A Handy Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing

beginners guide digital marketing

Digital Marketing 101

Maybe you’re interested in a marketing career and aren’t sure where to start. Or you’re starting a small business and keep hearing all these things you should be doing and are feeling overwhelmed. Whatever brought you here, you can be assured that by the time you’re finished reading this, you’ll have a basic grasp of:

  • Commonly used acronyms
  • The difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing
  • What inbound marketing is
  • What the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing is
  • What content marketing is
  • What a buyer’s persona is
  • The different levels of a customer’s journey from awareness to buying your product or service
  • And what you’ll want to focus on as you start your path toward understanding digital marketing

I’ll be adding to this list of resources with future articles, so be sure to check back often to learn more about digital marketing, as I go more in-depth. Are you ready to dig into Digital Marketing 101?

What is digital marketing?

The fast and easy answer: marketing via digital technology

Here’s what it looks like, with a little more detail:

Digital marketing is the act transforming your potential customers into buyers of your product or service by the use of content that’s delivered online.

For example, you might come across a well-placed article, video, message on social media, or an ad that is aimed at bringing you to a business’s website to gain more information.

This marketing is in essence a magnet used to get your attention. In the crowded world of competing businesses, using strong content allows you to differentiate yourself and gain trust. You’ll use engaging and entertaining informational products to help your potential customers find solutions to their problems.

Digital marketing vs. traditional marketing

It seems everybody has a mobile phone, internet, computer, and is always connected. In fact, people spend more and more time with their digital technology than ever. Except my husband who is a true dinosaur and still uses a flip phone in 2020. Yes. There are people out there that exist in that void.

Advertisers realized that to reach their clients, they needed to go where their customers were. That meant online. Every year more money is poured into digital marketing. With cord cutters, that means that traditional methods of advertising like radio and television aren’t having the same impact they once were.

People get most of their news online, and publications are feeling the pinch. I used to get more magazines in a month than should be legal, since I’m a voracious reader, but now I do all my reading online.

Now that companies understand they need to reach out to customers online, the question becomes how.

That answer, is to find where your potential customers are, sending them the right information at the right time, so they come to you.

You’ll hear about push and pull advertising. Today’s inbound marketing is about drawing or pulling the customer to you. Whereas, disruptive advertising or outbound marketing pushes your information toward your potential clients.

With so many things vying for our attention, we’ve learned that inbound marketing or pulling customers toward you is beneficial.

Becoming a trusted authority in your field is the first step. Let’s take a closer look to what that entails and examine inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is magnetic

There are different stages in a buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey can also be referred to as the customer’s experience of the customer’s journey.

The process of inbound marketing starts with something called a buyer’s persona. This is a “snapshot” of your ideal customer.

What you need to know at this point is that your potential customer just realized that they have a problem.

When your product or service is the solution, it would seem like a natural fit. The issue is that your potential customer doesn’t know you exist or that you have the answer they’re seeking.

Inbound marketing is the act of drawing in the right customer that fits your company’s purpose. Inbound marketing helps this person become aware that you exist and can help them.

Let’s break it down into an example:

A customer is frustrated that their dog won’t stop barking and the training they tried didn’t help. They’re now online looking for information about how to solve this problem.

You happen to be a company that has the answer to their problem. You developed a special clicker that makes a high-pitch sound to correct this problem, a pitch that only your dog can hear, and it’s been tested to show a high correction rate.

What inbound marketing focuses on is making the customer aware that they exist. They can now consider your company’s product as a possible solution for their problem.

Once they’re aware of you and learn more, they are informed and can make an educated decision to purchase your product.

Maybe you have a video on your website that shows how quickly in works in multiple different scenarios. You might have an independent study that shows your product worked better than traditional methods. Maybe you have articles with other methods to try, offering them valuable help. This builds trust and authority.

These different means of informing your potential customer about the benefits and features of your product, along with how well it works, helps them decide that you have the solution to their problem.

The articles, study, videos…

They’re part of your creative content. I’ll dig deeper into creative content in another article. For now, think of it as the information that feeds the customer’s need to know more.

Do you see how the path helped the customer make an informed decision–based on your ability to gain their trust with helpful content?

You’ve sold them on your product without a pushy salesperson, pressure, or unethical sales tactics.

This is inbound marketing in the digital marketing realm.

Let’s have another look at the basics

A person has a problem. They’ve named it. They know what it is and are ready to look for a solution. (Awareness phase)

They seek out information hoping to find an answer to their problem, when they come across your website, it answers the questions they have which makes your product or service seem like a good fit. (Consideration phase)

Lastly, they purchase your product or service. (In the Flywheel concept, this is the Delight phase. In a traditional sales funnel, this is the conversion and purchase phase.)

Common digital marketing acronyms

When you’re learning about digital marketing, you’ll see a lot of acronyms and terminology. Here are some of the more common acronyms and what they mean.

B2B – business to business

B2C – business to consumer

CPA – cost per acquisition

CPI – cost per impression

CRM – customer relationship management

CRO – conversion rate optimization

CTA – call to action

CTR – click-through rate

KPI – key performance indicators

PPC – pay per click advertising

ROI – return on investment

SEM – search engine marketing

SEO – search engine optimization

SMM – social media marketing

Goals of digital marketing

When you set goals and then analyze them, you can see where you’ve been, how far you’ve come, and what worked or didn’t work. Measuring your progress is important to know what comes next.

You’ll want to set short-term goals, mid-length goals, and long-term goals. Each will play an important part in your business’s journey.

Inbound marketing is an important part of setting your goals. Having a strategy to grow your business is vital. Be the trusted voice of authority in your niche, and customers will come to you. They’ll know that you’ll freely offer information they need in making an informed decision. You’ll earn their trust by giving them engaging and educating knowledge.

In business, knowing what your purpose is, the why you do what you do, will help draw the right client to you. Digital marketing is one way to get your message out, so that your customers can find you during the awareness stage.

I hope this introduction to digital marketing was resourceful and helped you understand the concept better.

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