What is it? Broadly speaking, Digital Marketing is simply (as Wikipedia puts it): ‘the marketing of products or services over the Internet’. Another definition might be: ‘Any online activity designed to drive traffic to a website’. If only it were that simple.
The world of Digital Marketing comprises different cultures using different languages and has spawned a number of specialist fields within its boundaries. The aim of all is to achieve a level of visibility online for your products or services. The following explanation is therefore necessarily lengthy. It assumes some knowledge of the basic terms, but all are linked to a more detailed description if required.
Think in terms of the Strategies (best described as pro-active and reactive) and Methods available to reach the online audience, the Tools to implement them and the Platforms which utilise those tools.
I’d suggest these fall into two camps, Proactive and Reactive.
A Proactive strategy is one aimed at stimulating interest in a product or service and might utilise methods such as advertising and broadcasting. A Reactive strategy is one that responds to a search for products, services or information, the most obvious method used to implement this strategy is Search Marketing.
The 3 core methods you can employ to reach people online are, Search Marketing, Display Advertising and Broadcasting/Engagement.
Search Marketing is one of the most immediate routes to potential customers/clients available. It puts you in front of the potential client at whatever stage of the buying cycle the online search was initiated. Its success relies in part on the fact that potential clients search online for the goods or services you want to sell and partly on your competitiveness online (there are other factors of course). Used correctly it can be extremely effective. Tools you might employ to achieve results in search marketing are SEO, PPC, strategic partnerships and directory listings. Platforms that allow you to implement those methods might include search engines such as Google (which can be a platform for SEO, PPC, etc), individual websites or online communities such as Twitter, where search is carried out on a site or community that is not primarily a search engine.
Display Advertising. I’ve used this term to try to differentiate advertising as a strategy from advertising used as a method (Ads can be used via PPC but in this case, you’d be using them to target searches and that’s reactive, here I’m referring to display advertising as proactive). The same platform (Google Adwords) can show ads either as Search Marketing or as part of a Display Advertising strategy, by showing ads on Google’s content network (which is simply displaying ads on their network of partner websites). This is just one example of the potential cross over (and room for confusion) between the different strategies, methods, tools and platforms. By display advertising, I mean any ad placement other than as a response to search.
This is pretty much any other form of activity (apart from paid advertising) that is designed to proactively stimulate interest via the internet (I’m not including email marketing, direct or viral in this). Methods include Blogging, Article Marketing and engaging in Social Media. The style can be broadcasting, or simply spreading your message or engagement which is more subtle and interactive.
By platforms, I mean search engines, such as Google, online communities such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and in several cases (such as Twitter and WordPress) the tools are really the primary function of the platform. In others such as Linkedin, there are several tools offering different opportunities to implement your strategies.
If Google is a platform, then Google Adwords is one of the tools you would use to reach your target audience using that platform. Similarly, Direct Ads is one of Linkedin’s tools, which can be used to reach people on Linkedin.
These are very broad definitions and are my way of explaining the complexity of Digital Marketing, others will use different terminology. Hopefully this will have at least illustrated the size of the playing field and the fact that there are many routes to market within this ever expanding field which your business can explore. To discuss what might work best for your business, please call us on 0845 431 0367 or email firstname.lastname@example.org