We have an incredible team of Digital Marketing Specialists (DMSs) here at Ecreativeworks. They are well-trained, passionate and ambitious. They are always craving MORE. For those of you reading our recent blogs, you have likely noticed more of them! As a member of our sales team, I am a bit of a black sheep among DMSs. I’m completely non-technical, which means more often than not, I am barely holding on when they converse together.
If you’re anything like me, you too, may be overwhelmed by this world of digital marketing. My job requires me to know just enough to be dangerous and to bring this world down to earth for the rest of the general population. The last blog I wrote is all about how to assess your website and where to put your digital marketing dollars. Here, I will attempt to define and clarify some of the many channels and strategies that make up digital marketing. And be warned, it’s a little confusing…
Core Channels of Digital Marketing
There are many different mediums, spaces, methods and strategies that must work together for successful digital marketing. Let’s start by defining some of the base channels; you can think of these as different digital “spaces” you can market in:
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- SMM (Social Media Marketing)
- Miscellaneous channels we won’t be getting into today (television, radio, email marketing)
Hopefully, you’re not already lost because this next section gets a bit bumpy.
SEO & SEM – What’s the Difference?
SEO and SEM seem very similar but they are clearly separated by one thing: advertisements. SEO is the process of improving your website so that it pulls in more traffic from free, organic search results (no ads involved.) SEM is the process of paying the search engines directly, to run advertisements. To be honest, there is still some confusion around this for me.
I found articles that say SEO and SEM are separate pieces of the same puzzle, and others insist that SEO is part of SEM. The best explanation I found for this discrepancy was from Search Engine Land and states that the definition of SEM has changed in recent years. It used to be an umbrella term and is now used more often to describe specifically advertising.
Common Names and Channels for SEM
It should also be mentioned that search engine advertising is known by many names, including but not limited to: SEM, search engine marketing, PPC, pay-per-click, (occasionally “paper click”,) CPC, cost-per-click, Google Ads, AdWords, Bing/Yahoo Ads. So there’s that. There are also many sub-channels of digital advertising, just what you were hoping for, I bet! (If you can no longer deal, feel free to skip down to “Core Methods of Digital Marketing.”)
Digital ads can show up in:
- SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) – These are the ads you see when you do a search, usually identified by an “Ad” label of some sort.
- Shopping Feeds – Products presented on a SERP, with prices and images. These can also include brand and product information, as well as reviews.
- Videos – Most of us are familiar with video ads. They’re the video clips that play before and after the video clips you want to watch. They range in duration from 5 seconds to well over 2 minutes, and tell you everything you could ever know about Ulcerative colitis and other exciting topics. This example is from YouTube, but these can be found all over any streaming services (Hulu, Netflix which mostly advertises for its own material, Spotify and Pandora which use audio ads, rather than video.)
- Display Networks – The display network is designed to serve advertisements on various websites, videos and mobile applications, outside of the search engines themselves. You’ve likely seen these before, even if you didn’t know exactly what they were.
Okay, moving on!
Finally, we have SMM or Social Media Marketing, which is its own world with its own tools and rules. This channel encompasses both organic and paid options, across a variety of social media platforms.
Core Methods of Digital Marketing
Now that we’ve had all that fun, let’s move on to common methods of digital marketing.
Methods for SEO
Let’s start with SEO, our strongest core competency here at Ecreativeworks. All SEO methods focus on improving your website. Whether you’re pulling users in from search results, advertisements, Google My Business, social, video or email, your website serves as the foundation for your brand and the experience you want to provide. Some common methods and components of SEO are:
- On-site optimization (methods applied to your website, front-end and back-end)
- Off-site optimization (methods applied outside of your website)
- Link Building
- Social Media
- Supporting website components
Methods for SEM
SEM (paid advertisement) methods focus on targeting the right people, in the right place, at the right time. This means there are many methods of targeting:
- Geofencing – serving an ad to any user within a set distance of a specific location. This method will serve a Starbucks ad to Brad when he’s within 5 miles of a Starbucks.
- Geotargeting – serving an ad to any user within a set distance of a specific location who meets specific criteria. This method will serve a Starbucks ad to Brad when he’s within 15 miles of a Starbucks and since he is a man between the ages of 25 and 35.
- Real-Time Bidding (RTB) – bidding method used to serve ads within the Display Network. Advertisers set parameters on what they’re willing to pay for an ad and the automated RTB system bids on their behalf as a page loads.
- PPC (pay-per-click) – a method of paying for and measuring advertisements. The advertiser pays a certain cost for each click of their add.
- PPI (pay-per-impression) / CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) – an alternate method of paying for and measuring advertisements. The advertiser pays a certain cost for each impression their ad serves (or for each 1,000 impressions.) An impression is sort of like a “view.” (You see the ad, but don’t necessarily click on it.)
Methods for SMM
SMM (social media marketing) as I said earlier, has its own rules and methods:
- Organic posts – any post you create and share on your social media platforms for free.
- Ads – created through an ad manager, social ads are much like search engine ads. They can use copious targeting methods to deliver ads to users based on location, demographics, behavior and more. Social ads are curated to pursue specific goals, such as increased video views, page likes, ad engagement (likes, comments and shares,) and website traffic.
- Boosted posts – due to a steady decline in organic reach on social media, boosted posts are available to enhance post performance. Sponsored posts offer less options and customizations for targeting viewers and measuring success. With a boosted post, you can designate a target audience, max budget, and how LONG your post should be boosted for.
If you’re interested in understanding more about what’s available in the paid social channel, this article may be a good place to start.
- Dynamic posts – paid posts that are dynamically generated with assets you’ve previously provided. Instead of individually creating an ad for each of your products, you create an ad template that automatically uses images and details from your data feed.
- Influencer posts – a new and unique method of online branding & advertising. Brands pay users on social media who have established credibility in a specific industry, known as influencers. Those influencers then post, promote and share about the brand’s specific products, events and services. One thing that makes influencer posts unique is they look like regular posts. Influencers are required to identify that their posts are a form of advertising, but that is usually done by burying an #influencer or #instainfluencer tag in a pile of other hashtags.
There is a slew of terms and definitions in the world of digital marketing and as you witnessed here, even the professionals can’t always agree on them. This, combined with the fact that everything about this industry is constantly evolving, makes it extremely challenging to keep up.
We pride ourselves on keeping up so that you don’t have to! I hope this post has clarified some of this chaos but if, in the end, it’s completely overwhelmed and confused you even more, you’re always encouraged to reach out to us!