In simple terms, digital marketing is marketing that uses digital channels and technologies to market and promote goods and services. As more and more of our lives intersect with digital technologies and devices, the demand for smart marketers who know how to best use digital will also continue to grow exponentially. The numbers don’t lie, and digital marketing again saw huge growth last year.
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What Digital Marketing Opportunities Are There?
There are tons of career and business opportunities available if you truly understand how to deliver digital campaigns effectively. Are you looking to make 100k+ a year by turning digital marketing into a career or launching your own agency? Or looking for a strong side-hustle to make extra income through freelancing, influencer marketing, or affiliate marketing? The opportunities are really endless right now.
So what is needed to make these opportunities happen? Honestly, I think it’s pretty simple. You need to be smart, passionate, and have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of digital marketing. I call these fundamentals SWEPS-CM and that’s my acronym for what is digital marketing strategy gold as far as I’m concerned. Digital Marketing 101: Social Media Marketing, Website Design/Marketing, Email Marketing, Pay-Per-Click Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Content Marketing.
Once you understand the fundamentals of SWEPS-CM, you can launch your own agency or grow your existing digital marketing business with confidence. Ready to dive in?
Social Media Marketing
Unless you’ve been living under a rock since Facebook launched back in 2004, you’ve likely used social media. In fact, if you’re like most demographics in the U.S. you likely use it daily.
Social media marketing is using these social channels to connect with targeted audiences to promote relevant (to the consumer) products or services. There are two types of social media marketing, paid and earned (also known as “organic”).
Paid social media advertising shows paid ads to targeted and specific demographics. Earned advertising is when content is shared organically because people want to share it, i.e. you “earned” their share. Earned may seem the obvious route because it requires no ad spending, but it is also far harder to pull off.
Why? Because the organic reach algorithms on most social platforms that have been established for a long period of time is less than 1%. That means that if you have 100 followers and post content without spending on ads and that post doesn’t receive a lot of organic engagement quickly, you are likely to only reach one of your followers. Paid social advertising ensures you get visibility for your content. And as you’ve probably guessed, it’s not an algorithmic accident that these channels make it hard to avoid paying for visibility, but that’s a blog for another time. 😉
What’s most essential to understand is this: both paid and earned social advertising can be done by the brand depending on their goals and are often both used as a part of a larger digital marketing strategy. The key fundamentals to success with either type of campaign? Targeting the right consumer and keeping the content relevant and strategic!
Let’s start by considering how to target the right consumer. With any digital marketing, it’s essential to know your audience. You need to know their demographics, locations, interests, etc. Social channels can allow for a huge amount of granularity in targeting particular consumers, so the more you know about who you want to reach, the better your marketing will be and the easier on your budget (win-win).
Also, once you know who the audience is, you need to also know where your target audience is hanging out online. Each social channel, from Twitter to Tik Tok, has different dominant demographics. For example, if you’re trying to reach the Baby Boomers, Snapchat isn’t likely going to get you there no matter how great your streak. Instead, Facebook might be your better bet. LinkedIn is great for B2B marketing and professional marketing, while Instagram might be best for using images and stories to show brand value.
Long story short, It’s essential to do research into the various platforms and demographics to make sure you are investing your time and money in the right channel(s).
Similarly, different types of content do better on different platforms. While research shows visual content does well almost universally on social, YouTube and Tik Tok are more video-focused and Twitter has a character limit and uses hashtags for faster sharing. Know the tool and the audience to optimize your marketing success.
Social Media Marketing can be used for any part of the customer journey or sales funnel. At the top of the funnel, you can use social to build brand awareness. This can be done with targeted advertisements, influencer sharing, and customer sharing (also known as “UGC” or “User Generated Content”). This isn’t necessarily about going “viral” though, even if you’ve got the dance moves to do it. You want to build awareness with the potential customers who matter most, not necessarily the most people, especially if they are likely never going to be customers.
You can also use social for the middle of the funnel too. Customers frequently use the internet and social channels to evaluate the promises brands make and ask for advice on products. Using digital channels to show customer satisfaction is a great way to help a potential customer earn your trust. And of course, the bottom of the funnel matters too. Retargeting customers who have visited your site before on social can be a great way to get them to close the sale.
Web Design and Development
So what exactly is web design and development? In basic terms, you could see web design as the visual layout and design of the site and web development as the actual building of that design (a.k.a. “coding”). While it once required a lot of coding knowledge to do web development work, many web development products now offer easy to build sites that allow a marketer with a little know-how but not much coding experience to make really beautiful and easy-to-use sites.
It may not seem obvious at first glance that web design and development should fall under the umbrella of digital marketing. But when you think of the goals of nearly all product websites, it’s to complete a sale or make contact with a potential customer. Great web design and development is all about creating a clear, consistent, and easy-to-navigate website that is relevant to the user and built to achieve your marketing goals. And if a website is about completing sales and making contact, then it is really all about digital marketing!
The key point to remember about designing a website with marketing in mind is that everything—colors, fonts, and copy—should be relatable to the consumer. The navigation should be easy to use and reflect the user’s language and thinking. And you should build everything with you and your customers’ goals in mind.
On the backend, the site needs to run fast and not be bogged down by bloated code or too many bells and whistles. This will slow down the load time and potentially hurt your SEO ranking… we’ll talk about SEO later ;).
Also, as more and more people use smartphones, many web designers and developers are adopting a mobile-first and responsive design approach. Mobile first means you design with mobile in mind and scale it up for other screens. Responsive sites scale according to the size of your screen. This may sound ultra-fancy or too complex, but again, most current web design products integrate templates that are already responsive and mobile-first. Just make sure to make use of the mobile-first strategy if it fits with your audience and needs.
In terms of integration with other concepts, if all roads lead to Rome, then all consumer paths lead to your sales webpages. No matter where in the funnel you are, after you determine your main goals (capturing email addresses, filling out a contact form, purchasing a product) every part of SWEPS-CM should lead in some way to the specific webpage that closes that deal.
In other words, the website is almost always the digital marketer’s home plate, and your team can’t score until you get the runner there.
Email Campaigns and SMS
Email Marketing uses email messaging to develop relationships with potential and current customers. SMS stands for short message service and in digital marketing really just means text message campaigns, which is another growing field of marketing very similar to email campaigns.
While email and text message marketing campaigns aren’t considered as slick and sexy as other digital marketing efforts, they should not be dismissed. In fact, email marketing continues to report huge statistics in terms of return on investment and click-through rates. This is an effective strategy that you can easily translate into marketing success. So how do you make the most of email marketing?
The key essentials of email campaigns are list building, automation, and segmentation. Your list is the email addresses you have and list building is generating more names on the list. Automation is creating automatic email responses to a variety of customer actions to keep the customer conversation targeted and ongoing. And segmentation is about separating your big list into smaller, more nuanced lists based on demographics or customer goals. Let’s take a look at automation and segmentation in action.
Automation allows you to build out emails that are triggered in response to different types of customer actions or based on timed responses. For example, if you complete a contact form, you might automatically receive a follow-up thank you email, etc. and maybe a follow-up email seven days later. Rather than sending each email individually, email automation is faster and easier and allows for nurturing your customer relations without a huge amount of work.
Similarly, segmentation takes this nurturing to the next level. With segmentation, you can tailor your emails and their calls to action to match certain audiences. Segmentation and automation work best when considered together. For example, you can track what segments of users clicked on a certain link in one email and send them an automated follow-up email three days later specific to that product and an upcoming sale.
You can also use segmentation to send certain types of emails to certain audiences and not others. For instance, you can reward current customers with early notice of a new sale, etc. to show them how much their loyalty is valued. The possibilities with segmentation are really endless!
For list generation, this is actually where SWEPS-CM integrates most clearly. To get the emails you need to cultivate this relationship, you need to target prospective customers and give them a reason to give you their contact info. You can do this using a variety of tactics. Content marketing is one of the key tactics, as it offers content relevant to the user, usually in exchange for an email address. Social and search are two other great ways to find the leads you need to make email and text messaging marketing work. If you increase your visibility and relevance, you can generate more leads and then nurture them through email segmentation and automation.
There is a huge amount you can do with segmentation and automation to really deliver a personal and tailored experience for your customer and take them through the entire customer journey. From top of the funnel to closing the sale, email campaigns can really nurture every step of the customer journey.
Pay-per-click marketing is perhaps the purest form of what online marketing wants to do: it is designed to get interested prospects to your website, where they can be sold to. PPC marketing is essentially paying to drive traffic to your site using search engines like Google, Yahoo, YouTube and Bing. If you remember back to social media advertising, The opposite of this concept is “earned” traffic, which comes from organic search, etc.
The key concept of PPC is that it is truly pay per click. That means you are getting your ad in front of potential customers that are looking for your services right now, and you only pay when and if they click on your ad. You can bid on the cost of a click through Google AdWords or other platforms, and set daily and campaign-length budgets for total clicks.
PPC ads can be found on search results pages as well as across a variety of digital websites that integrate Google’s AdSense platform. You also need to become familiar with the types of ads on these platforms, such as banner ads, sidebars, video ads, etc. and how to optimize copy or video for each one.
Once you’re familiar with the basics of PPC ads, the real key to PPC marketing is audience targeting and keyword research. You also want to do some strategic goal setting to ensure you maximize your budget and get only the most useful clicks. It is essential to know the demographics of your customer and the keywords they use so that your ads are served up to the most likely customers. This isn’t about spraying your ads all across the internet. That will be expensive and likely won’t get you the outcome you want.
Start by doing keyword research. Your ad copy needs to reflect your keywords so that the ad will be served up to the right searches. If the language you used to describe your product isn’t what the customer uses to search for products like yours, then it won’t be a match.
Beyond search results pages, since Google Ads can be placed on a variety of digital places, the more you know about where your customer is already, the more likely you are to get the right ad in front of the right person. For instance, you likely don’t want to advertise your new amazing veggie burger on a magazine website for bacon-lovers. You might get clicks, but probably not the ones you want.
This brings us back to the third key part. Measuring success. Before you begin to run any PPC campaign, you need to know what the goal is and how you are going to measure success. The click you pay for from the ad is really the first step in a larger strategy. You then want them to complete some sort of action, from filling out a contact form to purchasing a product. The goal then is to get clicks that translate into measurable action. Know your goals ahead of time, so you can pause a campaign that isn’t working, double-down on one that is, and test out different copy to tweak outcomes.
Since PPC is about turning a click into an action, it integrates with all the other concepts and across the funnel depending on your goal (sound familiar?). At the top of the funnel, your ad might be just to get people aware of your product in relation to their needs with a goal to capture their email to generate leads. For the middle of the funnel, it might be to retarget a customer who’s visited your website before or continue to build awareness. And the bottom of the funnel might be a retarget for a customer to complete a purchase. The ad could also be specific to a time-sensitive sale or deadline. As you can see, PPC can integrate into a variety of strategies.
Whatever the goal, PPC can be a great way to build visibility and customer awareness that integrates across the SWEPS-CM fundamentals. As can our next fundamental, SEO marketing.
Search Engine Optimization is all about increasing your visibility on search. Everyone wants to be number one, but when it comes to search engine results pages (SERPs) it really is essential to get higher results and more eyeballs. One of the best reasons to work on SEO? Because it is the most cost-effective method over time. With PPC you are constantly paying for clicks. Organic reach is free. And who doesn’t love free.
Organic search engine optimization is all about creating content that is relevant, timely, and optimized for search algorithms. There is a good deal to cover to increase optimization, but the keys are to use relevant keywords in your website structure and content, link to other reputable sites and have them link back to you, make sure your site runs fast, and that you update content regularly.
Why are these the big ticket items? Search results care about the user and you need to prove you are relevant to them. For instance, using the right keywords show your relevancy to other’s search, backlinks show your reputable, and updated content shows your relevance.
Because search then often predates brand awareness, it’s key to know the customer’s keywords. Keyword targeting starts with research, using a tool like Keyword Planner to determine what your customers are searching for. Backlinks are about cultivating relationships with other businesses or brands and linking to them and having them link to you. The more relevant the content you create, the easier it is to get backlinks.
Maybe most important to remember is that you don’t need to cheat the algorithm for strong SEO, you just need to be smart about how you deliver the content you create. In the end, the same thing that makes for good organic SEO makes for good marketing in general.
Another important aspect of SEO is local SEO. While so much of the power of the internet is its global reach, often a product is local. I don’t want my pizza delivery from 3,000 miles away. Or if I do, it better be one hell of a pizza. Local SEO is about making sure you are found in local and geographical searches. This can be all about using those same optimizing strategies for Google Maps, making sure location information is emphasized in your SEO, and claiming your Google business listing.
SEO is great for all parts of the funnel but perhaps most relevant for the top of the funnel. After all, we don’t tend to search for things we already know about as much as we search to discover new solutions and products that match our needs. SEO also integrates with pretty much all of the SWEPS-CM concepts since keyword relevancy is valuable across multiple channels.
You’ve probably heard the expression content is king, but what does that mean, and what exactly is content marketing? Content marketing is about creating and distributing relevant content to a targeted audience to drive customer action. This can be video content, blog posts, how-tos, downloadable PDFs, and so much more. Because of the scope, content marketing is a huge part of digital marketing and integrates with every part of SWEPS and the customer journey. Let’s break it down.
The key to content marketing, like so much of SWEPS, is about knowing your audience and their needs. You want to create content that is relevant and interesting to them. This isn’t sales copy. This is content that builds and maintains customer relationships.
Like much of digital marketing, you want to start with your user demographics and needs. Who are they and what kind of content do they want that you can supply? Then, similar to PPC and SEO, you want to find the keywords they used to look for that content so when they search for content they find yours.
You also want to use your social channels, email, etc, to share that content. How you place and distribute the content will vary depending on your goals but a key part of content marketing is distribution. So how might a goal shape content marketing? Let’s look at the funnel.
At the top of the funnel, if you are a pool cleaning company you might offer a downloadable checklist of “Top Ten Tips for Keeping Your Pool Sparkling Clean.” You can capture emails by offering the PDF to people who fill out a short contact form. Here content is being used for lead generation. In the middle of the funnel, where the goal is to build and maintain the connection, it can be about sharing content that shows you care about their needs, maybe just a series of blog posts about some nitty-gritty pool cleaning issues and a call to action to get a free quote.
As mentioned before, content marketing really integrates with every other part of the SWEPS-CM concept. Why? Because behind each other part is some piece of targeted content. Content drives social, content drives people to websites, emails often use relevant content to build customer relations, and SEO is all about relevant content. Content is king! So just remember, while content marketing comes at the end of my acronym, it is deeply integrated.
I’m Ready to Try Digital Marketing. Now What?
Congratulations! You’ve learned the key digital marketing concepts around the SWEPS-CM fundamentals. You also now understand the key to any strong digital strategy is knowing your audience and knowing your goals.
With these fundamentals under your belt, you’re already well on your way to digital marketing mastery. So what do you need to do to grow your business or get your agency to $100,000+ per year?
If you are wanting to start an agency or grow an existing business using digital marketing, I have a couple different ways that you could potentially do this:
- If you want to start an agency you will want to look into the 4 different options for training on my website:
- If you’re wanting to grow an existing business that isn’t necessarily a marketing agency you have a couple of options as well:
So there you go, SWEPS-CM in a nutshell. What digital marketing concept do you like the most and why?