What is Digital Marketing and How to Create the Ultimate Digital Marketing Plan in 2021

What is Digital Marketing and How to Create the Ultimate Digital Marketing Plan in 2021

With your business built and your product or service perfected, you're probably desperately searching for ways to get your offer in front of an audience.


“But where do I even start?”


That’s easy — digital marketing!


Digital marketing has completely taken over the marketing industry since the dawn of the digital age.


It's expected that $389.29 billion will be spent on digital marketing globally in 2021 — a 17% increase from 2020!


Digital marketing covers a lot of ground, so, with the substantial journey ahead of us, let’s jump right in!


In this article, you will find a digital marketing beginner’s guide that'll tell you everything you need to know about digital marketing and how to become a digital marketer in 2021!

1. What is digital marketing?

What is digital marketing

Digital marketing is defined as a form of direct marketing that connects the seller and consumer using any digital platform.


In other words, it's the promotion of a product or service that takes place on social media, websites, emails, search engines, applications, or any new digital channel.


With roughly 4.66 billion people, almost 60% of the global population, around the world using the internet at the start of 2021, you can understand the power of digital marketing.


Digital marketers have developed countless effective techniques for getting their offer or brand in front of the consumer without them even realizing it.


To become a digital marketer, you'll need a digital marketing strategy.


This is your plan of action to market your business or offer through digital channels.


Without a plan, it becomes very easy to get lost with no map to guide you through the process of digital marketing.


So, it's crucial that you plan your strategy thoroughly to give yourself a better chance of reaching your destination.


Here are some things to keep in mind that will help you build an effective strategy.

1.1. Online vs offline digital marketing

Online vs offline digital marketing

Digital marketing has been around much longer than you think.


The first-ever digital marketing tool was invented by Guglielmo Marconi in 1896 with the creation of the radio.


Radio marketing falls into one of two categories of digital marketing — online and offline digital marketing.


Online marketing focuses on the marketing that takes place over the internet which includes social media, email, search engine optimization, and content to name a few.


Offline marketing is a bit more traditional and takes place over channels where the internet is not required, such as telemarketing, radio, television ads.


There's also an important term in offline marketing — enhanced offline marketing.


Enhanced offline marketing takes completely offline content and enhances it with electronic devices.


An example of this is electronic billboards — think Times Square where the normal billboard experience has been entirely enhanced by its electronic features, turning it into a global landmark.


However, more and more people are hanging up on telemarketers, skipping through the TV adverts, and streaming their music rather than listening to the good-old radio.


That’s why we’ll be focusing on online marketing strategies in this article.


But, don’t forget about the offline methods — being aware of as many marketing strategies as possible will only play to your advantage, especially if you can combine both offline and online strategies.

1.2. B2B vs B2C digital marketing

B2B vs B2C digital marketing

Another way to categorize digital marketing is by B2B and B2C.


“Those sound like Star Wars droid names! What do they have to do with marketing?”

Indeed they do, and they have everything to do with marketing!


B2B stands for business to business and refers to any transaction between two businesses.


B2C stands for business to consumer and refers to businesses selling products and services to consumers where the consumers are the end-users.


In B2B marketing, the focus is on the offer and its features.


The approach is more logical and uses little to no emotional decision-making.


This is because you aren’t selling to an individual, but an entire company where decisions are made by what is most practical, effective, and financially efficient.


So, effective B2B marketing strategies have the purpose of highlighting the features of your offer and explaining every detail.


B2C marketing takes a different approach where the focus shifts more to the consumer.


With mostly only one person making the decision, it's much easier to entice the consumer into making a purchase.


That's why B2C marketing strategies are centered around catering to the consumer.


This is achieved through persuasive techniques and by getting straight to the point — the reason they must buy your offer.


In understanding the difference between B2B and B2C marketing, you can better cater to your audience, depending on whether it's a business or a consumer.

2. Digital marketing for beginners

Digital marketing for beginners

With a basic understanding of digital marketing, you can now begin the journey of becoming a digital marketer yourself.


The majority of the developmental stages of your digital marketing strategy is research.


So, be prepared to dive deep into the research rabbit hole.

2.1. Identify your audience

Identify your audience

You can spend all your time and money creating a marketing strategy, but unless it’s directed to the right people, it'll be useless.


The first step you need to take is identifying your target audience.


Your target audience is a group of people that have the potential of purchasing your offer.


They often share some sort of characteristic or interest that'll help you craft your strategy to perfectly suit your audience.


But, first, identify who they are:


1. Look at your present customers:


By analyzing your current customers, you can get a better understanding of the type of person that's interested in your offer.


This is where you take those shared characteristics and interests and put them together to create a profile that reflects the trends within your audience.


You can gain this information from:

  • What social media platforms are they focusing on?
  • What are the general aesthetics?
  • What kind of language do they use?
  • Which content gets the largest response?
  • What are the responses saying?

By doing this, you can continuously narrow down your target audience into a single customer profile.


2. Make use of keyword generators:


One of the most useful tools to help understand the needs and wants of your audience is keyword generators.


These allow you to search a keyword and find the main searches that include the keyword where you can get valuable information on what your audience wants to know about your offer.


Here are some of the top free keyword generators:

  • Google Trends lets you know what your audience is asking for and when which can help
  • Ahref’s Keyword Generator supplies you with phrases and questions that match your keyword across search engines such as Google, Youtube, Bing, and Amazon
  • Keyword Sheeter offers you a simple autocomplete suggestion generator where the suggestions are pulled directly from Google
  • Answer the People creates extensive mind maps, grouping your keyword by prepositions, conjunctions, letters, and related searches

Not only do these tools add tremendous insight into your target audience, but they also can guide your digital marketing strategy by spotting the pain points within your strategy, so you can fix them before they're an issue.

2.2. Learn from the best

Learn from the best

You’ve heard the saying, “Those who can’t do, teach”.


Well, there are a lot of professional marketers out there that have made it their life’s purpose to teach you how to be the greatest marketer you can be.


Here's are a few top digital marketing experts that you should look into:

2.2.1. Neil Patel

Neil Patel

Trying to research anything to do with marketing, you'll most definitely stumble across Neil Patel.


Starting his first website at 16, Neil Patel has gone on to found and co-found multiple successful marketing businesses that offer all sorts of optimization tools such as Neil Patel Digital, Quicksprout, Crazyegg, and Kissmetrics.


Decorated in accolades, Neil Patel is a New York Times bestselling author and was named a top 300 new entrepreneur under 30 by former President Barack Obama as well as a top 100 entrepreneur under 35 by the United Nations.


He's one of the leaders of the digital marketing industry, so he's a necessary stop on your journey.


Particularly when he's invested in sharing his knowledge through his busy blog.

2.2.2. Avinash Kaushik

Avinash Kaushik

“The interesting thing about averages is that they hide the truth very effectively.”


Avinash Kaushik is the place to go to learn anything about web analytics.


Co-founder of Market Motive Inc and Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik has made a name for himself in the digital marketing world.


He's particularly known for his analytical style that takes a more philosophical approach that is centered around customer-centricity.


Avinash Kaushik shares incredibly useful information about the web to help you to take your marketing strategy to the next level.


To start, here are five Avinash Kaushik blog posts every digital marketer should read.

2.2.3. Gary Vaynerchuck

Gary Vaynerchuck

Source: Entrepreneur

Starting in the late ’90s, Gary Vaynerchuck managed to convert his parent’s wine business into a multimillion-dollar company by effectively using the new and underrated email marketing strategy.


If he’s not a natural-born digital marketing expert, then who is?


Since then, Gary Vaynerchuck has founded the dominant advertising agency, VaynerMedia, built the impressive holding company called VaynerX, written five New York Times bestselling novels, and serves on multiple other boards.


With “Hustle” as his main mantra, Vaynerchuck can offer you the straight-to-the-point, behind-the-scenes look at a successful digital marketing strategy.


You can find his precious resources at his blog, his daily-updated Youtube channel and newsletter, Hustler’s Digest, and his popular podcast, The GaryVee Audio Experience.

2.2.4. Ann Handley

Ann Handley

Source: PRSA

Digital marketing expert. Content expert. Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Keynote speaker. Writer. Journalist. The Chief Content Writer of MarketingProfs.

Ann Handley does it all.


Co-founding Clickz, a digital marketing bible website in 1997, Ann Handley made the switch from journalist to marketer, establishing herself as a pioneer in the industry.


Though Hadley can share the secrets on all aspects of digital marketing, content marketing is her specialty.


As the author of Wall Street Journal bestseller “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content,” as well as co-author of the bestseller "Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business," she definitely knows her way around a blog or two.


By cherishing her content writing hacks, you can guarantee a successful content marketing strategy.


To find out more, you can check out her brilliant blog.


Jump headfirst into this research and develop your own list of digital marketing geniuses to befriend and keep close to your side throughout the marketing process.

2.3. Understand and optimize your customer journey

Understand and optimize your customer journey

From the first second your prospect becomes aware of your offer until the last second of them securing a purchase — every second count and adds up to them reaching the ultimate goal of loyal customer status.


A loyal customer is five times as likely to make another purchase and four times as likely to refer a friend.


Your customer journey is the collection of experiences of the customer with your business and offer.


The customer experience focuses more on the subconscious feelings and responses the customer has throughout the customer journey.


Is your customer experience average?


You may struggle to retain customers, or even get customers in the first place.


The purpose of understanding your customer journey is to get a sense of its strengths and weaknesses, find new ways to improve the customer experience, and bring in more long-term customers.


The best way to do this is to create a customer journey map.


This is a visual diagram that tracks each touchpoint and can be used to measure the effectiveness of each touchpoint.


A touchpoint is a point of interaction, eg. social media post, advert, website, blog post, email, and other channels.


Customer journey maps have resulted in increased customer satisfaction, lower churn, fewer complaints, and higher NPS in 85% of professionals.


An effective customer journey equals higher sales and customer loyalty.


To map out a successful customer journey, you can follow these few steps:


1. Create a solid customer profile: knowing your target audience is a crucial step in every aspect of your business


2. Know the needs, wants, and goals of your customer: when you know what they want, you can map out their journey to suit this


3. Figure out your own goals: setting your goals also sets your intentions, so you know exactly what you want to get out of it and also see how they align with your customer’s goals


4. Plot out the touchpoints of communication: making a list or drawing a diagram of every single interaction with your customer, before, during, and after purchase


5. Consider the pain points: you want to anticipate all the problems or struggles that might turn your customer away without giving yourself a chance


6. Go through the process as a customer: the best way to understand a customer is to be a customer, so rate your unbiased, personal customer experience


7. Build a visual: putting all this information into a diagram makes it infinitely easier to comprehend and fast


Below you can find a simple example of what a customer journey map looks like.

Customer journey map

Source: UXDesign

There are also extremely helpful resources on the internet to help you such as templates and examples.


From your customer journey map, you can craft a conversion funnel where you make intentional decisions about your customer journey to help it reach optimal effectiveness.


This'll only benefit you when planning your digital marketing strategy.

3. Digital marketing strategies

digital marketing strategies

With all this new knowledge on the inner workings of digital marketing, it's time to start planning your own digital marketing strategy!


A few things to remember before you sprint off the starting line:

  • Always keep your target audience and your goals in mind — never lose sight of who you're talking to, how you can cater to them, and your desired outcome
  • Have a clear and defined budget to stick to — set yourself a reasonable budget and do everything you can to stand by it
  • Use a combination of strategies — though they're each effective in their own right, one is powerful, but together, they're unstoppable
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment — things aren’t always going to work out perfectly the first time, so have the flexibility to keep improving your strategy

3.1. Social media

Social media

There's no need to explain the influence social media has over the world, including the business world.


Here are some of the most popular social media platforms:

Each social media platform has its own audience, medium, culture, and purpose.


You have to choose which platforms will suit your business, offer, and intentions.


For example Instagram

Its trendy, visually-centered, youthful approach has made it into a direct hub for anyone who’s anyone between the ages of 18-30.


You know what they say: “Gotta do it for the ‘gram!”

Social media

Instagram has also incorporated features that have made it a marketing madhouse — here are a few important ones: 

  • Business account option: not only do the users know who is a business and who is not, but Instagram also gives business accounts access to all sorts of informative data on the response to their posts, stories, followers
  • Paid advertising: you can pay for your account to be advertised on people’s feeds that fit into your audience
  • Marketplace: Instagram has a built-in e-commerce feature where you can sell your products directly on the platform
  • Influencer culture: Instagram influencers are something you'll find on no other platform and can be used to market your business with paid partnerships

Using these features to your advantage could be the start of a banger Instagram marketing strategy.


Another popular platform worth investigating is TikTok.  Lots of videos on TikTok right now are going viral and businesses are entering this domain as well. 


For a video to become viral, it should have a lot of likes on TikTok (this is what all users see at first when they watch the video), so you might need to buy TikTok likes as a part of your strategy. 


TikTok audience has reached 80 million monthly visitors in the US only so it's definitely worth giving such social media a chance too".


Social media can get technical, even down to the time that you post, but, if done correctly, you can eventually build an online community that keeps coming back.


Using a social media digital marketing strategy will throw your business into the next gear.

3.2. Email marketing

Email marketing

Email marketing was one of the earliest creations of digital marketing.

And, though it is old, it's most certainly not dead.


It relies on having a stable and extensive email list to whom you can send all sorts of content, advertisements, and updates.


The first step is building an email list.


Next, you have valuable content — both visual and written — to build a relationship with the customer.


Lastly, you start subtly marketing your offer as the solution to their problems.


As long as you send regular, quality content, creating your email marketing strategy can be quite easy.


To help you, even more, there are countless email marketing tools out there.

3.3. Affiliate marketing

Affeliate marketing

Simply put, affiliate marketing is when a business markets its offer through an affiliate who then earns a commission


There are three parts of affiliate marketing:

  • The seller: the business with the offer
  • The affiliate: can also be called the publisher, and is the individual that markets the offer
  • The consumer: the one that purchases the offer

As the seller, all you have to do is get your offer out there to the affiliates and let them do the hard work.


There are two ways to do this: either by joining an affiliate network or by creating your own affiliate program.


An affiliate network acts as a middle man between sellers and affiliates.


Both join an affiliate network — a seller adds their offer to the network and an affiliate chooses an offer.


An affiliate program is created by the business themselves, cutting out the middle man but allowing the affiliate to join your program directly.


The affiliate receives a link that they put on their relevant, quality content.


And, if customers use their links to make a successful purchase, they get a commission.


Everybody wins!


It's one of the reasons why affiliate marketing has become so popular — it's easy marketing for the seller and easy money for the affiliate.

3.4. Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is something that every online business has come to take very seriously.


Basically, it's the process of getting your site to rank higher on organic (unpaid) search results.


With 93% of online experiences beginning with a search engine, the higher you rank, the more traffic to your site.


There are three types of SEO that you can focus on:

  • On-page SEO: this consists of the content on your websites such as headlines, meta titles and descriptions, and keywords
  • Off-page SEO: this includes interlinking and backlinking
  • Technical SEO: this focuses more on the code of your websites, such as page speed, image format, and URL names

Across these three topics, there are techniques that stand out from the rest.


For this one, there's less choosing a strategy that works best for you, but rather finding every way to optimize your site so that it ranks highest.

3.5. Search engine marketing

Search engine marketing

Another digital marketing acronym to know — SEM (search engine marketing).

SEM refers to paid search marketing.


Also known as PPC (pay-per-click) marketing, SEM works where you place an ad online and pay every time someone clicks on it.


To get your paid ad on a search engine like Google, you need first need to go through an ad auction.


This is where you choose the keywords you want and enter the amount you are willing to pay per click for each keyword.


To ‘win’ the auction on your keywords, you'll need a maximum bid and high-quality score, which is a measure of how relevant your ad is.


Once your ad is out there, you're going to need a way to track and analyze its response.


You can use these essential SEM tools to help you.

3.6. Content marketing

Content marketing

Content is a fundamental part of digital marketing.


It goes hand-in-hand with social media marketing, email marketing, SEO, and SEM.


This is because, like going to the movies, content is what draws the audience to your website, creating traffic, and your offer is the popcorn that they just can’t resist.


Content marketing takes many forms in many different ways:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Videos

Here, in content marketing, you can let your creative juices flow freely and showcase your advice and expertise.


Content marketing is an easy route to loyal customers.


Not only does the reader come to value and respect your expertise, but they’re also grateful for the help and tend to want to give back.


This pulls on the powerful reciprocity mental trigger.


Blogs are a good way to start.


86% of companies produce blog posts compared to other formats, and it's the second favorite behind social media posts.


All you need to do is start a blog, post on your blog, and eventually build a loyal reader base.

3.7. Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts have become the new radio where people in traffic would rather listen to a true-crime podcast than have the news forced upon them on the hour.


You just need some equipment, quality content, and great guest stars.


The purpose of your podcast, similar to your content, is to inform the audience, even entertain them.


When they start to trust you, your guests, and your business, you start building real relationships.


Podcasting also encourages networking because by making friends with your guests, you also make friends with their audiences.


And, even if you don’t want to make your own, you could always feature on someone else’s.


Either or, being able to use podcasting as a marketing tool is a massive advantage in this evolving industry.

4. Conclusion

A business in this day and age won’t survive without a digital marketing strategy.


Doesn’t matter whether it’s online or offline, B2B or B2C.


And with all the competition, you need a good one.


So, just remember to keep your audience and customer journey in mind at all times, and also know that you aren’t alone.


There's an abundance of digital marketing experts as well as digital marketing resources, that'll hold your hand through the process of becoming a successful digital marketer.


There are also businesses like systeme.io which holds all your digital marketing dreams on a silver platter.


It keeps all your marketing in one place, offering features like email marketing, blogs, sale funnels, affiliate programs, and more.


Lastly, don’t forget to have fun with your marketing strategies — play around with the different combinations of strategies to find which ones work for you.


Do this, and you'll be a pro digital marketer in no time!


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