digital marketing basics

I am constantly surprised at the lack of understanding that many small businesses have of the greatest boon to small business in 100 years, digital marketing.

Last week I had the opportunity to do a short presentation to a network group, and took it by outlining the foundations of digital marketing.

For some in the group, it was yawn time, but for many, it was useful explanation.

Foundation 1. To explain some of the basic terms used in relation to websites, I used the metaphor of a house.

  • The house is the website
  • The land the house is on is the hosting
  • The address is the domain

When you have the house, it needs to be connected to the world, the electricity, gas, and water or it is useless to anyone.

Then you need people to come, to make it a home, but to come they need a reason, in this case the content you can offer them.

Foundation 2. Continuing the house analogy, the notion of the three types of digital media as owned, earned and rented, was discussed.

  • Owned media is your website. You own it, you determine what goes up, and who is able to access what. Just like your own home.
  • Rented media are the various social platforms and forums that we inhabit. We do not own them, so are subject too the rules and behaviour of others, we have no control
  • Earned media is the most valuable, and is when somebody shares in some way content you have posted. It matters little if that post was on your site, a social platform, or somebody else’s site, the fact that it was shared gives it credibility and value. I do not count “likes” in this context, as they are too easy, too automated to be a reasonable indicator of value.

Foundation 3. Traffic sources to your website. In summary there are four:

  • Social traffic from social media platforms
  • Search traffic, which is why having SEO optimises is important
  • Content traffic, coming from content you post, and is shared around
  • Advertising driven traffic.

Clearly there are overlaps and cause and effect at play, but the principal remains. The first three are often classed together as “organic” traffic, while advertising is obviously purchased traffic and as such is less valuable, but usually much quicker to generate.

Foundation 4. Digital marketing is a two edged sword. It enables you to target exactly an extremely specifically defined audience, and address them with very specific offers and information. This is the great strength of digital marketing. The flip side is that you must be able to say No, to a lot of seemingly potential customers, because unless your communication is very specific, it will not get read and acted on. This is very difficult for most. In the event you have several ideal customers, you will need to keep the marketing activity entirely separate.

Foundation 5. The fifth foundation isĀ  the foundation of all marketing, but now way more transparent and obvious; “fish where the fish are”

Foundation 6. Again, not exclusive to digital marketing, but now way more able to be automated and in control of the seller is the sales funnel. Every sales training process I have seen in 35 years in one way or another uses the funnel analogy, and it is equally valid with digital marketing. Difference now is that progress through the funnel can be tracked exactly, and managed pro-actively by the seller using data.


As a final note, there are thousands of tools to make your digital life easier, and more productive. Each person will evolve a way of working that best suits their skills and circumstances. There are many free tools that the beginner can use to cut their teeth, which can then be upgraded or substituted for more productive paid ones. The free tools I use are

Google analytics,,,,,, Google keyword planner, and One-note.


The short deck I used I posted on Slideshare