An Introduction to Digital Marketing

Why is digital marketing important for small businesses?

Digital marketing increases your business’s visibility and validates its credibility. Like traditional marketing, digital marketing builds relationships. Now, they have converged. It’s not digital marketing; it’s just marketing.

Did You Know?

  • 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn
  • In January 2022, internet users aged 16-64 disclosed how they research a brand.
  • 49.5% used search engines as their primary channel to research a brand,
  • 43.5% said social networks were their primary channel.
Types of Digital Marketing

There are many ways to slice and dice the onion that is digital marketing. This list makes the most sense to my clients and me.

  • Content marketing
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Social media marketing
  • Email and message marketing
  • Affiliate and influencer marketing
  • Here’s a brief overview of each and its place in digital marketing.
Content Marketing

Content marketing includes anything written, like blog posts, social media posts, or websites. It also includes images, video, and audio, like podcasts. Content marketing produces material for a specific audience for a particular purpose.

Examples of content marketing:

  • A persuasive sentence to get an email address and the welcome email you get once you are signed up.
  • An Instagram video of a founder talking to people who already buy their product or service.
  • A blog post is written to share research on a topic relevant to the audience’s needs.
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Search engine marketing improves your rankings by using a search engine’s tools. The tactics are free and paid. If there is any secret left in digital marketing, it is about the free tools. Did you know that the Google Business app lets you post regularly, like social media? It’s free. When you make updates, it feeds Google. And the more you post, the better the search engine and your leads get to know you.

You pay for SEM by advertising through search engines, such as Google Ads or Bing Ads. In the hands of an expert, and I know some, it’s a powerful tool.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The term SEO rings a bell for most people. But nine times out of ten, their impressions are outdated. Here are two myths I come across. One, SEO means stuffing keywords into your website text. Two, add ‘tags or something to your website for SEO.

So, SEO is mainly website-based. It is a highly technical game for global brands with reams of data and scientists to shift through it. But for us, SEO is about writing explicit, purposeful online content for the people who want to find us. It’s about using the right words – which SEO calls keywords. It used to be, maybe in 2002, easier to get found, for several reasons. It’s not anymore.

Search engines are intelligent. Smart. This is how sophisticated Google is today. (From Google on August 18, 2022)

Google Search is always working to better connect people to helpful information. To this end, we’re launching what we’re calling the “helpful content update” that’s part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.

Do you know why they say, “helpful content written by people?” Because some blogging these days is done by AI. And believe me, these articles are tough to read. Poor grammar, bad spelling, and atrocious punctuation. It’s enough to make an editor weep.

The two pieces of SEO that you need to worry about

Anyway, SEO has two pieces, on-site and off-site. On-site SEO starts with the words you use to describe your business. The tricky thing is making sure your words and the same words your audience uses to find you.

I have a client that repairs a specific brand of commercial printers. They and their clients use the same word to find each other: Heidelberg press repairs.

When it comes to other businesses, like mine, it’s HARD. People use so many different words to describe what I do. For SEO, writing a website with all my keywords is challenging. But I am a copywriter, a digital marketer, and a content marketer … so I should manage.

Your takeaway is that on-site SEO helps the people looking for you find you. You achieve this by using the words they use to search and produce high-quality, written, and lengthy copy. Off-site SEO is more complex and has to do with the number of websites that link to you and their domain ranking. These are called backlinks. It’s an important marketing strategy, but you must get your on-site SEO in place first.

Social Media Marketing

Instagram. LinkedIn. Facebook. TikTok. Twitter. Et cetera.

There are two types of social media marketing: organic and paid. (Let’s not say paid advertising anymore, it’s redundant.)

The free content you publish on social is called organic. You are into advertising when you pay to share a post.

Social is not as easy as it used to be. Make the most of your investment by genuinely understanding your target audience. This means what they need, want to hear, and where they are in the customer value journey. It’s not as hard as you think. You already know your clients.

When starting a marketing effort, my clients may want to use the newest platform. (Which is TikTok, BTW.) We figure out if it’s the right place to be, what to share, and how.

TikTok is booming, but LinkedIn is growing too. Where is your audience?

Email Marketing

Email marketing is still the most effective digital marketing tool out there. And it’s pretty underused by small businesses, in my opinion.

Understandable, though; it’s complicated. What do you say? How often do you send it? Will people be annoyed getting your email? (Only if you are Pottery Barn.)

Email marketing is a crucial piece of my six-month marketing framework. It doesn’t have to be as hard as you think.

Hiring Options for Digital Marketing

When you want to start or resume digital marketing, you have choices. Do it in-house; use a digital marketing agency; or hire a freelancer.

Agencies are great. They are staffed with bright and creative people. Their social teams are enthusiastic, but do they understand your business? And they are expensive. Because you are running a business too, and while you’ll pay for value, the investment can be steep. Oh, and agencies can have dozens of clients. How much attention is your business getting?

The freelance digital marketing advantage.
When you hire freelance digital marketing, you hire an affordable digital marketing company. Like you, we are owners and staff; we are businesspeople. Good freelancers might not be cheap, but you are paying for the value of your experience and skill. We tend to have fewer clients, meaning you get focused and personalized attention.

I could be working in an agency. Or I could be freelance. But for me, freelance digital marketing is better because of the high-touch nature of the work. My clients are brilliant and inspirational, and we have collaborative and engaging relationships. I like learning about new businesses; I’ve done that my entire career.

Throughout my 25 career years, I have worked in a mix of business, industry, and organizations. I’ve worked with complex pieces of software – logistics and investment banking – in Europe. I’ve been a software tester, business analyst, operations consultant, and online strategist. Most recently, I was the communications director of a university’s family medicine department. I’ve freelanced for ten years building websites, writing, consulting, and strategy. My clients do everything from consulting, branding, financial services, product, and branding. Please visit the About Page or connect with me on LinkedIn to learn more.

Digital Marketing Framework

You can make the most of your marketing content using a digital marketing framework. If you’ve invested in a website, social media, or blog posts, you likely have content to salvage.

What is that marketing content doing now? Does it sit in a folder on your server? Look – I bet it’s called Marketing, Digital Marketing, Website Content, or Social Media. That content could be a goldmine in the right hands. What if all this work from previous marketing efforts could work for you now?

The solution is to organize your content into a digital marketing framework. I offer a variety of services to build yours. For example, a digital marketing strategy, a strategy assessment, and a six-month content plan. All are personalized, of course, for you your business, objectives, brand, and marketing.

Page was last updated on November 11, 2022.