10 Digital Marketing Fundamentals That Every SEO Professional Should Know

While "niching down" is important for mastering one area, you still need a firm grasp on these digital marketing fundamentals to be a marketing leader.

Marketing budgets as a percentage of company revenue fell from 11% to 6.4 percent in 2021, the lowest proportion in the history of Gartner’s Annual CMO Spend Survey.

Rethinking your budget and available resources ahead of 2022 is critical for SEO professionals and marketing organization leaders trying to fund growth and recovery by doing more with less.

Allocating a portion of the budget to innovating and testing new ideas is always a good idea. However, that portion of the budget may be reduced as marketers seek tried and tested digital marketing strategies and tactics to maximize performance this year.

In this column, we’ll look at 10 fundamental areas of digital marketing knowledge and opportunities that you might be interested in (as you plan for the months and years ahead).

1. Recognizing Your Entire Digital Presence

Sure, you have a firm grasp on your owned media. After all, these are your own pieces of content, listings and profiles, websites, and other assets.

And you should be aware of where and when your brand appears in paid placements online.

However, earned media can be tricky. Do you have a clear picture of your overall web presence if you aren’t actively monitoring for brand mentions, relevant social content, online reviews, and inbound links?

“Earned” refers to more than just what you actively sought out to create. Social listening, search insights, and reputation monitoring assist you in inventorying and monitoring your overall web presence.

Try Free Alexa Rank Checker, Whois Checker, Mozrank Checker and read and read Step-by-Step Instructions for A/B Testing Responsive Search Ads.

2. The Basics of Search Engine Operation

SEO has evolved from a single digital marketing channel to the organization’s business intelligence nerve center.

Understanding how search engines work will assist you and your team in not only optimizing content for discovery but also in deepening your understanding of how people search, learn, and consume content.

Understanding the complexities of search engine crawling and indexing will help you structure websites and pages for maximum visibility.

Knowing how search algorithms rank content – and what the algorithm cannot do – can help you better optimize content and diagnose issues more quickly when your analytics indicate they exist.

Remember that Google isn’t the only search engine in town.

3. Customer Journeys And Digital User Experience

“Build it and they will come” worked in Field of Dreams, but it doesn’t work in digital marketing.

To be successful in attracting an audience, you must first have a thorough understanding of who those people are and what problems you solve for them.

Google understands this as well; its algorithm updates are increasingly focused on improving people’s online experiences and removing friction in each customer’s journey.

The modern consumer recognizes that the loss of privacy that comes with online tracking is a value exchange. In exchange, they expect personalized experiences.

Customers expect seamless interactions and experiences from start to finish across devices, sessions, and platforms.

This holistic view of the customer lifecycle will become standard practice in the future.

4. Competitor Analysis Fundamentals

The art and science of competitor analysis are evolving; competitors in the online space may not be who you think.

Yes, you are competing for “airtime” with other companies that sell similar products and services to yours.

Companies are now competing in increasingly rich and diverse search results against media publications, social networks and forums, map pack business listings, video and photo assets, and more.

Competitors have an increasing number of potential touchpoints as well, including a podcast and video ads, geofencing push notifications, influencer marketing, and augmented reality in physical spaces.

It is critical that you have a clear picture of who is reaching out to your customers and how. Not to imitate their efforts – that’s not how you’ll stand out.

Competitor analysis will guide budget allocation to the content types, ad networks, and campaigns that will keep your brand top of mind and ahead of the competition in every channel possible.

5. Content And Digital Marketing

Content is so important to marketing success that marketing agencies and brands are establishing their own content studios.

MSQ’s acquisition of creative production studio Brave Spark and Made Thought’s acquisition by WPP are two recent examples of this trend.

You might not be able to afford to build or buy an entire in-house studio. The best production strategy will be determined by the size of your organization and the scope of your content requirements.

For some, this entails hiring in-house writers, editors, videographers, photographers, and other creatives.

Others choose to supplement in-house marketing teams with an agency or freelance creatives – or even to outsource production entirely.

What matters most is that your brand has the people, processes, and tools in place to create and promote optimized content at the scale required by your audience’s demand.

6. Online Advertising

Organic search results that are hard-won and long-lasting are valuable, but most digital marketing strategies include some paid promotion as well.

On the paid side, there are numerous options, ranging from display and SEM to native ads, social media advertising, out-of-home (OOH) and digital out-of-home (DOOH), and more.

Understanding the following terms will help you expand your knowledge of online advertising fundamentals:

  • CPM and CPC pricing models for paid media.
  • The advertising platforms and tactics that are available in your industry.
  • Text, video, and imagery are all examples of ad creative.
  • Ad technology advancements, such as Smart Bidding.
  • The impact of privacy concerns on the quantity and quality of data available to you.
  • The impact of changing consumer behaviors on what resonates in ad copy.

Staying up to date on what’s going on in the ever-changing paid media landscape is critical for all digital marketers – not just those directly responsible for campaign management.

A deeper understanding of paid media can help SEO professionals, email marketers, content marketers, and CMOs who drive strategy make better use of it for complementing and augmenting all types of campaigns.

7. Use of Social Media

Social media is still a great way to reach out to and engage potential customers.

Business features vary by platform, but your brand should at the very least claim all available profiles and listings. If you’re less active on some channels, use the description or attributes to direct prospects to your more active channels.

Some people overlook the fact that Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media platforms all have their own search functions that consumers can use to find relevant businesses.

Consumers expect brands to be authentic and responsive on social media. They may read reviews on Facebook or niche social networks before converting, so keeping an eye out for and responding to new reviews is critical.

Workflows and permissions should be in place to ensure that front-line social marketers are empowered to engage while also protecting the brand. Maintain clearly defined customer service and issue escalation processes to ensure that each interaction is as positive and useful as possible.

8. Analytical Fundamentals

Many a marketing team learned the dangers of relying solely on historical data to guide future performance during the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a world where technological innovations, financial and socioeconomic factors, and other factors can change the business landscape in the blink of an eye, having access to real-time (or as close to real-time as possible) analytics is critical.

Again, you may not be completely proficient in this area – and that’s fine. You don’t have to be an expert in Google Analytics 4 to put it to work for your company.

Rather, you should have a basic understanding of the analytics platforms available, the types of data that provide the most valuable insights, and the types of professionals who can best drive your analytical processes.

This understanding will help you form a team and choose the tools you’ll need to fuel the next critical area of digital marketing on our list: business intelligence.

9. Using Data for Business Intelligence

As the number and frequency of consumer touchpoints increase, marketing leaders are discovering that disconnected point solutions are no longer adequate.

The ability to access descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analysis within a single, user-friendly dashboard drives the types of insights and optimizations that truly move the needle.

Organizations must be able to see beyond themselves in order to identify new opportunities and money that is being wasted. Customer behavior, competitive analysis, real-time search insights, and macroeconomic trends all contribute to business decisions.

And, in the current environment, it’s nearly impossible to analyze that data at any scale (let alone activate it through analysis) at any scale.

That brings us to our last point: intelligent automation.

10. Automation, Machine Learning, And Programmatic

Automated media buying is not new, but it is rapidly expanding, with programmatic ad spend expected to exceed $100 billion by 2022.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are also making organic media more exciting, as we move beyond predictive analytics and recommended optimizations to have technology assist in real-time content personalization.

AR/VR is strengthening customer-brand relationships and delivering more seamless, immersive experiences.

Indeed, we are on the verge of widespread adoption of the metaverse, the untapped virtual universe into which we will be able to bring elements of our physical world. The implications for marketing are unknown, but the excitement is palpable.

Staying current on emerging digital marketing technologies will benefit your business whether you are using intelligent automation in your business processes, improving ad targeting and ROI with programmatic, or looking to create an entirely new virtual world for customers.

SEO As The Digital Transformation Leader in 2022

SEO professionals are well-positioned to lead their organizations through digital transformation in 2022 as the link between IT, marketing, and sales, as well as the arbiters of all things data.

Whether your focus is technical SEO, content optimization, link building, or local – or whatever size organization you work with, from small business to enterprise – having a comprehensive understanding of all digital marketing channels and tactics positions you to lead in the future.

If you’re still looking for ways to broaden your knowledge, start with these digital marketing courses and this list of digital marketing certificate programs.

Learn more from SEO and read SEO for Small Businesses: 5 Ways to Outperform Your Competition.

John Harper

#1 File Information bestselling author John Harper loves to dispel the myth that smart men & women don’t read (or write) romance, and if you watch reruns of the game show The Weakest Link you might just catch him winning the $77,000 jackpot. In 2021, Netflix will premiere Bridgerton, based on his popular series of novels about the Why Files.

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