Digital marketing, or online marketing, is a form of advertising that uses the internet and digital technologies to connect with customers. Rather than traditional media, such as print, radio, or television, digital marketing uses computers, mobile, social media, search engines, and other digital channels to reach consumers wherever they spend the most time.
Learn all you need to know about digital marketing, its methodologies, and how to get started in this career.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is a form of marketing that leverages the internet and digital technologies, such as computers and smartphones, to connect with customers. More than running a sponsored Instagram ad to drive sales, it’s a set of practices that interacts with customers at every stage of the buying journey.
Digital marketing includes email, social media, advertising, and multimedia messaging that is distributed through mobile and web. Over 60 percent of the global population is online, and more people are joining them every day . That’s why companies are now increasing their digital marketing budgets by double-digit figures while traditional marketing gets slashed .
Data plays a big part in digital marketing. Marketers can collect valuable information by tracking a customer’s journey in real time and target specific audiences by tailoring content to their preferred digital channels. For example, Starbucks has collected data from their rewards mobile apps to help identify seasonal trends and create tailored promotions .
Watch this short video from Google on how digital marketing creates value:
5 types of digital marketing (with examples)
Digital marketers connect with potential customers through different channels. The following digital marketing tactics, used by small companies and big businesses alike, remain among the most popular and impactful used today.
1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique that seeks to improve the ranking of online material on search engines such as Google or Bing. If you have ever searched for something on Google, you’ve likely noticed that even the simplest search can yield millions of results. Yet, you probably rarely go past the first few suggestions, let alone the next page.
In such a highly crowded space, digital marketers use SEO to ensure that potential customers actually find their products or services online. Some common ways to go about SEO include:
Creating quality content that meets searcher intent
Using keywords to help search engines identify relevant material
Using long-tail keywords (specific phrases that searchers use) to help content reach its target audience
Ensuring that content loads quickly and is compatible with mobile devices
Data drives SEO marketing
In SEO marketing, you’ll be in charge of monitoring data, such as the bounce rate or clickthrough rate, to measure how well a blog, product page, or social media post is doing. You’ll need to become familiar with tools like SEMRush and Google Analytics, as well as business intelligence tools like Tableau and Looker to generate and analyze data from your organization.
Read more: What Is SEO Marketing? + How to Improve Your SEO
2. Content marketing
Content marketing connects with target audiences through original content, such as blogs, articles, and newsletters. It is often used to raise brand awareness through material that appeals to a particular audience.
Content marketing can take many forms across a range of digital media channels, including:
Informative articles and blogs
Newsletters (like Substack, Medium, or LinkedIn)
3. Email marketing
Marketers send out timely emails to large groups of people who have signed up for their contact list to inform potential customers of sales, discounts, and product launches. The impact of email marketing is clear: When used strategically, it can have an average return on investment (ROI) of 4,200 percent for every dollar invested .
Some common examples of emailing marketing include:
Timed emails that raise brand awareness during holiday seasons
Blast emails that inform recipients about upcoming sales events
Targeted emails that send personalized offers and messages to specific groups on an email list
4. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a digital marketing model that involves an advertiser paying a publisher each time their ads are clicked. Typically, the publisher is a website owner, search engine operator, or social network platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram.
Typical examples of PPC advertising include:
Banner ads that flank web content on the sides or top of the page
Social media ads that appear in the feeds of targeted audiences
Ads that appear when a specific keyword is searched on a search engine, such as Google
5. Social media marketing
Social media marketing is a form of digital marketing that uses social networks such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, to reach customers. It leverages the reach of social network platforms with data-driven efforts to reach targeted consumers.
Whether through computers, mobile devices, or mobile apps, social media offers the opportunity to reach a wide—and targeted—audience of possible consumers.
Examples of social media marketing include:
Videos posted onto social media as a part of a larger campaign, such as this 80s-themed music video produced by peanut company Planters for the holidays
Pictures posted on Instagram that reflect a brand’s identity, such as Patagonia’s nature-filled Instagram account
Digital marketing salary and job outlook
Digital marketing is an in-demand field with a growing impact because it offers brands the opportunity to reach billions of people using the internet and social media today.
On average, advertising, promotions, and marketing manager roles are projected to grow by 10 percent between 2021 and 2031, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics . Glassdoor estimates that the average annual salary for a digital marketing manager in the United States is $79,179 as of March 2023.
How to become a digital marketer
Digital marketers need to be familiar with marketing, business, communications, and digital technologies. You’ll need to be creative, strategic, and analytical.
Many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in either business or communications, but a degree isn’t always necessary if you have the right skills. It is helpful for candidates to have done an internship while in school.
Skills needed in a digital marketing career:
Collaboration with designers, strategists, and product developers
Data analysis and familiarity with data analytics
Social media marketing
SEM/SEO and CRM tools
Digital marketing with Google
A career in digital marketing is possible with the proper preparation, training, and approach. Start building the skills that companies are looking for with the Google Digital Marketing & E-commerce Professional Certificate on Coursera. Go from beginner to job-ready in months as you learn at your own pace.