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Introduction to Digital Marketing

There’s an argument that there’s no such thing as digital marketing – there’s only marketing. Some would say that argument is becoming increasingly valid but, as of 2020, it is still specialist enough to warrant the use of the d-word.

Most cultural organisations already carry out some form of digital marketing, usually in the form of a website, social media or email databases. As digital continues to become the norm, it now encroaches on other marketing and communication disciplines and tactics like PR and advertising.

Digital marketing can be defined as all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with current and prospective customers. (Hubspot)

Owned, Paid and Earned Media

Strategically, it’s often useful to think of digital marketing as a combination of owned, paid and earned media. These three elements overlap and interact with each other but are worth looking at individually.

Owned Media are digital platforms that you control. Your website is the obvious example but apps, blogs, social media platforms and pages also fall under owned media. If your event or exhibition is on your website, this is also owned media.

Paid Media is when you leverage a third-party channel to expose your content to audiences. This covers activities like paid search (such as Adwords) to appear within search listings, social media advertising, display (banner) advertising, or paid influencer marketing. If your event or exhibition appears on Ticketmaster because you give them a commission, this is paid media.

Earned Media is when your content is shared, or your brand is otherwise mentioned by the press or the public voluntarily. This could be through shares or likes on social media, online newspaper articles generated by your PR efforts, or links from other websites to yours. If your event gets shared hundreds of times on Facebook by people who have already attended or intend to, this is earned media.


Push and Pull Marketing

Another way you may often hear digital marketing described is as a combination of push and pull (or inbound and outbound) marketing.

Push marketing describes activity where you are intentionally putting your content or brand in front of your audience(s) when they are not actively looking for it. Examples of digital push marketing include display advertising, social media advertising and email marketing.

Pull marketing is more focussed on predicting a user or consumer’s future needs and creating content or products ready for when they require it. An often-cited example of pull marketing is search engine optimisation. Here a user or consumer knows what they are looking for and is actively searching for it. Because a business or organisation has pre-empted this intent, they have created content on their website and optimised it to put it in front of the potential customer at the time of their action.

Some activity, such as social media marketing, can be a combination of earned, owned and paid media using both push and pull marketing. A successful digital marketing strategy for your organisation will be the same.

What next?

This article has explained some of the main concepts of digital marketing and clarified some of the terms involved. Perhaps you need to formulate a new digital marketing strategy for your organisation, or you’re in the process of revamping your existing model: to learn more, you can read one of the articles linked below.

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up to our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

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