What is Digital Marketing? Trusty Wikipedia identifies Digital Marketing as:

“An umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.”

But, if you were to really ask yourself what this term means to you, what would you say? What does it include? How do you determine what fits under the umbrella? I’ve been in some aspect of different digital marketing roles over the last 15 years, here is a list of what I have collected so far.

Digital Marketing includes:

  • Website Content
  • Website Optimization
  • SEO
  • SEM
  • Display Advertising
  • Native Advertising
  • E-Mail Direct Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Targeted Marketing
  • Experiential Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Data-Driven Marketing
  • Gaming
  • App Development
  • Mobile Marketing
  • E-Books
  • Podcasts

I’m sure I’m forgetting something (many things). Between that and the never ending list of buzzwords marketers regurgitate on a regular basis during meetings to sound knowledgeable, who can keep up? So let’s take a moment to simplify it, digital marketing is anyway you can connect or market to consumers or businesses involving an electronic device. A simple concept in theory, but not so much in the execution.

Technology can be endless. In the last 10 years, what isn’t available on a electronic device? I always have to wrap my head around how to simplify digital marketing. It’s easy to get lost or overwhelmed by the vast opportunity and potential of the digital space. Understanding it is one thing, but balancing the different aspects of this term can give you some additional direction.  Here are a few tips I can offer to help with this endless road of possibility:

Don’t be Afraid to Fail

Failure is important. It’s how we grow. Bill Gates first company, Traf-O-Data, developed a product that barely worked. Evan Williams’, co-founder of Twitter, podcasting platform Odeo failed partly because of the announcement of podcasts being available in the iTunes store shortly after the company launched. Arianna Huffington’s second book was rejected by 36 publishers. It’s rare that you get something right the first time. Same thought process can be applied to digital marketing. It’s an endless road of improvement, testing, trying new theories and then adjusting to keep up with any new updates to the technology. Because guess what, there are companies developing these products and platforms who are failing everyday. So as they fail, grow, succeed, you are going through the same cycle.

Don’t get Overwhelmed by your Vision

Having a vision for where you want to go can give you the drive you need to get through any failure, but don’t let your vision get in the way of just taking those first few steps. I’m all about a 3-5 year plan, but I have learned through the years that plans are great, but I can’t get there unless I know where to start. Vision’s change and evolve as you learn what can and cannot be done in the space, and you may come to realize that the vision can become the next innovation in a particular industry, or that your vision may need to adjust based off of shifts in the market place. Either way, simplicity is key.

Instead of looking at the goals for the next 3 years, look at the goals for the quarter. Why? Because technology changes that rapidly. Become knowledgeable about the basics first: Website optimization, Email marketing, social media marketing. Those three aspects can create a good foundation and is enough of a challenge just getting concepts like SEO, understanding analytics, segmenting, which platforms work best for your business/organization right, as well as helping with any direction and goals to see your vision come to fruition.

“The Devil is in the Details”

Have you ever planned a birthday party and realized you forgot the plastic spoons for ice cream? All of the planning and ensuring that the entire backyard was transformed into a Paw Patrol mini-Disneyland adventure and dammit if all of the kids are now eating ice cream with a fork. Understanding details associated with the execution of a digital marketing campaign and strategy can set you a part from the pack, but also develop a broader understanding of your consumer. Let’s take the birthday party planning as an example. Let’s say during the planning when the initial email went out to parents, you included a questionnaire asking parents to identify what the kids at the party liked to eat, drink and whether they preferred Paw Patrol or Disneyland. If 90% of those parents confirmed that their kids preferred Paw Patrol, now you have no reason to include Disneyland in the mix. You’ve saved a percentage of the budget decorating by not including the other theme. Additionally, 60% of those parents said they prefer cake over ice cream and 40% prefer ice cream over cake. Solution…an ice cream cake. Another budget savings.

Now apply that thinking to your digital marketing strategy, stripping it down to the details of interacting with the consumer and understanding what attracts them to your brand or organization. From their creating an ecosystem that is based off of their interests and not just your assumptions. Connecting that birthday email to a Facebook event reminder for the parents who responded. Afterwards, taking the photos and videos taken from the party, creating a post highlighting images of Paw Patrol and ice cream cake, then telling parents to visit the birthday website (which you built using the extra savings) to download images of their kids enjoying the festivities. Why would parents be interested? Because you listened to their needs, took their opinion into account and created messaging that appeals to their interests from the event.

We are in an age of constant change. But, the great thing about technology is that anything is possible, depending on time and money. You don’t have to do it alone, and you don’t have to do it all, but you should be doing something if you want to sustain and grow. Remember something is not everything, but whatever direction you decide to go in with technology and your digital marketing strategy, balancing your presence and ensuring it works together can only be a benefit to your plans for the future.