Understanding the Basics of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing in today’s age consists of seemingly endless acronyms, from PPC to SEO to SEM. It can be hard to track which strategies are most beneficial for your small business, especially for insurance agents looking to maintain their network and stand out from the competition.

In reality, the basics of digital marketing can be quite simple to grasp after a bit of research. The important takeaway is that not every strategy will be suitable for your business at any given time — certain situations may call for email marketing, while other ventures may require pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, depending on your goal. Read on to learn more about the fundamentals of digital marketing and the different use cases.

Pay-Per-Click Marketing

Pay-per-click, abbreviated to PPC, is a popular form of digital marketing that’s exactly what it sounds like: you pay a fee for each click on your online ad. Usually, these fees are relatively small and therefore worth the overall investment, depending on the result you’re looking for.

PPC marketing is also quite broad, which means it can often be the right choice, depending on your overarching business goal. For instance, if you’re trying to drive traffic to your website, you can create your online ad with this target in mind, or you can focus instead on driving sales to a specific product.

Most people immediately think of Google Ads when they hear PPC because it is the largest pay-per-click marketing platform available. Through Google Ads, you can place bids that allow your ad creative (any combination of text, images, or even video) to appear in Google search results based on matching keywords. PPC marketing is extremely detailed, so you have the ability to target potential customers.

Search Engine Optimization vs. Search Engine Marketing

Another widely used subset of digital marketing relates to search engine results: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The two are often discussed together, as they’re similar in function (and similar sounding!).

Essentially, the difference between the two comes down to organic and paid traffic. SEO marketing focuses purely on organic traffic, i.e., how to get your content to stand out in the organic search results. To improve your organic rankings, you’ll want to focus on the keywords in your website title, subheads, description, and more to give relevant information to the search engine.

SEM relates to paid (nonorganic) traffic — and, it turns out, PPC marketing falls under this category! But there are other things beyond PPC campaigns that make up an SEM strategy. Using specific copy for ad tests, creating bidding strategies based on past learnings, and the graphics you use are all part of a broader SEM strategy.

Email Marketing

Finally, email marketing is a more traditional but valuable aspect of digital marketing. Email marketing allows you to communicate with different subsets of your customer base and give them insights into new product offerings or sales. Email marketing also generally involves a high return on investment once you’ve established a base template and cadence for your email blasts.

Email marketing gives you much more direct control over your creative, as you usually have a larger template to share your brand messaging. Whereas other forms of digital marketing — like PPC and SEO — rely on the whims of third-party vendors, you can usually control email marketing in-house.

So which type of digital marketing is best? Ultimately, they each have their intended use. It’s best to use SEM strategies (including PPC) for very specific, narrow campaigns intended to target prospective customers. SEO should always be considered whenever a blog post or website page is created or updated. Email marketing can be broader, and as it goes out to your existing subscriber base, it should be focused on re-emphasizing your branding and driving customer loyalty.