Thursday, March 21, 2019

So What Exactly is Digital Marketing?

I was talking to a business acquaintance about my new consultancy focusing on digital marketing and his first question unexpectedly made me stumble. "What exactly is digital marketing?"

Those of us who live in the digital world take it for granted that everyone must know what that means. But this question was a great reminder that digital marketing -- and indeed the entire world wide web -- is still the Wild West. Most people don't really understand how it works or what it is. This is even true for business owners and professionals.

In the case of what digital marketing services I offer my clients, here is a brief summary along with some helpful resources to learn more.

Website Development - This one is probably the most tangible and easy to grasp. Everyone knows what a website is, right? But what it takes to put one together? Not so much. I am not a web developer, but I know how to help businesses build the right kind of website for their needs. This includes choosing the right content marketing platform (there are more than just Wordpress, although that is widely used), defining the site architecture and organization (the navigation and content areas), directing the design (the look and feel of the site), writing the content (my personal specialty), and optimizing the site for SEO (also my personal specialty). You can literally build a website for $10 (like this one on Blogger) or you can spend ... virtually any amount of money. I'm working on a project now that is five figures. My piece of it is tiny, but depending on functionality, number of pages and other factors, the sky is the limit.

Social Media Management - There is more to this than posting on Facebook. I'm Hootsuite certified in Social Media which means I've received advanced training in not only using their tools but also how to maximize your impact on all your social media channels, including YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

I strongly recommend creating annual, monthly and weekly social media calendars and taking a disciplined approach to posting so that your efforts support larger business initiatives. I work with my clients to develop a marketing strategy and then create these calendars to help them reach their business goals.

Email Marketing - Email marketing is undergoing a resurgance. In the context of an increasingly complex and confusing social media environment, email marketing makes a lot of sense.When you use a properly opted in list of prospects, customers and past customers, you can create targeted meaningful communications. Best of all, it's all measureable right through the purchase path, which makes it a great tool for those with online booking or e-commerce solutions.

I can help businesses set up with the right Email Marketing platform for their uses. This can be popular solutions such as MailChimp and Constant Contact, and other CRM solutions like Salesforce that are more appropriate for larger businesses. I've used them all and there are pros and cons to each of them. But understanding the benefits of list segmentation, the importance of multi-variate (A/B) testing and the value of attracive and well written email content - that's where the magic lies.

Content Marketing - The Content Marketing Institute defines Content Marketing as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. A simpler defintion is that it's the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services. 

The cornerstone of content marketing is strong copywriting - which lucky for me is my forte. But it's also strong visuals, such as infographics, photography and videos. I'm able to create this content for my clients and advise the best way to distribute it, through blogs, social channels or websites.

These are the broad categories - there are no doubt more and I could write a novel about each. But now after writing this, I'll be better prepared to answer that most basic of questions when I'm asked about my new business!