Digital marketing. Internet marketing. Content marketing. SEO marketing. Figuring out what all these marketing terms mean and how they fit together is baffling. And once you untangle the definitions, you have to decide which marketing methods align with your business goals.
So, what is “digital marketing” all about? First, let’s look at marketing as a whole. Marketing is a set of tactics that distinguish your business from competitors and get people to buy products. This includes the research you use to develop campaigns. The goal is to convey distinct selling points, so customers choose your business.
Traditional marketing can happen just about anywhere. Trade shows, TV ads, and press releases are common ways to promote a business and attract customers. But marketing also happens when you deliver great service and customers spread the word about their experiences.
What does “digital marketing” mean?
The marketing methods or platforms you use are known as channels. Digital marketing involves using online channels to promote the benefits of your products. Sending emails, blogging, and connecting on social media all fall into this broad category. Online channels allow remote, but authentic, interactions that build loyalty. Common channels for digital marketing include:
- Business websites and blogs
- Search engine optimization
- Email subscriber lists
- Social media sites
- Business networking sites
- Online testimonials and review sites
- Video-sharing sites
- Press release distributors
- Paid internet advertising
- Apps and online tools
Digital marketing has become one of the most effective ways to reach customers. In a 2015 survey, Pew Research Center reported that 21 percent of Americans go online “almost constantly,” and 42 percent are online multiple times a day. With so many people using mobile devices, it’s quite common to be online all the time.
Connecting with people you can’t see may seem like a challenge. In reality, the internet creates a lot of new opportunities to learn about customers. As a result, you’re able to draw more people to your business through targeted marketing.
Digital marketing vs. internet marketing
Now that you understand digital marketing, it raises a bigger question. What’s the difference between internet marketing and digital marketing? If all these activities happen online, why use so many different words to describe them?
Internet marketing involves building a web presence and turning the resulting traffic into sales. When the internet was younger, the four major marketing activities involved:
- Creating websites
- Buying pay-per-click-ads
- Setting up web storefronts
- Using keyword groups to capture search engine traffic
Yet, online marketing has grown to include many activities that don’t involve internet search engines, paid ads, or websites. People are using a wide range of digital devices to get online and interact with content. By reaching customers through online channels they frequently use, you can influence their buying choices offline.
Think about how often you connect with brands. Customers form positive opinions about products or services from reading blogs. Interactive video ads prompt viewers to make decisions. Customers receive coupons for local stores straight from smartphone apps. Internet marketing is a major subcategory of digital marketing. And digital marketing encompasses diverse online and offline tactics that drive digital engagement.
How content marketing and SEO influence digital marketing
Internet, SEO, and content marketing are key pillars of digital marketing. Combining these strategies is the best way to launch and grow a proficient business.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of formatting your website and content to improve search rankings. The internet is filled with websites and blogs fighting for attention. However, targeting niche keywords your customers search for can reduce online competition.
Content marketing involves creating assets that offer value to your customers. Online assets, such as blogs, photos, videos, and guides, build awareness of your brand. Creating content encourages customers to trust you and engage with your business. Since content is easy for customers to share, it also drives a lot of traffic to your sites.
Getting great leads is an ongoing challenge for business owners. Customers are less responsive to overt sales pitches, so pushy ads aren’t the best way to attract them. While passive activities, content and SEO marketing show customers you can answer their questions. These methods support your digital marketing plan by consistently drawing inbound traffic to your site.
Benefits of digital marketing
You may have noticed online communities and platforms getting more interconnected every day. Digital marketing gives businesses of all sizes access to a bigger customer base. At the same time, digital marketing includes a lot of organic tactics that help brands create an authentic image. Consider these five benefits of digital marketing when growing your business.
- Range of influence: Small businesses can connect with people around the globe. In turn, a bigger customer base boosts revenue potential. The internet is a content economy, making it easy for business owners to brand themselves as experts online. The more you know, the more power you have to educate and influence customers.
- Precise targeting: Offline, businesses have limited means of tracking customer behavior. With the right tools, digital marketing yields a wealth of data. Everything a customer does leaves a trail online. The data you gain about customers helps you refine your marketing messages to serve their needs
- Low-cost campaigns: Digital marketing is time-consuming, but inexpensive. Look at social media as an example. A small business can engage with customers on Facebook or Twitter just as easily as a global brand. Smaller businesses often have more one-on-one interaction with clients. That leads to loyal relationships and word-of-mouth marketing.
- Instant feedback: In traditional marketing, figuring out what customers want can take time. With digital marketing, you can get timely feedback from multiple channels. Online surveys, emails, forums, social media comments, and reviews all speed up communications.
- Faster implementation: Digital channels shorten the time it takes to develop successful campaigns. Traditional marketers spend weeks or months to research, create, and approve a campaign. Digital channels let you create campaigns more frequently to keep customers engaged. Because the cost is generally low, you can test many small campaigns to find the right approach.
Choosing digital marketing strategies for your business
The most important thing about digital marketing is its flexibility. You don’t have to copy everything your competitors are doing to be successful. Focus on finding out where your customers are online, and connect with them at key touchpoints. There’s no point wasting time on Facebook if all your customers are on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Track your online marketing activities to keep refining your methods. Digital trends evolve quickly. It’s essential for businesses to change and serve customers in ways that matter to them. Marketing is also about setting your brand apart. If you can identify unfilled niches, don’t hesitate to try online methods your competitors aren’t using.