What is digital marketing? a beginner’s guide (2021 update)

As a small business owner, you have big goals. You want to attract loyal customers, build a dedicated team, and become a leader in your niche

Maybe you’ve heard it’s essential to focus on digital marketing but found the term vague, overwhelming, and confusing, leaving you unsure of where to start and how it will actually help. 

We’re here to clear up the confusion. We know the ins and outs of online marketing, and we’ve seen how it helps small businesses grow. With a proper digital marketing strategy, you can reach a massive audience, boost brand awareness, and increase sales all while keeping your costs in check. Since digital marketing is relatively easy to measure and scale, you get a high level of control over your tactics and your results.

With this beginner’s guide, you’ll learn what exactly is digital marketing, what are the types of digital marketing strategies generally used, you’ll understand the impact that digital marketing can have on your business’s growth, till how to get started with your own marketing campaign, step-by-step.

Let’s get into it

1. What is digital marketing, exactly?

Digital marketing definition: digital marketing (also known as online marketing, internet marketing, or web marketing) refers to any form of marketing or advertising delivered through traditional and new digital channels such as websites, social media, mobile applications, email, or search engines, among others.

Digital marketing is traditionally done online and offline and it includes different types of paid and non-paid digital marketing strategies such as:

  1. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
  2. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  3. Email marketing
  4. Content marketing
  5. Mobile marketing
  6. Social media marketing
  7. Forum marketing
  8. Affiliate marketing
  9. Marketing automation
  10. Influencer marketing
  11. Referral marketing

“Digital marketing is an umbrella term for all of your company’s online marketing efforts.”

2. The importance of digital marketing

Because digital marketing is so versatile, trackable, and scalable, it’s uniquely positioned to help you reach your business goals. Let’s take a look at some of the key ways digital marketing can benefit your business:

#1. Decreases costs. Traditional marketing tends to cost much more than digital tactics. When you focus on digital marketing, you can lower your costs while still driving impressive results.

#2. Drives online sales. Since digital marketing takes place online, these tactics are naturally geared toward driving online sales and conversions. If you want to sell products online, digital marketing is essential.

#3. Increases revenue. Digital marketing campaigns can use both paid and organic strategies to drive revenue. No matter the size of your budget, digital marketing gives you the opportunity to boost your company’s bottom line.

#4. Targets with precision. Digital marketing channels allow you to target users by demographics, interests, and even devices. That means you can connect with the right person at the right time, making the most of your marketing efforts.

#5. Expands reach. No matter the size of your business, you need to expand your customer base continually. Digital marketing can reach customers across the nation and around the globe so you can expand to new markets and even trade globally.

#6. Builds brand reputation. Whether your company is new or seasoned, it’s important to increase brand awareness continually. Digital campaigns can introduce your brand to relevant customers and help you establish a positive reputation with loyal customers.

3. Types of digital marketing

There is a lot of types of digital marketing, each coming with its own strategies and tools which can, in general, be divided into 7 major categories including:

#1. Content marketing

Content marketing refers to the creation and promotion of all types of content, whether it’s written, audio, or visual content. Content marketing assets include blog posts, case studies, videos, podcasts, and more. A successful content marketing strategy attracts and guides customers through every stage of the sales funnel.

How can your business benefit from content marketing?

  1. You can build trust. When you create helpful content that solves customers’ problems, you gain credibility. Over time, you can establish trust, which can lead to sales.
  2. You can improve brand awareness. The more high-quality content you create, the more chances you have to introduce your brand and rank with search engines.

“85% of marketers say improving content quality has made their marketing strategy more successful.”

#2. Email marketing

This channel connects with customers directly in their email inboxes. An email marketing strategy can include everything from sale announcements to monthly newsletters to remarketing messages. An email service provider (ESPs) like MailChimp or ConvertKit can help small businesses execute these strategies more efficiently, but email marketing specialists may also use other tools or methods to craft a profitable strategy. 

The secret of email marketing success is writing compelling headlines and high converting copy that makes people want to take the next step. The more relevant your emails are to what potential customers need, the better they will work to build your relationship with them, so they think of you when they’re ready to buy.

How can your business benefit from email marketing?

  1. You can get an impressive ROI. Email marketing has an average ROI of 3800%. That means email can generate $38 in revenue for every $1 in ad spend.
  2. You can keep the costs low. Email marketing lets you get right into inboxes, so you don’t have to pay for an ad every time you want to connect directly with customers.
Insider tips for email marketing
– Be aware that there are strict guidelines for email marketing. Users must be able to opt-in, so you know they want your emails before you send them anything; otherwise, they’ll see you as a spammer.
– When writing headlines for emails, avoid email spam trigger words or anything that seems overly promotional. These affect email deliverability. If they end up in the spam box or, in the case of Gmail, in the “promotions” tab, people may not see them at the right time – or at all
– Ensure that your email marketing is relevant to the users that you are selling it to. It will increase both your open rates and account credibility.

#3. Social media marketing

There are almost 2.8 billion social media users worldwide, around one-third of all internet users. That means you can’t ignore social media for marketing your business. Social media is a great tool to give customers a personal connection with you.

In addition to the huge audiences, most social media sites have the added advantage of analytics, giving you more data about your audience’s composition and preferences than ever before. In short, social media is a major vehicle for business growth.

With social media marketing, you can connect with customers on their preferred platforms. You can use YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or other social media platforms to grow a loyal following and sell products.

How can your business benefit from social media marketing?

  1. You can build relationships. Social media is ideal for making connections and growing a community. Over time, social media can help you improve customer loyalty.
  2. You can offer customer service. Since social media allows for public commenting and private messaging, you can rely on this channel for simple, cost-effective customer service.

#4. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO refers to techniques and strategies that make your website more visible in Google search results, ideally ranking in the top 10 results for search queries that are important for your business. This can include changes and optimizations to the content on the site; the structure of the site including navigation, links to and from site pages, and even some behind-the-scenes code; and links from external websites to your own because of the merit of your content. 

Of course, that’s not all there is to SEO. In fact, there’s a long list of search ranking factors. In a nutshell, Google wants to know your business is trustworthy and it looks for signals like:

  • External reviews of your business
  • Brand mentions from trusted external sources
  • Social media sharing

And more. The more positive these signals are, the better your pages and your site will rank.

How can your business benefit from SEO?

  1. You can win new customers. SEO increases the chance of customers finding your website when searching for queries related to your company. Whether customers are just researching or they’re ready to buy, getting them to your website is the first step in winning their business.
  2. You can establish authority. When you rank high for popular search queries, your business can become an expert on key topics. Over time, you can increase your credibility and drive even more business.

#5. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)

The focus of PPC advertising is on helping to achieve marketing goals such as brand awareness, content downloads, newsletter sign-ups, website traffic, leads, and of course conversions.

While you Google a search term you’ve probably noticed that a few ads appear at the top of the search results. These ads are served by AdWords and your PPC strategy aims to ensure that your ad comes up at the right time to target the people you most want to reach. These ads also appear on mobile devices. Because of the positioning, these ads get a lot of clicks, which means more traffic, sales, and leads for your business.

How can your business benefit from PPC?

  1. You can generate leads and sell products. Since PPC ads can target customers at any stage of the sales funnel, they’re ideal for driving sales and collecting contact information from warm leads.
  2. You can remarket to customers. PPC ads can also target existing customers or warm leads who haven’t purchased yet.
Insider tips for PPC
– Make the purchase process as simple as possible, so your ads result in more paying customers. Remember, you are paying per click.
– Increase your return on investment (ROI) by taking advantage of the built-in AdWords testing features.
– Vary titles and descriptions on a rotating basis to determine which are the best performing ads for your business.

#6. Affiliate marketing

With affiliate marketing, you authorize others to broaden your audience, scale traffic, and drive sales for your business. Then you pay a commission for each sale. Your business can join large, established affiliate platforms like Amazon Associates or Fiverr affiliates or you can set up your own.

How can your business benefit from affiliate marketing?

  1. You can increase revenue and scale traffic without doing extra work. Since you rely on affiliates to promote your products and drive more prospects to your website, you can get more sales with minimal additional work.
  2. You can get valuable endorsements. Affiliates often create in-depth reviews or write endorsements to drive sales. Since almost 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, affiliate marketing can offer incredible value.

#7. Referral marketing

Referral traffic means customers who clicked on a link on another website to get to your website. Referral traffic often comes from blog posts that link to your business or company listings in online directories.

How can your business benefit from referral marketing?

  1. You can get warm leads. Customers who clicked over to your website have shown an interest in what your business has to offer. As warm leads, they’re easier to convert than cold leads.
  2. You can improve SEO. As you build more referral links, search engines assign more value to your website. Over time, you can boost your SEO, which improves your rankings in search results.

4. Digital marketing examples

What does digital marketing look like in action? Here are some examples from industry-leading companies. 


When the pandemic hit in 2020, the closure of bars and stay-at-home orders drove an e-commerce alcohol rush. In response, Anheuser-Busch teamed up with alcohol delivery service, Drizly, to launch a strategy using Facebook’s Collaborative Ads. 

Being that Anheuser-Busch doesn’t have a strong direct-to-consumer presence, Collaborative Ads enabled it to direct users to a retailer’s website (Drizly). It was compliant with alcohol sales regulations and enabled the targeting of specific users by age, location, and preferences. 

Drizly saw an increase in shoppers that peaked in Q3 of 2020 with a 700% increase in sales over January and February. As for Anheuser-Busch, year over year, Bud Light had a 28% increase in purchases and Michelob Ultra saw an 11% lift. 

Key Takeaway
When the market throws you a curveball, you need to adapt quickly. Shifting advertising to an effective online channel and partnering with the right brand not only kept Anheuser Busch afloat but helped them improve YOY. 


Slack helps more than 12 million daily active users to stay connected. Its cloud-based instant messaging platform has become a go-to solution for remote work collaboration, enabling you to ditch confusing email threads for well-organized channels. 

But how did it take off? Slack made three key moves before officially launching:

  • It created the “Slack Wall of Love” on Twitter, which still exists today, and is a place where users sing praises about the tool. This created a strong form of social proof.
  • It had well-known companies use the tool and displayed testimonials from them on a landing page. 
  • It created articles positioning the tool as the “email killer” and partnered with a PR firm to get them published in relevant tech publications (online and offline). Fast Company, TechCrunch, and The Verge were all on the list. 

Once users began adopting the software, Slack continued to act on its promise of delivering an amazing customer experience. The software was easy to use. If you quit, you could get money back for any unused credits. And, it had a fast response time to customer service issues.

These tactics, along with a strong product-market fit, took the company from 15,000 users in 2014 to 12+ million in 2020, earning it the title as the fastest-growing business app in history. It also continues to show significant year-over-year revenue growth

Key Takeaway
Once you have your product, positioning, and customer service channels in place, you need to make your solution known and trusted by the world. You can do so by appearing in the high-traffic publications your audience reads. Social proof is also helpful to create a positive buzz and remove doubts from the minds of your potential customers.


Airbnb has over seven million listings worldwide and over 150 million users. 

The key to Airbnb’s digital marketing strategy lies largely in user-generated content (UGC) where people share photos and videos of their homes available for rent on Airbnb as well as homes they rent while on vacation. Then, Airbnb reshares that content and tags the original person who posted it. 

This helps to promote their listings and provides travel inspiration for followers. It also becomes highly impactful when influencers like Mariah Carey are the original content creators. Airbnb began hosting famous people such as Lady Gaga, Wiz Khalifa, and Drake to boost brand awareness. Its Instagram account currently has over 4.7 million followers and gets thousands of engagements on each post. 

Key Takeaway
You don’t always have to create all of your content. Some businesses naturally lend themselves to user-generated content which can save you a significant amount of time and resources while being more effective. You can then amplify the impact of your content by working with influencers. 


Tesla is on a mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy and is working towards that mission by manufacturing electric vehicles. The innovative company also has a unique factor that many of its long-standing competitors lack: Elon. Can you name any of the founders or CEOs of Chevrolet, BMW, or Audi off the top of your head? 

Elon Musk has long created a buzz about his projects, including Tesla, by using Twitter. He has over 49 million followers on the platform and posts regularly. He has gained popularity by sharing updates about the company as well as his, often humorous, own opinions.

Musk’s strong personal brand transfers over to Tesla which has over 8.6 million followers on Twitter (far more than its competitors). The company page posts interesting updates about once per week and garners over tens of thousands of engagements, sometimes even hundreds of thousands. Tesla also hosts live stream events on Twitter which generate significantly higher levels of buzz. For example, the cybertruck unveil has over 2.6 million views. 

Key Takeaway
Personal branding is powerful. Founders and CEOs can help boost the popularity and awareness of their company by building a presence on social media. Maintaining a regular presence and using social to unveil new products and updates can help to encourage a following and generate buzz.

5. What does a digital marketing manager do?

digital marketing manager is responsible to identify new marketing trends, plan and execute marketing campaigns, and use analytical tools to early identify weaknesses and solutions to build a business’s brand awareness, traffic and leads, through one or more – free and paid – digital channels such as SEO, email, social media, SEM, affiliate, forums or your company’s website or blog.

Digital marketing is a broad term that embraces different types of online marketing tactics and a digital marketing manager usually manages a team including different specialists each one having specific roles and responsibilities.

Here are some examples of these digital marketing specialists:

#1. The email marketing specialistworks with copywriters and web designers to create automated email sequences, newsletters, and sales emails to help you stay connected with new or actual customers.

#2. The social media marketing specialist creates and publishes social media content so you can grow a loyal audience, build brand awareness, and provide customer service.

#3. The content marketing specialist develops blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos, and other types of content to help you build trust and authority within your prospects as well as drive highly converting traffic to your website.

#4. The SEM (search engine marketing) manager creates paid ad campaigns for Facebook, Instagram, Bing, and Google so you can boost brand awareness and drive sales.

#5. The SEO manager optimizes every last page on your website so you rank higher on search engines’ SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) for any specific keywords pertinent to your niche, products, or services

#6. The affiliation manager is responsible to find and manage new and actual affiliates to help you further promote your business and generate new leads, and sales.

#7. The retention specialist oversees customer loyalty programs and develops repeat customer initiatives so you can increase revenue and customer lifetime value.

#8. The data analystprocesses and reviews data from all your digital channels so you understand where you’re succeeding, where you’re failing, and how you can reach your goals

6. Does digital marketing work for small businesses?

In short, absolutely YES, as it gives small businesses more opportunities to compete.

For small businesses, competing with the big guys isn’t exactly easy. For example, if you run a mom-and-pop diner, it’s impossible to buy more TV spots than IHOP.

But here’s the thing:

Digital marketing lets you level the playing field, no matter how big your competitors are. With the right digital strategies, you can build a massive social media following, rank at the top of Google, or sell tons of products via email.

But that’s not all, here are just a few more of the advantages digital marketing offers not just to small businesses, but to all kinds of businesses that have an online presence.

#1. It helps you identify and engage your ideal audience

When you invest in traditional marketing like magazine articles or TV ads, you can target your audience to an extent. After all, you know who usually reads the magazine or watches the TV show.

But what if you really want to zero in on your audience and optimize your budget?

It doesn’t matter if your ideal audience includes stay-at-home parents or high-powered CEOs. With digital marketing, you can identify and engage your ideal buyer personas using various online marketing tactics, even if your audience is small or has niche interests.

#2. It helps you reach your customers in the right places

Fewer people than ever before are reading magazines and newspapers or listening to the radio. In 2018, newspaper circulation in the United States reached its lowest level since 1940. Local news audiences have declined for more than a decade.

Instead, your customers are spending more time online. In fact:

So what does that mean for your business? With the right digital marketing strategies, you can reach and connect with your audience where they already are.

#3. It makes tracking and monitoring easy

Tracking results from traditional ad campaigns isn’t easy. You might know how many times your ad appeared. Yet it’s impossible to know how many people actually responded to your newspaper or TV ad.

When you launch a digital marketing campaign, you can track virtually any detail. With a few clicks, you can find out how many people clicked on your ad and whether they bought something. You can even target the same group of people with another ad.

#4. It allows you to scale and adapt your efforts

When you find a digital strategy that works for your business, you can easily scale it. After all, you aren’t tied to a TV ad or committed to direct mailing months in advance. That means you can spend a bit more in digital and get exponential results, adapting to your needs as they evolve.

But how do you find what works?

You can rely on analytics tools to measure your results. Because you’re in complete control of your digital efforts, you can test out new ideas at any time. If you like the results you get, you can scale them up. If they don’t work out as well as you’d hoped, you can stop them before spending too much.

7. How to do digital marketing

1. Define your budget

You must first determine your overall digital marketing campaign’s budget by defining how many resources you can allocate for each online channel, as this will directly reflect on your marketing campaign goals and strategy.

2. Define your goals

Digital marketing campaigns generally preclude the use of several marketing channels such as SEO, paid advertising, social media marketing, and email marketing just to name a few.

No matter what, for any digital marketing channel you decide to execute as part of your strategy you must set specific marketing goals and track the right metrics, such as:

  • To increase your SEO organic website traffic
  • Gain more social media followers
  • Improve your email campaigns open rate
  • Drive more click-throughs on paid ads and more…

3. Define your niche market

To stand out from the competition, it’s important to precisely define your niche market, and to do so you must run in-depth market research. Are you targeting businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C)? The more precise and granular your research is, and the more chances you will have to convert leads into customers.

4. Define personas

A user persona represents your ideal customer and helps you understand your target audience’s needs and motivations. Market research and data shape buyer personas, which can outline everything from age and gender to interests and problems.

5. Perform a competitive research

The competitive analysis identifies your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats while clarifying your unique value proposition.

6. Choose the right marketing channels

Which marketing channels should you use to effectively drive leads and sales? Should you choose search Ads or social media? If social media which platform? This is a sample of questions you must answer in order to understand what are the best marketing channels to help you execute your strategy.

Three mistakes to avoid before launching a digital marketing campaign
Not defining your buyer persona: Without a buyer persona, you’ll struggle to write copy and develop creatives that target the right audience. Map out your buyer persona in advance so you can appeal to the right people.
Using incomplete research: Just because you want to promote something doesn’t mean your customers are ready to buy. Use surveys and customer feedback to make sure you’re marketing the right message at the right time.
Having an unclear strategy or goals: When you’re clear about your strategy and goals, you know what to expect and can identify issues easily during a campaign.

Digital marketing is a complex and ever-changing field, and as a business owner, you’re busy negotiating partnerships with suppliers, developing products, and other key tasks. If you don’t have time or the knowledge, or if don’t have an in-house marketing team to create and manage your marketing campaigns, then your best option is to hire a freelance marketing strategist.

8. Digital marketing KPIs

KPIs or key performance indicators are the metrics or goals for your digital marketing campaigns. A successful campaign should reach or exceed your KPIs. To set effective KPIs, you can use the SMART goal method:

  • Specific: Be as clear as possible about each KPI
  • Measurable: Make sure your KPI includes numbers, such as sales figures or new customer signups
  • Achievable: KPIs should be realistic, not impossible
  • Relevant: Your KPIs should align with your overall business goals
  • Time-based: Every KPI should include a timeline so you know when to start and stop measuring

To get the most out of every digital marketing campaign, it’s important to attribute to each one of your digital marketing channels its own set of KPIs. Here below we give you some examples of different digital marketing KPIs you can track and measure:

Content marketing KPIs

You can use Google Analytics to track content marketing KPIs:

  • The number of comments: A larger number means you’re attracting more customer engagement.
  • Time on page: An increasing number means customers are spending more time reading and gaining value from your content.
  • Social shares: A higher number means more customers found your content valuable enough to share.

Email marketing KPIs

To monitor email marketing KPIs, refer to your email service provider:

  • Open rate: A higher number means more customers opened and read your email.
  • CTR: A higher number means a greater percentage of subscribers clicked a link in your emails, such as a link to a product page or a blog post.
  • Conversions: A higher number means your email generated more conversions, such as revenue or website visitors.

Social media marketing KPIs

You can use native analytics to track KPIs on each social media platform:

  • Likes: A steadily increasing number means your social media audience is growing organically, or without paid promotion.
  • Active followers: A larger number shows that more people are engaging with your social media content.
  • Shares: A higher number means more users shared your social media posts.
  • CTR: A higher percentage means more followers found your content valuable enough to click over to your website.
  • Brand mentions: A larger number shows that more people are talking about your company, which can increase brand awareness.


To monitor SEO KPIs, use a tool like MozAhrefs, or SEMrush:

  • Keyword ranking: A number as close as possible to one means you rank closer to the top of the search engine results page (SERP).
  • Pageviews: A steadily increasing number indicates that people are visiting more pages on your website.
  • The number of backlinks: A steadily increasing number means more sites are linking to your website, which can improve your rankings.


You can track PPC KPIs using each ad platform’s built-in analytics:

  • CPC or CPA: A lower number means you’re spending less for each conversion.
  • CTR: A higher percentage means more customers are responding to your ads.
  • Quality score: A higher quality score means your ad is more likely to win the automated bidding process.

Affiliation marketing KPIs

To monitor affiliate marketing KPIs, use your affiliate platform’s analytics:

  • Conversion rate: A higher number means more customers completed a conversion, such as a sale.
  • Average order value: A higher number means customers spent more on each purchase.
  • Referral traffic: A larger number indicates your affiliates are broadening your audience.
  • New customers: A larger percentage shows that your affiliates are driving more new than returning customers.

Referral traffic KPIs

To monitor referral traffic KPIs, use Google Analytics:

  • New users: A higher number means that more new customers are clicking through to your site, possibly due to successful SEO efforts.
  • Source: A wider variety of sources means that more websites are linking to your site.

Whether you’re planning to outsource your strategy or handle it in-house, it’s important to stay on top of the latest digital marketing trends. Naturally, when you know what’s new, it’s easier to stay ahead of the curve. Get to know some of the top trends for 2021 so you can build successful digital campaigns.

#1. Artificial intelligence (AI) streamlines your workflow

AI is quickly becoming important in almost every digital marketing channel, especially when it comes to customer service. With AI, you can program digital software to handle automated tasks. For example, chatbots are programs that automate customer communication and support on your website or other platforms. What’s in it for you?

AI software like chatbots saves you time and money. After all, with a chatbot, you can spend less on customer service staff and streamline your support workflow.

In 2021, it’s easier and smarter than ever to install a chatbot on your website. According to Backlinko, 80% of businesses plan to use chatbots on their websites in 2021. This year, chatbots will also handle 85% of customer support needs.

#2. Automated Ad bidding gets you more bang for your buck

For years, PPC platforms like Facebook and Google have offered increasingly automated ad bidding. In 2021, EMarketer projects that automated channels will buy over 85% of digital display ads. What does that mean for you?

Facebook and Google are stepping up their automated bidding options. That means you can drive more targeted results. For example, you can optimize for your target CPA or your target return on ad spend (ROAS) to get the most bang for your buck.

#3. Video marketing increases website traffic and sales

Like automated ad bidding, video marketing has also been gaining steam for years. Yet in 2021, video is no longer optional. It’s essential.

According to HubSpot, 85% of businesses already use video for marketing. Nearly 90% report a positive ROI from video marketing. Opt-in Monster reports that for 87% of marketers, video leads to more website traffic, and 80% attribute increased sales to video.

#4. Content marketing leads SEO efforts

Google routinely updates its algorithm, which affects how your website ranks. In late 2019, the search engine launched BERT, which focuses on natural language processing (NLP).

How does that affect your business?

In 2021, content is the key to telling search engines what your website is about and when to rank it at the top. That’s why content marketing continues to increase in importance. Since content marketing costs almost a third less than traditional marketing while generating three times the number of leads. That means investing in this strategy should be a no-brainer.

#5. SERP features dominate SEO

Search engines like Google regularly introduce new SERP features. Visually rich image packs and information-loaded local packs enhance users’ search experiences. They also give businesses even more opportunities to rank at the top of SERPs.

How will that impact your business?

HostGator reports that new SERP features are a major factor in decreasing CTRs. More than a third of desktop searches result in no clicks because users get all the information they need from the SERP feature. On mobile, more than half of searches end with no clicks.

That means it’s essential to master SERP features. To rank at the top of Google in 2021, it’s more important than ever for businesses to understand SERP features work and how to rank for them.

10. Digital marketing terms and definitions

Within the previous sections, we have seen some marketing terms and acronyms such as CPA or CTR that might sound new to you but that are extremely important to understand if you want to decipher any marketing report or analysis you are presented with.

Below you will find some of the most common digital marketing terms, many of which are specific to SEO, PPC, and social media marketing.

#1. conversion is a specific action you want customers to take during a digital marketing campaign. For example, you might want customers to buy an item, sign up for an email list, or download a white paper.

#2. Cost per click (CPC) refers to the amount you spend every time a customer clicks on your digital ad. To calculate CPC, divide the total amount you spent by the number of link clicks.

Many digital ad platforms use CPC as a pricing model, which means you get charged for each click. By monitoring CPC, you can also make sure you’re spending the right amount to get customers on your website.

#3. Cost per acquisition (CPA) measures the cost of converting a customer. To measure the CPA for a campaign, divide the total amount you spent by the number of conversions.

Like CPC, many digital ad platforms offer CPA as a pricing model so you can control how much you spend to land a new customer. When you optimize for CPA, you can also keep your CPA low and run more cost-effective campaigns.

#4. Click-through rate (CTR) refers to the percentage of customers who click on a link in your marketing campaign. To calculate CTR, divide the total number of views by the number of clicks.

Although CTR doesn’t measure cost, it can still help you assess your campaign’s success. A high CTR shows that a large percentage of people who saw the link were interested enough to click.

#5. Return on investment (ROI) calculates the revenue from a marketing campaign and helps you assess the overall value. To calculate ROI, subtract the amount you spent on the campaign from the revenue total. Then divide by the amount you spend on the campaign.

#6. Bounce rate refers to the percentage of people who visit your website and then exit quickly. To find your website’s bounce rate, check your Google Analytics data.

Ideally, you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible, and you want it to decrease over time. After all, the lower your bounce rate, the more value customers get from your website

#7. Call to action (CTA) are prompts that encourage customers to do something. For example, “Shop now” and “Sign up” invite customers to take the next step after visiting your website or reading your ad.

Choosing a strong CTA is important to any campaign’s success. Leaving out the CTA can mean fewer conversions. Adding an enticing CTA can lead to more sales or signups.

#8. Retargeting is an email and paid advertising strategy that targets customers who have already interacted with or shown interest in your business. Using this strategy can help you lower your digital marketing costs since it guides customers through the sales funnel.

#9. A/B split testing involves experimenting with two versions of one campaign. For example, you can run an A/B test with two ads that are identical aside from the graphics, button color, or other variables. Digital marketers typically use tools designed specifically for A/B testing to effectively run these tests. It’s imperative that you only test one variable at a time to truly understand the impact of the change you are testing. 

After you test the two versions, you can compare to find out which drives the best results. Then you can invest more of your budget into the top-performing version.


No matter how big or how quickly you want to build your business, digital marketing is key. From PPC to social media, digital marketing strategies let you connect with your customers online and stay competitive in an increasingly digital economy. With its customizable, versatile, and scalable nature, digital marketing can drive traffic and target conversions, ultimately allowing you to reach your business goals.

If you’re sold on why digital marketing will benefit your business, pick the channel(s) that you feel will be most beneficial to your business and start looking for a marketing expert to help you build, launch, and test your campaign. You can find digital marketing experts on Fiverr, or post to job boards explaining your needs. It’s okay to start small—pick one channel, one expert, and launch one campaign and start to see digital marketing in action and watch your business grow.

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Contributor @samcx.com. Passionate about everything Sales, Marketing and Account Management.

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