The world of digital marketing can seem incredibly intimidating these days. Long gone are the days of yellow pages at your front door, corkboard advertisements, and word of mouth. While some traditional advertising methods are still put to use, (radio ads, billboards, business cards, mailers etc.) we all know the real trick to success in business is digital marketing. If you’re not online, you’re dead in the water. But for those of us that are used to the old-fashioned ways of growing our businesses, there’s a learning curve. While diving into a new way of marketing can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be!
The best way to get started in the world of digital marketing is to break down the different pieces that make up that world. Here we’re going to be discussing the answers to a question you may have on your mind: what are the different types of digital marketing?
There are 11 main categories of digital marketing you should become familiar with. These include:
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- PPC (Pay-per-click)
- SMM (Social Media Marketing)
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Influencer / Affiliate Marketing
- Viral Marketing
- Radio Advertising
- Television Advertising
- Mobile Advertising
In this blog, we’re going to go over each of these 11 types of digital marketing strategies, what they mean, and how they can benefit your business. Without further ado, let’s get started!
SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
Search engine marketing or SEM, as you’ll see it commonly, is an online digital marketing technique that increases online visibility in search engine results pages (aka SERPs). SEM acts as the close relative to search engine optimization (or better known as SEO). The idea behind SEM is to bring in traffic and achieve higher rankings on your website.
So, how do you put SEM into effect? Considering Google is undoubtedly the most used search engine in the world, your first stop is going to be within Google ads. When you create an ad, it goes through an ad auction. But before you can enter the auction, you need to identify which keywords you’re going to hone in on. Like a real life auction, yourself or your marketing team must decide what amount of spend you’re going to put behind those keywords, or your PPC (better known as pay-per-click).
What is PPC? PPC stands for pay-per-click, and is always intertwined with SEM. A PPC strategy, put simply, is the choice of keywords you want to focus on in your ad, and the amount of money used in the ad auction. Let’s say you want to advertise heating and cooling services. Based on the page you want your clients to land on, you might choose keywords such as “heating and cooling service,” or “heating and cooling company,” within your targeted location. If you want to advertise for more specific services, you could choose keywords like, “air conditioning repair,” or “furnace tune-ups.”
You want to ask yourself what your goal is for your potential customers. Are you creating brand awareness, or do you want to come up as one of the top results for, as an example, “emergency AC repair.” You always, always want to choose keywords that people are actually searching for, otherwise it’s pointless. If you’re not sure which method of phrasing is the best keyword for your ad, you can always research keywords on sites like SEMrush, or Google Search Console. You’ll be able to see how each keyword ranks and get an idea of how difficult this keyword may be to optimize.
You’ll find that keywords with high volume are not only searched frequently, but also create more competition between you and other businesses like yours. The best rule of thumb is to find keywords that hit that sweet spot of decent volume and better cost. When your ad is placed, where it appears in the Google search results is based on how you bid on your choice of keyword and your quality score. As you would expect, the higher the bid, and the higher quality of the ad, the better placement Google will give you. Google gives better placement to the highest bidder with the best quality score, so plan accordingly.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Optimizing your website and your website’s content is the key to drawing in organic traffic. SEO techniques can not only improve your site’s appearance, but also improve its position within organic search results. For example, when someone searches for “Sump Pump Installation,” in your specific area, and that’s something you specialize in, you’ll want to be within the top 3 results that come back to the searcher. So how do you optimize your content for the desired results?
Organic search results are unpaid site listings that appear within the SERP (search engine results pages). These results are based on the user’s location and frequent search habits. Think of this as “free” advertising based on how well optimized your site is. Organic search algorithms operate differently from advertisement bids. While PPC ads are necessary and do take precedence within the SERP, ideally, you’ll want your business to appear high within organic search results. The reason for this is because these sites are being shown to people actively searching for a specific kind of service or product.
You’re probably wondering, what can I do to optimize my website for organic search results and to bring in quality traffic? There’s a few things that you can do. First, write quality content. This can mean blogs centered around your business and its specific services, or landing page content that utilizes your chosen keywords. Think of home page content, service pages, specific city pages, an “about us” section, and even your “contact us” page. Writing well thought out content for each of these pages and using your keywords a modest amount of times can greatly improve your quality score and help your site rank higher. Additionally, your website’s navigation, and overall appearance will also improve your chances of ranking higher in organic search. Not to mention it’ll keep interested customers on your site longer.
SMM (Social Media Marketing)
SMM (or Social Media Marketing) is one of the best ways to kick off your digital marketing plan. It’s exactly what it sounds like: digital marketing using social media platforms. This is something every business, no matter what its vertical is, must have to survive in digital marketing.
Social media platforms commonly used to promote businesses include:
It’s up to you to know your audience and choose social media apps that make the most sense to promote your business. This can be based on age, gender, location etc. While you should utilize as many social media platforms as you can, you don’t necessarily need to use all of them. Most businesses run promotions through Facebook and Instagram and keep their customers up to date that way. Social media marketing is a great way to advertise, as well as stay connected with past, present and future clients. LinkedIn is also a great way to not only showcase yourself as a business owner, but to network with other people in similar verticals and connect with people who’s services could be beneficial to your business.
You might notice most companies include buttons/icons of the different social media platforms they are connected to within their other profiles and on their website. These clickable icons not only show consumers where else they can connect with your business, but also directly take them there. One of the most beneficial clickable buttons to include on your website is a Google Business Profile (GBP) button. You may have seen this on other business sites before, it’s a bolded G that sits next to a company’s other social media buttons. When you click on the GBP icon, it takes you directly to that companies profile and shows the following:
- The company name
- Their address
- A clickable phone number
- Photos and occasionally video
- A link to their website
This makes it super easy to directly call that company’s main office, to get directions should you go there in person, read customer reviews, visit their website, and see company and customer photos that may indicate the quality of service you will receive. Having your business properly set up with a Google Business Profile is crucial to acquiring leads. If a consumer researches your company and next to nothing appears, they’re unlikely to reach out and inquire about services. Consumers are statistically more likely to convert with companies that have numerous reviews, images, and contact information at their fingertips than companies that have almost none of these. If you haven’t had your GBP filled out, this should be at the top of your list.
Having a strong social media presence for your business can give you authority, allow you to engage with your customers, and open you up to a new audience. Most social media platforms work around algorithms based on consumer behavior and offer paid advertising within their site. You can take advantage of boosted posts and promotions to put yourself in front of the right people. Apps like Facebook and Instagram have their own analytics section where you can monitor the activity of your followers based on location, age, gender, clicks, time spent on your site, conversions, leads etc. You can’t afford to not build up your social media presence with options like these.
Content marketing is the use of blogs, videos, photos, email blasts and newsletters (aka email marketing), social media posts, etc. to promote your business. Think of content marketing as the catch all for what you feature on your own website and your social media profiles. Without regularly optimized content, your marketing strategy has no chance of succeeding. What kind of content you create is based on the needs of your business and the kind of clientele you’re looking to attract. For example, if you know your audience is in their early to mid twenties, you might try short form content such as instagram posts and stories, reels, TikTok videos etc. If your audience ranges in their early forties to late fifties you might focus on creating blogs, white pages and newsletters.
The types of content you’ll see most commonly in content marketing:
- Blogs and articles
- Newsletters and email blasts
- Promoted social media posts
- Images and short form video
- White pages
Why is content marketing important? Well for starters, it works. Content builds brand awareness, can be used to advertise a product or service in various platforms, and builds authority for your brand. Think of it this way, if you were looking for a specific product or service and all you had to go off of was a name and a phone number- you’d probably not be interested. You can’t just post a sign that says “Piano lessons: call xxx-xxxx” and expect someone to find that valuable. Consumers want to see photos, they want to see reviews, they want to be sold on what you’re presenting them.
People trust websites and social media profiles that are engaging and optimized. Your home page should paint the picture of what they can expect from your business without keyword stuffing and bold statements. It’s statistically proven that websites with blogs get more leads than those without. This is because well-written content with proper keyword usage optimizes your site, gives it more authority and boosts it higher within the SERP and organic search results. If you look like you know what you’re talking about, then chances are you probably do. Google sees that and suggests your business to those looking for your specific vertical. The less content you have, the less likely anyone is to find your business online.
What is email marketing and how does it work? You can use email to promote your business services, alert consumers of special events and promotions, and serve as a subtle push to convert a sale or acquire a lead. Email marketing is a must-have for any business. You can stay connected with your email subscribers and showcase new services, products and special discounts. Most consumers join email lists because of a promo code they can receive by signing up, wanting to stay updated with the brand, or in anticipation of coupon codes that only email users may receive. It’s almost like being part of an exclusive club.
Why is email marketing important? Not only will you be a constant in your customers inbox, but you can use email marketing to drive traffic to your homepage, a service page, a blog, social media profile, and anywhere else you want them to go. You can target users by their activity on your site and their demographic in order to send more focused based emails that are likely to result in a purchase or lead. Using tactical email subject lines is a major part of email marketing. An intriguing subject line is more likely to be opened than something bland, so get creative! Did you know email marketing can be A/B tested? Just like ads on Google and Facebook, you can try out different strategies and see which format converts more.
This connection with customers is priceless because you’ve gained a following of interested people that will be notified every time you send out a promotion or newsletter. Some consumers need to be “tapped on the shoulder” a few times before converting. Email marketing is a non-invasive way to give them a little push towards purchasing products or services.
Influencer / Affiliate Marketing
If you’re on social media then there’s no doubt you’ve seen an influencer or two on your feed. Especially instagram. Social media influencers are people with a notable online following used to promote businesses or sell products. These trend setters have “influence” over their audience and therefore can sell you on something based on the power of suggestion and subscriber admiration. You probably see this most often with beauty products and technology. If your favorite influencer starts talking about a business they love or a product they use all the time, you’re more likely to research it or even make a purchase – because if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you!
So what do influencers have to do with you and your business? This is where affiliate marketing comes in. Affiliate marketing is how influencers and businesses make their money by teaming together. A business or brand pays an influencer in their specific vertical to promote their business or product. The revenue made from these influencer promotions is then split between the business and the person promoting the product. This amount is decided between both parties prior to posting about them. The influencer will include an “affiliate link” in their profile or in a description beneath a post.
Affiliate links are trackable links that allow the business owner and influencer to monitor analytics and properly distribute commissions made from the link. You can see the number of clicks, and the number of sales made from the link. If a user fills out a lead form or makes a purchase through that link, the influencer makes a percentage of the commission. Then you, the business owner, not only increased brand awareness, but you’ve accrued a new group of customers, win-win!
To further understand affiliate marketing, we have to understand something you see all the time: cookies. Everytime a consumer clicks on your affiliate link, they’re tracked by the site’s cookies. Cookies can tell the site owner where their clicks are coming from, and how long it took a user to go from just browsing to making a purchase. Even if the user doesn’t convert the same day they clicked on the link, the cookies will be able to track when they made the decision and count it towards the commission.
Influencer/Affiliate marketing isn’t just for beauty gurus and tech geeks. This form of marketing can be extremely profitable for those in the HVAC industry as well. Whether it’s plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling or even roof repair, the influencer market is vast, and partnering up with the right people can exponentially grow your business.
Viral marketing is probably the most organic form of advertising you could hope for as a business owner. In its simplest form, viral marketing is word-of-mouth. This could be literally, or virtually. In the literal sense, you could have a customer that was so satisfied with the services they received that when someone they know needs septic tank repair, they’ll be singing your praises about how they need to call one of your technicians right away. Like a game of telephone, one person suggests you to another, and so it goes. This is quite literally a “I know a guy” scenario.
Now virtual word-of-mouth has the same concept, but operates a little differently. Instead of Betty Sue telling her sister about the great service she got from her local HVAC company during Sunday brunch, Betty Sue might comment on her sister’s Facebook post about how she needs emergency air conditioning repair and share a link to your site. Her sister gives you a call, and bam! You have a new customer. Both of these scenarios count as viral marketing, and it can come in many forms.
A few examples of viral marketing include:
- In person conversations between friends
- A shared link through a comment or direct message
- Sharing a post from a businesses social media page
- Sharing a link to a businesses homepage through text, email, or social media
- Receiving likes and shares from followers and having your post appear in front of similar audiences
In most cases viral marketing isn’t something that can be controlled, but you can increase your odds of more people seeing your content and clicking on your social profiles or website link by boosting posts. Most social platforms have the ability to boost content and have their own analytics page (see PPC). While sometimes, you can get lucky with viral marketing, other times, you may need a little push to get you started.
Radio advertising, while existing as an older medium, is still very effective today. Most people still commute to another location to go to work, to drop their kids off at school, to pick them up again, to run errands etc. When people are sitting in traffic, inching their way to work in the morning, they’re not bopping their heads to the sound of traffic horns. Whether it’s today’s hits or talk radio, they’ve got something playing to make the morning commute more bearable. What a perfect time to let people know about your new coupon on zoning system installation, roof inspection, or a great deal on their next furnace maintenance visit!
While not every single person riding around in their car is looking for someone to rewire their home or fix their toilets, they inevitably will one day. Radio advertisements are excellent for brand awareness and furthermore, brand recognition. Think about how many times you’ve heard specific ads over and over again on your morning commute or on the weekends driving somewhere. You may not have needed their services, but if someone were to ask you to name a plumber or an air conditioning service, a name or two will definitely come to mind even if you’ve never used them before. More than likely, you heard the name in a radio ad more than once. Similar to how companies buy air time in between your favorite shows, businesses can buy air time or “spots” between radio talk shows or regularly scheduled music.
A company can also buy time during a live read, where a radio host will read a pre-written ad aloud for audience members. Alternatively, you can also partner with the radio station for a sponsorship, where the radio station will mention that their segment or show was sponsored by (insert company here). This is also great for podcasts, not just live radio. HVAC in particular thrives in radio advertising.
This is one everyone should be familiar with (unless you’ve been living under a rock for decades). Television advertising, the big one. That unavoidable, beautiful ticket to growing brand awareness. As business owners, we all want it. Fifteen to thirty seconds of advertising sprawled across TV screens everywhere. There’s a reason major companies compete for air time during the Super Bowl. It’s the most viewed television event of the year, with just under 100 million viewers accounted for. While you may not have the budget for advertising during the big game, local television is more beneficial than you may think!
Obviously, there are contributing factors to the success of television advertising. The big two being budget and timing. You have to purchase an air slot after all, and the closer to peak TV time you are, the pricier it gets. The reason they call it Prime Time is because between the hours of 7-10 pm or 8-11 pm (depending on your time zone) is when most people are at home watching TV. While you of course want as many people to see your commercials as possible, you also have to consider your audience. If you’re advertising to an older crowd, an early time slot might be beneficial to you. If you’re looking to advertise to stay at home parents, midday time slots may be your best bet.
Television ads, like radio ads, are the perfect medium for brand awareness and brand recognition. If an audience sees your commercial once, they may forget about it, but with regular repetition, a catchy slogan, and the right ad copy, you’ll be on your way to becoming a familiar face to new customers. While your viewers may not be calling right away, becoming a familiar face in your specific industry is priceless. When Hank, the 65 year old retiree’s water heater breaks down, he might scroll through the SERP to find Water Heater repair near him. But if your commercial was something he saw again and again, he might be more inclined to search for your business first to get an estimate! So how can your business benefit from television advertising?
Television ads have a larger audience bandwidth and you’re only paying for the time slot, not viewership.
- Television ads are served while consumers are actively watching, therefore they’re more likely to retain the information
- It allows you to promote your business through a visual medium, which can give your business authority
- It puts a face to your business and shows character which can be effective for companies that need repeat customers
What is mobile advertising? Mobile ads are served within mobile devices such as your phone or a tablet if you have one. You may have seen mobile ads in the past through embedded banner ads, or through SMS text messages. If you have any apps on your phone that aren’t social media platforms or feature free services, then you’ve definitely been served mobile ads a few times a day during use. The most commonly seen mobile ads are those for mobile games. Yeah, you know the ones.
Mobile ads aren’t just completely random. Most often, a mobile ad is tailored towards the search and shopping habits of the consumer. With the average mobile screen time for adults being 3 hours and 43 minutes a day, that’s a pretty good window for serving up ads. In fact, mobile ads tend to be more successful than its predecessors because of the convenience and necessity of mobile phone use. Companies nowadays specifically strategize for mobile advertising due to the mass viewership opportunities and can even optimize for specific screen sizes.
SMS messages exist as the earliest form of mobile advertising, and are still used today. Often you may notice a website offer you a promo code for filling out your phone number. This way, a company can send you text messages about special offers directly, with the option to continue or opt out at any time. SMS ads evolved into banner ads over time, and if you recall, back in the dial-up days, they used to be everywhere. Everywhere being, all over your screen, making it almost impossible to view the content. Not to mention, they weren’t tailored to your specific searches, it was always very random and spammy. Nowadays, most sites are optimized for serving you banner ads that are relevant to your search habits.
For example, if you spent a considerable amount of time on a site and added a couple items to
your cart, you may start seeing banner ads for that site on other websites you may view. You may even notice that ad showing you the items you were looking at! Mobile ads are designed to be relevant to your search history, your location, and your shopping habits. So how is this relevant to your business? If someone was perusing sump pump installation in the area around them, they may start seeing ads from the sites they viewed as well as similar websites. This can work as a gentle reminder that they clearly want to get a sump pump installed and that they should go back and convert with your website.
What are the different types of mobile ads?
- Push notifications: Ads served via notification, you’ll only see these if you have the relevant app installed
- Banner ads: An ad using a dynamic image or video to direct users to a homepage or lead form
- Click-to-download ads: Typically a button within a banner ad that leads consumers to download an app via Google Play or the App Store
- Click-to-call ads: A clickable link attached to a company’s phone number that allows the user to directly call them
- Click-to-message ads: Ads with the call to action feature being a direct message via messenger or SMS
These methods of mobile advertising are all extremely effective. Based on your audience and preferred method of contact, utilizing one or more of these mobile ad strategies will make it easier for your customers to reach out to you. For example, if you want your customers to directly call you or your main office, a click-to-call ad would make the most sense to invest in. If you have an app for your business, you could greatly benefit from click-to-download ads and push notifications. Click-to-message ads are great for those with a strong social media presence and can be an opportunity to really sell the consumer on your services when they have questions. By far, banner ads are the most universal for any vertical, and serve as reminders to your interested customers to go back and convert or fill out a form.
For any business, using one or more of these mobile ad strategies is a must!
Partner With a Reputable Digital Marketing Agency
We hope this blog serves as a way to better inform you of you options for digital marketing. Even still, it can be overwhelming. Who has the time to not only become an expert with all of this, but figure out how to implement it in their business? The good news is there are reputable digital marketing agencies that can handle this for you!
At RYNO Strategic Solutions, we strive to be the most reputable digital marketing agency for home services industries. From HVAC and plumbing to electrical, roofing, solar and more, we’ve been the most trusted name in digital marketing for the trades since 2008. We offer a full suite of digital marketing services, and would be glad to answer any questions you have. Contact us today!
Our digital marketing services include: