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- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
6 min read
By Nick Bell

What is digital marketing?


To understand what digital marketing is, it’s important to first understand what marketing is.

So, what about digital marketing? Put simply, digital marketing is any and all marketing that takes place anywhere online. This could include search engines, ads on social media sites, email marketing campaigns, your favorite blog, or mobile app. If it’s an advertisement online, it’s digital marketing!

Digital marketing is a powerful tool. In 2019, it is estimated that the average US adult spent about 3.5 hours per day connected to the internet browsing the web, checking email, online shopping, and playing their favorite internet-powered game on their phone. That gives digital marketers a lot of opportunity for advertising because they are able to catch consumers during their typical browsing habits. Regardless of your specific goals, running a digital marketing campaign can prove to be a lucrative endeavor.


The main goal of digital marketing is to obtain as many new customers as possible with minimal cost and effort. Because digital marketing takes place anywhere online, this can be easily achieved if you understand how your customers utilize the internet. Beyond that, the types of customers you may be looking for—and how you are hoping to engage with them—can look a few different ways.


Customer acquisition is a term that may be used to mean a few different things, but most often it refers to getting customers to the top of your funnel. For some, that’s grabbing an email address for a mailing list while for others it means exposing a customer to your product for the first time. If you run a retail store for example, customer acquisition would be the act of someone going from the sidewalk to the inside of your store.

digital marketing


Although sometimes confused with customer acquisition, customer conversion refers to having the customer purchase from your brand. In the same retail store analogy, the customer has made it into your store and is now purchasing from you for the first time. This is often one of the biggest goals of a good digital marketing campaign, and while important it doesn’t stop there.


Building brand awareness through a digital marketing campaign refers to how many people know about your brand. Digital marketing can impact this in a few ways. First, you can advertise to customers who have never heard of your brand in hopes that you eventually acquire them and they convert. The more a customer sees your product, the more brand awareness they will have in regards to your brand. If customers recognise your brand, they may be more willing to convert.

If you can successfully execute a digital marketing campaign to advertise to a group of friends and they pass by your store, they may all be more likely to walk in because you have heightened brand awareness.


Social media can be a powerful goal for digital marketing, and typically refers to executing an advertising campaign that helps you build your social media following and can be good for playing the long game. If you have a big sale coming up in your store, it may be worth your time to start to slowly build your social media following. That way, when it’s time for the sale, you have a new group of potential customers who have been continuously exposed to your content and who may be getting ready to convert!


Once you’ve checked all of the above off your list, how do you ensure you keep your customers? That’s where retention marketing comes into play. While getting that first customer is a huge customer, it’s important to think about how you’ll turn those first customers into repeat customers. Repeat customers are often the ones that will become a champion of your brand. In the same retail store example, these repeat customers will come back to shop when you receive new inventory and bring their friends with them. Having a digital marketing strategy that caters to these customers is a great goal.


Once you determine your goals, you will want to figure out where it makes the most sense to put your digital marketing efforts. A good digital marketing strategy involves a good mix of multiple channels, but may not include all of them at the same time. If your goal is to earn more followers, you probably won’t start with search engine advertising. If you are hoping to attract customers searching for a specific product, you likely will not begin your digital marketing campaign with an email marketing blast. Understanding where to direct your digital marketing efforts will help you reach your goals much quicker.


The average US American spends over 2 hours a day on social media alone every day, so it’s not surprising that social media has become a popular place for advertising. This is a great way to make sure you are catching your target customer where they may be spending the bulk of their time. The great thing about digital marketing on social media is that all of the goals above apply! You can use a paid social media campaign to attract new customers and followers, but once you have acquired that customer as a follower you can also target them through organic (or unpaid) campaigns.


Digital marketing on online stores and through search engines is a great way to expose potential customers to your brand and product. If you sell fashionable yet comfortable sweatpants, you want to make sure you appear on websites selling similar products and in related search results. This will grab customers’ attention in a way that feels organic to them, and if your ads in these places are compelling may lead to an acquisition or conversion.


Email marketing is powerful once you have acquired your customers and can be used to get customers to convert, to build brand awareness, to increase your social media following, and to turn your first customers into repeat customers. If you have a strong email marketing (or in some places called remarketing) campaign, you can ensure you’re using your customer’s past buying habits to inform potential new purchases.


Once you’ve picked your goals and channels, it’s important to stick to your strategy for a bit. Even if the results don’t seem super lucrative right away, it’s still important to have enough data to evaluate your campaign. As your understanding of digital marketing expands and grows, you will have the tools you need to create a campaign that attracts and obtains new customers.

About the author


Co-Founder of Lisnic.com 🔥 & Founder of 12 digital agencies 🎯
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