Digital Marketing Design: Types, Trends and Successful Stories

Learn the types of digital marketing, how to design them well and get tips from some of the best campaigns.

Marketing design
June 1, 2021

Table of Contents

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Everything you need to know about digital marketing design in one place: what types of design it includes; what are the relevant design trends with tips from real-life examples.

Digital marketing is currently the dominant marketing form since there is a growing number of businesses that advertise strictly online, while many brick and mortar businesses pair digital marketing channels with traditional forms such as print marketing.

Digital marketing has several advantages over traditional marketing forms, and the most important are:

  • It’s cheaper than traditional marketing.
  • You can target people who are actually interested in your small business.
  • It’s easier to refine and adapt marketing strategies.

In this article, we’ll cover the most important aspects of digital marketing, and discuss how marketing design can help you make the most of your marketing efforts.

Types of digital marketing

We might not think of a TV ad as a form of digital marketing in the same way we consider Facebook ads. However, they belong to different areas of marketing design called traditional and digital marketing respectively.

Digital marketing is an area of marketing that utilizes the internet and online-based technologies. The definition itself is quite broad, so to understand online marketing better, it’s best to look at some of the most important types of marketing that fit into this category.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and Pay per click (PPC)

Both of these types of digital marketing are related to how well your website will rank in search engines.

Search engine optimization is free, and it means tweaking your website in such a way that it ranks high in search results. Some of the ways you can do this are to include industry-relevant keywords, set your location, make sure you complete all the technical requirements such as image optimization, meta tags, titles and descriptions. SEO doesn’t cost anything, but it does require a bit of time and good website design skills (or someone to help you with that).

PPC is basically the paid version of SEO: those are the top search results that have a mark that says “Ad”.

So when it comes to design and SEO, the most important aspect to take note of is technical optimizations. This means making sure the graphics and videos are loading fast, and your website has a mobile version as well (mobile traffic accounts for about half of all web traffic with indications that the number will grow further).

Content marketing

One of the most effective ways to get new customers is to provide value for them. Many SaaS businesses have a free trial or freemium model which has

Another way in which all businesses can provide value is content marketing. The goal of content marketing is to educate your customers (preferably about your business but not necessarily), and provide them with valuable information or actionable tips. Content marketing can have many forms such as blog posts, ebooks, infographics, video tutorials and more.

So unlike, say, display ads, when you create designs for content marketing, the goal isn’t to get the customer to make a purchase (although ultimately it is); it’s to keep them interested in your business, and perhaps to transform the website visitors into leads.

For example, a blog post cover should be eye-catching, but should also relate to the topic. Additional graphics in the blog post can have several purposes, for example:

For example, a blog post cover should be eye-catching, but should also relate to the topic. Additional graphics in the blog post can have several purposes, for example:

  • To illustrate a point or provide an example
  • To highlight the most important points (e.g. block quotes)
  • To break down or visualize complex information (e.g. infographics or charts)

Remember that a well-designed graphic for content marketing purposes primarily offers informational value to visitors/readers. But if it’s also done according to your branding, it will also help them build a brand image and present your brand in a professional light. Sure, you can usually get graphics from the web, but consider redesigning them so that you can enforce your brand identity.

mp infographic.jpg

Ads of the World

The content was changed but the idea stayed the same. Dove wasn’t just trying to sell products. Their goal was to empower their customers and advocate for a cause that was important to them.

In 2013, they had another success with the Beauty Sketches video, which became one of the most-watched video ad on YouTube.

Ad Espresso

Social media marketing

Social media is one of the most popular and powerful forms of digital marketing. Thanks to extensive audience targeting, social media allows you to reach exactly the kind of people that would be interested in your business.

The problem with social media is that it's a fast-changing environment, so if you want to stay on top of your game, you always need to be aware of the latest trends.

When it comes to designing social media posts, make sure you know all the technical specifications, such as correct image sizes or types of content you can create.

mp social media ads.jpg

Email marketing

In a world where new trends of forms of communication are increasingly replacing old ones, email marketing remains one of the most effective parts of any marketing strategy. Email marketing is said to have an ROI of about 4200%, so it’s definitely worth investing a little more thought into.

Of course, your subject line can make or break those open rates, but if you nail that part, a great email design can provide a higher read-through score, and prompt people to actually take action.

Naturally, it’s really important for your emails to have a strong brand identity. As you keep enticing contacts to open them, they will slowly start to form a brand image, and will likely turn into customers.


Display ads

We’ve all seen them pop up on websites, and oftentimes you find them annoying or irrelevant. However, a well placed, professionally designed display ad can help you boost your brand awareness and drive sales.

The most important thing to remember about display ads is that they work better as native ads: placed in a context that’s relevant to them. Design is a critical element in creating something that both complements the surrounding content and grabs the visitors’ attention.

Sounds like a tall order? Well, take a look at this example of an Adobe ad featured on the New York Times site. It could easily be mistaken for just another article, so it doesn't “annoy” readers like traditional banner ads. On the other hand, the modern design and bright color immediately draw attention, so the ad is impossible to overlook.

native display ad.jpg

Influencer marketing

Closely tied to social media marketing in general, with influencer marketing you can reach potential customers through famous people they love. And it’s very effective: one study shows that over 50% of people prefer getting information from influencers, over the company itself.

Influencer marketing campaigns can range from millions of dollars (partnering with the likes of the Kardashians), to an affordable few hundred dollars which are charged by the so-called micro influencers. Although a well known influencer or celebrity is bound to get everyone to hear about your brand, the impact of micro influencers is perhaps even greater. They have smaller, more loyal followers, so if you can find a perfect personal match for your brand, an endorsement from them can make quite a difference in sales.

So what about design? Well, remember that often with influencers you won’t have a completely free hand to choose how they will present or market your brand. This is why it’s really important to establish some rules in a written agreement (for example, that your product needs to be featured in any graphic assets, or mentioned fully in a video).

Most importantly, choose your influencer wisely. Much more important than the number of followers is the type of audience that follows the influencer, and whether they’re actually interested in using, or like your product. For example, Sugarbearhair, the “magical” hair supplements that the Kardashian sisters advertised, have largely been criticized as a scam, causing skin and some health problems.  

kim sugarbear hair.png

Marketing campaigns to learn from

Now that you know what types of digital marketing you can employ, here are just a few examples of some top notch marketing campaigns, with actionable tips for you.

Be relatable: Dove

With body positivity being such a buzzword these days, it can be a little hard to remember that most people grew up with standardized, often impossible beauty standards. So, when Dove’s Real Beauty campaign aired in 2004, it really was quite revolutionary.

Instead of starved models the campaign showed photos of “real” women that come in all shapes and sizes. A year later the Evolution video took the, then very young YouTube by storm, by showing just how much work and effort it takes to create a picture-perfect looking model for traditional ads.

dove real beauty 1.jpg

Funny is effective: Dollar Shave Club

Humor is a tried and tested tactic in advertising, but in the world of digital marketing, it can be especially effective. For example, while a traditional TV ad will be a lot more limited by certain standards and requirements (length, production costs), video ads created for digital advertising can be a lot more creative.

This wonderful and now iconic ad from Dollar Shave Club illustrates it perfectly. It’s longer than a traditional ad (a minute and a half on TV costs a fortune); it’s proudly “under-produced” with the company CEO just walking around an actual warehouse, explaining why people shouldn’t have to pay a lot of money for fancy shavers. It’s a perfect combination of funny and weird that’s really proving to stand the test of time.

Seize the moment: Vipp

When the whole world is buzzing about a topic, brands can use the hype and strike with a cool campaign.

Moment marketing proves to be extremely helpful to brands to go viral. Examples like this one below, just a few hours after Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden traveled the whole world in just a few hours. If done right, moment marketing can create the most effective campaigns, without a dollar of your advertising budget spent.


Personalize: Spotify

You’ll find this one on our list of best SaaS marketing campaigns, but it’s simply too good not to give it another mention. SaaS marketing is a particularly tricky concept: how do you advertise something that’s not really a product, and neither a service.

Spotify’s great idea transformed something that’s a personal experience into a fun public conversation. They launched the Wrapped campaign in 2017, but it’s been going strong ever since, as people love to share their musical preferences with the world.

Aside from the humorous ads they created, it also sparked a trend on social media where people shared what they listened to the most. Thanks to great UX, Spotify made sure this is super easy to do on different platforms (e.g. not just posts but also stories that show your year in music).

spotify ad 1.jpg
spotify ad 2.jpg

Engage the community: Coors Light

There are different ways to get your brand trending on social media, or simply to encourage people to buzz about it. For the longer term, this is often a cause you care about and an initiative that supports it.

But a surefire way to get some instant buzz is a freebie. In order for your campaign to really make an impact, you should consider why it might be a good moment to give out free stuff. For example, if you’re a very young company and people have never heard of you, it’s unlikely that even if you offer something for free, thousands of people will flock to you.

Last year a great campaign called #CouldUseABeer was launched by Coors Light. In a time when everyone was overwhelmed with bad news (early days of the covid-19 pandemic), the company decided to shift the narrative into something more positive, and award people in need of a break with a six-pack of their beer.

coors could use a beer campaign.jpg

The most important digital marketing design trends

The world of digital marketing is in a constant state of flux, with the emergence of new platforms, new types of content or simply technical changes that disrupt the order (e.g. Facebook is notorious for constantly changing layout and image specs).

Video content is gaining popularity

Videos have been on the rise for several years and today, the results are pretty evident. Here are just a few eye-opening stats to note:

  • 93% of brands got a new customer base because of a social media video (Animoto)
  • 84% of people say they’ve been convinced to purchase a product after watching a video (Wyzowl)
  • Viewers claim they retain 95% of information obtained from watching a video (Social Media Week)

However, while there is little doubt that videos are a worthwhile investment for your marketing campaign strategy, remember that there are different formats you can use. From stories to livestreams which have skyrocketed in popularity last year, you need to work out what fits your budget and of course, responds to the needs of your target audience (see more below on the section about UX)

Social and ecommerce will continue to grow

Without the ability to visit stores, last year most shopping was done online and even with the end of the pandemic in sight, ecommerce isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

Since over half of social media users search for brands on these platforms, it’s a good idea to consider creating social commerce options, for example, you can now set up a shop on Facebook and Instagram so that people can purchase products directly through the platforms.

UX impacts SEO

SEO is so much more than stuffing your website pages with relevant keywords. Whether you have a blog or online store, providing a positive experience for visitors can have a considerable impact on how well your website ranks in search engine results.

Make sure all the technical aspects are optimized, but also make sure that you are addressing the users’ search intent. In other words, if they search for your products, make sure you provide them with a quick and easy way to purchase them. If you want to rank for general search queries and attract visitors to your website, make sure that you don’t bombard them with ads about your service before you’ve actually answered the question they wanted to read about.

Interactive content

It’s very easy to overlook a piece of graphic design that looks like the majority of things we see on our social feeds daily. However, using digital design to engage with your content, whether it’s through AR and VR technology, or simply good old-fashioned lead generation techniques such as quizzes or surveys, is a way to use the power of design and marketing to grow your business.

A study by Demand Metric found interactive content to be a lot more effective in educating audiences. Go-Gulf’s report suggests that 88% of marketers found interactive content to be a great way to distinguish themselves from their competitors.

Whether it’s an interactive infographic or a large piece of content like an interactive ebook, or a calculator that works out the cost of, say logo design, interactive content takes time, effort and money to create. So, if you’re only just starting to consider this route, make sure to test the waters with something small.


Creating a successful digital marketing strategy is impossible without good design. Whether it’s a snazzy social media post created to showcase your products or service, or an effective web design that provides the best user experience, your digital marketing efforts are only as good as your design.

As a modern design company, we help thousands of clients on a daily basis to create all sorts of assets that boost their marketing efforts. Find out how it works.


Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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