What is digital marketing?

The way people are interacting with businesses, and even each other is changing. Believe it or not, the amount of people that regularly use the internet both for communication and as a resource for purchasing, and knowledge is still increasing.

In short, digital marketing is the concept of marketing anything online. However, where old-school marketing tactics seem to be tried and true, the world of digital marketing can seem to be the “wild west” of marketing to the new business owner. In this post, we’ll dive into different aspects of digital marketing including SEO, ads, branding, web design, content marketing, and even email marketing. However, rather than getting into the weeds, let’s split these aspects into two categories, (1) outbound and (2) inbound marketing.

Outbound Marketing

Now, here’s an old-school term used for the new-school way of marketing products or services. Outbound Marketing can be characterized by any situation where it is the company that “initiates” the first conversation. Outbound marketing tends to be thought of as a “dying breed” due to the thousands of outbound marketing interruptions a consumer may receive in a given day. For this reason, it’s absolutely imperative that your outbound marketing campaign is seen as different, eye-catching… I’d even say “a breath of fresh air”. Let’s dive into a few different outbound marketing tactics commonly practiced in digital marketing today:

P.P.C. (Pay Per Click) Marketing

Okay, you may not be sure what this means right now, but I guarantee you’ve seen it around. You probably past right by it while finding this blog post. P.P.C., sometimes referred to as paid ad’s, refers to ad placement on different web platforms throughout the internet. That includes Google Ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Yelp ads… Heck, you can even take out a yellow pages ad online! Curious as to what this may look like? When you are searching for something on Google, let’s say “affordable website designer”, a company like Folio Websites can purchase ad space for “keywords” matching your search. Therefore, as you begin your search, your first result may be “Folio Websites - Create a beautiful custom website today.” and next to the result, you’ll see a little icon that says “ad”. Each platforms ad sections may look a little different but the concept is always the same.

How it works

P.P.C. requires you to pay for ad-space. Typically you’ll be competing for ad-space within certain search terms, or interests (depending on the platform). Therefore, in developing a P.P.C. campaign, we must be sure the ad-space we’re competing for is relevant to our offering. For instance, if we’re advertising “affordable websites”, we want to be reaching small business owners, and more specifically, small business owners who are searching for “affordable websites”. This is where setting the correct keywords is, well… key.

Does it work?

I consider P.P.C. to be a relatively simple way to market a business online. However, it’s probably one of the most expensive. If you’re preparing to begin an online ad campaign, it’s imperative to understand the costs associated, and the threshold of C.P.A. (Cost Per Acquisition) you need to reach in order to make your ads “worth it”.

In other words, let’s say a Google ad converts at a rate of 3%, not bad! That means in order for one person to purchase your product, you need to have thirty people click on your ad. Well, at an average C.P.C. (Cost per click) of $10, that means you’re spending $300 in ad spend for one client. For some, this may be worth it, but for others, it may not.

In summary, there are a lot of people who will hate on the simplicity of paid ads, but a ton of widely popular businesses have used online ads to grow their businesses into massive market leaders! In the end, paid ads will get your offering to market and can bring customers in your “virtual” door very quickly. However, you may burn use up a majority of your marketing budget in order to do so.

Email Marketing



Email marketing can be considered one of the “O.G.” forms of digital marketing. Tried and true, marketing gurus from some of the most respected agencies in the world still swear by the effectiveness of a good email campaign. However, with movements like the CAN-SPAM act, and crack-downs from major email providers like Gmail, Microsoft Office, and Yahoo!, email marketing has become more tricky that it used to be. It’s important to understand the ins, outs, and dangers associated with email marketing before starting your first campaign.


Otherwise known as the “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act”, CAN-SPAM can sound a bit scary, and it is. If you’re creating an email campaign without understanding this act, you will almost certainly get your domain blacklisted from inboxes, and worse, you could be charged up to $10,000 in fines for each violation… Yes, that means every single email.

In the best interest of not giving legal advice in the form of a blog post, my only suggestion on this will be to reference this list as a checklist for each email campaign you send out. If the campaign isn’t compliant, don’t send it!

Mail Provider Crack-Down

To speak broadly, if a relevant email hits your inbox you generally open it. At least, you’re more likely to open the email than you are to click an ad. However, many of the emails that hit a person’s inbox are in-fact, unwanted and unsolicited. Therefore, major email service providers have cracked down on what they will allow in their client’s inboxes. For instance, they search for keywords like “free”, “offer”, “$”, “buy”, etc. and immediately send those emails to spam folders, as they’re likely to be spam. Reference this list to avoid getting your emails automatically sent to spam folders.

In addition to avoiding keywords that are “spammy”, we need to make sure the emails themselves aren’t considered spam. This includes an intext “unsubscribe” disclaimer to allow people to stop emails from you, and also making your content useful, and not overtly “salesy”.

If you aren’t using these best practices, you may have your email sent to spam manually by the reader. If this happens multiple times, your domain will be blacklisted. This means all emails you send will automatically be marked as spam, which will have a massive negative impact on your business. A tip to avoid this would be to utilize different domains to send your email campaigns, just in case.

Cold Email Campaigns

Cold email campaigns are intended for qualified leads who have not yet expressed interest in your product. The main context of this campaign should be to introduce yourself, product, and business to the lead. The ultimate goal of the email is simply to get a positive response, converting them into a “warm lead”.

The ideal cold email is going to be specific, personalized, and engaging. Trust me, as a guy who has done PLENTY of cold email campaigns, a well thought out cold email campaign is worth the time to make it right. Due to the fact that email is virtually free, a well executed cold email campaign can be the most cost-effective way to generate warm leads for your business. However, a poorly executed email campaign may not be as costly as ads, but it can take up A LOT more time… And at the end of the day… time is money (yup, I said it).

Warm Email Campaigns

Warm email campaigns are intended for leads who have already converted by way of any warm conversion metric including sample order, demos, quote requested, etc. Typically, this would be a follow-up campaign, which lays out a series of emails to follow up with a lead at specific times. In many cases, small businesses will utilize drip marketing to help automate this process.

SPAM controlling is much less of a problem at this point as you are likely added as a contact in the leads email, and have likely corresponded already. However, the vast majority of warm email campaigns are DREADFUL. It seems like almost every business has the same content in their campaign, “Hi ___, I just wanted to follow up with you to see if you’ve check out our proposal?”.

I’m sure you’ve seen this type of email before… And I’m willing to bet you don’t remember who sent it, because you likely didn’t do business with them. There is no need to express the fact that you’re following up. The fact that you’re emailing them already says that. They know they have to get back to you on the proposal, no need to push them. If this person hasn’t taken the leap yet, they’re likely not seeing enough value in your product or service to pull the trigger just yet. So... show them more value! Send them your latest features, newest products, relevant articles, pricing updates, answers to some of their questions, etc. Added value is the purpose of sales, and it’s frankly a breath of fresh air.

Inbound Marketing




What is it?

Search Engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo! have a ranking system based on extensive algorithms which help to show the most relevant search results first. This shortens the time it takes for a user to find the information they’re looking for, which improves user experience and makes their search engine more likely to be used. Optimizing your websites/content to rise in the rankings of these search results is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Why Is SEO Important?

If you use search engines to find businesses and purchase items, you are an example of why this concept is extremely important. Let’s say you’re a consumer searching for “Affordable Custom Web Design” on google in hopes to find a designer to build your website. Approximately 100 people search this per month. Studies show that 95% of those 70 people will not venture off the first page of results. Furthermore, over 60% of those 100 people will click the first 5 organic search results they see. Therefore, if you’re website is on the second, or even third page of results, you’re most likely not going to get any exposure from organic searches online.

Why Is SEO Hard?

SEO is one of the most powerful marketing concepts online today, and due to the complexity of algorithms used, most people do not fully understand it. SEO takes time. Time to understand the rules or search engines, time to keep up with those rules, and time to build out websites and write great SEO friendly content. Most people just don't dedicate enough time and resources to SEO and that is why they struggle.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Since the answers are extremely vague, it’s easy for a small business owner who currently finds their website on the 4th page of SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) to look for unconventional and illicit attempts to increase their ranking. There is no shortage of companies taking advantage of this desperation. These are known as black hat SEO companies.

These are companies that have un-proven methods, and use tactics that Google does not recommend for increasing search results. They market themselves as knowing “insider information”, and promising SERP increases in just a few days. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these attempts fail. Google is undefeated, and no one has sustainably outsmarted them. However, there is a major contributor to SEO that google has confirmed... CONTENT!




According to Google, relevant, keyword-rich content accounts for a massive chunk of all SEO. When scrubbing through a website Google is essentially asking these questions:

  • How much content is there?
  • How relevant is this content to the reader?
  • How often is content added?
  • How old is this content?
  • How often is content updated?

The tough part about content is that there is no shortcut for making great content. It will either cost money or time to generate relevant, original content on a regular basis (once or twice per month). Perhaps that’s why search engines like Google give it so much weight when considering SERP rankings for websites.

Does it work?

Short answer, yes. Investing in SEO can take up both a lot of time, and a lot of money. Although it will likely take 6 to 12 months for an effective SEO push to start proving results, once you do reach the desired rank for relevant search results, it’s difficult to be moved. When executed well, focusing your marketing budget on strengthening your SEO will allow potential customers who are actively searching for your offering to be brought directly to your business. However, it will not help those people to convert to clients. Don’t worry though, we’ll cover that in our next tactic...

Web Design



We’ve saved the best for last. Effective web design is the best thing you can do to increase the conversion of your business online. If we look back to each digital marketing tactic we’ve gone over so far, they all have one thing in common; they’re trying to draw leads to the businesses website. All the tactics we’ve gone over are proven methods for driving leads to your website, but your website will be responsible for them converting them into clients.

Effective Design vs. Design

Companies like Squarespace, Wix, and FolioWebsites are making it simple for just about anyone to build their own website as low as $5/mo. However, just because we’ve made it extremely easy for anyone to have a website, the value of a good website has not diminished. Many business owners make the mistake of not spending the necessary time to make their website unique, user-friendly, mobile responsive, and engaging. Instead, they tend to stick to the original template, and simply drop in a picture, and their logo. This is great if you just need to have your information online. However, if we’re looking to use the website really drive business and make us money, we’re going to need to do more. Much like SEO, a great website will either cost money, or time. Studies show that the average DIY website will convert at 2.3%, whereas a well executed website will convert around 5.3%. This may not sound like a huge difference, but let’s consider 100 users visiting our website. This would be the difference between adding 2 new clients per month vs adding 5 new clients per month. Depending on your industry, these customers can be worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in revenue!

How To Get A High Converting Website

Since most custom web design shops start their base cost at $2,500 to $5,000, many business owners feel the only way to get it done is to do it themselves. For those who have the will to learn, or tech-savvy enough DIY platforms can be the perfect option. But what about for those who aren’t, and also don’t have a fortune to spend? Thankfully, Folio Websites created a program specifically for Small Businesses, and New Businesses. We dropped the set-up fee for a fully custom website to be ⅕ the cost of other shops ($499), and then offer management options starting at $49/month to help businesses keep their website updated with new content, and pages each and every month.

Sign up for a free website consultation today!