What is Digital Marketing?

You’ve probably heard the term “digital marketing” more than once - probably many times, in fact. And for good reason...it plays a HUGE role in business today. But, what is digital marketing?


SAS Institute offers a lengthy definition: “Digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media and differs from traditional marketing in that it involves the use of channels and methods that enable an organization to analyze marketing campaigns and understand what is working and what isn’t - especially in real life.”


HubSpot greatly simplifies digital marketing by describing it as “any form of marketing that exists online.”


However, marketing guru Neil Patel offers what may be my favorite definition: “Digital marketing is any form of marketing products or services that involves electronic devices.”


Any way you define it, digital marketing is only becoming more important. Information is so readily available today, and it’s up to you to make sure it’s being used in a way that helps ensure your business’s success. With digital media being so affordable and easily accessible, competition for consumers’ attention is fierce.


Each area of digital marketing can be used in different ways and for different purposes.


One of the reasons I love Patel’s simplistic definition of digital marketing so much is that it includes offline marketing. Patel breaks digital marketing content into two groups:


Online Marketing

○      Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

○      Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

○      Content Marketing

○      Social Media Marketing (SMM)

○      Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

○      Affiliate Marketing

○      Email Marketing


Offline Marketing

○      Enhanced Offline Marketing

        ■      Electronic billboards

        ■      Digital Product Demos

        ■      Digital Product Samples

○      Radio Marketing

        ■      Radio Commercials

        ■      Show Sponsoring

○      TV Marketing

        ■      TV Commercials

        ■      Tele-shopping

        ■      Super Bowl Commercials

○      Phone Marketing

        ■      Cold Calling

        ■      Text Message Marketing

        ■      QR Codes


We’re going to spend the coming weeks taking a closer look at various methods of online marketing, so this week we’ll take a brief look at a few offline marketing examples that you may want to include in your marketing strategies.


Digital Product Demos

Apple stores are a prime example of this. In their stores, Apple has all of their products readily available for customers to come in and use for as long as they like. Right off the bat, we know as consumers that being able to try something before we buy it is always preferable. However, there’s interesting psychology involved here as well.


In a podcast I recently listened to, there was a discussion about our relationship to “things”. One of the hosts mentioned this Lifehacker article and its reference to Apple stores. In the article, the author explains that Apple store employees angle the notebook computer screens in a way that ensures that customers will have to adjust the screen to better view it. This is because, as the article states, touching an object immediately gives us a connection to it. And the longer we touch it, the deeper that connection becomes.


Allowing demos of electronic devices like this develops a sense of ownership in the user, who will then (hopefully) want to have one of their own.


Text Message Marketing

Statistically, users open 98% of the text messages they receive (compared with 22% of emails they receive). That’s a huge difference that you can use to your advantage. And I’m not saying to forget about email marketing altogether, but that number (98%!!) really makes you think about how you can utilize text messaging in your business.


Restaurants and stores routinely offer coupons and specials through text messaging. It’s a great way to reach customers, but it’s important to get the user’s permission first. This is usually done by texting a certain word to a phone number, which begins the text message subscription. I find these text messages especially useful when they include coupons that are with me on my phone instead of having to print them. In fact, mobile offers are redeemed at a rate of 10 times that of print offers.


As I was writing this article, I received this text from Redbox:

Talk about an example coming at an opportune moment! Redbox has been utilizing text messaging to send out offers for a while. Now it appears that they’re adding a rewards program to it.


Here are some text message marketing companies that may be able to help you get started.


Loyalty Programs

It’s five times more cost effective to keep customers than to gain new ones. A loyalty program can be an exceptional asset when working to keep existing customers. In the past, loyalty programs have used plastic key tags to track customers’ purchases. More recently, loyalty programs have been going digital as companies have started using apps to help retain customers’ loyalty.


In my opinion, Starbuck’s uses this idea very effectively. I LOVE checking out small coffee shops. I actually made myself a checklist of small business coffee shops in our area so that I could try to hit them all and find my favorites. And there are some that I frequent regularly. However, Starbuck’s continues to draw me in through their loyalty program.


For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, Starbuck’s has a well-designed app that you can load money onto and pay with, order from, and track your reward “stars”. You earn stars with purchases and can then “cash in” stars for free items once you reach a certain level. They have special offers and special days where you can earn extra stars instead of the normal 2 stars for every $1 spent. I’m not going to lie, I’m more likely to visit Starbuck’s during these special offers to more quickly accumulate stars (which means I’ll earn free items faster). The loyalty program has definitely made me a much more frequent Starbuck’s customer than I would be otherwise. And I know I’m not alone.


While Starbuck’s does this on a much bigger scale than a small start-up would, it’s still a good example of how successful a loyalty program can be. Here are some ideas for loyalty reward apps geared towards small businesses.

Many people associate digital marketing with website banners, PPCs, email, and social media. But there is so much more to it than that. Having a wide range of content utilized through a well thought out marketing strategy can make a tremendous impact on your business. I encourage you to look at these different marketing channels and explore how some of them could help you grow your own business.


Join us in the coming weeks as we take a closer look at the online aspects of digital marketing.


We’d love you hear from you on your experiences with some of the strategies mentioned.
Are there loyalty programs that have helped retain you as a customer?
How do you feel about text messages from companies?
Are there any other offline marketing ideas that we didn’t mention
that you find especially effective?