Digital Marketing for Dummies: The Ultimate Guide

by Mohammed March 10, 2021
Digital marketing for dummies

This is an in-depth “digital marketing for dummies” guide. So, if you want to learn how digital marketing works and how you can use it to promote your business, read on.

After reading this detailed guide, you will be able to make sense of all the aspects of digital marketing. More importantly, you’ll know how to leverage it to get in front of relevant people on the internet.

Let’s start our digital marketing for dummies guide.


What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is basically an advanced form of marketing where you apply marketing principles “digitally”. And, of course, as the world turns into a global village, the techniques and strategies keep on evolving.

Digital marketing is: Making your business visible on online platforms, attracting relevant people, and eventually earning money.

However, as there are many different platforms where your target customers may hang out, digital marketing also has various parts.

For instance, email marketing is a form of digital marketing where you send emails to prospects trying to get them to take profitable action.

Similarly, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and social media marketing (SMM) are a few subtypes of digital marketing.

I’ll be discussing each one of them in detail.


Why Digital Marketing is Important for Your Business?

While traditional marketing has worked in the past, it’s not a preferred choice for marketers these days. 

This is because businesses need to follow their potential customers. The general public spends most of its time either on mobile phones or on their personal computers.

It wouldn’t make sense to put up a large classic billboard; your prospects have no interest in seeing what the billboards shows.

Plus, digital marketing is a lot more cost-effective. It doesn’t take money to create a social media profile and interact with prospects.

And, you can reach a wide audience by investing a little in social media advertisement.

No matter what business you are in, chances are your competitor is targeting people online. So, if you ignore digital marketing, you will probably fall behind your competitors.

Let’s dive into the different parts of “digital marketing for dummies”.


Areas of Digital marketing

Depending on the platform, your digital marketing strategy will change. Knowing about all the ways you can market your products and services online gives you more opportunities to reach potential customers.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If you own a website or a blog, Search Engine Optimization is necessary for you. Simply put, it’s the process where you optimize your website’s different aspects to make it more visible on search engines like Google.

Digital marketing for dummies


People use search engines to find stuff online, right?

When they search for a keyword in the search bar, Google fetches relevant results from all over the internet.

If your website is well-optimized for that specific keyword, it will show on the first page, attracting visitors and potential customers.

There are a lot of factors that can affect a website’s SEO. You’ll have to implement these factors over time to get results down the road.

SEO takes time. It’s like planting a seed and waiting for it to flourish. However, some SEO techniques may work within a short span.

Search engine optimization has three main parts.

    • On-page SEO
    • Off-page SEO
    • Technical SEO


On-page SEO, as the name suggests, is everything you do “on your page” to optimize it for search engines.

On-page SEO factors include:

      • The design
      • Written content
      • URL
      • Title tags
      • Internal links
      • The coding behind it
      • User-friendliness of a website

Importance of On-page SEO

Google, the leading search engine, clearly states about ranking systems:

So, finding out profitable keywords and using those keywords naturally in your content is essential if you care about ranking your webpage in Google. And, it’s important for any business to rank their website on Google to attract relevant people.

That said, don’t go overboard with keyword usage. Otherwise, you’ll send visitors away, hurt your search engine ranking or both.

In addition to keyword optimization, there are other important factors that you must work on as well.

These include:

Dwell time: The amount of time a visitor spends on your page (the longer the better)

Page loading speed: Slow page speed tends to increase bounce rate (sends the visitors away)

Click through rate: The number of clicks your page gets from a search engine

Search Intent: Visitors must get what they came for (are they looking to buy or want to get information only?)


Off-page SEO includes things you do “off” of your website to improve its search engine rank.

Commonly, off-page SEO includes:

    • Backlinking (When someone puts your website’s link on their website)
    • Social media shares
    • Branded searches (where someone searches for your website by its name)

Importance of Off-page SEO

A recent study by Backlinko finds that backlinks are clearly an important off-page SEO factor.

That said, backlinks are only a part of the equation. Google itself says there are other players that can make or break your site’s off-page SEO.

So, while links are the most important off-site SEO factors, there are other factors that you should work on as well.

As far as technical SEO goes, it’s basically helping search engines crawl and index your website.

Technical SEO factors include:

    • Crawling and indexing by search engines
    • Structured data (the layout of your content)
    • XML sitemaps
    • Site navigation
    • Duplicate or thin content
    • Page speed
    • Mobile optimization
    • And more

Importance of Technical SEO

Technical SEO is essential to let search engines like Google know about the presence of your website. Without technical SEO, you cannot get indexed and ranked in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

So, it’s important to optimize your webpages for technical SEO so that search engines can rank them.


Social Media Marketing (SMM)

Digital marketing for dummies social media marketing


Social media marketing is a type of digital marketing where a business tries to achieve its marketing goals by leveraging social media platforms.

You can either use social media to promote your business free of cost or use its advertising power to get in front of relevant people.


How Can Social Media Marketing Help Your Marketing Goals?

Social media platforms provide you with a massive audience. Statista estimates that social media users will reach 4.4 billion by 2025.

Using this huge user base, you can achieve the following goals for your business:

    • Increase traffic to your website
    • Build brand awareness
    • Generate leads
    • Convert more people
    • Improve communication with the prospects

Choosing the right social media platforms is essential for engaging the prospects and achieving marketing goals easily.


How to Use Different Social Media Platforms Effectively

Not every social media platform will suit your business. Imagine a clothing brand focusing on LinkedIn to promote its new designs!

Understanding how social media platforms work will enable you to craft an effective social media marketing strategy and gain more customers.

Facebook alone has around 2.8 billion active users. There are big chances that your audience hangs out on Facebook. So, having a marketing strategy for this platform isn’t a choice anymore.

facebook login page


It’s a platform where people hang out casually. So, keep a friendly, light tone to capture the audience there.

Luckily, you can start promoting your business instantly by creating a Facebook page for free.

Organic reach will take time, but once you develop a community within the platform that trusts you, your customers will act as brand advocates for your business.

While not as big as Facebook, Instagram’s visual content makes it an effective social media marketing platform. Roughly 1 billion people use Instagram.

This makes it yet another massive opportunity for businesses trying to gain exposure.

instagram login page


Plus, it’s owned by Facebook. So, you can also use Facebook ads to maximize your reach on Instagram.

So, create profiles on the social media platform of your choice, add value to your potential customer’s lives, and build trust with them. Most importantly, be consistent in content creation.


How to Use Social Media Advertising

Social media advertisement can be a game-changer for your business if you use it wisely. You can send your marketing budget down the drain or make a fortune using the right strategy on social media advertising platforms.

The most prominent social media platform with the highest user base is Facebook. Facebook ads allow you to micro-target your prospects.

You can target users based on their location, sex, age, employment status, marital status, interests, and many other factors.

This allows you to laser-focus your efforts on a particular group of people that are most likely to do business with you.

You can also use Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn to promote your products/services. But, create your buyer persona first.

Focus on the platform where your ideal customer hangs out in the beginning. You can later expand into other platforms as well.


Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

google ads digital marketing for beginners

We discussed how you can optimize your website for search engines in the search engine optimization section.

So, how is search engine marketing different than SEO? Well, for starters, it’s a paid form of marketing.

While you use search engines to get your website in front of relevant people, SEM doesn’t bring you organic traffic.

The search engine marketing process starts with bidding. Advertisers bid on the keywords their potential customers are searching for in hopes of winning a spot on the first search engine result page.

It’s important to mention that it’s a pay-per-click (PPC) form of advertising, whereas an advertiser, you only pay for the “clicks”.

For instance, if someone searches for a keyword on Google, your ad for that keyword will be shown at the top of the first results page. If the searcher doesn’t click on your ad and scrolls down, your ad budget remains intact.

This makes SEM an effective marketing strategy as it brings only those who are looking for a business like yours, which maximizes the chances of conversion.


Search Engine Marketing Keyword Research

Keyword research is the most important part of search engine marketing. Not targeting the right keywords can lead to wasted ad spend.

To attract the right audience, it’s important to find out the keywords they are searching for.

An amazing free keyword tool is Whatsmyserp (WMS)”. It tells you the search volumes and cost per click (CPC) of a keyword.

Whatsmyserp keyword research


Not only that, but you’ll also get a list of related keywords. Just enable the Google Chrome extension of Whatsmyserp and type in the keyword you want to target.

The above screenshot shows:

    1. Search volume (per month) of the searched keyword
    2. Related keywords with the same information
    3. Ad showing up for the searched term

Cost Per Click is the amount advertisers are willing to pay for a keyword.

CPC depends on the type of business. For instance, a law firm can target a higher CPC keyword because a single conversion will mean hundreds of dollars in return.


SEM Bidding Process

Before an ad is shown in the search results, advertisers place bids on it. The higher bid amount gets the ad space is a misconception in pay-per-click marketing.

Search engines (let’s take Google as an example here) evaluate two factors in an ad. While the bid amount also plays an important role in winning the ad space, the quality score of your ad also determines whether you get the spot for that keyword or not.

The quality score depends on the “quality” of your ads. Of course, the better your ad is, the higher your chance to win the ad spot.

You can read this article if you want to know which ad format is recommended for driving action.


Content Marketing

Content marketing is focused on delivering valuable, consistent, and relevant content to drive profitable action from a defined audience.

Profitable action could be signing up for a newsletter, buying a product/service, or more. It depends on your marketing goals.

Unlike most other forms of marketing, content marketing focuses on delivering high-quality, useful content to the prospects, helping them with their problems.

Content Marketing isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t push people to buy stuff. It adds value to their lives, winning their trust.

Most of the marketing messages you get are either spam or don’t add any value to your life.

When you look closely, a successful marketing strategy, no matter what type it is, has the backing of strong content.

Let’s look at the following:

    • Search Engine Optimization: Google (or other search engines) ranks those websites that create high-quality, consistent content.
    • Pay Per Click: PPC can only work when there is robust content behind it.
    • Inbound marketing: Driving traffic and leads require content.
    • Advertisement: Copy is the most important part of any form of advertisement. Without copy, it’s virtually impossible to communicate your message.


Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

A content marketing strategy is important if you want to get desired results of your marketing efforts. Let’s discuss how to create a content marketing strategy.

    1. Defining a Goal

Defining a goal is necessary to make content marketing measurable. Goals also give you a sense of purpose. They keep your focus intact.

A goal will help you understand why are you producing content? What do you want to achieve through content marketing?


    1. Creating Buyer Persona

Information about your ideal prospects helps to target them effectively. When you know them well, you can produce relevant, targeted content that has a better chance at conversion.


    1. Decide on a Type of Content

Mostly, marketers go with blog posts. But, you can try other types of content such as eBooks or social media content.

If you have been producing content, a content audit can tell what worked in the past. This way, you can expand on the content that has better chances of success.


    1. Generating Content Ideas

A tricky part of any content marketing strategy is generating profitable content ideas. You don’t want to produce content that no one wants to consume, right?

There are numerous tools that can help you find popular topics in your niche/industry. For instance, you can use answerthepublic to come up with ideas that people are searching for.

answerthepublic content marketing


It generates a lot of different topics relevant to the searched keyword. Let’s see what the tool shows for “Email marketing”.

answerthepublic content marketing

As you can see above, these are the topics/sentences that are commonly searched by people on Google. Writing on these topics will attract the relevant audience, which is what you want.

It’s important that you keep posting and improving your content regularly. Create simple, interesting, and valuable content for your target audience and reap the benefits of content marketing in the long term.


Email Marketing

Despite the popularity of video and social media, email marketing is still the most cost-effective form of marketing out there.

With the right marketing strategy in place, you can get an incredibly high return on investment with email marketing. An estimate shows that Email brings $42 per every $1 spent.

That’s a significantly higher ROI than any other form of marketing can bring. This is mainly because you don’t need to invest in advertisements.

Plus, Email is personal. People check their emails regularly. You can build trust and win customer loyalty easily with Email marketing.

There are many Email marketing tools that you can use. The best thing is they are not expensive.

Mailchimp is one of the most popular tools with a free plan. Its paid plans are also not that expensive.

mailchimp email marketing for beginners


Artificial intelligence has transformed almost every industry. Digital marketing is no exception either.

Now, with the help of automation tools like Mailchimp, you can set automated Email campaigns based on user behavior.

Building an Email List

An Email list of people that are interested in your business can make Email marketing a big success. But, how do you build such a list?

You don’t have to do much. Email automation tools like Mailchimp and Sendinblue collect Emails for you. This allows you to retarget people that have shown even the slightest interest in what you offer.

Creating a lead magnet is an effective way to expand your Email list. It’s something you offer your prospects for free in exchange for their Emails. These include:

    • eBooks
    • Webinars
    • A valuable resource
    • Free trials
    • A coupon
    • And more

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is an ever-growing field that allows businesses to grow using influencers and marketers.

Stats show that spending on affiliate marketing in the U.S alone will reach $8.2 billion by 2022.

So, how does affiliate marketing work?

A company with an affiliate program provides customized links to affiliate marketers.

When someone buys something using that personalized link, the marketer gets paid a fixed commission.

One of the most popular affiliate marketing platforms is Amazon Associates. This is mainly because people trust the company.

amazon associates affiliate marketing


However, you should have a traffic source such as a website to get approved with Amazon Associates.

You can then pick any product and promote it by providing the right information to the right people.

The world of affiliate marketing is quite vast. The majority of companies have an affiliate program these days. This is because, in affiliate marketing, all the marketing is done by others.

Businesses can join many platforms to achieve their marketing goals. These include Shareasale, CJ affiliates, PeerFly, and more.

Businesses can leverage this marketing strategy to maximize their sales and conversions without doing any effort. Affiliate marketers promote their products and earn a commission. If done right, it has a lot of benefits for both, companies and marketers.


I did my best to deliver this “digital marketing for dummies” guide, and I hope it provides a comprehensive overview for beginners.

However, it’s a vast field. Digital marketing is divided into different parts. Each one requires a different strategy.

These include:

    • Search engine optimization
    • Search engine marketing
    • Content marketing
    • Email marketing
    • Social media marketing
    • Affiliate marketing

You can also read my eBook Marketing Seduction and take it as a resource to expand your knowledge on different parts of digital marketing. It is a must read for marketers & anyone who wants to make money online.

Always remember, Digital Marketing is an ever-evolving industry; keeping up with the latest trends is the only way to get the most out of it.

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