As marketing evolves new strategies come into the fold and others appear to become less relevant. This has never been more true than now, in the digital age, where new marketing trends emerge every year – some of which disappear without making much of an impact and others that change the industry forever.

In this article, we’re running through the eight essential digital marketing strategies every brand should be doing in 2018. By the time we’re done, you’ll know exactly what each marketing strategy involves and why they all work better together.


#1: Search marketing

Search marketing aims to maximise the number of qualified leads you generate from search engines. It’s not a case of simply maximising traffic, but bringing genuine leads to your website that have a reason to do business with you. Most search marketing strategies take a two-pronged approach of SEO and PPC using Google, Bing and any other search engines deemed to be relevant.


What kind of leads does search marketing generate?

A two-pronged approach to search marketing will generate a wide range of leads from all stages of the consumer journey. Organic search tends to attract leads at earlier stages of the buying process (eg: searches for “best MacBook Pro alternatives 2018”) while PPC allows you to target users that are much closer to buying.


#2: Search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation is simply the optimisation of web pages and websites for search engines – that hasn’t changed. However, technology and user habits have changed and this is why ranking factors like mobile-friendliness, secure encryption and page speed have been introduced, blurring the lines between SEO, content marketing and UX design.


What kind of leads does SEO generate?

In most cases, your SEO strategy will generate leads that are in the early stages of the buying process – for example, researching products or place to go on holiday rather than “buy MacBook Pro” or “cheap flights to Sri Lanka”.


#3: Social media marketing

Much like search marketing, social media marketing is a blanket term for using social networks to generate leads – and it also involves both organic social marketing and paid advertising. Unlike search, though, generating leads from organic social marketing is pretty inefficient which means you have to focus your effort on paid social advertising.

Interacting with people and answering consumer questions is still a valuable organic strategy for keeping your audience happy but anything promotional (eg: an eBook guide) will need to be advertised.

What kind of leads does social media marketing generate?

Social advertising generates leads that are more similar to SEO than search advertising, in the sense they’re generally at earlier stages of the buying process. This is because nobody is actively searching to buy products on Facebook but your ad for best holiday getaways might capture their attention. The big strength of social advertising (especially Facebook and Instagram) is that you can target users based on their interests to make sure your ads reach the right people.


#4: Content marketing

Content marketing is the strategic creation and promotion of content that generates leads from your target audiences. This includes every blog post you publish, every eBook you promote, every video you create and GIF you post on social media. Any time you use content with a marketing objective in mind, this is part of your wider content strategy.

Without content marketing, you have nothing to optimise for search, nothing to post on social media and nothing of value to offer your target audience.


What kind of leads does content marketing generate?

Content marketing as a whole generates a wide range of leads but your aims to target highly specific leads with everything you publish and promote. For example, you might publish an in-depth guide on how to make WordPress sites faster with the aim of promoting your WordPress plugin. Or you might run a series of video tutorials on photo editing so you can target photographers who might be interested in buying camera gear from you in the future.


#5: Pay-per-click (PPC)

Pay-per-click (PPC) or paid advertising mostly refers to advertising on search engines and social networks. The principle is that you only pay for each click your ads generate rather than paying for each time users see them.

When you advertising on a search engine like AdWords or Bing Ads, it’s important to remember that you’re aiming for users who are specifically looking for something. In the case of social advertising, users are scrolling through their feeds or interacting with people, which requires an entirely different approach to advertising.


What kind of leads does PPC generate?

Your AdWords or Bing Ads strategies will mostly aim to target high-intent users who are close to buying and use techniques like remarketing to guide them along the buying process. With social advertising, things are a little different and you’ll mostly be targeting users at earlier stages of the consumer journey with the aim of bringing them closer to your brand.


#6: Email marketing

Email marketing is perhaps the oldest of all digital marketing strategies but every year it proves its worth by continuing to get results. The key benefit of email marketing is you can contact your target audience directly, as individuals, and reach out to them with tailored messages that meet their specific needs.

For example, you can have one email marketing campaign for previous customers that’s designed to get them buying again, another one for regular buyers that rewards them for their continued business and another that aims to turn email subscribers into first-time buyers.

What kind of leads does email marketing generate?

Email marketing can only generate leads from people who hand over their email addresses to you, which generally means previous and existing customers, newsletter subscribers, user account holders and anyone who exchanges their email for downloadable content or any other kind of resource from you.


#7: Lead generation

Lead generation is the broad strategy of using your marketing channels to generate the highest volume of targeted leads. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to lead generation, though, and this is where strategy becomes so important.

You need to identify what kind of leads you’re going to target via search, social and your other channels. Then you have to create strategies and individual campaigns for each of them, knowing exactly who your target audience is and what your marketing objective it.


What kind of leads does lead generation generate?

Every type of lead you identify as being important to your brand, hopefully. A first-time visitor on your website generated via organic search is entirely different to a repeat customer that’s due an upgrade, for example.

Generally speaking, it’s easier and more cost effective to target leads at later stages of the buying process. However, there’s a problem with only focusing on this approach. The vast majority of your potential customers are nowhere near the end of the buying journey and most of them will end up doing business with your competitors, unless you can convince them otherwise. Which is why capturing leads at the early stages of the consumer journey and guiding them along the buying process is so important in modern marketing.


#8: Conversion rate optimisation (CRO)

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is the process of testing design and content variations with the aim of increasing conversion rates. For example, you might test two different navigation menu designs to see which one performs better on mobile and reduces the number of session quits. Or you might test three different landing page designs to see which version converts the highest number of users.


What kind of leads does conversion rate optimisation generate?

This depends on the kind of lead you’re targeting with any specific page, piece of content or CTA. The aim of conversion rate optimisation is to increase the quantity of whichever type of leads you’ve identified for any given campaign.


The strategies we’ve looked at in this article are pretty much essential to every brand in the modern age. You can’t do SEO or social media without content marketing and you won’t get the best results from either without investing in PPC. Likewise, You’ll never maximise your email signups without some UX-driven conversion rate optimisation or turn all that great content into sales at the end of the buying process.

In today’s marketing landscape, you need a calculated mix of the above strategies all working in coordination with each other to make sure you’re getting results across the board.