What Is Digital Marketing? Everything You Need To Know

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is a general term for any steps a company takes to connect with customers through electronic technology. Digital marketing promotes and sells products or services to prospective customers through online platforms such as email, social media, mobile marketing, online customer communities, webinars and other video-based content.

The digital marketing process involves similar tactics as traditional marketing. Organizations can combine both traditional and digital marketing techniques as a strategy.

Importance of digital marketing

Digital marketing helps an organization appeal to a much larger audience than it could through traditional marketing methods because the reach of the internet is worldwide. This marketing method also enables organizations to target prospective customers who are most likely to buy their product or service. For example, a company can advertise holiday sales by emailing past customers or by sharing news of the deals on social media.

Organizations have a number of different online methods they can use to reach out to customers, including through emails, social media, text, banner advertisements or affiliates.

Five pillars of social media marketing: strategy; planning and publishing; listening and engagement; analytics and reporting; and advertising


The five pillars of social media marketing represent the steps an organization must take to connect with potential customers.


Social media provides a common way for individuals to interact and communicate with organizations. Likewise, marketers can collect insights from their target audience on these platforms and increase customer engagement by communicating with them. Digital marketing strategies can be quickly shifted as needed. The platform and format of communication can be changed if the target audience moves platforms, for example.

Digital marketing has become more complex because of the various new communication channels that have emerged, but also in terms of the analysis required to make sense of customers, prospects and their preferences. Organizations use a variety of tools to understand the behavior and preferences of customers, prospects and leads. From social media listening to predictive analytics and big data analytics, organizations enlist a variety of resources to understand customer responses to their digital marketing efforts.

Types of digital marketing

Digital marketing can appear in many forms, including the following:

Email marketing. Organizations reach out to customers and prospective customers through email with the goal of promoting current business practices such as sales or events.

Social media marketing. Organizations use social media marketing through platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to connect and communicate with customers and prospective customers, notifying them of updates or deals, as well as just communicating and building social trust.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC advertising enables organizations to advertise on different websites with paid ads. An example of such an advertisement is a banner ad. If enough data or cookies are collected about a user, these ads can be targeted by characteristics like age, gender, location or general interests. The ad publisher is paid every time a user clicks on the ad.

Content marketing. This digital marketing strategy tries to reach customers through content. Content refers to something an organization produces and publishes on a website with the intent to promote it through other marketing types, such as social media or email.

Sponsored content. An organization pays another business to create and promote content that highlights the marketer’s product or service.

Affiliate marketing. An organization pays a commission to an influencer on a specific platform, such as YouTube or Instagram, to promote its product or service.

Short Message Service (SMS) marketing. Organizations might choose to use SMS messages to send promotions to customers. Political candidates running for office commonly send SMS messages as a part of their campaigning efforts.

Marketing automation software has also become increasingly important to digital marketing as companies try to reach a broader swath of potential customers and link customer behavior with potential new purchases. For example, organizations use marketing automation to measure visitor behavior on their websites, and then target visitors to potentially sell products and services.

Inbound marketing vs. digital marketing

Inbound marketing is a strategy that focuses on attracting customers using company-created internet content. The goal of inbound marketing is for customers to come to the organization rather than having marketers compete for customers’ attention.