Digital marketing is the act of marketing online or through a digital device most often times using the internet to connect with users on their personal devices.

There are plenty of ways to break down digital marketing but I’m going to try my best to keep it as simple as I can.

Let’s start with a technical breakdown. Then we can move onto getting started and where to go once you have everything set up and running smoothly.

Digital Marketing Taxonomy

Let’s start with breaking it down from an efficiency standpoint.

1. Owned traffic

2. Earned / Organic traffic (social or search

3. Paid traffic (social or search)

Owned traffic is traffic that you have permission to deliver messages to without having to rely on any other platforms to deliver the message. The most popular form of owned traffic is email marketing.

Email marketing is by far the most cost effective way to reach your target audience but it takes some money for paid ads or sweat to get organic traffic to start developing your email list.

The next best thing to email marketing as far as cost effectiveness goes is USUALLY Content Marketing and SEO.

Local search engine optimization is the type of search engine optimization that usually has the highest leverage point most local businesses can use to improve marketing spend.

After owned and earned traffic such as email marketing, SEO, website architecture, content marketing and content research / strategy, paid ads should be implemented last in an ideal situation.

Then there’s the main forms of marketing which we’ll go over below.

Let’s break these down and go over them first and then get into how they connect and interact with one another on a deeper level.

Digital marketing research

Digital marketing strategy

Social Media Marketing

Search engine marketing

Search engine optimization

Email marketing

Content marketing

Website data & analytics monitoring

CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) / CVO Customer Value Optimization

Next thing we’ll be doing is going over how we would start developing a digital presence for someone that is just starting out:

My goal here on the rest of this page is to dive deep enough into the foundational decisions that need to be made in order for you to have success online. One of the biggest mistakes we made when first starting was not understanding how important it is to have a specific way/process for making decisions. It just seemed like the more I learned the more I realized how much of a goliath it was going to be even getting a successful website up and ranking on search engine results.

A massive aspect of the decision making process to ALWAYS be considering is your customer avatar/persona which we’ll dive into below in the collapsable steps. I’m going to go deep enough in the content below for you to understand the why behind each step but not so deep that it scares you thinking about all that needs to be done before you even get a glimpse of success online.

I’m going to be pretending you’re a beginner in the online world and these may change based on your industry, goals and how far along you are in developing your online presence in the digital world. But 90% of the time even with companies that think they’ve had success online, they don’t know how to replicate those successes over time (which is why they come to us, for our process and approach to problem solving).

As you progress in the digital space you’ll notice that the problems you face get more technical over time and eventually end up with doing split tests, conversion rate optimization, and other experiments to improve off your baseline metrics.

So, let’s dive into what we consider and use to determine next steps for clients


Everything revolves around the goals and long term vision for the company. We also have to consider any financial constraints up front if there are any before planning anything else so we know what to expect and know what we can and can’t do. In a perfect world, we’d get everything set up that we’ll go over below and immediately start rapid testing with paid ads promoting our content and other assets find what and gets people to pull the trigger and buy from you.

The more you can spend up front to test, the faster you can identify what works and scale that up and avoid what doesn’t. Remember, everything is an experiment.


Ideally want to start out with a less complex approach and keep it to one persona that all marketing decisions are based off of. This can expand later on down the road. But the target persona will impact literally every facet of your marketing strategy from website and brand development all the way down to the copy, creative & content assets, calls to action, etc. you need to understand the pains, problems, goals, demographics/firmographics, etc. I’m not joking when I say this, I would urge you to print out a photo of your persona and what they look like in your mind once you’ve figured out the other stuff above.

Then tape it on your office wall (and home wall if you want to be obsessive) and before deciding and moving forward with anything within the realm of marketing, ask yourself if this would or wouldn’t help align with the goals of your target persona.


Once we understand who it is that makes the most sense to market your products or services towards, we identify where they’re hanging out online (YT, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, etc) and along with this we try our best to identify who influences their decisions in each channel they’re hanging out in. We get to dig deep into the psychology and communication style of the persona in this phase so we can create an effective website, content, messaging/copy, etc. like mentioned above.


The great thing about the digital landscape is that most information about how your competition markets and what keywords (we’ll get more into that later) they’re trying to rank for with their content and site structure. Is all visible online. You can see their website, social media posts, social media ads, lead magnets, funnel + goals set on the website along with just about everything else you’d need to replicate their strategy online.

The only thing you wouldn’t be able to see is how much they’re allocating to each paid channel (search and social) but aside from that, we can just about strip every other facet down to its bones and reconstruct it according to what our goals and objectives for the business are. But consider the fact that your competition isn’t always doing the best job.


One of the more complex and ambiguous phases of the strategy development phase. Second to your persona when making decisions is your content and the keywords used within the content (especially text based content). I’m not going to get too deep into keywords and their importance but I’m going to layout a scenario for you so you can better understand at a surface level why keywords and researching to find the best ones for your online content is a vital component of your online strategy.

When you search for anything online where do you go? Google. If you pick up a physical encyclopedia still, props to you. But most just pull out a mobile computer and find what they need in less than a minute. People are likely searching for what your business provides around the clock.

The only reason you aren’t getting contacted for your services is that you’re not being found in search results. If you were at the top of Google for a keyword phrase closely related to what someone searched for, they’re going to at least consider doing business with you and likely visit your website to see if you provide what they’re looking for purely out of convenience. What keywords you use throughout your site and it’s content is highly correlated with the odds of you being found by online searchers and how likely those searchers are to purchase from you.


This is where we get to match up the psychological makeup of our target persona to come up with ideal fonts, colors, logo(s), and other things that will be used in all of your online content to keep brand consistency and alignment across channels and assets. In addition to everything else we listed above, we want to develop a tone that’s geared towards our persona as well.

Something that is time consuming but well worth the investment is creating a brand guide to give to any employees, freelancers or anyone else that will have anything to do with any customer facing content creation. This will save a lot of headaches in the long run especially as you scale up the digital side of things.


Next we need a place where you can store content, drive traffic to, and educate potential buyers. This is where a website becomes necessary. When we start building a site we again consider budget, vision and how fast we are trying to and are able to bring that vision to life. Everything we’ve discussed above is used to guide us as well.

I will never deviate from using WordPress to build my websites after trying a variety of other site builders. I used to use click funnels and other site & page builders but nothing is even near as robust as WordPress in my opinion for service based businesses.

Sidenote: I’ll be creating a document soon with all of the tools, softwares, and strategies that I use to increase effectiveness in the digital world. But for now, I’m not going to dive much deeper into other CMS (content management software) or other software of any kind. You can use G2 to find the software that best suits your needs and what you want in the software you want to integrate into your tech stack.


The last thing before ending this brief overview of the sequence of events that should happen before scaling up and optimizing your digital marketing efforts  would just be setting up business accounts and then making sure you are inserting the necessary code snippets for data collection when visitors come to your site.

The data that’s collected on your site can be used to retarget ads to individuals on social platforms like Facebook, YouTube, LInkedIn, etc. The other reason for this is to make sure that you’re getting the data you need to determing whether or not a marketing campaign is succeeding or failing so you know when to shut down campaings, ad sets, or ads that arent performing like you predicted they would.


Once we have all of the above in place and created, this is where we really need to understand where our time is going to be best used and where the highest value tasks are when it comes to building up our digital presence. This will be highly contextually based decision making and judgement. I can’t tell anyone where to go from this point forward because anything I recommend after this point would be biased and could lead someone reading this down the wrong path.

But what I can tell you is that the more you innovate with your approach and the more you find things that work, slowly but surely, you’ll start to be amazed at the results that come in from your consistent effort over time. And also consider that the digital world will only continue to grow in complexity and competitiveness, so the sooner you start, the better off you and your business will be in the long term.

We’ll be updating this post soon and adding additional information to this but for now, we hope you find the hierarchy and breakdown insightful and able to help you in some way.

If you need help with anything mentioned above or anything related to digital marketing, feel free to take advantage of our free strategy call we include to anyone thinking of diving into digital marketing or optimizing digital strategies for any reason.