  • Organic Search (e.g. Google)
  • Paid Search (e.g. Bing)
  • Digital Advertising Channels (e.g. Display Ads)
  • Email
  • Affiliates (e.g. ShareASale)
  • Social Media Channels (e.g. Facebook)
  • Online Public Relations (e.g. Press Releases)

It’s a common misconception that digital marketing is a single channel. It’s not uncommon to hear entry-level marketers defining digital marketing as social media marketing, search marketing, digital advertising, and what not. More often than not, digital marketing campaigns apply multiple channel strategies (multi-channel) such as a combination of search engine marketing, content marketing, display advertising, and email marketing.

Do not confuse this with omni-channel, which like multi-channel, also involves engaging customers via multiple channels. Omni-channel is more accurately defined as providing a consistent, unified, and seamless customer experience regardless of whether the customer interacts with a brand on social media, in the physical store, or on the online store. Physical brochures that in-print QR codes to link the customer back to the online store, and membership systems that tailor product recommendations based on customer purchase history both online and offline are examples of omni-channel strategies.

Digital marketing can and should be integrated with offline marketing channels such as print advertisements, live industry events, popup booths, and in-store promotions to maximise target market reach and lead nurturing.

An example of an online/offline marketing integration would be launching a trade show (offline) and launching a Facebook Advertising campaign (online) to promote the offline event. And during the event (offline), collecting personal details of leads such as emails and phone numbers to follow up through email and mobile marketing (online).

Digital Marketing Disciplines and Subsets

Do not confuse disciplines with channels, however. A digital channel is a digital medium organisations use to communicate or deliver messages to consumers, while a digital marketing discipline is a branch of knowledge or a field of study within digital marketing. For example, search engine optimisation and search engine marketing are separate disciplines, but they both target the same digital channel – the search engine results pages.

Digital marketing disciplines and subsets include:

  • Content Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Marketing Automation
  • Email Marketing
  • Digital Advertising
  • Digital Marketing Analytics
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Conversion Rate Optimisation
  • Affiliate Marketing

What is a Digital Marketing Strategy?

A digital marketing strategy is different from a digital marketing campaign. When talking about digital marketing strategy, we are referring to a master plan or a blueprint to achieve a long-term or macro goal. Campaigns on the other hand are the specific tactics used to achieve more micro, short-term goals within the digital marketing strategy.

Similar to many other forms of marketing, a digital marketing strategy involves:

  • Defining customer profiles
  • Defining marketing objectives
  • Alignment of customer and marketing goals
  • Identifying target markets
  • Performing competitive analysis
  • Managing and allocating resources appropriately to achieve objectives
  • Reviewing and optimising campaign performance

Example of a Digital Marketing Strategy and Digital Marketing Campaign

For example, a digital marketing strategy includes setting marketing objectives based on the analysis of market information and target audiences, selecting digital marketing channels and platforms, determining channel-specific delivery tactics, and defining macro marketing KPIs to measure the performance of the digital marketing strategy.

On the other hand, an example of a digital marketing campaign centers around creating brand awareness (micro objective) by launching a viral marketing campaign (tactic) on a specific social media channel like Facebook. Short term (micro) KPIs are used to keep track of the progress and success of the digital marketing campaign.

Before developing any digital marketing campaigns, you should first have a strategy. Part of the strategy includes creating a customer journey and touch point map that looks something like this:

Digital Marketing Customer Journey and Touch Point Map

Digital Marketing Customer Journey and Touch Point Map

This map will act as a key reference document when determining which digital marketing channels to target and which digital marketing tactics your team should execute.

The implementation process of a digital marketing strategy which we cover in our 2-day digital marketing strategy course looks like this:

Digital Marketing Strategy implementation process

Digital Marketing Strategy Implementation Process

So, How Do the Different Digital Channels Impact the Business?

By delivering an omni-channel customer experience, all the way from the awareness to the post-purchase stages.

Digital Marketing Funnel

Digital Marketing Funnel

For instance, we can launch online PR campaigns to create awareness, implement content marketing to help customers evaluate our products, drive high purchase intent traffic to our website via SEO, digital ads, and email, and nurture leads to repurchase through Email Marketing, Digital Advertising, Marketing Automation, and Social Media Marketing.

The selection of digital marketing channels depends on a variety of factors such as:

  • Marketing objectives: Are your goals to increase brand awareness or encourage loyalty?
  • Marketing Budget: Do you have sufficient budget to spend across more than 3 channels?
  • Manpower: Does your marketing team have the necessary knowledge and skills to manage multiple campaigns and digital agencies?
  • Customers: Which platforms are your customers on? What are your customer touch points?

If you want to learn more how to develop and implement a digital marketing strategy, sign up for our digital marketing strategy course.

2 replies
  1. Ero Ik
    Ero Ik says:

    Wonderful , detailed explanation , but you said :”Digital marketing can and should be integrated with other forms of marketing including traditional and offline marketing strategies ”
    Is this necessary all the time ?

    Reply
    • Dylan
      Dylan says:

      Thanks for stopping by Ero. In my opinion, most businesses should include a holistic marketing strategy which includes offline methods as well. For my company, Equinet Academy, we host offline meetup events on top of other digital marketing tactics. We then track and attribute course signups to various marketing channels (online and offline).

      Then again, whether it is necessary or not depends on your business model and niche. In the real estate industry for example, billboard and buntings are still a great way to drive awareness to a new launch project, but are best complemented with social media advertising and search engine marketing.

      Reply

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