A Beginner’s Textbook for Digital Marketing

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There is no better time to get into digital marketing.

The revolutions of social media and mobile have ensured that all is up for grabs for building tomorrow’s brands today. Armed with curiosity, a great experience to market and the analytics to test assumptions, today’s digital marketers are upending massive markets.

Simply look at Uber for transportation or AirBnB for lodging. Companies built with a user at the center and technology supporting remarkable experiences.

Digital Marketing Fundamentals

However, entering this field is daunting.

A solid understanding of the basic digital marketing fundamentals prepares the beginner to better understand and evaluate tactics for effectively driving traffic and converting casual users to passionate advocates online.

A Beginners Guide to Digital Marketing was written with this in mind.

The book has been heavily influenced by the ideas of Design Thinking and mixed with the day to day challenges of being in the trenches for building online brands for B2B and B2C global companies. It strives to strike a balance between grounded theory and practical hands-on experience.

In addition, world-class experts from companies like R/GA, Design Within Reach, IDEO, Google, Facebook and MailChimp have generously offered up suggestions to tie real-world considerations to the marketing theories presented.

Let’s get started!

1 Foundations of Digital World

This section starts with a brief history of advertising, rise of mass media, and how marketing has changed in the digital age. Next, we’ll cover the core theories of the online world like Metcalfe’s Law, Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations, Adoption Curves, Dunbar’s number, and Moore’s Law.

Lot’s of theory here but it provides a great foundation for why Facebook grew so fast. Why new ideas are hard to get massive adoption and how to plan for introducing new technology online.

Goal: Understand how marketing has changed and the fundamental laws that help shape the online world.

Chapter 1: The Rise of Mass Media and Changing Marketing Mindset

  1. Before Microsoft there was RCA: Radio and Rise of Mass Media
  2. Staring at a plywood box: Rise of Television as a Marketing Medium
  3. Why Consumers Endure Advertising: Chapter Summary
Optional Handout: Rethinking Marketing from Harvard Business School (free registration required).

Chapter 2: Laws of the Online Universe

  1. The real social network: Social Network Theory and Metcalfe’s Law
  2. Early growth is hard: Facebook and Metcalfe’s Law Explained
  3. The only constant is change: Moore’s Law and Technology Growth
  4. Craig’s List: Tying Moore and Metcalfe’s Laws Together

Chapter 3: Becoming Popular is Hard

  1. How we evaluate new change: Diffusion of Innovations
  2. Not Everyone Can Be First: How Innovations Get Adopted
  3. Apple knows we’re lazy and stupid: Factors that Influence Adoption Rates
  4. What this all means:  Mashing Up Social Network Theories and Adoption Curves

Chapter 4: Nobody Cares About You, Until You Screw Up (and what to do about it)

  1. The true currency online: Earning Attention
  2. It’s the experience, stupid: Gratitude
  3. Dell Hell: What Happens When Companies Don’t Listen

2 Research Fundamentals for Online Marketing

Here we get into the fun work of truly understanding your target market beyond traditional demographic and psychographic profiles. Tools like user personas and keyword analysis will help cement the concepts of search, user experience, network effects, and the importance of optimized content.

Goal: Learn how to empathize with your ideal user’s online habits.

Chapter 5: Getting to Know Your Customer

  1. How to think like your customer: The case for Design Thinking in digital
  2. A name and a face: An example User Persona
  3. Digging for dirt: Doing Secondary Market Research

Chapter 6: Delighting Your Customer

  1. Who Are These People? Using User Persona
  2. Earning Their Attention: Content and Search
  3. Branding and Price: The Slippery Slope in the Digital Age
  4. Are Marketers Liars? Delightful Experiences. Who We Trust and Why

 Chapter 7: Engaging With Your Customer

  1. Any Way You Slice It: A Third Way to Segment Customers
  2. Which One Are You? Social Media Users
  3. But Will They Care? Researching Social Media Engagement

Chapter 8: Introduction to Search

  1. How do they know? History of Web and Search Engines
  2. Webs, Spiders Oh My! How Search Engines Work
  3. Black magic: How Google Ranks Pages

Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Chapter 9: The Long Tail

  1. A tail of what? What the Long Tail is
  2. Why it exists: The 3 Forces of the Long Tail
  3. Really, there’s an audience? The Long Tail and Search Strategy

Chapter 10: Keyword Research

  1. Being in the Top 3: What Are the Search Engine Results Pages? (SERPs)
  2. Whiteboard + Post It notes: 10 Steps to Better Keyword Brainstorms
  3. You Autocomplete Me: Brand First Impressions on the SERPs
  4. The Writhing Long Tail: How to do Keyword Research

Chapter 11: Competitive Research

  1. The Rise and Fall of Keywords: Using Google Trends for SEO
  2. Keeping Up with the Joneses: Researching Competitors’ Traffic and Social Media Engagement
  3. Overwhelming Noise: A Framework for Online Marketing Research

3 Digital Strategy

Once we know our ideal user’s habits we’ll set about understanding how to reach them using the web. Topics include paid search advertising, social media, defining online metrics for success, public relations, mobile, design, and building engaged online communities around a brand or cause.

Goal: Using your new research skills, form a strategy for building an effective brand online.

Chapter 12: Strategy and Trust

  1. Fairy dust and the Customer Experience Ecosystem
  2. Ready. Aim. Fire – Why Research Should Guide Strategy
  3. Building Trust Online: What Makes a Website Credible

Chapter 13: Tying Profitability to Marketing Objectives

  1. Profitability not sales: A Definition for this Key Metric
  2. Knowing Your Costs: Acquisition vs. Retention – a simple example
  3. Customer Experience: Tying Digital Marketing Strategy to Business Growth

Chapter 14: How to Set a Strategy

  1. Earning Your Salary: Marketers as Drivers for Customer Insights
  2. Shiny Objects: How to Evaluate Social Media and Digital Marketing Tools
  3. Things Are Slipping: Example of When Strategy is Misaligned
  4. Setting POSTs: Getting Our Shoe Company Back On Track

Chapter 15: Strategy Summary

  1. Be SMART: Tips on a Smart Digital Strategy
  2. Example: B2B Web Service Company
  3. KP what? What are Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)

Zero Moment of Truth

4 Executing Online and Social Media Campaigns

Chapter 16: Getting Started with Execution

  1. Where we’ve been: Preparation for Successful Execution
  2. Virtual Architecture: How to Build a Sitemap
  3. Sketchy design: How to do Website Wireframes

Chapter 17: Managing Technology Builds

  1. How Blogs Help: Why Blogging Matters for Websites
  2. Mock It Before You Build It: How To Build Prototypes
  3. Shipping Is Hard: Tips on How to Launch

Chapter 18: Are Websites Still Relevant?

  1. Isn’t there an app for that? Native vs. Responsive Design
  2. Nobody Likes You on Facebook and Means it: Why Websites Still Matter

Chapter 19: Executing Online Campaigns

  1. The Myth of Growth: Introduction to Owned, Earned, and Paid Media
  2. Own it: It’s Better To Own than Rent
  3. Earning Your Keep: Why Earned Is So Powerful
  4. It’s Expensive to Fail: Why Paid Should Come Last

Chapter 20: Ongoing Engagement

  1. Quality and Quantity: How to Think About Website Traffic
  2. Planting Seeds: Ways to Think About Nurturing Website Visitors
  3. Post Conversion: Nurturing Website Visitors

5 Measurement and Online Analytics

The biggest opportunity for digital marketers is to effectively measure their work. We’ll cover how traditional metrics like CPM’s transfer to the online world and look into free reporting tools like Google Analytics and HootSuite for measuring the effectiveness of online campaigns.

Goal: Understand what are online marketing metrics. In addition, how to measure and effectively report efforts across social media, search, and content creation.

Chapter 21: Not All Traffic is Equal

  1. Digital fingerprints: Understanding the Clickstream
  2. The What and The Why: Introduction to Digital Analytics
  3. Caller ID: How Web Analytics Works (Briefly)

Chapter 22: Introduction to Basic Web Metrics Part 1

  1. Visitors and Time: Uniques, Time on Page/Site Explained
  2. Bouncing Along Online: What is a Bounce Rate?
  3. Know What Converts: What is a Website Conversion Rate?
  4. Vanity Metrics: Measuring Basic Online Engagement

Chapter 23: Real Life Examples

  1. Cobbler’s Kids: OnDigitalMarketing’s Analytics Part I
  2. Defining Success: OnDigitalMarketing’s KPIs

Introduction →

Meet the Prof

Jake Cook has been working in digital marketing since 2004 (an eternity in internet time). An adjunct professor since 2007, Jake has developed and taught undergraduate, graduate and executive education courses around high tech marketing, digital marketing & analytics, social media, lean startup and design thinking for institutions such as Montana State University (MSU) and Minneapolis College of Art & Design. Jake was also part of MSU’s founding interdisciplinary team that started the Design Sandbox for Engaged Learning (DSEL) based on inspiration and guidance from Stanford’s d.school. He currently serves as the academic director for Montana State University’s Execution Education program “Digital Marketing & Analytics” developed in part with leadership from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Alumni from his courses have gone to secure jobs at companies like R/GA, Google, Yelp, CBS Interactive, and a host of startups. (Such bright and driven students always keep him on his toes). Jake was recently honored by the American Marketing Association MSU’s chapter as “Outstanding Marketing Professor” in 2016 and Merit Teaching Award for Excellence from the Dean’s Office at Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

A firm believer that teach digital marketing means you have to do digital marketing means Jake is constantly tweaking with this website and helping clients at Tadpull, a boutique digital marketing & software shop based in Bozeman, Montana with global clients. The company is currently developing data mining & analytics tools to leverage machine learning for driving better ROI across online campaigns. Across his career he’s been fortunate to work for companies such as Google, Microsoft, The Webby Awards, InternetWeek NY, DonorsChoose.org, Medallia, Jackson Hole Resort, Outdoor Research, and Mystery Ranch.

You can also find his writings and interviews on Smashing Magazine and Adobe’s 99U blog.

Jake earned a BA with honors in Physics and an MA in Marketing from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.

Feel free to drop him a line anytime at [email protected]

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