The Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

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    The fundamentals of digital marketing

    A detailed insight into the world of digital marketing, with everything you need to know to start out.


    This guide will explore the following topics:

    • An in-depth introduction to digital marketing,   
    • How to develop your digital marketing strategy,
    • 5 steps to building a digital marketing campaign,
    • The importance of good content,
    • The ins and outs of social media marketing,    
    • Best practices for email marketing,
    • The fundamentals of search marketing,
    • choosing the right channels.

    What is digital marketing?

    Digital marketing is the process of using different digital channels to promote your products and services to a range of markets and target audiences. Marketeers can leverage their content through search engines, social media, email marketing, mobile and affiliate websites.

    Unlike traditional methods of marketing i.e. print, radio and TV, digital marketing allows marketeers to evaluate the success of their efforts much more accurately through the ability to track against multiple metrics, mostly in real-time.

    Meaning a business’s ability to immediately analyse their marketing activities and make informed decisions about their next marketing move far surpasses the possibilities of traditional marketing.

    Digital marketing is vital for businesses today, mainly as it’s the biggest contributor to building brand awareness. Consumers now expect and rely on digital content to learn about new brands, so it’s crucial you recognise this and plan your content wisely.

    Digital Marketing: How to develop your Strategy

    Digital marketing strategies are the backbone of your digital marketing activities. It is the plan that allows your business to achieve specific digital goals through targeted online marketing efforts.

    A digital marketing strategy is essential for businesses who wish to take advantage of digital opportunities. Yet in a recent survey, a staggering 45% of surveyed businesses said they were actively participating in digital marketing activities but did not have a strategic plan.

    When it comes to digital marketing strategies, there are a lot of opinions and it can be very stressful and, quite frankly, panic-inducing figuring out where to start. In this section we look at how to build your strategy and the importance of regularly re-evaluating your strategy.

    Step by step guide to building your digital marketing strategy

    1. Like any plan you need to start by determining what you want to accomplish and set SMART objectives; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. Without goals you have no way of measuring success or return on investment (ROI).

    2. Define which key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure i.e. interactions, website traffic, lead generation, direct conversions, brand awareness etc.

    3. If you have the data, evaluate your existing strategy to take stock of your efforts so far, ask yourself; what’s working and what’s not? Who is engaging with you? Which channels are working best for you and how does your online presence compare to that of your competition? This analysis will allow you to start thinking about ways to improve.

    4. Create your target audience and buyer personas. These personas allow you to build a solid understanding of who your audience is, what they’re looking for online and what their goals and pain points are.

    5. Complete your competitor analysis to see who your competitors are and what they’re currently doing online. This will also give you an insight into the types of content within your industry and what the standards are.

    6. Map out your customer journey. Think about what your different audiences would want from you and how you can connect with them during each stage of their journey. This stage allows you to identify which digital assets you’ll need to develop.

    7. Choose your digital marketing channels. This all depends on your target audience and the current stage of their customer journey. If you already have established channels, look at what you can do to improve them further and the channels your competition are using.

    8. Design and run your campaigns! Digital campaigns should make up the bulk of your decision making for your current strategy, without campaigns you wouldn’t be able to test out your identified target audience, your personas and your digital marketing channels.

    9. Monitor and analyse your results against your identified KPI’s. Measurement and analysis can be supported by the introduction of marketing tools such as Google Analytics and integrated social media measures. It’s important that you continuously analyse your results to track progress and whether what you’re doing is working for you. The important thing here is to learn from your results and implement the findings for continuous improvement of your campaigns.

    Why is it important to re-evaluate your strategy regularly?

    Digital strategies don’t last forever. Industries change, consumer needs change and technology advances. To keep your business developing it’s important for you to stay ahead of the curve and in the know with your industry.

    Regularly re-evaluating your digital marketing strategy will help you remain relevant within your industry. You wouldn’t launch a new product without conducting thorough market research so why should the regular running of your digital marketing be any different, using your latest data to define your audience will help keep you one step ahead of the game.

    Start by tracking your performance against your marketing goals, this will determine whether you are hitting your projections. If required adjust your goals accordingly. But remember that during challenging economic times, your goals might take a bit of a backseat depending on how your business or industry responds.

    5 Steps to building a digital marketing campaign.

    Campaigns make up the bulk of your digital marketing strategy and a huge emphasis is put on getting them right, so we want to give you the perfect recipe to help you build strong campaigns that deliver results.

    1. Define your goals – this might seem obvious, but many people are so excited to get stuck in that they do so without efficient planning.

    The most common campaign goals are:

    • Raising brand awareness,
    • Increasing social following,
    • Increasing your website traffic,
    • Driving lead generation.

    2. Identify your target market – start by understanding who is buying your products and who you’d like to aim your campaigns at. 

    3. Define personas – A persona is a representation of your ideal customer and can be developed through your target audience analysis. They outline information such as age, occupations, wealth, goals, challenges, hobbies, interests etc. Having this representation allows you to be more targeted with your approach to campaigns.

    4. Assess your budget – set yourself a realistic budget. If you’re new to budget setting just start small, measure the progress of your campaigns and amend accordingly.

    5. Take advantage of social media and get creative with your efforts– social media is one of the most important marketing platforms today. The success or failure of your digital campaign may ultimately depend on how effectively you are able to optimise your social media platforms.

    Think about the content you’re creating, make it vibrant, aesthetically pleasing, relevant and above all else engaging!

    Content is King!

    The marketing environment is constantly evolving, and these changes are being driven by our consumers. Content is the main driver of brand awareness, traffic growth, lead generation and above all, customers.

    When we talk about content, what do we mean?

    Content is anything you wish to make public, so this includes promotional updates, blog posts, videos, info-graphics, e-books, whitepapers, etc. Every piece of content brings its own benefits, so before you start creating content for the sake of it you must establish what you’re aiming to achieve and outline your content criteria.

    Once you’ve defined your intended outcomes and criteria, you need to ask yourself three questions that will direct content creation. These questions are:

    1) Who is my audience? 

    2) How do I want to talk to them?

    3) Where will I find them?

    Armed with your answers and a clear focus, you are ready to embark on your content creation journey.

    Remember… always be mindful when creating content, missing the mark could wind up costing you greatly.

    Social media marketing.

    As of April 2020, social media users stood at 3.81 billion, meaning that almost 50% of the world’s population is using social media in their daily lives.

    Social media marketing is one of the main forms of digital marketing, with marketeers having multiple platforms to choose from.

    Social media is a great digital platform for sharing business updates, info graphics, videos, blogs, case studies, polls, testimonials, and other content that drives consumer engagement.

    Why is social media marketing so popular within the business world?

    Social media marketing is very advantageous for businesses, the wider and more engaged your audience is on social media, the easier it is for you to achieve your marketing goals.

    The low-cost nature of each platform makes it accessible to all and makes it very easy for businesses to:

    • Increase their brand awareness,
    • Generate more leads,
    • Boost their conversions,
    • Increase website traffic using link call-to-actions,
    • Build relationships with existing and potential customers,
    • Create a brand identity and positive brand association.

    Social media is real time, many small business owners and marketeers will use social media to learn what their customers want, how they want it, how they can connect with their industry, and importantly they can see what their competitors are doing.

    So, if you dedicate the time and publish great content on social media, you can expect to benefit from notbale business successes.

    The 4 stages of social media marketing

    Social media marketing is made up of 4 fundamental stages: listening, influencing, networking, and selling.

    Social Listening – is about being aware of what your customers are saying about you and your industry online. When you’re listening online you need to be looking out for:

    • Mentions of your brand and products (responding accordingly to your audience),
    • Topics related to your industry (what topics are being spoken about and what questions are being asked),
    • Your competitors (what’s being said about them and what are they saying about you),
    • Influencers (the content they produce indicates the latest trends).

    Social Influencing – once you know the topics and conversations taking place you can start to build your authoritative voice within the industry. Your aim is to influence your follower’s attitudes, behaviours and opinions through conversations and opinion pieces.

    Social Networking – this stage is all about connecting with other influencers within your industry. Social networking can help you build long lasting relationships with your followers and peers.

    Social selling – once you’ve listened to your industry, developed authority and built your network, you can start to get your product offers out to your audience and convert them to customers.

    Social media metrics to be mindful of…

    Here are a few general social media metrics that every business needs to be considerate of:

    • Goal – increase engagements.
    • Measure – content likes, comments shares and clicks.
    • Goal – increase brand awareness.
    • Measure – impressions and reach.

    • Goal – return on investment.
    • Measure – conversions and website referrals.

    • Goal – Customer care
    • Measure – response rate and time taken to resolve.

    Best practices of email marketing

    The role of email marketing…

    Over the years many businesses have said they believe email marketing to be dead, but this is far from the truth. Email marketing is one of the most effective methods of reaching and instantly engaging with your audience.

    Email marketing is cost effective, reaches a high volume of mobile customers, can be automated, is easily personalised, interactive, and success is easy to measure.

    Regardless of your industry, email marketing is regarded as a great facilitator of lead generations and conversions.

    The key to successful email marketing

    Sending the right type of email at the right time!

    This is the key to success when it comes to email marketing. Before engaging in email marketing, you need to understand the 3 different types of emails used in business.

    The first type of email is transactional. Transactional emails are triggered as a response to an action taken by customers. So, this could be an order confirmation, shipping information, thank you for…, downloading content, password reminders etc.

    This type of email is often a missed opportunity for businesses to show their customers the voice behind the brand, think about your tone of voice and language used when putting these automated emails together.


    The second type of email is relational. Relational emails are designed to bring something of value to your customers. This content is free and deemed to be of value to the receiver, so this content could be in the form of a newsletter, blog, survey results, social updates etc.

    These types of emails do not tend to offer a promotion or trigger a sale, the role of this email is to build valued, lasting relationships with your customers.


    The final type of email is promotional. Promotional emails are the most common types of emails sent.

    The purpose of this email is to highlight a particular product or offer, such as the launch of a new product, discounts, a new webinar or business announcement.

    Measuring the success of your email marketing

    It’s no secret that well-planned email campaigns can generate leads, increase sales, increase customer loyalty, generate repeat business and reduce overall marketing costs, but how can you instantly measure the success of your email campaigns?

    Here are the top email marketing metrics that you should be aware of:

    Delivery rates: the higher the delivery rate the more of your intended audience that you’re reaching. If email delivery rates are low this indicates a need for change. Maintaining and growing a healthy database is key, you can do this through growing your customer base, recruiting new member sign ups, or through purchasing targeted data lists.

    Open rates: the higher your open rate, the more enticing your subject lines are. Subject lines have the biggest impact when it comes to getting people to open your emails. Be creative, be real and catch their attention. Think about what catches your attention in your inbox!

    Click-through-rate (CTR): the higher the CTR the more engaging your content is. If CTR is low think about the purpose of your email and if your content relevant to the recipient. Think about how you can make the email feel more personal, you could segment your data and use dynamic content to ensure relevancy based on the information you know about the recipient. Also ensure strong calls-to-action (CTA).

    Other immediate metrics to be aware of are unsubscribe rates and complaint levels. These are great indicators of how engaged and happy your contact list is.

    The fundamentals of search marketing

    Why is search marketing important?

    Search marketing is used to boost a business’ online presence and drive traffic to their website through paid and organic search engines such as Google and Bing.

    Every day millions of people actively use search engines. Therefore, search marketing is a crucial consideration for businesses, wouldn’t you like your business to be page one listed when someone searches for a relevant keyword or term?

    Let’s look at the 2 main types of search marketing… Search Engine Optimisation and Pay Per Click advertising.

    Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

    SEO is the process of developing the visibility of your website (or individual web pages) for search engines.

    SEO is a great way of driving more relevant website traffic, leads, sales and revenue.

    When it comes to improving the SEO of your website you need to consider the search engine you’re working on. Google is the most popular engine so for the purpose of this section we will use google.

    When a term is searched, Google will rank pages that contain high-quality, relevant information to the search.

    Google searches for pages to return by ‘crawling’ your sites content, using defined algorithms to evaluate the relevancy of your website. Your assigned keywords will play a large part here. Google will also analyse your website bounce rates, loading speeds and the uniqueness of your content.

    Before you start on your SEO journey, sit down and plan out who your audience are, what they are interested in, what they’re likely to search for and any problems they might have in order for them to be searching for your product or services.

    Once you have this clearly drawn up you can being to look at keywords for your campaigns – keywords are the search terms you want your content to rank highly for (there’s a guide to keywords below).

    The three SEO processes you need to know about

    Technical SEO:

    The process of optimising your website to make it more appealing to search engines and allows your site to be accessed, crawled and indexed more easily. This type of SEO doesn’t involve the content of a site.

    On-page SEO:

    On-page SEO is all the processes within a website; making search engines crawl and understand your content. Keyword research, and optimised content are important for this kind of SEO. 

    Once you have completed your target audience and keyword research, you can now begin to integrate them into your content – this is known as optimising your content. Some optimisation techniques include:

    • Adding your target keywords to your title tags,
    • Create compelling meta descriptions,
    • Break your content into headers and sub-headers to make the content more readable,
    • Set up schema to improve the way your site appears in search results,
    • Naming your videos and images; google can’t read images or videos so label them appropriately using alt tags,
    • Considered content; Google favours content that’s unique, relevant, informative, shareable and engaging.

    Off-page SEO:

    The opposite of on-page, off-page SEO is everything that is done outside of the website that affect your search engine ranking. Some off-page optimisation techniques include:

    • Link building, getting external links from reputable sites to your website. You can do this through collaborations, guest blogging and participating in conversations/ events
    • Smart email marketing campaigns to drive more traffic to your website,
    • Social bookmarking, sharing your content and being present on various social content sites i.e Pintrest
    • Blog/article submissions to external sites.

    Tracking and measuring your SEO success

    Once you’ve put all the techniques in place, you need to know if your efforts are being well-received or whether you need to make some improvements.

    The best ways to measure the success of your SEO efforts is to look at the organic traffic, ranking of your keywords and organic sales and leads.

    Google Analytics is a great tool to help you track your website traffic – and it’s free!

    From here you can see if the level of organic traffic arriving at your site has increased, and what keywords are driving that traffic.

    aid for tools such as Moz and SEM Rush will allow you to more accurately track your sites ranking at an individual keyword level.

    With this information to hand, you can re-assess and make the relevant changes if required. But even if your content is ranking highly it doesn’t mean your strategy is a success, you need to think about content that will drive sales.

    Lead generation and sales are possibly the most effective way to track and measure the success of SEO. Your aim is to drive traffic, engage with traffic and make sales from your efforts, so it makes sense that this should be a main interest.

    Once your site starts making sales, you will know your SEO efforts have been successful and valuable.

    Essential steps to remember…

    • Determine what it is you’re looking to optimise,
    • Research related keywords with excellent search traffic opportunities,
    • Create content for your target audience and optimise it for search engines,
    • Build high-quality and relevant back-links from authoritative sites,
    • Track and measure the effectiveness of your efforts – don’t lose sight of the end goal.

    The bottom line, although SEO is a complex and competitive game, it is the most powerful approach to driving consistent and valuable traffic to your website.

    Pay Per Click (PPC)

    PPC is a method of online advertising, where businesses pay to be marketed to a wider, more targeted audience.

    Your ads will appear based on your chosen keywords and bidding strategy, and each time your ad is clicked , a small payment is made to the host.

    PPC can be quite complex so if you or your team are short on time or aren’t experienced in this area it is advised that you seek out an expert.

    If implemented right, PPC advertising can deliver relevant content to your defined target audience with a great return.

    To get the most out of PPC, you need to optimise your ads, visually and contextually, and it’s essential that you conduct thorough keyword research and competitor research beforehand.

    Managing your PPC ads

    Once you’ve created your new ad campaigns, you’ll need to regularly manage them to boost their effectiveness.

    To do this, you need to continuously analyse the performance of your ads and make any required changes. When it comes to PPC there are a number of techniques you can use to optimise your campaigns.

    These techniques include:

    • Identifying and adding to your keywords: boost the reach of your PPC campaigns by adding relevant keywords to them,
    • Include negative keywords: Adding negative keywords to your campaigns will stop your ads from appearing for similar but unrelated terms, and will save you from wasting money,
    • Split ad groups: Improve the click-through rate (CTR) by splitting up your campaigns into smaller, more relevant ad groups,
    • Review costly keywords: Review expensive keywords and if required turn them off,
    • Refine Landing Pages: review the content and calls-to-action (CTA) of your landing pages to match with customer search queries, this will help to improve conversion rates.

    A guide to keywords for SEO and PPC

    Keyword research is fundamental for the success of any SEO and PPC campaign. When we talk about keywords, we are referring to the words you wish to optimise for or bid on as a way of getting your business in front of more people as part of your campaign.

    When thinking about relevant keywords for your site content or PPC ads, you should think about what your customers will be typing into the search bar.

    You can also use the free keyword planner tool from Google Ads to make keyword suggestions and check things like monthly search volumes and competitiveness.

    High competition keywords mean you will likely pay more to have your ad in top positions.

    High volume, low competition keywords are like gold dust. These keywords will drive relevant traffic to your website without being too costly. Your final keyword list needs to be relevant, exhaustive & expansive.

    So, you have all the keywords you want to rank for when searched, what about the ones you don’t want to rank for?

    Negative keywords prevent you from ranking for certain search terms and are a way of controlling your costs and making sure you show up for the right search terms. 

    For example, if you sell high-end furniture with affluent customers you would add terms like ‘free’ and ‘cheap’ to your negative keyword list so you would not show up for these types of searches.

    Search marketing jargon

    • SEO: search engine optimisation.
    • PPC: pay-per-click.
    • Keywords: terms that you want your site to rank for.
    • Negative keywords: prevent ads from showing for the wrong terms.
    • Click-through rate (CTR): the number of clicks received on an ad against the number of ad impression.
    • Title tag: this is not your page title that’s usually header 1, this is what’s displayed at the top of your browser tag.
    • Meta descriptions: This is additional information that is displayed below the headline in the search results. Like title tags, this copy isn’t visible on your website.
    • Body content: the content on your website page. Remember content needs to be unique, keyword dense and engaging.
    • Page speed: how quickly your web pages load.
    • Alt tags: This is a HTML element that allows you to include alternative information for an image if a user can’t see it.
    • URL structure: Create short, descriptive, and relevant URLs for better sharing capabilities.
    • Schema and Markup: This doesn’t make your page rank higher in search results, but it does give your listings a boost in the search results. For example, adding star ratings/reviews on your listing can improve click through rates.
    • Link building: the process of creating external back-links, when another website mentions you and links to your website.
    • Mobile friendliness: how your web pages look on a mobile, do they mirror a desktop view?
    • XML sitemap: plans that help search engines understand your website and the content on it (don’t include pages that aren’t useful to your website).

    Choosing your channels

    With all the different digital marketing mediums available, making the right decision for your business can be extremely challenging but there are three factors that you need to consider when deciding.

    These are:

    • What do you hope to achieve?
    • Your budget allocation for the campaign,
    • The expertise on offer to you.

    The first two considerations are self-explanatory but when you need to assess the expertise available to you, be that in your organisation or from a marketing agency, there are a few skill tick boxes you need to be aware of….

    • Creativity – both writing style and the creative treatment of your content needs to be fresh, hit the mark and above all be engaging,
    • Search marketing ability – how well do you understand the fundamentals of search marketing, and the tools and platforms at your disposal,
    • Social media marketing skills – having the necessary skills and knowledge on the various social media platforms can be the difference between a good campaign and a great campaign,
    • Website development skills – a good understanding of writing for the web, on-page and technical SEO will go a long way

    If you are looking to do this yourself and would like some more guidance on the skills above, our Digital Marketing and Social Media programme is the perfect place to start.

    This course introduces you to the fundamentals of digital marketing and the skills to utilise social media and content marketing.

    You will also learn how to plan, implement, and develop a digital marketing strategy. You can find out more information here.

    How can we help?

    At In Professional Development, we pride ourselves on delivering against all the key factors when it comes to choosing a quality learning partner.

    If you are looking for more guidance on anything that you have read in this guide, we have a number of marketing courses available; the Digital Marketing and Social Media programme and the Strategic Marketing and Communications for Directors course.

    If you are looking at up-skilling in marketing for a number of people within your team or business, our courses can be tailored to your business and sector, and delivered as an in house programme.

    If you would like more information on any of our courses please email or call us on 0161 509 2999.