What the heck is “digital marketing”, anyway?


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What the heck is “digital marketing”, anyway?

If you’re here, you’re tired of hearing the phrase “digital marketing” and wondering what it is.

Here’s the super short answer: digital marketing is online marketing.

That’s it! It’s that easy! You can stop reading now if you want.

Here are some examples of digital marketing:

Putting an ad on Facebook = digital marketing
Sending out emails to your list of customers = digital marketing
Trying to get a better ranking in Google’s search results = digital marketing
Publishing a blog post to connect with customers = digital marketing
Posting a video to YouTube = digital marketing

Retargeting with Google Ads = digital marketing

Before the Internet came along, marketing was just “marketing”

Putting up a billboard ad = plain old marketing
Making a magazine ad = plain old marketing
Creating a radio ad = plain old marketing
Giving out samples in a grocery store = plain old marketing
Sponsoring a local event = plain old marketing

The digital part came in to describe marketing that happens electronically (i.e. online).

Caption: Is this digital marketing? We’re confused all over again…

Okay, that’s all cleared up.

Now, why do people bother with digital marketing? And which kind should you do? Whoa, whoa, whoa! One question at a time.

Here’s a quick rundown of why people bother doing digital marketing:

It’s cost-effective. Traditional marketing for a small or medium business typically involves a print shop, the mail, or physical ads. Digital marketing doesn’t require any paper, ink, vehicles, gas, or “feet on the ground,” so to speak. It all happens online! For that reason, it can be tremendously cost-effective. If you create a fine-looking Google & Facebook ad, you can then serve it up to thousands and thousands of viewers for a lot less than if you sent out mailers or created a similar physical campaign.
It’s trackable. Ads at your local bus stop may be a useful part of your overall strategy, but it can be hard to figure out which new customers came in thanks to the ad. Sure, you can do a survey that asks, “How did you hear about us?” but if you want total trackability, digital marketing tells you an incredible amount of information.
BONUS TRACKABILITY INSIGHT: A savvy digital marketing firm can track where people go on your website and what they do on each page. It might sound like overkill, but when you find out that everyone is coming to your site to read a particular tab, but then leaves without making contact, you’ll know that a contact button should be on that hot page. When you put one there and start getting tons of new leads, you’ll know how and where they came from. That’s digital marketing!
It’s easy to spread. Online, everything can be shared with a click. If you make an interesting video for your local bike repair business showing an amazing bike trail nearby, people will probably share it. They’re sending your ad around for free! That’s digital marketing, too.
It’s simple to execute. It helps to have a good writer for emails and newsletters, and a good designer for images, but otherwise, digital marketing pieces are not too hard to create. In your busy, busy, world, that’s good news.

Caption: Don’t be scared to make your own ads!

Now that you know what digital marketing is and why people bother, there’s one final piece of the puzzle: going over a few of the main types of digital marketing projects.

Hang in there – you’re about to finish Digital Marketing 101!

Email Marketing

Many businesses have captured customer emails through one method or another. But what do you DO with these email addresses? You send them messages!

Let them know that you’ve got a special deal going.
Let them know that you just started offering massages with every purchase.
Give them a helpful reminder about required maintenance and ask if they need your services.

Yes, email marketing is that simple.

Important terms:
Open rate = the percentage of people that open your email.
Click through rate = the percentage of people who clicked a link or offer in your email.
Conversion rate = the percentage of people who bought something because of your email.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing can take two major forms:

1) Paying to publish an ad on a social media platform.

2) Participating on a social media platform using your own account.

What’s a social media platform? Here are some big ones:


If your business has a Facebook account and posts a picture of something nice that happened at your main location, that’s social media marketing! Fans of your page may see it and then come in later to make a purchase.

If you publish an ad targeted at everyone from your zip code, that’s social media marketing, too. Your neighbors may see it, click it, and then learn more about your business.

Before you know it, you might have a new customer!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Let’s say you’re a pizza shop in San Diego.

When people search “pizza shop San Diego,” where does the link to your website appear in the Google search results? You want it at the top. If it’s buried on page 3 of the results, you have a problem, because people don’t go that far. They just click the pizza shop on page one.

SEO solves that problem, and helps you change your website so that it ranks higher and gets more online traffic (i.e. visitors).

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Google shows ads in its search results. You could pay to have your ad there, and snag some extra traffic to your website! It’ll look something like this:

Content Marketing (blogs, infographics, white papers, ebooks, how-to guides)

Informational resources can be a hugely useful way to attract people to your site. These engage your audience, build your brand, and can help drive sales. Examples include: blogs, infographics, white papers, ebooks, and how-to guides.

Okay – you now know the basics. But this all begs the question:

Which one should you do???

Fear not. You are officially the hundred-millionth person to wonder how to get into digital marketing.

The first answer is: feel free to experiment.

We’re expecting that a lot of the readers of this post are business owners or managers of some kind, so we know you’re not fraidy cats. Give something a shot! Google “email marketing,” find a good platform, sign up for a trial, write up an email, and send it to your list of emails, if you have one.

(The worst that will happen is a major PR disaster for your business. But you’ll probably be fine!)

The second answer is: work with the pros.

You might have tons of time to learn all the ins and outs of digital marketing, or you can simply work with the experts – us!

It’s like any other trade – if you have a problem with your toilet, you can look things up, take 4 trips to Home Depot, and maybe get it done right (after you lose a whole Saturday to the job). But if you’d rather do what you do best and let plumbers do what they do best, you just pick up the phone, right?

Digital marketing is the same way.

We can help you figure out simple, practical plans that are cost-effective and make sense for your business. And if you’re skeptical, remember: this post is our digital marketing, and here you are! We might know a thing or two after all…

Here’s our info:

(916) 288-7909


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Leave a comment below to let us know your biggest obstacle or challenge when it comes to digital marketing.