How to get started with digital marketing

Online marketing, also known as digital marketing or internet marketing, is mostly about getting visitors to your website or landing page, and most importantly, converting them into customers. By getting as many targeted traffic to your site, chances are you’ll get more phone calls, email enquiries, store visits, purchases, bookings, and many other ‘action’ identified as your goal for the campaign. It’s important to have goal(s) for your campaign, otherwise it’ll just be an awareness campaign. By having goals, you’ll know what to measure and identify which element helps to convert higher and bring more sales. Before we dive into the ocean, let’s start from the shore.

1. Why You Should Start Digital Marketing

A big part of online marketing consists of content marketing. What is online marketing? It’s creating relevant and valuable content through a variety of channels.

This usually involves providing people with relevant industry information that offers an insight to audiences. This allows your business to steadily build a rapport with your key target demographic and develop a loyal community. Content marketing is one of the main methods that businesses use to secure market authority and dominance, and gaining of consumer trust. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the top Business to Business [B2B] content marketing strategies involves the social media, articles on a business’ website, eNewsletters, case studies, videos and articles on other websites.

By using one of these channels, say, articles on your business website, you can build a positive reputation within your industry. This trend also suggests that [traditional] interruption marketing to the masses like television ads, radio ads, or even ads in magazines are becoming less effective. They typically have a low conversion rate anyway. Instead, it’s better to focus on permission or inbound marketing by producing valuable, relevant and engaging content designed for your specific audience.

2. What You Need to Start One

Check out the various forms of delivery methods of Online Marketing. They include:

  • Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the use of online social platforms to conduct commercial promotion [as opposed to personal]. Many companies have already started doing this by posting frequent updates on sales and providing special offers through the social media profile such as ‘members only coupons’. Facebook and Twitter are examples of the most common social media marketing platform.

  • Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising involves an ad copy delivered through wireless mobile devices such as your smartphones, mobile phones, or tablet computers. These usually take on the form of a simple short message [SMS] text, or even multimedia messages [MMS]. Mobile advertising has been growing rapidly for several reasons. There are more mobile devices in the field, connectivity speeds have improved in many places, screens have become bigger with colours, screen resolutions have become more advanced, and then there is the fact that consumers are using mobile devices more extensively.

  • Email Advertisements

Email advertisements are similar to the mobile ads. Email is an online communication tool between you and your consumers. By having email accounts, you will be able to generate and send emails, eNewsletters, White papers, etc. to your consumers without having to wait for them to come to you physically [in your brick and mortar shop] or virtually [or online website/shop].

  • Content Marketing

Once you think of creating your business website or an online blog, you are entering the territory of content marketing. It’s any marketing that involves the creation and the subsequent sharing of published contents and media in order to acquire and retain customers. The information can be presented in a wide variety of formats, including news, videos, e-books, infographics, case studies and how-to guides. Considering that most marketing now involves some form of published media, it’s the case that content marketing is sometimes synonymous with online marketing, or even just ‘marketing’. Having a website or a blog can be an infinitely useful content marketing channel. You can easily be found on the internet, where your potential consumers will be able to find out about your products and services, your policies, your prices, and how to contact you.

  • Online Classified Ads

Online classified ads are the advertising of specific products and services in a platform with categorical listings. This would include online job boards, online auction-based listings such as eBay and Craigslist, online real estate listings, online yellow pages and so on.

  • Display Advert

Display advertising usually conveys its advertising message virtually on your consumer’s computer monitor by using text, logos, animations, videos, photos, or other infographics. Such advertisements frequently target users with particular traits and profile to increase the ad’s effect. For example, cookies can track whether an online user has left the shopping page without buying anything, so that the advertiser can later retarget the user with ads from the website the user previously visited.

  • Search Engine Marketing [SEM]

SEM is a form of digital marketing that involves the promotion of your website by increasing its visibility in search engine results pages through advertising and search engine optimization [SEO]. To avoid any confusion, SEM can be seen as a wider discipline that incorporates SEO. SEM can include the paid means of improving the ranking of your website in the search results, using tools such as Google AdWords, or Bing Ads. It can also include the use of SEO for organic search results.

3. Leveraging on Digital Marketing

There are many benefits that online marketing confers of course, hence your consideration of it in the first place. Here’s a list of them:

  • Costs

The lower costs of online marketing comes as a consequence of the lower costs of electronic communication, and this reduce the costs of displaying online ads as compared to offline ads. Online advertising, such as social media marketing and a business website provide a low-cost channel for advertisers to engage with large, yet dispersed, communities. Studies show that advertising online offers better returns than in other media.

  • Measurability

Online marketing also offers a form of measurability. You can collect data on your ads’ effectiveness, such as the size of potential audience vs actual audience response, how visitors react and respond to the ads. You can even run regressions on how your advertising output [expenditure, number of actual audience response, actual ads sent out, number of new members, etc.] has affected your sales. Measurability allows you to analyse, review, and importantly, to improve your ad campaigns in the long run.

  • Targeting

Through online marketing, publishers have the added ability to reach an intended and very narrow market segment for targeted advertising. Online marketing has the advantage of using geo-targeting to display relevant advertisements to the user’s geography. This means that if you know the interests and preferences of your target consumers well enough, you can customize each individual ad to a particular user profile based on their previous preferences. You can also track whether your target consumer has already seen a particular ad in order to reduce unwanted repetitious exposures [again useful for regression analysis] and provide adequate time period between exposures to the same ad.

  • Speed

Speed is another benefit since online ads can be deployed almost immediately once the backroom work with the ad design is completed. The delivery of online ads do not need to be linked to any publisher’s publication schedule, and not queuing and bidding involved such as those in television marketing. It is also worth noting that in case a glaring mistake was made [touchwood!], you will be able to modify or replace the ad copy more swiftly than advertisements offline.

  • Coverage

Of course, the advantage of online market marketing on the World Wide Web, means just that. You can potentially target pretty much anyone in nearly every global market, without being bounded by geographical constraints. Potential Concerns and Pitfalls A disciplined thinking disposition, useful to have for businesses, is to keep in mind both sides of the coin. Given the benefits, there are also potential concerns that should be noted.

  • Banner Blindness

Eye-tracking studies published in the Review of Marketing Research Journal has shown that internet users often ignore [or become cognitively blinded] by web pages that likely to contain the display ads, and this problem is worse online than offline. Then again, studies also suggest that even with ‘banner blindness’, users may still be subconsciously influenced by the display ads.

  • Fraud

There are certain paid means that you can adopt; one of them is the Cost per Click [CPC]. Such means can leave you vulnerable to fraud. For example, a click fraud occurs when a third party click [manually or through certain automated means] on a CPC ad with no legitimate buying intent. This could be done for numerous reasons, one of which is to deplete your advertising budget, or when third party publishers want to artificially manufacture revenue.

  • Ad-blocking

Worth noting is that many ad-blocking or ad-filtering applications are available out there on the market, many free, that allows users to block out things such as pop-out ads by default. There are also software programs or browser add-ons that block the loading of ads, or block elements on a page with behaviours characteristic of ads such as HTML auto playing of audio or video.

  • Privacy concerns

The collection of user information by publishers and advertisers has raised consumer concerns about their own privacy according to the Wall Street Journal. Some internet users even go to the extent of using Do Not Track technology to block all collection of information if it were in their means. According to USA Today, Gallup finds more than half of all Google and Facebook users concerned about their privacy when using Google and Facebook. It is true that tracking your users’ online activities allows you to understand their interests and preferences better, but consumers have reservations about such data mining and online behavioural targeting.

  • Spam

Since online marketing is heading into a all-time high, it is unsurprising that the number of spam would increase too. The internet’s low cost of disseminating advertisements contributes to the spam as well, especially by large-scale spammers. This means that while you are busy designing your online ad copies and distributing them honestly, there are others who have committed to combating spam, ranging from blacklists to regulatory-required labelling to content filters. Some of these can have adverse collateral effects on your online advertisements, such as mistaken filtering.

  • Trustworthiness of Mobile and Email Advertisements

Finally, the scammers themselves could take advantage of your consumers’ difficulties in verifying the source of their online ads. These can lead to artifices like phishing, where scam emails are generated to your consumers’ inbox that look identical to those from the original source and a well-known brand owner [like you]. According to the year 2012 Internet Crime Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Centre has received over 250,000 complaints in 2012 alone, totalling over half a billion dollars in losses, most of which originated with scam emails and scam ads. Note that even though the Adware software is actually a delivery method of online marketing through ads, if they are installed without the user’s permission, it becomes a type of malware. Consumers needless to say, face also malware risks when interacting with online advertising.

4. Choose Wisely

You should have an idea on what online advertising is by now, what options you have for delivery methods, the benefits and potential pitfalls [if any] that goes with it. There is no one option where we would say that it is categorically ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. You may settle and focus on one option, or you may even go with all of them. Which option[s] you choose to go with really depends on where your preference is, what goal you have in mind, the budget and target consumers you have. Check out our other articles if you need for more information on Marketing Through Blogs or Beginner’s Guide to SEO. You may also wish to contact our digital marketing agency to get a proper consultation for your business.

Xavier Tan
Co-Founder
Xavier is the Co-Founder of Heroes of Digital. He started social media marketing and SEM long before it became popular in Singapore. His passion is in helping businesses grow through effective lead generation. He has overseen campaigns for Amara Hotel, NTU, Marina Bay, L'Oreal, and 100+ SMEs.

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