WTF is digital marketing, anyways?

If you’re going to sell anything online, you have to know how to harness digital marketing tools to draw interest and maximize your growth. Whether you’ve started your own Shopify store or you’re the CMO of a Fortune 500 company, you need to know what drives e-commerce and accelerates any success.

Peter Reitano is the Lead Instructor for our 4-week Intro to Digital Marketing course. Co-founder and CEO of Abacus.Agency, he’s worked with some of the world’s largest blue-chip brands over the past ten years. We asked Peter about who should care about digital marketing and how it’s changed the very definition of marketer from ‘artist’ to ‘analyst’ in many contexts.

[Q] Who should care about digital marketing? Why should it be on everyone’s radar?

[Peter] For many businesses, “digital marketing” is now simply “marketing”. It’s never been simpler to successfully market a product or service. You can earn real revenue from small spends with focused digital marketing tactics. It’s easy to track where your spend goes and what revenue it creates, so it naturally lends itself to be carefully analyzed.

You can see where your spend is working and refine your spend accordingly. Small-scale entrepreneurs selling products or services online have a tremendous opportunity to easily increase spending on their successful strategies as their business grows.

Managers for larger companies need to be up-to-date and equally flexible. You may have risen through the ranks of marketing departments with good taste and cunning strategies, but now you need to be into data too. With the immediacy and ease of scaling digital spends, you can let the results determine which of your ideas is best.

Intro to Digital Marketing

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You’ve worked with clients as their marketer, so obviously there’s the option for businesses to outsource this function. What's the advantage to learning this stuff personally?

In some respects, the answer to this question depends upon your product, as well as how you value your time. Whether you keep marketing in-house or work with an agency, you have to have some level of grounding in the topic to execute or evaluate your spend. Otherwise, you can be taken advantage of.

Starting out, you need to familiarize yourself with the vast array of tactics and platforms. From there, you narrow down to those that are most relevant to you, so you can effectively hone in on the best approaches. Dive deep on one.

So, I’ve got $50 to spend and I want to start growing. What do I need to know before diving in?

First you need to pick your platform. Focus on networks that add value to your brand’s message – you’ll find greater success. The right platform for your campaign depends upon your product, the target audience of your product, and your marketing goals. You need to know how people operate online and why different areas of purchasing have moved over to the explicitly digital avenues.

Each platform varies in its purpose. For example, Facebook is largely intended for building relationships or Pinterest is for digital scrapbooking. Each will lend itself to specific advertising approaches, appropriate to the audience and how close they are to a buying decision.

To continue the social marketing example, you’ll need to isolate who your target audience is and start segmenting potential target demographics. From here you can consider which creative tactics will best influence your target audience’s buying decisions. Make a small investment at the beginning with more than one approach.

If you see a strong response to a tactic – or what is often called a “sign of life” – then follow it up with more spend.

Does this approach apply to all sizes of companies? I’d imagine a Telus has more to spend than my $50.

A “small investment” means different things to different companies. Your Shopify store’s test might be $50, but Telus’ could be $5000. The idea here is that digital marketers don’t just come up with one perfect creative idea they roll out across the country on the same day – as you would do with a billboard campaign. Instead, they come up with a bunch of ideas and test before growing their spend.

When you’re looking to grow, it’s all about working out where you can find leverage points. Once you’ve tested out your best ideas, you can determine how much of your time and budget should be allocated to them. This is the basis of my teaching approach in Bitmaker's Intro to Digital Marketing class.


Learn how to efficiently set up, measure, optimize, and grow your digital marketing efforts with us! Our next Intro to Digital Marketing part-time course kicks off May 24th. Over 4 sessions, Peter will guide you through the overall landscape and the process of creating a successful campaign – with hands-on opportunities at every step.