Digital Marketing: Understanding the Basics

Marketing has slowly undergone a paradigm shift. What used to be a physical medium, present on TV screens and billboards and in magazines and newspapers have followed us into the digital era. With this digitization of marketing comes an almost exponential democratization of its access. Digital marketing is an essential step for any budding business and is even featured in College Life Venture’s lean canvas guide. Here are the essential elements required to run a successful digital marketing campaign.


What is Digital Marketing composed of?

Digital marketing can actually be broken down into two subcategories: online and offline marketing. Here we’re going to focus more on how to use online digital marketing to leverage growth. Online marketing is composed of 6 different branches: Content marketing, Paid advertising, Email marketing, Social Media Marketing (SMM), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Affiliate marketing.



Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Optimization (SEO) go hand in hand and are indisputably the pillars of online marketing. Not only are websites almost a prerequisite for starting a business but managed well, they can be priceless channels through which your business connects with customers. SEM is any type of marketing that handles the positioning of the website on search engines for maximum visibility. Most online marketing is a form of search engine marketing, but SEM is usually composed of: search engine optimization, keyword research and competitive analysis. An indispensable tool for SEM is SEMrush. SEMrush is an online digital marketing suite with an extensive multimedia-focused toolkit. Their selection of digital tools like position tracking or the keyword magic tool will help you monitor the metrics that lead to growth.

For example, with the keyword magic tool you can research the best keyword for your content and make sure that you're truly reaching your target audience. You can even stay one step ahead of your competition by analyzing their backlinks and monitoring their brand.

digital marketing keyword research on semrush

Email and Affiliate

Email Marketing

How many times have you opened your email only to see yet another unwanted email campaign? Email marketing is a staple of a good digital marketer’s toolkit. No matter how many campaigns spam our inboxes, there’s nothing more reliable than good email marketing. Make sure to view your communication strategy as one that looks to build a relationship instead of simply sell. Engage your audience and give them content with purpose. In that vein, keep your tone tailored to your customer segment and its corresponding persona. You can start segmentation early by tracking the open and click-through-rates (CTR) and seeing what your audience responds to the best. Tools like EmailOctopus and mailchimp are great for list building and monitoring and will make segmentation that much easier. Check out this Backlinko guide to crafting a dynamic email list!

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is pretty simple. It’s defined by Investopedia as a «marketing model where a company pays compensation to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services.» In other words, you pay influencers, companies or other third parties to promote your content for you. The efficiency of affiliate marketing can typically be tracked through custom affiliate links which track the number of redirections generated by said promoter.


Content Marketing

Content marketing is marketing that focuses on the creation and distribution of content. Said content needs to be valuable and relevant all well as directed towards a particular audience. Content is the backbone of all websites. It is a priceless means through which you can attract and keep customers. By providing content that is engaging and inherently valuable, your target audience is more open to finding out about your products or services. You can adjust your content strategy by checking the engagement it receives through SEMrush’s content audit tool or find the topics your competition writes about using their Topic Research tool.

topic research with semrush



Pay-per-click advertising is as simple as it sounds. It’s advertising which you pay for in order to get more visibility for certain keywords. Although there are many different paid models,   the most common is paid-per-click (PPC), where the ad is paid for if clicked on. Though highly effective, as customers coming from ads have a higher conversion rate than organic traffic, paid advertising - when done wrong - can burn a substantial hole in your pocket. SEMrush allows you to control the effectiveness of your paid marketing campaigns by launching a competitive analysis and seeing who are your top paid competitors. Their Paid Advertising toolkit also enables you to analyze your competitors’ campaigns as well as the most effective keywords. keywords. Online you can also find thousands of agencies willing to help you manage your paid media budgets in transparent pricing structures. Take Media Dojo as an example, a digital agency in Czech Republic that helps companies manage their advertising budgets & complete media campaigns.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is as essential as SEO nowadays. Not only is it a valuable tool to reach your existing customer segment but also a viral tweet or Instagram post is worth a thousand marketing campaigns. Like the Lean Canvas,  successful Social Media Marketing depends on setting and tracking actionable metrics, which are covered in more detail in our lean canvas guide. After you’ve decided on the channels you want to use (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google + and Facebook are the basics, Snapchat if your target audience is younger than 25), conduct a competitive analysis with SEMrush’s Brand Monitoring tool. With this tool, you can see what context your competitors are mentioned in. Track your engagement by conducting a full Social Media Audit and adapt your strategy accordingly!

As you can see, the various components to digital marketing all come into play at different stages of your marketing journey. The true secret to long-lasting success lies not in understanding what can be done but what can be changed. With these foundations, if you manage to continually learn from the data you collect and ceaselessly adapt to both your environment and your customer, growth is at your fingertips!

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