Let’s be honest – digital marketing is a total beast! I mean, there are just so many different types of digital marketing out there! Furthermore, digital marketing typically creates a lot of adversity for marketers and requires a lot of skills.

Most marketers have a lot of questions about digital marketing when they first get going:

  • What channels should I be on?
  • What do SEO and PPC really mean?
  • How do I decipher the benefits and pitfalls associated with each of the different types of digital marketing?
  • Where do I even start?!?!

These are just some of the more rudimentary questions that come to mind.

In this post, we’re going to explore 10 of the different types of digital marketing. Naturally, the lines separating the different options are blurred. However, I’ll do my utmost best to give you a clear understanding of what each type has to offer.

When it comes to selecting which avenue of digital marketing you will pursue, the typical questions will apply:

  • Why do you want to use digital marketing?
  • Who is your ideal target audience?
  • Which of the different types of digital marketing best suits your needs?

Life will become much easier once you answer the above pair of questions.

Types of digital marketing

Let’s dive in and take a look at 10 of the more popular forms of digital marketing. I’ll also touch on the pros and cons of each type. I’ll even delve into potential next steps you may want to consider once you get the ball rolling.

Content marketing

Types of Digital Marketing - Content Marketing

Content marketing is the type of digital marketing that revolves around the art of creating and distributing content. This is instead of simply broadcasting an advertisement (aka direct marketing). If you’re in B2C, content can consist of social media posts, blog articles, and entertaining videos. If you’re of the B2B variety, it might be more about producing white papers, webinars, and educational videos.

The pros

  • It’s free! Well, in the sense that it’s about attracting customers via inbound traffic. Furthermore, most consumers prefer this method instead of direct marketing, which is typically forced and uncomfortable.
  • Content marketing is extremely versatile and is an awesome way to build your brand. It’s also a great way to educate, entertain, and inspire your readers.
  • Best of all, content marketing is the heart and soul of all other types of digital marketing. It drives SEO, social media, email, etc.

The cons

  • Everybody (and their mother) has caught onto the value and importance of content marketing. That being said, it’s a very cluttered space, making it difficult to stand out from the crowd.
  • To be effective, you need to produce high-quality content regularly. Said content needs to meet your audience’s needs yet also remain true to your brand and overall objectives.

Next steps

The first thing you want to do is design a simple content strategy. This is true for all types of digital marketing. However, your content strategy is slightly different than your other strategies. Your content strategy should involve:

  • Identifying 4-5 core topics that you will focus on in your posts.
  • Selecting the formats you want to use (video, audio, articles, etc.).
  • Researching and selecting the channels through which you’ll post each piece of content.

Remember to start simple and play to your strengths. If you’re a strong writer, start with a regular blog post. If you’re a natural on camera, record a weekly video. The sky is literally the limit once you establish a strong foundation.

Search engine marketing: the best free type of digital marketing

Types of Digital Marketing - Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is all about dominating the SEO scene and getting your content to rank on SERPs. You’re literally golden if you can get your brand, product, services, etc., to rank higher than your competition. Think about it for a moment – which results do you typically click on when you search for something on Google? The first few…maybe the latter half of the first page if you’re adventurous. Search engine marketing consists of two main elements, organic search (SEO) and paid search (PPC). Furthermore, you must be mindful of how your content appears on both desktops and mobile devices. All in all, this type of digital marketing is almost always worth the required resources.

SEO

Search engine optimization does exactly what its name states…it’s optimizing for search engines! This essentially means creating content that people actively seek. It also means that said content is optimized from a technical point of view. Everybody should ensure that their content is optimized for search engines, no matter the industry.

The pros

  • It’s FREE!
  • Consumers perceive your brand as being more authentic when it appears in organic search results.

The cons

  • While you may not need to pay for strong search results directly, it does take time and effort to generate amazing content and optimize your website.
  • You’re at the mercy of Google’s revolving door of algorithms.
  • There’s a ton of content out there these days. This makes it wicked hard sometimes to earn the top spots on SERPs.

Next steps

  • SEO starts with great content, so get cracking on your content strategy (see the first section).
  • Do a little keyword research to see what people are looking for at a specific point in time.
  • Stay current with the onslaught of changes in Google’s algorithms.
  • If you’re just getting started with SEO, employ the aid of SEO plugins. I’m a huge fan of Yoast!
  • If you have an ample budget, it’s worthwhile to invest in an SEO expert. These gurus can really kick your SEO engine into gear and get things poppin’!

Pay per click (PPC): the type of digital marketing you pay for…

PPC is paid search advertising – Google Adwords and Bing Ads are two of the more common PPC avenues. PPC looks the same as a natural search result, for the most part. However, it always appears at the top with a little box that says ‘Ad.’ You can purchase top-ranking spots via auctions based on keywords, geographical locations, and demographics. This type of digital marketing is beneficial for e-commerce and local businesses.

Pros

  • You can quickly land a top-ranking spot if you’re willing to pay for it.
  • You only pay when someone clicks on your link (duh?).

Cons

  • PPC can get expensive…like, really expensive, especially when you target popular keywords.
  • Most consumers don’t trust paid ads as much as organic search results.

Next steps

If you have the money, PPC is a great way to compliment (and boost) your organic search efforts. Again, you must do some keyword research. You’ll also want to play around with different ad copy to see what works. Furthermore, you’ll definitely want to track and optimize as you go. You’ll want to work with an agency if possible because PPC can get complicated pretty quickly.

Display advertising: the old school type of digital marketing

Display advertising (aka banner ads) is like the old school print ads you’d get in magazines. However, there’s one big difference – they’re online! Furthermore, you can target specific publications that you know your audience reads. Display ads have become much more sophisticated as of late with programmatic advertising and retargeting.

Pros

  • You can effectively target and re-target customers.
  • Display ads are wicked easy to track, and you can measure conversion rates in real-time.

Cons

  • Customers can easily ignore your ad due to ‘ad blindness’.
  • You need to find a happy medium between maximum impact and not being too annoying.

Next steps

Creativity is a must. Make it clear, impactful, and memorable. Placement is also important. It’s essential to select a relevant context that fits your message and matches your audience. If you’re a small business and you know your market well, consider approaching specific publishers about advertising on their site. You can also use 3rd solutions like Google Display Network or Facebook Audience Network.

Mobile marketing

Mobile marketing is just about as broad as digital marketing. It will also overlap with a lot of other types of digital marketing. Mobile marketing involves taking everything you do on a desktop and making it mobile-friendly. It also involves mobile-specific stuff like in-app adverts, text messaging and developing social messaging apps. Mobile marking is becoming ever more important since the younger generations spend all their time on their phones.

Pros

  • Your customers spend more time on their mobile devices than their desktops.
  • You can hyper-target using unique audience segments or geo-fencing.

Cons

  • Space is minimal on mobile screens.
  • Mobile ads have a low click-through rate.
  • Most apps are downloaded and then totally forgotten.

Next Steps

It is of the utmost importance that your entire website is mobile friendly. Mobile-friendly sites work well and look good on devices of all sizes. This typically means keeping things short, using clear text and big buttons. It’s also a good idea to add captions to your videos so people can follow along even when they’re muted. You can then move onto mobile advertising, text message campaigns, and apps to further your mobile marketing efforts.

Social media marketing: the type of digital marketing everyone uses

Unlike other channels like TV, print, and even display advertising, social media adds a new engagement and interaction dimension. Instead of simply broadcasting messages out to the masses, you can genuinely engage with and listen to your customers. There are a variety of channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Snapchat…just to name a few. There are also various options ranging from organic (Facebook groups and posts) to paid avenues such as Facebook Ads. It’s safe to say that every business should be on at least a few of these social media channels.

Pros

  • The effort you put in can quickly multiply as people like, comment, and share your content with their networks.
  • Some platforms have become very sophisticated in terms of targeting. Facebook, for instance, allows you to target specific customer segments with almost laser accuracy.

Cons

  • The brains behind the social platforms are frequently making changes to their algorithms and finding new ways to make money. It’s just wicked hard to stay on top of all these changes.
  • Posting to social may sound easy…but it isn’t. First off, you need a legitimate social media strategy. It requires a lot more time than you think to do it the right way.

Next Steps

Your social media channels and content marketing strategy (see point 1) need to function as a singular unit. That being said, the same steps apply:

  1. Decide on what awesome content you want to create.
  2. Select effective formats for said content.
  3. Identify the channels on which you’re going to distribute your stellar content.

If you want to take things to the next level, you can always create a calendar. This calendar will help you know when you’re posting content and on which channel you’re posting it. It would help if you remembered that social media is interactive. It’s not just about pushing out your captivating graphics and posts. You need to respond to your customers and engage in meaningful dialogues.

Email marketing

Email is definitely an old school tool. However, email marketing is still one of the most effective digital marketing tools out there! This is especially true for e-commerce sites and retail brands when it comes to seasonal promotions and discounts. You can also use email newsletters to nurture your prospects by providing a wealth of value beyond just sales.

Pros

  • Developing an email list makes you immune to changing social media algorithms. This is huge if tragedy strikes and your Facebook page gets shut down, for instance!
  • An email list also provides a great way to connect with your customers and forge meaningful relationships. Doing so will keep you at the forefront of their mind when it comes time to buy!

Cons

  • A lot of emails are left unopened. This means that you need to craft phenomenal subject headings to stand out from the rest of the clutter.
  • You need to keep them happy, so they don’t unsubscribe…this is easier said than done.

Next Steps

Start by selecting a mass email platform (Mailchimp, COnvertKit, GetResponse, etc.) and then start collecting emails.

Influencer marketing

Types of Digital Marketing - Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing entails partnering with influencers – celebrities, experts, and other authority figures – who have a pre-existing audience. The concept of influencer marketing is that when influencers promote your product, their followers will then jump on the bandwagon. One name that may come to mind is the Kardashians or some other young Hollywood figure. Big names have a big impact, but they’re typically hard to land and can come at a steep price. Most think of B2C sales when it comes to influencer marketing. However, this type of marketing can be just as powerful in the B2B sector. The key difference is that you’ll need to partner with a serious thought leader or expert in your industry.

Pros

  • You get to ride the wave on the influencer’s existing audience. This is way more efficient than waiting to build your own massive audience.
  • Associating your brand with a popular personality can score you some instant ‘cool points’. This pays off big time with a younger audience.

Cons

  • It’s not as simple as just partnering with a big name. You need to select the right influencer based on your brand and target audience. Furthermore, you also need an authentic way to connect with your influencer of choice.
  • People are starting to not buy into influencers as much as they used to a few years back. That being said, you need to be ultra-transparent about the fact that you’re paying them to promote your brand.

Next Steps

First, you need to decide what you want to achieve through your influencer marketing campaign. Come up with a shortlist of potential influencers who already have the right audience. It’s also important that they feel like a good match for your brand. Remember that it’s not all about size, but rather who their followers are and their level of engagement. Next, get in touch with them and see what sort of arrangement you can negotiate!

Affiliate marketing

Types of Digital Marketing - Affiliate Marketing

This type of digital marketing involves outsourcing sales to other individuals (or companies). You then compensate said individuals (or companies) with a commission for their efforts. Affiliate marketing is popular among bloggers and e-commerce sites. Amazon Associates is one of the most well-established programs in history. Affiliates promote your product on their website and automatically receive a commission for all customers who click-through and buy.

Pros

  • Your affiliates are doing the heavy lifting for you in terms of marketing and sales.
  • There’s zero upfront cost since you only pay for conversions.

Cons

  • You no longer have 100% control of your brand. Furthermore, you’ll need to educate your affiliates on your brand identity and messaging.
  • You simply can’t just outsource it and sit there. You need to spend time tracking and monitoring your affiliates.

Next Steps

You’ll want to start with a competitive analysis to see what sort of programs are out there. You’ll especially want to pay attention to what level(s) of commission they offer. From there, you have a big choice to make. Do you want to run your program in-house or partner with an affiliate management agency? You definitely want to define the payment details, terms, and conditions clearly. Lastly, make sure to conduct a proper onboarding. This is essential so that your affiliates understand your brand guidelines and what’s permitted and what’s not.

Video marketing

Video marketing is straight rocking it these days. If there’s one thing your business should be doing these days, no matter your industry, this is likely it! You can use short clips or longer formats that can be educational or entertaining, pre-recorded, or live streaming. It’s no longer just the case of taking a television ad and putting that online. Instead, you’re creating bespoke content for your digital channels.

Pros

  • Video can be super effective in getting your message across since it creates an emotional connection with your audience. Furthermore, it is far more memorable than a page full of text or even a picture.
  • All the major platforms – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. – are pushing video content. This allows you to increase your reach and engagement, which ultimately means that you’ll rank higher in the SERPs!

Cons

  • Most people these days have the attention span of a goldfish. That being said, you only have a few seconds to capture the attention of your audience. If you don’t, they’ll simply skim on to whatever’s next in their feed.
  • Anyone can make a low-budget video. However, high-quality and engaging video content takes time, skill, and money.

Next Steps

Video marketing needs to become part of your content strategy asap. Ensure that you’re specific about whether you’re trying to be inspirational, educational, or entertaining. You also want to make sure you’re focused on the objective as you begin the creative process. It doesn’t have to be perfect with high production values. A lot of great video content is shot with an iPhone! However, make sure to keep lighting in mind and that the sound is crystal clear and professional.

Audio marketing

Types of Digital Marketing - Audio Marketing

Radio has come a wicked long way since the Golden Age of commercial broadcasting. Even though the radio was replaced by television, most people still listen to the radio every week. This is especially true with the growth of internet radio. The option is still available to do traditional radio advertisements or similar ads on channels like Spotify. However, audio marketing can be much broader, such as podcasts and smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.

Pros

  • Audio – whether you’re talking old school or new school – is a super convenient medium. It offers on-demand, on-the-go listening for a busy audience. Furthermore, tapping into that means you’re reaching your audience where they’re already spending their time.
  • Audio content can be easier and cheaper to produce than video content.

Cons

  • Listeners are often multi-tasking, so it can be hard to get them to take the next step.
  • Marketing on smart assistants is still pretty early on in its development. There’s a steep learning curve without any real immediate ROI.

Next Steps

There’s a wicked diverse bucket of audio marketing tools at your disposal. So the first step is to decide what exactly it is that you want to accomplish. Do you want to create a radio ad? Start a podcast? Start experimenting with smart home assistants? Think about the audience you’re targeting and where they’re spending their time. This should dictate the best channel to focus on and maybe also help you use some content you’ve already created.  Reusing content is far better than having to create content from scratch! Here’s a challenge, reach out to a couple of relevant blogs, and see if they’ll host an article of yours!

About Andrew Roche

Andrew Roche is an underwriter at United Wholesale Mortgage by day and a digital marketer by night. In addition to his role as an underwriter and his digital marketing hustles, he is also in the process of completing an MBA in Marketing & Finance through the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University.

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