Digital Marketing – What You Need to Know

by Hillary Long & Jason Wilson

Are you lost in the Wild West digital marketing space? As you trek along the seemingly vast wilderness littered with new technology and terminology – you are not alone. While there are no defined road maps, getting overwhelmed by the mountains of endless data, countless platforms, and product offerings won’t help your cause. In fact, there is so much happening in the digital space that often even the most experienced marketers can be found scratching their heads. As this space grows more sophisticated and crowded day by day, going back to basics can be the most overlooked, yet valuable, place to start.

Let’s talk basics.

Anything that is placed in/on/through internet technology qualifies as digital marketing.  It’s advertising delivered through digital channels, and it takes on many forms such as SEO, Content, Paid Search, Mobile, Email, or Social Media – just to name a few.

It’s way bigger than you might think; everything is connected, but these simple principles apply:

Know who your customers really are. If you know who your customer is, there are lots of data that can help you find and connect with them.

While digital marketing can be easier, that doesn’t mean it is. Sometimes, clients can get lost (or obsessed) in the data. Instead of getting lost in the data, get lost in your WHY. Why should customers use you? What sets you apart?

Take the time to get a baseline understanding of the different digital channels, then, talk to your current clients about their online behaviors. Do they use certain social platforms? Do they Google everything? Maybe they are Podcast junkies. You won’t know until you ask.

Going back to the basics is important, but don’t forget to become familiar with new opportunities that may present you with a unique way to connect with your customers as well.

Content Personalization
As technology has evolved, so has the ability to customize your website and tailor messages to be delivered to your target audience as they interact with your website in real time. Content personalization is the new frontier and if your website is a few years old and in need of an update – start thinking about how you can incorporate personalized content to meet the unique needs of your target audiences.  If you have several unique products or service offerings that serve multiple industries, consider opportunities to tailor content and content offerings to those unique potential customers. A more personalized content offering can lead to a higher rate of customer acquisition through your website.

Smart Speakers
Smart speakers are growing at a rapid pace and are considered to have a faster adoption rate than smartphones with more than a quarter of U.S. Adults having a smart speaker in their home as of March 2019 according to While voice applications are still very much new, consumers are creating heavy demand for businesses to catch up with the growing tech. Additionally, the quick rise in Voice Search popularity has made the opportunity for local businesses in this space a real possibility.  We are seeing real-time growth as this tech is transcending from our homes into our cars with the release of Amazon’s Echo Auto. This category will continue to grow, and with it, the use cases between marketing opportunities and simplifying business operational challenges will as well.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
This is a big one that we can’t cover in its entirety here, but knowing what science is and what is closer to science fiction may help to clarify. Computers are not becoming “intelligent humans,” as the famous computer scientist, Edsger W. Dijkstra said, “The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.” AI really is new programming that can help make sense of massive sets of data. An easy example is Natural Language Processing (ex: Grammarly, Google Translate). NLP may sound like ultra tech, but really it is just the interaction of humans and computers. Just know, that there are some major ways a business can benefit from AI including data and analytics; Chatbots and other customer service tools; or even the automation of backend office processes.

This all seems really technical…what do I do next?

This is a very exciting time to be a marketer; businesses have more opportunities to connect with current and potential clients than ever before. The entire landscape has transformed from just Marketing to “MarTech.”

Start by looking for a consultative partner that is willing to work through a discovery process in which you cover more than just your advertising – marketing touches all parts of the business. This partner should be seeking information around the internal and external elements that affect your business.

It’s OK to test, re-strategize, make changes, and move your budget around.  Be willing to get into the weeds with a good partner who can help you decipher data. Be willing to invest in tools that will help you generate a good plan and track your ROI.

Everyone is after the same thing – conversions – the Holy Grail of marketing. Conversions are anytime a consumer takes action in response to a brand’s marketing message. That means impact and something specifically sought after.

So set goals, establish the parameters, and give it time! We can’t stress this enough. Time is your ally or your enemy. It all depends on how you look at it. Enjoy the process; technology is a wonderful tool and will help you in a number of ways.

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