11 Digital Marketing Basics You Need to Eat and Breathe to Succeed

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If we're honest, all you care about is the 11 points. So let's jump into these digital marketing basics you need to eat and breathe.

1. It's all bout providing value.

Nobody wants to be sold to, but everybody wants to learn.

Everyone is searching for answers to their questions, and they're looking for brands to provide those answers. The digital marketing needed to meet this demand is different from traditional marketing, and here's why.

In traditional marketing, every billboard, commercial, and strategy says the same thing: We're great, buy our product.

Whether it was a consumer product or a fee-based service, the marketing has always been a sales pitch. That doesn't work for most brands these days. Consumers don't remember the pitch, they remember value.

Consumers don't remember the pitch, they remember value.

Taco Bell is one of the few brands  winning in the digital marketing landscape with straight pitch. What they've been doing is rather impressive. But they're one of the few. The standards have shifted.

Ads are the #1 way that websites and brands monetize their digital presence. Consumers understand this, and they're sick of it!

Consumers want to be in control of when they're pitched, where it happens, and who's doing it. That means brands have to be able to advertise without it looking like they're advertising. How does that happen? Through content.

Related: 7 Small Business Marketing Tips to Drive Exponential Growth

Content is your advertising campaign hidden under valuable information.

You provide answers to questions your targets are asking. They reward you (immediately or over time) by giving you more of their attention and, if you play your cards right, their dollars.

Interesting, helpful content is how you develop customers and build brand loyalty in today's digital marketing landscape. It's all about providing value.

2. Followers mean nothing if they don't do something.

Having a large following is good for one thing: inflating the ego.

The sheer number displayed on your profile or subscriber list doesn't mean anything if those people aren't bringing you value in some way.

If you have 100,000 Facebook followers, but only 100 people click on a link you post, your "followers" aren't doing anything for you. What does matter is having consumers who actively engage with you.

Followers are not the end goal. Conversions are.

Followers are not the end goal. Conversions are. If you have 5,000 total followers, but 3,000 of them will engage with anything you post, you're doing very well.

The main purpose for anyone to have followers is to grow the number of those who will (regularly) convert into something for your brand. That could mean a lot of things, but every possible option involves those followers doing something.

If you're a blog, you need followers to regularly provide you with traffic. As a media company, you need followers to share your media. For ecommerce, you need repeat buyers. If you're a SaaS company, you need people to use and recommend your product.

Followers look great on paper, but if they're not actively engaging with you, they're meaningless.

3. Social media is not a few websites.

Social Media Current State of the Internet

Social media is the current state of the internet. It's not just a few websites like Facebook, Vine (RIP), Twitter, and the like.

Today's media is inherently social. Any link on the internet can be shared on just about any website. If you're involved in any forum, website, or anything else online, you're connecting and interacting with others. You're being social.

Related: What's the Reality of Social Media for Business? [Podcast]

As a digital marketing professional, this means that everywhere you go is a chance to make yourself and your brand look better.

Every link you share, every comment you post, somebody is watching you. Make it worthwhile.

4. Email can have an incredible ROI, but you need the right list.

According to Salesforce, every dollar spent on email marketing yields about $45. I'll take those numbers any day!

The stickler, though, is that you need qualified leads, and a lot of them. Here's what every digital marketing professional needs in an email list.

You can't just spam people and expect to get anything in return, except unsubscribes.

You can't just spam people and expect to get anything in return, except unsubscribes. You need qualified leads. Not some trade-show sign-up sheet gimmick for a chance at a free prize, but people who are actually, genuinely interested in the value you provide.

People who've started a free trial, contacted you directly, bought from you before, or downloaded some piece of content are probably all good choices.

Related: How Many Emails Do People Get Every Day?

Even if you get 1,000 of these precious leads, you still have to keep your efforts up. A good email list will lose about ~20% of its contacts a year, which means you've got to keep replenishing the ranks.

Assuming you can keep this up, benchmark data shows you should be able to get a 33% email open rate with a 4% click-through rate.

GraphicSprings Email Marketing Infographic

PC: GraphicSprings

5. Your targets aren't just in one place.

How many different websites do you visit in a day? If you're like most, you view ~88 web pages on maybe 10 different websites every day.

Plus, those numbers are from 2010 (still no update), and we know internet usage has increased significantly since then. Smartphones hadn't even overtaken feature phones yet!

With all this change - with the fact that people now spend 8-10 hours a day on media - do you really think you can get away with only being in one place? If you have zero competitors, maybe.

Related: Mobile Mary: A Complete Guide for Marketing to Millennials

The goal of being anywhere online is to get conversions, right? As an end goal, engagement doesn't matter. Likes, followers, comments, shares - none of it matters unless people convert. Where do your targets convert? I guarantee there's more than one place.

Maybe one place works best, easiest, and cheapest. But there are other places to get conversions and market share. People have their favorite places to go, but that doesn't mean it's the only place they go.

It's your job to find out everywhere your targets are. Then see what works best at each stage of your business.

6. It can always be better.

There's always an easier way to do something, and there's always a way to optimize your digital marketing campaigns.

When it comes to your product, your website, and your landing pages, there is always a way to make it easier. Which is important, because the user experience is everything!

If you have the option to make your product easier to use, or to add a feature that will make users' lives easier, you're an idiot not to do it.

Customers care so little about what actually makes the best company or product.

Speed and simplicity are crucial. Customers care so little about what actually makes the best company or product. They care about solving their problem fast

They want the simplest thing that will work really well. For your website specifically, there's always going to be a way to make the process easier. To get the right information in prospects' minds quicker. To help them complete their goals faster.

Related: 15 Reasons Why I Didn't Reply to Your Email (& How to Improve)

If you're not continually testing and improving, someone else will be, and they'll take all your leads away from you. Which means they'll eventually take all your customers away from you.

On the advertising side of things, A/B testing is your oxygen. That's what keeps everything growing.

There's always a way to make a campaign better, to improve conversions, to get more people talking about you. But you'll never know what to change or improve if you're not testing.

7. Omnichannel doesn't mean copy and pasting the same thing everywhere.

Omnichannel is about continuity. It's about providing a seamless experience for users across devices and platforms. Here's the common misconception.

People often think of omnichannel as meaning "be everywhere." That's not true. It means extending the customer experience and sales cycle. Here's what that means.

If I go to your website and look at a particular product, I should then see an advertisement for that product in my Facebook or Instagram feed. I should get an email with a coupon for that product, or recommendations relating to it.

Related: Where Does Mobile Fit in the Customer Buying Journey?

If I have a conversation with your brand via your website's live chat, that interest I've shown should appear in other places, too. If I've inquired about X, I should see sponsored content somewhere else providing value around that topic.

Every online user has an ID attached to them and their behaviors. Essentially, you can target these consumers across devices and websites. And you should.

Omnichannel is big for digital marketing for two reasons. One, it takes multiple touch points to close a sale. By extending the customer experience outside of just your website, you create far more touch points. This also makes every unique user more valuable to you.

Two, it provides a much better customer experience! It's simpler for people to work with you, but you're out there placing those reminders in front of them.

An omnichannel strategy could be as complicated as retargeting on various platforms with various advertisers. It could also be as simple as letting people access their accounts/shopping carts from a computer and a mobile device interchangeably.

8. Facebook and Google are in cahoots.

Google controls the search engine landscape. Facebook controls the world of social networking. Together, they decide our fate in digital marketing.

Are they part of the same umbrella? No. But they're working together all the time to share data and make the digital world - in their opinion - a better place.

What this means for you and me is that we need to appeal specifically to these two leviathans.

Discerning how to get shares and any kind of virality going on Facebook will directly benefit you in Google search results. Conversely, optimizing your content for Google SEO will help you get onto Facebook more.

This is the digital marketing game you're playing whether you realize it or not. It's there for you to manipulate, and it's your job to do just that.

9. Consumers have an insatiable need for speed.

I Wanna Go Fast Ricky Bobby

40% of viewers leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. That's unreal! Except it's actually happening.

What's more, the average viewer spends 10-15 seconds on any given page. Consumers are quick, and they want answers fast.

Customer engagement is such a big deal because it's so difficult to claim! You've got 10-15 seconds worth of consumer attention with which to give them both exactly what they're looking for, and a reason to stick to stick around. A small feat by no means.

Related: 7 Simple Steps to Quickly Convert More Online Leads

When people come to you, it's because they're looking for answers. They're looking for solutions to their problems and questions. How quickly can you provide?

You need to be checking how quickly your pages load, and how simple it is for customers to go from A-B. There's always a way to make things easier, and to make them better. That's what consumers want, and they want it fast.

10. Americans wear smartphones like jewelry.

Over 70% of consumers check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up. People check their phones 150 times throughout the day, and spend nearly 5 hours a day on them.

90% use their phones in the bathroom. Mobile is used more to access the web than desktops and laptops. And people keep these devices within arms reach for 22 out of 24 hours of every day.

How's that for a data dump?

Related: How Much Time Do People Spend on Their Mobile Phones in 2018?

Plus, nearly every smartphone owner uses their device somewhere during the purchase process. Most people actually look up products on their phones while they're standing in a physical store! This isn't just some trend! Mobile is a staple of consumer behavior.

Mobile is where consumers live, which means you need to live there, too.

Mobile is where consumers live, which means you need to live there, too. Your digital marketing efforts need to reflect these consumer behaviors. You have to include mobile in what you're doing, and in many cases you need to place it ahead of desktop!

11. Organic is dead, unless you're really creative.

Note: This is about social media in particular, not Google search and SEO. SEO is only getting more powerful.

Coca-Cola's marketing team frequently uses this saying, which has only become more true month after month.

"Anyone can achieve more with a proper $500 investment than a brand with 90 million fans organically." They say this, because they get better results from putting $500 behind a targeted post instead of just leaving it up to their 90 million fans to find.

Follower counts mean less and less each month. Social algorithms have cut organic reach to 10% or less. What's important is getting in front of your targets. It's usually easier to do this with a few bucks, unless you're really creative.

A "hit" of a campaign will spread itself. My current favorite brand blowing it out of the water is (ironically) Organic Valley. Their Save the Bros and Pop-up Coffee Shop campaigns are fantastic! 

These campaigns make you want to share them with your friends. And - more importantly - the product is integral to the advertisement. It's nearly impossible to walk away from this or to retell the story without remembering Organic Fuel.

The problem with trying to recreate this kind of campaign is that in 99% of cases, virality is not the point. Adding value is.

When you combine value with virality, you've got internet gold that can catapult your brand. But in every other case (most cases), you'll be better off paying to place something valuable directly in front of your audience.

Related: 4 Effortless Business Texting Strategies to Increase Sales