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While digital marketing may seem complex and overwhelming, the truth is, it’s really not. Although we all need some time to wrap our head around the basics, anybody who is truly serious about business in 2019 should be making it a priority to get a high level understanding of Digital Marketing, its many diverse categories, and how they can benefit your business’ ROI.


Digital Evolution


It is no secret that Digital Marketing now far surpasses traditional media and advertising in both budget and results. Due to analytics and targeting, you can now track all of your adverts online and see exactly where your money is going, and sales and lead generation reports are now available in just a few clicks.


eMarketer is a trusted research firm – provide a benchmark of how global marketers plan on budgeting their resources for the future. This illustrates the significant rise in the use of digital media to increase sales, lead generation and brand awareness. According to eMarketer, for the first time in history, spend on digital marketing and advertising will exceed that of more traditional advertising. By the end of 2019, it is expected that businesses will spend almost $130 billion on advertising through digital media as opposed to $110 billion on the more traditional methods like TV and print. Basically this means that digital will be dominating 54.2% of the entire advertising market. This is only the beginning according to the research firm’s projections – Spend on advertising digitally will continue to take over traditional advertising.


Due to huge declines in print advertising like the Yellow Pages (whose spending is predicted to drop by 19%) this will make room for an even larger rise in the ad-spend of the digital wave.


Traditional print media, like magazines and newspapers, will drop by 18% according to eMarketer and there will be a significant 2.2% decline on television adverting adding up to $71 billion. One of the reasons for this is a lack of big events like annual elections and the World Cup.


So, with all of this in mind, let’s explore the 12 pillars of Digital Marketing that you should familiarise yourself with. But first, we will define the meaning of the broader term -  “Digital Marketing”


Digital Marketing is a term used to describe all efforts conducted through the internet and electronic devices to market and promote a business. Businesses will use the power and influence of social media and search engines to increase sales and brand-awareness, as well as attracting new prospects and retaining current customers.  


1. Search Marketing

Search Marketing is used to increase website traffic and online visibility via search engines, using paid and organic advertising.


Search Marketing encompasses:


SEO: driving traffic to your company website through free listings and organic, online visibility.

SEM: Purchasing website traffic via paid search listings and ad words.

The original term for this concept is “Search Engine Marketing” and is basically broader term for both SEM and SEO marketing.


2.  Content Marketing

Valuable content should always be the focal point of your marketing.


Traditional methods of marketing like TV and print are fading away fast – if you want to stay ahead of the game you need to navigate into the new world of advertising.


This new world is Content Marketing and it is as diverse as it is exciting and effective.


The basic concept of Content Marketing pertains to a tactical approach to marketing whereby you make creating and distributing high-quality, pertinent, and consistent content the focal point of your company’s marketing strategy.


Another essential element to successful Content Marketing is clearly defining your target audience, that way you can really drive profitable consumer action as you will be speaking directly to your market. People respond positively (and profitably) to content that is both useful and applicable to them as opposed to hard selling and pitching. The art of subtle-selling, using your content as an answer to the problems of your desired prospects and current customers, is the best way to win at digital media.


Some of the most successful and world-renowned companies use content marketing as the main driving force to gain prospects and retain customers, including Coca-Cola, John Deere, Microsoft and Cisco Systems, however, the concept is so diverse and adaptable that it works for the industry giants and the smaller businesses – Why? Because its easily accessible, effective and can fit any budget when used correctly.


Content Marketing is good for both your bottom line and your customers.


There are three significant and beneficial reasons for businesses to optimise their content marketing:

  • Increased lead generation and higher sales
  • Saving in costs
  • Brand loyal customers


Content is the present, and future, of marketing as we know it, it is also ever-shifting and changing to suit the rapidly evolving society we live in.


If you re-read the definition of Content Marketing again but remove the words relevant and valuable it will provide more clarity. If you have not made a concerted effort to make sure your content is relevant and valuable then it will fall into the giant abyss of spam and half-hearted, promotional noise that people get from businesses everyday, trying to hard sell their products and services. What makes Content Marketing so fascinating in the contemporary digital landscape is the sheer volume of content that is consumed and seen on a daily basis.


3.  Digital PR


This is a strategy wherein an outsourced set of prominent online connections are used by companies to strengthen their online presence and recognition. Social media influencers, online journalists, and bloggers will churn out press releases for a fee in order for the company to gain valuable backlinks and mentions. This significantly improves SEO and brand awareness.


4.  Social Media Marketing (SMM)


Possibly one of the more recognized forms of digital marketing today is Social Media Marketing(SMM). SMM involves sharing and creating engaging content on one or more social media platforms in order to reach your branding and marketing targets. Text and image updates as well as video or anything that encourages your audience to engage is what makes up successful SMM activity. Depending on company budget, paid Social Media Marketing can hugely benefit your business from a visibility and brand awareness perspective.

5.  Display Advertising


This is one of the more diverse types of online marketing – Display Advertising comes in many forms; rich media, banner ads, and pop-up ads to name a few. It is an image-based form of advertising and uses video and audio to really grab the eye of the prospective customer.


6.  Email marketing


This involves a company sending out business-related emails to a select audience, whom they believe will be interested in the products and services on offer.


Email Marketing is very popular for lead generation, as you can track who opens the respective mail and who doesn’t. It can be promotional, sales-driven, or purely used as a method to increase brand awareness. This form of Digital Marketing has proven to be one of the more successful ways to advertise.


The most effective way to benefit from Email Marketing is to identify the audience you are trying to reach and either formulate an internal lead list or buy external databases. If done tastefully, this can be a very valuable way of enhancing and strengthening current client relations as well as engaging new prospects. It also increases additional, impulse purchases and serves as a great platform to share third-party advertisements.

7.  Affiliate marketing


This is a marketing model wherein a company enlists and compensates an intermediary publisher to increase web traffic and lead generation. These intermediary or third-party participants are called affiliates. This incentivises them to diversify and create fresh methods of promoting the company.


One of the first major companies to popularise the concept of Affiliate Marketing was online retail giant Amazon. Bloggers, influencers and websites would connect their traffic to the Amazon page through reviews or featured products in exchange for a fee on each purchase made. Essentially, the company pays on a performance basis, subcontracting sales throughout a broad and complex set of connections.


8.  Mobile Marketing


On average we spend about 4 hours a day on our smart devices, so it is no surprise that Mobile Marketing is one of the most effective tools in the content marketing toolbox. It uses many modern, mobile distribution channels to promote and market your business. If you take location as an example, you can customise your advertising to suit that individuals’ needs and wants based on where they are in the world. It is a highly personalised method of marketing and works well because most of us are permanently connected to some kind of mobile device.

9.  Video Marketing


Video Marketing is not a complex concept at all; in fact, the beauty of it lies in its utter simplicity. By using eye-catching motion visuals to captivate your desired audience and, in turn, successfully promote your business.


Today, almost every effective marketing strategy integrates video in some form or another, whether it be live streaming from events, testimonials or just viral entertainment videos. This is a platform to be creative and is one of the most popular forms of online content, especially when using SMM.

10.  Audio Marketing


Brands have been using audio content as a form of marketing for almost 100 years. In 1919 a radio station called WWJ became the first commercial station to advertise products and services, but since then, a lot has changed. First came television advertising and then, more recently, the all-encompassing internet. That aside, audio ad expenditure is still expected to accumulate $31.7 billion in 2020 as there has been somewhat of an audio renaissance in the digital era, thanks to podcasts and audio books.


11. Review Marketing


The oldest and most trusted form of marketing is ‘word of mouth’(WOM), this is the most powerful way of converting customers and generating sales, as well as acquiring trust and recognition for your company. This is attributable to review-based sites like Yelp, the power of social media and all of its influencers, as well as blogs. In a world where everything has become digital and slightly detached, sentiment (even digital sentiment) is key.


WOM marketing also provides helpful tools like consumer feedback which can be vital in converting prospective customers and retaining current clients. It is an exercise that strengthens sales and increases consumer loyalty to your company, however, it is essential that reviews and WOM marketing is tactfully incorporated into your broader marketing strategy.

12. Account based Marketing

In its simplest form, ABM is a strategy that directs marketing resources to engaging a specific set of target accounts. ABM doesn’t just call for alignment between sales and marketing teams – it forces teams to align because personalization at the account level requires sales and marketing to be in sync on account-specific messaging. The motivation? Higher revenues in a shorter time frame.

Instead of casting a wide net with their lead-generation efforts, marketers using ABM work closely with sales to identify key prospects and then tailor customised programs and messages to the buying team within target accounts.