What is digital marketing?

6 min read
Will Stevens

You've got your business website or blog up and running, and now you're wondering how you get the word out about what it is you're doing.

You've probably already heard the phrase "digital marketing" but perhaps you've been left a little confused by it - after all, it's a huge topic.

In this guide, we'll look at the basics of digital marketing and what it is, as well as explain the principles behind the leading digital marketing methods to help you decide what will work best for your website.


What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing refers to the marketing of products and/or services through the use of digital technology, most commonly the internet. It includes search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click ads (PPC), social media advertising to name just a few.

Done well, digital marketing will help boost your sales and is highly cost effective. So let's take a look at the main digital marketing techniques and how you can use them to promote your business.

1 Search engine optimization

SEO was one of the first digital marketing techniques, and it's still an exceedingly powerful tool today.

The aim to ensure that your website is optimized in such a way that your key selling pages rank at the top of search engine results.

Put simply, the basics of carrying out SEO involve identifying the keywords that your potential customers use to search for a product/service that you offer, and then creating content based around those keywords which should then appear in search results. People (your potential customers) will then see your site in search results click through, and hopefully buy from you.

The reality is a bit more complicated than that, and things like your website structure are also important when it comes to SEO.

You can learn more about good SEO in this guide. And you can also use GoDaddy's SEO tool to help you improve your SEO.

The other thing to remember is that it will take a while before you see results from your SEO work. So although it's a good long-term marketing technique, don't rely on it for quick results.

2 PPC ads

If you need quick results from your digital marketing, then you should strongly consider PPC ads.

As the name suggests, you pay for each click your ad receives (so basically for each visitor your ad sends to your website.)

One of the most popular forms of PPC advertising is Google AdWords, where you pay to include your ads in search results for keywords that are related to your business.

Here's an example:

Other popular PPC platforms include social media ads (usually Facebook and Twitter), and display ads (where you use an ad service to show your ads on third-party websites.)

How much you'll pay for a click can vary between a few pence to tens of pounds, depending on things like what keywords you're targeting, the level of competition and the platform you're using.

The basic idea of PPC advertising is to ensure that you make more from the sales your ads generate than you spend on those ads.

One of the biggest advantages of PPC is that it works quickly, so you don't have to wait around for results.

You can learn more about running your own AdWords ads in this guide, while this guide will explain more about paid social media ads.

If you're not sure about doing things yourself, there are plenty of reuptable agencies who can help with your PPC.

3 Organic social media marketing

As well as paid social media marketing, there is also organic social media marketing - where businesses try to attract social followings without paying for ads.

The main ways to do this are sharing useful and insightful content, and encouraging existing customers to connect with you on social media.

Unfortunately, building a social media following is a lot harder than it used to be, partly because of increased competition for attention and partly because social networks are keen to push people into paying for their adds.

You can learn about how to get started with social media marketing in this guide.

4 Content marketing

There's a strong link between this digital marketing technique and social media, but content marketing is important enough to warrant its own mention.

The idea behind content marketing is simple: To create blogs, graphics, pieces of research, white papers etc that are so interesting people will share, link to and write about them.

Of course as you might imagine, creating this kind of content takes a lot of planning and effort.

The upside is that if you do it well, content marketing can help you with your SEO, your social media marketing and your email marketing (more on which later.)

You can learn more about how your small business can get started with content marketing in this guide.

5 Online PR

Doing effective PR used to be out of the reach of many small businesses, but digital marketing has changed all that.

The proliferation of niche blogs and online news outlets means there are a significant number of places you can get coverage for your small business.

Of course you'll need to do something interesting to get that coverage. It might be a piece of content you've created (so there's clear overlap with content marketing here), or it could be that you're selling an innovative product, or have an interesting personal story to tell.

You might not make the front pages of the national newspapers, but there's a real chance you could get coverage from publications that your potential customers read on a regular basis.

You can read this guide to get help you get started with online PR.

6 Email marketing

Email marketing is often seen as old-fashioned, but done correctly it's a really powerful digital marketing technique.

One of the biggest advantages of email marketing is that it allows you to build a marketing database that you have control over.

For example, if you rely on Google for your traffic, a change to the search engine's algorithm could lead to a drop in the number of people visiting your website.

But if you encourage people who find your site via Google to sign up for your email list, then you'll be able to contact these people again, even if your site's Google rankings drop.

To start email marketing you'll need a tool to like GoDaddy Email Marketing.

You can read this guide to getting started with email marketing.

Summing up

Hopefully you should now have a better understanding of digital marketing, the techniques available and how they can help you grow your business. For more information, check out the in depth articles on the GoDaddy blog.