What Is Digital Marketing? Types, Skills, and Careers

Digital marketing, also known as online marketing, is a form of advertising that utilizes the internet and digital technologies to connect with customers. Instead of traditional media like print, radio, or television, digital marketing employs computers, mobile devices, social media, search engines, and other digital channels to reach consumers wherever they spend the most time.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is a form of marketing that leverages the internet and digital technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, to connect with customers. Beyond running a sponsored Instagram ad to drive sales, it encompasses a set of practices that engage with customers at every stage of the buying journey.
A digital marketing strategy includes email, social media, advertising, and multimedia messaging distributed through mobile and web channels. With over 60 percent of the global population online and more people joining daily, companies are significantly increasing their digital marketing budgets by double-digit figures, while traditional marketing budgets are being reduced.
Data plays a crucial role in digital marketing. Through marketing analytics, 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 uses data collected from their rewards mobile app to identify seasonal trends and create customized promotions.

5 types of digital marketing

Digital marketers connect with potential customers through various channels. The following digital marketing channels, used by both small companies and large businesses, remain among the most popular and impactful today.

1. Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique aimed at improving the ranking of online content on search engines like Google or Bing. When you search for something on Google, even the simplest query can generate millions of results. However, you likely only consider the first few suggestions and rarely go past the first page.

2. Search Engine Marketing

In such a highly crowded space, digital marketers use SEO marketing to ensure that potential customers actually find their products or services online. Generally, SEO marketing targets organic search terms, meaning marketers create content that naturally aligns with and ranks for top search terms related to their product. Search engine marketing (SEM) strategies typically incorporate both organic and paid media, such as buying ads on Google.

Some common ways to go about SEO include:

  • Creating quality content that meets searcher intent is essential for effective SEO.
  • Using keywords to help search engines identify relevant material

  • Using long-tail keywords—specific phrases that searchers use—helps content reach its target audience.
    • Ensuring that content loads quickly and is compatible with mobile devices 


3. 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 blog posts 

  • Original videos

  • Podcasts 

  • Newsletters (like Substack, Medium, or LinkedIn)

4. 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 evident: When used strategically, it can yield 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

5. 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 media 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 are strategically placed in the feeds of targeted audiences.

6. Social media marketing

Social media marketing is a form of digital marketing that utilizes social networks such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok to connect with customers. It harnesses the expansive reach of social media platforms through data-driven strategies aimed at reaching specific consumer demographics. Whether accessed via computers, mobile devices, or mobile apps, social media presents the opportunity to engage with a broad and precisely targeted audience of potential consumers.

Examples of social media marketing include:

  • Videos posted on social media as part of a larger campaign, like the 80s-themed music video created by peanut company Planters for the holidays, are a powerful marketing tool.
  • Pictures posted on Instagram that reflect a brand’s identity, like Patagonia’s nature-filled Instagram account, serve as a visual representation of the brand’s values and ethos.

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 6 percent between 2022 and 2032, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [5]. Glassdoor estimates that the average annual salary for a digital marketing manager in the United States is $95,697 as of March 2024

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