- Digital Marketing for Dummies: The Ultimate Guide

Digital Marketing

So you’re new to the world of digital marketing, but you need to start marketing and publicizing your new startup.

In this digital marketing for dummies guide, we walk you through the basics of digital marketing, and share actionable tips that you can take to generate buzz for your brand.

Ready? Let’s jump right in!

1. What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is defined as advertising through online channels such as search engines, websites, social media, email, and mobile apps.

What is digital marketing?

Why go online? Well, internet penetration rates are higher than ever before, and most people rely on the internet to do just about anything.

Groceries running low? You’d make an order with an online supermarket, and have your groceries delivered to your home.

Can’t remember the name of a book you like? You’d search for it on Google.

Looking for a nice restaurant to treat someone to dinner? Again, you’d turn to Google or hop onto Facebook and ask your friends for recommendations.

Since people are plugged in most of the time, it makes sense to go online to advertise to them

There are many different channels and platforms you can choose from… but we’ll get to that in a bit!

2. How to become a digital marketer

If you have no marketing experience whatsoever, how do you become a digital marketer?

a digital marketer

The answer is: through a combination of theory and real-world practice.

Theory-wise, consume all the materials and resources you can get your hands on. 

Read marketing books, download case studies and whitepapers online, and reference tutorials that walk you through some of the more technical aspects of marketing.

Once you’ve done that, the rest is just learning on the fly

The first Facebook post that you share on your brand’s page, for example, but not be that inspiring… but when you’ve written 10, 20, 50 Facebook posts, you’ll naturally hone your skills and improve the quality of your work.

To help you along, there are plenty of great tools that you can use, including useful PM tools and marketing automation tools. If you need a communication tool to coordinate your projects with the rest of your team, try Slack or one of the many Slack alternatives.

3. Digital marketing for dummies: 6 marketing strategies to try out

3.1. Content marketing

If you’re not 100% sure what content marketing is, it basically refers to using different types of content to market your brand.

Content marketing

For example, if you’re setting up a fashion eCommerce store, you might:

  • Write a blog post that highlights upcoming fashion trends
  • Create a digital lookbook to share with customers
  • Engage an influencer to shop at your store and film a “haul video” to get some social proof

If you’re running a SaaS company (for example, like Coworkify's coworking space management software), you might:

  • Create an ebook and offer it as a free download on your website
  • Host Ask Me Anything “AMAs” on Facebook Live, where prospects can ask your CEO questions about your company or software
  • Host webinars that walk your prospects through how your software can address different use cases

With content marketing, there are plenty of different formats that you can experiment with, but we recommend investing your time and money into videos.

Why videos? These are more attention-grabbing than other formats of content. On Facebook, for example, video posts get at least 59% more engagement than other post types.

Videos aside, it’s also a good idea to use other visual content such as pictures and infographics. (Pro-tip: anyone can easily create infographics, even if they have zero design skills. 

Check out Venngage, and read up on these tips on infographics.)

3.2. Pay Per Click (PPC ads)

PPC ads are an essential part of digital marketing. 

With these ads, you can showcase your product or service to people who are browsing online, and generate more leads or sales for your company.

Pay Per Click

The two major PPC platforms in the market are Google Ads and Facebook Ads, and each of these allow you to market your company via different ad formats.

For example, with Google Ads, you can create:

  • Search ads
  • Display ads
  • Video ads (YouTube ads)
  • Shopping ads
  • App ads

With Facebook ads, you can create:

  • Photo ads
  • Video ads
  • Stories ads (on Instagram)
  • Messenger ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Collection ads
  • Slideshow ads

Generally speaking, most marketers start with Search ads or Display ads on Google, or Photo ads on Facebook (Photo ads are similar to Display ads, and Facebook doesn’t offer any Search ads due to the nature of its platform).

You can do your PPC ads management more professionally with the right PPC management software which will also save lots of resources.

How do you know which to choose?

Search ads or Display ads

If your goal is to drive conversions (leads, sales), go for Search ads. 

With these ads, you’re targeting people who are searching for a keyword that’s relevant to your company, and you know that they’re at least somewhat interested in what you have to offer.

If your goal is to widen your pool of potential customers and drive brand awareness, go with Display ads or Photo ads instead.

Google’s Display ads allow you to serve your ads on any of the 2 million+ websites, videos, and applications that are a part of the Google Display Network (GDN). 

There’s also Facebook’s Photo ads, which allow you to showcase your brand on your target audience’s newsfeed.

3.3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

In the world of digital marketing, it’s important to strike a balance. Other than focusing on the paid side (PPC), you’ll also want to take care of the organic side, and you can do that through SEO.

Search Engine Optimization

In a nutshell, SEO is the act of optimizing your website to rank highly on search engines

Ideally, you’d be able to rank on the first page of Google - if this happens, you’ll have a ton of organic traffic on your site.

There are two components to SEO - on-page and off-page.

On-page refers to all the elements that you can optimize on your website or webpage (for example: adding more keywords to your site, using keywords in your page titles, etc).

Off-page refers to elements that live outside your website (for example: coming up with a backlink strategy to get other websites to link to yours).

To learn more about SEO and how to go about optimizing your site, check out Moz’s guide.

3.4. Chatbots and live chat

If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to install a chatbot and/or live chat on your site.

live chat

The numbers don’t lie: Approximately 40% of people of all ages prefer to use chatbots when shopping online, and 38% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company if they offer live chat support.

What’s the difference between using a chatbot and live chat?

A chatbot is basically an automated bot that can answer simple, straightforward questions and serve your customers with product recommendations. Check out these examples of chatbots.

If a large majority of your audience asks you the same standard questions (eg: What are your opening hours? What are your pricing plans? Do you offer monthly pricing?), then a chatbot will be right up your alley.

On the other hand, when you use live chat, you have someone on the other end of the line who’s chatting with the users on your site

If you tend to get more complex enquiries that can’t be resolved with an automated reply, then go with live chat instead.

Regardless of whether you want to use chatbots or live chat, these are pretty simple to set up. Here are the best chatbot builders and best live chat tools to get you started.

3.5. User-generated content (UGC)

UGC refers to any content that’s created by your customers, such as:

  • Product haul videos
  • Unboxing videos
  • Customer reviews
  • Pictures that customers post on social media

These days, many companies are showcasing user-generated content on their website and social channels. This is a great way of focusing on your customers, and building brand authenticity.

For example, Google Pixel’s instagram account regularly features pictures that its customers have taken using the Pixel phone:

Google Pixel’s post on instagram

Google Pixel’s post on instagram

Then there’s HubSpot, which uses the same UGC strategy, but with a slightly different approach

On its Instagram account, HubSpot shares quotes from their customers, and uses these quotes to put the spotlight on their customers:

HubSpot's post on instagram

HubSpot's post on instagram

3.6. Cold emails

Last but not least, many marketers also use cold emails to reach out to prospects, and generate more leads

With cold emails, you’re emailing people that you previously have had no contact with, and trying to pique their interest in your product/service.


If you’re new to cold emails, these might sound intimidating, but there are plenty of case studies showing that cold emails do work. 

Research also shows that 8 out of 10 prospects want to speak to sales reps via email more than any other medium, so you know you’re on the right track.

Here are our top three tips for cold emailing:

Tip #1: Have a reason for reaching out

In the world of cold emails, context is everything.

If you just email someone and launch straight into what your company does, there’s a 99% chance that they’ll move your email to the Trash folder and be done with it.

But if you’re emailing them for a reason (and that reason makes sense!), then there’s a higher chance of your prospect actually being receptive.

For example, you might say:

  • Hi, I’m reaching out because I saw that your company recently closed a Series-C, and I thought you might need to improve upon your data capabilities…
  • Hi, I saw that you recently downloaded an eBook from our site, and I wanted to invite you to an upcoming webinar on the same topic...

#2: Don’t sell immediately

Remember, when you cold-email someone, you’re basically a stranger to them. Their guard will be up, so it’s not a good idea to pitch to them immediately.

Instead, take the time to build rapport with them, and get to know them better. Ask them about the challenges they’re facing at work, or what their goals are this year. 

Share useful resources with them, and show them that your product is valuable to them.

When the time is right, then go in for the close.

#3: Always follow up

Fun fact: 50% of sales happen after the fifth follow up, but 44% of marketers or salespeople give up after one follow-up.


Moral of the story? Don’t give up. If your prospect doesn’t reply to you, follow up. Then follow up again, and again, and again, and again.

That said, this isn’t a situation where quantity trumps quality - you still have to craft your follow-ups carefully, in order to win over your prospect

Check out this guide on writing a follow-up email.

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