What Is Digital Marketing: A Simple Guide To Modern Digital Marketing

Definition – Digital marketing, in the simplest sense, refers to the function of marketing conducted via digital channels.

Digital channels can change over time as technology evolves.

Said another way, digital marketing is any form of marketing conducted via electronic devices, for example, mobile devices, digital tv, satellite radio,electronic billboards, etc.

The earliest form of digital marketing can be traced back to 1986 with radio transmissions but the most notable forms of digital marketing as we know it now began in the early 1990’s with the advent of the first search engine.

The principles of persuasion behind marketing always remain the same whether you’re marketing online or offline. The distinction here is that I am using digital channels to reach customers. So let’s get into why digital marketing is important, what digital marketing looks like, how it’s different from online marketing, and how we can leverage it for our benefit.

Why is digital marketing important?

An important fundamental in marketing is to be where your customers are at. A report from Nielson indicates that the modern-day american spends a whopping 11 hours a day viewing media devices! 

It wouldn’t make sense to run a newspaper ad if your customer doesn’t read it. The opposite is true. You should put yourself on Youtube if that’s where your customers are spending most of their time. Most people are spending time on digital devices; a fact that cannot be ignored! Digital marketing is now mainstream and an integral component to any company’s success. 

Adaptation Is Key

Times change, so you should keep a pulse on your customer’s habits because as they shift to using new technologies, you will want to incorporate those into your digital marketing strategy. Technologies and habits change faster than ever before so you will need to adopt a mindset of constantly adapting to those changes.

Remember, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin 

What’s the difference between online marketing and digital marketing?

Digital marketing includes any “digital” mediums whether it’s online or offline, like a customer receiving a text message. Online marketing, as it is commonly referred to, excludes any offline marketing activities such as radio, television, electronic billboards, or sms. 

Types Of Online Digital Marketing

In the expansive world of online marketing, I will focus on the channels that will have the largest impact on your marketing efforts because these are online marketing’s biggest channels.

Online Marketing Pie Chart By Category
Online Marketing's Biggest Categories - InsiderClicks.com

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves endorsements and promotions by people that have cultivated a following on social media and who are referred to as “influencers.” They may have followers on channels such as instagram, facebook, youtube, twitter, twitch, pinterest, linkedin, snapchat, Tik Tok, and more! 

Influencers develop a unique affinity with their followers that is exclusive to them. This relationship can be powerful as their fans are far more receptive to them than they would be to a random advertisement

Working with influencers to promote your product is an excellent way to reach a specific audience that could really benefit from your product offering. 

Affiliate Marketing

The easiest way to explain affiliate marketing is allowing 3rd parties the ability to earn a commission resulting from their individual promotion efforts. Oftentimes, affiliates will already own a traffic source as a website, blog, podcastor email list.

Affiliate Marketing can be an excellent way to amplify your marketing efforts by recruiting others to promote for you. Why not reach customers that would not have reached otherwise?

Search Engine Marketing / Pay Per Click Advertising

Search Engine Marketing was originally known as marketing via the search engines whether you were using paid traffic known as Pay Per Click or non-paid traffic referred to as SEO or Search Engine Optimization. SEM is now primarily used to refer to paid traffic so for all intents and purposes, SEM will cover the optimization of paid advertising via the search engines or Pay Per Click advertising.

There are over 4 billion searches per day on Google. People are searching for anything and everything as Google has positioned itself as a crystal ball, ready to answer any questions you may have. As an advertiser, you can take advantage of this traffic by capturing people based on specific keywords and phrases that may be relevant to your business. If somebody searches for “mechanics near me”, you can display an ad offering your Auto Repair services to this prospect. The power of search engine marketing lies in the ability to connect with people who are already looking for you.

Organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

The term “organic SEO” stands for “natural” or “unpaid” traffic. Search results will often yield a combination of paid and unpaid results corresponding to a search. The paid listings will be designated by subtle text identifying the ads and the organic listings will have no such designation. Search Engine Optimization is the practice of optimizing your website’s content to rank high in the search results without having to pay for it.

Search Engine Optimization best practices involves optimizing a website’s technical elements, creating high value content, and increasing backlinks to your website to increase the perceived value in the eyes of the search engine, thus, improving the probability that your website will be deemed valuable and rewarded with a high position on the search results.

There are obvious benefits for pursuing an SEO strategy given the resources and the time to be able to dedicate to this strategy.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing continues to evolve but it is understood to be any platforms that contain a social interaction element and allow people to connect with brands such as Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Social media marketing revolves around publishing and sharing content in the form of images, videos, and plain text. Each channel has a unique method for distributing content and interacting with people.

A Social Media Marketing plan should consider the type of content that will be required for a given platform. Start with your strengths and work on your weaknesses afterward. So if you are better at writing then vlogging, you may consider starting with Twitter, FB, and Instagram and then working your way to Youtube where video is the main format.

Content Marketing

Content Marketing is the creation of content that will be used to generate interest on social media, blogs, or podcasts in an effort to gain fans, followers, and subscribers.

Some of the best marketing is “free” marketing. And although your work and time is not free, the payoff for creating valuable content for your audience is worth the effort devoted to empowering, educating, and entertaining your audience.

A successful content marketing strategy includes careful planning, consistency, and value.

Email Marketing

E-mail marketing is exactly what it sounds like; marketing via email communication. Every business should focus on growing their e-mail list because this is one of the only traffic sources you can say that you truly own. If Facebook or Google were to fall off the face of the earth, you would still own your e-mail traffic source.

E-mail provides direct one-to-one or one-to-many communication that is customizable and provides a direct communication link where media, files, notices, and other important information can be exchanged.

Grow your e-mail subscriber list and you will grow your business.

Messenger Bot Marketing

Messenger bot marketing is the advent of facebook’s automated messenger service that uses a combination of AI and user inputs to communicate with people on your behalf.

We are living a “now” economy and people demand information quicker than ever before. What’s the best way to communicate with your audience? 1 on 1. However, that’s not always scalable or practical. Introducing, chat bots; a more efficient way to filter out inquiries, answer basic questions, and re-route customers for a better customer experience.

Businesses are now using chat bots for marketing, sales, and customer service functions. Bot Marketing is the use of Bots for, well, marketing purposes. With services like Many Chat, creating a virtual no-cost and punctual employee is the new reality.

Types Of Offline Digital Marketing

Many people make the common mistake of assuming that digital marketing pertains only to online marketing. Nothing could be further from the truth. What separates digital marketing from online marketing is the inclusion of offline marketing via electronic devices.

Having an online marketing strategy makes sense. People are online so you should market online. But how do we amplify those efforts? We supplement. How do we do that? Here are a few examples of the most popular offline digital marketing channels.

Mobile Marketing

If you’ve ever download an app, received a text, or received a phone call, then you should be familiar with these offline digital marketing technologies. Mobile marketing is the use of sms, apps, or phone calls to market your business products and services.

Have you ever order a pizza? I have. I’m obsessed with pizza; particularly Papa John’s. Every weekend, around the evening, I get a text with a special reminder that, yes, I am in fact hungry and I should probably re-order some pizza by using this coupon code. What are they doing? They’re amplifying their marketing efforts with SMS Marketing.

I am opted into their SMS marketing program for specials and order alerts. I also, have their mobile app which is another aspect of their mobile marketing strategy. If they were using push notifications on their app, that would be another technique under the umbrella of mobile marketing.  

You’re already paying money to acquire these customers online so it only makes sense that you create multiple communication channels to ensure deliverability of your messages via sms, e-mail, push notifications, or apps. 

TV Advertising

Watching television continues to be a very popular pastime as it has undergone various changes from analog to streaming services. TV advertising can now be managed online through advertising platforms that provide these digital TV networks. 

Neil Patel mentions a source indicating that TV advertising holds more weight than online advertising when it comes to Trust. TV Advertising offers large scale reach if you can work out the economics to ensure that you get a positive ROI. You can’t get as precise with your targeting as you can with online marketing but if you can make your messaging work on a broad scale with TV Ads, then you have managed to tap a gold mine. 

Radio Advertising

Radio still has a wide reach and in the United States alone, as 90 percent of adults still consume it on a weekly basis. Americans averaged 106 minutes of radio consumption per day mostly while commuting.

Radio stations generated 18 billion USD in 2018 and 920 million in ad revenue via online streaming.

Radio ad formats should be short, clear, memorable, and call the user to take one specific action if you want to get the most out of your advertisement.

How To Get Started With Online Marketing

Online marketing is a vast universe filled with many strategies and tactics for acquiring new customers. Here are some recommended topics you should familiarize yourself with or find somebody that can help you in your quest for online mastery:

  • Building websites and landing pages – If you’re selling a product, you will need a website that you can sell from. If you’re promoting a service, you may need to capture prospect’s information using a landing page. There are easy website and landing page builders like Shopify and Clickfunnels that you can use for your business.
  • Learn the basics of copywriting – You must understand the basics of selling and how to write for effectiveness when it comes to promoting your products. How do you get people to take action on your website, through an ad, or an e-mail? You sell them on you, your products, or your services. Visit Udemy to find a good course on copywriting.
  • Study a traffic source – There are man ways to acquire traffic as you have learned from reading this article. Choose a traffic source that works best for you and study that until you are ready to move on to another source. Focusing on too many things at once rarely leads to good results. 


Digital marketing and online marketing are two terms that are often interchangeable in most instances. Just remember that digital marketing also includes offline digital marketing mediums. With the convergence of many evolving technologies coming to you at the speed of light, it is important that you continue sharpening your digital axe so that you can be ready for any changes that come your way.

Here’s a recap of the most popular digital marketing channels being used today:

  • Influencer / Affiliate Marketing – social influencers / blog affiliates / email list affiliates
  • Search Engine Marketing / Pay Per Click Advertising – google / bing / youtube
  • Organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – google / bing / local
  • Social Media Marketing – twitter / facebook / tiktok / pinterest / instagram
  • Content Marketing – video/podcasts/blogs – examples: youtube / spotify / twitch / wordpress
  • Email Marketing
  • Messenger / Bot Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing – SMS/Apps
  • TV Advertising
  • Radio Advertising

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