Where do we start with digital marketing?

Marketing is about understanding and meeting your clients’ needs profitably. Digital marketing, which is also known as internet marketing, i-marketing, web marketingonline marketing, or emarketing, is about marketing products or services over the Internet or via mobile technology. Digital marketing techniques include search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimisation (SEO), email marketing, viral marketing, blogging, microblogging, podcasting, vodcasting, photo and video sharing, social networking, virtual worlds and mobile phone campaigns using SMS. Digital marketing tools include applications such as:

•WordPress and Blogger (blogging).
•Twitter (microblogging).
•Facebook and LinkedIn (social networking).
•Second Life (virtual worlds).
•Flickr and YouTube (photo and video sharing).
•Google Analytics (monitoring results).

10 years ago, when we asked businesspeople, “Do you have a company website?”, not everyone could say “Yes”. Today, to be without a website provokes a reaction of disbelief. To be in business, you need a web presence. We believe that, within the next five years, companies will adopt digital marketing in the same way.

The key issue is getting started. You must decide:

•How does digital marketing fit within your overall marketing plan / budget?
•What do you want to achieve through digital marketing?
•Who do you want to talk to?
•How much time can you allocate?
•Who in your company can manage and monitor this activity?
•What’s the likely payback and when?

Digital marketing enables small businesses to compete with bigger businesses, as any company of any size can gain instant – and usually free – access to a range of digital marketing tools online. But there’s a learning curve in understanding the mechanics of the various techniques and tools – and a payback curve in seeing tangible financial benefit for your business. Nonetheless, the increasing number of stories of business being won or sales being made through Twitter, Facebook or other tools means that you cannot afford to ignore digital marketing. Start by dipping your toe in the water through Twitter or, if you have more time, go for a blog. Better still, combine the two (we assume you already have a website!).

DIGITAL MARKETING  Answers to your top 100 digital marketing questions  Annmarie Hanlon & Joanna Akins