Digital marketing and advertising
Digital marketing and advertising refers to promoting your business using online channels. Small business owners often find digital advertising and marketing more accessible as it's usually a more cost effective alternative and requires less initial investment than many traditional advertising options.
Before you start
Digital marketing is part of an overall business marketing strategy. Understanding the fundamentals of marketing can help you develop effective online advertising and marketing activities.
Some businesses will do all their advertising and marketing online. Others will combine this with more traditional forms of advertising and marketing. Think about where your customers are most likely to find out about you and develop a strategy that includes the most likely marketing channels.
You can communicate your advertising or marketing content to your audience online through digital marketing channels such as:
- Google Ads and Facebook Ads
- location-based online listings
- discount-coupon websites
- email marketing.
Organic and paid traffic
You can use digital marketing activities to generate organic or paid traffic to your platforms and website to increase sales.
Organic traffic refers to customers who find your business online themselves. The key to achieving high organic traffic rates is to make your business easy to find.
Examples of digital marketing activities that can generate organic traffic are:
- searches on web search engines
- social media posts, stories and feeds from your various online profiles.
Paid traffic refers to visits to your website that were triggered by your online advertising. Paid marketing and advertising may involve pay-per-click or pay-per-view pricing, and other paid advertising options.
Paid traffic can come from digital marketing activities, for example:
- paid searches on search engines
- social media paid adverts
- display adverts on other websites
- YouTube overlay adverts on other videos
- endorsements and partnerships using celebrities and well-known people.
Benefits of organic and paid traffic
You should include both traffic types in your digital marketing strategy as both can benefit your business.
- Organic traffic gives a good return on investment as you attract visitors with a real interest in what you offer. Over time, you can grow this type of traffic through the content you create online.
- Paid traffic can create rapid growth and higher sales when the advertising and marketing activities are correctly targeted and used.
Speed of impact
Slower to grow
Delivers an immediate surge of visitors
Method of customer engagement
Naturally discovering your business online
Finding your business through online advertisements
Source of inbound traffic
Inbound traffic from web searches
Inbound traffic from paid advertisements
Sustainable over time
Only sustainable while you can afford it
Customer engagement level
Visitors are more engaged
Visitors are still deciding if they're interested
You'll need many content ideas to generate traffic
You can design targeted content to meet a defined customer or marketing purpose
Can target audiences by using relevant keywords and content
Can target precise paid-for market segments (e.g. location, demographics, interests)
Social media engagement
Greater chance of social media sharing due to genuine interest in your content
Can create new customer engagement
How success is measured
Increase in organic website visitors
Monitor success by using analytics
- Use keywords to optimise your website for search engines. The best way to do this is to create real, useful content that uses relevant keywords. Read more about keywords and other search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques.
- Choose your niche—your unique field or specialty—and write appropriate content for readers who'd be interested in that.
- Create and publish new post or content regularly and consistently (daily, weekly, or monthly).
- Make it easy for visitors to complete the action you want them to do (e.g. sign up, buy a product, or subscribe to a service or newsletter).
- Create third-party content to drive traffic back to your website (e.g. podcasts and YouTube videos).
- Break down your blogs into bite-size content and reshare these on social media.
- Build relationships with other experts in your field and cross-share content.
- Use paid adverts on well-known social media platforms.
- Create a variety of advertisement styles (e.g. advertisements featuring images and videos).
- Use the story feature on social media platforms to promote your products. Add a web link back to your website.
- Run cross-channel advertising campaigns.
- Research different advertising types and consider how they could benefit your business.
- Target your advertisements to customers in locations, and with interests and profiles, that fit your products and services.
Discover and use trends
When choosing a theme for your advertising and marketing, consider aligning it with global or local trends, and showing products and services people are interested in at a particular time.
Discover trending subjects with Google Trends.
Location-based marketing delivers targeted marketing messages and information to customers in particular locations. It's an efficient, measurable way to increase sales.
Benefits of location-based marketing
Location-based marketing can be a very effective part of your digital plan. It:
- is free or low-cost—every profile or page for your business on a location-based service creates free advertising
- is targeted to a specific area. You can engage with people who are close to your business and tailor offers or messages accordingly
- can improve customer relations by helping you to
- know more about your customers. Online reviews, which are often part of the location-based service offerings, are a good source of information
- reward and retain loyal customers. You can reward regular customers, for example, by offering discounts and VIP recognition
- can help you attract new customers with targeted introductory offers
- can help convert impulses to sales as customers are physically closer to your store and are more likely to engage with you.
Types of location-based marketing
When a potential customer does a web search, location-based listing services provide a list of relevant businesses in the area. Services such as Google My Business provide basic information about the businesses. Other location-based services (such as Yelp and Zomato) have more features.
Creating online profiles allow you to get the most out of location-based listings. Depending on which service you use, it can also support your business by:
- controlling the information displayed about your business, including your phone number, address, opening hours and days open, services offered and price lists
- assisting customers to find the location closest to them or choosing 1 of your other locations (if you have more than 1 location)
- allowing and encouraging customers to share photos and reviews about your business
- providing customers with directions to your business
- directing customers to your social media profiles and websites
- helping new customers to discover you through their web search.
Create your online business profiles
When you create an online profile, include:
- all business details, including your website address, social media links, office hours and phone number
- high-quality images of your products, and videos where possible
- a high-quality image of the street view of your business or your shopfront (if applicable)
- parking information
- payment options available.
Also activate review options on the service and ask customers to leave a review.
Visit the following free services and follow the instructions to create your online profiles:
Geotargeting enables the delivery of advertising to consumers based on their geographic location. It works by using mobile device IP addresses. These addresses can pinpoint a device to a location.
You can use geotargeting to create personalised marketing targeted to customers based on their location.
For example, an insurance company could send a targeted advertisement based on their customers' home locations. They could offer different insurance packages in other cities matched to the target customers' needs in those cities.
- perform geotargeting in-house (e.g. using Google Ads location targeting)
- hire a specialist as part of your digital marketing strategy.
Geofencing is a specialised form of geotargeting that allows you to target customers when they enter a particular area, for example a shopping centre or specific store.
Geofencing uses radio-frequency identification or Wi-Fi to trigger specifically targeted marketing activities when a mobile device enters a specifically designated area, for example:
- social media advertising.
You can use this to advertise to customers near you. For example, a coffee shop could send a text notification about a drink special when people walk within a certain distance of their store.
Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram all support geofencing. You can perform geofencing in-house or through an external digital-marketing agency.
Beaconing is geotargeting that targets small geographical areas using beacons. Beacons are small physical objects in specific locations. These objects will detect devices nearby connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
For example, a supermarket may use beacons to send a customer a deal on ice creams when the customer is in the frozen aisle.
Beaconing can be used for highly specific marketing activities in your business to capture users connected to Bluetooth within an exact location.
Geoconquesting is location-based marketing that uses geotargeting and geofencing to advertise to visitors in competitor's locations.
For example, a business could specifically use geofencing to target users near, or in, a competitor's store to offer competing offers.
This form of location-based marketing:
- is best used in combination with other types of location-based marketing
- can be helpful if you have direct competitors.
In digital marketing, a landing page is the first page a visitor lands on after clicking on a link from your online marketing content. It's not the same as your website's home page. You can create different landing pages for different advertising campaigns and target markets.
A well-designed landing page can:
- capture potential customer information (e.g. names, email addresses and phone numbers) which can then generate customer leads and an email database
- increase conversions and sales by targeting offers to the needs of specific segments of your target market
- allow you to personalise future marketing based on the data you collect from the landing pages
- improve your marketing by allowing you to create different offers and track the effectiveness of each offer to see which is the most successful.
A landing page must have a call to action (CTA)—a request or invitation to a customer to complete an activity. For example, the CTA may:
- ask a visitor to provide their contact details in exchange for something you're offering
- invite the visitor to buy a product.
|Website home page||Landing page|
|Introduces entire business and all services||Introduces 1 idea (e.g. a special offer)|
|Offers lots of information and lots to discover||Simple and focused|
|Features many links to navigate to other areas of your website||Features only 1 link – the call to action|
|Always available||Used for a limited time|
|Designed for general audiences||Designed for the specific audience targeted by the source advertisement|
There are 2 common types of landing pages:
Choose the type of page that best supports the goals you set out in your digital marketing strategy.
- Aim to increase sales
- Encourage potential customers to click through to another page
- Eencourage customers to buy a product or service.
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- Start your free 30-day trial
- Aim to collect information from potential customers so you can contact them again
- Encourages customers to fill in a form and give their contact details in exchange for a product or service
- Sign up for our newsletter
- Download your free ebook/template/how-to guide/report/meal-plan/training etc.
- Start your free trial
- Schedule an appointment
- Join our community (offering VIP community benefits)
- Create your account
- Learn more
- Attend an event
Your legal obligations
Capturing customers' contact details is important for marketing, but it has risks. Read more about legislation and cyber security requirements for your online business.
Include the following on your landing page:
- strong headlines—create a headline to capture your visitor's attention right away and encourage them to view the rest of the page
- call to actions—what do you want your visitor to do next? Ensure you have a button to move them along the process
- reviews—include reviews from other customers to build trust
- social media sharing options—add links to your social media so visitors can share your offer to their communities
- unique selling points—tell customers how your product or service will add value to their life, and what makes your product unique from others
- hero photos—ensure you present your product in the best way possible by using high-quality images. Have 1 large, clear image (the hero image), and other smaller images
- business branding—ensure the landing page stays consistent with your business brand and logo. Place your logo at the top of the page to improve customer recognition
- trust symbols—these are third-party symbols or logos that show visitors your product is safe, reliable and already trusted by other well-known businesses, for example:
- customer logos
- certifications badges
- press links.
Online (display) advertising
We discuss 2 common online (display) advertising platforms below, but there are many more available, including Microsoft Advertising. Ask your business contacts for recommendations or do a web search for 'online advertising platforms' to find the one that best meets your specific needs.
Google Ads (previously called Google AdWords) is a paid service provided by Google. These pay-per-click business advertisements can increase your website traffic, inbound phone calls and in-person/in-store traffic.
Find out how to run a Google Ads campaign.
Also consider using the free marketing tools offered by Google Marketing Platform.
Meta for Business is a paid marketing service provided by Meta (the Facebook parent company was renamed Meta in 2021).
It offers combined advertising opportunities through Meta's platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.
Facebook IQ – Audience insights can help you choose your audience based on, for example:
Meta for Business – Ad formats can help you choose your advertisement type based on different formats, for example, photo, video, and Messenger.
Go to Facebook ads to start your campaign
Read about more Meta information and resources:
Blogging and content marketing
In marketing, a blog is a collection of online articles on topics of interest to you and your potential customers, for example, your products, your field of specialty, or your business. A blog post (or article) should engage your potential customers. Ideally, visitors should find it so interesting that they add links to your blog from their own sites or social-media platforms.
Like any business activity, managing a blog requires planning, resourcing, and monitoring.
Benefits of blogging
By creating regular and unique blog content you:
- can easily publish new content on your website at minimal cost
- help your business website appear higher in search engine results and increases traffic to your site
- can keep visitors returning to your site and encourage new visitors who use search terms that appear in the blog.
Comments on posts
One of the most effective ways to use a blog is to allow visitors to leave comments on your posts. Comments create an interactive experience and online communities. They also provide valuable feedback about your products and services.
As a blog author, you can respond to comments and may be required to manage (moderate) these online exchanges. You could set rules or guidelines for comments. For example, you would remove:
- personal attacks on another commenter
- automatic or targeted comments that are not genuine and seek to promote unrelated, fraudulent or malicious websites or services (spam comments)
- racist, sexist, or threatening comments.
The dashboard is the central hub of the blog hosting platform. It's the first page you arrive on after logging in and houses all the main details about your blog.
Your dashboard can manage the theme of your blog through templates. You can write, delete, archive, schedule and save draft blogs. Comments from readers will also be housed here, along with many other details about your blog.
Steps to begin blogging
Your blog name should:
- be unique and easy to remember
- match your existing business branding
- be evergreen, so you don't have to change it the future (e.g. the title shouldn't include a year).
There are many different templates and blog hosting platforms you can use to create a blog for your business, both free and paid. If you're new to blogging, choose a blogging platform that:
- is easy to set up and manage
- doesn't require coding skills to maintain
- has the flexibility to grow and change as your blogging or business expands
- has payment functionality.
A blog manager is the person who looks after both the technical and content aspects of a blog. If you won't be doing it yourself, you can engage an external blog manager, assign the task to an existing employee, or hire a new employee.
Regularly publishing new blog posts will improve customer engagement, audience retention and your ranking in search results.
A blog content calendar is a great way to manage your blog. It's a simple way to plan what posts you'll write and publish on specific days and times. It can help ensure your blog posts are:
- relevant to your target customers and their needs.
It allows you to:
- map out topics in advance and organise them logically
- ensure you have all the resources you'll need for the posts (including graphics and videos)
- have a complete view of your content plan
- fix any gaps in your content.
When writing a blog post, it will helpful to:
- do research to check your facts
- choose a headline that summarises the content and grabs the reader's attention
- choose high-quality images that will support the content
- optimise the post for search engines by including targeted keywords (consider using the key words in headings and sub-headings).
It is important to promote your blog post to ensure that it reaches the desired audience. Share your blog post across all your social media channels.
Coupon websites offer discount coupons for goods, services, and events to attract new customers to your business.
In Australia, well-known sites include:
- Groupon (also the largest internationally)
Visitors select the category of deals they're interested in and view the current offers online. They then buy the coupon on the coupon website and redeem the coupon with the business.
Coupon websites earn income by keeping a share of the value of each coupon sold.
Coupon websites offer many benefits for a business aiming to attract new customers and get previous customers to return, including:
- extensive exposure—coupon sites can have millions of customers. This is often a cost-effective way to extend your reach
- local-area marketing—coupon sites can be filtered by location, allowing your coupons to be displayed only to those in your local area
- ease and speed—coupon websites make it easy to set up a new promotion or offer and to respond to market changes
- low to no advertising costs—coupon websites are generally free to advertise on as they take a portion of your sale as their commission
- measurable sales—sales are simple to track so it will be easy to see how successful your marketing strategy with the coupon website has been.
Action item: Start using coupon sites
- Do an online search for coupon sites.
- Sign up with the ones you think will work best for you.
- Create your business profile.
- Follow the site instructions to upload your deals.
Electronic direct mail and email marketing
Electronic direct mail (EDM) is a type of marketing using emails sent out to your existing database or contact list.
EDM is a cost-effective and straightforward way to:
- increase sales
- maintain customer loyalty and engagement
- encourage repeat business.
There are legal requirements you have to meet when using EDMs or email marketing.
Under the Spam Act 2003 (Cwlth), every marketing email you send must:
- have the recipient's consent
- identify your business
- offer a way for the recipient to unsubscribe (and you must honour unsubscribe requests within 5 working days).
When you create your customer database by collecting customers' email addresses and personal information, there are some privacy considerations you must manage.
- Check how your business has to comply with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cwlth).
- Learn how to protect your customer's personal information.
- Read the Australian Privacy Principles, especially the Australian Privacy Principle #7 for direct marketing.
- Train your staff in privacy requirements.
Read more about:
Tips for running an email marketing campaign
- Focus on people you know will be interested in your products or services. Target contacts or potential customer groups who will directly need your products.
- Keep a database to help you record information about potential and existing customers. Use information you gather about them (e.g., their buying habits, work requirements, sports or recreation needs) to tailor more specific messages.
- Start an email newsletter to keep in touch with your customers and prospects. Well-composed email newsletters are a credible, persuasive way to build your business's reputation. Keep it short, interesting and relevant to your readers.
- Keep your advertising sharp. Email readers scan for words and pictures and quickly decide whether they are interested in what you have to say. Don't waste words in your email advertising. A compelling image with an engaging offer is your best shot at getting their attention, generating a new prospect or making a sale.
- Track your customer response rates. Keep records of the responses you receive from recipients. Consider whether the people who respond to you have anything in common or express a similar interest in a particular product. This information will help you better target your future marketing.
Ideas to get your EDM started
You'll need to plan content to send out at particular times. You could send out:
- informational emails, for example:
- a monthly newsletter
- an invitation to a special event
- customer testimonials
- product tips and tricks
- sale-focused emails, for example:
- announcing a new product launch
- seasonal discounts or offers
- top-up order reminders
- VIP discounts.
Grow your email database
If you're a new business and don't yet have an extensive email database, do a web search with the term 'email list building strategies' to get ideas about how to grow your email database.
Email marketing platforms
Email marketing platforms can:
- help you design newsletter and email campaigns
- automate email marketing activities for your business.
They also enable you to:
- send out regular updates to keep your customers connected
- manage mailing lists
- create custom emails
- automate your marketing campaign
- get marketing insights about what works and doesn't work
- use geotargeting to target customers in specific locations
- track your e-commerce performance.
Do an online search for 'email marketing platforms' to find one that suits your needs.
- Last reviewed: 11 May 2022
- Last updated: 28 Feb 2023