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7 Essential Digital Marketing Guides for Beginners

Are you intimidated by digital marketing? Do you not know where to start? These seven online marketing beginner’s guides will help get you up to speed. 

One in ten small businesses don’t invest in any kind of digital marketing, according to a Blue Corona study from last year. Do you fall into that category? Chances are, you don’t. More likely, you’re one of the 71% of small business owners who do their own digital marketing. Even if you’re giving it a good shot, you may not be seeing the results you want-- after all, digital marketing is complex, multifaceted, and sometimes overwhelming. 

Even if you’re a business owner doing all of your own marketing, you can still get some solid results. Every hour you spend learning the fundamentals of digital marketing will help you get more leads and more conversions-- but you have to learn the right way. 

That’s why we’ve curated these seven digital marketing guides for beginners. They’re all actionably, easy-to-read, full of good information, and up-to-date with the latest industry trends and necessary skills. 

There are more than seven essential digital marketing disciplines, but these are the fundamentals for the marketing avenues that will increase your bottom line. 

1. Blogging

Constant Contact is best known as an email marketing platform, but the team behind the software knows a thing or two about good content. After all, many marketers use their email lists to promote their blogs, and skillfully use their blogs to convert readers into customers. 

In this PDF guide called “A Beginner’s Guide to Small Business Blogging,” the content team at Constant Contact covers a wide spectrum of blogging basics. It’s a quick read, but it’s also in-depth, actionable, and informative. If you’ve ever wondered why you should even bother with blogging, this guide will convince you within the first five pages. 

This guide contains:

  • Why You Should Start a Blog for Your Small Business
  • How to Create Great Content (Even if You Think You’re a Horrible Writer)
  • 8 Things You’ll Want to Consider When Starting a Blog for Your Business
  • Where You Should Promote Your Blog to Get More Readers
  • Simple Strategies for Creating Content Your Audience Will Love to Read

Clocking in at only 14 pages, this guide covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time. If you need a crash course in small business blogging, this guide is one of the best resources you’ll find anywhere. 

Read:A Beginner’s Guide to Small Business Blogging

2. Content Marketing 

Publications such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine all sing marketer and entrepreneur Neil Patel’s praises. And there’s no wonder why-- if there’s a marketing topic, he’s written about it extensively. In fact, when it comes to content, no one else on the web has Neil Patel beat. If you have a question about marketing, he can answer it with a piece of long-form content. 

That’s why we chose his piece called “The Beginner’s Guide To Content Marketing” to feature in this article. If anyone knows content marketing, it’s Neil Patel. He’s proven his mastery over the form time and again. 

Content marketing is the art of creating, publishing, and distributing content for your specific targeted audience. By educating and informing your audience, you establish trust and prove yourself as a thought leader in your industry. As people begin to trust you and use your content more and more, they start buying from you.

This guide’s table of contents:

  • The fatal flaws of traditional advertising
  • An in-depth introduction to content marketing
  • The advantages that content marketing provides over traditional advertising
  • Tips on the best practices that will make your content marketing more effective

Content marketing takes time and effort, but it can really pay off if you know what you’re doing. So, if you think content marketing is right for you, why waste your time starting anywhere else? Neil Patel has you covered. 

Read:The Beginner’s Guide To Content Marketing

3. Inbound Marketing 

Here’s HubSpot’s definition of inbound marketing:

Inbound marketing is about creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business. How do you do that? You attract prospects and customers to your website and blog through relevant and helpful content. Once they arrive, you engage with them using conversational tools like email and chat and by promising continued value. And finally, you delight them by continuing to act as an empathetic advisor and expert.

Unlike outbound marketing, with inbound marketing, you don’t need to fight for your potential customers’ attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, you attract qualified prospects and build trust and credibility for your business.

HubSpot should know because they popularized inbound marketing on the web. They didn’t just write the book on it-- they wrote several books on it. 

Much like content marketing (which inbound marketing makes ample use of), inbound marketing focuses on educating and informing your target audience. Inbound marketing eschews aggressive, outbound tactics in favor of giving your prospective customers what they want in the exact places where they want it. It encompasses several different lead-capture methods and, with laser-focused targeting, is one of the most effect digital marketing disciplines. 

HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Course includes:

  • Inbound Marketing Fundamentals
  • Planning a Long-Term Content Strategy
  • Creating a Blog Post
  • Creating Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages
  • Understanding Social Media Promotion
  • Developing a Conversational Growth Strategy
  • Understanding Conversions
  • Creating a Conversion Optimization Strategy
  • Understanding Lead Nurturing
  • Aligning Your Marketing With Sales
  • Applying a Customer Marketing Approach

This course covers a wide variety of topics, so it will take you some time to complete. But, after you’re finished, you may just think about digital marketing in an entirely different way. 

Take: Free Inbound Marketing Course

4. SEO

SEO isn’t just an essential marketing channel-- it’s an essential building block of every website. Search engine optimization refers to the many different ways you can help search engines understand your website. The desired end result is higher rankings in the search engine results, but there are other benefits, too. 

So who better to teach you about SEO than Moz? Moz makes a variety of useful SEO software, and its Domain Authority metric is widely used by marketers and analysts all over the world. Moz has been around since 2004, and has steadily been releasing software since 2008, so they know a thing or two about SEO. 

They also know that SEO is always changing, so they’re currently rewriting their “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” series from a more modern perspective. 

So far, the series includes:

  • SEO 101
  • Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking
  • Keyword Research
  • On-Page Optimization
  • Technical Optimization
  • Link Building & Establishing Authority

Every chapter goes into incredible depth, but they’re also approachable and easy to read. SEO is complicated, but Moz’s Britney Muller makes it all digestible for a beginner. 

Read:Rewriting the Beginner's Guide to SEO

5. Email Marketing 

When it comes to communicating directly with current and potential customers in a versatile manner, few disciplines have the staying power of email marketing. After all, an email can include just about anything-- a letter from the CEO, compelling photos, customer testimonials, product spotlights, coupons, links to your website, and much more. And, best of all, you can include all of it in one place. 

Email marketing doesn’t suffer from the short life cycle, increasingly small organic reach, and necessary brevity of social media marketing. It can complement social media nicely, and it can work effectively alongside every other marketing channel you employ. 

The folks over at OptinMonster put together a great guide that includes the following:

  • Why Email Marketing?
  • Getting Started
  • Growing Your Email List
  • Email List Segmentation
  • Email Open Rates
  • Email Automation
  • Frequently Asked Questions

This guide will help you choose email marketing software, help you build your lists, help you target your emails campaigns, and ultimately find success. 

Read: “Email Marketing Made Simple: A Step by Step Guide

6. Social Media Marketing 

Social media is a constantly-changing landscape, and it sometimes feels like it’s hard to keep up. No matter what sort of changes Facebook institutes, or which new trendy social media app pops up, social media is still a great way to engage both current and potential customers. With social media, you can engage with your audience in real time-- something no other platform offers in the same way. 

If you’re worried that social media is a waste of time, the folks at BuildFire will set your mind at ease. 

Their straightforward guide to social media for business includes:

  • Why Social Media?
  • What is Social Media Marketing?
  • Know Your Numbers: Collect User Data
  • Prove Your Expertise so People Can Follow You
  • Listen And Share (i.e., Social Listening)
  • Create a workable daily plan for social sharing
  • Leverage Social Media Advertising to Drive Results
  • Develop A Good Social Media Strategy
  • Organize Your Social Channels

After you read this guide, social media will look like less of a time sink and more of a good opportunity. 

Read: 7 Step Beginner’s Guide To Effective Social Media for Small Business

7. PPC (Google Ads)

PPC, or Pay Per Click, advertising is a quick and effective way to score leads for your business. For small businesses with limited time and a limited budget, Google Ads can drive stellar results. 

The thing is, though, that it’s easy to waste money on PPC advertising if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

You can take a course on Google Ads from Google itself, but we recommend starting with Hootsuite’s AdEspresso guide to Google Ads before you head over to Google’s own materials. 

The guide includes:

  • Top Reasons To Advertise on Google Ads
  • How Does Google Ads Work?
  • How To Setup Your Google Ads Account
  • How To Do Keyword Research To Start Your First Campaign
  • How To Setup Your First Ad Group and Write New Ads
  • How To Setup Landing Pages That Convert
  • Google Ads Bidding Optimization: What Method is Best?
  • How To Create Custom Audiences in Google Ads
  • How to Track Calls on Google Ads
  • Google Ads Reporting: What Metrics and Reports To Focus on
  • Google Ads Account Maintenance: How to Reduce Costs and Improve Performance Over Time

With this guide under your belt, you can confidently head over to Google’s own study material, ace every test that comes your way, and roll out an effective Google Ads campaign. 

Read: Google Ads: The Ultimate Guide

Learn Digital Marketing 

Whether you’re the only digital marketer for your business or if you have a team at your back, you need to know the fundamentals of digital marketing. After all, the greatest website in the world is completely useless if no one knows about it. 

These beginner’s guides should help you build both skills and confidence and, after you spend some time learning, every digital marketing effort you undertake will become more successful than the last. 

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