The Different Types and Uses of Digital Marketing

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Digital Marketing Types in 2021


What Is Digital Marketing and What Are the Different Types?

July 26, 2021
8 minutes


Even though it’s been here for decades, digital marketing is still confused with other terms and constantly evolving. We will help you understand the difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing forms, as well as learn its different types.

Digital marketing can be explained simply as online marketing, or any type of promotion of products or services that happens through the use of a mobile device. So, any promotional message you see on your phone, tablet or computer, is a piece of digital marketing.

But, it isn’t that black and white. Keep reading to learn the different types of digital media, why online advertising is beneficial for your business, and how to stay relevant by using all digital channels.

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Defining digital marketing

If you are using different digital channels to reach potential customers, whether a Google ad or an endorsement by an influencer, you have some sort of digital marketing strategy.

Digital marketing is a form of raising brand awareness and promoting products and services online, by placing promotional content on different platforms and in many different forms.

Although television is a digital medium, television marketing is considered part of traditional marketing forms. The reason for that is that the most defining feature of digital marketing is that it is two-way communication. That means that the viewers of your marketing campaigns online can give their feedback on which you can further improve your efforts with targeting, optimization and learning about your ideal buyers.

Types of digital marketing

To try and lump everything into one category when explaining digital marketing would be reckless since there are multiple categories and activities within it.

For example, in a marketing agency, you are very likely to find specialists for social media marketing, or people working only with pay-per-click advertising. Digital marketing is so detailed and developed nowadays, that every branch has its own experts, platforms and best practices. So, let’s dive into them one by one.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization or SEO is less a marketing tyoe, but rather a tool. It is the practice and activities of making a website “attractive” to search engines.

Through best practices and research, SEO experts improve four different elements to better the performance of a website online:

  • Content and its quality
  • Number and quality of inbound links
  • User engagement and experience
  • Mobile-friendliness

The best way to picture the practice of SEO is to imagine that a search engine checks if a website is good, or as we say, “crawls” it.

Things that are taken into account are: phrases used in the website copy and content marketing, local SEO and how to improve it, loading speed on all elements, user-friendliness and experience, number of other websites that link towards yours, etc.

Search engines change their algorithms regularly, so with them, SEO experts need to improve their skills and optimize websites and their content accordingly.


Pay-per-click marketing (PPC)

As the name suggests, pay-per-click or PPC marketing is a form of advertising that places an ad on an online platform, and the advertiser pays for each click the ad gets from a viewer.

PPC is often referred to as, but isn’t identical to SEM, which stands for ‘Search Engine Marketing,’ and is an umbrella term for any action aimed at making it easier to locate a certain website via a search engine.

When it comes to PPC, the main goal is to get a noticeable and good spot on a search engine that then reaches a big number of viewers.

When a position on a search engine results page, commonly known as a SERP, becomes available, the engine fills it with what amounts to an auction. Each accessible ad is prioritized by an algorithm based on a variety of variables, including:

  • The relevance of the keyword
  • The quality of the ad
  • The quality of the landing page or website it leads to
  • The bid amount or price offered by the advertiser

After clicking an ad, viewers are supposed to execute one or more target actions in each PPC campaign. Those actions are called conversions, which can be transactional or non-transactional.


Social media marketing (SMM)

SMM is what people usually have in mind when digital marketing is mentioned. The popularity of social networks and the fact that in 2020, there were 3.96 billion people actively using social media in the world, really makes it easy to see why people think that all digital marketing happens on Facebook and Instagram.

Still, social media marketing drives traffic towards specific websites and raises brand awareness, through advertising and posting on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, as well as YouTube (although it isn’t considered a social media).

The biggest thing that makes SMM so important is that it involves active participation and feedback from the target audience. This means that the advertisers can easily measure the success of campaigns, as well as learn the demographic data, interests, background and other information for their ideal buyers.

Built-in engagement metrics in social media marketing are incredibly valuable in determining how successfully you’re reaching your target audience. You get to choose whatever kinds of interactions are most important to you, whether it’s the number of shares, comments, or overall website clicks.

Apart from that, many brands use social media to connect with their audiences and nurture customer relationships, as well as improve their customer service based on the audience’s comments and suggestions.


Content marketing

Content marketing refers to producing long-form content that helps the readers and viewers learn or discover things that are directly or indirectly related to the business’ scope of work. Content marketing is tightly connected to SEO since it’s usually based on a keyword analysis that overlaps the main interest of the business, its competitors and things that the audience wants to learn about.

The objective of content marketing is to generate leads who will eventually become customers. However, it works in a very different way than traditional advertising. Rather than tempting prospects with the prospective value of a product or service, it provides value in the form of textual information for free.

Content marketing is also more slow-paced than other forms: for an article to start performing on search engines, it takes more time. Sometimes, you will see an article published a year ago or more gain traction quickly.

So, this form of marketing is very effective but still tricky. Search engines have updates in their algorithm all the time, and the last big change is that content doesn’t simply need a lot of keywords to perform well. On the contrary, that might make it seem like spam for search engine crawlers.

The most important thing is to make it informative, legible, and above all to answer the search intent. Writers for content marketing must be able to rank well in search engine results while also captivating readers who will read, share, and interact with the business further. When the material is relevant, it may form strong bonds with people all the way down the pipeline.

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Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” deal in the marketing world. It functions in the way that one person promotes their business through the channels and platform of another one. So, affiliate marketing allows person A to earn money by advertising the products and services of person B. It is also a famous form of passive income for many entrepreneurs and influential people in certain markets.

It operates on a revenue-sharing basis. If you’re an affiliate, you’ll get paid every time someone buys the product you’re promoting. Or vice versa, you pay the affiliate for every sale they assist you to generate if you’re the merchant.

Email marketing

Email marketing might be the grandpa of digital marketing types, existing pretty much as long as the internet does. But, it is still effective and worth investing in, contrary to the fact that many marketers presumed it will slowly die out and be overtaken by other forms.

Email marketing consists of sending promotional, educational and informational content in the form of a personalized email received by subscribers. Before the changes in internet privacy and GDPR, companies could gather emails without the consent of the recipient, which was of course unethical and, frankly, annoying.

Nowadays, companies can only send emails to potential customers that opt in to be part of an email list, and receive emails blasts, newsletters and news about products, releases and sales in an interval that the company deems most suitable.

Native advertising

Native advertising is “camouflaged” marketing, whose objective is to blend in with the information around it, making it less visible as advertising.

Native advertising was developed in response to today’s customers’ aversion to advertisements. Many customers will assume that an ad is prejudiced if the creator pays for it to appear. As a result, they will disregard it.

A native ad avoids this prejudice by providing information or amusement before going into any commercial content, thereby minimizing the “ad” element.

Still, it is critical to carefully mark your native advertisements at all times. While that will make them more appealing to audiences, you should mark them as “sponsored” or "promotional”, since readers spend a substantial amount of time engaging with the content before realizing it is advertising.

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Stefanija Tenekedjieva

July 26, 2021

Journalist turned content writer. Based in North Macedonia, aiming to be a digital nomad. Always loved to write, and found my perfect job writing about graphic design, art and creativity. A self-proclaimed film connoisseur, cook and nerd in disguise.