How to Create a Balanced Digital Marketing Plan
When designing a digital marketing plan, you first need to consider the various touch-points that consumers encounter throughout their purchase journey. Envision a bike tire. You might be wondering, “How does digital marketing and advertising relate to bike tires?” Well, imagine that each aspect of your multichannel plan is a spoke on a bike tire, and that your strategy is the hub, bringing each spoke together so they act in service of one uniform goal. Since companies invest significant time, resources and energy into their paid advertising/marketing efforts, it’s only logical to ensure that each effort achieves maximum efficiency and supports owned and earned channels.
From a 30,000-foot view, there are four main kinds of paid advertising channels to consider as part of a digital marketing plan: social, search, display and native. First, let’s define what each type entails, and then consider how they can work together.
Social Media Advertising
True to their name, social media ads are presented to users on social media platforms. These platforms have the ability to display targeted ads based on a variety of factors, such as demographics, and the types of accounts and pages an individual interacts with. There is no shortage of social media platforms on which to place your ads, including social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn), microblogging (Twitter, Tumblr), photo sharing (Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest), and video sharing (YouTube, TikTok, Vimeo).
With all of these options, marketers and advertisers need to be smart about which platforms they choose, and consider where their target audience is most accessible, concentrated and engaged. When done right, social media advertising can quickly boost conversions with a low cost of acquisition, build a fan base, target new and returning customers and provide insightful performance metrics to optimize your ads as you go.
Search Engine Advertising
With search engine advertising, your ads will be presented alongside relevant search results, accompanied by the words “ad” or “sponsored.” This is a form of advertising that many people engage with on a daily basis, given that we all use search engines to seek out information quite often. As seen below, a simple search for the word “paddleboard” results in ads for a variety of companies offering paddleboards at different price points.
Google AdWords is one of the most popular search engine advertising platforms, on which companies have the ability to bid on keywords. Search engine advertising operates on a pay-per-click pricing model, where advertisers pay a small fee each time someone clicks on their ad. Psychologically speaking, this form of advertising utilizes a pull approach, attracting consumers who are already actively looking for a product or service.
Display Advertising & Native Advertising
Display advertising differs from search engine advertising in that instead of consumers seeking out information on a certain topic, companies are seeking out consumers and presenting them with ads based on a variety of factors such as search history, geographic location, and more. Display ads promote a product or service through text and visuals on third-party websites, and come in a variety of designs, shapes, sizes and placements.
While native ads tend to fit into the umbrella category of display ads, there is a clear distinction to be made. Display ads are generally placed on the side or the top of a page, while native ads mimic the style and format of a news feed, allowing the content to blend in. Native advertising offers a non-intrusive way to encourage visits to your site and deliver compelling content. Display ads, on the other hand, are often used to boost brand awareness and retarget customers who did not initially make it through your marketing funnel. The following screenshot contains both native and display ads, with the native ads for Shopify Plus, CompareCards, and MSN Money blending into the news feed and the display ad for Johnson’s CottonTouch standing out on the side.
It’s important to note that in order to have a balanced digital marketing plan, your owned and earned efforts should work in concert with your paid efforts.
For instance, if your social media ad promotes a recent blog post, and the customer clicks through to the blog but does not successfully convert, display and native ads can then be used to retarget the consumer. Or, if your white paper is covered in a publication, it could spark curiosity and drive the customer to search for the highlighted product or service, with the results showing up in search engine ads and directing the consumer to your website.
With countless variations of these chains of events, consumers can move from one brand touch-point to the next. For that reason, it’s essential to choose your paid channels wisely and continually optimize your campaigns, so your earned and owned pipelines can keep producing qualified leads and driving conversions.