The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing

How to build a successful marketing team

The number of people who go online every day continues to increase. More than five billion people used the internet in 2022. The way people shop and buy is changing too. Marketing has always been about connecting with your audience in the right place and at the right time. In the world we live in today offline marketing such as events and direct mail can’t be your only strategy for driving sales.

This means you need to meet audiences where they’re already spending time: on the internet.

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At RaaStr, we continue to get many questions on digital marketing including inbound and outbound strategies, operational efficiency, and closed-loop learnings. Other common questions cover measurement and reporting, workflow optimization, and systems integration.

We decided to unpack everything having to do with digital marketing. Topics we will cover:

What is digital marketing?

Why is digital marketing important?

Types of Digital Marketing

Does digital marketing work for all businesses?

What types of digital content would I create? 

Ready to try Digital Marketing Now?

Integrate Digital Marketing into Your Strategy

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing refers to all marketing efforts that occur on the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with current and prospective customers. This can also include communication through text or multimedia messages. Overall, digital marketing is defined by using numerous digital tactics and channels to connect with customers where customers spend much of their time, which is online. 

How does a business define digital marketing?

Digital marketing has emerged as vital to drive business and brand awareness. Elements like a website, a social media presence, and digital ad strategy are foundational. 

Digital content and marketing have become commonplace for businesses. Consumers expect and rely on them to learn about brands. You can experiment with a variety of marketing tactics because digital marketing has so many possibilities.

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The best digital marketers have a clear picture of how each digital marketing campaign supports their overarching goals. A content marketer, for example, could create a series of blog posts that generate leads from an ebook. A social media marketer might help promote those blogs through paid and organic posts on the business’s social media accounts. The email marketer could create an email campaign to send those who download the ebook more information on the company.

Why is digital marketing important?

Digital marketing helps you reach a larger audience than you could through traditional methods. Often it is more cost-effective than traditional advertising. You can measure and evaluate success on a daily basis, then adjust as you see fit.

Consider this list of benefits:

  • You can target the prospects most likely to purchase your product or service.
  • It’s more cost-effective than outbound marketing methods.
  • Digital marketing levels the playing field so you can compete with bigger brands.
  • Digital marketing is measurable.
  • Digital marketing strategies are easier to adapt and change.
  • Digital marketing can improve your conversion rate and the quality of your leads.
  • You engage audiences at every stage of the buyer journey.

Let’s dive deeper.

1. Target prospects most likely to purchase your product or service.

Digital marketing allows you to identify and target a highly-specific audience with personalized and high-converting marketing messages. For instance, you might use social media targeting to show ads to a certain audience based on variables like age, gender, location, interests, networks, or behaviors. Alternatively, you might use PPC or SEO strategies to serve ads to users who’ve shown interest in or searched for specific keywords related to your product, service, or industry. 

Ultimately, digital marketing helps you conduct the research necessary to identify your buyer personas and refine your strategy to ensure you’re reaching prospects most likely to buy.

2. It’s more cost-effective than outbound marketing methods.

Digital marketing tracks day-to-day campaign performance. Marketers learn what channels are performing better than others. This data helps you optimize campaign budgets for higher ROI.

Digital marketing gives you control over where you choose to spend your money. Near instantaneous feedback means you never waste money on channels that don’t perform well.

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3. Digital marketing levels the playing field so you can compete with bigger brands.

Smaller businesses often struggle to compete with their larger rivals. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to outrank the big players through. A good example is the use of long-tail keywords to create high-quality content that ranks on search engines. 

4. Digital marketing is measurable.

One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is the ability to set specific goals and measure progress against them – impressions, shares, views, clicks, and time on page.

Here are some examples:

Website Traffic

With digital marketing, you can see the exact number of people who have viewed your website’s homepage in real-time by using digital analytics software like Google Analytics and others. You can also see how many pages they visited, what device they were using, and where they came from, amongst other digital analytics data.

This intelligence helps you prioritize which marketing channels to spend more or less time on based on the productivity of these channels.

Content Performance and Lead Generation

Moving a product brochure to your website gives you the ability to use a form to collect the contact information of those who downloaded it. Not only can you measure how many people engage with your content, but you can also generate qualified leads when people download it.

Attribution Modeling

An attribution model is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths. Digital marketing strategy allows you to trace your sales back to a customer’s first digital touchpoint with your business.

Attribution modeling you to identify trends in the way people research and buy your product. This helps you to make more informed decisions about what parts of your marketing strategy deserve more attention, and what parts of your sales cycle need refining.

5. Digital marketing strategies are easier to adapt and change.

A great deal of work goes into developing a marketing strategy. But oftentimes it doesn’t survive execution intact. Being able to adjust the strategy along the way saves you from having to start over completely. For instance, if an online ad isn’t delivering as expected, you can quickly adjust it or pause it to yield better results.

6. Digital marketing can improve your conversion rate and the quality of your leads.

As digital marketing simplifies measurement of your marketing efforts. The same is true for improving your conversion rates. Investing in online marketing ensures that everything is optimized for the highest amount of conversions. It also allows you to target a specific audience that will yield higher-quality leads that are more likely to become customers.

7. You engage audiences at every stage of the buyer journey.

Using digital marketing allows you to engage your audience as early as possible. Making a connection at the first stage of the buyer’s journey helps push the lead through the customer funnel. Understanding and analyzing how customers move and operate is important for converting leads. 

Digital marketing allows you to track them through that process. At a minimum, it helps ensure they have made a connection with your business.

Types of Digital Marketing

We created a quick rundown of common digital marketing tactics and the channels involved in each one.

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Social Media Marketing
  4. Pay Per Click (PPC)
  5. Affiliate Marketing
  6. Native Advertising
  7. Marketing Automation
  8. Email Marketing
  9. Online PR
  10. Inbound Marketing
  11. Sponsored Content
  12. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  13. Instant Messaging Marketing

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to “rank” higher in search engine results pages. The channels that benefit from SEO include websites, blogs, and infographics. Applying SEO to generate qualified traffic to your website takes place through on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.

On-page SEO focuses on all of the content that exists “on the page” when looking at a website. By researching keywords for their search volume and intent (or meaning), you can answer questions for readers and rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs) those questions produce.

Off-page SEO focuses on all of the activity that takes place “off the page” when looking to optimize your website. Backlinks are a good example. 

Technical SEO focuses on how web pages are coded. Image compression and structured data are forms of technical SEO that can increase website loading speed – an important factor to Google ranking.

2. Content Marketing

Content marketing focuses on creating and distributing valuable and relevant content for the purpose of generating brand awareness, traffic growth, and lead generation. Examples include blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, infographics, and audio and visual content.

Writing and publishing articles helps you demonstrate your industry expertise and generates organic search traffic for your business. Long-form content helps you further educate website visitors. It also allows you to exchange content for a reader’s contact information and move people through the buyer’s journey.

3. Social Media Marketing

This practice promotes your brand and your content on social media channels to increase brand awareness, drive traffic, and generate leads for your business. The channels you can use in social media marketing include: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

4. Pay Per Click (PPC)

PPC drives traffic to your website by paying a publisher when your ad is clicked. Google Ads is one of the most common types of PPC. You pay for top slots on Google’s search engine results pages at a price “per click” of the links you place.

Paid ads on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are good examples. So are sponsored messages on LinkedIn where users can pay to send messages directly to specific LinkedIn users based on their industry and background.

5. Affiliate Marketing

This is a type of performance-based advertising where you may receive a commission for promoting someone else’s products or services on your website. Or it could pay a commission to others who source leads for you. Examples of affiliate marketing channels are hosting video ads through the YouTube Partner Program and posting affiliate links from your social media accounts.

6. Native Advertising

Native advertising is a form of paid advertising in which the ads match the look, feel, and function of the media format where they appear. They fit “natively” and seamlessly on the web page. Unlike banner or display ads, native ads don’t really look like ads, so they don’t disrupt the user’s interaction with the page. In other words, native ads expose the reader to promotional content without sticking out like a sore thumb.

BuzzFeed-sponsored posts are a good example. Many consider social media advertising to be “native,” like Facebook and Instagram advertising.

7. Marketing Automation

Marketing automation refers to the software that automates your basic marketing operations. Besides helping boost productivity, the automation of repetitive tasks free up time for marketers to spend elsewhere. Examples of manual tasks benefiting from automation are email newsletters, social media post scheduling, lead-nurturing workflows, and campaign tracking and reporting.

8. Email Marketing

Companies use email marketing as a way of communicating with their audiences. Email is often used to promote content, discounts and events, as well as to direct people toward the business’s website.

The types of emails you might send in an email marketing campaign include:

Blog subscription newsletters.

Follow-up emails to website visitors who downloaded something.

Customer welcome emails.

Promotions to loyalty program members.

Tips or similar series emails for customer nurturing.

9. Online PR

Online PR is the practice of securing earned online coverage with digital publications, blogs, and other content-based websites. It is like traditional PR but in the online space. 

Talking to journalists on Twitter, for example, is a great way to develop a relationship with the press that produces earned media opportunities for your company. Engaging online reviews is another example. When someone reviews your company online, whether that review is good or bad, a response helps humanize your brand and protect your reputation.

10. Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing refers to a marketing methodology wherein you attract, engage, and delight customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey. You can use the digital marketing tactics listed here that create customer “pull.”

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11. Sponsored Content

With sponsored content, you pay another company or entity to create and promote content that discusses your brand or service in some way. Influencer marketing is a popular type of sponsored content. Another type of sponsored content could be a blog post or article highlighting a topic, service, or brand.

12. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Paid advertising and SEO are effective strategies for promoting your business. Search engine marketing is another way. The practice involves placing paid ads on search engines to increase website traffic. 

Google Ads and Bing Ads are the two most popular SEM services. These paid ads fit seamlessly on the top of search engine results pages, giving instant visibility. 

13. Instant Messaging Marketing

Marketing your products through messaging platforms is a fast way to reach potential leads, even for those who haven’t offered up their cell phone number. It’s a simple way to let your audience know about flash sales, new products, or updates about their orders.

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Does digital marketing work for all businesses?

Yes. Every business from the smallest to the largest should have a digital marketing strategy. How much to spend depends on many factors like target market, buyer persona, what your company sells, how much it costs, how your customers buy, and more. 

But seldom if ever do businesses implement a digital marketing strategy in the same way.

B2B Digital Marketing

If your company is business-to-business (B2B), your digital marketing efforts are likely centered around online lead generation, with the end goal being for someone to speak to a salesperson. The goal of your marketing strategy might be to attract and convert the highest quality leads for your salespeople via your website and to support digital channels. 

Beyond your website, you’ll probably choose to focus your efforts on business-focused channels like LinkedIn, where your demographic is spending their time online.

B2C Digital Marketing

If your company is business-to-consumer (B2C), chances are digital marketing focuses on attracting people to your website and have them become customers without needing to speak to a salesperson.

The effort is less about “leads” in their traditional sense and more likely to compress the buyer journey when someone lands on your website to when they make a purchase. For B2C companies, channels like Instagram and Pinterest are often more valuable than business-focused platforms like LinkedIn.

What types of digital content should I create?

The kind of content you create depends on your audience’s needs at different stages in the buyer’s journey. You should start by creating buyer personas to identify what your audience’s goals and challenges are in relation to your business.

Next, you need to complete a content mapping exercise. This is the process to identify the content in line with your customer’s stage in the buyer’s journey. The goal is to target content according to the characteristics of the person who will be consuming, how close that person is to making a purchase, and the format of your content.

Here are some options we’d recommend using at each stage of the buyer’s journey:

Awareness Stage

  • Blog posts. Content like this is great for increasing organic traffic when paired with a SEO and keyword strategy.
  • Infographics. As long as they are shareable, these visuals increase your chances of being found via social media when others share your content.
  • Short videos. At RaaStr we called this “snackable content.” Besides being shareable, such short-form content reflects the fact that attention spans are shorter than ever.

Consideration Stage

  • Ebooks. A mix of copy and visuals, this type of content is created for lead generation, meaning someone is more likely to exchange their contact information to receive it.
  • Research reports. Lead generation is also the goal for this high-value content type. Research reports and new data for your industry can also work for the awareness stage.
  • Webinars. This is a more detailed, interactive form of video content. Webinars are ideal for the consideration stage because they offer more comprehensive content than a blog post or short video.

Decision Stage

  • Case studies. Having detailed case studies on your website can be an effective form of content for those ready to make a purchasing decision. Case studies can help you positively influence their decision.

Testimonials. Either to complement or replace case studies, short testimonials on your website are a good alternative. These are quotes or visuals like photos showing people interacting with your product.

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Ready to try Digital Marketing Now?

If you’re already doing digital marketing, you’re likely reaching some segments of your audience online. No doubt you can think of some areas of your strategy that could use a little improvement, though.

We created a step-by-step guide to help you build a digital marketing strategy that’s truly effective, whether you’re starting out or have more experience.

  1. Define your goals.
  2. Identify your target audience.
  3. Establish a budget for each digital channel.
  4. Strike a good balance between paid and free digital strategies.
  5. Create engaging content.
  6. Optimize your digital assets for mobile.
  7. Conduct keyword research.
  8. Iterate based on the analytics you measure.

1. Define your goals.

When you get started with digital marketing, it’s critical to identify and define your goals since you’ll craft your strategy with them. For instance, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, you might want to focus on reaching new audiences via social media.

Or maybe you want to increase sales on a specific product. If that’s the case, it’s more important you focus on SEO and optimizing content to get potential buyers on your website in the first place. Additionally, if sales are your goal, you might test out PPC campaigns to drive traffic through paid ads.

Whatever the case, it’s easiest to shape a digital marketing strategy after you’ve determined your company’s biggest goals.

2. Identify your target audience.

One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is the opportunity to target specific audiences. But you can not capitalize on this benefit if you haven’t first identified your target audience. Always start with your buyer persona and ideal customer profile.

3. Establish a budget for each digital channel.

Your budget will depend on the elements of digital marketing you use. 

If you’re focusing on inbound techniques like SEO, social media, and content creation for a pre-existing website, you don’t need a big paid media budget. Your emphasis is on creating high-quality content that your audience will want to consume.

Outbound techniques like online advertising and purchasing email lists are more expensive. For example, to implement PPC using Google AdWords you’ll bid against other companies in your industry to appear at the top of Google’s search results for keywords.

4. Strike a balance between paid and free digital strategies.

A digital marketing strategy likely needs both paid and free aspects to truly be effective. For instance, you’ll likely see strong results despite minimal ad spend if you spend time building complete buyer personas and creating high-quality online content that converts them.

If paid advertising is part of your digital strategy, then the results might come even quicker. Ultimately, aim to build your organic reach using content, SEO, and social media for more long-term, sustainable success.

5. Create engaging content.

Once you know your audience and have a budget, it’s time to start creating content for the various channels you will use. This content can be social media posts, blog posts, PPC ads, sponsored content, email marketing newsletters, and more.

It goes without saying that any content you create should be interesting and engaging to your audience.he point of marketing content is to increase brand awareness and improve lead generation.

6. Optimize your digital assets for mobile.

Another key component of digital marketing is mobile marketing. In fact, smartphone usage as a whole accounts for 69% of time spent consuming digital media in the U.S. Desktop-based digital media consumption makes up less than half.

This means optimizing your digital ads, web pages, social media images, and other digital assets for mobile devices is essential. 

The implications of this are several. 

For example, you may need to implement a mobile-friendly or responsive website design to make browsing user-friendly on mobile devices. You may have to reduce the length of your lead generation forms to create a hassle-free experience for people downloading your content on the go. This goes for image dimensions and the amount of text.

7. Conduct keyword research.

Digital marketing is all about reaching targeted audiences through personalized content. None of this can happen without effective keyword research.

Conducting keyword research is critical for optimizing your website and content for SEO and ensuring people can find your business through search engines. Additionally, social media keyword research can also help market your products or services on various social channels.

8. Iterate based on the analytics you measure.

Creating an effective digital marketing strategy for the long term will require learning how to pivot based on analytics. For instance, you may find that your audience isn’t as interested in your content on a particular channel, but love what you’re doing on another. You need to understand why and what steps to take.

Alternatively, perhaps you find an older web page isn’t getting the traffic it used to. You might consider updating the page or getting rid of it entirely to ensure visitors are finding the freshest, most relevant content for their needs.

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Integrate Digital Marketing Into Your Strategy

Any opportunity where you can connect to your audience is an opportunity to convert a lead or acquire a customer. Digital marketing creates so many more of those opportunities by allowing you to reach prospective buyers through a wide variety of channels. Whether it’s social media platforms, websites, text messages, or any online medium, it’s an invaluable way to promote your business, service, or product.

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