Have you ever wondered how digital marketing actually works and how digital marketing can be used to generate leads or grow business?
It’s easy to define digital marketing but not easy to understand how digital marketing works?
As we all know that Digital marketing is about using digital channels and digital platforms for business promotion and marketing.
As a digital marketing professional, it’s important to know how digital marketing works.
Well, let me put things right for you,
Digital marketing doesn’t work. You need to make digital marketing work for you
Digital marketing is not a product or a service which will work for you, it’s marketing concept and as a digital marketer it’s your responsibility to make it work for you.
Here are few important points to remember
- Digital marketing works differently for different types of businesses
- Results of digital marketing depends on how digital marketing strategy is made and how execution is done
- If digital marketing is not working for you, then either digital marketing is not for you or you are not doing digital marketing right
Still, let’s understand how does digital marketing work?
In simple terms, digital marketing works by integrating digital channels and digital marketing techniques like SEO, Social Media Marketing, PPC, Email marketing and many other digital marketing techniques to attract target audience and then convert them to customers.
Digital marketing works by attracting potential customers towards your website or a blog and then encouraging them to buy your products.
You can use SEO or PPC campaigns to attract target audience on your website and capture leads or encourage them to buy from your website.
Social media can be used to engage with the target audience to build brand or create business awareness.
This is how you can use digital marketing to communicate with your digital audience and you can make digital marketing work for your business.
Let’s understand this process in detail
To understand how digital marketing works, you will have to first understand a digital marketing building blocks, digital marketing funnel and also digital marketing techniques.
In this article I will cover all important aspects of digital marketing which will help you understand working of digital marketing.
Every business requires new customers to grow their business and profit. Businesses use various marketing techniques, promotions, branding and advertising to acquire new customers, increase brand visibility and increase sales.
Here digital marketing can play vital role in growing business.
Digital marketing can be used with multiple business objectives. Every digital marketing technique or channels can be used for a specific objectives of either brand building or increasing sales.
Let’s start understanding how digital marketing works, by understanding digital marketing funnel first.
Step 1: Understand the Digital marketing funnel
What is Digital marketing funnel?
Digital marketing funnel is used to define customer journey and stages. Digital marketing funnel is virtual representation of customer journey.
Here is how digital marketing will work for you when it is properly implemented is explained in example and stages.
- Your potential customers becomes aware of your brand or products you are selling
- They visit your website or social media pages to know more about your products
- They interact with your website to know more or makes an inquiry
- Now they can take a decision to buy your product or services
- When they buy from you, they become your customer
This is how digital marketing funnel can help you understand how you can start implementing digital marketing.
Depending on type of business, funnel stages can be more or less. In typical scenario, there are mainly 3 funnel stages – TOFU, MOFU and BOFU
Top of the Funnel – Top of the funnel defines awareness stage. It’s about how visible you are on digital platform. If you have better visibility on digital platform, your chances of attracting target audience increases.
Middle of the Funnel – Middle of the funnel is stage where your target audience is already in your funnel and they considering about buying from you. Depending on the engagement level, need, desire and competition, your potential customer may move down towards the funnel or exit the funnel.
Bottom of the Funnel – Bottom of the funnel is final stage of digital marketing funnel. If your potential customers have decided to purchase from you and if you have given them good offer or encourage them to take a decision in your favour, chances of conversion increases and sale can happen.
Step 2: Understand Digital marketing channels
In digital marketing, a digital channel is a medium which is used to communicate or interact with target audience.
Examples of digital channels include:
- Organic Search – SEO
- Paid Search (Google search Ads)
- Digital Advertising Channels (e.g. Display Ads)
- Email marketing
- Social Media (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn)
- YouTube (Video marketing)
- SMS and WhatsApp
It’s a common misconception that digital marketing is a single channel. Digital marketing strategy can use multiple channels together in single digital marketing campaign.
Digital marketing can also be used with offline marketing methods like events and exhibitions.
An example of an online/offline marketing integration would be promoting a trade show (offline event) using Facebook Advertising campaign (online) to promote the offline event. And during the event, collecting personal details of leads such as emails and phone numbers to follow up using email marketing and mobile marketing (online).
Step 3: Digital Marketing techniques and strategies
Do not confuse strategies and techniques with channels. Digital channel is a medium which is used to communicate or engage with audience while digital marketing strategy or techniques are ways to use digital marketing channels.
For example, content marketing may use SEO and Facebook marketing to promote content and bring targeted traffic on a blog to generate leads.
Digital marketing techniques and strategies may include:
- Content Marketing
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Social Media Marketing
- Marketing Automation
- Email Marketing
- Digital Advertising
- Mobile Marketing
- Video Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Remarketing or Retargeting
- Digital PR
Digital marketing starts with a digital marketing strategy or a digital marketing plan.
Digital marketing plan or a strategy is document which defines digital marketing objectives, what channels will be used, what techniques will be used and how results will be measured.
Depending on your business type, business size, business objective and target audience, your digital marketing strategy may include or may not include some digital marketing techniques.
A typical digital marketing strategy involves:
- Defining customer profiles
- Defining marketing objectives
- Alignment of business and marketing goals
- Identifying target markets
- Competition analysis and information
- Digital marketing channels to be used
- Budget and how to measure results
- Role of team and team members
- Reviewing and optimising campaign performance
For example, if you are selling consumer products online, you may not include LinkedIn or other B2B digital marketing channels.
A digital marketing strategy can help you focus on your objectives, track your goals and optimise your digital marketing results.
Digital marketing strategy is created by Digital marketing strategist who are having multiple years of experience in the digital marketing field.
In your digital marketing strategy you must define your digital marketing objectives
Step 4: Define digital marketing objectives
Define your digital marketing objective before you start doing digital marketing.
Here is example of Digital marketing objective:
“Generate 20 or more leads every month from our website” – This is how you can define your digital marketing objective, if you are doing digital marketing for brand building then your digital marketing objective may be different.
Now you will have to work on your objective of getting 20+ leads and you will start making a plan for generating leads.
Your digital marketing objectives should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Related) and you should measure them to further improve your results.
Here are 5 important objectives to include in your digital marketing strategy:
1. Increase Sales
Increasing sales or leads is a top level digital marketing objective for many businesses. Growing sales is ultimate objective of every business.
A digital marketing strategy must include as how sales will be increased, what tactics and channels will be used, how much budget will be required and how results will be measured.
For e-commerce business, Facebook ads and Google ads can be used to attract more traffic and increase sales. Sales can be further increased by using various conversion rate optimisation techniques.
NOTE : Conversion rate optimisation is part of advanced digital marketing topic
2. Generate leads using digital marketing
Digital marketing can play important role in lead generation. It can be used to drive more traffic on website using SEO, Google ads, Facebook ads to generate more leads. Leads generation can also be improved by using content marketing and lead magnets and marketing automation techniques to further nurture leads.
Lead generation is one of the most complex topic of digital marketing.
3. Increase organic search traffic
Getting free traffic from Google using SEO is one of the best ways to create awareness, generate leads and increase sales. SEO is the backbone of digital marketing.
Growing organic traffic on blog or website can be one of the digital marketing objective which can reduce cost per acquisition and also create long-term online visibility.
4. Increase brand visibility
Digital brand building is also one of the most important part of digital marketing objectives. Digital branding can help business increase sales and also grow organic traffic, increase faster conversion and build online reputation.
Social media marketing, digital PR and video marketing (YouTube Videos) can be used to increase brand visibility.
Digital display advertising and digital video ads can also help in online brand building.
5. Reduce cost per customer
Reducing cost per customer can be a digital marketing objective. Brands can use various techniques like conversion rate optimisation, marketing automation and programatic display advertising to reduce cost per customer.
This objective will give you next steps to take.
TIP : Work on one objective at a time for better results if you have small team.
Step 5: Creating a website for digital marketing
For digital marketing to work and deliver results, you must have a website which is aligned with your digital marketing and business objectives.
If you are into business of selling products online, you will need an eCommerce website. eCommerce website can be created using Magento, OpenCart, WooCommerce or Shopify.
If your digital marketing objective is to generate leads from your website and you are not selling products online, you can create a website to generate leads.
Depending on your business, you must create a website which can be useful for digital marketing.
Website can be then optimised for Search Engines to attract organic traffic from Google search.
You will have to setup Google Analytics code on website to measure website traffic, setup Google search console to monitor organic results and performance.
You can also create a blog on your domain to improve search visibility and attract organic traffic.
Step 6: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search engine optimisation is core of digital marketing. It plays significant role in how digital marketing can work for a business. SEO allows you to get your website on the first page of Google. SEO should be part of every digital marketing strategy.
Since SEO can bring unlimited free traffic on website, it can deliver much better ROI compared to other digital marketing methods and other digital marketing techniques.
Step 7: Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing can also help you in getting more business. Social media marketing can improve your online brand visibility, it can increase audience engagement and also bring traffic on website of blog.
Social media is one of the best way to connect with target audience and initiate communication with them. Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networking websites can also play important role in how digital marketing works for you.
Just understanding how digital marketing works or how digital marketing can work for a business, is not enough for any digital marketing professional.
As a digital marketing professional, you should be able to create a digital marketing strategy and implementing digital marketing to deliver results.
Digital marketing has potential to grow business, it’s how we are using digital marketing is important than how digital marketing works.