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8 Core Disciplines of Digital Marketing


1. Social Media 


Social Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more have drastically changed the way we find and consume information online. We used to type any and every question into Google, and then browse the top ranked sites for our answer. Even though this is still true, we no longer look for merchandise that way... we use Amazon. When someone wants to collect ideas or be inspired they tend to floc towards Pinterest. And, Instagram is becoming a way to connect with like-minded people, and show off your passion. 


Using social media for your personal brand, or business, can have significant upside. The attention of millions of people can be tapped into when utilized correctly. 


Some stuff good to know:


  • Instagram: Still, very underutilized is the messaging feature that let's you connect directly with another Instagram user. When sending an Instagram message you should always think of how it is perceived. Don't sell your product that way. Instead, know what the person is all about and provide value. See how your product or service can help the person, and offer it for free, or request a shoutout if they like it. The more they have to do for it, the less likely they will respond. But, the value you can create for them may pay off 10-fold.

  • Facebook Ads: It's often not thought of to send ads through Facebook because your "audience" may not be on it. Wrong. With about 2 billion users you can be certain that a potential customer is on that social platform. But, take it one step further. You may not be able to reach the CEO of a company for which your product works. What if it's the personal assistant that scans through Facebook on lunch breaks. Or, the financial assistant that will find your new accounting app. Now, consider the power of being able to target them directly through Facebook Ads? It is currently one of the most efficient (cheapest) ways to get your message in front of tons of people. Instead of making another bulletin point about this, I will just say that Instagram has the same to offer.

Best way to kickstart your social media marketing is to start. Get your phone out, download the apps, create your profile, and start posting.



2. Ads (Paid Search / Pay Per Click)


Paid search is one of the fastest ways to drive traffic to your website. Platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube offer ways to advertise. You pay per click, or impressions, which means you only pay once someone interacts with your ad. This allows you to set a budget and stick with it. It is a very measurable approach, as you can follow your conversions from start to finish.


Now, I don't recommend to setup an ad campaign and set it aside. Keep following your analytics and see how your traffic is flowing from your ad through your website/offering. If you find that you're getting tons of clicks but no one is signing up, it could be that your ad doesn't match the expectation when landing on your website. It could also be that you have a complex signup process, or the visitors just don't know what to do. Implement > Analyze > Adjust. 



3. Email


Still considered one of the best ways to connect with your audience, email is a direct form to connect with your audience. It is a key component of our day-to-day communication, and plays a role throughout the sales funnel (awareness, consideration, decision). 


The best email marketers utilize the privat nature and communication to personalize the customer's experience. No one wants to be receiving spam. And there are too many emails in an inbox nowadays to read things we're not interested in. 


You can use email marketing automation platforms like Mailchimp or Constant Contact that will provide you insight about the emails you've sent. For example, you can see who opens your email, and if you have links who is also clicking on them. It will help you identify what information is relevant to each individual, and what isn't working.


When used correctly, email marketing can become a very powerful tool. Especially when taking a targeted approach, and providing content relevant to the stage of where the customer is in the buyer's journey. 



4. Data & Analytics


Posting an ad in the newspaper, or on a billboard is almost impossible to measure. Especially when you use multiple marketing channels. But, online marketing can be followed and measured. Tools such as Google Analytics, Hubspot, and Clickfunnels will trace the activity of a user from viewing an ad to purchasing your product and service. There are many different applications that can assist with you; even heatmaps that show exactly where a visitor has clicked on your website. This helps especially when diving into the user experience and interface (UX/UI) of things. We'll keep that for another day.


Data & analytics becomes only valuable when used. It becomes powerful when setup to measure conversions and identify behaviors of your website visitors. It's great to know where most visitors drop off, and then go analyze why that may be.



5. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)


Search Engine Optimization is part of your entire online presence. In order for search engines to match your content, and deem it relevant to what a person searched for, it must find, process, and analyze your content as quickly as possible. You are after all "optimizing" your content for search engines.


A search engine, like Google, in the most simplest form looks at two key factors:


  1. Is your content relevant to what has been typed into the search engine?

  2. Are you an authority of that subject matter?


It used to be sufficient to have great content with matching keywords, and lots of them. Nonetheless, many updates to search have been made in order to deliver a more complete search result. Other factors include the sharing of content (like, comments, etc.), and mentioning of the content on other websites (backlinks).


A search engine also tries to make sure that the person searching has a great experience. So, your content needs to look sharp, be able to load fast, and work on any device and screen size.


The technical aspect of SEO is something skipped by a lot of companies. And, this is actually one of the more important factors to making your content rank at the top. A search engine uses web crawlers (a program or automated script) that browses the entire world wide web. Depending on how the program is written, it can achieve different results, i.e., Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and other search engines show various different results for the same search. 


To ensure your content is quickly and easily read by web crawlers, you will have to dive a little into your code base. In essence, you are complying with search engine requirements, and making it easy for web crawlers to consume your information. Here are some items to consider:


  • Responsive Design: Build your website to be responsive to mobile, web, tablets, and any shape of device in between. It’s critical, as the tech industry builds more gadgets on which we can consume information. Smartphones, for example, have been the tool for late night and early morning browsing. 

  • Page URL: Does your URL include keywords relevant to your content? For example, check out this URL and notice how we included “8 Core Disciplines of Digital Marketing”.

  • Image Alt Tag: This is text that will appear when the image didn’t load properly. It’s also very important for accessibility to the visually impaired. It allows web crawlers and visitors to your site to understand your image.

  • Image File Name: Use keywords to describe the image, or illustration. Try to avoid uploading pictures to your website that are named “DSC_19485.jpg”. No one knows what that is. 

  • Keyword Density: Include your keyword/s throughout your content. Again, it’s not about how many times you can use the same word, but how thorough you’re able to explain a subject. I like the use Moz’s - The Beginner Guide To SEO as an example. They have included everything you need to know about SEO, and the design is fantastic, as well!

  • Meta Description: This is pulled by search engines specifically. It’s the summary, 320 characters or less, that describes the content on the page. This is what you will see below the Title and URL of every search result. 


Some Cool Tools:

  • Check out SEO Analyzer from Neil Patel for a complete analysis of your website.

  • Use Keyword Explorer from Moz to prioritize your keywords you want to target.

  • Visit Open Site Explorer from Moz to view keyword difficulty.


6. Content



  1. Tell a story

  2. Answer the questions your audience is searching

  3. Be thorough in your information.


Content is good... Consistency is great…Value wins the game! There’s more content created in the last 10 years than in the entire history of the world wide web. Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone is talking about needing more traffic. Everyone is spending an infinite amount of time writing more content. Of course its valuable to have an entire library of information about your industry, but you are better off starting with the questions your customers are wanting answered instead.


Content marketing allows you to distribute information to attract and/or retain an audience. The information should be consistent, relevant, and foremost valuable to the audience you’re talking to. The right content can trigger a domino effect, and ultimately lead to a company’s success in winning customers. 


There are three distinct formats in which content can be consumed: (1) reading, (2) watching, and (3) listening. You can distribute videos, setup a podcast, or write a blog. The essence is to deliver the content in such a way, while keeping your brand voice, that your audience can comprehend the information. It needs to be understood at the level you best interact with your audience. 


Writing great content should trigger (1) sharing, (2) discussing, (3) generate leads, and/or (4) making a sale. Have a clear understanding of what it is your dream client needs. Then, offer tools and resources such as valuable content. 



7. Funnels


A conversion funnel is a pathway a consumer takes to reaching a set goal. A goal can be finding the answer to a question, or making a purchase decision. If you’re familiar with the buyer’s journey framework, you will quickly notice that you can apply multiple conversion funnels along the way. 


Quick refresher: a buyer’s journey is the progression through a research and decision making process. The buyer goes from being aware of a problem or opportunity, to considering various options to solve the problem or fulfill the opportunity, and then ultimately deciding which option is best. 


There are over 1,000,000 different paths you can setup in a conversion funnel - literally. But, there’s a preferred method to gain the most value when setting this up. You’re not just going to introduce yourself as “hi, I’m Roy. Buy my mattress for $2,000”. You first establish a setting to bring this up, and figure out whether your new friend has a need for a new mattress. Then, you offer your new friend to test a mattress for 30 days FREE, or at a stellar price. If your new friend likes it, he will purchase it. After, you can find out if your new friend also wants to buy a mattress for the entire household…maybe even for the entire assisted care home facility your new friend happens to own.


Sometimes we don't know how big the fish is we just got on the hook. And, sometimes it's no fish at all. Thus, conversion funnels provide a great way to not only vet a prospect, but also find out how interested they are in using your product or service.



8. Test & Optimization


This involves a well known test, called A/B testing. It's what the name already references, which is the testing of different variables in your marketing. It can cover font, color, positioning, content, context, and much much more. The purpose is to shorten the sales cycle.


In the most simplest form, you have two highways that go from A to B. You have 2,000 drivers that are evenly split. You can then determine which route is faster to your destination "B". There is another approach called the Bandit approach. This approach pushes the experiment one step further by flowing traffic instantly to the route that is more efficient. In other words, if the second route proves to be faster after the first 100+ drivers, then more drivers are sent down the second route. Therefore, the results and outcome is expedited drastically. 



In Summary


The content in this article should help you form a better understanding of the core disciplines of digital marketing. There are many more features and functions that would make this post more like a book release. Yet, this should help you have a better understanding of the digital marketing world, and provide guidance to your marketing operations. 


Digital marketing provides many ways to reach your goal. No one path is the right path. What may work for one, doesn't for another.


Research > Implement > Analyze > Repeat

















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