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Digital Advertising 101

Digital advertising can be overwhelming.

Digital advertising can be confusing.

Digital is different.

It doesn’t have to be hard.

Let’s cut through the jargon and break it down.


Understanding digital differences

Digital is different than traditional advertising (e.g., newspaper ads, radio ads, direct mail, and billboards) because you can more easily target specific audiences and track what is working and what’s not. To know if your digital campaign is performing well, you must monitor engagement and conversions. A digital ad with 100,000 impressions (i.e., views) sounds impressive, but who saw that ad, and what action did they take after seeing it? If you sell pet food, but the people who saw your ads aren’t pet owners, it wasn’t a very effective campaign. Serving your ads to those who fit your target audience improves the likelihood of conversion. And conversions are key.


What’s a conversion? It’s an action you want a customer to take on your website—it could be registering for an event, making a purchase, requesting an appointment, or submitting a contact form. Are your ads driving people to your website? And are people doing what you want them to do once they get there? If the answer is yes, you’re running a successful campaign. If the answer is no, digital ad platforms allow you to tweak the message or targeting to improve performance—something you can’t do in print or on a billboard easily or without a much higher cost.


Selecting the right tools

With so many digital advertising options, how do you know which is best for your business? The truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all. Choosing the right mix of digital tools requires an understanding of your customers (and potential customers), as well as a strategy for getting them to take action. But there are some basic (and more affordable) options almost any business can use to get started.

Organic social media

Does your business have a Facebook page? A Twitter account? What about LinkedIn and Instagram? You can reach a lot of potential customers and keep your current customers engaged on social media. Organic social media is any unpaid content you post on your social accounts. These free posts can pay dividends—if you’re using them right. A dedicated social media manager who posts regularly can help increase engagement, clicks, and followers.

Paid social media

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube all offer paid advertising. You’ve seen it before—a video or photo in your social feed with the words “Sponsored” or “Promoted.” These types of posts are targeted to a specific audience and reach people beyond your page followers. You target specific locations (e.g., a city or a state), demographics (e.g., adults or teenagers), even interests (e.g., outdoor enthusiasts or movie buffs). Because paid ads reach people outside of your current followers, they can increase followers, raise brand awareness, and drive traffic to your website.

Email marketing

Perhaps the oldest digital tool in the box—email. With email marketing, you create and send customized email messages to your customers. You can create customized lists based on data you already have (e.g., rewards members or subscribers) and send messages tailored to them. Email marketing is a great way to inform your customers about new services, sales, accomplishments, events, and more.

Digital display

You’ve seen these before. That digital ad on the side of your favorite website or smack dab in the middle of the news article you’re reading. Display ads are great for raising brand awareness. You can reach a specific type of audience by placing the ads on sites they are already visiting. For example, if you sell fishing equipment, your ads are likely to appear on fishing-related websites. Unlike search campaigns, digital display targets people who usually are not as far along in the sales funnel. Space is limited and attention spans are short—you need sharp copy and eye-catching graphics or animation to make your ad stand out.


Have you ever visited a website and later come across an ad for the same company on your Facebook feed? That’s retargeting. Retargeting or remarketing is serving ads to those who have previously interacted with your website—you can generally retarget on social media and other websites using display advertising. Retargeting is a great way to keep your brand top of mind and remind potential customers about your products and services.


You drove through the lot at your local car dealership to check out the new rides, and now your Facebook feed is flooded with ads promoting low financing and the latest models of SUVs. How did they know? It’s called geofencing. A geofence is a virtual fence around a specific location (e.g., a store, office building, seminar, or conference). Using mobile data, you can target your advertising to people who’ve been within that fence (even as far back as a year!).


Choosing a partner in digital

Many digital advertising tools offer self-service. And there are a lot of companies that can put these tools in your hands. But knowing how to target your audience, track conversions, and make adjustments makes for a successful campaign. Strateligent is a full-stack digital agency—not only do we know how to use digital platforms, but we also know which to use and when to use them based on a custom communication plan. We’re also data-driven. Strateligent offers full transparency, results analysis, and recommendations. If something isn’t working, we’ll tell you. If something is working great, we’ll let you know. If something could work better, we’ll recommend how to get there—adjusting the budget or tweaking the creative along the way. Some say that we take the smoke and mirrors out of digital advertising—it’s how we get results that matter.