Which types of digital marketing are best for my business?

Erin Donaldson   •   July 24, 2018

If you’re a business owner, you probably already know that digital marketing is essential for generating leads, finding new customers, and increasing your sales. But you might not know exactly what kinds of digital marketing services are available — or which ones are right for you and your business goals. That’s why it’s so important to employ a digital marketing agency or in-house team to analyze your marketing goals, assess your budget, and give an honest recommendation of which services will have the right ROI for you.

Below, we review the benefits and drawbacks of some of the most popular digital marketing services and how they relate to a variety of industries. With this basic roadmap to guide you, you’ll be better equipped to determine the best place to invest your marketing budget.

Web Design & Development

In the 21st century, there’s no question that every business needs a website. A recent study found that 88% of consumers perform online research before they make a purchase, so if your business doesn’t exist online, it might as well not exist at all.

But simply having an Internet presence isn’t enough. If you want people to trust your brand, your website needs to look sharp. No one wants to go to a dentist who looks like they can’t afford to hire a halfway decent graphic designer. It makes you look unprofessional and, even worse, unsuccessful.

Your website must also be easy to access and navigate. Think about how many times you’ve tried to visit a website on your smartphone, stumbled upon a confusing error message, and immediately left to continue your research elsewhere. If your website doesn’t work correctly on a variety of devices — desktop, smartphone, tablet — you’ll lose out on a lot of business simply because people can’t figure out how to contact you.

Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If you already have a stellar, mobile-friendly website with a clean, modern aesthetic and intuitive navigation, it’s time to start thinking about search engines. You need to be easily found by those 88% of consumers who research online before they make a purchase. To do this, you should be using organic SEO, which is the practice of optimizing your website to be accessible by search engines, especially Google. This helps to ensure that you show up near the top of the search results for all the keywords that are relevant to your business. For example, if you have a website selling video editing software, your keywords might be, “best video editing software 2018” or “affordable video editing software.”

Organic SEO is great in that it can be extremely affordable. Unlike pay-per-click advertising (which we’ll explain in a moment), organic SEO is completely free. You don’t need to pay Google or other search engines to get higher placement in the search results; you just need to build your website correctly and generate consistent and useful content that tells consumers and search engines what you’re selling and why they should choose you.

The downside of organic SEO is that, depending on how new your website is and the level of competition for your preferred keywords, it can take some time to see results. If you need immediate leads and you have a sizable chunk of cash to invest, we recommend starting with pay-per-click advertising (PPC).

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

When done right, pay-per-click advertising (PPC) can get you measurable results in a very short period of time. If you want your new business to show up in search engine results today, PPC is the way to go.

You’ve probably noticed the websites that appear at the top of your Google search results labeled as “ads.” Those are Google AdWords PPC ads. PPC ads appear in search engine results and look and function very similarly to organic search engine results; the most popular and effective PPC platform is Google AdWords. As an advertiser, you select which keywords you want associated with your business and then compete with other advertisers for the #1 position by bidding on those keywords. Most advertisers bid a certain amount of money for every click their ads receive (which is why it is called “pay-per-click advertising”).

As we mentioned before, the biggest drawback of PPC is its cost. Depending on your industry and the level of competition for your chosen keywords, you could find yourself paying anywhere from $1.00 to upwards of $30.00 per click. If you’re considering investing in PPC, it’s crucial to hire a professional marketer who can do thorough keyword research and properly optimize both your website and your ads to help keep the cost of your PPC ads down.

The other thing to keep in mind is that PPC is not a perpetual investment. While organic SEO deals with permanent, lasting changes to your website that benefit your business for years, PPC is an “on-off” campaign. As soon as you stop running your ads, your website stops showing in search results. That’s why we always recommend a simultaneous investment in both PPC and organic SEO for businesses who are just getting started with their search engine marketing campaign. PPC can attract leads right away to tide you over while your SEO campaign builds more slowly. Once your SEO campaign takes off and starts bringing you a healthy amount of attention, you can consider scaling back your PPC budget.

Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Local SEO is a location-based offshoot of organic SEO. It’s an effective and extremely affordable option for brick-and-mortar businesses, such as restaurants or auto body shops, that cater to the local community. Like organic SEO, local SEO involves optimizing your website to show up for specific keywords in Google and other search engine results. However, these keywords are location-based. For example, if you’re a Mexican restaurant in La Mesa, your keywords might be, “Mexican restaurant La Mesa” or “best tacos in La Mesa.”

Another important aspect of local SEO is establishing local directory listings and citations throughout the Internet, such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, Foursquare, and even more popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. It’s also crucial to claim and optimize your Google My Business page to ensure a presence in nearby Google Maps searches.

It’s important to note that if you have a website selling video editing software, like in our example for organic SEO, optimizing for location-based searches might not be the way to go. Your market might be the entire United States, or even other countries. In this case, it may be more beneficial to rank for broader, non-location-specific keywords.

Social Media Marketing

Are you a consumer-facing business looking to build brand awareness and loyalty? If so, social media marketing may be right for you. Social media is a great tool for service businesses that thrive off repeat customers, such as restaurants, spas, or hair salons.

Like traditional advertising, social media is an excellent way to ensure that your brand is omnipresent and always in the back of consumers’ minds. But unlike traditional advertising, social media is surprisingly cheap, and also allows you to take your omnipresence one step further by personally interacting with your customers on a daily basis. A successful social media marketing campaign crafts a living, breathing personality for the brand in question — a personality that consumers come to know and love, even if it’s for reasons seemingly unrelated to what the business is actually offering.

For example, over the last few years, Wendy’s has become known for “roasting” their competitors, and even their consumers, on Twitter. While this has little to do with how good their burgers are, it personifies the brand and transforms it into someone that consumers find endearing. Why does this work? Just as most people would be more likely to get their haircut from a friendly neighbor who they know and trust, consumers might also be more likely to purchase a burger from the quirky, yet lovable, pig-tailed girl known for her Twitter banter, over the faceless arches that keep spamming them about their dollar menu deals.

Get more recommendations with a Free Digital Marketing Audit

The above examples are just a few of the most popular types of digital marketing for small businesses. To learn more about what digital marketing services are available and which ones are best for you, complete the form below and request a free digital marketing audit from Reader Digital Agency. Our experts will analyze your online presence, business goals, and budget to recommend a digital marketing plan customized to meet your needs.