Digital marketing is a broad category of strategies and tools that promote a company’s goods or services through a wide range of channels. These include numerous social media sites, search engines, content streaming platforms, email, and affiliate marketing, among others. A digital marketing strategy can include all of these platforms, or it can be limited to one or two, depending on how relevant each platform is to the company’s goals.
The internet age has given way to digital marketing ruling the world of marketing. In fact, digital marketing replaced traditional marketing as the dominant advertising medium in 2019. With this in mind, it is important to know what digital marketing tools are available to help you maintain a competitive advantage.
Digital marketing vs. traditional marketing
Digital marketing is something you probably see every day. If you’ve ever bought something through an ad you saw online or clicked on a link in a promotional email, you’ve interacted with an organization’s digital marketing strategy. Compared to traditional marketing tactics, which include print, television, and radio advertising, digital marketing is more ubiquitous and more integrated into the fabric of modern Internet use. The lines are often blurred between owned, earned, and paid media, so it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish online content that is sponsored and specifically intended for marketing purposes from content that isn’t.
The foundation of digital marketing stands in direct contrast to the fundamentals of traditional advertising. When someone sees a billboard or television commercial, the boundaries of the ad are clearly defined. It’s easy to tell that the advertiser is paying for what they see. The analog nature of traditional marketing also means that the return on investment (ROI) of campaigns is much more difficult to measure. This is not to say that traditional marketing is outdated or will disappear soon.
Why you need a digital marketing strategy
Digital marketing has overtaken traditional marketing as the most common mode of advertising. It is much easier to control costs with digital advertising, and the costs associated with a digital campaign are often significantly lower than the costs associated with a traditional advertising campaign. For example, an ad in a local newspaper can cost thousands of rupees, but a digital ad on a social media platform can be scaled up or down to fit your budget.
A digital marketing strategy will also help you answer many of the questions that traditional marketing channels cannot. With digital marketing, you can analyze data about your audience to help you better understand who they are, what they want, and how they relate to your business. A comprehensive digital campaign, for example, can directly track which channels (social media, email, search engines, etc.) are driving the most traffic to your website, as well as the demographics of your audience and the type of content that is more attractive. A newspaper ad, on the other hand, can lead customers to your business, but those results can only be measured indirectly.
The parameters of a digital campaign can also be refined to target the audience most likely to become customers. Traditional media channels are broader, which means they reach a wider audience that may or may not be interested in interacting with your business. Digital marketing makes it much easier to control costs and ensure you get the most value for your investment.
Top digital marketing tools
Although much of the success of a digital marketing campaign depends on the strategy behind it, there are many tools that will help you execute the various action items. They will also provide you with the correct data and analytics to measure success and inform you when something needs to be adjusted to improve the overall effectiveness of your marketing strategy.
Email marketing is a great opportunity for businesses to reach their audience in their inboxes. If you aren’t already using email as a marketing tactic, start by brainstorming ways you can collect email addresses to build your contact list. Perhaps you can offer a discount or access to an exclusive resource that your visitors won’t be able to get anywhere else. Then design the strategy for the content you want to share and the best cadence for sending communications. A monthly newsletter be able to build a sense of community and brand reputation. A more frequent schedule, such as a daily offer summary or schedule availability, can drive conversions to support your daily revenue goals.
Email marketing tools will help you organize your messages and analyze your customer interactions. You can keep track of the messages that produce the highest click-through rates, as well as the ones that lead to the highest unsubscribe rates, so you can identify common topics and change your focus accordingly. They will also help you optimize the day and time that you send your message so that you have the best chance of reaching them when they are most likely to open and interact with your email.
Platforms that can help you manage your email marketing strategy include:
- Mailchimp: Best for versatility and audience segmentation
- Emma: Best for business owners who don’t have a ton of marketing expertise
- Hubspot: Best for customer relationship management (CRM) integration
- Drip: Best for automated email campaigns
Social media management
Social media has become a critical part of human interaction, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, your social media presence (or lack thereof) has a significant impact on your bottom line. If the audience you want to reach is one that uses social media regularly, you could be missing out on the opportunity to expand and deepen your customer base. If you don’t currently have a social media presence, consider starting small with one or two profiles through which you are comfortable posting regularly and interacting with customers when appropriate.
Social media management tools help you plan the content you want to publish and manage your interaction with your customers. They can schedule future posts so you can maintain a regular posting schedule without interrupting your daily schedule, and they can automate many manual processes so you can be sure your accounts are optimized. Social media tools will also monitor all of your accounts for new comments or direct messages and provide performance insights with detailed reports and analysis. Some platforms will also drill down into demographic information about users who engage with their social media content. Other tools will give you the option to manage your paid social media ads in addition to your organic (non-sponsored) content.
Some of these platforms include:
- Hootsuite: Best for multi-channel content management and analytics
- Buffer: Best for user experience
- Sprout Social: Best for budget-consciousness
- Planoly: Best for Instagram-focused marketing
Most of the tools on this list are underutilized if you don’t have the visual content that your marketing strategy needs to be truly successful. Think of it this way: you might have all the boxes checked when it comes to email targeting or social media optimization, but if the content of the message you’re sending doesn’t grab the attention of your audience and force them to learn more, the whole strategy will be fruitless. Content creation tools will help you produce design elements that are eye-catching while establishing a consistent brand presence across all your marketing channels, both digital and traditional.
You don’t need an in-house professional graphic designer or video editor to create engaging content; in fact, many content creation platforms were developed with non-designers in mind. Sometimes these tools just require you to choose the color you want so that you can receive professionally designed custom graphics that you can use for free in most circumstances. Other tools provide templates that you can adjust to your brand specifications or design preferences. These types of tools also offer opportunities for static graphic content as well as dynamic video content.
Content creation platforms include:
- Adobe Spark: Best for creating video content
- Canva: Best for creating versatile multimedia content
- Undraw: Best for stock images
- Easel.ly: Best for creating infographics
These days simply having a website for your business without ecommerce functionality is like having a showcase with no way for customers to walk in. Even if your business isn’t built around selling boxed and mailed items, there are ways to offer your customers an online experience. Perhaps it is an online scheduling portal so they can book an appointment with you effortlessly. Or maybe it’s a way for customers to order online that they can pick up at the store. No matter which solution works best for you, your customers will enjoy the added convenience of being able to interact with your business remotely, and like most of the tools on this list, you will benefit from the data analytics that e-commerce enables. .
Most e-commerce solutions are integrated into a larger content management system (CMS). This means that if you already have an existing website, it is most likely already positioned to support e-commerce functionality. Some tools can be integrated with your in-store point of sale (POS) system, so you can manage all your sales and inventory from one central platform. With paid social media and display advertising, you can specify the precise result that constitutes a conversion, such as an order placed, a scheduled appointment, or a downloaded file. From there, you can measure and analyze your ROI for your marketing campaigns, while driving progress toward your revenue goals.
Ecommerce tools will also help you identify trends based on data on the top and bottom performing items in your catalog. You will be able to see if a particular product or service is not as popular as others and make decisions about whether it is worth continuing to offer it.
Ecommerce platforms that will assist you create an online presence for selling your goods and services include:
- WooCommerce: Best for WordPress sites
- Squarespace: Best for ease of use
- Shopify: Best for retail merchandise
- Wix: Best for budget-consciousness
When someone visits your website but takes no other action, there are ways to interact with it to try and turn it from a potential customer to a customer. Remarketing, or retargeting, involves serving ads on the Internet to people who have already visited your site. This not only increases brand awareness and visibility, but also creates an opportunity to address the reasons why a potential customer might not have converted the first time. Whether they didn’t have time to complete a transaction or they thought your solution wouldn’t work for them, remarketing provides you with another opportunity to compete for your business.
Top remarketing tools for small businesses include:
- AdRoll: Best for audience segmentation and publisher variety
- Google Ads: Best for search engine retargeting
- Meteora: Best for geo-targeting
- Perfect Audience: Best for simplicity and budget consciousness
Digital marketing tools will help grow your business
Many of these tools and tactics will overlap. While that may seem like a symptom of inefficiency, it is actually a sign that your digital marketing is tightly knit and working to grow your business from multiple angles. For example, your social media, email, and remarketing platforms will inevitably take advantage of the graphics and media that you create using content creation tools.
At the same time, the digital marketing tools you use to engage your audience will provide analytics to indicate how the content you create and the products or services you sell perform so that you can fine-tune them as needed. Continuously adapting and adjusting your digital marketing strategy in this way will drive your business forward.
Whether you implement all of the tools on this list or just a few, a digital marketing strategy will help you grow your business and ensure it remains competitive in today’s digital world.