In this guide for the different types of digital marketing, we will not only discuss the different forms, but also the key principles to succeed in digital marketing and how you can implement a digital marketing strategy.
Each of the different types of digital marketing will have its own pros and cons, and so it’s not about which is the best, but rather, how to make them work together as a comprehensive strategy.
With that being said, let us first discuss the definition and concept of digital marketing to start this guide.
What Actually Is “Digital Marketing”?
While there’s always much debate about the actual definition of digital marketing, generally the main consensus is:
Digital marketing is any marketing activities done on electronic devices.
Obviously, electronic devices nowadays can be divided into two, online and offline, and so we can also divide digital marketing into online and offline activities.
For example, TV and radio advertising are actually examples of offline digital marketing, so does electronic billboards in many cities.
It’s true however, that when discussing the term “digital marketing”, more often than not we are thinking about online, internet marketing activities like search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and email marketing among others.
In this guide, we will also focus on online digital marketing, but we should remember that offline digital marketing is a thing, and in fact, is still very effective working together with the online counterparts.
Generally, online digital marketing can be divided into 6 big categories:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Which is, in a nutshell, optimization efforts so that our site can rank higher on the search engine results page (SERP). This will also include “local SEO”, which is optimization efforts to rank for local-related keywords and to rank higher on Google Maps.
Online advertising, including paid search marketing
There are various types and platforms available for advertising on the internet, for example, Google AdWords, which is technically a PPC (pay-per-click) advertising platform. Paid search advertising and social media advertising, among others, are also included here.
As the name suggests, any kind of marketing activities involving development, publication, and promotion of content. Nowadays content not only comes in textual forms (blogs and articles), but also videos and podcasts among other forms. Content marketing is closely tied to SEO.
Affiliate or referral marketing
Affiliate marketing is, in essence, letting people outside your organization (including customers) to promote your products/services in exchange of incentives.
Pretty self-explanatory, promoting your brand/product/service through email. Can come in many different forms from email newsletters, email surveys, straight-up promotional emails, and so on.
Social Media Marketing
A relatively new field of marketing that comes with the advent of social media. Social media marketing can include organic social media efforts (posting on social media, which is a form of content marketing) and paid advertising on social media platforms (Facebook Ads, LinkedIn advertising). Influencer marketing is also included here.
While there can be various forms of marketing activities and advertising efforts made on the internet, they will all boil down to these five categories discussed above. In recent years, however, we are introduced to the concept of inbound (and thus, outbound) marketing. Let us discuss these two in the next section.
Inbound VS Outbound Digital Marketing
The concept of inbound/outbound marketing is actually not a totally new idea, but is based on a classic marketing concept of push-pull marketing.
So, inbound marketing is technically pull marketing, where marketing efforts included in it are aimed to “pull” your audience towards your business. This is commonly done by publishing a valuable, relevant content that will attract the audience. So, content marketing with the help of SEO to ensure visibility. With inbound marketing, we get organic traffic.
On the other hand, outbound marketing is where we “push” our products/services out there to reach the audience. Any forms of advertising are technically outbound in nature, as well as email and referral marketing. With outbound marketing, we get what’s called paid traffic.
Social media marketing, on the other hand, can either be inbound or outbound.
Inbound Marketing: All You Need To Know
Inbound marketing has been the buzzword of digital marketing world for the past few years. Yet, we’ve also explained that it is actually not a totally new concept.
So, the question is, why all the fuss?
The answer lies in the fact that customer behaviors towards advertising have changed dramatically in recent years. In the past where we only have newspapers and magazines as entertainment, obviously newspaper advertising is effective. When radio, and then television came, advertising are also very effective.
Internet, however, is a different medium where we have more choices than before. Too many advertisements on one site? We can bounce to another. A social media influencer posting too many sponsored posts? Some will get annoyed and unfollow.
Will all those facts being said, inbound marketing is, by nature, less intrusive. It’s the audience that voluntarily comes to our content, and so there’ll be less resistance.
But how does inbound marketing actually work? Let us discuss that now.
How Inbound Marketing Works
We have learned that through inbound marketing, we can attract prospects by publishing relevant and valuable content.
However, how can they convert into actual customers and purchase our product/service through that content? Here, we will learn how.
Inbound marketing, in essence, is divided into three main stage:
- A prospect stumbled upon your content. This can happen after they searched for your target keyword or found your content or social media among other means. Here, they learned about your brand, and so this is the awareness stage. Here, our main focus is to convert this website visitor into actual lead, mainly by providing a lead magnet.
- On the second stage, we can push more content, introduce our product/service, and build more awareness through various means through email marketing. Here, the prospect is in the consideration stage. They are considering whether it’s worth purchasing your product or service.
- The prospect decides on a purchase, and you have successfully converted this prospect into an actual customer.
Some will probably include the fourth stage where we turn this customer into an advocate. However, the main principle remains the same, which as you can see, inbound marketing is essentially about making ourselves available to the customer and provide as little intrusion as possible.
While inbound marketing might sound like a complicated process at first, actually there are only several key steps involved:
Keyword and Topic Research.
In this stage, we will need to plan relevant topics and keywords according to your ideal audience’s needs. This will require a thorough understanding of your audience.
- Relevant for your audience and your business
- Have enough search volume (the number of searches every month for the keyword), yet with manageable competition
- Develop topic ideas from these keywords
Pretty self-explanatory. In this stage, you develop content pieces to cover your topics. Although technical optimizations (i.e., including target keywords) for SEO purposes are important, the main objective here is to provide value for your audience.
Various techniques can be used here, and content development is a pretty big subject on its own. You might want to check out this guide to learn more about content development.
A common mistake in inbound marketing is stopping at the content development (and publication) stage. No matter how good and relevant your content is, it won’t bring any value to your business.
Promoting your content is just as, if not even more important than content development with two different benefits:
- Getting more people to consume your content, which in turn can be converted into prospects and customers
- Getting more backlinks, which will improve your SEO results and thus, improve your organic traffic
While our main focus in content promotion is SEO, we should also utilize other channels from social media to email marketing to influencer marketing among others. You might want to check out this guide on more about content marketing.
Again, technical optimizations for inbound marketing is a pretty broad subject. However, there are three main areas you should focus on:
Mobile-responsiveness, UX, and page load speed
In short, ensuring your site functions properly according to today’s standard. Mobile-friendliness is an important ranking factor, while user experience and load speed will affect bounce rate, another important ranking factor.
Include your keywords naturally. Again, remember that your focus is to develop a valuable content for human readers.
Google nowadays are also very sensitive about over-optimizations, so you might want to use semantically-related phrases instead of exact-match keywords. For example, if your target keyword is “best fitness tips”, you can use phrases like “fitness tips that work”, “effective fitness tips”, and so on.
The goal here is to ensure your site can be properly indexed by Google and other search engines. There are many different variables included here from structured-data markup to implementing XML sitemap. You might want to check out this technical SEO checklist to help you further.
Outbound Marketing: Why It’s Still Relevant.
Above, we have discussed that inbound marketing is now more relevant and effective than the traditional, “outbound” marketing activities. So, why should we bother learning about outbound marketing at all?
Inbound marketing is generally more affordable with less resistance from the audience. However, it has one big flaw:
Inbound marketing is a long-term game
You will need to invest a significant amount of time developing your content, building the backlinks, climb the rankings of the SERP, and finally get that organic traffic you’ve aimed for.
Typically, this will require 6 to 12 months of investment before you see significant results. Yet, not every business has that luxury of time, and this is where outbound marketing comes in.
With outbound marketing, you are virtually guaranteed results in a short time frame. That is, provided you have the budget.
While the issue with inbound marketing is time, the issue with outbound marketing is cost.So, the key is to find the right balance between the two, so you can get short-term, paid traffic while building that long-term inbound marketing assets.
With outbound marketing, the most important factor in maintaining cost is targeting. If you can target the right audience, you’ll get more from every dollar you’ve invested.
Outbound Marketing In 2019
As mentioned, outbound marketing includes any marketing activities where you “push” information about your brand, product, or service to reach your prospects. The most common (and arguably, important) form of outbound marketing is advertising. However, affiliate marketing, paid social media marketing, and email marketing are still also effective even today.
So, let us discuss the state of each of them for 2019.
While we have discussed how online advertising is now far less effective than the early days of the internet, doesn’t mean that you should completely ignore it. There are at least two major new technologies that can help you maintain cost-efficiency in online advertising:
Google Adwords and Facebook Ads are just two of the major platforms offering remarketing features.
Remarketing, in a nutshell, is showing your ad to those who have visited your website (so, those who have shown interests with your business). Nowadays, you can show remarketing ads to those who have triggered certain actions, like searched for specific keywords or visited other websites (including your competitors).
Programmatic advertising is using the help of A.I.-driven software to help purchase your ad spots. Not only this will save a lot of time and hard work, programmatic advertising can help you to develop more targeted campaigns and especially, purchase the most cost-efficient spaces.
Even with all the newer technologies and platforms, email marketing is still very effective today. There are, however, some complications depending on your region, especially with GDPR if you are in Europe or targeting Europe as your audience.
As we have also mentioned, email marketing can work together with inbound marketing to help with conversions.
The keys to the modern email marketing are personalization and automation, where many tools are available to assist you with these aspects.
You might want to check out this guide to learn more about email marketing.
Referral—or affiliate— marketing is still very effective today, especially with the fact that peer recommendations are one of the most influential factors driving purchase decisions.
The key for a successful referral marketing is your incentive: give too little and you won’t get any interest, give too much and you’ll get a lot of low-quality referrals only looking to make money on the internet. So, again, you will need to find the right balance
Social Media Marketing
It’s no secret that social media as a marketing platform is increasingly becoming ‘pay to play’. It’s harder to get that organic reach, and social media advertising is getting more expensive with each and every year.
Again, the key here is targeting, and you might want to check out this guide on how you can maximize cost-efficiency in social media advertising.
We’ll reiterate that a digital marketing strategy is not about choosing the best type of digital marketing or the best marketing channel. Each one of them has their own benefits and weaknesses, and so it is about making them work together to achieve results.
While inbound marketing is the more superior tactic today especially regarding ROI, outbound marketing will help achieve results in a shorter time-frame.