Digital marketing is the marketing of goods or services using digital technologies. In other words, the primary purpose of digital marketing is to use digital mediums of communications to achieve marketing goals and objectives.
Because there are different digital technologies and corresponding digital mediums of communications, each with their unique characteristics, there are different types of digital marketing activities. Take note that each activity also corresponds to a particular method of digital marketing or a digital marketing channel.
Methods and channels: Types of digital marketing activities
1. Online Advertising
The term “online advertising” pertains to different digital marketing activities involving the placement of advertisements in online ad spaces. There are different channels for placing online ads. Hence, there are different types of online advertising. These include search engine advertising, website display advertising, social media advertising, and mobile or in-app advertising.
Read the following specific details of each type of online advertising channels:
• Search Engine Advertising: In search engine advertising or sponsored search, a company or advertiser buy ad spaces and corresponding search keywords from search engine companies such as Google and Yahoo! Hence, when a particular Internet user use the strings of keywords in the search engine, the advertising message of the advertiser appears on top of the search result list and elsewhere in the search result page.
• Website Display Advertising: Some websites to include news websites, online magazines, and blogs join an advertising program such as Google AdSense to display and run ads placed by companies or advertisers in relevant ad networks. These ads serve as a source of revenues for online publishers. On the part of advertisers, they purchase these ad spaces based on different models to include pay-per-click, cost-per-millage, and cost-per-engagement, among others.
• Social Media Advertising: The prominence of social networking sites or SNSs such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube has opened new channels for online advertising. Take note that the revenue model of these SNSs center on selling different types of ad spaces to companies or advertisers. In other words, websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn earn through online advertisements.
• Mobile or In-App Advertising: One of the sources of revenues for developers of mobile apps such as free mobile games and other free-to-use applications is in-app advertising. The popularity of smartphone and tablet devices has created a specific channel for online advertising aimed at targeting mobile users. Similar to website and social media ads, companies or advertisers buy ad space from an advertising program or ad network.
2. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing comprises a range of different digital marketing activities that specifically involve the use of social media platforms or social networking sites to market goods and services. Some of its notable advantages include targeted reach to existing market base and the use of analytical tools for targeting marketing efforts.
There are specific activities under social media marketing. Take note of the following:
• Social Media Engagement: One of the purposes of social media marketing is to connect and engage the different stakeholders of a company, brand, or product. Social media engagement involves posting timely and relevant status updates aimed at informing the audience, addressing the feedback or inquiries from customers and potential customers, and create and maintain a social media community.
• Social Media Advertising: Part of a comprehensive social media marketing plan is the placement of ads on social media platforms, as well as the justification for choosing which platforms or SNSs to use. Hence, social media marketing overlaps with online advertising to a certain degree.
• Social Media Optimization: Social media marketing also overlaps with other types of digital marketing activities such as website development and content marketing. The goal of social media optimization is to create a social media content with the goal of driving traffic to a particular website or webpage or increase awareness about a particular product, or create web contents that encourage people to share them on different social media platforms or SNSs. Social media optimization also uses techniques in viral marketing or viral seeding.
3. Affiliate Marketing
Some companies or advertisers, notably e-commerce websites and businesses with online storefronts use affiliate marketing to drive website traffic, attract potential customers, and generate online sales. By definition, affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based digital marketing activity in which an advertiser commissions the services of a third-parties or affiliates, usually online publishers or news websites and bloggers, as well as independent online influencers.
The third-party or affiliate is responsible for promoting the advertise or more specifically, the company or its products through various means such a product feature and review, display ads, email marketing, and social media marketing, among others. In other words, the affiliate is in charge of all the marketing efforts, and he or she earns a commission. The advertiser specifically pays this affiliate based on the visitor he or she brought to the website or the sale he or she generates.
Based on the above, it is interesting to note that affiliate marketing also demonstrates the application of the different methods or types of digital marketing activities.
4. Email Marketing
Email is one of the earliest channels of communication on the Internet. Almost all Internet users and organizations use email messaging as a form of a more formal communication. Nonetheless, when applied in digital marketing, email marketing has two primary purposes. Take note of the following:
• Sales and Promotion: Similar to outbound calling or cold-calling in telemarketing and other forms of direct marketing, email messages are sent to a list of recipients or sales lead to create awareness about a particular product or offer special sales promotions. Some email marketing messages are unsolicited while others are sent through a group of subscribers.
• Customer Relations: Another purpose of email marketing is to create and maintain relationships with the customers or stakeholders. Email marketing messages can include sales promotion such as discounts aimed at repeat purchases, announcements about loyalty programs or special events, and responses to inquiries or customer feedback.
5. Search Engine Marketing
The concept of search engine marketing centers primarily on improving the search engine visibility of the website of a business or its brand or product. There are two specific activities under this type of digital marketing activity.
• Search Engine Optimization: The purpose of search engine optimization is to improve the organic search engine ranking of a website through different techniques to include in-article keyword improvements, the use of meta tagging and meta descriptions, mobile optimization, and overall website performance optimization.
• Search Engine Advertising: Overlapping with online advertising, search engine marketing also includes the placement of advertisements on ad spaces through search engine advertising or sponsored search. This allows advertisers to be included in an organic search result for specific search keywords.
6. Content Marketing
Content marketing involves the creation, publication, and distribution of different contents such as articles, social media posts, images, and videos aimed at generating attraction and sales leads, expanding the customer base, generating or increasing sales, increasing brand awareness, promoting credibility or maintaining and building a reputation, and engaging Internet users.
This marketing activity has overlaps with other methods or types of digital marketing activities such as social media marketing, affiliate marketing, email marketing, and search engine optimization. For example, when used alongside social media marketing, the goal of content marketing is to create contents that are both engaging and shareable. In affiliate marketing, affiliates produce and disseminate contents to promote a product through article or video features and reviews.
Email marketing messages are also a type of contents and thus, a specific activity within content marketing. Blogs or informative contents within the website of a business, brand, or product are also optimized for search engine ranking, thus promoting the online visibility of the website.
Other examples of contents include white papers, e-books and audiobooks, infographics, case studies, podcasts, and webinars. Remember that central to content marketing is to provide valuable information that would help increase the value of the company or its brand and product.
A Note on Online and Offline Digital Marketing Activities
The concept of digital marketing transcends beyond online activities. Remember that digital marketing pertains to marketing efforts delivered using digital technologies and relevant digital mediums of communications. Thus, marketing efforts delivered through SMS and MMS, callbacks, and on-hold mobile ringtones are also examples of digital marketing activities.
Some marketers also consider traditional advertising activities coursed through traditional mediums of communications such as television, radio, and telephones, as well as through outdoor displays such as digital billboards or interactive displays as also form of digital marketing activities or more appropriately, offline digital marketing activities. In this case, search engine marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, affiliate marketing, and online advertising are methods or types of online digital marketing activities.