What is Digital Marketing – The Ultimate Introduction for 2023
Let’s face it, we all spend way too much time on our smart devices. With the ever-growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, smartwatches, and home devices, we’re constantly consuming media content online. Well, have you noticed that while browsing, you’ve been bombarded with tons of ads that are scarily about things you’re interested in? So naturally, there’s an entire field of study that specializes in designing algorithms so that those ads get sent directly to you.
And chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in learning about what is digital marketing, or maybe you want to start a career in this ever-growing field.
So, how does one get into Digital Marketing? It can seem daunting at first, not knowing the terms, software, different strategies or the best digital marketing courses. What this article aims to do, is to ease you in and relieve some of that Digital Marketing confusion you might have. Additionally, you can check out the best online learning platforms for aspiring students and professionals.
The Evolution of Digital Marketing
With the introduction to the public to the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991 and Netscape, the first mass-market browser in ’94, the number of users skyrocketed from a measly 16 million to 70 million users! This change meant a big deal for traditional media, as everyone had to shift to a more online presence in the following years.
With the growth of search engines like Google and Yahoo! and the creation of shopping platforms like eBay and Amazon, it became abundantly clear to corporations that they needed a new way to reach their customers. At the time, Email was a popular marketing tool. It was acting like the traditional postal service but much more accessible and time-efficient. This was the time where early marketing strategies and mainly SEO techniques were starting to pop up.
Then came the social media platforms — Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc., which opened up new marketing opportunities. A company that decided to advertise through social media could not only reach a user but target their interests in the hopes of them wanting to buy a particular product. They did this by collecting user data, that was digested through sophisticated algorithms. The algorithms know exactly what a user has liked, commented on, opened, looked at, and everything else.
Cookies also helped marketers get a taste of what their audience liked. They logged the info and provided a helpful insight into their user’s minds. For example, did you look at a scarf this morning and can’t make up your mind? Hmm, did you look at these vendors offering the same one but for a lower price? How about another color? This was how companies used social media to acquire new customers, and they’ve been doing it ever since.
And they’ve been doing it very successfully, especially in the past decade, where the release of the first-ever iPhone propelled the idea of what a modern smartphone could be and changed the game forever. It attracted more customers and made it much easier to access the Web. As of January 2021, there were a total of 4.66 billion recorded active online users. This makes up nearly 60% of the global population. Out of these, a total of 4.32 billion (92.6%) accessed the Web through a mobile device.
What Does A Digital Marketer Do?
Digital Marketers are many things, but essentially, their job is determining what the users want and satisfying their need for those things interactively through various digital channels. As you may already know, this is especially important for businesses of all kinds. It drives in more new customers and keeps old ones coming back, which is great for income and customer loyalty. It includes the ads we see on social media and apps, promoted content, search engines, tweets, emails, videos, and anything that incorporates talking directly to the customers.
If you’re an older individual, you probably remember the plethora of billboards that were around any city you’d go to. Cars, restaurants, malls, stores, anything you could imagine! And if you’ve ever seen a toy ad while you were a kid, chances are you started begging your parents to buy it for you the very next second.
Digital Marketing is much like traditional marketing, but it’s more dynamic. People can’t interact with a billboard or a magazine spread — but they certainly can, and will, with an Instagram ad if they like what it’s promoting. With the growing on-screen time of users, especially on their smartphones and laptops, it’s a no-brainer to target ads where they would most likely see them. And it works! With different techniques like Search Engine Optimization, Content, Social Media, PPC marketing, and more, it’s now easier than ever to reach the audience you need for your product or service.
How To Get Into Digital Marketing
So, you’ve read this far, and decided that digital marketing is something you can see yourself doing, and we understand you. Digital Marketing and Marketing, in general, are both an enjoyable career path if you like working with people and discovering customer interests and behavioral patterns are – it’s more psychological than people may think!
First, you need to learn the basics. We merely scraped the top previously, but this article will go over every important aspect you need to start. Later on, we’ll be talking about the different techniques and types of Digital Marketers, which will surely be enough to ease you in.
Enroll In The Best Digital Marketing Courses
How that you’re familiar with the basics, it’s time to consider some learning opportunities. You can find out where to learn digital marketing, and what are the best resources available to students. Not only will you learn at your own pace (you can’t pause real-life lectures), but they’ll also provide you with the necessary tools, tips, and tricks. This is all you need to start your career right away and be confident you’re competent enough to make it big.
Whether you land a job at one of the many sophisticated digital marketing firms or prefer to sit at home and manage a brand’s socials as a freelancer, you won’t feel like you missed out much.
Where to Learn About Search Engine Optimization?
You can start by checking out the best digital marketing online learning platforms. These are mainly paid courses that you can take, and they provide in-depth knowledge about Search Engine Optimization, with a certificate of completion and even accreditation in some cases.
But, you can also explore some free alternatives! Google offers an extensive starter guide on SEO, while it also has its “Digital Garage,” explaining fundamentals for Digital Marketing.
There’s also MOZ Academy and Ahrefs Academy, which have fantastic blog posts, videos and guides on key SEO concepts. Another useful resource is SEMRush’s course for SEO Fundamentals – completely free of charge!
As you can see, there’s an abundance of free SEO resources you can learn from.
Then, it’s time to work! Of course, you could go the more challenging route, building your career up with freelance digital marketing. But you should know that this takes much more time and effort. Nevertheless, if you’re not ready to be on your own, you could look into getting an internship at a firm. Which will be safer and more secure path. You’ll also have mentors that are going to teach you all the tricks of the trade.
It’s a learning curve, and the thought of “making it” can seem horrifying, but once you start, you’ll never want to look back.
Types of Digital Marketing Techniques
While you can be better at one technique, as a digital marketer, you’ll need to utilize more types of marketing to build a platform’s success. This is the reality of the job, and it encompasses much more of a dynamic work style. Because you’ll constantly be thinking of new and better ways to generate more traffic for the company you’re working for.
Let’s go through the main ones and see what’s in store.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your website to make it rank better with search engines, such as Google. if done properly, these optimizations allow you to grow organic traffic to your websites and blogs.
And, why is organic traffic good for business? Well, you don’t have to pay for it. There are tons of ways to pay for the website to have a higher index, but everything’s better when it’s free.
As we said previously, Google has an extensive starter guide about how to get into SEO. They explain how their engine works from the inside out and how indexing and crawling works. This makes the topic a lot more approachable from the start because they know how scary SEO can be, especially to new, aspiring digital marketers and entrepreneurs.
Due to its constantly changing strategies and techniques, there are usually different approaches to SEO when it comes to generating user traffic.
One of the first things that Google talks about in its SEO guide is the importance of content on your site. As a digital marketer, if you need to rank a website and up its score, you need to research relevant keywords to your niche by volume and use them wisely all over your site to generate organic traffic. Algorithms index the site and determine how high up (or down low) they should push it on search engines.
Off-page SEO focuses on the things related to your site but are happening “outside” of it. So, you might ask yourself, how are things affecting my site if they’re outside of it? Well, this is where we introduce the concept of backlinks. These are links placed on other website that point to your website. Essentially generating traffic through other third parties.
This is where networking comes in, a crucial skill you need to have as a digital marketer. A lot of times, you’re going to have to contact other, better-known websites and see if they’re open in doing a collaboration.
Other things included in off-page SEO are how you present the website on social media and how the brand ideology is built.
Technical SEO is more straightforward than the previous two – in a way. This is where a site’s internals (code and its contents) are optimized and structured to reduce loading times and memory consumption. It usually includes refactoring code and reducing the size of the files. The technical side of SEO also means optimizing the site for mobile use, which makes you or breaks you in this day and age.
This type of marketing includes coming up with, you guessed it, content for media channels that the business will use to generate traffic and interest, boost brand awareness and its overall score. It includes:
- Writing and publishing natural articles and blog posts (not plagiarized), which will generate more search traffic to your site;
- Infographics and videos, which help people get through your content much easier with visuals;
- E-books and PDFs, which will help you educate your users while obtaining their contact information by offering a valuable resource.
If you’ve ever browsed the Web, you’ve seen an ad for something – that’s a given. When a user clicks on an ad on Google Search, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or any other site, the company that put it there gets a share from that click, hence – pay per click. This is where PPC marketing comes into play. It is a effective strategy if you want to generate natural growth because people use social media to interact with brands, products and services. And what you’ll most want as a digital marketer is your brand to be talked about.
Twitter has been very popular in the past years for sponsored content. Not only can you push ads to Twitter users, but you can also create sponsored hashtags, badges, and animations for the like-button. What’s great about these, is that they could start a conversation. If you do it well, you might even get yourself a Trending Topic.
Social Media Marketing
If your brand doesn’t have a good social media presence, it’s missing out on so many opportunities. And this is where social media marketing (SMM) comes into play.
Social media marketing involves working with advertising tools from variety of social media platforms, mainly Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, to raise brand awareness and engage your audience.
In 2022, TikTok has grown to such a level that, if done right, could be the only platform generating enough traffic to your brand without needing anything else.
When working for a brand and taking care of all of the ins and outs of its marketing campaign, the little things you do by hand every day can get tiring and significantly impact the more important stuff you should be doing—planning, creating content, etc.
So, with Marketing Automation, you don’t need to do any of that! By implementing an automatic system that sends out newsletters, scheduling social media posts, and implementing a technique that tracks a campaign’s progress to see how far along you’ve come, you won’t get stuck doing any of the exhausting stuff that takes up time.
Sponsored Content and Affiliate Marketing
This type of Digital Marketing service is one of the oldest and the most widely used for a long time. Its model calls for the companies to pay other third parties to promote their service, product, platform, or any other type of goods to generate more traffic. It’s usually done through fees; for example, on Instagram, popular influencers would get a price if they talked about a company on a post or Story.
Affiliate marketing is another effective method utilized by many businesses. Amazon one of the biggest companies in the world does it too, with their Amazon Associates affiliate program. They have tons of affiliates that sell their products for them. If you want to build a brand up from scratch, endorsement from other well-known companies and people will help tremendously in doing so.
As we mentioned in the evolution of Digital Marketing, email marketing is another very well-known technique that’s been here since the start of the World Wide Web. Brands use it for all sorts of things – to promote content, welcome cards, events, sales and discounts, coupons, special surveys, customer loyalty programs, holiday promotional material, tips, and tricks, etc. It may be old, but it’s still a reliable way of reaching out to people, especially the older generations who don’t know how to use social media yet.
Types of Digital Marketers
These are a few types of digital marketers we see daily, but these are by no means the only positions out there. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular digital marketing jobs.
Social Media Manager
The Social Media Managers know their way around Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Facebook, and any other emerging social media platform that may come up in the future. Their job includes coming up with page and post layouts. They are helping to decide what type of content should go up, such as images, videos, podcasts, and infographics. Also they’re setting up contests and giveaways, interacting with users, and most importantly, keeping a tight schedule on what goes through where and when.
You could say that a Content Specialist is a Social Media Manager’s right hand. These types of marketers create the content that goes up on the business’ socials, helping to drive in more traffic through visual means. This includes designing:
- Email templates.
But on the other hand we also have:
- Editing and shooting photos and videos;
- Recording audio and video for podcasts;
- Pretty much anything else a brand may need to boost its ranking.
We’ve already covered what SEO is. An SEO Specialist’s job is essentially making sure that a business’s rank on Google is high enough for a lot of traffic to come in and higher than the competition. The SEO Specialist has a variety of tasks to complete, mainly researching popular topics, analyzing keyword volume and utilizing it on the business’ website, and making sure enough quality content is produced to keep Google satisfied.
Benefits of Digital Marketing
We’ve talked about the types, and we’ve talked about what you’d do as a Digital Marketer – but what exactly are the benefits? It may be apparent to some, but we need to make sure that we’re clear on how much digital marketing means for any business out there.
Personalization is a big benefit of Digital Marketing that traditional marketing can’t even come close to offering. Think of how Instagram and Facebook collect and manage the data they collect. They know precisely what every one of their users wants, and they certainly aren’t afraid to push that to everyone to make a more significant profit. Gone are the days where you would know only the age and gender of a potential customer or user; now you know everything about them—how they dress, what music they like, their favorite shampoo and pizza topping, and everything in between!
Lower Costs to Reach Audiences
It’s no surprise that digital marketing is less expensive traditional marketing. Think of it this way, if your campaign post goes viral on TikTok or Twitter, that’s free traffic coming your way. You may have spent a lot of money in making and pushing that content, or you might’ve just tweeted a low-quality picture, but that doesn’t make it any less a viral meme than it already is. It’s also apparent that a lot less money goes into a digital ad than a physical one. Imagine all the money that went into print, billboards, and TV commercials a few decades ago. Now, you can post anything you want and push it to users for a much lower price.
High User Interaction
And, while we’re at pushing something to users, the digital sphere allows you to talk with the people you’re targeting like never before! You can chat with them through emails, get their opinions on Twitter, and even speak directly to them while hosting an Instagram Live. There are countless ways to integrate the user into the business and make them feel special.
How Much Is An Average Digital Marketing Salary?
According to Glassdoor, the average base salary for a Digital Marketer is around $60K per year, which makes it a great choice if you’re already interested in learning the trade.