You hire an agency to do your marketing work so what do you really need to know about marketing? What are the basics? What’s the next step and the next? Or is it all just a big blob?

Digital marketing has become like any other developed field with numerous specialties and specialists. It is not simple, easy, or basic. There’s an AT&T sequence of tv commercials currently running about things being okay. However, is ‘good enough’ okay? (Surgeon AND Mechanic ). It’s pretty funny but the point is valid. Competency influences results. We’ll leave how to select an agency for another time but as you grow your knowledge you’ll be able to better interact and asked questions of specialists who can help you.

In this first article about What To Know About Digital Marketing we’ll cover terminology. It’s probably the fastest path to understanding and certainly is a top down approach to understanding. It’s also a fast path to move away from being a novice without being bogged down in the details.

What to know about digital marketing? … Basic Marketing Terms

What to know about digital marketing starts with some basic terminology. Digital marketing is a bit complex because some words do not have fully agreed upon meaning while others have multiple meanings. So, it is good to understand concepts rather than strict adherence to terms.

Here are some key words to understand along with some generalized definitions. These terms are frequently used and this guide should really help you in communicating to others in marketing.

Broad Concepts

  • Strategy – this is a highly overused term. It really has a vast meaning because there can be a strategy for just about anything from email marketing strategy to marketing strategy or business strategy. In many ways the word strategy just means plan or goal. The nature of marketing allows much to be done at a surface level but it can be done much better with more effort, tuning, and time – in tremendous detail. When considering the use of the word strategy it is best to understand what you and the other person are even saying. One of the biggest mistakes made is that strategy is confused with tactics.
  • Tactics – marketing tactics are more definable than strategy. Tactics are specific activities that are utilized to fulfill a strategy. However, as with strategy there’s a mix of how the word is used and what it means precisely. Tactics can mean types of actions or something different like channels (defined next). Often the word tactic is used interchangeably with the term marketing channel although sometimes tactics are merely means to achieve strategy and can involve multiple channels.
  • Marketing channels – this is a more well established concept than strategy or tactics. Marketing channels are specific ways that marketing is executed. Here are some of the common marketing channels: email, social media, PPC (pay per click), content marketing, and even the website are considered channels (there are more). Interestingly marketing channels are common areas of specialization. The term marketing channel and tactic are often used interchangeably.
  • Campaign – campaign is another nebulous term that can be vague. Campaigns are usually utilized as a concept in order to track ROI and/or cost associated with a marketing activity. It can be ongoing and measured monthly or be terminated. Marketing campaigns are normally measured by marketing automation tools to evaluate performance and results such as leads generated, lead engagement, etc. Often campaigns are made up of multiple marketing activities and then reviewed in aggregate but this is not necessarily the case. It’s really more about multiple efforts and measuring results.
  • Inbound Marketing – the idea is based upon people using the Internet to search for solutions to challenges directly or peripherally. Inbound Marketing’s development coincides with dominance of Internet search, primarily Google’s ability to find content that matches search terms. With that in mind Inbound Marketing focuses on building content that will draw traffic to your products and services. The content can be devised for any stage that the prospect is at in their search to find a solution to their challenge. Content and be varied in topic as well as medium in addition to the method of deliver or location where it is stored/found. The purpose is to build your brand authority and cause engagement which ultimate can lead to more customers. Inbound Marketing’s genesis is the Internet due to the ability of search engines to find content. Author, writer, and consultant David Meerman Scott was one of the early advocates of the concept of the notion of Inbound Marketing (see his still highly relevant book “The New Rules of PR and Marketing”).
  • Outbound Marketing – whereas Inbound Marketing focuses on drawing those who are already searching, Outbound Marketing is often referred to as interruption marketing. Outbound concentrates upon going to prospects using methods such as email, advertising, press releases, etc.
  • Content Marketing – as with other the terms things can be come mashed together. Content Marketing is one of the main methods to advance Inbound Marketing. Think of content development and content marketing as nearly synonymous with the only difference being that content marketing involves the promotion of content rather than just the creation. Content Marketing is a subset of Inbound Marketing as a methodology.
  • Buyer’s Journey – a methodology for understanding, examining, and generating targeted actions aligned to the the stages buyers going through when shopping. it is in sharp contrast to the historical method of leads being either buyer ready or disqualified. The foundation is that power has shifted the buyers as they can gather information utilizing the Internet to determine interest in a particular product, service, or solution. David Meerman Scott wrote an excellent follow up to his book on PR & Marketing about how the Internet has impacted the way in which sales must relate to customers. (“The New Rules of Sales and Service”).

Tools & More

  • Marketing Automation software – this software is designed for marketers to design, build, execute, track, and measure marketing activities with prospects and customers. Marketing focuses on identifying and engaging with non customers or how to turn customers into repeat customers. Marketing Automation software is a category of software that has various levels of sophistication and power.
  • Marketing Automation – this refers to rules that automatically take action when triggered events occur. Triggered events can be based upon website engagement, email activity, time, or based upon any other available data (demographic, sociographic, behavioral, etc.). Identifying email addresses are key to marketing automation as it creates the main way to identify users and their behavior and to engage when triggered events occur.
  • Cookies – cookies are small references kept associated with your web browsing software that allows for information to be retained, reused, and leveraged. A cookie can be used to save time for a user so they do not need to repeat filling out information in forms. Cookies have also been utilized in nefarious ways because they do retain information about web activity and even “personal” information.

Specific to Email

  • SPAM – despite common misconception SPAM doesn’t mean illegal email nor does it mean bad email. SPAM has come to be associated with email and mean email that has not been opted into or selected to receive. The term has become synonymous with junk mail. However factually Spam is defined as irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of people. Junk mail has been defined as unsolicited advertising or promotional material received through mail or email. Many email filters label both the same and individuals have come to use the terms interchangeable. In the USA, at this time, it is not illegal or criminal to send an email to someone who has not opt-ed into receive emails from you. Also, the value of email content is not determined the pejorative term of spam or junk.
  • Email Nurture – this is generally a sequence of emails sent to provide the reader information in a logical fashion to create a response. Normally that response can be scaled up over time. Examples may include reading something or filling out a form and ultimate result in a purchase. Nurture email is generally done utilizing email automation in order to deliver the sequence in a timely fashion to stay top of mind and continue relationship/engagement.
  • Email Drip – drip email is often used in a synonymous fashion with email nurture. We generally use drip to indicate a link to already published content. While nurture is dynamic and tailed a drip is more scheduled and informative. It isn’t as personalized and rule based. Drip emails are often used at end of month for things like posted blog content for the month.

The above items are only a few of many. In our next email on this topic we’ll explore a few more concepts and ideas. In addition, we’ll cover the role of your website. This is perhaps one of the most misunderstood aspects of marketing. So be sure to read that blog post as well.


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