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Regardless of what industry your business is in, digital marketing is essential and it should be part of your marketing strategy. — Getty Images/PeopleImages

Most of today’s consumers rely on the internet to complete daily tasks. Surveys have shown that more than half of respondents spend five to six hours a day on their smartphones outside of work for everything from online shopping to making connections on social media.

Digital marketing leverages this consumer behavior, allowing businesses to create engaging experiences that develop awareness and revenue for their brand. Without a strong digital presence, your target audience is much less likely to find your business.

Types of digital marketing

There are many forms of digital marketing businesses can explore, including these eight common categories:

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Content needs to be found to generate leads. Applying an SEO strategy to your business site will improve its user experience and search engine rank, driving organic traffic. Google drives SEO trends, so it is an important starting point for understanding algorithms and best practices in web design and site organization.

[Read more: All the Digital Tools Your Startup Needs Before Launch]

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing

With PPC marketing, your business can display ads on a search engine or social media, and you will be charged based on the number of times your ad is clicked. By pairing your ad with a valuable conversion, PPC marketing can be a cost-effective way to run a targeted campaign.

Social media marketing

Because people are already spending time looking for content on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, social media marketing allows unique opportunities for audience engagement and developing brand awareness. Customers and leads will respond well to consistency with your social content and good response time to their engagement.

Content marketing

Content marketing demonstrates the value of a brand by providing relevant content for free on a site or social media platform. By establishing your business as a resource in your industry, you’ll gain your audience’s trust, which will encourage leads to become customers or recommend your business to others.

Email marketing

Even though social media is a popular way to share content, email marketing is still important for promoting your products or services at relevant times and keeping your customers and leads connected to your brand.

Affiliate marketing

Sometimes, promoting your brand through another business’s reviews or use of your product or service will help your business reach the right audience. When your product or service is sold through affiliate marketing, both your business and the affiliate share revenue.

Because digital marketing reaches audiences where they spend most of their time, the relatively low expense can lead to big returns.

Marketing automation

With marketing automation, businesses can create data-driven customer messaging based on actions, events, or specific points within the customer journey. The most common marketing automation software includes features to collect information about the entire customer experience, and they have excellent analytic tools for marketing campaigns.

Native advertising

Native advertising is promotional content that looks and feels like non-marketing content on a particular platform, displayed within the same feed or in the same style. Native advertising can be an effective way to bring new interest to your business through an informative or entertaining connection — without overt promotional details.

[Read more: Marketing Your E-Commerce Business in the Digital Age]

Benefits of digital marketing

All types of businesses can benefit from digital marketing. Here are some reasons to experiment with it:

  • Low cost: “Traditional marketing” like TV advertising and print displays can be expensive for a small business. Digital marketing offers a more affordable way to promote your business without losing impact.
  • High ROI: Because digital marketing reaches audiences where they spend most of their time, the relatively low expense can lead to big returns. For e-commerce businesses, digital marketing provides a convenient way to call to action revenue-boosting audience activities.
  • Easy to track: Most things about digital marketing content are automatically tracked, including activity in search engines, which means you can access real-time results about performance. All marketing software and social media platforms collect information on engagement and audience behavior, giving you insights for tracking your campaigns and planning for the future.
  • Brand development: By utilizing digital marketing tools, you’re putting your business in front of a larger audience. Through your site, social media, and email, you can communicate your business message and values.
  • Broad reach: Digital marketing is not limited to a geographic location (unless you want it to be). Your reach is anywhere the tools and platforms are being used, at any time. Because digital content is easy to share, you'll also gain leads beyond your followers and customer base.

With so much competing material on the internet, having content that truly engages your audience is necessary for maintaining interest and meeting business goals. With digital marketing, you can support your customers, promote your product or service, and foster meaningful interactions on the platforms where members of your desired audience are already spending much of their time.

[Read more: 5 Tips for Marketing in the Digital Age]

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