By: Amalia Fowler Sep 12/2019

You’re a small business, and you know you need to be online. The problem is if you Google “how to start online marketing” or “where do I start with a digital marketing strategy”, you get hundreds of articles and pieces of advice without one clear answer.

Today, we’re aiming to break down the basic pillars of digital marketing. By the end of this article, you’ll know what the major tactics are and what each one is used for.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), also known as Organic Optimization, essentially means “making sure your content is there when people search for it online”. SEO itself is multi-faceted; you want to make sure that your site is considered relevant and authoritative by the search engine in order to show up for searches that your customers are making.

You can do this both on and off of your website, by fixing technical errors like site speed but also creating content that is relevant to your users’ needs. SEO revolves around making fixes to your site architecture (the actual coding and back end of a website) and optimizing content (the actual text of pages). You want to do things like:

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEO is the process of getting users to your website organically. On the flip side, Search Engine Marketing brings in traffic by bidding on keywords so that ads show up on the search engine results pages.

The advantage of search engine marketing is that it brings you to the top of the page, increasing your visibility and how much of the page you ‘own’. In the example shown above, you can see that there are four ads at the top of the page, and you have to scroll to get to the organic results.

Paid advertising relies on proper targeting and on having the right budget in order to be effective; you want the right ad to show to the right user at the right time. This means bidding on relevant keywords so that your ads are showing to the people who need your business the most and giving them the information that they are searching for.

The main difference between SEM & SEO is that you pay for the traffic and clicks with SEM, and by bidding on keywords you can drive traffic for more competitive terms that you may not rank organically for.

Social Media & Social Media Marketing

While many of us associate social media with catching up with friends or relatives, it’s also become an important platform for companies looking to attract new eyes. A social media presence gives users another way of engaging with your brand and is a less disruptive way of starting a conversation.

Social media can be excellent for nurturing individuals who are still making the decision about whether or not to work with you, especially if the journey to purchase is long. It can give users a sense of the personality of your brand and also indicate how responsive you are to concerns.

You can also use social media from a marketing perspective by paying for ads. This type of marketing can assist in driving traffic to your site and help you share pieces of content that are relevant to your audience. Social media marketing works much like paid search advertising does, in that it allows you to specifically target audiences.

The main difference between social media marketing and paid search is that users who encounter social media ads typically have a less immediate intent to purchase. When someone searches ‘emergency dentist appointment near me’ on Google, we know they’re ready to make an appointment right then and there. When someone is sifting through Facebook or scrolling through an Instagram feed, they aren’t necessarily in the mindset to book a dentist appointment.


Content is included in all of the above digital marketing tactics but deserves its own reference as an important tactic. Content is meant to help attract and acquire your audience. Whether it is writing an SEO optimized blog post, an email that drives purchases, or the content on your website, it is important that your content is consistent in tone and brand identity.

Content helps keep your audience engaged throughout their buyer journey, and consistent content, both in terms of the voice used to write the content and the pace at which it is published, helps users understand your brand and gives them a more enjoyable user experience, contributing to the success of the above tactics.

A Note on User Experience

The ultimate way to have a good online marketing strategy is to ensure that the user experience across all your tactics is seamless and meant for your users. User experience is the intersection where all the above tactics meet. If your website is slow and bulky, your customer experience poor, or your social proof (reviews & testimonials) lacking, it doesn’t matter how much traffic you’re driving to the site or how good your content is. At the end of the day, user experience needs to be a priority for your online marketing to be a success.

Where do I begin?

There are so many facets to online marketing, and it can take a lot to get things going. Typically, we recommend you start with upgrading the experience users are having on your website, SEO optimizations, and then drive marketing traffic through paid tactics. However, what’s going to work best really depends on your business, your budget, your goals, and your competition!

This is just a short overview of some of the possibilities for a digital marketing strategy. To get started, we recommend a digital assessment. This will give you a clearer idea of the landscape that your business is operating in, what tactics your competition is using and the steps to take to get caught up. You can research these things yourself, or use Snaptech’s digital assessment package to have one of our strategists lead the way. Contact us here so we can get started!