What is Digital Marketing? The Basics and How to Start

Digital marketing has become essential in the Internet age. From social media influencers to content development, email marketing, and search engine optimization, marketing online creates huge potential for brand awareness and increased sales. However, diving in without knowing the basics can waste a ton of time, and worse yet – money.

This article covers the basics and shares free and affordable solutions to help you build a successful strategy. What is digital marketing? Read on to find out.

What Is Digital Marketing? Learn Digital Marketing Basics From Sandbox Digital Marketing.
Learn digital marketing basics from sandbox digital marketing.

If you’re looking for free and affordable ways to grow your business online, this article is for you.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is the promotion of brands to connect with potential customers using digital channels, such as blogs and websites, email, social media, and mobile apps. Effective marketing plans include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC), social media marketing, newsletters, and more. Utilizing various channels in a comprehensive plan allow brands to target customers with more precision than traditional marketing channels, such as television, radio, and print media. With analytics tools, businesses can track the engagement of their target audience and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Digital Marketing Is A Combination Of Various Tools And Methods To Create An Effective Marketing Strategy.
Digital marketing is a combination of various tools and methods to create an effective marketing strategy.

Why is marketing important?

In recent years, online shopping has exploded. Since the Internet enables companies to sell without a physical presence, businesses can drive traffic from anywhere across the globe. A digital presence that is current and consistent with a company’s offerings can increase revenue dramatically in comparison with traditional marketing.

According to Zippia, 81% of shoppers look for businesses online before they purchase products or services. Without a website, blog, or other platforms to reach those shoppers, you stand to miss out on most potential customers. When you measure the cost of your strategy against the loss in potential business, it’s easy to see that building a web presence to reach the masses is a must in the modern age.

Various channels such as social media, newsletters, email campaigns, affiliate links, and others give businesses a variety of ways to connect with and engage potential customers. Strategies that are thought through and planned well work best. They also cost less, increase brand awareness, and attract customers from across digital channels, instead of or in addition to customary marketing methods.

Online advertising can oftentimes work faster than traditional strategies. Businesses can target their customers in a more precise way and promote products or services to a broader audience. Some channels like search engine optimization (SEO) work slower than say Pay-per-click ads, but it’s increasingly important these days to work out a comprehensive approach to get the best results from your efforts.

Digital Marketing Is Important To Beat Competitors To The Top Of Search Engine Results.
Digital marketing is important to beat competitors to the top of search engine results.

Types of digital marketing

When it comes to types of digital marketing, or sources, channels, etc., think of email, social media, web-based advertising, SMS text messaging, and mobile advertising. You probably receive emails from your favorite store or a newsletter from a business source as a consumer yourself. Perhaps you have walked near a store advertising on mobile devices and an ad pops up on your phone.

Each of these forms of digital marketing has its own advantages and disadvantages. Utilizing various types of digital media improves customer reach across the board.

Types Of Digital Marketing Include Seo, Content, Social Media, And Other Marketing Methods.
Types of digital marketing include SEO, content, social media, and other marketing methods.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO focuses on increasing website visibility on Google and other search engine results pages. By generating optimized content and updating existing content, eventually, you can rank at or near the top of organic search results. This means your business can compete with content on a small budget. Optimizing content for keywords and phrases, as well as optimization of the website for better crawling, indexing, and ranking are all components of an SEO strategy.

It can involve tasks like link building and link exchange, as well as creating content and advertising campaigns to drive organic traffic to your website. SEO is a key part of a successful ad strategy as it helps to drive more traffic and visibility for a brand, increasing the chances of gaining new customers.

Check out our favorite SEO tool for WordPress

SEO-friendly content

Content marketing encompasses a range of options that target customers using text, images, videos, and podcasts. This content can include blog posts, social media posts, e-books, white papers, presentations, and more. In addition to content creation, content strategies may also include search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and online advertising campaigns. Overall, content is one of the most popular components of effective plans today because it helps companies attract new customers by providing valuable information online.

Social media

Social media is very valuable to business brands because it emphasizes promotional content and interaction with consumers. Popular social media platforms for digital marketing include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. These social media sites can be used to improve your business’s web presence and interact with customers while they’re online.

Goals may include increasing brand awareness, connecting with customers, and building social trust. By engaging in social media, businesses can effectively build their brand and target the right audience. There are many ways to use social channels to target desirable demographics and maximize engagement rates.

Social Media Marketing Can Be Extremely Valuable For Finding New Clients.
Social Media marketing can be extremely valuable for finding new clients.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

PPC advertising is made up of paid ad campaigns that pay fees each time someone clicks on ads. Google ads and PPC ads on other search engines can target users based on their characteristics, such as age, gender, and location. Targeting consumers with specific demographics gives advertisers the ability to reach potential customers who are interested in a particular product or service. Ads for PPC advertising are placed at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs) based on keyword relevance and landing page quality.

PPC ads are displayed if a user searches for products or services that include targeted keywords. By targeting users based on their interests and behavior, PPC advertising allows advertisers to reach potential customers with relevant messaging and content. Pay-per-click is effective because it targets potential customers with ads that are relevant to their needs and interests.

Affiliate partnerships

Online affiliate marketing is one of the oldest forms of advertising and has seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the past several years. Affiliate marketers promote other businesses’ products and services in exchange for a commission. Affiliate networks are platforms that marketers can use to advertise for various brands, such as clothing and electronic products without getting involved with inventory and ownership. This avenue allows brands to market their products to a niche audience at a lower cost than traditional channels.

By sharing content online, affiliate marketers can actually help small businesses grow. There are several networks that host thousands of partnership programs where you can connect and start earning commissions with affiliate links and high-value content. Depending on your tech abilities, you can even design your own affiliate partner program that suits your needs.

Email & newsletters

Email is used to target customers and promote business practices, such as sales or events. It involves collecting customer data across various customer journey touchpoints in order to understand their preferences. Content can include information about products, services, company news, personalized offers, customer success stories, and more.

Advertising via email is effective when it includes relevant content that directly targets the needs of customers. Custom, personalized content is used to reach interested consumers. Regular updates and offers can boost engagement and increase conversion rates over time. Running email campaigns is a great way to stay in touch with buyers when they’re not in your store or on your website.

Email Marketing Can Be Very Effective For Reaching Clients Who Aren'T Actively On Your Website.
Email marketing can be very effective for reaching clients who aren’t actively on your website.

Mobile ads

Mobile marketing utilizes features like mobile banner ads, SMS messaging, push notifications, in-app ads, and QR codes. These tools are used to target customers on their smartphones or tablets. Reaching customers when they are on the go can be particularly effective. Since buyers are already out and about, they can take advantage of promos and offers without having to wait to get home first.

It is especially helpful for targeting customers in a casual or social setting where they are likely to use their mobile devices. When done correctly, broadcasting your offerings to mobile shoppers can save costs on other types of advertising.


Influencer marketing is a newer form of advertising online, but this industry has grown fast over the past several years. Influencers are individuals with a big internet following who specialize in various niches. They can influence their audience’s purchasing decisions because they are viewed as trustworthy experts in their field. Brands may expand their audience and generate leads by following or endorsing their suggestions.

Working with influencers requires a few things: you need to know who your influencers are, which ones have the most followers, and which ones are able to connect followers with your products or services.

Where to find Influencers for your brand: You’ll find lists of top influencers for every industry on platforms like Intellifluence, Heepsy, and HypeAuditor. You can also use hashtags and social media to track down influencers for your industry.

The Pros and Cons

Some of the Pros:

  • Reach a larger audience with less effort than traditional marketing techniques
  • Cost-effective way to target customers
  • Increased ability to track and analyze performance data

Some of the Cons:

  • Requires time and dedication to create effective campaigns
  • Can be difficult to stand out among the competition
  • Spending money without a plan in place can waste a ton of your ad budget

Create a marketing strategy

With so many free tools, tips, and templates available online, you can save some money if you have the time to build your own native advertising plan. Planning for digital marketers involves market and audience research, goal setting, and setting up channels, such as websites, social media, and email and content campaigns. Each source is utilized to reach customers and promote content that describes your business offerings. You can use digital channels to target potential customers with content that is relevant to them and their interests.

There are marketing agencies that can help you create optimized content and campaigns for each channel (we can help you do that too). They’ll also help you determine which channels are the most effective for your business goals. A digital marketing agency will help you determine the ideal budget needed to execute your plan effectively. They can also assist in determining what strategies are most appropriate for your business goals and audience-specific targeting.

There is quite a bit to learn in order to run effective campaigns. If you have the time and money, it is possible to manage your ad strategy. However, many small businesses are focused on their business and opt to hire professionals to do the work for them.

If you’re up for the task, you can build a profitable marketing plan following the steps below. You can create an ad strategy that is tailored to your business goals and objectives. Here is a list of free helpful templates to help you build your strategy right away. Download one of the templates to track your answers for the steps listed below.

Put Smart Goals To Work To Win With An Affordable Marketing Strategy.
Put SMART goals to work to win with an affordable marketing strategy.

•Set goals

Your strategy must be tailored to the target audience of your marketing efforts. Identifying the behaviors of customers and trends in market growth is critical to building a successful plan. Any strategy must be flexible and reflective of the constantly evolving customer preferences, behavior, and expectations. To ensure success, marketers must continuously refine their strategies and tactics to target customers with relevant content, email campaigns, social media postings, and online advertising.

To ensure that strategy achieves its goals effectively and efficiently, you can set SMART goals to build your plan from scratch. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals are crucial in ensuring that strategies reflected in a digital plan are results-oriented and lead to business goals.

•Identify your audience

The digital marketing landscape is constantly evolving, and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends. As a result, marketers must focus on understanding their target audience and what online channels they use most often. Knowing your audience allows you to identify which strategies are most effective in reaching them.

It also helps you create content that resonates, email campaigns that convert, and social media postings that engage. Successful efforts cannot exist in a vacuum. Conducting market research to understand your buyer personas and refine your plan is critical if you’re going to reach the right audience.

•Create a budget

A reasonable budget is essential to make the most of your marketing efforts. When you plan a budget, you should consider the different types of digital channels to be used, such as email, social media, and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. It’s important to analyze each channel’s cost and effectiveness in order to select the best channels for your business.

To create a sensible budget, consider using data and analytics to identify buyer personas and refine the strategy for more successful results. It’s important to remember that your campaigns must be focused on results and not just spending money.

A Smart Budget Will Help You Achieve The Best Results.
A smart budget will help you achieve the best results.

•Select your channels

  • SEO: On-site and Off-site search engine optimization should be a part of every strategy
  • Content: Relevant content generation and ongoing optimization improve both paid and unpaid efforts
  • Social media: Active social media channels with consistent activity garner the best results for reaching interested shoppers
  • PPC: When managed correctly, Pay-per-click ads bring instant visibility to your products or services
  • Affiliate partners: Connecting with affiliates can increase traffic to your site through link sharing.
  • Email: Use targeted email campaigns to reach new and existing customers when they’re not online or at your business
  • Mobile: Geography-focused mobile ads reach shoppers when they’re on the go

Refine your marketing efforts

It is vital to understand your customers’ needs and preferences to be able to market to them effectively. Refining your strategies over time will help you target the right prospects and save money throughout the process. Once you have initiated your plan, it’s critical to continually improve content, brand awareness, and authority on your products and services. As you watch your plan in action, you should tweak content and campaigns that don’t perform well, to get the most out of your budget.

5 Digital marketing FAQs

1. What are the advantages of digital marketing over traditional methods?

Digital marketing offers several advantages over traditional strategies. It provides marketers with a global reach, allowing them to target potential customers in different countries and regions. Digital methods are also cost-effective, often costing significantly less than traditional media channels like television spots or print advertising.

In addition, digital channels can be tailored to fit different types of organizations and platforms. This allows marketers to target the right kind of audience in the right place, whether it’s on social media, through email, or on mobile devices.

Aside from targeting the right audience in the right channels, digital marketing also helps advertisers identify buyer personas and refine their strategies using analytics and insights from digital channels. Additionally, digital marketing allows businesses to engage customers in organic conversations through channels like social media which results in more authentic and targeted outreach than outbound marketing.

2. What trends and technologies are shaping the future of marketing?

The digital marketing landscape of the future is going to be more dynamic and complex than ever before. With 5 billion internet users globally in April 2022, digital marketing is becoming even more important for businesses in order to target potential customers effectively. Traditional marketing strategies are being combined with digital marketing channels in order to reach both tech-savvy customers as well as those who prefer traditional media sources.

Business-to-business (B2B) digital marketing is also becoming increasingly popular as marketers utilize email marketing, influencer marketing, social media marketing, and YouTube content in their strategies. Furthermore, marketers are planning to invest in more advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) content automation, Machine Learning, and automated marketing campaigns in 2023 in order to stay ahead of the competition. All in all, these trends and technologies are certainly shaping how digital marketing will look in the future.

Start Marketing Fast With Answers To The Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions About Digital Marketing.
Start marketing fast with answers to the top 5 frequently asked questions about digital marketing.

3. What are the most common mistakes to avoid?

Creating a digital marketing plan can be overwhelming but to ensure that your digital marketing efforts pay off in the long run, here are some of the most common mistakes you should avoid:

  • Failing to consider customer data when creating a digital marketing plan. Without proper data analytics and insights into customers’ preferences, behaviors, and interests, it is difficult to target potential customers in the right way.
  • Not taking the time to clean up customer databases for email marketing. It is important to have accurate email lists of customers in order to target them effectively in email marketing campaigns. If you are sending emails to customers who have unsubscribed or whose email addresses are no longer valid, then this can result in the loss of potential customers and damages your brand image in the market.
  • Sending too many messages to customers’ inboxes. As marketing strategies evolve, content such as newsletters, blog posts, and social media posts should be sent out in moderation. Over-communication can lead customers to ignore and opt out of email marketing subscriptions.
  • Not taking the time to research customer interests. Knowing what content customers would like to receive and understanding their needs better will make digital marketing strategies more effective in targeting potential customers online.

4. How do I reach my target audience?

Reaching your target audience is key in any digital marketing strategy. To do this, you should start by identifying your target audience and understanding their needs, preferences, and behavior. Once you have a clear picture of who you are targeting, you can then decide which digital channels to use in order to reach them.

Additionally, you should utilize cross-channel marketing strategies to engage customers on every digital platform. This means creating content that is tailored to the different channels being used in order to create an immersive experience across all channels. Developing an effective digital marketing strategy that incorporates multiple channels such as social media, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, influencer marketing and more will help you maximize your efforts.

Finally, segmenting and tailoring content to your audience will enable you to create a personalized experience that resonates with customers. Analyze customer behavior and preferences in order to craft content and campaigns that target the right people with the right message at the right time for maximum engagement.

5. How do I use Analytics to measure my marketing efforts?

Measuring the success of your digital marketing efforts is key to ensuring that you are focusing on strategies that are providing the highest return on investment. Here are a few strategies for measuring digital marketing success:

  • Track the performance of your campaigns by analyzing metrics such as website traffic, click-through rate, and conversion rate.
  • Use tools like Google Analytics and other free tools to measure the effectiveness of content, campaigns, ads, and social media to refine your approach.
  • Utilize A/B testing to compare different strategies and determine which ones are most successful.
  • Monitor the ROI of digital marketing campaigns to understand which ones are providing the best return on investment.
  • Assess customer feedback and surveys in order to identify areas of improvement and measure the success of digital marketing efforts.

What are the 4 types of digital marketing?

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimized website and/or content drives traffic from web search results
2. Pay-Per-Click (PPC): Ads targeting shoppers who are ready to purchase
3. Social Media: Marketing on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
4. Content: Helpful content is crafted to attract buyers from targeted audiences

Wrapping up the basics

Digital marketing is here to stay. It has revolutionized the online marketing sphere and should be a big part of your business marketing efforts. If you want to stay competitive in today’s market, digital marketing is essential for your advertising goals. Strategies can vary based on your business objectives and target audience.

To create a digital marketing strategy that works for you, start with free templates and follow our blog to get updates and find help with best practices to win with your marketing efforts. Feel free to get in touch with us for more information on advertising options that suit your business needs! In conclusion, there are many forms of digital marketing that have become a crucial part of business strategies today.

Each type of marketing has its pros and cons but can help businesses reach their target audience in innovative ways. Get a custom quote for your marketing strategy, or get help from our partners to build your own digital marketing strategy today.

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