"Digital Marketing for Dummies" (Book Summary)

Digital Marketing For Dummies by Ryan Deiss, Russ Henneberry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a practical guide to digital marketing for small and medium businesses. It covers the major types of digital marketing, including SEO, social media, advertising, and email marketing. It also describes how to succeed at digital marketing, by explaining goals, offers, analytics, and more. It's broad, but not very deep. If you want to become an expert in any area, you'll need other resources, but this will give you a solid start. Plenty of lists and examples (text and screenshots) make it easy to follow.

The authors, Ryan Deiss and Russ Henneberry, are with DigitalMarketer, a recognized name in the digital marketing industry. They understand and clearly explain the concepts, and also have a lot of experience. They go far beyond the technical aspects of digital marketing to explain goals, ROI, psychology, and behavior.

Some Dummies books are better than others, and I was impressed with this one.

I read this to better communicate with my OptimWise teammates and clients about digital marketing.

Below are my notes from the book.

Note: This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see Affiliate Disclosure.

Understanding the Customer Journey

Components of customer avatar (representation of your ideal customer)

  • Goals and values: What are they trying to achieve? What do they value?
  • Sources of information: What books, magazines, blogs, news stations, etc. do they reference?
  • Demographics: What's their age, gender, marital status, ethnicity, income, employment status, nationality, political preference?
  • Challenges and pain points: What's holding them back from achieving their goals?
  • Objections: Why would they choose not to buy your product/service?

"But No One Else Would" Trick

To find niche books, magazines, blogs, conferences, celebrities, etc. that your ideal customer would be attracted to, but no one else would, complete sentences like:

  • My ideal customer would read [book], but no one else would.
  • My ideal customer would subscribe to [magazine], but no one else would.
  • My ideal customer would attend [conference], but no one else would.

Tailor your marketing messages to fit your avatar.

What customer is buying is shift from Before state (e.g., sad, out of shape, bored.) to After state (e.g., happier, healthier, more excited). Your product/service provides the shift.

Statement of Value: [Product/service name] enables [customer] to experience [after state].

Stages of Customer Journey

  1. Generating awareness. Tell problem you solve, products you sell, or what your brand stands for. Use advertising, social media marketing, search marketing.
  2. Driving engagement. Capture attention, engage. Offer free, valuable content such as blog posts, podcasts, videos.
  3. Building subscribers. Get prospect to give permission to have a conversation. Get subscribers via email, social media, podcasts, and leads via webinars, requests for sales call, requests for demos.
  4. Increasing conversions. Get prospect to give you small amount of time or money. Offer low-priced but valuable products/services, webinars, product demos.
  5. Building excitement. Encourage prospect to use what you provided in step 4.
  6. Making the core offer sale and more. Encourage customer to buy more and buy repeatedly. Offer high-ticket products/services and monthly subscriptions.
  7. Developing brand advocates. Turn customer into advocate. Add value, deliver on promise of your product/service, give responsive customer service.
  8. Growing brand promoters. Turn advocate into active promoter of your business. Repeatedly deliver exceptional value.

Choosing the Right Marketing Campaign

6 common goals of digital marketing

  • Increasing problem and solution awareness: make prospect aware of what they need, or solution you offer
  • Acquiring new leads and customers
  • Activating leads and customers: encourage prospects to buy, and customers to buy again
  • Monetizing existing leads and customers: sell more via upsells, cross-sells, etc.
  • Onboarding new leads and customers: teach how to use product/service, what to expect, where to get help with purchase
  • Building community and advocacy: create communities of advocates and brand promoters

3 major types of campaigns

  • Acquisition: acquire new prospects and customers
  • Monetization: generate revenue from existing leads and customers
  • Engagement: create communities of brand advocates and promoters

Acquisition campaign stages

  1. Make Aware. Make prospect aware of problem you solve, solutions you provide.
  2. Engage. Provide value in form of entertainment, inspiration, or educational content, before asking to buy something or commit time. Use content marketing (blogging, videos, social media posts, images, etc.).
  3. Subscribe. Get prospect to follow you on social media or subscribe to emails.
  4. Convert. Sell something with low risk (inexpensive, simple). Acquisition campaigns are about acquiring prospects, not profit/ROI. Most acquisition campaigns can also be used as activation campaigns, to activate those who have never purchased or haven't purchased in a while.

Monetization campaign stages

  1. Excite. Encourage prospect/customer to get more value out of what they've already gotten from you (information, product/service).
  2. Cause customers to ascend. Offer more, and more expensive, products/services.

Engagement campaign stages

  1. Advocate. Give customers ability to recommend you through testimonials and customer stories.
  2. Promote. Encourage customers to promote you via social media, blogs, videos, etc.

Choosing campaign you need

  • If you're starting a new business or have no leads or subscribers, build an Acquisition campaign.
  • If you have leads and customers, but they aren't buying as much as you'd like, build a Monetization campaign.
  • If you have enough leads and subscribers and monetization of them, build an Engagement campaign.

Crafting Winning Offers

Form relationship with prospect by offering value with entry point offers (EPOs).

3 types of entry point offers (EPOs)

  • Ungated: blog post, video, podcast, etc. that doesn't require prospect's contact information or purchase to get value.
  • Gated: blog post, video, podcast, etc. that requires prospect's contact information or purchase to get value.
  • Deep discount: offers extreme discount (50%+) for purchase.

Ungated offer value propositions

  • Entertainment: make prospect laugh or remember you
  • Inspiration: move prospect to feel something with sentiments, testimonials, before-and-after photos
  • Education: teach prospect how to do something (easier than entertainment or inspiration)

Ungated and gated offers, though free, must still be high-quality and high-value to impress prospect.

Gated offer aspects (include 1 or more)

  • Specific promise. Specifically communicate benefit the offer will provide. What are your target audience's concerns, fears, or desires?
  • Specific example. Clearly state benefit, prove it with case study. E.g., "How State University Reduced Campus Crime by 73 Percent."
  • Specific shortcut. Save prospect time.
  • Answer a specific question. Give a valuable answer that establishes you as an authority on the subject.
  • Deliver a specific discount. Ask prospect to opt in to receive discount.

5 forms of educational gated offers

Make easy to consume and act on within minutes.

  • Report/guide: facts, news, best practices.
  • White paper: authoritative guide that helps leads understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision; promotes your products/services
  • Primary research: your own research, such as interviews and observations
  • Webinar training: training that shows your expertise (or invite an expert)
  • Sales material: pricing and product/service descriptions, especially for high-ticket items

Tools as gated offers

  • Resource list: list of tools or resources (apps, physical products, hardware, etc.)
  • Template: proven, tested shortcut or pattern of success
  • Software: full or trial
  • Discount and coupon clubs: give you opportunities to communicate by reminding members of specials and rewards
  • Quizzes and surveys: make fun, engaging, or intriguing; offer results (e.g., "What's Your Skin Type")
  • Assessment: assess or test prospects on a subject, then show score and actions to improve score (likely a tool or service you provide)

8-point checklist for effective gated offers

  1. Is your offer ultraspecific?
  2. Are you offering too much? Focus on 1 topic/theme; provide 1 path for lead to take.
  3. Does the offer speak to a desired end result?
  4. Does the offer deliver immediate gratification?
  5. Does the offer shift the relationship? Change state and mind-set of prospects so they're primed to buy from you.
  6. Does the offer have a high perceived value? Use professional design and imagery to make offer look valuable.
  7. Does the offer have a high actual value? Deliver the promised value.
  8. Does the offer allow for rapid consumption?

5 types of deep-discount offers

  • Physical premiums: deeply discounted physical product
  • Book: deeply discounted physical book to establish authority and trust offering complex or high-ticket items
  • Webinar: deeply discounted live or recorded webinar; call it teleclass, online training, or boot camp because webinars are generally free
  • Software
  • Splinter of service: low-priced small piece of high-dollar product/service

5-point checklist for effective deep-discount offers

  1. Does it lower the barrier to entry? Make it inexpensive (<$20), require little time, easy to understand.
  2. Is the value clear?
  3. Is it useful but incomplete?
  4. Does it have a high perceived value? Use professional design, imagery, copy to make offer look valuable.
  5. Does it have a high actual value? Deliver the promised value.

How to think of a deep-discount offer

  • What can you splinter off your core product/service and still deliver value with that piece?
  • What's the cool gadget that your market wants, but doesn't necessarily need? What's your impulse buy?
  • What's the one thing everyone needs, but doesn't necessarily want?
  • What's a valuable service that you can perform quickly and inexpensively, one that will deliver results in advance and get your foot in the door (e.g., roofer offering gutter cleaning)?
  • What little victory or victories does your deep-discount offer provide? How do you help the customer overcome self-doubt?

Pursuing Content Marketing Perfection

3 marketing funnel stages

  1. Awareness. Prospect becomes aware of problem and that you can solve. TOFU (top of funnel).
  2. Evaluation: Prospect evaluates choices, including your solution, competitors' solutions, and doing nothing. MOFU (middle of funnel).
  3. Conversion: Prospect purchases. BOFU (bottom of funnel).

At top of funnel (TOFU), provide ungated content. In middle of funnel (MOFU), provide gated content. At bottom of funnel (BOFU), help prospect decide to buy with demos, customer stories, comparison/spec sheets, webinars/events, mini-classes.

Blogging for Business

Sources of blog post ideas

  • Components of customer avatar (see ch. 1 above)
  • BuzzSumo
  • Monitor engagement with your existing content (emails, blog posts, social posts, etc.)

6 categories of great blog headlines

  • Tap into self-interest. Speak to specific benefit that audience will gain by reading. Start to answer "What's in it for me?" e.g., "Grow Your Website Traffic with the 3-Step Content Marketing Plan."
  • Pique curiosity. Combine with benefit. E.g., "25 Things You Didn't Know Your iPhone Could Do."
  • Employ urgency and scarcity. Use only when you truly have a deadline, limited quantity, or limited availability. E.g., "Free Photography Classes: Last Chance for Open Enrollment."
  • Issue a warning. Tell how to protect from threat. E.g., "Warning: Don't Buy Another Ounce of Dog Food Until You Read This."
  • Borrow authority. Use social proof; mention a success story, cite familiar and influential names, or highlight how many people are using a product/service. E.g., "What Dr. Oz Eats for a Midnight Snack."
  • Reveal the new. Keep audience informed about new developments in your field. E.g., "New Tool Changes Webinars Forever."

Taking Stock of 57 Blog Post Ideas

Blog post ideas

  • List
  • Case study
  • How-to
  • Frequently asked question (FAQ)
  • Checklist
  • Problem/solution
  • Ultimate guide
  • Interview
  • Review
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Comparison
  • Project showcase
  • Products tip
  • Reaction
  • Challenge

Building High-Converting Landing Pages

Lead capture page (squeeze page) contents

  • Gated offer
  • Headline/subheadline: Text at top of page that compels visitor to read the bullets and consider taking gated offer
  • Bullets: Strong statements that outline benefits of gated offer
  • Product image: Show visual representation of gated offer if possible
  • Proof: Trust icons such as logos of associations you're a member of, reputable brands you're associated with, testimonials from customers
  • Lead form: Collects contact information

Capturing Traffic with Search Marketing

Consider using calls to action in meta descriptions, such as "Shop now!" "Click here for free shipping," "Browse the latest trends."

Leveraging the Social Web

3 steps to dealing with upset customer on public social media

  1. Respond in a timely manner. Let customer know they've been heard ASAP, ideally within 12 hrs.
  2. Empathize. Let customer know you realize the situation is frustrating.
  3. Move the conversation to a private channel.

Tapping into Paid Traffic

If you want traffic, you need to go to the traffic store.

A "traffic store" is a paid advertising platform, such as Google Ads and social media advertising.

Paid traffic lets you start and stop traffic, making it quicker for testing new offers, landing pages, and content without waiting for SEO and organic social media.

Google Ads keyword match types

  • Exact match: ad shows if query (search phrase) matches keyword exactly
  • Broad match: ad shows for phrases similar to keyword (e.g., "lawn mowing service prices" would trigger "lawn service" ad)
  • Broad match modifier (BMM): ad shows for close variations of keyword, such as misspellings (but not synonyms), in any order (e.g., "lawn mowing service" would trigger "+lawn +service" ad)

Google Ads copy tips

  • Include call to action (e.g., "call now," "download your free report," "order today")
  • Include keyword
  • Ask a question (e.g., "Termite infestation?" or "Looking for a reliable St. Louis plumber?")
  • Reference holidays, local events
  • Focus on benefits, speak to prospects' pain points

With paid traffic, a lot of trial and error is involved in a campaign, even if you've done everything right. At our company, for example, for every ten paid campaigns that we run, only one to two break even or turn a profit.

Following Up with Email Marketing

Email has an average 4,300% ROI for US businesses.

Most emails you send should be triggered by prospect's/customer's action, not broadcast emails.

Indoctrination campaign

Send to new subscribers.

  • Welcome and introduce to your brand.
  • Restate benefits of being subscriber.
  • Tell what to expect.
  • Tell what to do next.
  • Introduce subscriber to your brand voice/ personality.

If too many subscribers aren't engaging with your emails, email service providers may limit your email deliverability. Reengage or remove subscribers that aren't engaging.

4 questions to answer in email copy

  • Why now? Consider whether promotion should offer new or on-sale items. Consider whether it's seasonal or timely.
  • Who cares? Decide who in target audience is most affected by having your product/service.
  • Why should they care? Tell customers how their lives will be different with your product/service.
  • Can you prove it? Provide case studies, testimonials, news stories to prove that customers' lives will be improved if they engage with your product/service.

4 reasons people buy

Address motivations in email copy.

  • Personal gain: Product/service will help them reach personal goals/desires.
  • Logic and research: Customers have researched, and it seems product will meet a need.
  • Social proof or third-party influence: Customers' friends have recommended product/service, or it seems popular.
  • Fear of missing out: Customers fear missing an opportunity, or being only person without something important.

3 types of subject lines

  • Curiosity: Pique interest, encourage to click to find out more. E.g., "Ready for your close up?"
  • Benefit: Clearly state reason subscribers should open email and benefits they'll receive. E.g. "38 Employee Engagement Ideas." Sparingly use warning, e.g., "11 Statistics That Will Scare Every Manager."
  • Scarcity: Cause subscribers to feel they may miss something important. E.g., "Hurry! Labor Day Savings End Tonight."

Best times to email: 8:30 - 10 AM, 2:30 - 3:30 PM, 8 PM - midnight. Send positive emails in morning, negative at night (but offer a solution).

The Ten Most Common Digital Marketing Mistakes

Focus on your messaging and offers before focusing on increasing traffic.

There's no shortage of content, but there's always room for remarkable content. Instead of creating 10 blog posts, create 1 remarkable post with 10 times the normal effort.

Ten Essential Tools for Digital Marketing Success

Image editors: Canva, Pixlr.

You can buy Digital Marketing For Dummies as an ebook or book on Amazon.

This book will get you started in digital marketing for your business. Although there’s a lot you can do on your own, you’ll get the best results from working with professionals. Contact us to create a digital marketing plan for your business.

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One comment on “"Digital Marketing for Dummies" (Book Summary)”

  1. Must say, as a fresher this blog was very useful for me. Would love to read more such topics related to Digital Marketing. Thank you:)

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