Digital Marketing The 5 Essential Pillars

I’ve been in the Internet marketing industry since 2000. As much as I’ve seen it evolve over the past 11 years, it feels like it is still in its infancy. I find myself referencing the “digital age” often when discussing modern marketing principles. Here are the five pillars to digital marketing.

Content Marketing

It’s no coincidence this is first on the list of digital marketing pillars. Buyers have little tolerance today for a straight sales messaging. As I wrote in my book, Marketing 2.0, when we produce content that educates, enlightens or entertains our target audience, we build trust and authority. Your content can be delivered in various formats ranging from website, blog, e-books, webinars, slideshows, videos and through offline events such as conferences. Your content is your currency in modern marketing. That’s why it’s #1 on my list of digital marketing pillars.

Inbound Marketing

The expression Internet marketing is being replaced with inbound marketing, thanks to our friends at HubSpot and their evangelism. Inbound marketing is essentially the art and science of creating relevant and compelling content, optimizing so it will be found by Google, shared and spread across the web and containing appropriate calls-to-action to convert a portion of the people that find it into a contact. Essentially inbound marketing is all about getting found online by your prospective customers. Tactics such as SEO, PPC, blogging and social media are used to execute effective inbound marketing plans.

Social Media Marketing

I long for the day this phrase is obsolete. Social media is mainstream now. Social media is merely the aggregate of all online channels where your customers spend time. The selection of the social media channels to use in your digital marketing strategy is very important. Using social media is a tactic, a means to an end. If content is your currency, social media is where it changes hands for value. You develop a content strategy, not a social media strategy. Social media channels provide the roadways to drive your content so relevant people will find it, engage it and share it.

Email Marketing

Despite all the technology innovations in the past decade, email is still the #1 digital communication channel in business. Email has even made its way into Facebook and LinkedIn through “messaging.” For many brands one of the most strategic and impactful elements is the size and quality of their email list. Brands with effective email communication enjoy loyalty, lead generation and consistent growth.

Mobile Marketing

The new kid on the block is mobile marketing. What started out as SMS text messaging, largely found in B2C marketing or B2B marketing, has evolved into marketing to the third device. This is the notion that devices 1 an 2 are television and PC/laptop, and device 3 is a mobile device defined as a tablet or smartphone. Smartphone shipments are expected to exceed PC shipments in 2012. It won’t be long before smartphone shipments eclipse laptops. Branded applications on mobile devices are the most popular and among the most effective forms of mobile marketing. The same principle applies in mobile marketing as in content marketing. It’s all about providing utility to the end user on her mobile device.

Bonus: Integrated Marketing

The sixth pillar of digital marketing is integration with offline marketing. A marketing team needs to have a complete view of where their customer spends time and engage them there. In most industries there are offline components and online components. By integrating them, you demonstrate that you care about your customer, and you are rewarded with more revenue opportunities, provided your product is competitive with similar offerings.

The next time someone suggests that you need to beef up your “Facebook strategy,” or your SEO strategy, consider where it fits into your digital marketing strategy. How you answer this may have a dramatic effect on your actions and ultimately your results.

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