what is digital marketing

What is Digital Marketing? How To Start Finding Customers Online

What is digital marketing? And how will it help with finding customers online?

They’re questions we get a lot from future clients. And for obvious reasons… we are, after all, a digital marketing agency that prides itself on helping small business owners find customers online without spending a lot of money.

So, to answer this fairly complex question, we like to start with a little scenario…

Your small business is running well. You’ve been open a while now and there’s a steady stream of customers coming through your doors. (This is usually true when most of our clients come to us.)

After being jostled by family, friends, and customers about not having much of an online presence, you took a weekend to build a website in Squarespace and set up a Facebook page for your products and services.

So as far as digital marketing goes, you’ve got things pretty well covered, right? You can skip this article, correct?

Well, sorry, but… not quite.

Okay, so… what is digital marketing?

There are many different types of digital marketing.

Content marketing…

SEO marketing…

Email marketing…

… and social marketing, just to name a few.

What they all have in common: They are strategies that are deployed online and the end goal is to drive lead generation and convert those leads into loyal customers for your business.

what is digital marketing

Also in common: a HUGE spike in interest.

With an overwhelming array of marketing options available to you, the next question most people ask is: “which type is best for my small business?”

The quick answer: ALL OF THEM.

At Three Dog Digital, we specialize in content, search, social, and email marketing. When we onboard a new client, we advise them to focus on all four of these areas. Part of the initial assessment we prepare for each client includes developing a personalized blend of these four key digital marketing areas.

(RELATEDWelcome To Three Dog Digital! Here’s Where To Start)

Each of these different approaches to digital marketing offers their own advantages and disadvantages. So let’s dive in…

Strategy matters.

Your business will not sell itself.

People may know about your product or service, but they may not know why they need or should want your product or service.

You need digital marketing to interact with potential customers online. You need digital marketing to communicate how your product or service will make their lives betterYou need digital marketing for your business to have a chance at success.

In fact, digital marketing has become more important than ever.

Pokémon GO Snorlax

Almost as important as catching a Snorlax in Pokémon GO.

So, before you do anything else, you need to develop a digital marketing strategy — one that allows you to effectively communicate your brand and actively promote it to your audience. Most importantly, one that focuses on your prospect, not your product.

Not sure where to start? We can help!

You need digital marketing for your business to have a chance at success. Click To Tweet

Digital marketing is a data-driven field.

Thanks to digital marketing, data that you never thought possible is now within your reach.

Counting how many passersby saw a poster of your ad is next to impossible. With digital marketing, you not only get to count the website visitors but also the referral traffic that brought them to your website, the length of their stay on your site, and other crucial metrics to help you analyze the effectiveness of your campaign… and fine-tune it to keep getting better results.

The scalability and inclusive nature of digital marketing are a few reasons why 38% of marketers plan to shift from traditional mass advertising to digital marketing, according to Salesforce.

marketing billboard

If this does work, there’s really no way to measure it.

While digital marketing has made it more convenient to optimize your business to strategies that work, you will need a reliable team who will help you develop optimal digital marketing campaigns and measure the performance of each.

In building this strategy for our clients, we use what we truly believe are the four tentpoles that serve as the foundation of any successful digital marketing plan.

(RELATED: Why No Small Business Owner Should Be Doing Their Own Digital Marketing)

Starting with…

Content Marketing

This type of marketing refers to the creation and distribution of content geared towards your target market and sent to the right channels.

Content marketing is considered to be one of the most cost-effective tactics to help build leads and generate sales. Demand Metric discovered that businesses using content marketing can build three times more leads compared to traditional outbound marketing… at less than half the cost.

The popularity of content marketing is widespread, but still developing…

The secret is in the creation of content that your audience will trust from wherever they are in the sales funnel. Developing blog posts, infographics, videos, e-books, and white papers that deliver value to prospective customers allows you to build trust with your target market and influence their decisions. And most importantly, it builds trust with your brand.

In order to maximize your this marketing approach, you also need to share your content to the online channels where your target audience is most active. By getting more people to view your content, you raise awareness of your brand and help your market interact with your small business and understand:

  • WHAT your brand is all about;
  • HOW your products and/or services will make their lives better and;
  • WHY you are the perfect fit for their needs.
Businesses using content marketing get 3x more leads than outbound marketing at 1/2 the cost. Click To Tweet

SEO Marketing

SEO is all about rankings. And in the SEO game, nothing is more crucial than getting to the top of search results.

According to Chitika, the top three results on the first page of a Google search receive 32.5 percent, 17.6 percent, and 11.4 percent of clicks, respectively. Therefore, positioning your business within the top three greatly increases your chances of driving more traffic to your site.

To get there, you need to understand user intent.

User Intent

Pictured: The search for user intent.

Search engines are used by 86 percent of users to build their knowledge on certain topics, according to Pew Research Center. At the same time, they are also used by 61 percent of online shoppers to learn more about a product before making an informed decision.

That means SEO marketing can drive A LOT of traffic to your website.

Marketing on search engines, with the full understanding of whether your audience wants to grow their knowledge or make smart purchasing decisions, will help you develop highly targeted site pages to rank on search results. As an added bonus, SEO marketing will also foster a seamless user experience that could translate to industry influence, as well as leads and sales.

Understanding user intent lets you research for head and long-tail keywords that target the intentions of your target market. From there, you can then create content types that serve as the perfect vehicle to deliver your information to your audience.

While your SEO will coincide with content marketing, in this case, combining both is not a new practice… 56 percent of marketers have done it!

SEO marketing is more than just keywords, though. Links, speed, and trust matter too.

link building

Just imagine the possibilities!

To further increase the chances of your site ranking high on search engines for target keywords, it is crucial to observe the best on-and off-page optimization practices.

Aside from speeding up page load time and providing a high-quality experience for your site’s visitors, you need a sustainable link building strategy, which are the most important factors for ranking on search engines. By earning links from authoritative sites in an organic fashion, you enhance the trustworthiness of your site. And search engines will give you major points for being trustworthy.

SEO marketing is more than just keywords. Links, speed, and trust matter too. Click To Tweet

Social Media Marketing

Finding a highly targeted audience from 2.3 billion social media users all over the world sounds easy. And it can be… if done correctly.

As proof, traffic analytics service Parse.ly reported that Facebook (43%) has overtaken Google (38%) as the highest source of referral traffic.

The real value of social media marketing is its ability to build a vibrant community.

Getting thousands of fans and followers starts with developing engaging ways to connect with them. Posting thought-provoking questions to your audience, sharing relevant content from different sites at the best times, and launching contests and raffle giveaways are some of the many ways to provide value for your customers.

By successfully getting prospects on board with your brand through social media, you are almost guaranteed to increase site traffic and improve conversion rates.

Email Marketing

The first marketing email was sent in 1978… and it will be a long time before we see the last one.

Why? Because it still works.

Who would have thought that the seemingly old-fashioned model of online communication was cited as the most effective marketing tactic to retain customers in 2014?

And rather than declining, there’s been an email resurgence in the past few years. The fact that more than 80% of mobile users regularly check their emails on their phones has something to do with it… businesses are taking advantage of this to promote their brand to mobile consumers, predominantly via email marketing.

email marketing

We’ve come a long way since the first email marketing campaigns.

Given that users consider their inbox as a very personal property, you need to make an impression with your emails, which means writing compelling headlines that subscribers will click on. It also means offering value to your customers rather than asking for them to do something for you.

Email marketing is most effective when you craft messages that educate and engage subscribers — as well as supply them with relevant tools and resources to help them solve a problem. And if you provide a clear, concise call to action, success will follow.

Even better… by delivering emails that offer insightful content, you can establish your brand as an authority in your niche.

Taking the permission-based marketing approach, you also need to give prospects a reason to sign up to your mailing list in the first place so they can receive your messages. Providing them with free exclusive content, publishing consistently great blog posts, and establishing your brand as trustworthy are some of the things that can drive more subscribers to your list.

Getting the full marketing experience

All four marketing strategies featured above can be too much for a small business to handle by themselves. And we preach that small business owners shouldn’t be handling it by themselves.

That’s why, for our clients, we…

  • Optimize your website using the best SEO practices to increase your chances of ranking in the top three results of Google to boost your traffic;
  • Develop high-quality content that your audience would love and promote them to the right channels to increase conversion;
  • Drive more traffic to your site from the thousands of followers your brand has on social media that you have built organically through meaningful engagement;
  • Push prospects to sign up to targeted, automated, and segmented mailing lists so you can send personalized emails to subscribers for greater marketing.

Nonetheless, whether you go it alone or work with a pro, all tactics can complement each other to help you build a sustainable and result-driven campaign to take your business to the next level.

And, of course, if you don’t want to implement these tactics on your own (we don’t blame you), then we’re always here to give you a hand.

(RELATED: Get your small business marketing going TODAY with a bold business statement.)

Three Dog Digital Team

We handle your digital marketing so you can focus on running a business. Because NO small business should be wasting precious resources doing their own digital marketing.