What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing Explained

Businesswoman sitting in home office with laptop and phone
•••

izusek / Getty Images

Digital marketing is the process of using digital and social channels to promote or advertise a business’s product or service to consumers. It can take place on a variety of online platforms, including social networks, email, search engines, apps, and websites.

Digital marketing is a vital tool for businesses that are launching, growing, or extending their lines of products and services, so it’s important to learn what it entails and the key techniques involved in order to better engage with your target audience.

Definition and Example of Digital Marketing

Just like traditional marketing, which focuses on reaching out to an audience for branding and promotional purposes through media like print and TV, digital marketing is the process of communicating messages to potential clients or customers via digital and social channels.

Using a search engine like Google can be a valuable way for users to see your digital marketing efforts at work. For example, if you place search ads on Google, which are paid placements, users can be informed of your business and its product or service through ads on a search engine results page (SERP) when they search for something similar. They can then click on a sponsored link or ad and can be guided to your business’s website.

Businesses can use Google Ads to place targeted ads for their business on specific sites where they can reach the most relevant audience. 

How Does Digital Marketing Work?

Digital marketing is used to help businesses and organizations inform existing and potential customers about their brand by providing information or content that will prompt the user to take action. Whether it's a new product listed on a website, a new service implemented within an established company, or a new blog seeking traffic to build name recognition, the message is intended to grab the attention of the user and persuade them to click to find out more information.

Types of Digital Marketing

There are several forms of digital marketing, which can work to promote messages in different ways, depending on the needs and goals of the business. Some of these include email marketing, mobile marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO). Businesses may apply one or all of these methods in order to reach their marketing goals.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is an important tool in website development, content production, and, of course, digital marketing. The purpose of SEO is to improve a website's ranking on SERPs. When users search using keywords, like typing “launching a business” on Google, for example, the highest-ranking websites with those keywords show up at the top of the SERP. These first few links are considered the most relevant to the search query. By using relevant keywords, headers, and linking techniques, websites can increase their rankings and reach more users.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is essentially the electronic form of direct mail marketing, and can include newsletters with updates on the business, or promotions of sales and exclusive deals for subscribers. Marketing emails may also seek to share a general message on your business’s behalf.

While email marketing has been a standard digital marketing technique for decades, it still continues to be viable for small businesses. In fact, according to a 2020 survey conducted by email marketing software company AWeber, 79% of small businesses cited email marketing as important or very important to their business strategy, while 60% reported their email marketing strategy to be effective or very effective.

For an effective email marketing campaign, it’s critical to write an attractive subject line and copy that compels the recipient to open your email and take action. 

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Pay-per-click (PPC) is a digital marketing technique used to drive traffic from search engines to a business’s website or app. Using PPC, businesses place ads on an advertising platform like Google Ads and pay the host of the platform when a user clicks on their ad. The ads are often listed on SERP, usually placed at the top. PPC ads may also be displayed while generally browsing the web, using apps, or as pre-roll placements before playing videos. 

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing includes marketing completed through social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. This form of marketing is also direct and can be targeted to users who follow other relevant social media profiles. It is beneficial because of the potential to reach a large number of users. 

On Facebook, for instance, businesses can use Facebook Pages to create a profile to share company information, updates, special offers, and even job listings by posting photos, videos, and messages. Current customers or even potential customers can like your page and become “fans,” which allows them to follow you and receive any updates that you post in their feeds. 

Every time someone becomes a fan of your page, all of their Facebook friends see that they have become a fan, which, in turn, can garner buzz about your business and page.

Along with Facebook Pages, the social network also provides an opportunity to create targeted text and video ads. 

Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is the method of reaching customers on their smartphones or tablets and promoting products and services through text messaging, social media, website, email, and apps.  

With the consumer experience now largely driven through mobile devices, especially when it comes to product or company research, mobile marketing can be crucial to driving business.

Content Marketing

Content marketing goes hand in hand with other digital marketing methods, such as SEO and pay-per-click. It involves creating and organizing content, such as blogs and videos, for promotional purposes. It is important that this content is accurate and error-free, as the quality of the content will also have an impact on its search ranking. 

Key Takeaways

  • Digital marketing is the process of promoting a product or service and connecting with an audience through websites, search engines, social media, and email.
  • Digital marketing is often intended to grab the attention of the user and persuade them to click to find out more information.
  • There are several forms of digital marketing, including SEO, pay-per-click, email, social media, mobile, and content marketing.