What Is Digital Advertising? A Guide to Getting Started

Digital advertising has become commonplace for businesses of all sizes. If you’re looking to expand your brand and sell  products and services across geographies, now is the time to join. 

Unfortunately, many people trying online marketing for the first time feel a little overwhelmed. There are many approaches, channels, strategies and tactics to learn. 

But not all is lost yet. This guide covers everything you need to know to get started with digital advertising, clarify your concerns, and get on the road to digital advertising success.

What Is Digital Advertising?

Firstly, “digital marketing” is an umbrella term for any online activity by a business aimed at obtaining followers, website visitors, emails, or other important information about a target market.

Digital advertising is the “edge” of digital marketing. It is primarily aimed at generating leads and sales. However, like any other marketing activity, it is a way to showcase and promote your business, brand, products and services online.

Experience real digital advertising across a variety of channels. This includes social media, search engines,  websites, as well as  email, apps, videos, podcasts, and more.

A marketer’s goal is to engage their audience with relevant, timely messages, and persuade them to click through to a website or marketplace page and make a purchase.

Why Is Digital Advertising Important for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs)?

Digital advertising (and marketing) is hard for small businesses to ignore, especially during a potential economic downturn. But especially in times like these, the most important thing is to  build brand awareness and reach new customers. 

Regardless of the economic climate, online marketing and advertising are proving to be far more cost-effective than traditional advertising (think television, radio, and print advertising), especially for small businesses. 

Targeting the right audience at the right time is also much easier with digital advertising. 

Anyone who has tried advertising online knows that social media and search advertising platforms have incredibly detailed audience building and targeting tools. This ensures that the right message reaches the right person at the right time. Plus, you  reach far more people than  word of mouth or  half-page ads in your local newspaper. 

And because online marketing is digital, it’s much easier  to track progress, measure  results, identify attributes, and improve  your marketing campaigns over time.

Digital Advertising Channels for SMBs

Digital marketing channels are the online platforms, websites, and apps that run your marketing campaigns. Below is a list of the channels you are most likely to use for your own digital marketing advertising and content campaigns.

Company Website

When it comes to advertising in digital media, it’s imperative to start with your  online presence. Think of your website as your office, shop, or digital space. This is where  customers come to learn more about you, browse (and buy) products and services, and learn more. 

Your social media channels, content, and advertising should all drive your audience to her website (if your website sells products or services). 

If you haven’t yet developed a website for your business, there are many content management systems (CMS) and platforms you can use to develop your website. These platforms primarily host content for websites and other online services.

Local Listings

Once you’ve created your website, it’s a good idea to register it in your local directory. Not only do these help improve your SEO, they also help people find you through the platform itself.  

PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Advertising

When you run PPC advertising, you pay for ads on search engines, social media, or websites. Either way, it’s a great way to reach an audience interested in  your product or service. However, there are some important points to keep in mind. 

PPC Ads for Digital Marketing: If you’re running search ads,  optimize for your keywords. This means that when someone searches for a term related to your ad, that term may appear above the search results. 

Users are generally interested in purchasing your product when they search for the term that most closely resembles your product. Therefore, we encourage you to advertise (as long as it is cost-effective). 

However, it’s important to make sure  your keywords are specific and  avoid some of the pitfalls that come with keywords, such as bidding on terms that are somehow irrelevant to your product. 

Social Media PPC Advertising: When running social media advertising campaigns, it’s important to realize that your target audience is unlikely to be in a “buy” mood. 

When your viewers are browsing a friend’s post or watching a video, they aren’t necessarily thinking of buying a particular widget.  

Still, social media advertising can be used to target user interests very specifically. The trick is to get their attention and encourage engagement. That way you might be able to bring them to your site and show them what you have to offer.  Alternatively, you can retarget  website visitors with ads. This audience  already knows your product or service, so it’s a little warmer. 

Google Display Network Advertising

Many marketers choose to advertise on the Google Display Network. This means that your ads are displayed within the context of the relevant website. Visitors are naturally drawn to ads that address their challenges, news, and goals. Therefore, this is also an effective way to acquire new customers. 

The Google Display Network ad formats include:

  • Responsive ads
  • Video ads
  • Website banner and video ads
  • YouTube ads
  • Mobile app ads

Video Advertising 

Video ads are an effective way to showcase your products and services, whether they appear on social media or through the Google Display Network. Done well, these ads can get more attention  than simple text or image ads. 

Video ads on social media can target audiences based on location, demographics, job title, or interests. You can also retarget users who have already visited your site.


Sponsorships are another viable option for small businesses looking to reach a non-competitive brand audience. Brands often sponsor relevant podcasts, influencers, newsletters and even blogs. 

You can create and share sponsored guest posts that provide valuable information to your target audience, but also promote your products in a more natural way. Many publications and blogs derive a significant portion of their revenue from these  sponsored guest posts.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is  a very personal form of advertising as it violates someone’s privacy. 

If you have permission to send  marketing emails  to individuals (which must comply with local and international privacy laws), it can be very effective. 

Remember that compelling subject lines, compelling content and personalized offers are essential. Conversely, irrelevant offers and spam emails may end up in your spam folder.

Consider sharing:

  • Loyalty deals
  • Product update information 
  • Seasonal deals and discounts
  • Personalized messages

Influencer Marketing

Working with influencers may seem like something only  big brand marketers can do, but even small  businesses can definitely benefit from working with people who have a highly relevant following. 

Endorsements from the right people increase reach, brand awareness and  increase sales when promoting offers and new products.

Affiliate Marketing: Closely Related to Influencer Marketing

Affiliate marketing means working with other companies and people to share and promote your products. Affiliates then receive a commission for each sale or lead (depending on the agreement).

4 Steps to Designing a Digital Advertising Plan for Your Business

Here are the steps you need to follow to establish a solid digital marketing or advertising plan. 

1. Understanding your audience

When working with digital marketing, you need to know your target audience thoroughly. This is the only way to formulate a targeted and effective strategy.  

With the right approach,  you can be sure you’re reaching the right people and sharing relevant information. 

It also tells you which target group segments are the most profitable, helping you improve your marketing return on investment (ROI). 

First, look at your current customers to identify who might be interested in shopping online. Consider them:

  • Demographics (age, gender, location, etc.)
  • Interests (and how this intersects with your brand)
  • Behaviors (how often do they buy, how much do they spend, how do they interact with you, etc.)

Then start your market research. Tools like SEMrush Audience Insights can help you understand your future customers. Our Market Explorer tool  also lets you see what other brands are doing in your niche  and who they are targeting. 

 Next, create realistic, data-driven profiles of your audience segments to help tailor your marketing efforts. These are called buyer personas, customer avatars, or marketing profiles, and they cover all  the information above  and include:

  • Goals
  • Challenges
  • Reasons to buy your product (or service)
  • Possible objections
  • And more

2. Setting goals

Now you have a good understanding of the different channels available  and know exactly who your audience is. But there is no strategy or direction without a set of business goals. 

You need to think carefully about what you want to achieve and by when. This gives all your digital marketing and advertising plans  measurable direction.

3. Deciding on your channel mix

There is an old adage in  the business world, “Don’t let the sea boil,” but in other words, it’s important to focus on one thing at a time and not take on too many things. 

Instead, you should carefully consider how  to reach your goals, reach your audience, and execute your marketing campaign. 

This is where the channel mix comes into play. 

Determine which channels are most effective based on your goals, budget, and talent. Instead of  putting all his eggs in one basket, experiment and find out what works best. Budget and human resources are key factors. How long does it last? Who is helping with advertising and marketing? 

A few well-executed campaigns in the right channels are far more effective than  disjointed efforts that don’t tell anyone.

4. Measuring campaign results

As the famous consultant Peter Drucker once said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Similarly, running a digital marketing campaign without thinking about what you need to track to reach your goals. I can not do it. 

The most common metrics digital marketers optimize for are:

Return on ad spend (ROAS) 

ROAS is usually easier to calculate than return on investment (ROI) and refers to the return on your overall advertising spend.

Cost per impression (CPM) 

CPM is simply the price per 1,000 impressions.

Click-through rate (CTR) 

It measures the percentage of times users click on an ad or link and land on a website or landing page of interest.

Cost per click (CPC) 

This is the average cost of each click your ad receives. CPC should be carefully balanced to avoid overpaying all potential customers.

Conversion rate 

This is the percentage of people who purchase a product after clicking on your ad. Alternatively, a conversion could refer to a desired action  by a user, such as downloading a brochure or subscribing to a mailing list. 

Knowing how many people convert and become paying customers helps you know how much you can spend on lead generation.

Engagement rate 

This is the percentage of people who interacted with your ad in some way  relative to the number of impressions. In general, the higher your engagement rate, the more impressions you get and the lower your CPC, so it’s worth checking out.

Running Your First Digital Advertising Campaign

We hope this guide has given you something to think about so you don’t have to do it all at once. Our tools (start with a free trial!) and suggestions will help you start small and keep your budget under control. 

When it comes time to run your first campaign, there’s nothing like taking action to crystallize your ideas and set benchmarks for future success.

Read more on digital marketing, visit Mezink, download now!

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