What is Digital Business Marketing? What Does an Agency Do?
Businesses can choose between a few main, broadly defined, marketing strategies: traditional marketing and digital marketing.
Traditional marketing includes a lot of what people think about when they think of “marketing,” like magazine ads, billboards, and television commercials for example.
But what is digital business marketing? Digital marketing generally means marketing opportunities and strategies in the internet space. Mostly with a focus on marketing a business’s website or online services. The ever-expanding internet age means that digital marketing now encompasses so much of what is now normal marketing – including search marketing, pay-per-click advertising (PPC), social media marketing, online content, and more.
According to eMarketer, digital marketing’s total spending surpassed traditional marketing for the first time ever in 2019 – growing 19% to $129.34 billion. Making it an estimated 54% of total US advertising. Mobile alone accounts for 2/3rds of digital ads spending and, remember, that’s just for paid advertising. Normal search engine traffic accounts for as much as 65% of total eCommerce sessions, and according to BrightEdge, 53% of all internet traffic happens through search (more than half!). Nearly 3/4ths of marketers are actively using web content for marketing now, 79% of brands say that PPC advertising is a huge revenue driving force for their business, and 1-in-3 marketers say that strategies like email marketing offers them the best ROI of any type of digital marketing.
These numbers are just scraping the surface, even if they seem a bit overwhelming they indicate that digital marketing is now the new normal for business growth. Online business is the future for every brand that’s paying attention to shopper behavior – and with the 2020 coronavirus pandemic pushing people further away from physical stores – digital marketing is more important than ever.
What is digital marketing in business exactly? And what does a digital marketing agency do? Below are examples of some of the most important digital marketing channels, including SEO, paid-advertising, social media content, social media PPC, email marketing, video, and more!
Click to jump to:
- Push vs. Pull marketing
- Search engine management (SEM)
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Pay-per-click search ads (search PPC)
- Social media paid advertising
- Inbound social media content
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Video marketing
- Ecommerce and marketplace marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- What does a digital marketing agency do?
Push vs. Pull marketing
In digital marketing it’s useful to distinguish between two main types of marketing: push and pull. Push marketing generally refers to “pushy” strategies like paid-ads, commercials, etc. In the world of internet business marketing it usually means strategies like pay-per-click search ads, display ads, pop-ups, email marketing etc. – instances where companies aggressively push themselves in front of audiences.
In push marketing the goal is to bring your brand or your products straight to your target audience – instead of waiting for them to find you.
Pull marketing, on the other hand, involves an if-you-build-it-they-will-come approach. In pull marketing the goal is to build a brand that naturally appeals to an audience interested in your products/services/content – they come to you because they are naturally interested in what you provide. The most common strategies for pull include search engine optimization (SEO), organic social media content, content marketing/blogging and even word-of-mouth.
There’s plenty of opportunity overall in both of these strategies: for example search engines (like Google, and Bing) offer both paid ads marketing (push) traffic and organic SEO-driven traffic (pull) – together these form their own sub-category of marketing called search engine management (SEM).
Likewise most social media platforms can involve both normal social posts and paid ads – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube etc. – all offer both push and pull content.
Search engine management (SEM)
Whereas SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” SEM stands for “search engine management.” So what is the difference between these two strategies?
Simply put, SEO involves just organic search optimization. Changing and tweaking a site to naturally perform better in search results. SEM on the other hand involves both SEO and search PPC – it means managing both strategies together.
One key difference between them is how they give different results. Optimizing a website for SEO traffic can be laborious and it can sometimes take a long time to see results. Alternatively, SEM’s paid advertising strategies mean you can get your website visible in search engines immediately – and start gaining traffic pretty much immediately.
Here are the main benefits of search engine management:
- Doing SEO and paid search ads together can help improve click-through-rate (CTR) for both.
- Both strategies together can help maximize brand visibility in search – one of the most important digital marketing channels.
- SEM offers the best of both worlds with both fast results (from PPC) and long-term reliable growth (through SEO). Making it great as a long term and short term strategy.
- Businesses can get more bang for their buck by maximizing their keyword research strategy and optimizing their site content for both SEO and paid ads.
So what does a digital marketing agency do in all of this? Since SEM is so complex – balancing two different channels and multiple strategies – professionals can help businesses by juggling keyword research, landing page optimization, meta data creation, ad-copy writing, ad approval, Quality Score optimization, 2nd phase adjustments, and more – and they can do it in a way that allows these two channels to work together. Particularly with keyword research, a common mistake is for businesses to spend too much time targeting the same keywords, for multiple landing pages, across both SEO and PPC – and in the end nothing goes well.
Plus an agency will be able to also target a client business’s KPIs across both Google and Microsoft’s Bing – since SEM for organic traffic and paid-traffic is very similar across both search engines!
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search optimization is one of the most important online marketing strategies there is. But what is digital business marketing in the world of SEO? There’s a lot that’s involved.
In a nutshell SEO is about tweaking, designing and curating a website so that it’s best set-up for important search engine algorithms and so that it can rank higher in search results for important target keywords.
What a strategic SEO service company does is audit these factors, finds ways to improve them, and monitors the website’s performance to make sure that the SEO campaign is working.
A digital marketing business strategy involves updating content to include specific keywords: updating meta-data to target searchers as well as for better search-engine-results-page (SERP) appearance; on-site anchor text optimization; keyword research for Google “search intent;” focused strategies designed to target specific audiences and searchers who are at specific points in the search funnel.
The other side of SEO though, is that it can often take a long time to see results – which is why monitoring results and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is important. SEO professionals can monitor site traffic, visitors, and keyword rankings and then feed-back what they learn into their strategy to fine-tune results even further.
Pay-per-click search ads (search PPC)
Search engine advertising is one of the most popular forms of digital marketing – and one of the single most successful types of PPC. Period.
It has some of the best ROI, with the average being as much as 2-to-1 returns (according to Google). And most businesses/marketers agree: according to Statista paid search boasts a median ROI of as much as 23%. Wolfgang Digital says paid search ads account for as much as 32% of all web traffic, and 34% of all online revenue! The advantage of paid advertising as an online marketing channel is that it provides a super fast ROI for new businesses wanting to grow traffic fast, or for sites that want to capitalize on a short-term window.
But the world of search engine PPC ads is a bit complex. Afterall, what is digital business marketing in regards to PPC?
The two most important platforms are Google and Bing (Bing also includes Yahoo and AOL) – in order to get started with paid search ads on these search engines, businesses need to use the Google Ads platform, or the Microsoft Advertising platform. Next, businesses need to create ad campaigns, set-up ads groups, choose landing pages, choose target keywords, select their “bid” strategy, link a payment method/set ad budget settings, write ad descriptions, and decide what their campaign goals are (more clicks, more conversions, revenue, etc.).
All of this is why outsourcing is often preferred.
So what does a digital marketing agency do? Well professionals and experienced marketers will be able to navigate all the steps involved with starting, running, and adjusting PPC ads. And they’ll have past experience that can help them do it well.
An agency can:
- Create and structure ad campaigns.
- Perform expert keyword research and analysis to make sure campaigns only focus on accurate, high-value keywords, while making sure that bid money isn’t wasted on bad keywords.
- Do “Quality Score” optimization on-site to get even better return on ad spend (ROAS).
- Monitor results to watch for new opportunities and to catch problems quickly.
- Create ads easily, and make sure that ads stay within the Google/Bing terms of service – so that they do not get rejected.
- Provide businesses with analytics and reporting on how well their digital marketing strategies are working.
- Update negative keyword lists.
- Plus a lot more…
This is why hiring a professional PPC management service is such a popular choice. Most companies know that search ads are so important that they have to make sure it’s done right!
Social media paid advertising
Social media platforms provide one of the most important sources for both organic traffic as well as paid-advertising results. It’s one of the most recent, and rapidly exploding forms of digital business marketing there is – based on the same pay-per-click style as search ads.
When it comes to digital marketing in business, social ads are huge. Social media ads help businesses get in front of 3.5 billion people worldwide, and about 20% of marketers claim that social media has the highest ROI for their site.
Common ad types include (but aren’t limited to):
- Photo ads that display products directly in user feeds.
- Stories ads that feature photo/video/multi-media ads in platforms with stories features like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook etc.
- Video ads.
- Carousel ads with scrollable product-listings or multiple photos/videos that look like a sort of album.
- Collection ads that show multiple “cards” for products. These act as a sort of instant storefront.
- Messenger ads – like on Facebook Messenger or LinkedIn – where marketers can sponsor messages or content directly to individuals.
- On-platform shops. These are new to platforms like Instagram and Facebook and give extra opportunities for eCommerce advertising by letting users shop/purchase without having to leave the app.
- Sponsored posts, which look a lot like a regular posts but are promoted to certain audiences.
One of the main distinctions for what digital business marketing is on social media platforms is that – as a PPC style of advertising – brands can target “audiences” instead of search keywords like they would in search advertising.
It varies from platform to platform, but Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms offer similar styles that allow brands to set specific goals/objectives, which means businesses can set up ad campaigns specifically for their target customers.
The types of audience targeting options and ad objectives vary from platform to platform as well – but they can include options like:
- Website traffic, or ads that lead to website landing pages.
- Conversions or direct product sales.
- Greater post interactions or content engagement.
- Retargeting visitors and users that have already interacted with a brand, or expressed interest.
- Account creation, email sign-ups, etc.
- App downloads.
- Phone calls or on-site form fill outs.
- Targeting audiences in a certain country/region, of a specific gender, age group, or with specific interests.
- Targeting audiences with certain education backgrounds or careers.
- Targeting eCommerce shoppers with certain purchase history.
- And more…
These are just a few examples, and will vary from platform to platform – but they are indicative of the types of KPIs and goals that businesses can focus on.
What a digital marketing agency does here can be a huge benefit to businesses – since a paid media marketing agency will be familiar with the way these strategies work across all major social platforms, and can easily coordinate strategies, budgets, and audience targeting across all of them.
What does a digital marketing agency do here exactly? Most of the trouble with these strategies comes with setting up campaigns, creating ad groups, and choosing targeting options. The biggest pitfall involves wasting budget on bad channels and poorly responding audiences – with expertise, experience, and industry knowledge an agency is able to get the best possible results.
Ad platforms can be intimidating to inexperienced marketers; but an agency will create the ads, get approval, monitor results and make adjustments on targeting wherever needed.
Inbound social media content
Social media acts as a great form of inbound marketing where businesses can engage with people that are naturally interested in their brand’s service/content. It acts as a sort of “off site” opportunity to grow audiences, gain brand recognition and extend the visibility of content.
The best and most popular social media sites for marketing include the big ones you already know: Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, YouTube, and more. Providing opportunities for content sharing in user feeds, linking, video posts, stories, and more.
Why are these so important in digital business marketing?
Facebook has nearly 3 billion active monthly users, and that number becomes 3.3 billion when including users from across WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook messenger. Since 2019 Twitter’s site referral traffic has increased by 6%, Google claims as many as 80% of shoppers watch YouTube videos related to products they are planning to buy, and on Pinterest shopping ads have exploded, with more than 320 million users, nearly 80% of them say they’ve discovered a new brand or product on the site.
These are just a couple of stats that emphasize how social interaction on the web is the new normal, especially across multiple platforms. The website is no-longer the singular place where marketing happens – and that trend is only going to continue.
So what is social media’s role within digital marketing in business? And what does a digital marketing agency do in this realm?
Social media provides an opportunity for both new content, and greater reach from a brand’s existing content. Businesses can build brand loyalty and spread their marketing materials by creating a complete and co-ordinated inbound strategy across all channels. Companies that offer full service social media marketing will handle all of this – from content creation, graphic design, post-scheduling, influencer out-reach and more.
Here’s what that looks like:
- Feed posts like written posts, linked articles, and blog-sharing for a full force content marketing campaign.
- Image posts for graphic marketing materials, product details, and better engagement.
- Video content like “stories” (across Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc.) as well as longer video-posts.
- Live streaming and internet style broadcasting.
- Store-fronts and business profiles for centralized customer interaction, shopping, and product listings.
- 1-to-1 Engagement, customer service, instant messaging, and bot-chats.
- Influencer marketing and natural growth.
- Commenting, sharing, reviews, and user response.
- Hashtags for targeting audiences and visibility in niches.
Content marketing is a broad segment of marketing that – generally speaking – makes-up the foundation of many other types of digital marketing.
Here’s what digital business marketing means regarding content. It involves using content (blogs, website landing pages, video, infographics, guides, etc.) as an inbound marketing strategy for generating interest and capturing new customers. Largely this means written and multi-media content as a “pull” strategy specifically for bringing audiences directly to you, and for attracting audiences that are already interested in what your brand has to offer.
Here’s why content marketing is important.
- On-site content is fundamental to SEO. Content is crucial for topical interest, keyword density, and algorithmic processing by search engines. In fact newer concepts like “needs met” and “EAT” are crucial to SEO.
- Content underlies pay-per-click search marketing as a crucial part of Google’s “Quality Score” system; without content PPC simply has nowhere to send clicks.
- Content is the foundation of the social-media marketing cycle involving shares, viral traffic, loyalty growth, brand recognition, site traffic, and conversion/sales.
- For referral traffic, and click-through-rate people need something to look at once they get to your site.
Without content there’s nothing for visitors to see, there’s nothing for shoppers to see, search engines can’t determine keyword rankings, and social media users will have nothing to share or like. Content is the primary substance in every part of the shopping funnel.
Content marketing involves audience research and building content (written, multi-media, video, or otherwise) that’s built specifically for their interests.
Email marketing is another one of the most popular digital business marketing strategies and one of the most common. Now, 1 in 3 marketers claim that email marketing offers them the best results.
This strategy is based on sending emails to would-be customers and building brand recognition through email content. It has arguably the best median ROI, which in 2017 was as much as 124% according to Statista. 80% of small businesses rely on this strategy for customer acquisition, and 49% of shoppers even claim that they would like to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands!
Here’s what that involves:
- List building to create target audiences and to build the most valuable email leads.
- Strategic copywriting for better engagement and CTR.
- Analytics monitoring and data insights to test new strategies, find new leads, and focus on only the best potential leads.
For those wondering “what does a digital marketing agency do?”, the answer is: quite a lot. What email means in digital business marketing is finding potential email contacts, building lists, creating copy/content, and relying on professional experience and industry insight to maximize CTR.
In fact, the biggest resource drain in digital marketing (like through email) is just the time and people-power needed for running campaigns, lead-generation strategies, responding to contacts, and helping businesses bring new customers into and through their CRM funnel.
Brands can elevate themselves by expanding their messaging and their engagement into the visual world, as in with video.
In fact every strategy we’ve talked about so far can include a whole secondary world where content can work in video form as well. Brands can use digital marketing to engage massive audiences on YouTube, Instagram Live, Facebook/Instagram Stories, and more – video can even be used to bolster their existing written content, like with blog-posts, product walkthroughs, etc. Think about all the ways video can help your business:
- Vlogging videos to drive inbound interest
- Tutorials and guides
- Product demos and reviews
- Livestream videos and events
- Video advertising across multiple platforms
- Video testimonials and customer case studies
- Influencer streaming, social posts, etc.
- Industry news and insights for target viewers
Last year, as much as 92% of marketers claimed that video was an important part of their overall digital business marketing strategy. And it’s growing rapidly. An incredible 86% of marketers say that video has increased their traffic, and 78% say it’s improved their ROI. With multi-media being a huge part of the new normal mode of brand growth, it’s basically impossible to ignore video (and video marketing services) as a crucial part of what is digital business marketing online.
Ecommerce and marketplace marketing
For eCommerce businesses and online retail there’s a whole rapidly growing extended universe for marketing opportunities. But what is a “marketplace” in digital business marketing, and what strategies are involved?
Marketplaces are retail sites specifically set up with eCommerce shopping in mind – particularly sites that act as vendors for a wide range of 3rd party brands. Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and search engine “Shopping” tabs are all examples of eCommerce marketplaces. And they are now a huuuge part of what is digital business marketing for retail websites.
Both Google and Bing now offer “Shopping” sites that feature detailed product listing pages, with products shown directly in the search engine results page (SERP). Search engine shopping sites like these let retailers showcase and sell their products directly in search results – with details like price, rating, photos, etc – along with products from other sellers based on search queries. These can be part of either paid shopping ad campaigns, or Google now offers organic shopping results for free – but they have to be created either through Google Merchant Center or a Microsoft Ads account.
The ads will appear in the “Shopping” tabs on both search engines, or they can show up as Showcase ads or carousel ads in the main SERP.
Both search engines offer differing but similar options like:
- Local store inventory ads.
- Standard product ads.
- Showcase shopping ads for display related products in groups.
Other marketplace options include retail giants like Amazon. Amazon has about 45% of the total US eCommerce market share, and roughly 197 million monthly shoppers, and its rapidly growing in popularity among younger shoppers – especially as the Covid-19 pandemic increasingly normalizes internet shopping.
So just what is digital business marketing in terms of Amazon?
Retailers can have their products listed on Amazon where they can appeal to potential buyers through both organic search results directly within the platform, or where they can boost their product visibility through paid advertising like Amazon Sponsored Products.
Amazon advertising is definitely worthwhile for retailers who are already selling products through Amazon, or are thinking about it. It can vastly improve sales; plus higher CTR and conversion rates can also help boost organic rankings via Amazon’s A9 algorithm – making them a big part of increasing your Amazon sales and rankings.
Amazon offers a few key options that can help digital business marketers increase the reach of their products:
- Paid product listing ads like Sponsored Products.
- Brande pages/storefronts (which can also be promoted through ads).
- Amazon A+ content for richer product details and descriptions.
- Remarketing ads.
- Video ads.
Affiliate marketing involves relying on third party groups or content creators to promote products in exchange for a share of sales revenue.
Usually this looks like content or blogs on third party sites that promote a product, or sponsored content, or coordinated product reviews. Brands and affiliate marketers work together to target the same audiences, with content that can help them both.
Brands and businesses can get started with this style of marketing through affiliate networks that can connect them with relevant affiliates. What a digital marketing agency does here is do this legwork for them, or the agency might even have their own network.
This will depend on the type of agency a business works with. Some agencies specialize in paid advertising, some specialized in content creation, others might only work in social media management – and some agents might do a mix of these or all of them.
What does a digital marketing agency do?
Digital marketing agencies provide services to companies and online businesses that don’t have the time, resource, or know-how to do their internet marketing in-house – or who just don’t want to.
But digital marketing agencies come with their own pros and cons. The main drawback is cost since professional companies charge for complete services. SEO services can do keyword research, content optimization, natural link building, and meta-data optimization to improve a site’s ranking in search engine algorithms, and they can extend their keyword strategy across to search engine PPC for even better results.
They can also create and operate advertising campaigns across social media platforms as well. Agencies can help create ads and avoid rejected ads that breach TOS. They can also set up ad groups to fit a business’s main goals and their KPIs – and finally they can determine what sort of ad budgets, targeting settings, and bid settings work best.
Even though there may be the requisite cost, many businesses find that the benefits of hiring a digital marketing agency make it worthwhile:
- They offer expertise and previous client experiences in a wide range of business types, industries, and niches.
- They can focus their complete time, effort, and resources on digital marketing, whereas companies that go it alone might struggle to keep up.
- An agency can monitor and understand analytics data and use data collection software to better understand results. Plus they can provide businesses with insight on how successful their digital marketing strategies are.
- They can connect directly with experts at major platforms like Google, Facebook, etc.
- They can provide project managers and liaisons to help keep businesses in the loop.
- Monthly, weekly, and even daily reporting on campaigns
- Credentials/certifications on a wide range of platforms. Google Analytics Certification, Google Ads Certification, Facebook Blueprint, and more.
- They can fine tune ad campaigns and negative keyword lists to prevent inefficient ad-spend and wasted budget.
- Marketing companies can also improve “Quality Score” for better PPC results.
- Technical SEO agencies can monitor indexing technical factors to prevent indexing problems, algorithmic penalties, and even manual actions.
- Creative experts can conceptualize and produces ad graphics, marketing videos, photos, and other visual content.
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