Digital Marketing for Dummies (But You Don’t Have to Be)

Digital marketing is a term thrown around often by business owners and managers, so much so that everyone knows that it’s a must for brands — even if they aren’t totally clear on what such marketing tactics entail. To simplify things, we’ll give you the “Digital Marketing for Dummies” version: Digital marketing is precisely what it suggests: anything that helps boost your company’s online presence.

The umbrella term of digital marketing covers everything from creating content for your blog or website, to engaging with potential customers on social media, to placing advertisements online. If it happens on the internet, gets eyes on your business, and potentially increases your bottom line, it likely qualifies. 

Of course, good digital marketing requires a strategy. And that’s where things get murky for start-ups or managers who don’t have a ton of experience in the digital realm. So, how can you get started marketing your products or services online?

Getting Started

Send Those Emails: Believe it or not, email marketing still plays a big role in the success of many companies, even if it’s less flashy than posting humorous quips or colorful ads on Facebook and Twitter. If you don’t already have one, building an email list is an important step on your digital-marketing journey — one that can help spread your brand’s message to a wider audience, and even convert directly to sales if done properly.

Email campaigns are an efficient way to inform customers and clients about deals you’re promoting, events that are coming up, new products you’re releasing — just about any newsworthy developments at your company. They also keep your brand at the forefront of people’s minds, enhancing their experience and reminding them to buy in.

Get Social: Social media is a huge part of any modern business, and if you haven’t entered the world of websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat, now’s the time to get started. Creating and nurturing a presence on these websites will familiarize potential customers with your brand, and it will give them an opportunity to engage with it.

Whichever social media platforms you choose to focus on will give your company a space to share content, make announcements, and chat with your audience. Creating such a network allows you to build relationships with those you’re serving. And those relationships help increase customer loyalty.

Search Engine Marketing: If you’ve ever conducted a Google search for a product or service you needed, you’ve experienced firsthand the usefulness of search engine marketing (just from the other side of the fence). Using SEO techniques to ensure that your website ranks highly on Google’s search engine, especially when compared to your competitors, is a huge step toward becoming a go-to company for whatever you’re offering. (If you’re looking to attract customers you wouldn’t normally market to, this is the route to take!)

Keys to Success

Now that you’ve taken the first steps on your “Digital Marketing for Dummies” journey, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing strategy. Once you’ve finished building your online presence, it’s time to start improving it. Only then will you see the true impact of your efforts.

There are a number of great resources to help you gain a better understanding of how you can leverage your newly established email campaigns, social media accounts, and ads to achieve the best results possible. Let’s take a brief look at some of these tools.

Skillshare: If you’re willing to invest time (and maybe a bit of money) into your digital-marketing education, Skillshare offers a range of classes on the topics you’ll need to master to make your strategy a success. (In fact, the site has a workshop for just about everything.) Those looking for a broader training session can opt for general marketing classes, but Skillshare also has ones geared toward specific components of online marketing, like social-media management and SEO best practices. Determine what you’d like to learn about and go from there.

YouTube: There really is a YouTube video for everything. (And by the way, YouTube is another great place to get your brand’s name out there, especially if you have experience with video content.) If you’re looking to watch that content, however, there are plenty of marketing experts who use the platform to make tutorials and educate their viewers on best digital-marketing practices. Just type in the skill you’re looking to hone.

If you still don’t know where to start, some channels to check out include Seth Godin, GaryVee, and Neil Patel.

To the Library: Sure, there are plenty of places online that can teach you digital marketing skills, but you can always kick it old school and head to your local library or bookstore. Hundreds of books have been written about the topic, and each of them will provide valuable insights into how you can boost your business using the worldwide web. (One book that comes to mind while writing this article is “Digital Marketing for Dummies” by Russ Hennebery and Ryan Deiss.)

In addition to the resources that will teach you howto handle your digital-marketing strategy, it’s also worth looking into sites like Hootsuite or Hubspot. Hubspot has training courses and certifications that will make you look like a pro!

Where to Now?

Now that we’ve identified some starting points for taking your company’s online presence from zero to one hundred, it’s time to take action. Having a background on digital marketing best practices is helpful, but ultimately, experimenting will teach you what works best for your company. Just like learning how to swim, jumping in is the best way to go. There’s really not another minute to waste!

If you’d like to chat about digital marketing, please contact us today!

RJ Huebert
RJ Huebert is the founder and managing principal of HBT Digital Consulting, a Pittsburgh-based business. A digital marketing professional, he specializes in search engine and social media marketing for B-to-C companies looking for lead generation and online optimization. He is also the co-race director for three Tampa Bay 5K events called The Great Mother’s Day Race, The Great Father’s Day Race, and The Great Gay 5K. The races have had over 12,000 participants and have raised over $7,000 for local charities since 2012. Previously, RJ was the marketing director for a world-wide market research firm, and has held management roles in verticals including healthcare, banking, and for-profit education. Helping local business succeed online is his daily passion, launching 5K events gives him joy, and contributing to the Pittsburgh business scene inspires him. RJ earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and Master of Arts from the University of South Florida, focusing on Strategic Communication Management. Currently, he sits on the American Marketing Association Board of Directors - Pittsburgh Chapter. He resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife Taylor, chocolate Lab Coco, and a Jack Russel Terrier named Rosie.