How to Get Started With Digital Marketing
There are many good reasons to study digital marketing, from its “future-proof” designation to the fact that you can create your own business around it if you want to work for yourself. It’s a highly useful, increasingly versatile skill which won’t go out of fashion any time soon. Before you begin your formal studies in marketing, you might want to go into your education with a little prior knowledge for peace of mind. That’s why we’ve put together an overview of the important points you need to know.
You can also use this guide as a blueprint for your campaigns if you’ve just launched your own digital marketing business. Digital marketing can be a highly creative field, allowing you to test and experiment and innovate for clients in a variety of industries, but there are a few foundational aspects you’ll need a grasp on first. Let’s take a look at some of the fundamentals you’ll cover in a marketing course.
What Is Strategic Marketing?
“Marketing is all about communicating the right message to the right people using the right channel,” says Dr. Katharina Bayer, CMO at Pixformance Sports. Creating a strong marketing strategy requires selecting your target markets and creating a “marketing mix.”
Defining Your Target Market
First, figure out what problem you are solving in what market. Are you saving people time? Money? Both? Are you the most sustainable option in your market? What is your “unique selling point” (USP)? Once you figure that out, you can begin to spread your message to the right people through the right channels.
You’ll also want to divide your market into customer segments, which are different groups of buyers with different needs, characteristics, or behavior who might require separate products of marketing programs. The reason for this is so you can understand if the market is large enough to matter, if customers can easily be contacted, how to deliver more effective marketing messages, and to meet consumer needs more precisely.
At the same time, figure out who your perfect customer is in terms of demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and geographic characteristics. This way, you can create a “user persona” to better target your marketing efforts towards. User personas are an important part of any business.
Next, determine your market differentiation. “The key to winning target customers is to understand their needs better than competitors do and to deliver more value,” Bayer says. “There is no marketing strategy without knowing your competitors.” Identifying competitors will help you understand your market positioning, or where you stand in relation to everyone else in your market. The goal is “to occupy a clear, distinctive, desirable place relative to competing products in the minds of target consumers.”
Another essential part of marketing and communication is branding. Branding is your identity as consumers see it, especially compared to your competitors. You can use color schemes, logos, slogans, tones of voice, and images to convey your brand identity.
Creating a Marketing Mix
Successful businesses gain a competitive advantage by using the “four Ps”: product, price, place, promotion.
“If a company understands the needs of its target segment it will create products that will satisfy customer expectations and have features they desire, it will offer the product at the price that corresponds to the target market is willing to spend, and it will offer the products where the target market likes to shop. It will also build its brand communication in a language that speaks to the target market.”
- Product: Ask yourself what the client wants from your product, how and where they will use it, what features it needs to satisfy their needs, and whether you’re creating unnecessary features that aren’t needed by target customers.
- Place: Ask yourself where your product will be initially launched, where your customers look for your product, what kind of stores they might go to, whether they shop online or on location, how your distribution strategy compares to that of your competitors, and whether you need support from a strong sales team.
- Price: Ask yourself how much it costs to produce the product, how much your target group is willing to pay for it, whether the current price of the product can keep up with the price of the product’s competitors, and whether you need to lease or rent a space for selling it.
- Promotion: Ask yourself what message you want to communicate, where your target customers hang out, how you spread your message, where people can learn about your product, when is the best time to promote your product, and what is the promotion strategy of your competitors. Use “push tactics” to reach the customer or “pull tactics” to draw the customer to you. Combine them for the best results.
Once you’ve identified target markets and created your marketing mix, you’ll want to select Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), evaluate the performance of your marketing strategy based on those goals, and taking corrective action if necessary.
What Is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing relates to the third and fourth “Ps” of your strategic marketing mix: place and promotion. After you’ve created your marketing strategy, you’ll need the right tools to get it rolling. Digital marketing is about setting up campaigns which you can monitor and measure, improving outcomes as you go.
According to Influencer Marketing Hub, marketers receive $7.65 in earned media value for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. On top of that, 92% of consumers trust online word-of-mouth recommendations while only 33% trust online banner ads. That’s a pretty convincing reason to pursue influencer marketing. Here’s how to get started:
- Make a spreadsheet of top influencers to promote your product
- Keep contracts between yourself and your influencers
- Track engagement and follow-up with their community
“The goal of any good influencer campaign is three things,” write Martina Heinzle and Naveed Ratansi, who run the digital marketing agency Cheetah Conversions: “brand awareness for the work you’re doing with a niche sector who would be interested in your events, they just haven’t heard of it yet; potential lead generation from the campaigns and content based around a target audience who would be interested in your product; and sales that can occur from a source (the influencer) promoting a product that he or she believes in to a community who trusts what they say.”
Finally, it’s all about authenticity: “Unlike traditional marketing, the authenticity and connection that can be made from influencers is so much higher and the sales results are equally as impressive.”
You know the posts that come up on your Facebook feed that say “sponsored” below the poster’s logo? That’s a paid social ad, which is the cornerstone of social media marketing. For paid ads on social media channels, spend most of your time (and money) on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
You can either boost a post, sponsoring a post which has already been successful organically, or create a new sponsored post to target your audience. Ads can be placed in the feed, within the messenger app, or in stories both on Facebook and Instagram. On LinkedIn you can capture leads through landing pages and lead generation forms on sponsored content such as white papers, blog posts, and events. You can also reach out to your target audience through sponsored InMail.
The purpose of paid search is to drive awareness, interest, desire, and action. You are trying to appear on top of the search results for your target audience, advertise on a bigger space, secure your spot on Google, and build a trusted company profile. You’ll be bidding with other advertisers for that top position through payment and quality score. Heinzle and Ratansi advise putting effort into your ad copy, monitoring performance closely, and checking your search terms and optimising your account every day.
For best practice in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), take care to attend to both on-site SEO and technical SEO. On-site SEO involves keywords; metadata; URL structure; header tags, image titles, and alt-text; content optimisation; site speed and images; internal linking (site architecture); and usability. Technical SEO is more geared towards things like securing your site with HTTPS; Google search console and Bing webmaster tools setup; site indexing and crawling fixes on Google and Bing; fixing duplicate content; internalization measures; mobile compatibility; and link building. Both are important.
As soon as you get promotion and place sorted, you can start laying out your social media ad specifications, building a list of keywords to bid on, writing different ads to approach your target audience on search engines, and finding yourself well on your way to leading a strong digital marketing campaign.
Getting started in digital marketing isn’t as hard as some might make it sound. You just need a bit of background and an interest in experimenting and testing out new strategies. If you’ve got a good dose of passion for learning, the rest will take care of itself. Soon you’ll be well on your way to landing marketing job opportunities or starting your own marketing business.