For some reason, us Digital Marketing nerds tend to make Internet Marketing more complicated than it really is. In reality, the channels of digital marketing are pretty simple to understand. While efficiently executing and managing digital campaigns takes expertise, experience, savvy, and testing, learning the basics is a good place to start for all entrepreneurs, business owners, and stakeholders.
Here is a simple guide to some of the largest digital strategies that the leading companies and brands are using online to generate leads, revenue and brand exposure.
Understanding these channels will save you time, and money. (And that is a promise!)
Paid “Ad” Channels:
PPC (Pay Per Click)
When a person refers to “PPC” they are generally referring to paid ads through Google’s AdWords network that triggers based off a keyword that someone searches for. These ads are usually structured so the advertiser pays when someone clicks on their advertisement. Click prices can range from $0.50 to hundreds of dollars depending on how competitive the keyword or keywords you are bidding on are. Bing’s PPC Ad Network is probably the second largest, but most marketers start with Google.
Although these Ad networks strive to make it easy for you to spend your money, it is important that you have a seasoned marketer managing your campaign to handle proper geographic targeting, keyword focus, click through rates, quality scores and more key metrics. One of the best things about Google PPC ads is that the prospect your business is targeting has already shown intent to find your products or services.
Display ads are generally really good for new innovative products or services looking to gain general awareness. They are not triggered by keywords and can often be seen in the form of banners on different sites you are on. You can get pretty targeted with the types of sites you want to market these ads on but they are more of a shotgun approach compared to PPC ads that trigger based off a very specific piece of search criteria or specific “keyword”.
Display ads continue to evolve and advance on a regular basis. In addition, targeting opportunities are becoming more and more advanced these days. As a result, display ads are a great resource for businesses looking for powerful targeting approaches.
Retargeting has become HUGE and is a growing paid ad channel. Retargeting is something that you probably notice when you are surfing the web. Ever go look at new cars online and then notice that wherever you go that car is following you around in the form of an ad trying to suck you back in? You are probably being retargeted.
There are a variety of retargeting Ad networks out there ranging from Google’s network to Adroll and many others. Pretty much every social media network (including Facebook and Instagram) offer retargeting as a core targeting type. These retargeting campaigns are a bit more complicated because you have to install some code in your site to “mark” that person you are going to retarget. You also need a creative or graphic designer to work up some nice artwork for your advertisement.
Having a strong retargeting program for your business is something to strongly consider – especially considering the fact that the average conversion rate on most sites is around 1% to 3%. This means that 97% – 99% of website visitors are not converting their first time around. Therefore, having a plan in place to get a second or third touch with them is a wise idea.
Organic search, also known as SEO (search engine optimization), is often times one of the most efficient and profitable digital channels for marketing. The beauty of organic search is that internet browsers and consumers generally prefer and put greater trust in the organic or natural search results and not the paid ads.
The benefit to organic rankings is that you do not have to pay per lead or per click, thus making it very sustainable long term.
SEO is probably one of the most advanced parts of Internet marketing and has become more challenging over the years. Google has really focused on brands, high quality content and showing the most relevant search results based on a consumers search criteria. There have been several SEO companies and marketers that have tried to “game the system” through “black hat” SEO tactics over the years, and Google has really cracked down on this. You HAVE to do things the right way, with high quality and integrity. You should consider investing in organic because of its sustainability, but make sure you partner with a credible agency that understands the importance of doing things the ethical way.
Unlike the “paid channels” that can get you results overnight, organic marketing can take 3 – 6 months before you start seeing real results. The great thing is that once you get those results you do not have to pay for every lead. It is also important to understand that there are three core components of a solid SEO strategy. These include:
- Technical SEO & Indexing: This part is probably the most challenging to understand as an internet marketing novice, but is definitely one of the most important. In order for Google to easily crawl through your website and digest your content, it is crucial that you get your pages indexed for keywords you want to target.
- Content: This part is a little bit more simple. If you have the best content on the internet, Google will reward you with SEO rankings. While there are different types of content that you want to promote, the most important are:
Transactional/Promotional Content: This type of content lives on the main pages of your website. We recommend having at least 200-400 words on these pages. Just make sure that all of the content is relevant and important – aka not ‘fluff.
Informational Content: This content should live on your website’s blog and provide highly valuable information around various parts of your offering. Your goal here should be to provide answers to your audience’s questions (as the expert). DO NOT try to sell here – just focus on giving your customer and Google the best content possible.
Online PR: You may hear people call this “link building” – but it’s best to be careful with that. If you have good PR, it will really help your website’s SEO. When a credible and relevant website links back to your website or blog post, it passes trust and credibility to you and helps you build a better credibility score, and in turn, help you rank better. However, we cannot stress this enough, be careful with online PR as many SEOs do a spammy job with this, which can really hurt your site in the end.
Social Media: Social media has become HUGE, especially for consumer-facing businesses and products. Social media has really started to connect with SEO and organic marketing as content has become king online. Social media marketing is a great way for you to engage your customers, communicate with them online and build brand awareness.
When you think of Social Media marketing, think referral marketing (in the traditional world a friend recommending to another friend) online.
Some of the main channels we recommend for business are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Linkedin, and Pinterest. There are also social networks of their own for different industries that you may want to look into. These are often communities, chat boards, and microsites focused on niche industries and can be great to have a presence on. If you’re interested in learning more about using social media for business, check out our beginner’s guide here.
Social media ads are also something you should familiarize yourself with as a digital marketer beginner. Social ads have become a very powerful way to quickly reach your audience and turn your social media audience into a money making or lead generation machine! For many businesses, social media ads on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn provide great ways to target highly segmented audiences that may be very hard to reach otherwise. Disclaimer: running these ads can sometimes be very complicated. Also, because they are so new, it is hard to find experts with proven track records of success with running these ads.
Wrapping Things Up
Hopefully this gives you a high level overview of some options you may be able to take advantage of as you try to grow your brand or business online.
Your key to success is to educate yourself and then find a partner that can help execute the strategies that you think are most effective for your company.
When looking for a partner, check references and have them explain what strategies they would recommend for you based on your industry and competitive landscape. Steer clear of marketers offering cookie cutter strategies – every business and market segment is different and what works for one site may not work for another When discussing with potential marketing partners, give them an estimated budget and see how they recommend you sprinkle your money over these different channels. If the potential partner you are evaluating shows you “packages” to select from, consider it a red flag for a cookie cutter approach to your business.
One of the great things about digital marketing is that through Google’s FREE analytics platform you can easily see where your traffic, leads and revenue are coming from and then invest your money and resources in the best channels.