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Digital Marketing vs. Advertising: Key Differences and How They Work Together

No matter what industry you’re in or where in Central Florida you are, one thing is for certain: The majority of your future customers will find you online.

Digital marketing is your most crucial link to all those people. The earlier you get started, the sooner it can deliver compounding results with greater online visibility, more customers, and more sales.

These days, most of the conversation around getting a company’s message out focuses on marketing. But advertising is still part of the equation, and most mid-sized Central Florida businesses blend both.

Because online technology has brought so much change, the line between marketing and advertising can get blurry. It might be confusing precisely what one means by these seemingly simple terms. You might even have heard some people claim “advertising is dead.”

To reach your target audience quickly, completely, and cost-effectively, you need to know your options. Let’s take a look at the differences between digital marketing, advertising, and what it all means for you.

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing uses a wide variety of techniques – like search engine optimization, blog writing, and email marketing – to attract the right people to your website and convert them into customers.

The core goal of most digital marketing is to raise your “organic” online visibility. Organic here refers to online traffic you don’t pay for directly. When people in Central Florida search for information relevant to your business, organic traffic comes from the search results where you are featured.

Marketing takes a long-term orientation to the challenge of getting your message in front of the right people. Every time you create a digital marketing asset, you have the opportunity to capture a better position in relevant searches months or even years from now.

There are some important things to understand about digital marketing and how it works:

1. Digital Marketing Consists of Many Different Tactics United into One Strategy

There are dozens of different approaches to digital marketing, but they all start by knowing your ideal customer. When you hire a Central Florida digital marketing agency, your engagement will usually start with a deep dive into who your customers are and what influences their buying decisions.

Once a marketing team digs into your knowledge about your customers, step two is keyword research.

Keywords are the words or phrases people type into search engines when they want to solve a problem or answer a question. Businesses excel in search by publishing helpful and informative content dialed into those specific queries. The more useful the content, the better.

Across Florida and beyond, a company’s blog is the cornerstone of its digital marketing. But a full digital marketing strategy includes methods for promoting content, like social media, and for deepening your relationships with customers, like email marketing.

To get the most from digital marketing, a business must select a number of tactics it can use with quality and consistency over a long period. It can take about three months to start seeing results.

When designed and written correctly, your base of online content will continue to boost your search rankings for years to come – but inconsistent efforts mean rivals have the opportunity to outperform you and snatch those coveted search spots.

2. Digital Marketing Takes Time But Builds Results Gradually and Consistently

Digital marketing is less like turning on a light bulb and more like building a Formula 1 racer.

Before a race car can hit the track, it needs wheels, a chassis, and an engine – and it doesn’t hurt if you also line up a world-class pit crew. If any piece is missing, either the car won’t run or it’ll only last for a short period of time before it’s back to the drawing board.

The same is true of digital marketing.

When you decide to start marketing, you’re not paying for access like you do with online advertising. It’s not a matter of handing money to Google or Bing and getting visits to your website overnight. Even the best digital marketing strategy takes time to warm up and gain speed.

In exchange for your investment and a little patience, you get sustainable results. Over time, they grow into a significant competitive advantage. Once your marketing is delivering customers to your door, big competitors with massive budgets can’t duplicate those results simply by paying more money.

And newcomers to the field can’t steal your thunder without putting in the work.

To understand why imagine that there are just 100 “search keywords” relevant to your business. When someone searches for one of these keywords, it means they’re interested in what you have to offer right now. The best situation would be to rank #1 for every single one of these keywords.

Digital marketing won’t get you to that #1 spot overnight – it might not get you to #1 at all for some of your keywords. But at the end of the second month, you might be in a strong position for two of them. The next month, four. The next month, six. Each one helps you grow your bottom line more and more.

A good marketing plan not only gets you to a strong search position but helps you maintain that position for years to come. And the truth is, it’s never necessary to be at position #1 for “all” your keywords – there’s more business than anyone can fulfill in just a handful of well-selected targets.

Sound marketing is both the journey and the destination. It helps you lay out your goals, define a proven route to get where you’re going, and stay on track through the ordinary twists and turns of business life.

3. Digital Marketing Is Highly Cost-Effective

The talent and technology of an entire digital marketing agency can be hired for about $3,000 a month. Not only is that only half the average salary of an in-house marketing director, but it’s also far less than many Central Florida enterprises spend every month on conventional advertising.

The biggest pitfall of advertising is simple: When you stop paying in, you stop getting results. Marketing should also be understood as a long-term commitment, but there is no “off switch.” Once you (or your marketing agency) put good content out into the world, it continues to yield dividends for life.

That’s why so many first-time digital marketing strategies start with the concept of “evergreen content.”

Evergreen content is content that is relevant to the majority of your audience and rarely needs to be updated. (The opposite is newsworthy content, based on recent events where facts change quickly.)

By the time you publish 100 pieces of targeted evergreen content, you could be seeing thousands and thousands of monthly readers. When that content is calibrated precisely to your Central Florida service area, it can mean dozens or even hundreds of customers over the course of a year.

You spend more for marketing at the outset of your campaign while investing the same or less as long-term results continue to accumulate. On the other hand, you’ll generally end up paying more and more for advertising as businesses crowd into whatever market or platform you’re using.

That doesn’t mean advertising has no place. More on that in a moment.

4. Digital Marketing (Arguably) Delivers the Best Long-Term Results

While we wouldn’t advise dropping your marketing at a pre-determined time, one year of marketing now can have an impact a decade into the future. The better your marketing collateral is, the more people will share it, link to it, and act on it. These engagement signals are highly enticing to search engines and will continue to boost your website’s visibility even if you no longer publish or promote.

What Is Digital Advertising?

If digital marketing can do it all, why bother with advertising?

Advertising has its upsides, but it must be used carefully.

Digital marketing relies on an inbound approach: It attracts prospects’ attention at the moment they’re most open to your message. Advertising is more old-fashioned: Its outbound approach revolves around interrupting someone’s day and grabbing them.

The early internet was a Wild West of invasive advertising technologies with charming names like “eye-blaster” and “skyscraper.” No one wants to go back to those days, and more and more people now use software to opt-out of online advertising entirely.

But don’t count online advertising out yet: It’s the only option for getting immediate traffic.

The allure of instant traffic can be a dangerous thing, motivating entrepreneurs to run ads before their website is ready to service that traffic. But when everything is set up as it should be – with a full customer funnel and a compelling offer – instant traffic can also mean instant money.

With help from a digital marketing agency, it becomes much easier to estimate in advance whether a product or service is ready to be supported with online advertising, which is also known as paid traffic.

How Marketing and Advertising Work Together

Advertising can deliver immediate attention to your best products, new initiatives, and limited-time offers. It can also help you promote your most powerful pieces of marketing content, such as “deep dive” research that burnishes your brand’s reputation for thought leadership.

Many business owners are disappointed when they try to put advertising before marketing – but this is like putting the cart before the horse. To unlock the full power of advertising, you should already have a mature base of well-written marketing content for your audience.

Once that foundation is built, advertising focuses attention like a laser, highlighting the most valuable things for your website visitors to interact with right now. That might be:

  • The landing page for a particular product or service
  • Video storytelling content introducing your brand
  • A whitepaper or report aimed at decision-makers
  • A blog post of yours that recently went viral

To inspire action, a website must be set up to deliver on the promises advertising makes. Otherwise, ads won’t deliver results – and an ad without ROI is pure overhead.

The best way to make sure your digital presence is ready for success? Work with a Central Florida digital marketing agency. At New York Ave, we build your marketing strategy from the ground up to meet your unique business goals. Then, we can use digital ads judiciously to accelerate your results.

Best of all, you don’t have to worry about monitoring, managing, or tweaking your ads over time. We are in your corner and ready to prove value each and every month as your campaigns grow.

Contact us to learn more or get started.

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1 Average median salary in Florida for ‘Marketing Director’, based on research by Glassdoor. 2 Retirement calculated at 3% contribution, based on research by nirsonline.org. 3 Health premium average calculated by ranges provided from a 2016 Health Benefits survey. 4 Total employee average calculated at first year and includes the following considerations: $4k onboarding and training, $1k software and subscriptions, and $3.75k outsourcing help. Total agency average based on Florida-located, full-service agency.