As a term, digital marketing increased in popularity around the early 2000s when the internet became widely accepted around the world. So, the common consensus is that digital marketing is really just [traditional] marketing performed on any or all the different channels available on the internet, both analog and digital – in other words, off-line or online.
However, it’s much more accurate to define digital marketing as any marketing efforts to promote a product or service that uses an electronic device. Marketing campaigns through television or radio—non-internet electronic devices—,are technically offline digital marketing efforts.
So, when someone mentioned that television marketing is digital marketing, they are actually correct.
For the sake of this article, however, we will limit digital marketing to just online digital marketing, which is usually the scope of discussion when someone mentions “digital marketing.
Two Different Types of Digital Marketing
There are various marketing channels within the online digital marketing environment, from social media marketing to content marketing to SEO. However, these channels can be boiled down to just two main categories; inbound and outbound.
1. Outbound Digital Marketing
Outbound refers to any digital marketing efforts where we push our message outwards to reach as many potential customers as possible. Any forms of digital advertising (Google Ads, social media advertising, paid search ads) belong to this category, but there are also other marketing campaigns like affiliate marketing and email marketing that belongs here.
2. Inbound Digital Marketing
As opposed to outbound, inbound marketing is when we put valuable content out there to attract our ideal prospects inwards. The idea of inbound marketing is that since the audience is the one proactively coming for you (or your content), there will be less resistance and a higher chance of conversion.
Inbound marketing mainly consists of content marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to increase the content’s visibility. However, we can also use the inbound approach in other channels like social media marketing.
Inbound VS Outbound
Inbound marketing has been a kind of buzzwords in the past few years, and many might synonymize inbound marketing with digital marketing.
This is mainly due to the fact that consumers are getting more resistance to advertising, and there’s also the case of ad-blockers. These issues won’t happen with inbound marketing, where we can effectively establish trust through relevant content.
However, there’s a catch with inbound marketing: you will need a significant amount of time invested before you see any results. This is true especially for newer and smaller brands. The key to inbound marketing is consistency in publishing high-quality content, and this will take some time. On the other hand, SEO as an effort to promote content is also a long-term strategy.
Outbound marketing, however, can guarantee short-term success, provided you have the money. If you can spend a billion dollar on advertising, it is guaranteed you will get customers coming (whether you make any profit, is another case). Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is significantly more affordable (even totally free if you do it yourself).
So, inbound vs outbound marketing is essentially the case of time vs cost. We will need the short-term results of outbound marketing, but we will also need to maximize our investment through the more affordable inbound marketing. Finding the right balance is the art of digital marketing.
Important Digital Marketing Channels To Know
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
With Google being increasingly important in everyone’s lives, marketing on Google (and other search engines) is the obvious way to go.
SEO is essentially optimizing your site and its content to rank higher on the search engine results. The most important thing to understand is that SEO is not a magic strategy or hack, but rather a series of optimizations involving three main factors:
- The relevance and quality of your content (no, it’s not just about including the target keywords in your article).
- The number of backlinks you get especially from high-quality sources of your niche
- Technical optimizations of your site
2. Content Marketing
Fairly self-explanatory, a marketing effort through publishing content in various forms. Generally, there are three main forms to pursue today: textual (blog posts, social media posts, ebook, etc,), audio (podcasts), and video (YouTube videos, on-site videos, webinars, etc.)
It’s also important to note that content marketing is not only about production and publication, but also how we promote our content by using other channels (including and especially SEO).
3. Social media and Influencer marketing
Since social media is where the consumers at nowadays, having a strong social media presence is a must for any businesses.
On the other hand, social media is getting more crowded than ever, and nowadays getting our voice heard is extremely difficult.
This is where working with the right influencers can help, so you can have access to their followers and deliver promotional messages with less resistance.
4. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Advertising
PPC actually refers to the payment model for these advertising services, which is, you only need to pay when someone clicks on the ad. One of the most popular types of PPC ads is Google Ads, and advertising services on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are usually PPC in nature.
PPC is still one of the most effective outbound marketing channels available, and the key here is to target the right people (through target keyword, scheduling, etc.) to maximize ROI.
5. Email Marketing
Email marketing is still one of the best channels to reach a very targeted audience with your specific promotional messages, having one of the highest overall ROI. Email marketing is pretty self-explanatory, but due to the oversaturation of our inboxes nowadays, personalization is becoming the norm.
6. Affiliate/Referral Marketing
The end goal of marketing is to turn your customers into advocates, so they will recommend your product/service to their peers. The best way to achieve this is to actually deliver a good product/service, but even then it would take some time.
Referral marketing is designed to take advantage of this, where essentially you offer incentives to people (including and especially existing customers) that bring new customers.
The key to successful affiliate marketing is the incentive: offer too much and you might get scammy, low-quality referrals, offer too little and you might not get any interest. Again, you will need to find the right balance.