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Digital Marketing with Drupal

By José Fernandes
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  1. Free Chapter
    Chapter 1: Fundamentals of Digital Marketing
About this book
Drupal is an open-source platform for building ambitious digital experiences. With this practical guide to digital marketing, developers working with Drupal will be able to put their knowledge to work and boost the performance of their online marketing campaigns. Complete with step-by-step explanations of essential concepts, practical examples, and self-assessment questions, this book will take you through the most popular digital marketing techniques and how to apply them, including content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, SEO, SEM, CRM, and marketing automation, and the latest developments in website personalization and AI marketing. Once you've learned the fundamentals of digital marketing, you'll see how to apply them to your Drupal website or online store. In addition, you'll discover how Drupal can help you better manage your tasks and automate some of them. The book will help you discover the free modules available, how to use them, and how to integrate Drupal with external marketing-related platforms and services. By the end of this Drupal digital marketing book, you'll be able to build and deploy a complete digital marketing platform on top of Drupal to reach a greater audience and achieve online success.
Publication date:
March 2022


Chapter 1: Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

Today, most of our lives are lived online, and most of our purchasing and buying decisions are made online. We shop online (even when it comes to supermarket purchases), learn and study online, work remotely, work out online, make friends, find entertainment, and even date online. As you have probably noticed, there's not much that isn't done online nowadays.

If you own a business, I'm sure you know that most of your customers have found you online, and if you are in the services industry, you already know how important this is. Even when a customer has met you offline, they have chosen you by word of mouth, which probably started online as well.

Have you thought about how you find out about all those services and products? How and what you find out about them is somehow related to marketing. Marketing is one of the key functions that all organizations must undertake—all organizations require effective marketing and advertising to succeed.

According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), "Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large."

In general, marketing is responsible for the following:

  • Providing customer satisfaction
  • Increasing demand
  • Providing better quality products to customers
  • Building a good reputation for the organization
  • Generating profitable sales

However, marketing has evolved and has become digital as well. Digital marketing is an all-embracing term that encompasses all marketing activities done through digital channels. It includes all the tasks that are done online, ranging from social media to affiliate marketing.

This chapter will provide you with a comprehensive list of the most common digital marketing techniques and their core areas.

Here are the main topics we will be covering in this chapter:

  • An overview of digital marketing and content marketing
  • Digital marketing tactics
  • Measuring your digital marketing success
  • Digital marketing strategy

At the conclusion of this chapter, you will have learned how digital marketing can help raise brand awareness online, build relationships with potential and existing customers through valuable content and promotional messages, and increase customer retention and acquisition.


An overview of digital marketing and content marketing

Digital marketing has several advantages when compared to traditional marketing. The most important of these are outlined here:

  • It's highly targetable.
  • It provides real-time interaction with audiences.
  • It promotes global reach.
  • It's instant and has highly measurable results.
  • It's cost-effective.
  • It can be customized.
  • It's easy to adjust.

At least for businesses, this shift to online channels has also brought some difficulties. The most crucial, and one that has the most impact on organizations, is competition. For each product or service, customers now have countless options only a click away—it doesn't matter where they are! How can you differentiate your product or service from all your competitors? That's where a well-thought-out digital marketing strategy can make the difference between a successful business and a struggling one.

Before we delve into digital marketing tactics, we can't go on without understanding that the marketing is happening between you—the brand—and the customer through some media. Next, we'll find out why they are so important.

Brand building

You must be cautious because digital marketing should always be about building and growing your brand. Think of your brand as your business's reputation; as you know, it takes years to earn a good reputation but only minutes to destroy it, especially these days in this always-connected world. A brand is more than just a logo or name; it's the company's promise to provide a customer with what the brand means. It's not only functional, but it also has emotion, self-expression, and social benefits. Your brand has many touchpoints—some of them are digital, and some are not. Think of each of them as an opportunity to increase awareness and build your customer's loyalty… and don't forget: what happens offline always finds its ways to the online channels, through customers' shares.

Here are some examples of brand touchpoints:

I can give you an example of the importance of always thinking in terms of your brand (reputation): suppose you need to get the world to know about your incredible new product. Your young marketer comes to you with an "awesome idea", and says: "I know a place where I can buy an email list with 50,000 business owners' names and emails! I can build an entire marketing campaign on top of that. It will be easy money!" If you don't give it enough thought, you may think that there's no harm in that. In order to get a list that size, you would probably need at least a year. So, why not do it? However, this example helps me lay out another marketing golden rule: "Think like a customer—your customer." If that was your name on that list, what would you think of the company that emailed you without you ever allowing them to do so? You would just think of them as a spammer, click the junk button, and hope to never hear from them again, right? Now, multiply this effect by many other people, and you can see the impact this would have on your brand, your reputation, and the future of your business. With all of your marketing efforts, you must always have your business and brand's long-term vision in the center of your mind.

Main types of media

There's one distinction that is important for you to know, one that significantly affects the way the digital marketing mix is implemented: the difference between owned, paid, and earned media. These distinctions revolve around what you control and influence… or what you do not. Consider the following:

  • Earned media can only be influenced, never controlled. I think you'll agree when I say that one of your most important objectives is to have the rest of the world sharing how good your brand is, right? Also, because you can't control it, almost all the major Google ranking factors measure this type of media, mentions, backlinks, and so on.
  • Owned media is in your total control and, of course, the most significant example is your website. Your owned properties allow you to spread information about your brand and build your audience, which should be the destination in your marketing campaigns.
  • Paid media is the fastest way to get your message across, but you are bound to a publisher's rules, and people tend to give it less value. They know it's "just an ad".

The table below summarizes this:

Your digital marketing campaigns should usually incorporate all those three types of media. It's very unusual to have an online campaign that doesn't communicate on several digital media channels simultaneously. For example, a marketer can use content on social media to engage audiences, but that same content can also be used as a display ad on another online publisher site.

Who is your customer?

The objective of market segmentation is to filter out and categorize different groups within your audience so that you can deliver more targeted and valuable products, services, and messages to them. Simply put, customers of each market segment have similar characteristics that businesses can leverage in their marketing.

Your audience can be segmented into subgroups: geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioral are the most common and popular methods of segmentation. This helps you know which groups exist so that you can better understand the target audience. Geographic segmentation is the easiest to understand: it's just thinking in terms of where your audience is located physically. Demographic segmentation is also one of the most popular and commonly used types of market segmentation: it looks at identifiable non-character traits about a group of people. Psychographic segmentation categorizes audiences and customers by factors that relate to their personalities and interests. Finally, behavioral segmentation separates your audience by behaviors and decision-making patterns such as purchase, consumption, lifestyle, and usage.

The following table shows some examples of segmentation:

How do you get all the data necessary to segment your audience? Look at the following areas:

  • Previous behavior: This is crucially important information, and one that you can get easily. What did your customer buy in their past purchases? In what kinds of products have they shown more interest?
  • Personal preferences: The best way to find out what your client wants or likes is by asking. Through the sign-up process on your website, quizzes, and questionnaires that can be relatively simple and non-intrusive, you can gather precious data for yourself and for your business to know what your customer wants so that you can get it for them.
  • Connection with social media platforms: By connecting with social media, you are allowed direct 24/7 contact with your customers and can talk to them in real time, if needed. This also improves your knowledge of their preferences, since you can help with orders, answer some questions, and get to know them better.
  • Ad exchanges: A technology that facilitates the buying and selling of media advertising from multiple ad networks. This allows you to place your banner in different places and, then, with the results, segment your audience by interest (related to the theme of the website where you put the banner, for example).

When you learn how to perfectly segment, you get a better match between your brand and your customer, as well as better results, higher-quality leads, and better returns on your investment. Also, less money is wasted on marketing that reaches the wrong audience.

Customer journey

It's crucial never to forget that all this "marketing talk" is just for us because customers don't think about marketing channels; they think about their "wants" and "needs". However, to better plan our marketing activities, we use the customer journey to create a map that allows us to get to know our customer's actions from the first moments of research to the final purchase.

We call it the customer journey, but it includes prospects and leads before they become customers. In simple words, this is what characterizes each group:

  • Prospects: People who don't know your brand exists yet. They know they want or need a product or service, but they're only starting their journey, searching for the best option.
  • Leads: People who have expressed an interest in your product or service but are still thinking about their options. They're at the consideration stage, but they're watchful in terms of content related to your brand and products.
  • Customers: People who buy from your company. Clients can be super clients or fans if you treat them properly, with care and attention.

Prospects visit the company website and search for different options. When they sign up for the company's newsletter, create an account, participate in a webinar, or call the sales team to get to know more about the products, they become leads. When they decide to buy from the company, they become customers.

Here, you have an example from a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business customer journey:

Website visitEmail signupWebinar participationCall with sales teamConversion to customer

Now that we know what digital marketing is all about and that there's no digital marketing without a brand, a customer, and a media channel, let's look at the different tactics/techniques used in digital marketing.


Digital marketing tactics

Digital marketing is composed of many tactics, and as technology evolves, it increases even more because new digital channels are created. The different digital marketing techniques can achieve several objectives simultaneously. However, each one of them is more suitable for a determined expected outcome. Here is what I believe to be the core of all digital marketing tactics and the expected outcomes for each:

What is content marketing?

There is no way around it; content—excellent content—is what stands out amid the tsunami of content that the internet is today. Any project or brand that wants to be successful online must necessarily produce regular, high-quality content. Good content is required for the other techniques. For example, if we have no content, we are very limited in what we can share on social media, there's nothing for Google to index, and there's very little to show online to your prospects, leads, or customers.

Your content must tell stories: stories about your brand, about your customers, about your products and services. A brand doesn't have just one story to tell—it can have many. You should take advantage of those moments: the brand's origin, its achievements, the path it has chosen, the values it defends... all this can result in fantastic stories that will surprise and delight consumers while simultaneously earning their trust. There are no magic formulas. However, to tell a good story, there are several factors that a brand can never forget, such as the following:

  • Who are you talking to? It is essential to understand how the customer sees the world.
  • Simplify the story to keep it memorable.
  • Always keep your promises.
  • Ensure that the customer is the hero.
  • Keep it consistent—no action should be isolated.
  • Make sure you highlight the human side of the brand—the people matter the most.
  • Find your territory and tell a story that no one has ever told.
  • Encourage customers to share your story.

Producing content for digital channels (web, mobile, and so on) currently takes on many forms. Content should be planned with your audience and goals in mind and shared where your customers are.

Get people to talk about you with different types of content, such as the following:

  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs) or tutorials
  • Free tools and resources
  • Price and product reviews or comparisons
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • White papers
  • Contests
  • Job offers
  • Videos and multimedia content

Never leave video off your content marketing strategy! Did you know that 64% of consumers are more willing to purchase a product after they watch a video about it? Videos—thanks to their life, movement, photography, sound, and fantastic storytelling abilities—are now an integral and essential part of any digital marketing plan.

Most Important Content Marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Track

  • Number of unique visits
  • Number of articles read
  • Number of comments
  • Number of backlinks
  • Number of views or downloads
  • Bounce rate
  • Source of traffic
  • Time on site
  • Statistics from social media—likes, comments, shares
  • Number of newsletter subscribers
  • Organic rankings

What is social media marketing?

Social networking is one of the major forces behind digital marketing nowadays, and what makes it so powerful are both the two-way communication created and the empowerment of the consumer.

Social networks allow you to have a new experience of proximity and interactivity with your audience. Beyond the basics—communicating your brand, your activity, your updates—you can become closer to whomever your business cares about (while making them care about you, too).

These are the major social media platforms:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • TikTok

It's undeniable that, in the technological age in which we live, it's essential to be everywhere and to be attentive to everything, especially if we're talking about brands. Social media allows us to reach new audiences, retain customers, humanize the brand, maintain contact with fans, and enter new markets—it's a world ready to be discovered. In addition, it earns brands credibility: if you don't have a strong online presence, it's as if you don't exist at all, and you're not reliable.

But, after all that, how can social networks be used to increase brand awareness and optimize sales? Here are some points to consider:

  • Don't simply create a profile or page on a social network. The need to be present on social networks is obvious, but creating a social media profile without a defined strategy can be a mistake or even counterproductive. What kind of audience do you want to reach? At what time is the audience most active? Which social networks do your potential customers use? What kinds of posts does your audience prefer? It's necessary to understand which social networks are suitable and how they should be used, then create adequate content for each of them and publish at the most pertinent time.
  • Be constant. The number of daily or weekly publications will always depend on the social network and the brand. However, in the ephemeral online world, it's essential to publish regularly and create a visiting habit for followers. If you post only once a month, your presence on the social network will not have a positive impact on your business—on the contrary, it may be synonymous with disinterest, lack of professionalism, and carelessness.
  • Diversify the content. Publish news, articles, testimonials, infographics, videos, photographs, values, and illustrations. Ask questions. Promote the concept of the brand you represent; value your customers. Publish more than simply products, but never leave them aside. This will trigger more significant interest in your followers and allow your brand to reach new people.
  • Set a call to action (CTA) in posts. Publications that encourage users to leave an opinion, answer a question, or take action receive more attention than others. Don't be afraid to ask the user to click on a link that will take them to your website (yes—it's possible to generate sales from social networks) and don't be afraid to ask for opinions or answers about a particular theme—value these actions and increase engagement.
  • Take time to get to know your customers. As comments and likes become more frequent and numerous, analyze which publications have the most impact on the community that visits your page. Take this opportunity to find out which products are the most popular and which types of publications work best with your particular audience. This is an excellent way to understand who follows up your brand and how you can boost sales.

You can go even further in your social media marketing and use it to build a community around your brand.

Building a community around a brand or business brings an advantage in terms of competitiveness, as well as in terms of adaptability, since communities bring valuable feedback from customers to the company. If people within a company do not understand the needs of their customers, the risk of developing products or services with no value to their target audience is enormous. Besides, a community allows companies to increase their range of products and services based on their customers' needs, as well as to quickly identify changes in consumer behavior, leading to adjustments in products and offers in order to create value for the customer. In addition, the identification of the client's "pain" leads to a greater capacity for innovation directed to an audience with very specific needs (functioning as a crystal ball for companies).

A community is, above all, a group of people connected by their interests or something they have in common. Thus, building this relationship is also a way to grow the community and gain greater customer retention. The establishment of real connections between the consumer and the brand promotes customers' retention and loyalty, leaving a door open for references. Consequently, as these references grow, the community grows as well, increasing the brand's prestige as well as contact points (through blogs, forums, and others). The higher the contact points, the more likely the company is to gain new customers and increase its sales.

On the other hand, the stronger a community is, the greater is the brand's consistency and relevance, leading to an increasing interest in people who wish to collaborate with it.

Most Important Social Media KPIs to Track

  • Follower count
  • Number of impressions
  • Clicks to the website
  • Number of likes, shares, and comments
  • Number of mentions
  • Average engagement rate

What is SEM?

Search engines are an indispensable technology in our daily lives—it's through them that our cyberspace journeys begin. As soon as a question or a need arises, all we have to do is think of a word. We immediately type it into a textbox and, without even pressing Enter, we are already flooded with results.

Search engines haven't changed their general appearance that much over time. Their structure has remained the same throughout their evolution, as outlined here:

  • A textbox to type words
  • A button to start the search
  • A section to show the paginated results

The most significant advances throughout their history have been achieved mainly in their backend—that is, in the algorithms that build their engine, in the speed at which they operate, and, finally, in the amount of information they're fed with.

There are several types of search engines, but we'll focus our study on crawler-based search engines.

How search engines work

The search engine's work begins well before the user starts typing a set of keywords in a textbox and submits this. We can even state that that is the last part of a cycle that repeats itself indefinitely.

Here are the three key stages in a search engine process:

  • Crawling: Before a search is possible, the search engine needs to fill its index with the documents about which it will research. The search engine delegates the tracking task—that is, in the World Wide Web (WWW), finding the documents that will be part of its index—to a piece of software called a web crawler (also known as a spider or internet bot). A list of Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) is provided to this web crawler (called a seed) from which it starts following every link found in these and subsequent pages, and so on until it has visited and copied all the intended pages. There are thousands of bots constantly scrolling the web. Google's bot is—appropriately—called Googlebot. It's with these copies of the pages that the search engine builds its index. Currently, the internet is so wide that these crawlers can't track all of it. The part of the internet that isn't indexed by search engines is called the invisible web (deep web).
  • Indexing: The indexing phase is the process by which the search engine extracts the necessary information from these documents and stores them in its database so that searches on this index are fast and accurate. If there were no indexing processes, searches on the set of documents could take hours, or even days, for just one query. The index is usually in the form of an inverted index. The idea is to keep a glossary of all terms found in the documents, with an indication (list) of where these terms exist. This index is a key factor in the efficiency of the Information Retrieval (IR) systems that the search engines are part of.
  • Searching: The first step to answer a query is to analyze (parse) the said query. The type of queries available in IR systems are diverse—there are Boolean queries, proximity queries, wildcard queries, and queries with automatic spelling corrections, among others. Once the query has been interpreted, the IR system will search for all documents that correspond to the keyword(s) used in the query. At this stage, there is no ranking between processed documents; the intention is to only identify all documents that are candidates to belong in a list of possible results. As the number of results can be in the order of hundreds or even thousands, some sort of order must apply to the results list. The results found are thus returned in a list, sorted in order of relevance.

SEM is composed of two very important digital marketing techniques: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and PPC. Google is not the only search engine but is definitely the player you should focus your attention on. The truth is that the work you do targeting Google is valid for all other search engines. The objective is very simple—your website needs to rank high in the search results when people search for topics related to your brand. You need to rank on the first page of results because the higher your website is, the more clicks it will get; results on the second page will get almost no clicks. Also, being at the top of the results page gives credibility to your brand because people tend to associate higher results with better and safer brands.


SEO focuses on the organic side of SEM—it's a set of strategies that aim to improve the positioning of a website on the pages of natural (organic) results of search engines. Organic results are composed of search traffic that you don't have to pay for. Our work as marketers and developers is mainly in helping the search engine spiders to crawl our website and, through our digital marketing, giving it signals that will boost our ranking on search results pages.

SEO is a very large and complex part of the digital marketing toolbox and can be divided into two main categories: on-page and off-page.

On-page SEO focuses on optimizing your website's components (content, structure, and technology) to help your website be better indexed and understood by the search engine. In contrast, off-page SEO focuses on increasing your website's perceived authority and popularity through the search engine's eyes, usually through external factors not so easily under your control. Drupal is known for being an excellent CMS for SEO, so it should be easy to build an SEO-friendly site.

What defines the position in which any given web page is placed on a Google search is a complex and "ultra-secret" algorithm. Knowing that this algorithm is built to consider infinite variables and factors, each one of those variables can be worked on. However, for Google, "worked on" is the same as "manipulated".

Off-page SEO refers to efforts outside your website that impact your rankings within search engine result pages. The main factors are outlined here:

  • Quantity and quality of backlinks
  • Competition
  • Social signals
  • Domain signals
  • User behavior
  • Brand size

Without disregarding all the offsite techniques, the work must start "inside". Is your website adequately prepared for SEO? There's a lot you can do about that. These are a few mandatory elements in your on-page SEO:

  • Title tags
  • Headings (H1, H2, and so on)
  • Friendly URLs
  • Alt attributes in images
  • Keyword density
  • Internal linking architecture
  • Pages with unique content
  • Accessibility
  • Page load speed
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Presence of structured data
  • Landing pages, specifically created and optimized for each and any campaign or goal

The preceding list helps search engines better crawl all your website pages and better understand what your website is all about.


Google Ads is Google's PPC advertising solution. The number-one advantage of advertising in Google is that you can promptly become the number one for the keyword that you are certain will bring you the most qualified prospects. However, that comes with a cost: every time someone clicks your ad, you have to pay Google.

The cost varies; it starts on cents but can go up to several euros (EUR) for only one click. The PCC is calculated in a real-time auction. Each time an ad is eligible to appear for a search query, it goes through a process that calculates which ad is more relevant to that search query and simultaneously considers the price all the advertisers are willing to pay, choosing the one that maximizes the User Experience (UX) and, of course, Google's profit. Since this is an action-based system, it's natural that, in the most competitive industries, this digital channel will become one of the most costly to invest in. One thing to remember is that it isn't always the ad that paid more that is first shown in that person's search.

Search engines are used to search for information, find something, or answer questions. Our ads should be clear by showing that the answer is only a click away. If our ad is perceived as useful, it's not considered advertising in the consumer's mind—this way, the ads will not be intrusive or annoying. While other types of campaigns are designed to create an emotional need in the consumer, search advertising is intended to give someone the right information at the right time and place.

Here are the key steps for creating your PPC campaign:

  1. Research for keywords.
  2. Create ad copy.
  3. Select ad features.
  4. Set targeting.
  5. Set budgets and bids.
  6. Set the destination landing page.

Keywords are the foundation of a successful PPC campaign. All the major search engines have tools to help you generate keywords for your PPC campaign, but there are other ways to enrich the quality and number of keywords available to you, such as the following:

  • Keyword brainstorming
  • Using Google Trends
  • Keywords used on other competitor sites
  • Keywords used in your internal website search
  • Keywords that appear in snippets on the first pages of search engine pages

You should have different ads depending on which stage of the search journey your users are at, so you can show them the most relevant ads for what they are searching for.


The most critical factors in optimizing your PPC campaign for conversions are the ad text and the landing page.

The search query (keywords) usually tells us at which stage of the purchase funnel the customer is, as outlined here:

  • Awareness: The consumer is still not sure what they want. At this stage, the existence of the product must be made known. The keywords are very general, usually with high volume and low conversion.
  • Interest: At this stage, the customer already knows the product they want, and you have to generate interest. Show them their life will be better with your product. Ads should focus on benefits and not so much on features.
  • Learn: This is the phase where the customer is looking to learn more about the product (features and specifications) so that they can make an informed purchase. Keywords are already more specific and usually include brand names, models, and technical jargon. Ads at this stage should indicate the benefits and features of the products, as well.
  • Shopping: At this stage, the customer already knows what they want with some certainty, such as the type of product or—perhaps—the best brand. It's at this stage that the different competing brands and models are compared.
  • Buy: This is the phase where everything is already decided, and the customer just chooses the best place to buy. The keywords already include the brand and the specific model and may include the store's name as well.

    Most Important SEM KPIs to Track

    • Organic versus paid traffic
    • Search rankings
    • Organic click-through rate (CTR)
    • Search ads' CTR
    • Search visibility
    • Branded traffic
    • Number of backlinks
    • Cost per click
    • Ads' quality score
    • Cost per conversion
    • Conversion rate

What is display advertising?

Did you know that the first-ever online ad was put online in 1994 on HotWired.com—which is now Wired Magazine—and featured a banner from AT&T? That's right!

Display advertising is all about awareness.

Display advertising consists of buying ad space on a website for a fee. It's the correspondence between buying an ad in a physical magazine or newspaper. This technique is great for building brand awareness, but you must be very selective when it comes to choosing a place where you will be adding your banners—otherwise, it will be a waste of money. I'm sure you already heard of the term "ad blindness", also known as "banner blindness"—we use these terms when (consciously or unconsciously) visitors at a website ignore the banners present there.

There are three main groups of advertising campaigns, as outlined here:

  • Campaigns paid directly by the advertiser that are a result of a direct sale
  • Network campaigns which, in this case, include well-known affiliate programs and Google AdSense network ads, among others
  • In-house campaigns that include all the ads designed to promote the site's own products/services

That ad space can be bought in several ways—cost per click (CPC), cost per mille (CPM), cost per action (CPA), or tenancy, but the most common nowadays is CPM:

  • CPC: Payment is received for each click on the site's ads or banners.
  • CPM: Payment is received for every 1,000 ad impressions. In other words, each time an ad is shown 1,000 times, a certain amount is received.
  • CPA: Payment is received for each action accomplished. These actions may be a sale, completing a form, a newsletter subscription, and so on.
  • Rent (tenancy): Payment is received for the rental of space during a certain period of time. It is independent of everything else.

Most of the ad space available on the larger publishers is negotiated on what is called programmatic advertising, which is a process that automates the buying and selling of available ad inventory in real time through an automated bidding system. This way, brands or agencies don't need to negotiate directly with publishers (website owners).

One of the main advantages of display advertising is the possibility to be freer and more creative with the type of ads you create. You have all the most common Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) standard sizes such as the 300×250 medium rectangle, 180×150 rectangle, 160×600 wide skyscraper, and the 728×90 leaderboard, but since you're negotiating directly with the publisher, you can propose really eye-catching and visually appealing ads that impress your audience in never-seen formats, using rich media or interactive applications.

During the last few years, this type of advertising has got more appreciation thanks to remarketing.

Most Important Display Advertising KPIs to Track

  • Viewable impressions
  • CTR
  • Number of conversions
  • Average CPC
  • Impression share
  • Frequency
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)

What is email marketing?

It doesn't matter what your business does. It might be good at it; it might have an innovative and revolutionary product or service; it might be, more or less, the one that has the top-quality service in your business area. You might very well be the best... but that's worth zero if no one knows it.

Communication is a key point in your marketing strategy. The way you reach your audience—and how well you do it—is what will define how successful you and your business are. And, among the several tools you can use, email is one of the most important ones.

Think about what would be the best way to communicate with your audience. Imagine you have all the possible means and resources at your service, with no limitations. You would certainly choose to talk, directly and individually, to every single person from your audience, right? Because each person is different and unique, and each one of them will have their own desires, interests, and motivations.

Naturally, you will never be able to communicate that way. We can easily identify three main obstacles that stop us from using that form of "ideal communication": the diversity of your audience, the technical and human resources that it would require, and the practical costs that such a communication would imply.

But the thing is, although email is not a perfect tool, it can get past those obstacles effectively. One of the most important marketing strategies is email marketing, and it has many advantages compared to the other techniques available. These are the most important ones:

  • It's low-cost.
  • It's fast.
  • It's trackable.
  • It's segmented.
  • It's proactive.

No matter how well your audience is defined, people won't have the same background—they will have different traits and different personalities. So, it makes no sense to talk to your audience as if it were a homogenous entity: they won't all be the same age, have the same education or the same financial capacity; they won't live in the same place or have the same needs, wants, and interests.

As a mass communication tool, email allows a unique individualization of your message without interfering with your marketing strategy's budget. Instead of defining a unique message to reach your entire audience, you can change it—totally or just partially—and adapt it to specific groups. You can segment geographically, demographically, behaviorally, and psychographically.

Email allows you to use the data you have about your audience so that you can create different messages, integrated into one unique communication strategy that will meet your customers' desires. After all, isn't that the "ideal communication"? A customized communication... isn't that what customers want? To receive information that they're really interested in? No other mass communication format allows this kind of customization, not without drastically increasing the costs of the campaign to unreasonable amounts, whatever your budget may be.

Another advantage that email provides is that it diminishes the risk when we're unsure between two versions of the same message. Can't choose between two subjects? Are you unsure about the positioning of an image or which is the best format for a textbox? Test it! By sending both versions to a small sample of your audience, you can discover which version converts the best—we call this A/B testing.

Consider the resources (both technical and human) that you would need to create a television, radio, or press ad and the number of people you would need from the beginning to the end of such a campaign, as well as the knowledge and skills it would require and, of course, the necessary budget. Creating an email-based campaign is something that can ultimately be done by one single person: you!

The evolution and diversity of the currently available tools mean that you don't need advanced skills to write the body of an email, program it, schedule it, and send it. Sure—some skills won't hurt you, and professionals with advanced knowledge will always be a valuable asset, but the K.I.S.S. concept ("Keep it Simple, Stupid!" or, in some versions, "Keep It Short and Simple") applies not only to the campaign itself but also to its elaboration.

Additionally, these tools will allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of the email you sent just as easily, by measuring the results more effectively than any other direct communication tool. You will be able to know exactly what worked and what didn't, and which techniques provided the best results. If you can measure the data, you can learn from the results, and that means you can always improve upon them.

It will also be faster than any other mass communication format—faster to reach the target and faster in the sought-out answer or result. If the nature of your business or a specific message you want to send cannot wait, email is perfect: instant delivery. But even if deadlines are not an issue, email will always give you more time that you can apply in the preparation of the campaign, in the body of the email... After all, time is money. Is "too much time" ever a bad thing?

Email is not free, but when compared to other means, and especially with other mass communication methods, it almost seems to be. Considering the two main advantages mentioned before, and everything they mean to the amplitude of your communication and the success of your strategy, try to imagine how big a budget you would need when resorting to any other method in order to reach similar effectiveness.

When you think about the comprehensiveness of the email, you may wonder how much a campaign with the same kind of promotion would cost in other media: TV, radio, press, or even direct mailing.

If you take into account the aspect of customized communication, to obtain the same level of individualization that email allows, you would have to consider direct personal contact or telemarketing. So, consider the costs of travel, the amount of personnel you would need, and (just as important as everything else) the time it would take you to make just one contact. What would a business with thousands of customers do? With email, the number of customers is irrelevant. Reaching 100 or 100,000 people will cost you exactly the same time and significantly less time than any other campaign.

However, email is not a miraculous tool that dismisses all others. Email may be a powerful and effective tool in the context of a marketing strategy, but for it to succeed, it should include other means and forms of communication, adequately adapted to the context of your business, your products, or services... adapted to what you want to "sell".

But the key point that brings out how important email really is the opportunity it provides. Assuming your database was compiled because your audience gave you their emails, that means that there is a predisposition to listen to you. By subscribing to your newsletter or registering on your website, or in whatever way or for whatever reason your audience chose to give you their email addresses, it means they are saying "I want to hear from you". Your audience is thus positioning itself as a potential customer that is willing to buy what you have to sell. So, it's only up to you to take one small step further… and make the sale!

Here are some tips for the perfect email campaign:

  • Treat the recipient as a person, not someone anonymous: Your email may be sent to a million people, but it will be read by one person at a time. Remember this, and treat the recipient as just that: a person, not an abstract member of a group, even if it is segmented. Speak directly to them, and you will be more easily heard.
  • Identify yourself as the sender: If you are a secure source, if people know and trust you (or should trust you), immediately show them who you are—a clear, obvious, and consistent sender! It could be the name of the business or even the customer's account manager—whichever one generates more familiarity and receptivity.
  • Dynamic content: You can also use dynamic content—a single email whose content changes according to the definitions and characteristics of each segment that you have created.
  • One subject that says it all: The subject should be clear, direct, appealing, imperative (leading to action), and not too long; otherwise, it will be truncated once it arrives at the customer's email account, consequently losing its effect. If your recipient knows and trusts who emailed them and the subject of this communication causes interest or curiosity, you've overcome the first hurdle. The hard part comes next—dedicating some time to read what you have to say.
  • A good headline: Start with a headline that stands out and immediately captures the attention and interest of your recipient. With one line only, you should be able to entice them to read what follows.
  • The best should be saved for the... beginning: You're not writing a thriller, so you don't have to wait for the end to make the big reveal that will amaze the entire audience because, if you do, there will probably be no one left there to read it. Whoever reads your communication won't know if the best is saved for last, which means that nothing will make them take that route. Start by immediately saying what it is you have to offer, even if it is done superfluously. Build upon this later on.
  • Relevance: Do not waste your audience's time. It is important that your recipients feel they have gained something when they have finished reading, that they are somehow more fulfilled, even if they're not buying what you're selling. Otherwise, you will have wasted their time and will feel the effects of revenge, which will be manifested by the cancellation of the subscription or— worse—marking it as spam, which will have effects on your email sender's reputation.
  • Size: This is one of the most variable factors but will have to be taken into account. As a general rule, it should not be a very long email—please remember that you can always refer the customer to your site. If they want more information, they will look for it.
  • Formatting: This point will depend on the nature of your audience. Sometimes, a simple email with text only and no formatting is exactly what you need; on other occasions, photographs of different sizes and colors are essential. The key to perfect formatting, in order to avoid an email that is too simple or too complicated, is to know your audience. Something you should have already done at this point, right?
  • Proofread: Read, reread, and read again. If your deadline allows it, put the "final" version of the email aside for the next few hours or days, and only review it again after gaining some distance. Ask someone who has no prior knowledge of the campaign to read it as well. Check all links and images in different types of email services. Did I mention proofreading already?
  • A unique selling point (USP): Hold on to your main selling points and, especially, the main selling point. What are they? What is the main strength of your product or service? Why should the customer buy this product and not another one? More important yet, why should they buy your product or service and not one from your competitors? While balancing the number of selling points with the size of the email, be sure to emphasize your main selling point, communicating precisely that to the client (potential or actual).
  • A single CTA: Don't expect the reader to do 1,001 tasks just because they read your email. Focus on the primary and essential action that you want, and don't go further than what is necessary: a single CTA. Anything other than that will make your email confusing or too demanding: the recipient may not realize what is expected of them or feel pressured to do more than what they're willing to do.
  • Say what you have to offer and what you want: Be explicit in explaining what you have to offer, and be clear and direct regarding what you expect from those who are reading your email and what you want them to do; use clear and direct language, in a paragraph devoted exclusively to it and regardless of the rest of the text. If the context justifies it (the nature of your communication, based on the nature of your audience), this can be a paragraph or a section that is visually different from the rest of the content.

If email marketing is an important tool, your email list becomes one of your business's most valuable assets. It's a true diamond in the rough that needs to be worked on, taken care of, and polished. Ignoring your email list maintenance is wrong for two reasons: firstly, you won't be harnessing the full potential it has to offer, which will take its toll on the results of your email marketing strategy; secondly, you'll also be damaging the quality of the list itself, risking a list full of invalid or unwanted contacts, which in turn will result in failed or reported emails. Both reasons will have the same outcomes: they will harm your results and your reputation with email service providers (ESPs) such as Gmail, Hotmail/Outlook, and so on.

In order to ensure that you take full advantage of email marketing's potential, here are some basic and essential care tips you should bear in mind with your email list:

  • Permission is a crucial first step—don't send any communication to those who haven't expressly indicated that they want to receive it. After receiving a new subscription, your system should send a validation email, and only after the subscription has been confirmed should the email address be attached to your mailing list. Hence, the term "double opt-in"—this way, the user has to confirm their subscription or registration in two steps.
  • It is also wise to do a periodic reassessment, especially if no type of communication was sent over an extended period of time. Sending an email asking the user to confirm if they are still interested in receiving news from you is not intrusive, and it ensures that your list is up to date with interested parties.
  • Prevent false registrations, either of real people registrations who submit fictitious email addresses or automatic registrations made by spambots, for example.
  • Remove invalid addresses by registering all returned emails and remove them from your master list. This way, you'll improve your delivery rate, which will inevitably have consequences for the open and click rates on your email marketing strategy.
  • Remove those who ignore you. If after several emails, a subscriber never opened or clicked on your email, it is better to remove them from your list than continue sending them communications that will be systematically ignored.
  • Ensuring the possibility of unsubscribing at any time and in any email received, in an easy and immediate way, is the ultimate act of respect toward the user. You should provide a direct link that automatically cancels the subscription, without requiring login or any additional confirmations.
  • Facilitate information updates. Just as every email should include a direct link to the subscription cancellation, it should also include a link so that the member is able to update their information. There are only advantages for your database if members keep their profiles constantly updated; so, by facilitating this task, you're actually doing yourself a favor.

    Most Important Email Marketing KPIs to Track

    • Number of emails delivered
    • Percentage of emails opened
    • CTR
    • Unsubscribe rate

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is also known as referral marketing or CPA marketing. This happens when you pay some value to other websites, usually a commission, for sales that are generated from their referral. As usual, you can have different payment models, but the most common are CPA or cost per lead (CPL). Affiliates are responsible for doing their own marketing efforts to promote your product or service. This is a type of performance-based marketing because they are only paid if the visitor carries out the action that was agreed upon in the affiliate agreement. These actions include filling out a form, getting a quote, signing up for a trial, or making a purchase.

As an example, you have Amazon, which runs one of the largest affiliate marketing programs in the world. Usually, Amazon finds your offers through an affiliate network that takes care of all affiliates' management and payment processing, and the network works as an intermediary between the affiliate and you (the merchant). But that's not the only way to do it—you can run your own affiliate program without being part of any network.

One of the reasons affiliate programs are so popular is that they offer a win-win situation for both the merchant and the affiliate. For you, the merchant, this is a very cost-effective way of promoting your brand's products and services. Affiliates are your marketing partners—they can include bloggers, influencers, review sites, publishers, and organizations. Nevertheless, you must be very careful about who you choose to be your affiliate; you are putting your brand and marketing in their hands, so be sure they take good care of it—they can damage your positioning as a brand or act in unethical ways, deliberately engaging in deceptive marketing activities to collect commissions.

You have probably read some blog posts where the author says some links on the post are affiliate links. This means they are being paid to recommend a brand or product and show it on their blog, but they will only be paid if their followers and visitors carry out an action from that link.

What is digital PR and influencer marketing?

This type of marketing is one of the most influential for your brand. It's earned media and it's more powerful than any type of advertising because it's a third-party endorsement. Don't buy it if you can earn it.

Digital PR is the outreach and networking to journalists, bloggers, and other content creators to increase your brand awareness and establish your brand authority by making it newsworthy to their digital media platforms.

Keep an eye on where you're being talked about. You can set a Google alert to let you know when that happens. Then, if necessary, answer, participate, and interact! Answer questions, deal with complaints, and say thank you to compliments. Do this wisely, and you will not only get the link you want but will also leave a good impression of your business.

When it comes to influencer marketing, it's important to choose the right people to work with. Influencer marketing is the old marketing tactic of partnership with a celebrity that endorses your brand in commercials. But nowadays, stars aren't only actors and singers; they can also be Instagram celebrities, YouTubers, gamers on Twitch, beauty vloggers, famous TikTokers, and so on. I think you got the point by now.

You must evaluate not only their statistics, but also their style of communication, type of audience, products and brands that they usually recommend, as well as the platforms they use. If the brand's products and philosophy are in sync with that person, you can propose a collaboration (or accept it, if they have contacted you first). Sometimes, influencers with lots of reach and engagement aren't the perfect fit for a brand, and that's OK because different segments need different strategies. Numbers aren't everything since the goal of the collaboration may be to raise awareness, generate direct conversion, or even create new shareable content for the next few weeks. A micro-influencer can have more impact on your brand since they are communicating to a segmented audience and not to the masses, but an influencer with millions of followers can also be a good fit, depending on their interests and what sort of content they usually create.

A collaboration must benefit both parties, so it should be clear what is expected from both the brand and the influencer. It's also important to create a relationship with the people who collaborate with you so that you can better understand their needs, interests, and preferences.

What is CRM marketing?

The greatest business quote of all time is from Peter F. Drucker, who famously said: "The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer."

CRM is a process of managing interactions with existing customers, as well as past and potential customers. Don't mistake it with a software system where you store your contact information—that is CRM as a technology, but CRM is much more than that. CRM as a business strategy is the business's philosophy about how relationships with customers and potential customers should be managed, nurturing them so that they want to stay your customers. In this customer-centric era we live in, it helps organizations build customer relationships and increase customer loyalty, retention, revenue, and customer lifetime value.

Personalization and customer WOW

The time of one-size-fits-all is long gone. Nowadays, customers want to feel unique and special, to know that you really know who they are and what they like. You should make their digital experience unique to them by offering targeted content, product recommendations, and special offers tailored to their individual needs and interests.

It's not just your website, app, or online store that should be personalized for them— it's also the type of messaging, the channel used, and the frequency of communication.

You shouldn't stop here—if you really want that WOW factor (and you should do), the one that makes your customer run to share what just happened with their friends and all over social media, you should bring back that human factor we now crave.

A WOW experience is based on meaningful details and not on mechanical processes where the client is treated as a number. You must exceed the client's expectations, approaching their needs in an unexpected way to surprise them whenever possible. When we talk about customer WOW, we also talk about giving a new meaning to the customer-company relationship, where values such as gratitude and empathy are present.

Customer WOW is more than just customer service. It's not just the job of one person or department—it's a job for all members of the company. It's not just to fix issues—it's to create memorable experiences. Serendipity should happen on any of the brand's touch points, not just over the phone or email. It empowers your company's collaborators by giving them the liberty and responsibility to turn into your brand's ambassadors. You can't just tell your team, "let's surprise our customers". That will not work. Customers can distinguish true special moments from fake ones. You need to create a place where those moments happen because it's part of the company's culture.

Customer WOW doesn't have rules—each case is treated individually—but there are a few essential actions that help us know where and how to start, as outlined here:

  • Define your company's values. Before you decide on communication strategies, you have to ensure that the company's values are well defined and always present in your employees' everyday tasks. Customer WOW happens anywhere, anytime—while answering an email, talking to a client, opening the company's door, solving a problem—and all the members of your team must be focused on the same goal (that's one of the biggest obstacles of customer WOW). That said, all company members are responsible for how customers regard the business and the brand. For that reason, it is really important to define values—each email you write, each decision you make, or even the simplest tasks (such as answering the phone, for example) must follow your business's essence. If this doesn't happen, it will be harder to maintain cohesive communication and simultaneously surprise the client.
  • Sympathy. Choose the right person. When it comes to customer service, you must choose the right person. Previous experience and a full curriculum vitae (CV) are important, but other skills will determine the success of this person: sympathy and troubleshooting skills. Sympathy is essential (we all know why), but for this job, troubleshooting skills are just as essential. It's important to make quick decisions and have the ability to solve problems… before they happen!
  • Always surprise. One of customer WOW's main goals, if not the most important, is to surprise customers. Each contact must have a WOW factor that really charms the customer and makes them feel special. The WOW factor must be developed according to each business—we can't surprise a customer buying babies' clothes or a customer buying a luxury watch the same way, for example. However, in the online business world, some basic principles can be applied to almost all business areas. Here are some of these:
    1. You must treat the customer by their name, ALWAYS (you have to see them as a person, not as a number).
    2. The shopping experience should be enjoyable and surprising.
    3. You must show genuine concern for your client.
    4. You must follow your client during the most important moments of their life. A simple example is wishing them a happy birthday.
    5. The company must secure quick and easy deliveries and also a 24/7 client service.
    6. You must always do a follow-up call or send an email after a purchase.
  • Listen, ask questions, understand the problem. To listen is very important—we can't solve problems without knowing them, and we can't improve or evolve if we don't listen to what customers have to say. It is necessary to let the customer talk, to show what they want us to know without interrupting them. You should never assume you recognize their problem, and you shouldn't talk at the same time. The next step is to do the right questions: if you don't do this, you can drag the problem out for a very long time, even more than necessary. To ask questions is the most effective way to find a solution, and it is also an excellent technique to acquire valuable information about the client.
  • Help and educate. It is important to help the customer as well as educate them about the product/service. When you have an online business, this is even more important. Your client must not feel helpless—trust is the key to success, and efficient customer service is one of the most effective ways to obtain this. Usually, it is easier to explain how the product works when you have the customer in front of you. But will it be as easy online? No! For that reason, we have to think about strategies that allow us to explain everything the customer needs to know, as clearly as possible.
  • Always follow up. After the purchase, it is important to do a follow-up. In addition to surprising the client with the company's concern about the order and the delivery, this is also a good way to increase your sales. Nothing is more truthful than your customer's opinion and with this information, good or bad, it's easier to develop strategies in order to increase your sales and improve processes and communication.
  • Create a good professional environment. When a company has a good environment between coworkers, that feeling is transparent to the customers. On the other hand, when a company has a heavy environment, people outside the organization notice it, and that ruins the expectations when it comes to surprising the client. It is necessary to promote a healthy environment, and when this doesn't happen, it is essential to identify the reason why this is happening. Advice: create moments of joy between your coworkers and create a happy environment.
  • Be extra careful with your customers. The customer is the reason why your company exists. After all, your company was created to provide them with a service or a product. What's the reason why your client isn't the focus of your attention? Focus on your customer, treat them as a person (not a number), and guarantee they're aware of their importance. You must never forget that a pleased customer is a customer with a great lifetime value and who will recommend your service to others: the best advertising of all. Transform your customers into brand ambassadors!
  • Empathy is essential. If you work in a customer support system and want to bet on WOW, you have to develop a tool to give you the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes. To know the importance of empathy, there's nothing better than an example: imagine that you have an online store that sells diapers. Without knowing, one of the orders is dispatched with defects, and the diapers cannot be used. If you are not an empathic person, you will think something such as: "It's not a big deal—I can send another pack of diapers to our client, and problem solved." However, if you can put yourself in your client's shoes, you can easily see their perspective: "Probably, my client had to leave the house to buy diapers… and maybe this happened during nighttime…" We can see how these two approaches will make you solve the same problem in two different ways. So, before making decisions, you have to look at the problem through the eyes of the customer.

You need CRM software

If the relationship with the client is one of the factors that define the success of a business, it is important not to lose any information, keep it up to date, and ensure that it is accessible to all employees who work directly with customers. Nowadays, CRM software is an indispensable tool, regardless of the sector or activity of the company, precisely since it works as essential support in information management. This is a tool where you can register the history of the relationship between your company and a particular customer. Being properly organized, this information is extremely valuable and can be used strategically for the growth and development of your business, for the effectiveness of internal work, and for the implementation of marketing campaigns, allowing you to properly segment and personalize your marketing communications. These are the main advantages of having a CRM system in place:

  • Information organization: The organization is one of the first points to consider when choosing a CRM tool. It allows you to store all the information in one place, avoiding data loss. If a collaborator leaves the company or goes away for a few days, they will not take the relevant information with them. They will be aware of it, of course, but whoever replaces them will easily be able to respond to anything the customer needs. Not only will you be able to check your partner's records, but you will be able to register your own actions in the same document.
  • Customer relationship valorization: It is extremely important that the customer feels they are a priority, that they are accompanied, and that the company (or person representing it) is focused on their needs. In addition to the quality of the provided service, constant monitoring is relevant and differentiating. It is not easy to memorize all the information a client provides us in detail, but it is that ability that makes a difference, especially when working at a distance. Since all the information is registered in the CRM, it is easy to remember the history of the relationship, how the contact happened, and what steps have already been taken, besides the relevant customer data, such as their birthday or preferences. The business side is essential, but the human side is just as important—the information in the CRM allows you to surprise the customer (on their birthday, for example!) and promote the longevity of the relationship. The company-client relationship may or may not be the factor that makes a client recommend the service your company offers.
  • Creation and optimization of campaigns: As far as marketing and communication are concerned, CRM is also a valuable tool since it allows you to outline the profile of a standard client and target audience to consider. If CRM-registered clients are mostly in the healthcare area, for example, a campaign directed toward a group with the same characteristics will be profitable. Thanks to CRM, it is possible to launch campaigns according to certain filters and features. An email with a discount on Father's Day, a workshop inserted in the client's activity area, or a novelty appropriate to the project that the client directs are examples of segmented campaigns that become easier to apply when the data is stored in the CRM system. You can filter the data with just a few clicks.
  • Increased team productivity: Have you thought about how much time you spend looking for emails, notes, or files? If every time there is a meeting, it takes longer to find the information than to prepare the meeting itself, you should know that the CRM system solves this issue. By updating the customer's file whenever there is a new action, you eliminate the time you would lose looking for that information, and you increase the profitability of the team.
  • Increased billing: It is said that "80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the first meeting", which means that follow-up is very important and, with or without CRM, is something that should be implemented in any company. However, it is also important to note that "44% of salespeople give up after the first follow-up"—it is easy to do the math and get an idea of the number of deals that are lost, right? A systematic and efficient follow-up is essential, and CRM helps in this task by providing reminders and even templates and automation for this process. Are you losing money because you do not have a CRM system? You probably are.
  • Strategic analysis: CRM provides an overview of actions and results, and this allows us to analyze each of these issues in an in-depth and comparative way. Is the morning the best time to contact the customer, or is it in the early afternoon? Which email has been working best, and which should be used? These are the decisions, as well as many others, that will be more easily made once a CRM system is implemented. The strategic analysis provided by CRM data makes it possible to identify obstacles and implement actions to eliminate them (without wasting hour after hour wading through reports and documents; a CRM system provides a simple report with all the information).
  • Upselling and cross-selling support: The use of CRM aims to increase billing and business development, and this does not only concern the acquisition and conquest of new customers. In fact, a customer management system is excellent for cross-selling and upselling. By reminding the employee to contact the customer again, months later (to present a service that only makes sense at a later stage, for example), you can boost the relationship between the two (showing the customer that they are not forgotten), and also increase the number of products/services sold in different stages.
  • Integration with social networks and e-commerce: Being in tune with the customer is important, and CRM offers support for this issue. Thanks to the CRM system, you can create personalized audiences and prepare campaigns on social networks, guiding the appropriate audience toward e-commerce and boosting sales. The integration of social networks, e-commerce, and CRM is an important asset insofar as content segmentation and remaining offers (services and products) are concerned since all that information is presented coherently to people who are more likely to be interested in what your company has to offer.

One of the most significant advantages of digital marketing, as you should know by now, is the possibility to measure everything and to pinpoint whether it's working or not, how you spend your money, and what kind of return on it you are getting. It's not the end of that famous marketing quote, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half", but it's close.


Measuring your digital marketing success

Management thinker Peter F. Drucker is often quoted as saying: "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." Digital marketing is no different!

A KPI is a measurable value that shows how efficiently a business achieves key business/marketing goals. KPIs can be used at multiple levels to assess success; some should be channel-specific, and others should relate to your overall business goals. It's important to follow metrics that allow you to measure your digital marketing success and create continuous improvement opportunities. For this purpose, you should always measure all your customers' journeys through your marketing funnel stages: Awareness > Consideration > Conversion > Retention > Referral. The marketing funnel identifies the key milestones in a consumer's journey to become a loyal client. You should be "helping" your prospects, leads, and customers to move from one stage to another. Let's look at these stages in more detail, as follows:

  • Awareness: At this stage, you're marketing to a broader universe of potential customers to raise their awareness of your business and its products or services.
  • Consideration: At the consideration stage, consumers interested in your business and its offerings decide whether or not to buy. They may express interest in signing up to your email list or requesting a white paper. These consumers are classified as leads.
  • Conversion: When your customers get to the conversion stage, that means they feel safe about your business and brand, and they're acquiring your products or services.
  • Loyalty: At this stage, it's time to increase your retention rate and develop your customers' loyalty. You don't want to waste your prior efforts, so you must not forget your customer. Here, you have the opportunity to transform your one-time buyer into a loyal customer that will always think of your brand when they need products or services such as the ones you sell.
  • Advocacy: Your marketing should have this final stage as its goal right from the beginning—if you earn it, you no longer have only customers or clients but real fans who recommend your brand to their friends, family, and followers because they genuinely believe in the quality of your products and services. To reach this stage is to accomplish one of your most important goals: to have the rest of the world know and share how good your brand is.

All performance indicators must be clear, specific, and objective so that there's no room for two different interpretations. Only with a set of relevant KPIs is it possible to analyze the true state of the business, achieve goals, and implement strategies and actions that make a difference in its growth. Don't forget that each business should have a set of adapted and suitable KPIs because every company is different.

These are very common KPIs for an online business:

  • Number of visits. This is the first indicator that should be taken into account, mostly because without visits it's guaranteed that there are no orders. How many visits did you have last month? How about last week? And how many visitors did you have 2 weeks ago and 2 months ago? Is the number of visitors increasing, or has there been a breakdown in that number? In order for you to evaluate what does and doesn't work at the online store, you need to know how many people visit it in the first place.
  • Number of orders. The number of orders is an essential indicator that can be deepened and divided into a set of more specific indicators (number of orders paid, number of orders placed in the mobile version of the store, number of orders paid by credit card, and so on.) With this information, it's possible to analyze the billing for a certain period of time, as well as the number of orders.
  • Conversion rate (number of orders paid / number of visits x 100). The conversion rate shows what percentage of visits actually contributes to the growth of the business. Of 100 people, how many are actually customers? If the conversion rate is 4%, for example, it means that in a group of 100 people, 4 placed an order and made a purchase. These values should be analyzed frequently so that you can have a clear notion of the impact of the implemented modifications.
  • Cost of customer acquisition (investment carried out / number of new customers). Different strategies can be chosen to captivate new customers and make the brand known to new people. However, it's important to know whether the amount invested is having the necessary return in terms of achieving the goal. The cost of customer acquisition evaluates the amount invested in the actions performed to convert a person outside the brand into a customer. With the help of this indicator, it's possible to make comparisons between the different strategies and actions implemented and find out which one works best in this aspect.
  • Number of views on product pages. Which product pages do customers visit the most? Do they match the best-selling products, or do they match product pages that have never received orders? Knowing this value, as well as the quantity of that same product that was sold, allows you to analyze the conversion rate of each page, and understand whether or not it's being visited by the most suitable customers—those who look exactly for the displayed product.
  • Average ticket (billing value / number of orders). This KPI evaluates the average amount spent by customers. It's simple math: just divide the amount invoiced in a certain period of time by the number of orders placed in the same period. Knowing this amount, it will be easier to put into practice some actions to encourage customers to increase the amount spent on each order.
  • Number of new customers and number of repeat customers. Are orders always placed by new customers? Is there something in the product and/or service that makes people lose interest in buying? Or, are we talking about a product with a fairly extended average life, and therefore the fact that there are no repeat customers is a good sign? If at some point orders are made only by customers who have already bought at least once, it means that you're not able to attract new customers. This is valuable data that will have an impact on the communication and marketing strategy.
  • Abandoned carts rate (number of unfinished orders / total number of orders x 100). An abandoned cart is an order that was left incomplete. For some reason, after adding the product to the cart, the customer decided that they would no longer finish the purchase. Several studies indicate that only 20-25 % of orders are finished, so it's normal that this rate is around 75-80 %. However, some techniques can be put into practice to counteract these values—it's possible to lower the rate of abandoned carts.
  • Number of visits through different channels. How do customers get to the store? Through sponsored posts on social networks? Through references in the media? Or, is it through the brand's newsletters, or do they simply search the name of the store in a search engine and choose the first result? By knowing the channels that bring more customers to e-commerce, it will be easier to understand where the audience is, and, of course, act accordingly to capture new customers and retain existing ones.
  • Net profit (total invoicing – total costs). This is a clear indicator of the success of a business—there's no point in selling too many products if the invoiced amount is not enough to sustain the brand; in addition to having to cover all the costs of the company, the business has to make a profit. After withdrawing the value of all costs (production, wages, domain, accommodation, water, electricity, internet, shipping...) to the invoiced amount, what is the profit? This is the value that defines whether the online store is billing enough to be sustainable in the long term.

Measuring website performance through web analytics

One of the most common ways to measure and report on your KPIs is through analytics.

Web analytics is all about monitoring and reporting on user data, behavior, and marketing campaign performance over time. With it, you can improve the website and its online experience, better understand your users, make decisions based on data rather than sensitivity, experiment with and measure new ideas, produce reports and recommendations, improve conversions and sales, and analyze and forecast trends.

On your web analytics solution, you should be able to generate reports on the following categories:

User data and behavior

  • Geographic data
  • Demographic data
  • Behavioral data
  • Psychographic data
  • Technology used

Marketing data

  • Channels' performance
  • Campaigns' metrics
  • Conversion metrics
  • E-commerce data
  • Benchmarking data

Website-related data

  • Speed and performance
  • SEO

The process of installation of a web analytics solution is very simple. It usually consists of putting a piece of JavaScript code into all pages of your website.

Data > Reports > Analysis > Decisions > Actions > Value

When you take the data and do a report, you are converting data into information, but when you take all your data and reports and analyze them, your goal is to transform that information into knowledge that you can use to improve your business. You should be measuring your acquisition strategy, your website interactions, your conversion process, and—finally—your visitor value.

Now that you know which digital marketing tactics you have at your disposal and how to measure the success of your digital marketing, we move on to understanding how we can plan our strategy, keeping these tactics in mind.


Digital marketing strategy

A strategy must address the issues of who you are, what you offer and to whom, as well as why and how you do so. The steps detailed next address what the marketer should be aware of when designing and implementing a marketing plan that will meet its marketing goals and solve its challenges.

Defining the objectives

First, it is essential to define what you want to achieve: what the main objectives of the marketing campaign are.

What you want to conquer should also be defined: new clients, a higher level of loyalty from existing customers, encouraging existing customers to devote more time and money to the brand, and so on. The different possible goals are endless, but it is indispensable that you define yours.

It is also important that these goals are achievable—being creative is being productive—but it should also be taken into account that not all ideas can be effectively implemented. Thus, goals should be adjusted to the available resources.

Defining the target audience

No matter what business or sector you're in or how you operate, it is necessary to define the target audience to which the marketing campaign is aimed.

In this sense, it becomes essential to know your product's possible consumers/users, that you define them as your target, and that you conduct research around their needs, even defining the key capabilities of what you are promoting and how they will arouse consumers' interest.

Assessing the competition

Reviewing the market's key competitors helps put into perspective the condition in which your company/brand/product stands out, enhancing the factor that makes it unique and idealizing the value of your proposal.

Understand the main rivals in the market in which you operate (how many of them there are and what they have to offer; what needs they satisfy that you don't; what the needs that your product satisfies or can't satisfy are) in order to differentiate yourself from the competition—all of this is important to the success of a good marketing campaign. It is always valuable to know what your competitors are doing right now, where they are evolving, and why.

This is the best time to perform a SWOT analysis, which includes the following four essential aspects:

  • Strengths: What your company does well; what value it adds when compared to its competitors
  • Weaknesses: The company/brand/product's weaknesses; what it should improve upon
  • Opportunities: Conditions outside the company that benefit its market performance
  • Threats: Conditions outside the company that impair its market performance

Defining tactics and media

The possibilities are numerous: social media, search advertising, email, TV, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, online advertising, and so on—you can even choose to let the message be spread by word of mouth, among many other media outlets.

Now, the important thing is to decide which ones fit your message, the image of your company, and the product you want to promote. The choice may seem complicated, but with all the planning steps listed previously, the choice becomes easier because you already know what the campaign's goals are, whose attention you want to grab with it, and what their preferences are, as well as the fact that you already know the competitive market in which the campaign will be inserted and what is already being done by competitors, in addition to also having a plan for campaign spending and what the desired financial return is.

Don't forget to set the KPIs per tactic, with an eye on the overall objectives.

Developing an effective message

The message must be appropriate for the selected target audience—each type of audience has different tastes, different preferences, habits that individualize them as a group, and needs that must be met according to their experiences. So, it is important to give emphasis to this content as a whole when choosing a message to communicate.

The great idea, the main point around which revolves the entire marketing campaign, should be defined based on its core strengths—that point where the product stands out more and for which it wants to be recognized.

Once the idea has been decided, you need to create a tangible campaign whereby it is necessary to communicate in a clear and appealing way: choose the right words and pictures, because the mind often needs only 3 seconds to show interest in the campaign and pay attention, or else simply forget it and turn its attention to something else.

Together, words and images should lead to an action by the consumer: therein lies the effectiveness or failure of a marketing campaign.

Be clear on the value you offer to them. People buy outcomes, not services or products.

Reviewing the budget

It is equally important to have an understanding of the consumers' and the target audience's purchasing power and, if possible, a quantification of the consumption/use of the product that will be promoted. It would also be ideal to provide an estimate of the return that will be reached with the marketing campaign.

To ensure a successful marketing campaign, it is crucial that the company's profit is higher than what was spent on the campaign itself, just as it is also essential that the campaign is realistic and that the company's budget can cover the cost of the marketing campaign that is being planned.

Evaluating the campaign's results

It is necessary to perform a measurement of the campaign's effectiveness, and those quantifiers will depend on the media used. For example, if discount coupons were distributed, you can count exactly how many were actually used; assess whether profit increased or decreased since the beginning of the campaign; and perform surveys, among others.

The important thing is to choose a method that correctly evaluates (as close to reality as possible) the results of the campaign. It is also crucial to monitor the campaign from the outset in order to correct or improve aspects along the way, thus enabling the realization of the predetermined goal.

After reviewing all these points, it can be easily concluded that the need for campaign planning is crucial for its execution—they are like two sides of the same coin. In fact, you cannot have a successful campaign without the research, knowledge, organization, and planning of all aspects concerning the company's internal environment, the external image it intends to portray, and the external environment itself (customers, competitors, financial market aspects, and so on).

Customer behaviors change over time, and their needs and desires related to the brand evolve as their relationship grows. Don't forget to revisit your strategy and adapt to the changes that happened in the meantime.



In this chapter, you learned that many digital marketing tools and tactics are available to you, but each tactic has its strengths and weaknesses. You can't do them all; no one has unlimited resources! Your marketing plan should have the right mix of digital marketing tactics. First, you need to find out exactly what your business challenge or objective is. After that, you can decide on the best strategy to follow that you believe will get you there. Only then will you determine the amount of energy to allocate to each tactic.

In the next chapter, you will see how we can put all this together and build a digital marketing plan for a Drupal agency and an e-commerce store. You will learn how to set the objectives, define a strategy, and choose the right mix of digital marketing tactics.

About the Author
  • José Fernandes

    José Fernandes is the founder and CEO of Bloomidea, a Digital Marketing Agency. They've been making digital businesses grow since 2006. His work has received multiple awards and has helped his clients achieve remarkable success. For well over a decade, they've been creating amazing digital experiences with Drupal. He has also been a member of the Drupal community for over 15 years, developing modules, providing assistance, and taking part in various community-related activities.

    Browse publications by this author
Digital Marketing with Drupal
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