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Digital Marketing 101: 7 Key Elements You Should Know

Digital marketing is a skill set that is highly relevant in today’s fast-paced world. It’s not just a freelancer’s job anymore. The world is realizing its importance, and companies are now offering full-time jobs to handle their online presence.

If you’re someone who is looking for high-paying work or you’re a business owner who plans to enter the digital realm, digital marketing is something you need to get a hold off at the earliest. But, what exactly is digital marketing? This term refers to a combination of different tasks that allow your online business to flourish. In this article, we’re going to be covering those 7 elements of digital marketing.

Each element of digital marketing has its own entire world to understand and master. Most digital marketers specialize in one or two of the major fields and have basic skills for the rest. This is a good approach because the strategies required to master each segment are different. Some demand more analytical minds, while some need creative enthusiasts.

It’s also important to note that the terms discussed below are used with slightly changed names in different places. For example, Google Analytics might be used instead of Web Analytics in some places. That being said, let’s move forward with our list!


Letters "SEO" spelled out on a white background with colorful fabric

SEO is one of the oldest forms of digital marketing and it’s also one of the most mature segments of the whole paradigm. The purpose of SEO is to rank on the top of the first page of search engines (i.e. Google, YouTube, Bing) for relevant search terms (keywords). Since Google is the most popular, it’s usually given the first priority. When you rank on the top, there’s a very high chance your link will be clicked. Once you get people to start visiting your site, you can do a number of things to turn them into regular visitors.

One of the key elements of SEO is ranking for relevant search terms and that process has evolved tremendously over the years. About a decade ago, you could rank with minimal effort by stuffing the page you want to rank for with repeated usage of the same keywords.

If you had a business about car repairs, your website would’ve ranked easily if you just filled it with words like ‘car repair’ or ‘mechanic’. Those days are long gone and SEO has become an art that demands mastery.

For instance, Google continuously updates its algorithms to be able to spot content that provides value and shun the ones that make no effort to do so. Being able to understand those updates and implement them in your existing and future content is what separates SEO experts from beginners.

Luckily, there are various websites that can help you track your SEO performance and enhance your SEO strategy. In fact, you can even target keywords from your competitors, "stealing" some of their organic traffic and directing it towards your site!

In all, there are essentially two main aspects to SEO: On-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO deals with everything about the page’s content and off-page SEO deals primarily with good backlinks and social media exposure. The complexities of both have risen so much that there are dedicated people in digital marketing teams to handle them. One person simply cannot tackle both of them with full efficiency.


SEM deals with paid ads that appear on search engine pages when we type a query. The purpose of these ads is to make potential customers use your business. With so many businesses setting up an online presence, competition has indeed gone through the roof.

SEM, or also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, allows businesses to strategically choose what words they want to appear in search result pages for.

While it may sound a bit like SEO, SEM is very different. SEO takes a long time to start showing results and is meant to promote your brand. On the other hand, SEM is used to primarily drive sales by targeting customers who are ready to make a purchase (and later on make them a part of your brand).

To begin SEM, you choose a set of keywords that you believe will be relevant to your business and bid on them. As keywords gain popularity, the bidding price will also move up. 

If you’re just starting your business and lack the funds to compete, a good strategy is to choose keywords that are relevant but have less competition (SEO strategies for starters are similar). Once you’ve chosen your keywords, you run the paid campaigns and wait for the results.

Content marketing

Man with an Apple watch typing on a keyboard in front of a Mac desktop computer

Content marketing has become very sophisticated as SEO has evolved. Content marketing covers the content on your website and aim to provide value to readers. For instance, this article is a form of content marketing where we answer your questions about the basic elements of digital marketing.

According to Forbes, content marketing should provide its readers with immense value and answer whatever questions they may have with respect to their entered search terms. A user may type in one thing and then proceed to search for something relevant to it. Good content marketing will make sure that all connected questions are answered in preferably one page or on the same site.

Content marketing and SEO go hand-in-hand. Content marketing makes use of the keywords that are found in SEO research and includes them in the writing while making sure that questions regarding those keywords are answered concisely. 

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are extracted from a page by understanding its overall content. Using such keywords in your content marketing pieces allows a chance at better rankings.

Social media marketing

Like all forms of the internet, social media has evolved from just being a place to chat with friends to providing immense value to businesses. A successful online business has its presence in one or more social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.

Social media marketing involves handling all the aspects of a social media page. From status updates to the kind of ads you want to display, it all comes under the social media marketing wing.

While it’s not necessary for every business to be on every channel, it’s worth taking your time to learn your audience and see where they spend most of their time. Once that’s established, you should focus your energy and resources on those channels to maximize your output.

The importance of knowing your audience is highlighted by the kind of tools available. Facebook allows you to target your ads towards people with specific interests, demographics, locations, etc. They want you to find the right audience instead of just trying to acquire the whole world as your audience.

If you own a clothing brand that is designed for millennials, why would you spend effort in acquiring people from other generations? That is what Facebook empowers you to do in a very effective way.

Email marketing

Corner of a Macbook laptop, showing Gmail open on Safari

Email marketing is one of the best ways to engage with your customers. Whether it’s about new products, some business changes, their mission, or anything for that matter, emails allow businesses to keep reminding customers that they exist.

Once a customer purchases something from you, there’s a chance that they might not use you again unless you offer an extremely rare service that no one else offers. Let’s say you have a pet food business. It’s fairly easy for anyone to compete with you and some customers might not care where they get their generic pet food from.

Through email marketing, you can remind customers on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis to buy from you again since they might be about to run out of this product. It might already be on the customer’s mind that they need to buy pet food, and if they are presented a link in their email to buy it, they most definitely will. That way, you can retain your customers even when offering something very basic.

Emails are also personalized so that customers feel special when reading them. When you make customers feel special and loved, they will automatically listen to you. 

One thing that you should keep track of is how often and what kind of messages you propagate in your emails. If you send emails too often or they’re filled with messages to buy, there’s a strong chance you might alienate your customers and force them to unsubscribe.

A healthy balance between providing value through engaging content and sales is necessary for an effective email marketing strategy.

Web design

Outline of 2 website pages with blue, purple, and green watercolor filled into each

The design of your website is crucial to getting customers to use it. An unresponsive, slow, and buggy site will instantly drive away your customers. There are a number of elements that make up a good website and one of the most important ones is to have a mobile-optimized website.

The number of smartphone users is growing around the world and the number of searches through mobile are also increasing rapidly. It would be a foolish move to not cater to a large part of the searches.

It’s not just what customers think of your site, Google looks at the design too. It takes the previously mentioned aspects seriously and ranks you accordingly. Google has what are called bots that continuously monitor websites for performance metrics, and those who fail to keep up with the standards soon find themselves falling in rankings.

A common thing that most marketplace websites get wrong is to place ads all over the page. People like to buy, but they hate being sold. If your website makes people feel that they are being forced to buy things, they might refrain from buying from you. We’re not saying that ads are a complete no, we’re stressing that a healthy balance is necessary.

In other words, your website should be designed in a minimalistic manner and its aim should be to provide a quick and enjoyable experience to your customers. Once they’ve purchased from you, they shouldn’t hesitate in returning to your store.

Web analytics 

Web analytics is the department that measures the success and failures of the previously mentioned goals in website design. This is where things are explained in the form of numbers, so quantitative analysis can be performed.

Does your website succeed in providing value to your customers? Are they clicking on your link when you appear in the search results? Are they completing tasks on your website or running away? If they are completing tasks, is it taking them too long? These are the kind of questions that web analytics aims to answer!

There are a number of tools you can use to gather data to perform analysis on. Google Analytics is one of the go-to tools and for good reason. It’s simple to use, provides clear insights, and has a freemium version. The freemium version is excellent for small businesses who are starting out and once they establish a good income flow, they can subscribe to better features.

Closing words

One of the common pitfalls of beginning digital marketing (especially for small businesses) is to try implementing all of it in one go. Digital marketing is not child’s play and demands continuous strategic effort to bring in results.

You cannot just blindly try different things and expect them to work. You might get lucky a few times and gain some traffic, but without a clear strategy, you will have a hard time.

If you’re looking to start providing digital marketing services to businesses, a suitable route is to explore all the domains and see which one attracts you more. Maybe you have a knack for writing and that can make email and content marketing very easy for you. Or, perhaps you have an expansive network that will help you with affiliate marketing. You could instead be a more strategic person and offer better services through SEO findings and web analytics.

Further reading

If you’d like to dive deeper into specific categories, we’ve rounded up some good content for you to read:

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