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All Your Questions Answered: What is Digital Marketing?

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More than 60% of the world's population is online. According to the latest reports, internet users have grown by more than 330 million from April 2020 to reach more than 4.7 billion by April 2021.

That's not the only statistic you should know.

Almost 6 out of 10 global internet users (58%) buy something online every week. And 30.6%% of those use their mobile device to make the purchase.

The bottom line?

Businesses need to be investing in digital marketing if they want to meet those customers where they are at - online.

Let's break it down:


What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is the use of digital channels to connect with and engage consumers where they spend most of their time: online.

When we talk about digital marketing channels, we mean search engines, paid ads, email, websites, social media, and mobile. This means there's a whole ton of tactics that fall under the umbrella of digital marketing, from social media marketing to search engine optimization, mobile marketing and more.

Online marketing vs offline marketing

By contrast, traditional marketing is marketing that takes place offline. This could be print, direct mail, out of home (OOH) advertising, broadcast, and phone.

With online marketing and offline marketing, the best results come when you use tactics together in integrated campaigns to hit your marketing goals: attracting your ideal customers, nurturing relationships, driving conversions and growing loyalty.

Aside from online vs offline, the thing that sets online marketing apart from offline marketing is that digital marketing is hugely customizable. You can continuously monitor and analyze your results, and adjust your efforts based on what you can see is bringing in the best engagement and conversions.

  • Is email marketing giving you an incredible return on investment? Look at how you can send hyper-personalized emails for more click-throughs.

  • Your social media advertising not performing as expected? Tweak your ad copy and targeting.

By constantly fine-tuning your campaigns, you can really fire up your ROI.

The difference between digital marketing and offline marketing campaigns

Digital marketing also reaches more of your target audience at a fraction of the cost of offline marketing. No need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on ad campaigns that may or may not land with your customers. You can use online marketing campaigns to reach your audience for a much smaller investment, and fast.

The risk is much lower, and the rewards are much higher - for all sizes of business. That's the thing about digital marketing: it's accessible to small businesses, sole traders and ecommerce businesses - right up to global enterprises.

The other big difference is that digital marketing opens the doors for interaction with audiences. You aren't  communicating a message on TV or on a billboard with no feedback from the audience. You can  engage with your audience directly - especially if you're investing in social media marketing.


Why is digital marketing important?

Marketing is about connecting with your audience in the right place, at the right time and with the right message.

That's why digital marketing is critical - because more people are spending more time online. 

Whether it’s messaging, sending emails, checking news and articles, looking for products to buy, or streaming content, the internet plays a pivotal role in consumers’ daily activities.

Just take a look at these statistics:

  • More than 3 in 4 Americans go online on a daily basis

  • 43% go on more than once a day and 26% are online “almost constantly.” 

  • On average, internet users spend 6 hours and 56 minutes online each day (DataReportal, 2021)

  • The average person spends two hours and 22 minutes a day on social media, and most of this time is spent on Facebook and TikTok. (Oberlo)


If you have an ecommerce store, there are even more compelling reasons for digital marketing:

  • 92.2% of internet users visit online stores (DataReportal, 2021)

  • 81.8% carry out online searches for a product or service to purchase (DataReportal, 2021)

  • 78.6% follow through with their purchases (DataReportal, 2021)

  • In 2021, there were 900 million more digital buyers than in 2020—a 4.4% year-over-year increase (Oberlo)


Any business with an online presence, and even some without, must have a digital marketing strategy in place. You simply cannot survive without it. 

But it's not just about surviving, with the internet already a key part of people's lives around the world, it is truly a goldmine for business owners.


What do digital marketers do?

Digital marketers are the brains behind digital marketing strategy and execution. They focus on building brand awareness and lead generation through a selection of digital marketing channels. 

The big challenge for a digital marketer is to drive return on investment for the digital budget. This means they need to set a key performance indicator (KPI) for each channel and track the results to ensure they are getting a strong ROI.

The thing about digital marketing is that there are lots of channels, and each of those channels requires a level of expertise. Digital marketers are often generalists - they focus on the overarching strategy and oversee the campaigns to meet the business goals. However, the execution of digital tactics often comes down to specialists - such as a search marketer, social media marketer and content marketer.

In smaller businesses, the digital marketer might wear a few different hats, or oversee a digital agency that runs the search marketing, mobile marketing and social campaigns. In larger businesses, there's often a team of marketers, each focusing on different products or brands.


5 must-have skills for digital marketers 

Here are some skills that digital marketing pros should have to ensure winning campaigns:

1. Be able to utilize data to optimize marketing efforts

Data is a powerful tool. It is how you can see which campaigns are working, and which aren't. It helps you understand your customers, and how to reach and engage them. Knowing how and where to track data and being able to use it to optimize campaigns is vital. For example, search traffic, demographics, website user behavior, social media engagement metrics, and more.

2. Seeing the big picture

Customers don't just use one channel before they buy from your business. They have a complex and varied journey across touchpoints. The best marketers take a holistic view of digital marketing channels, and understand the efforts need to be integrated to reach customers in the right place, at the right time, with the right messaging.

3. Leverage strategic partnerships

Whether it's collaborating with content producers or building influencer partnerships, a great digital marketer never works alone. You need to understand how to partner with agencies, individuals or other brands to meet your marketing goals.

4. A/B Testing

Testing is one of the most overlooked elements of digital marketing, yet it's also one of the most important. Split testing, or A/B testing, is a marketing experiment where you "split" your audience to test variations of a campaign and determine which performs better. The best digital marketers use A/B testing for different campaign elements to continuously improve results.

5. Willingness to learn

The biggest weapon any marketer can have is to keep learning. In a digital marketing world that's always changing, this is how you stay ahead of the game. Sign up to industry newsletters, learn from digital marketing agencies, complete the free Google and Facebook courses - there's no end of learning opportunities online.


Types of digital marketing

1. Search engine optimization (SEO)

One of the most common methods of digital marketing is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Search engine optimization is used to increase the quality and quantity of organic search traffic to your website - that is, unpaid traffic from search engines like Google.

Organic search accounts for a massive 95% of all web traffic. To win a share of that organic traffic on your site, you need to rank at the top of search engine results pages.

To do that, you need to implement SEO tactics - both on-page and off-page.

On-page optimization includes tactics that are done ON your web pages to improve search rankings. These are things you can control, like site structure, design, content, images, meta tags, and so on.

Off-page optimization covers actions that happen off your website. Think third-party sites or social platforms. Tactics includes link-building, social media marketing, online reviews and more.

Because SEO is complex and ever-changing, many digital marketing pros hire an SEO agency to manage it for them. They become an extension of your marketing team, providing expertise to help you work towards your digital goals.

In 2022, SEO also includes voice search: 60% of people have started using voice search within the last year (MindMeld), and many brands are now including it in their digital marketing strategies. For example, Domino’s Pizza uses voice search technology to enable customers to order pizzas through Alexa. 

2. Paid advertising (PPC)

Paid advertising, or Pay Per Click (PPC), is a method of driving online traffic to your website by paying a third-party channel every time your ad is clicked. This could be paid search ads on Google or Bing, or other types of paid advertising, such as banner ads on websites and YouTube video ads.

The most popular method of PPC advertising is paid search ads on Google. This is also known as search engine marketing. These ads show up on the top and bottom of the first page of search engine results when a specific keyword is searched.

Google runs an Ad Auction to decide which ads get shown at the top. A big part of PPC advertising is creating targeted ads along with a bidding strategy that wins the top spot at the right price.

One of the most significant benefits of paid search advertising is speed.

You can put hyper-targeted ads in front of your potential customers on search engines in a matter of hours, so long as you have the know-how. So, if your business is just launching or you have a time-sensitive offer to promote, PPC is an effective tactic.

At the same time, the world of digital advertising moves fast. You need to keep up with industry changes, as well as your campaign’s performance and be ready to tweak things to get maximum conversion rates.  

That's why, in 2022, programmatic advertising is a growing trend. This digital marketing tactic is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automate ad buying, which allows you to target specific audiences more efficiently and bid on ads in real-time. That means higher conversions and lower customer acquisition costs.

3. Social media marketing

Americans are spending more time on social media channels, like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tik Tok. Social media marketing statistics for 2021 show there are 3.78 billion social media users globally. That’s almost half of the current global population.

Facebook alone has more than 2.8 billion active monthly users, and Instagram has 2+ billion active (and highly engaged) users.

So if you want to get your brand and products seen by your target audience, social media is a good place to be. 

There are lots of streams to social media marketing. At the very least you should do organic social posts, which is unpaid posts on your business social media profile.

However, the biggest challenge marketers face is to build a large and engaged audience for your profile.

That's where Social Media Advertising comes in.

Social media advertising is where you pay for ads to target users on your chosen social media platform, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram. 

Social platforms let you tap into their audience data to serve highly targeted and relevant advertisements to your target audience. So rather than waiting for people to find your posts naturally, you tap into a ready-made audience who you know are interested in what you have to offer.

Each social media marketing platform has its own advertising tools and features to help advertisers get the best from their budget and hit their goals.

The reality is that ads on social channels work: 64% of all online shoppers say videos they saw on social media influenced a purchasing decision.

One of the top benefits of social media marketing is that the ability to scale. Want to reach 10,000 people in one day? Your social advertising campaign can achieve that. How about 100,000 people? Go right ahead.

There's no need to wait for them to find your content or search specific keywords (like with other digital advertising), social advertising gets in front of them from the start.

Another type of social media marketing is influencer marketing. This is where you work with social media personalities who already have an engaged and loyal following, and they help you promote your product. Because their followers trust their recommendations, they are more likely to be influenced to buy your product.

4. Content marketing

Content Marketing should be a pillar of your digital marketing strategies. Content marketing is the creation and promotion of valuable content, such as blog posts, ebooks and videos, to help generate brand awareness, traffic and lead generation.

As an inbound marketing tactic, content marketing should aim to move your prospect through the different stages of the conversion stages: awareness, evaluation and conversion.  

Content marketing plays a pivotal role in building trust and connecting with your potential and existing customers online. Your aim when creating content is to create value by fixing a problem for your audience.

When done right, a content strategy can help you rank higher in search engines, drive engagement on social media, build your brand reputation and credibility, and convince customers to spend with your business.

According to the State of Inbound report, content creation is a top priority for 8 out of 10 marketers. On average, content marketing accounts for over a quarter (26%) of B2B marketing budgets.

The best way to think of content is as an inbound marketing tool that helps you build a relationship with your audience. You can answer their questions, engage them in conversations about topics they are interested in, interact with customers, and help them solve problems.

When your audience sees and engages with your content, they're more likely to purchase from you in the future. And that's what great digital marketing is all about.


Does digital marketing work?

The quick answer is YES. But it depends how much you are willing to invest in your digital marketing. Hitting your goals takes effort, time, devotion and expertise. If you go into digital marketing thinking you will get overnight success, it won't work.

Marketing can be a revenue driver, but you need to be ready to invest time to create results - even if that means hiring an agency to put in that time for you.

Evidence shows that the ROI is worth it.

The ROI of a successful digital marketing campaign 

The return on investment for digital marketing goes further than click through rates (CTR) and cost per click (CPC). It spans into long-term gains including customer loyalty, brand awareness, increased revenue, and more.

Take a look at the ROI statistics for different types of digital marketing:

  • Email marketing ROI stands at 4,200% or 42x. For every dollar brands invest in email marketing, they receive $42 in return. (Litmus report)

  • Companies generate an average of $2 in earnings for every $1 they spend on Google Ads.

  • 72% of marketers improve their engagement through content marketing.

  • 89% of marketers claim that the ROI they get from influencer marketing is almost the same or higher than that from other platforms.

  • 64% of Internet users are more likely to purchase a product online after watching a video.

  • SEO marketing has an average ROI of 22:1 — that’s 2200%


Ultimately, digital tactics are more powerful together than separately. Imagine the potential ROI for your business when you combine each of these channels in an integrated digital campaign.


​​What are the benefits of digital marketing?

1. You can reach a broad geographic audience

Online marketing can let you reach anyone with access to the internet. Of course, you don't want to access everyone - but you can broaden your audience far beyond those who would see your offline marketing efforts.

Thanks to mobile devices, you can also make sure people see your brand no matter where they are. If you're aiming to grow your business reach beyond your local geographic area, this is a huge benefit to your business. You don't have to limit your business to a small target market -you can reach the world.

2. Getting your marketing messages out is highly cost effective

Digital marketing is a highly cost effective way of getting your products or services in front of people.  The costs of newspaper ads, television ad production and media buying, and other traditional opportunities can be high - and that puts them out of reach for many smaller businesses.

However, with  digital marketing, you can create just one article or video and use it in lots of different ways online to build brand awareness and drive conversions. You can turn one video into a social post, an email, and use the video transcript for an article. You can provide it to other industry websites too. One piece of content goes a long way.

3. You can quantify results

One of the biggest advantages of digital marketing is the access to real tangible results.

Digital marketing software and tools let you automatically track lots of metrics, including visits to your website, how people found you, email open rates, and much more.

You can use these results to prove the ROI of your campaigns, and ultimately invest more in the right places - whether that's creating more content or ramping up your ad spend.

4. You can personalize marketing to your audience segments

The beauty of digital marketing is that you can focus in on your audience with personalized messages, in a way that is simply not possible with offline marketing. You can target your campaigns to people of an occupation, family status, and physical location, as well as those who have demonstrated interest in certain hobbies, products and services.

Digital marketing gives you a gold mine of data that offline marketing simply can't compete with. You can delve in audiences, behavior, how they interact with your brands, which marketing channel they prefer, and so much more. This is all there for you to harness to deliver more relevant, more personalized campaigns for customers.

By tracking data, you can focus your efforts and budget on those people who are most likely to convert.  Let’s say that you want to create a paid search campaign for a new product. Analytics lets you see which messages and ad creatives achieve the most conversions with your target audience. This helps you refine future campaigns for maximum conversions.

What this means is a greater return on investment, with a higher percentage of your marketing efforts hitting high potential leads.

5. You can connect with your customers

Digital marketing is not a one-way channel - it lets you communicate with your customers and lets them communicate with you, in real-time.

Think about social marketing. Not only can a social media manager promote the company's latest offer instantly, but the audience can comment on posts, ask questions and share with their friends - all in a matter of moments.

Whether it is solving consumer problems after a Facebook post, or taking polls on your website to perfect a product, you can do it all using digital marketing.

This level of interactivity increases customers' emotional investment in your brand, and ultimately, helps them become loyal ambassadors.

6. Customers can take action immediately

The benefits of digital marketing lie not just in what it lets your business do, but also in how it helps your customers. With digital marketing campaigns, your customers can take action immediately after seeing your post, content or advertising online.

They might not buy your product on the spot, but they can move along the sales funnel and get closer to the purchase decision.


What is a digital marketing strategy?

A digital marketing strategy is a plan that helps your business or brand reach specific business goals. It typically includes a range of online marketing tactics, outlines the goals, how you will measure results, and timelines.

Digital campaigns and digital marketing strategies are different: digital campaigns are used to achieve the goals of your digital strategy.

Think of the strategy as the map for ALL your digital marketing campaigns. It ensures that your marketing activities are focused in the right direction, and have a destination to work towards, so that you can take the most efficient journey - both in terms of budget and time.



Examples of digital marketing strategy

SEO strategy

Your SEO strategy will aim to direct more traffic to your website. Your SEO strategy will typically include the following activities:

  • Keyword research

  • On-page optimization

  • Technical SEO

  • Link building

  • Content creation

  • Measuring using tools such as Google Analytics


PPC strategy

Your PPC strategy might be created for a specific sales promotion or product launch. It aims to reach searchers for specific keywords related to that product or offer, with the ultimate goal to increase conversions.

Your PPC strategy will typically include the following activities:

  • Keyword research

  • Ad creation

  • Landing page creation

  • Bidding strategy

  • Monitoring and tracking on Google Ads


Content marketing strategy

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 86% of B2C marketers say content marketing is key to their strategy.

Because content is a pillar of digital marketing, it ties into other digital marketing tactics, including your SEO and social media strategy. Your content marketing strategy outlines how you will use content to reach consumers at various stages of the funnel, the types of content you will create, and the channels your content will be distributed on.

A content marketing strategy typically covers:

  • Content topics and how they will answer customer problems

  • Content format e.g. ebook, video, infographics

  • Distribution channels e.g. social media, email, third-party sites

  • How success will be measured


Does digital marketing work for all businesses?

Digital marketing can work for any business, of any size, in any industry.

Regardless of what your company sells and who your potential customers are, digital marketing always requires a strong strategy and dedicated effort to reach your goals.

Different businesses require a different type of digital marketing:

1. Brick-and-mortar businesses

The reality is digital marketing isn’t just for online businesses. It has a proven impact on bricks-and-mortar sales too, thanks to the “digital influence”.

Because people spend so much time online, many consumers have already decided what to buy before they enter a store. This decision used to be influenced by catalogs and other traditional marketing methods. But now it is digital channels that have the influence.

Facebook reports that 49% of in-store purchases are influenced by digital interactions, with over half taking place on mobile.

Shoppers use their mobile to compare prices, check out more detailed product information and reviews, and check product availability. By using digital marketing tactics to zone in on those moments, you can be there in front of consumers when it counts.

Physical businesses also focus on location-specific digital marketing, such as local SEO. This ensures that people can find your physical store when they need you, and know that you have what they're looking for.

2. B2B Digital Marketing

Business-to-business (B2B) companies will often center their efforts around online lead generation and nurturing, with the end goal being for the customers to speak to a salesperson. 

The role of your digital marketing strategy is to attract, nurture and convert the highest quality leads using content, social media (typically LinkedIn), and email marketing.

Ebooks, longer form content and webinars are great for B2B lead generation as you can ask for the lead's contact information in exchange. Case studies on your website are then a persuasive piece of content for those who are ready to make a purchasing decision.

3. B2C Digital Marketing

Business-to-consumer digital marketing varies greatly depending on the product value, industry and target audience.

Typically, it focuses on driving customers through the marketing funnel to purchase, without the need for a salesperson. It's important to get in front of customers when they are searching for your products, which is where SEO comes in. Your social media strategy and content marketing then play a big role in building brand credibility and answering the customer's problem.



Whether you're already doing digital marketing or are just starting your digital marketing career, there's always lots to learn! You might be wondering which digital strategy is right for your business, or how you can get started? Our digital marketing team is here to help. Have a no obligation chat with one of our Gurus to find out how we can help you kickstart your digital marketing efforts.

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