The Full Digital Marketing Guide (with examples) (2023)

At this point in its evolution, digital marketing has opened up a world of opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses. By leveraging the power of digital technology and data, businesses can engage with their customers in meaningful ways, build their brand, and drive business growth and success.
Read on to wrap your head around the fundamentals of digital marketing and its potential for helping your business realize increasingly successful outcomes.

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is the practice of promoting products, services, or brands through various digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, websites, mobile apps, and other digital technologies. It involves creating and delivering personalized, targeted messaging and content to reach and engage with specific audiences, in conjunction with using data analytics to measure and optimize marketing performance. 
The ultimate goal of digital marketing is to drive sales, increase brand awareness, and build lasting customer relationships by using the power of digital technology and data analytics.
The importance of digital marketing lies in its ability to reach and engage with a large and diverse audience in a cost-effective and measurable way. In today's digital age, people are increasingly reliant on technology and online platforms for information and communication. So it’s imperative that businesses have a strong digital presence to stay competitive and relevant. 
Digital marketing enables businesses to take advantage of a variety of digital channels to target specific audiences with relevant messaging and content, track and analyze customer behavior and engagement, and optimize marketing strategies in real-time. Think of digital marketing as an octopus of sorts, comprised of key functional tentacles working together and/or independently to get results. Those facets include:
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): The practice of optimizing website content and structure to improve search engine ranking and visibility.
  • Search engine marketing (SEM): The use of paid search ads to drive traffic to a website or landing page.
  • Social media marketing: The use of social media platforms to create and distribute content, engage with customers, build brand awareness, and drive sales.
  • Email marketing: The practice of using email campaigns to reach and engage with subscribers, nurture leads, promote products or services, and drive sales.
  • Content marketing: The creation and distribution of valuable, informative, and engaging content to attract and retain customers.
  • Video marketing: The use of video content to promote products, services, or brands, engage with customers, and drive sales.
  • Mobile marketing: The practice of targeting and engaging with customers through mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
  • Influencer marketing: The use of endorsements or collaborations with influencers to reach and engage with specific audiences.
  • Affiliate marketing: The practice of partnering with third-party affiliates to promote products or services and drive traffic and sales.
  • Analytics and data-driven marketing: The use of data analytics to measure and optimize marketing performance, and make data-driven decisions to improve marketing effectiveness.
By using digital marketing, businesses can increase brand visibility, attract and convert more leads, and ultimately drive revenue growth and customer loyalty.


What is Digital Advertising?

Serving as digital marketing’s practical application, digital advertising is the practice of promoting products or services through digital channels, such as search engines, social media, mobile apps, websites, and other digital platforms. Digital advertising differs from traditional advertising in that it leverages digital technology and data analytics to target specific audiences with personalized, relevant messaging and content. 
Unlike traditional advertising, digital advertising provides brands with real-time data and insights on customer behavior and engagement, allowing them to optimize their marketing strategies for better performance.
The benefits of digital advertising over traditional advertising include:
  • Greater targeting capabilities: To ensure that marketing messages reach the right people at the right time, digital advertising enables businesses to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests, behavior, and other data points.
  • Higher interactivity and engagement rates: Digital advertising provides businesses with the ability to create interactive, personalized, and engaging content that captures the attention of customers and encourages them to take action.
  • Lower costs: Because it’s generally less expensive than traditional advertising, digital advertising enables businesses to reach a large audience with minimal investment in production, printing, or distribution costs.
  • Better measurement and analysis: Digital advertising provides businesses with real-time data and insights on customer behavior and engagement, allowing them to optimize their marketing strategies for better performance and ROI.
  • Flexibility and scalability: To effectively respond to changing market trends, customer needs, and business objectives, digital advertising lets businesses quickly and easily adjust their marketing messages, content, and targeting strategies as needed.
  • Global reach: Digital advertising enables businesses to reach a global audience, regardless of geographic location or time zone, helping them expand their customer base and increase brand awareness on a global scale.

The Different Types of Digital Advertising

Several types of digital advertising, each with its own unique features and benefits, are available to advertisers, offering specific avenues for reaching people based on their digital proclivities and behaviors:
  • Search engine advertising (SEA): SEA involves creating ads that appear at the top of search engine results pages when users search for specific keywords or phrases. Advertisers bid on keywords related to their products or services and pay when users click on their ads (pay-per-click, or PPC).
  • Display advertising: Display advertising involves creating banner ads or video ads that appear on websites, mobile apps, and other digital platforms. These ads can be targeted to specific audiences based on their interests, behavior, demographics, or location.
  • Social media advertising: Social media advertising facilitates creating ads that appear on social media platforms, such as Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Advertisers can target specific audiences based on their interests, behavior, demographics, or location — and, as with SEA, pay when users interact with their ads.
  • Video advertising: Video advertising involves creating ads that appear before, during, or after online videos. Video ads can be targeted to specific audiences based on their interests, behavior, demographics, or location and can be highly engaging and memorable.
  • Native advertising: Native advertising enables brands to create ads that blend in with the content of the website or platform where they are placed, making them less intrusive and more effective. These ads can appear in the form of sponsored content, promoted posts, or recommended articles.
  • Affiliate advertising: Affiliate advertising involves partnering with third-party websites or influencers to promote products or services in exchange for a commission on sales or leads generated.
  • Retargeting advertising: Retargeting advertising supports businesses through ads that target users who have previously interacted with a business or visited its website. Retargeting ads can be highly effective at converting leads into customers and driving sales growth.


How Digital Ads Work

As the vehicles that interface directly with customers or potential customers, digital ads work by leveraging digital technology and data to deliver targeted and personalized advertising messages to specific audiences across digital channels. Some of the key elements involved in how digital ads work:
  • Ad formats: Digital ads can come in many different formats, including display ads, text ads, video ads, social media ads, native ads, and more. Each ad format provides specific benefits, affording businesses the opportunity to choose the format that best aligns with their marketing objectives and target audience. Some platforms, such as social media sites like Snapchat, also have different format options for ads, such as a single image or video, a carousel of images someone can swipe through, and so forth.
  • Ad networks and exchanges: Ad networks and exchanges are digital platforms that connect businesses with publishers and advertisers to buy and sell digital ad inventory. Ad networks and exchanges allow businesses to reach a large audience across multiple digital channels and platforms, and provide publishers with a way to monetize their online content.
  • Bidding process: The bidding process for digital ads involves businesses bidding on ad inventory to place their ads in front of specific audiences. Ad networks and exchanges use automated bidding algorithms to determine which ads to display to users based on the bids and targeting parameters set by their advertising customers.
  • Ad Targeting and Optimization: Ad targeting uses data to target specific audiences based on demographics, behavior, interests, and other factors. Ad optimization involves using data to measure and optimize the performance of digital ads, such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and return on ad spend (ROAS). Together, ad targeting and optimization enable businesses to deliver more relevant and personalized ads to their target audience and improve their ad performance over time.

Digital Advertising Metrics

Any and every advertising medium’s efficacy is judged by the outcomes created for the businesses that use the medium. Specific to digital advertising, metrics are key performance indicators (KPIs) that help businesses measure and analyze the effectiveness of their digital advertising campaigns. Some of the most common digital advertising metrics and what they mean include:
  • Impressions: The number of times an ad is displayed on a website, mobile app, or other digital platform. Impressions help businesses gauge the reach of their ads and how many people are potentially seeing them. Note that impressions don’t necessarily equal the number of people who saw an ad, since some of them could see it more than once.
  • Clicks: The number of times users click on an ad to visit a landing page or take a desired action. Clicks let businesses measure the engagement and interest of their target audience in their ads.
  • Clickthrough Rate (CTR): A ratio that measures the number of clicks an ad receives relative to the number of impressions it receives. CTR can help businesses measure the effectiveness of their ads at driving engagement and generating interest among their target audience.
  • Cost per Click (CPC): The amount of money a business pays each time a user clicks on their ad. CPC can vary depending on the bidding process, ad format, ad targeting, and other factors.
  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of users who take a desired action after clicking on an ad, such as making a purchase, filling out a form, or signing up for a newsletter. Conversion rate helps businesses measure their ads’ ability to drive conversions and generate revenue.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): ROI refers to the revenue generated from an ad campaign relative to the amount of money spent on the campaign. ROI metrics help businesses determine the profitability and overall success of their ad campaigns.
By measuring and analyzing digital advertising metrics, businesses can gain insights into the performance and effectiveness of their ad campaigns, identify areas for improvement, and optimize their advertising strategies to achieve better results and drive growth.

Some Examples Setting the Bar

So, what does a successful digital advertising campaign look like? Here are some examples you’ll probably recognize:
  • Nike's "Dream Crazier" campaign: Nike's "Dream Crazier" campaign featured a powerful video ad that celebrated female athletes and challenged stereotypes about women in sports. The campaign went viral on social media, generating over 21 million views on YouTube and sparking a global conversation about gender equality and empowerment.
  • Airbnb's "Live There" campaign: Airbnb's "Live There" campaign encouraged travelers to experience local cultures and communities by staying in Airbnb-listed accommodations. The campaign included video ads, social media content, and interactive experiences that showcased the unique and authentic experiences that Airbnb offers.
  • Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign: Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign personalized Coca-Cola bottles and cans with people's names, encouraging consumers to buy and share Coca-Cola products with their friends and family. The campaign generated a 2.5% increase in Coca-Cola sales and over 500,000 posts on social media with the hashtag #ShareACoke.
  • Amazon's personalized recommendations: Amazon's personalized recommendations algorithm uses customer data to suggest products and services based on their interests, browsing history, and purchase behavior. The algorithm has been highly effective at driving sales and customer loyalty, with over 35% of Amazon's revenue coming from personalized recommendations.
  • Apple's "Shot on iPhone" campaign: Apple's "Shot on iPhone" campaign showcases the photography and video capabilities of its iPhone mobile devices. Featuring user-generated content and inspiring a global community of iPhone photographers and filmmakers, the campaign has been highly successful at driving brand awareness and customer engagement for Apple.
These campaigns share a basic commonality: By leveraging digital technology and data to deliver targeted and personalized advertising messages, these companies have been able to broadly connect with their target audience and achieve their marketing objectives (and then some) in creative and effective ways.


Digital Advertising with Snapchat

Snapchat offers businesses like yours a range of digital marketing and digital advertising opportunities to engage with audiences and promote brands or products. Five examples worth exploring:
  1. Sponsored Filters and Lenses: Snapchat offers businesses the opportunity to create sponsored filters and lenses that users can apply to their photos and videos. This enables brands to engage with their audience in a fun and interactive way to uniquely promote their brand or products.
  2. Snapchat Ads: Snapchat Ads are full-screen video ads that appear between users' stories and other content on the platform. These ads are highly targeted and can be customized to reach specific audience segments based on demographics, interests, and behaviors.
  3. Discover: Discover is a feature on Snapchat that allows users to explore content from publishers and brands. Businesses can create content for Discover that is designed to engage and entertain users while promoting their brand or products.
  4. Influencer Marketing: Snapchat has a large community of influencers who create content on the platform and command a loyal following. By partnering with influencers, businesses are able to promote their brand or products to influencers’ followers and reach a broader audience.
  5. Ad Manager: Snapchat's Ad Manager is a self-service platform that allows businesses to create, manage, and optimize their Snapchat ad campaigns. Ad Manager provides businesses with detailed analytics and insights into the performance of their campaigns, allowing them to make data-driven decisions and improve their results over time.
Coupled with its highly engaged user base and innovative ad formats, Snapchat can be an effective channel for your business to tap into a younger audience and drive engagement and conversions at scale.