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What Is Digital Marketing and How It Can Help Your Business?

Reem Abouemera

August 3, 2022

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Marketing as we know it has changed drastically over the years. With technology becoming increasingly prevalent in our everyday lives, it was only a matter of time before marketing followed suit and went digital.

While businesses have traditionally relied on print marketing materials like newspapers and flyers (among other things), digital marketing has changed the game completely.

Nowadays, businesses of all sizes can reach potential customers through various online channels, from search engines to social media platforms. The U.S. digital marketing and advertising industry is estimated at $460 billion, and it’s only expected to grow.

So, what's the big deal with digital marketing? What exactly is it, and why should you care? Keep reading so you and your business can stay ahead of the curve.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is a marketing strategy that uses the internet, digital devices, and all forms of digital advertising to promote products, services, and brands. It makes one-to-one interactions easy by leveraging technology platforms, media channels, and content strategies.

At its simplest, digital marketing refers to any form of marketing that exists online. That means it's a subset of marketing, which revolves around promoting brands and products to customers and potential customers by communicating their value.

Types of digital marketing

Digital marketing isn't just one thing. There are as many specializations within digital marketing as there are ways of interacting using digital media. Here are just a few key examples:

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Everyone has typed a question into Google and watched a page full of answers pop up in the search results. Some of those answers are on the top of the page, while others are on the bottom. Some answers aren't even on the first page — you have to click "next" to see them.

Well, that's search engine optimization (SEO) in action! SEO refers to ensuring your site appears as high up on the search engine results pages (SERPs) as possible. The higher up you are, the more likely people will find you.

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In other words, it's the process of continuously working to improve the visibility of a website or web page in search results. While SEO is a long-term strategy rather than a quick fix, it's worth learning more about and investing if your goal is to help people find your company online.

Generally, a successful SEO strategy requires technical expertise and creativity regarding keyword research (finding out which words and phrases people are searching for) and content development (creating informative and engaging content that includes your target keywords).

Note: SEO focuses on organic (unpaid) traffic from search engines instead of paid traffic, which is acquired through tools like Google AdWords. Accordingly, your ranking on the SERPs relies on how well your site is optimized for an algorithm's ranking factors instead of how much you're willing to pay for ads.

2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Have you ever noticed the "ads" at the top of a search engine results page? These are called Search Engine Marketing (SEM) ads, another important form of digital marketing.

SEM is the process of paying for ads that appear on the SERPs to increase visibility and, ultimately, drive more traffic to your site. The main two networks for SEM are Google AdWords and Bing Ads.

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The main difference between SEO and SEM is that while SEO is a long-term strategy, SEM is more of a short-term fix. That's because you're essentially paying for your site to appear on the SERPs, which means results are almost immediate.

With SEM, businesses can target specific audiences with laser precision based on factors like age range, gender, income level, and even location. That way, they're only reaching the potential customers who are most likely to buy from them — which is the whole point of marketing, right?

That’s not all — SEM allows you to reach users actively searching for your product or service, which boosts the likelihood of conversion. For instance, if someone is searching for "air conditioners" and sees an ad for your air conditioning company on the top of the SERPs, they're much more likely to click on it and visit your site than if you were ranking organically on the fifth page.

Note: Businesses only pay for ads when users click on them, so SEM is still a cost-effective way to reach potential customers.

3. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

While SEM and PPC are often interchangeable, they're two different things. SEM refers to paying for ads to gain visibility on the SERPs, while PPC is the broader category that includes SEM.

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PPC is a type of online advertising in which businesses pay for each click on their ad. The ads can be shown on search engines. Still, they can also be displayed on other websites through other media types like display advertising networks (such as Google AdSense), video websites (YouTube or Vimeo), and social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter).

Since advertisers only pay when someone clicks on their ad, PPC is considered a very effective and cost-efficient marketing strategy with a high probability of real results. Today, 45% of small businesses use PPC as part of their digital marketing strategy, and they typically earn $2 for every $1 they spend on it (especially Google Ads).

4. App-Store Optimization (ASO)

Yes, there's such a thing as optimizing your app for the App Store! It's called App-Store Optimization (ASO), and it's the process of optimizing an app's listing in the store to increase downloads.

With more than 3.48 million apps on Google Play and 2.22 million on the Apple Store, it's getting harder and harder for businesses to stand out in the crowd. That's where ASO comes in.

ASO is all about making sure your app is visible and appealing to potential customers when they search for keywords related to your app or business.

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Effective ASO requires a lot of work behind the scenes in terms of research. More specifically, you have to know your audience, understand how they search for apps, and identify the keywords they're using. Similarly, you need to do competitor analysis to see what's working for them and replicate that in your listing.

And, of course, there's the technical work of optimizing your app's listing by understanding how Apple and Google rank apps to make sure your app is as visible as possible.

Accordingly, you could say that ASO is similar to SEO since it's also a long-term strategy that requires continuous optimization and analysis to produce results. The main difference is that SEO is used to optimize a website for Google's search engine, while ASO is used to optimize an app for its app store. 

5. Email Marketing

Many people think email is a thing of the past, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Email is alive and well, and it's still one of the most effective digital marketing strategies, with an ROI of 4,400%.

99% of email users check their inbox every day, which means there's a massive opportunity for businesses to reach their target audience through this channel. Not only that, but email is also great for building relationships with your customers and fostering loyalty.

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Email marketing sends newsletters, product updates, or special offers to subscribers. It can be used to promote content from your website or blog or to stay in touch with your customers.

Email marketing is ensuring your emails are relevant and interesting to your audience — not just a sales pitch. If you can do that, you'll be on your way to building strong relationships with your customers and eventually driving conversions when it's time to make a sale.

The most significant advantage of email marketing is that it's very cheap — in fact, it's one of the most cost-effective digital marketing strategies. You need an email list and a way to send your emails (like MailChimp), and you're good to go! Plus, it's an excellent way to get the message out to many people simultaneously.

6. Social Media Marketing (SMM)

Social media marketing (SMM) uses social media platforms to promote and grow your business. It's a way to connect with potential and current customers, build relationships, and increase brand awareness.

With social media marketing, you can go either the paid route, the organic route, or a combination of both.

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Paid social media marketing involves using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter to run ads and boost your reach. On the other hand, organic social media marketing is about creating valuable content that your audience will want to share without you having to pay for it.

In both cases, social media marketing can be extremely effective, but it takes time and effort to produce results. The key is to be patient and consistent with your posting and create interesting and relevant content for your target audience.

In doing so, you'll be able to build a solid brand positioning on social media, increase your customer base, and eventually generate leads and sales.

7. Content Marketing

If you've ever read an article, watched a video tutorial, or listened to a podcast and thought, "Wow, that was helpful," then you've experienced content marketing firsthand.

Content marketing is creating and distributing informative, valuable, and engaging content to attract, acquire, and retain customers. It's a form of inbound marketing that focuses on creating quality content that people want to consume instead of interruptive advertising.

Content marketing comes in many forms, including blog posts, ebooks, infographics, podcasts, whitepapers, and videos. And while each piece of content serves a different purpose, they all have one thing in common: they're meant to add value for the consumer.

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An effective content marketing strategy can result in increased website traffic, brand awareness, and, eventually, more customers.

Content marketing is an extremely effective digital marketing strategy. This year, 73% of companies that spent 10% to 70% of their total marketing budget on content marketing were very successful. Why? Content marketing isn’t just about selling — it's about helping. This way, your customers see you as a valuable resource, not just a company trying to make a quick buck.

Pro Tip: If you're unsure where to start with content marketing, check out Copy.ai’s Content Idea Generator tool. In a couple of minutes, you can generate content ideas relevant to your business and aligned with your marketing goals — for your blog, newsletter, or social media.

8. Display Advertising

Have you ever been browsing the internet and seen an ad for a product you were just thinking about or searched for? That's display advertising.

Display advertising is a form of online marketing that allows brands and businesses to promote their products and services to users of websites and apps. The most common form of display advertising is banner ads, small advertisements that appear on web pages and in apps (and even on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram).

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You might also see display advertising in product placement or when a product is featured within an image, video, or text story. And while it's not technically considered a form of display advertising, native advertising also falls under this category.

Native advertising is when an ad looks like it belongs on the page or app it appears on because it's been designed to match the look and feel of the platform.

Display advertising can be extremely effective, but keeping a few things in mind is important. First, your ads need to be relevant to your target audience. Otherwise, you're just wasting your money. Second, you need to make sure your ads are well-designed and eye-catching. If they're not, people will scroll right past them.

And finally, you need to be careful not to overdo it with your display advertising. Too many ads can be overwhelming and turn people off from your brand. If you strike the right balance, display advertising can be a great way to reach new customers and grow your business.

Note: Display advertising works well with retargeting because you can show your ads to people who have already visited your website or shown interest in your product, guaranteeing that they're at least somewhat interested in what you offer.

Benefits of digital marketing

While traditional marketing channels like print ads, billboards, and radio spots are still viable options, they aren’t nearly as effective as digital marketing channels. 

Through the power of digital marketing, you can reach a much broader audience than ever before, tailor your campaigns specifically to user needs and behaviors, and track your success with remarkable precision.

Digital marketing also has several other benefits that make it an attractive option for businesses of all sizes:

1. It's data-driven

With traditional marketing, there was minimal data to track and analyze. You could measure things like reach (how many people saw your ad) and frequency (how often they saw it), but that was about it.

Digital marketing is data-driven to the point where you can track every single aspect of your campaign and see how it performs. This data allows you to make real-time, informed decisions about your marketing strategy, so you can constantly improve your campaigns and get better results.

For instance, let's say you're running a Facebook ad campaign. With data from your campaign, you can see how many people are viewing your ad, how many are clicking on it, what time of day they're clicking on it, what device they're using, and so on. This data allows you to fine-tune your campaign for optimal results.

This also applies to planning your marketing budget. With digital marketing, you can track your ROI (return on investment), so you always know exactly how much money you're making from your campaigns. This makes it easy to justify your marketing spend and ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Simply put, digital marketing data is the lifeblood of digital marketing, whereas traditional marketing treated data as more of an afterthought (if it was even considered).

2. It's highly targeted

What is marketing if you can't reach your target audience?

With digital marketing, you're empowered to target your audience’s specific needs, wants, and behaviors. Not only that, but you can even craft your message to pop up when they're searching for what you have to offer, and on the platform they're already using.

For instance, let's say you're running a campaign to sell winter coats. You could target your ads to appear only to people in areas with cold weather who have searched for "winter coats" on Google. This ensures that your ad is relevant to their needs and that they're already interested in your offer.

Plus, you can spread the campaign across multiple platforms and devices, so people see your ad no matter where they are or what they're doing. And the best part? All of this requires minimal effort on your part! Talk about efficiency! 

This targeting ability is one of the biggest benefits of digital marketing, as it allows businesses to save money and reach a larger audience with their marketing campaigns. With channels like TV or print ads, you're essentially firing off a shot in the dark and hoping your message reaches someone interested.

3. It's affordable

Finally, one of the most attractive benefits of digital marketing is that it's affordable.

Traditional marketing channels can be very costly, especially if you're a small business or startup with no budget for large-scale campaigns and advertisements. But with digital marketing, you can reach your target audience with very little money and get a great return on your investment.

And let’s be clear, that doesn't translate into a narrower audience. In fact, with digital marketing, you can reach a larger audience than ever with a very small budget.

This is thanks to the numerous free or low-cost digital marketing channels available today. For instance, you can use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to reach a large audience without spending much money on advertising. You can also use search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your website's ranking in search results and get more organic traffic.

That's in addition to new pricing models like programmatic buying, where you can adjust your campaigns without going through an agency or advertiser first. This makes it easy for you if you're a small business or startup that doesn't have significant brand recognition yet but you still want exposure for your product or service online.

Besides the money required to start, digital marketing is also very cost-effective because it doesn't require a lot of time or staff resources. You can easily do it yourself or outsource it to someone specializing in digital marketing. Today, countless digital marketing agencies offer great services with a reasonable price tag.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, while traditional marketing is still valuable, digital marketing has emerged as the clear winner regarding effectiveness, reach, and cost. So if you're looking to promote your business or product online, invest in a good digital marketing strategy and lean into the types of digital marketing that will work best for your business.

As we've seen, most digital marketing strategies require some form of content, be it a blog post, email, or social media update. Copy.ai can help you unlock stronger digital marketing campaigns by making it easy to create high-quality, customized content without spending hours writing it yourself. Try it out for free today!

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