The world today has become ultra-connected, and the Internet is no longer a simple one-way communication tool, it has evolved into a participatory environment where people have total freedom to publish whatever they want, when they want.
Indeed, the Internet is now the world’s major channel for communication, hence the importance of digital marketing for businesses looking to drive sales and connect with both potential customers and current clients.
In this guide, we’re going to look at everything you need to know about digital marketing and how to use it to improve your business’ online presence, and subsequently drive qualified traffic to it.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing, also called online marketing, refers to the promotion of a brand, product, or service via digital channels such as websites, search engines, social media platforms, advertising, email, and mobile apps.
In other terms, digital marketing is any type of marketing promotion that involves electronic devices.
The history of digital marketing
Digital marketing has come a long way since the early days of the internet. From the earliest forms of search engine optimization and email marketing, to the rise of social media and content marketing, the digital landscape has constantly evolved to meet the needs of businesses and consumers alike.
In the early 1990s, the internet was still in its infancy and businesses were just beginning to understand its potential as a marketing tool. It was around this time that search engine optimization (SEO) emerged as a way for businesses to improve their visibility on search engines such as Google. SEO involves optimizing a website’s content and structure in order to rank higher in search engine results and attract more organic traffic.
As the internet became more widespread and people began spending more time online, companies started to realize the potential of using email to reach out to potential customers.
Email marketing, which involves sending targeted emails to a specific group of people, became a popular way for businesses to promote their products and services.
As social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram emerged in the late 2000s, they revolutionized the way companies connected with their customers.
These platforms allowed businesses to share updates, engage with customers, and build brand awareness in a more personal and interactive way.
Social media marketing, which involves using social media platforms to promote a business, has become an integral part of many companies’ digital marketing strategies.
Content marketing, which involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, has also become an important part of the digital marketing landscape.
The goal of content marketing is to establish trust and credibility with potential customers and encourage them to take a specific action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.
Today, digital marketing encompasses a wide range of tactics and strategies, and it has become an integral part of any business’s marketing strategy.
As technology continues to advance and the digital landscape evolves, it is likely that digital marketing will continue to change and offer new opportunities for businesses to connect with their customers.
Digital marketing vs. traditional marketing: what’s the difference?
The main distinction between digital marketing and traditional marketing is the channel through which the message is delivered to the audience.
Traditional marketing is the use of traditional media such as postcards, billboards, magazines, television commercials, radio commercials, and printed ads to advertise a brand, product, or service. And of course, traditional marketing does not mean that it is outdated or obsolete, on the contrary, it still plays an important role in the consumer’s life.
On the other hand, after the 1990s with the digital revolution and the arrival of digital marketing, traditional marketing’s importance has slowly decreased.
Digital marketing is the modern form of marketing that involves digital channels such as social media and websites to reach and engage with a wide variety of audiences. It is a type of marketing that is growing at a quick pace due to technological developments.
Digital marketing is very popular because it helps businesses to promote their brands, products, and services and target millions or even billions of consumers online in a short period of time.
Here is a simplified table of differences between traditional marketing and digital marketing:
|Traditional marketing||Digital marketing|
|Uses traditional media such as postcards, billboards, magazines, television commercials, radio commercials, and printed ads||Uses digital channels such as websites, search engines, social media platforms, advertising, email, and mobile apps|
|Conversion rate is low||Conversion rate is fast|
|Engagement rate is low||Engagement rate is high|
|Return on investment (ROI) cannot be measured easily||Return on investment (ROI) can be measured easily|
|Not cost-effective||More cost-effective|
|Tracking is not possible||Tracking is possible|
|Targeting is standardized||Targeting is customized|
|Advertisements cannot be altered||Advertisements can be altered|
|Reach is local||Reach is global|
|No real-time results||Fast and real-time results|
|Consumers have no option but to see the ads||Consumers can skip the ads|
|One-way communication||Two-way communication|
Why digital marketing matters?
Traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective in the digital era we live in. It is a fact that any business looking to drive sales and connect with both potential customers and current clients must necessarily adopt digital marketing. So why digital marketing matters?
Because your consumers are now digital
The behavior of consumers have changed. Nowadays, consumers are doing research on the Internet and looking for the brand, product, or service they are interested in before doing any purchases. In fact, 81% of consumers research their product or service online before purchasing, according to a study, conducted by Saleslion in 2019.
Because your competitors are probably already doing digital marketing, or almost
Nearly half of businesses (49%) are doing digital marketing, but with no strategy. So this is the perfect time for businesses to build their digital marketing strategies.
Also, let’s suppose your business isn’t present online, but your competitors are. If a potential customer looks for a product or service related to your niche or even looks for your business and doesn’t find it, he will find your competitors for sure. In other terms, your business is losing potential customers to your competitors if it’s not present online.
“No online presence means your business doesn’t exist, and potential customers can’t find you, and if they can’t find you, they will find your competitors.” — Abderrahmane Fath, founder of Digital Out Loud.
Digital marketing is an opportunity to be seized, as it allows businesses to gain more visibility and helps them stand out from their competitors.
Because the customer acquisition cost is lower online
The customer acquisition cost (CAC) is an important business metric that measures how much an organization spends to acquire new customers.
According to a HubSpot study, it has been proven that the customer acquisition cost via digital marketing channels is 61% cheaper than traditional marketing channels!
Because digital marketing improves customer relationships
Having a quality website and being present on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter help businesses build trust with their customers and encourage them to stick around.
One of the benefits of digital marketing is customer retention. Indeed, online marketing enables clear and better communication between businesses and their customers. Also, this clear communication allows businesses to improve their customer relationships, which leads to improved customer acquisition and retention rates.
Because digital marketing is a long-term investment
A large part of the actions you perform on your business’ digital marketing (SEO, SMM, content creation, etc.) will last over time. Except for the advertising investments, they are by nature ephemeral.
Because the ROI is perfectly measurable
All the actions executed on digital platforms are traceable and measurable. The return on investment (ROI) of your marketing actions is more measurable than ever, and your efforts are recognized! You can identify:
- The number of visitors on your website.
- The conversion rate.
- Which social media post generated the most leads.
What are the most popular types of digital marketing?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an important pillar of digital marketing that is composed of two branches: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEA (Search Engine Advertising).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website in the organic (non-paid) search results of search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yandex. The higher your website ranks in the search results, the more visitors will come to your website. This is why SEO has become an essential part of web marketing for most businesses.
SEO focuses on 3 main aspects: the technical optimization of the website, the content optimization, and the development and optimization of backlinks.
Search Engine Advertising (SEA) consists in buying advertising space on search engines like Google and Bing, considering that the majority of SEA investments are concentrated on Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords).
Using Search Engine Advertising (SEA) can help you increase your website visibility in search engine results, generate qualified traffic and increase your sales and revenue.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
It is impossible today to think about “digital marketing” without integrating social media into your strategy. Especially that there are around 4.2 billion people worldwide who actively use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. And 27.5% of them use these platforms to research products to buy and 44.8% to search for more information about brands.
Social Media Marketing (SMM) consists precisely in developing the notoriety of your brand on social media by offering social media users high-value content so that they share it with their friends and family.
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on the creation and distribution of high-quality informative content to reach leads and grow your business.
Instead of telling them to buy something, content marketing attracts consumers with valuable information. This is done by publishing articles or news related to topics of interest that are usually related to the brand.
Content marketing subtly brings businesses closer to their customers or potential customers by providing them with content that interests them.
Email marketing consists of sending emails to a list of people who have shown an interest in your products or services. This type of information can include special offers, product information, reminders (abandoned cart, incomplete form registration…) and even advertising.
Email marketing is a powerful direct marketing tool when it is done right. Its purpose is to stay in touch with these people who have shown an interest, create loyalty and even convert them into customers.
Moreover, according to a study, the return on investment of email marketing is 3 times higher than campaigns on social media platforms.
Affiliate and influencer marketing
Affiliate and influencer marketing is a marketing arrangement between a seller/advertiser and an affiliate/influencer. This sales concept grants a commission to the affiliate/influencer, depending on the success of his affiliate/influencer program. In other words, the affiliate/influencer is paid on a commission basis on sales made through his website/social media accounts. The commission rate is decided mutually between the seller/advertiser and the affiliate/influencer.
Through affiliate marketing, the seller/advertiser gains more visibility, expands its audience and attracts more potential customers to his website.
Mobile marketing refers to all marketing actions that communicate with customers via their mobile phone. Marketers might communicate with target audiences through websites, mobile apps, email, and text messaging to deliver important content to their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.
According to a report by the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT), 99.8% of Moroccans have mobile phones, and of these, 75.7% have smartphones. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of the most effective digital marketing strategies for reaching and engaging with consumers is mobile marketing.
Marketing analytics is the process of tracking and analyzing data to determine marketing effectiveness and return on investment (ROI), and to identify opportunities for improvement.
Marketing analytics is often considered too complex or unnecessary, as many prefer to rely on their instincts. However, a McKinsey study shows that analytical marketing can reduce marketing expenses by 15-20%.
Hopefully this guide gives you a better idea of the who, what, why, and how of digital marketing.