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What is digital marketing?

Wondering what internet marketing is, and how it can benefit your business? We’re here to define digital marketing and bring top agencies to your attention, providing hints and tips along the way

Remember the days of the Yellow Pages? Thumbing through a directory that could double as a doorstop, just to find a plumber’s number…

It’s all change now, of course. We simply pop “plumber near me” into Google, and Bob’s your uncle – a whole host of options will appear, all within a ten mile radius.

From a customer’s perspective, this is ideal. No more leafing through the phone book, hoping to get lucky – why bother when the internet can do it for you? However, this has made things slightly more complex for business owners.

The advantage of the humble directory was that it provided a level playing field. If your business was listed, you knew there was as much chance of a customer happening upon your number as there was for any of your competitors.

Now, however, the principles of self promotion are slightly more complex. If it’s your number you want to appear on the top of the list when a potential customer searches “plumbers near me”, then you need a strategy in place and a bit of digital marketing know-how.

Read on to find out what digital marketing actually is, and learn about the agencies out there that are ready to boost your online presence, helping your business be one of the first to appear as an answer to any relevant search query.

 


What is digital marketing?

Think about all of the digital devices we use day to day. Phones, laptops, PCs, tablets, smart watches… even books are digitised on Kindles! The list could go on and on, and whilst each of these devices serve a specific purpose, they also present different ways for you to communicate with your customers.

For example, you can send an SMS reminder to your client so they don’t miss an appointment, tap into their newsfeed with targeted social media advertisements, land in their inboxes with enticing offers, and even appear at the top of their Google searches by using Pay Per Click (PPC) methods.

Digital marketing refers to any communication your business has with its customers via digital means, be that to promote your product/service or maintain healthy customer relationships. It’s using technology to forge a bond between customer and company.

And, considering how connected we all are now (what with the plethora of devices we’ve come to depend upon), creating and nurturing that customer/business bond has never been easier.

However, digital marketing is a many-stringed bow. There are lots of advantageous ways to use technology when it comes to marketing, but not every digital marketing method is suitable for every business. Read on for a digital marketing breakdown, covering what each type of digital marketing is most suitable for, and how you can use it to promote your business.


What are the benefits of digital marketing?

Cost efficiency

Digital marketing is one of the most cost effective ways of building excitement around your brand.Traditional marketing (i.e.: printed, physical marketing) is expensive, and the landscape is monopolised by the bigger brands with budgets to match – making it hard for small businesses to compete.

But in the digital world, you get a lot more bang for your marketing buck – making it an affordable alternative.While traditional marketing tactics can often have a hidden price tag, digital marketing is relatively cheap, but will cost a lot of time and patience.

Organic and predominantly free tactics, such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and social media marketing, take time to gain enough traction to have an impact.

However, you can speed things up with methods such a pay-per-click, display, and social media advertising, which will come at a small cost but deliver results more quickly.

Measurable impact

Imagine you have a killer campaign with brilliant graphics and stellar copy, but no way of knowing if it’s actually had an impact when it comes to sales (or if anyone’s seen the campaign, for that matter).

With digital marketing, this scenario is completely avoided. There are always analytics tools that will tell you exactly how many people the campaign has reached, how many people engaged with the brand as a result, and how many conversions it generated.

Analytic tactics take the mystery out of marketing. You can see the direct impact of each and every campaign – brilliant for making smarter, more targeted marketing moves in the future.

Streamlined approach
In the digital world, every search, browse, and purchase has a purpose. Digital marketing allows your brand to suit the purpose of its audience.You’ll be able to position your product/service so that it appears in relevant google searches via SEO.

Also, methods such as pay-per-click, display, and social media advertising use demographic information to target those who are statistically most likely to be interested in your brand. So with minimum spend, you can have maximum impact.

Increased visibility
These days, customers are turning to search engines for solutions before they even know what product or service they need.According to the online video producer Vimeo, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, while 59% of consumers prefer to check several channels (i.e. the business’ website and social channels) before making moves towards the business.

This shift in consumer habits reveals a great opportunity for businesses to connect with consumers, and to target them at the early stages of the buyer’s journey.

It’s easy to improve online visibility with simple optimisation tactics, getting your brand onto your customers’ screens with minimal expenditure and fuss.

Personable approach
If 59% of consumers check several channels before deciding which business to visit or purchase from, that means more than half of your prospective customers must be checking out your business’ website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts before paying you a visit.

Making sure your socials are ship-shape is absolutely vital if you’re looking to turn a potentially interested customer into a committed buyer.Entering into someone’s ‘social world’ really allows you to connect with your audience, and create a two-way narrative that’s both lasting and impactful.

For this purpose, social media is ideal – it allows your customer to like, comment, and share your product/service, and allows you to publicly respond to any customer feedback (which looks great, as it shows that you’re willing to nurture your consumer base).


Types of digital marketing

The term “digital marketing” covers a broad spectrum of digital strategies, and there are many elements to consider when designing your digital plan. We’ve collated a quick-fire list that details the essentials, and explains some of the terminology you’re likely to encounter on your digital marketing journey.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

An easy way to increase traffic to your website is by improving your site’s visibility.

This involves bumping up your website’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) status, so you’re landing right where customers can see you – in other words, at the top of their Google search. How? By using keyword phrases, and making sure your content is top notch.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

As you may have guessed, you’re going to have to pay for this one. PPC means that an advertiser pays a publisher every time someone clicks on the advert.

For example, when you see ads appear on the right hand side of your search engine results page, such ads are operating on a PPC model – the advertiser (in this case, business) will pay the publisher (let’s say Google) each time a customer clicks on the ad to be taken to the business’ website.

Display advertising

The billboards of the social media world, display advertising refers to a type of paid digital marketing that you're probably very used to seeing along your own newsfeed scrolls. It encompasses those ads and banners that pop up when you’re habitually meandering through Instagram, or surveying the day’s Twitter feed.

Comprising text, images, flash, video, and audio, display advertising is designed to deliver a branded message that increases awareness via popular digital platforms. For more information, our What is display advertising page gives a comprehensive definition of display ads, and explains how to use them effectively.

Social media (organic)

Organic social media marketing refers to social media activity and promotion that arises without having to be paid for. Think of a post that hasn’t been ‘boosted’ financially, but has simply risen to popularity via likes and shares.

Note: the term ‘organic’ pops up quite a lot in the digital marketing world. It means that something’s presence hasn’t been paid for – it’s become ‘naturally’ popular, if you like.

Social media (paid)

Paid media is more closely aligned with traditional marketing methods, and refers to when you pay a third party to promote your message (for example, display advertising is a type of paid social media marketing).

Email marketing (CRM)

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) refers to the organisation, automation, and synchronisation of business processes via email. It keeps your business directly in contact with customers via their inboxes, allowing you to keep your customers up to date with newsletters, offers, and opportunities.

At the same time, you can keep track of which customers engage with your emails and click-through to your website via any in-email links.

Influencer marketing uses social media to tap into the following of a specific individual (or organisation) to promote a product that relates to the interests of the already dedicated audience – thus increasing visibility, and (hopefully) sales.

To be considered ‘influential’, said influencer would have a following of approximately 10,000. Working with an influencer can be as easy as sending them samples to feature on their page, however, some will charge a fee.When working with influencers, always make it clear that the audience must be aware that any post featuring your product/service is a sponsored post.

Best digital marketing agencies

The digital world is awash with agencies ready to whip your business into marketable shape. Finding the right agency for your business can be a daunting task, so we’ve compiled a list of the top three:

Digital marketing agencyBest forCost estimate
YellNew and small businesses£600 pcm (for a very small business on basic services)
Add PeoplePersonalised serviceQuote available on request
Revive DigitalAn all-round marketing serviceQuote available on request

The cost of going out-of-house for your digital marketing depends entirely on the nature of your business, which is why most companies will only provide costing information once you’ve requested a quote directly. Fortunately, we’ve developed a free, quick, and easy quote finder that’ll put you in touch with agencies perfectly matched to your business.

Head to the top of the page and fill in the short online form. It’s simple – you provide the answers, and we’ll provide the quotes.


Yell – best for: new and small businesses

Yell provides a range of digital marketing services for small to medium-sized businesses, including website design, Google Ads, PPC management, and promoted listings in the Yell.com directory. The directory listing is especially handy – not only will Yell use Google to promote your business, but featuring in its directory will promote you to those customers used to using the ‘yellow pages’ approach, and who are more likely to go through Yell.com to find a local plumber (for example).

Cost: £600 pcm

Add People – best for: personalised service

Featuring 84% ‘excellent’ reviews on Trustpilot, and boasting an experienced team (especially when it comes to Google Ads and social media), this Manchester-based agency will provide you with a dedicated account manager and an office-worth of experienced digital marketers.

Ideal for a small business looking for a personalised service and some speedy SEO results, Add People will put your website where it matters – at the top of the SERPs.

Cost: Quote only available on request.

Revive Digital – best for: an all-round service

With an extensive client base and an impressive portfolio, Revive produces flashy digital marketing materials that are fit to compete with bigger-budget brands.

Combining killer SEO knowledge with stunning design, this is an agency that’s great for businesses who are looking for an aesthetic as attractive as their search engine ranking.

Cost: Quote only available on request.

If you want to know more about these providers, head to our Best digital marketing agencies  page for a comprehensive breakdown of which agency will be best-suited to your business needs.

Or, if you’d like to receive some quotes today, head to the top of the page, fill in the form, and we’ll put you in touch with a selection of agencies specially selected for your business.


Tips for choosing the right digital marketing agency for you

Pinpoint your marketing needs
From promotion to branding, digital marketing covers a spectrum of services. You'll need to know which area of marketing your business needs to work on – think about what you want for your business, then how you want to achieve this.

Do you want a stronger social media strategy? Or maybe you want to build up your branding? Once you have a clear idea of what you want, it’s easier to brief an external agency.

Assess the packages on offer, and see if they’re in-line with your business requirements. A flashy agency might look nice, but are they offering exactly what you want? If not, don’t waste your time – focus on finding an agency that’s got everything you need.

Do your research
Look into how the agency handles its own marketing. Does their social media wow you, or leave a lot to be desired? Are they ranking top for relevant search terms, or are they sitting on page two of Google, not really making the most of SEO?

If an agency doesn’t practice what it preaches, then you’re better off elsewhere.

Similarly, are there any online reviews that you can glean some insider information from? Hearing about an agency via a referral is always a good sign, or seeing that the agency itself is often referred is also testament to its worth.

Ask the right questions
Some good questions to ask include:

Can I see some examples of previous campaigns?”
(This will give you a clear idea of the work the agency is able to produce.)

“Who will be handling the account?”
(This will help you understand if you’ll have an individual account manager, and allow you to set up a meeting with the person responsible for handling your work.)

“On average, how long do clients stay with you?”

(An agency that holds onto its clients for a long time is clearly doing something right.)

Have a meeting with the agency
Good lines of communication and clear direction will see your relationship with your agency flourish. Arrange an initial meeting where you outline your expectations and, from there-on-in, make sure you are clear and fair with your chosen agency.

Analyse the agency’s portfolio
This should be available on the agency’s website and will be a good indicator as to the kind it’s able to produce. Look at the impact its work has had, and investigate the ways in which the agency proves that it’s doing the right job. Delivering is one thing, reporting on that delivery is another, so make sure the agency of interest is results driven, rather than being blinded by wild creative.


Do I need a digital marketing agency?

Starting a business is stressful. There’s lots to think about, and always something to do. If marketing isn’t your strong point, then we’d recommend enlisting some expertise so you can get on with getting the business going; meanwhile, the marketing agency can do what it’s best at, without you having to muddle through the minefield of digital marketing.

However, if you’re on a tight budget – or you’re feeling brave – here are three easy DIY tips:

1. SEO
Use an app or programme, like SEM Rush, or Keywords Everywhere, to conduct your own SEO research. Look up what’s being searched for in your industry, and tailor your website content to the demands of the customer.


2. Social media
Most people use some form of social media, and your business should be no different. Set your business up on the main social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) and start gathering a following. Engage with your audience, and get some good-looking pictures up on your Instagram.

3. Get Google savvy
Google has some fantastic digital marketing services on offer. Google Ads is a great place to start, and Google My Business will provide you with a business account, meaning that customers can find you on Google Maps and in quick local searches.


How much do digital marketing services cost?

In general, an agency will charge per hour, per project. The cost of the service will, of course, depend on what you’re looking for, and how long the project takes – as well as the standard of work the agency is able to produce.

Roughly speaking, you’ll be looking at a price range that falls into this approximate pattern:

Day rate (excluding VAT)1-6 Months Contract12 Months Contract18+ Months Contract
2-4 days (per month)£750/day£700/day£675/day
5-6 days (per month)£725/day£675/day£650/day
7+ days (per month)£700/day£650/day£625/day

Again, this is a rough guide, and will vary from agency to agency. The best way to find out the cost of enlisting the help of a digital marketing agency is to receive some direct quotes – find out how much it’ll cost you using this handy quote finder .


Next steps

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what a digital marketing agency is, and what you can expect from them.

To be put in touch with suppliers ready to market your business to success, then head to the form at the top of the page – we’ll source suppliers that are perfectly suited to your business needs today.