Businesses have been adapting swiftly into digital sales and marketing — finding new ways to drive revenue even though they might not fit into a traditional “online selling” model. If you’re in this same boat, you may be wondering what digital marketing pillars you should focus on to increase your presence and give you a better shot at finding online leads — and closing deals.
We recently reviewed how to build a smart digital marketing plan on a budget. Now, with industry and marketing opportunities changing so rapidly, you might want to dig deeper into the right digital marketing mix to promote your business and spend your resources wisely.
For digital marketing, in particular, there are six main areas of focus — pillars — that will help you build an online presence and effectively promote your business, products and services.
Note that you may not choose to focus on every pillar, especially if budgets and people resources are tight. But by focusing attention on one or two of these, you can dedicate the right amount of time and money to give you a greater chance of achieving your goals.
Digital Marketing Pillar 1:
“Content” is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a particular audience online. This can be blog articles, web pages, landing pages, eBooks, white papers, infographics, videos, webinars and many other formats.
According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), marketing is impossible without great content. « In short, instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty. »
If you’re new to content marketing, start by outlining your customers’ frequently asked questions. Then answer those in quick blog articles and publish them on your website once a week, and promote them on the social media platform that your target audience is on the most. This will get you well off to the races!
Digital marketing pillar 2:
Also known as sponsored content, native advertising matches the style of the platform it appears on. Native advertising comes in the form of videos, articles, or editorials.
In the past, this type of content was commonly called « advertorials » and would show up in magazines, almost masquerading as a seamless transition from one page to the next. Now, there are many more opportunities to deliver native advertising that will also be valuable to readers.
« Think of native advertising as a way of distributing your high-quality content so it can get discovered by consumers who might not yet know enough about your brand to engage with that content on your owned media channels, » explains CMI.
Instead of publishing all your great thought-leadership content on your own site, you may want to pay to have this content appear on a third-party site that has a bigger audience, more reach and can get your brand some great exposure.
Digital marketing pillar 3:
PPC is also commonly referred to as Google Search (since it’s the most common platform for this advertising, although other search engines such as Bing offer options. PPC is a form of advertising that allows marketers to set up campaigns on search engines to drive traffic to websites or landing pages. The advertiser pays the publisher directly, which is most often based on when someone clicks the ad — hence the name. Other online search pricing is based on the number of impressions displayed.
Note that with PPC, you’re bidding in an auction-style setting, and the terms you may want to be discovered for are likely on the radar of competitors. Some of your fellow advertisers may have deep pockets and be will to spend more to get to the top of search results. So be careful not to spend too much money on the wrong terms, and look for ways to niche.
Digital marketing pillar 4:
Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is a popular method of marketing, where marketers target unpaid traffic. The goal is to improve the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or web page from search engines.
Popular vendor SEMRush explains SEO simply: « SEO is the art and science of persuading search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, to recommend your content to their users as the best solution to their problem. »
By optimizing the content on your website and making use of keywords that people are searching for, the search engines will understand who your company is, what you offer, and know that you are a credible resource to direct people to when they are searching for information.
Digital Marketing pillar 5:
Social media marketing
When you make use of social media platforms and channels to promote products or services, this is known as social media marketing (SMM). Popular forms of SMM include Facebook Advertising, Instagram Ads, and TikTok videos.
But before you can advertise, you need to create great content and publish it on the platforms. For businesses, this can include posting thought-leadership blogs, helpful resources and guides, videos of your experts explaining how they help (or teaching your audience something valuable), and even special offers that will capture attention.
Buffer explains that there are five SMM pillars to follow, and only the final component is the actual advertising area where you spend money.
Digital marketing pillar 6:
Email marketing is far from dead. In fact, it’s thriving and has garnered a second wind in the business world for delivering helpful information and valuable promotions of products or services.
But « email marketing » isn’t just a direct message from you to individual customers, and it’s not spam either. As Hubspot explains, it’s somewhere in between. « It’s one of the few marketing channels we can use to build an authentic connection with the humans that keep our businesses alive. … Your customers don’t give their information lightly, and — if used right — email marketing can be both a relationship-building and profit-building tool. »
Now, using automation and nurture streams of content, the power of email marketing has skyrocketed. By creating emails that genuinely update your audience and make it worthwhile for them to open and read the message, you can actually evolve those relationships, build trust and potentially even convert sales.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at what marketing direction you want to take as we evolve into a post-pandemic business environment, you’re not alone. But remember that you can always shift your pillars along the way to better suit your marketing objectives. Marketing also includes some trial and error, and if you have a good plan in place, you’ll also have contingency plans and backup strategies to allow you to pivot with relative ease.