A study published by TechCrunch last year showed that Americans spend over 5 hours a day on their mobile devices. That is just their mobile devices and does not include their computers at work or at home. That being said, it is clear that getting your company in front of new customers should involve some form of the hot “digital marketing” phrase, that seems to encompass all things online.
I often am asked if I have digital marketing plans by business owners, and sometimes when we dig down further, they aren’t really even sure what that means. That isn’t their fault because all of this can be confusing and everyone uses the term, but nobody is completely sure how to get their advertising in different places. This is a bit of an overview of different places you can show up online. We have worked with businesses for over a decade to try to find the best use of their advertising spend to find the most efficient way to grab new clients online, whether that is from pure search or from advertising in social media or in online content or other areas. We will try to break down some of the big digital marketing venues below, to help you organize your thoughts. We can help clients with any or all of the below advertising methods.
Digital Marketing Overview
OK, we will approach several key categories with a quick high-level explanation to help you understand.
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing has a few sub-categories, but the general idea is that you put yourself specifically in front of people when they actively search within a search engine for products or services. There are several key ways to show up in search and some of the three key areas below can overlap with each other a bit, (for example you can put paid ads in local search) but these are the three core pieces.
Organic search is the natural, or unpaid presence in search results. This placement or ranking is based on a number of important ranking factors, based on the search engines ranking algorithm. Google is, of course, the most famous search engine with an algorithm. The process of building a plan to better suit your website to show up in search is called SEO and tends to have a high return on investment, but takes time to get working, as SEO involves building up site strength over time with good content and regular updates to make sure your site is running smoothly and gathering inbound links from other sites, signaling to Google that your site is relevant and important for the subject you are trying to show up for. There are standard organic rankings through the list of links and descriptions and there are local organic rankings, which involve the pin placement on the map, which though sharing some ranking factors, has some of its own factors for ranking highly.
So digging in a little further with local search, this is another way to rank organically but has its own sets of factors, as referenced above. The top ranking factor for local search is proximity, which makes sense since the search is locally based. However, you can move up or pass closer businesses by improving your standing with a number of factors such as reviews, use of your local business page, distribution of your core business information, and many overlapping factors with the standard organic search. Local search also has specific paid placement options that are always updating and changing, and are covered in the next category.
Paid Search (PPC):
Paid search is the opportunity to pay to show up in any of these places on the search results page. There are several formats and methods for showing up in paid search, such as paid local pins, paid click to call ads for mobile, and the standard search result text ad. The Google version of paid search uses the brand name Adwords, but each search engine has their own version. You may also hear it referred to as PPC or pay per click, referring to the fact that in most search ads, you are paying when someone clicks on your ad. You typically set a daily budget and a maximum you are willing to pay for each click, and then you let the program run and the traffic comes to your site. PPC and Adwords campaigns can be extremely effective, as you are immediately showing up for exactly the searches you want to show up for, but you should get help from someone that knows what they are doing, as you can also lose a lot of money on wasted traffic if you don’t set it up properly. I also hear many small businesses that think they are working directly with Google to set it up. Keep in mind that when you do this, you are letting the person that is receiving your ad spend tell you how to most efficiently pay them. I would recommend someone not employed by Google that knows the ins and outs of inefficient spending mistakes. These tools can be great if you use them properly but can leave a bad taste in your mouth if you don’t.
Social Media Marketing
Most every form of social media includes both a paid and organic way to show up. Getting followers and likes and connections can help you organically have a larger reach, and like organic search, though it takes time and effort, it can have a great return on investment. Most formats allow you to pay to also whos up in people’s feeds. One of the big benefits of social media marketing is the access to very solid demographic and interest information that you can use for targeting. For this reason, it can be very helpful to target regular users that might fit those profiles. The downside is that you are reaching people on their spare time and they are not actively searching for you like in search, but costs tend to be less, and it can give you brand exposure when someone’s guard may be down a little bit.
Retargeting or Remarketing
You know those creepy ads that follow you around the internet after you visit a website. Well, that is called retargeting or remarketing. These work better if you have created some display ads to use via your web developer or a graphic designer. Basically, your website collects cookies when people visit, which then allows your ads to be placed on sites that they visit within the network of the ad provider. Google has a vast network as part of their Adwords tool, but other companies also do this and some specialize in certain industries. You can set these up to be different based on specific pages that are visited on your site, and can even remove them from the list if they visit the purchase page, etc. These can be very effective to run, even if at a low budget level.
Display advertising is probably the most straightforward version of advertising that is closest to traditional advertising. You have display ads, just like you would for the retargeting above, and simply pay to show up on blogs and other content sites throughout the internet. Again, each provider has their own network and you can typically pick your target based on topic, demographic info, search activity, etc. depending on the provider. You can also participate in more standard direct advertising to sites such as paying a news site to be a direct advertiser on their site. It is often more efficient to use a network and then sculpt your campaign based on what is available. If there are important sites you can’t reach with one network, you can go direct or try a different network. These networks often include, but are not limited to the below:
- Video Advertising: Youtube and others
- Email Advertising
- Advertising within apps on phones
- News and Content Site Advertising
Putting Digital Marketing All Together
We can help you put together a plan to use or test your success in each of these markets, but incorporate the proven techniques to make sure you don’t make costly mistakes or jump in at the wrong time. We have spent time studying conversion optimization techniques to help you avoid spending a lot of money on traffic that doesn’t buy or simply targeting your market inefficiently Give us a call if you need help navigating the digital marketing world. We do this stuff every day. All of our plans are custom and include the flexibility to move from one type of targeting to another, or build strength in SEO while you dabble in paid, etc.