What is Digital Marketing?

Intro to Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a buzzword, but what exactly does it mean? The simplest way I can think of to describe digital marketing is internet money-making magic. It’s out there but what is it, how does it work and perhaps most importantly how can this internet money-making magic send a little love to your website?

An Abridged History of Search Engines

To begin, let me take you back to the medieval times of the internet and the development of the Archie Query Form or 1993. If you have never heard of Archie don’t worry, it doesn’t exist anymore. Archie was essentially a way to search the internet for golden nuggets, or keywords. As the years rolled by, Archie was replaced by more sophisticated models called search engines, the most successful of which is Google. Google got its start in 1997 when Sergey Brin and Larry Page, a couple of college students at Stanford, developed an algorithm to rank web pages against each other and put the most popular articles on the first page. This made it easier for everyday people like you and me to search the near-infinite knowledge of the internet from our PCs, provided mom wasn’t on a call (if you even get that joke).

How Search Engine Optimization got Started

At this point, a literal internet space race took off with search engines trying to best each other to deliver answers to your queries at the speed of light and all for free. I’ll talk about why it’s free in a minute, but we have just arrived at the first major skill in digital marketing. Since computers aren’t really geniuses, search algorithms look at variables like keywords, links and where they are, who made them etc. Digital Marketers use these variables to design websites to beat out their competitors in the search results. The higher in the search results your website is, the more people will click on it and hopefully, you make lots of money. This line of work is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.

How Pay-Per-Click Advertising Got Started

Now back to that part about the results being free. I couldn’t live without Google and I would bet you would be hard-pressed to do the same. With its free maps, free cloud storage, free email, free search results 24/7, have you ever stopped to think how it is that they can provide so much free stuff? I’m guessing you already know the ad space allows them to provide this service. Everyday millions of ads out are shown, including videos, images, audio and text ads that show up in your search results, on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, on youtube, on blogs etc.

This brings us to the second major skill of digital marketing. All of those ads are managed by digital marketers. Online marketers help connect real people to the services and products that they are searching for. In most cases, marketers pay each time someone clicks on their Ad, which is why the term pay-per-click marketing is commonly used to describe internet advertising.

How is digital marketing different from traditional marketing?

I’m sure other marketing professionals would answer differently, but I’m going to go with data-driven strategies. The benefit of digital marketing is that it is very easy to collect, analyze and act on real data. This doesn’t mean you will always make the best choices when it comes to advertising your company or brand but it does mean that you will know if it worked and how well it worked. Unlike the cost per impression of television ads, it is possible to calculate the value per visitor, the cost per click, the cost per conversion, the conversion rate, the ROI, profits, etc.  I could go on and on. I will address this in greater detail in my later posts.

I’ve done my best to give an honest depiction of what digital marketing is and the major areas that it occupies. However, the internet is vast and evolving. If you enjoyed this post, I’ll be posting more soon to explore a little bit of the history and the theory behind the field of digital marketing.