Determining the best digital mediums for your business can sometimes feel like you are Gordon Ramsey taste-testing a line of chefs on Hell’s Kitchen. Some you are so pleasantly surprised that you can barely contain the joy. Others, you are ready to curse and fuss until you explode.
But that’s the world of digital mediums. Got to love it!
Digital Marketing are all marketing activities that use digital devices.
That includes online marketing activities – but strictly speaking, that also includes some traditional marketing activities, too. And that is good. Why? Because it would be a mistake to view online marketing activities totally detached from all other marketing activities. A great marketing campaign will combine the best of both worlds.
To give you a thorough understanding of what the term „Digital marketing“ includes, here are the 10 most important types of digital marketing. And you should make sure that you know about all of them before you decide what types of marketing you are going to include in your digital marketing strategy. And don’t just focus on one type of digital marketing. Most successful digital marketing solutions follow a multi-channel approach.
1. Social Media Marketing
The Social Ms has a strong focus on social media marketing. So that is where we are going to start our list of types of digital marketing. Social Media certainly has a rightfully earned place in this list.
Social Media Marketing is „the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service.“ Source Wikipedia
That means all sharing of information and engagement with followers, fans, partners or competitors on social media platforms with the goal of promoting your products is part of digital marketing. In essence, social media marketing is the targeted use of social media conversations to increase awareness for a brand or product.
But be careful, to be successful with social media marketing you have to fully understand the one social network you want to use for your marketing. Each social network has unique features, communication best practices, and content they like. Some social networks will work great for your situation, product and content – others won’t.
Today, almost all digital marketing strategies utilize social marketing one way or the other. And don’t worry, your social media strategy does not have to use ALL available social channels or take a lot of manual action. Focusing on one or two social networks and adding marketing automation to your activity will make it much more efficient.
Example: There are endless case studies for social media marketing. But I know that most of our audience are bloggers and small business owners. That also means that most of you will not have much benefit from reading about a marketing campaign run by big brands like Coca-Cola or Microsoft. What you need are examples of people who succeeded with social media marketing on a budget with not much to go than the will to succeed and the manpower of one or two people.
That is why I will tell you a little more about our own story today:
Jonathan and I founded our first company in 2010. It was an online business but we both had not much experience with running and marketing an online business. We planned on hiring someone to help with our marketing – but the plan had a problem: We did not know what we needed to do in marketing and no real expert was available at the price we could pay.
In the end, we had to learn marketing ourselves. And we needed to learn fast and had neither time or money to fail often.
We tried a ton of things and nothing worked until we made Twitter our friend.
We were running an online publishing platform for business content and needed traffic for the content on our platform to make it more interesting for people to publish content on it. We also needed signups – meaning more people publishing content on the platform. And we needed more content published.
Twitter was the perfect social media platform for us.
What we did:
Twitter marketing usually means sharing useful information for your target audience. Out content included a ton of useful information for various target groups. We started a couple of Twitter accounts for various niches like automotive, health, tourism, finance, and so on. We shared content on these Twitter channels that matched the target group for that Twitter account. We connected to people from our target group for each of the accounts with likes, retweets, and the following of targeted people.
Most of the accounts grew a bunch of followers. Some niches were easier to access than others. We got a ton of traffic from Twitter to our content on the platform and with getting more eyes on our content other traffic sources like Google search also grew. Our platform grew to 500k pageviews per month!
But people did not just read the content. They also wanted to be part of the platform. We got new signups – 80 thousand registered users. And w got people to publish content on the platform: 50 thousand published articles.
Apart from a couple of Twitter automation tools that came around 50$ per month, we did not pay for our marketing strategy. The marketing was mainly run by Jonathan and me.
What we invested were our time and workforce!
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the art of using storytelling and valuable information to increase brand awareness with the goal of getting your target audience to take a profitable action. Content marketing aims at building relationships with potential customers and becoming a partner rather than an advertiser. That means that content marketing is often used in inbound marketing strategies through a content strategy that focuses on providing value to the target audience with the content.
Image Source: Content Marketing Institute
If you want to know more and start with your content marketing today, check out this “Beginner’s Guide To Content Marketing!”
Content Marketing strongly relies on content distribution. Content marketing can rarely be seen totally separated from other types of digital marketing that can fill the content distribution part. For an in-depth view on the relationship between content marketing and SEO check out this article.
As with social media marketing, for content marketing, you can find an endless number of case studies and examples out there.
Companies like Hubspot grew their business based on content marketing. SAP realized as early as 2011 how powerful content marketing could be and started their SAP Business Innovation as a place to publish great stories of customer innovations with the goal to engage prospects with quality content.
But also small companies and startups can use content marketing – without the need for a huge budget. And that is why I chose Buffer as my example for content marketing.
Some of you may know the tool Buffer that lets you schedule content for the major social networks. Buffer was founded in 2010 – and its early marketing strategy was mainly based on publishing quality content. But instead of publishing all their content on their own website – or blog – they heavily engaged in guest posting.
Buffer was founded in a college in the United Kingdom by Joel Gascoigne and Leo Widrich.
Both were utterly new to marketing at that time. And like so many other small startups they failed at outreach to other blogs: Nobody wanted to write about the new tool (I can totally relate, we tried the same with our startup and failed as they did…)
The hard truth is that when you have a new product or business it is absolutely hard to get other blogs to write about you. Why should they?
Instead, Buffer started their own blog where they covered topics related to social media that were of interest to their potential customers. After publishing a ton of content on their blog they started their outreach to other blogs: Would they be interested in similar content? And yes they were!
In those early days of Buffer, Leo Widrich published around 150 guest posts. He used the gust posts not only to build links to the Buffer App and blog for more traffic from Google search. He also used the guest posting activity to build his reputation and connect to influencers and other bloggers.
Image Source: Cognitive SEO
Today, Buffer is a multi-million dollar company. And their success is based on a content marketing campaign with a strong focus on guest posting that did not need a huge budget but was mainly run on the writing skills of one of the founders!
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of optimizing content or websites so that they show up in search results in search engines like Google. Search engines decide which websites to show for a search term based on keywords mentioned on the website and links that refer to this website. That means SEO has a lot to do with using the right keywords or keyphrases in the copy of a website or within the content you want to show in organic search and getting links to this website or content.
Image Source: Neil Patel
There are multiple strategies for optimizing your website(s) for search engines, and it certainly involves a lot more than shady link building. Some optimizations are accepted by Google and others are regarded rather shady and may result in Google penalizing your website. Read more about what SEO is and how it works in this article.
There is a strong connection between content, social media marketing, and SEO. The most obvious is that social media and SEO are perfect distribution channels for content.
Example: Let me tell you a story of a new website that managed to grow to 100k visitors in 12 months. Without any fancy stuff, just plain SEO work that you can do for your website too!
Start with the low hanging fruit:
Research some longtail keywords and phrases where the competition is low. How can you identify them? If the search results do not include any big-name brands from your niche, the search results don’t look overly professional and the listed content is somewhat older – that is your chance to rank your new content.
Secure a handful of links to your important pages:
This is a tough task. But it still can be done. There are some methods that you can do like ego-bait or offering a discount to readers from a blog if the blog links to your site. Or if you offer a unique service you may be able to ask service listings to add your service.
Find a link strategy:
In this example, they used high-quality photos that they offered for general usage via creative commons licenses asking people to link back to their site if they wanted to use the images. That earned them a growing number of links back to their website.
Create content with search engines in mind:
No, I am not saying they created bad SEO content. But they did their homework and found keywords that they had a chance to rank for and then created quality content for it.
If you are a blogger or content marketer and want to grow your traffic from Google search, keywords research will become your routine task.
When you are successful with your SEO it is going to fuel itself: More traffic from search means more visitors, more visitors means more returning visitors and more links, more links means better search rankings and your traffic will increase. That is how it should work.
For Siege Media, this all played together and allowed them to reach awesome 100k visitors after just 12 months.
Image Source: Search Engine Land
4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
While SEO describes the process of getting unpaid traffic from search engines – SEM refers to using paid advertising to get traffic from search engines. The most common form of search engine marketing is probably Google Adwords for the simple reason that Google is by far the most used search engine.
Image Source: Search Engine Land
In SEM the marketer usually pays the search engine a predefined amount of money for showing a marketing message at various places within the search results for specified keywords or phrases.
Paid search or SEM is a form of Pay-Per-Click advertising and is part of digital advertising.
5. Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
Similar to SEM other forms of PPC advertising also describe marketing methods where the marketer pays for each click on a link to a website. Apart from search engines, almost all social networks offer the opportunity for Pay Per Click advertising. These ads then appear in the feed of the targeted social media users.
Note that many of these activities cannot be clearly separated. The lines between the various types of digital (online) marketing are often blurred.
6. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based type of digital marketing. In contrast to PPC advertising with affiliate marketing, the advertiser does not pay for traffic but rather for conversions. The rates are usually higher but the risk on the side of the advertiser are limited since he only pays for conversions.
Affiliate marketing is popular with bloggers and high-traffic website owners who make money from selling other people’s products to their audience.
7. Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the best converting marketing channels. By sending regular updates to your email subscribers you can build and nurture a relationship. By providing value with your email updates you can build trust – eventually, you will be able to turn a percentage of your audience into customers.
Note that email marketing is far more than buying an email list and bombarding them with promotional messages or a one-time advertising spot in someone else’s email newsletter.
The best results from email marketing will always be achieved with a list of subscribers you personally earned and nurtured. Then your email list can easily turn into your best digital marketing asset and an email campaign can drive sales.
Many articles on digital marketing stop with the above 7 types of Online digital marketing. But then we could simply name it online marketing.
The advantage of email marketing over some of the other digital marketing channels is that you own your list. While your social media audience can be gone with the suspension of your Twitter account or the shutdown of your Facebook ads account and your search traffic can be void from one day to the next if Google penalizes your website for some reason, your email subscriber list is yours.
You can decide how you treat them, how often you send emails, and what you send them.
A simple example of how to use email marketing to increase your revenues is Craghoppers email campaign to avoid shopping cart abandonment.
Craghoppers tracked people who put items in their shopping cart but never finished the purchase. To these people, they sent two emails, the first after 24 hours the second email after three days. Both emails had the purpose of re-engaging their customers and eventually inspire them to complete the purchase.
The email campaign re-engaged 56% of the recipients of the emails and inspired 30% of them to open the email and still 10% of them to complete the purchase.
That’s two very powerful emails!
You can find more on this email marketing case study here.
For your digital marketing strategy you should also know about the most important offline digital marketing types:
8. Radio advertising
You know what I am referring to, don’t you? Those breaks in your favorite music program where someone tells you what car to buy or what cleaner to use. Some of these spots can be rather annoying, a select few manage to be entertaining – at least when you hear them the first time.
There is still more to radio advertising: For instance, you can sponsor a program.
9. Television advertising
It is not dead yet: The spot that breaks up your favorite television program. While we are more and more getting used to finding ways to omit having to actually watch TV commercials there is still some marketing success in TV advertising.
In fact, some spots like the ones created for Super Bowl make it to some notable marketing fame. Some of the best Super Bowl spots even make it to social media fame and get a ton of shares that the advertisers do not have to pay for – or rather which is probably calculated into the price of advertising space for Super Bowl anyway.
What you need to keep in mind is that advertising via TV offers very limited targeting options.
Edit: Since there have been a couple of comments on this post why radio and television are included here, let me explain. There has been a huge development in radio and television in recent years and there are such things as digital radio and digital television. The options for marketing with digital adds a ton of options that former non-digital radio and television did not provide. That is the reason why I think digital radio and digital television have a rightful spot in this list of digital marketing types.
10. Mobile Phone Advertising
Of course, many of the above types of digital marketing can take place on your mobile phone. That is called mobile marketing.
You are probably using Facebook, Instagram, and Google on your mobile phone after all. But there are some other types of marketing on your mobile phone that so far would not fit into any of the mentioned categories: mobile advertising.
SMS advertising has been around for some time now.
WhatsApp as a marketing channel is growing. And with technology like Bluetooth still on the rise, the marketing and advertising options for mobile especially in local marketing have by far not yet been fully leveraged.
Unlike traditional media, digital media is transmitted as digital data, which at its simplest involves digital cables or satellites sending binary signals –– 0s and 1s –– to devices that translate them into audio, video, graphics, text, and more. Anytime you use your computer, tablet, or cellphone, opening web-based systems and apps, you’re consuming digital media. Digital media might come in the form of videos, articles, advertisements, music, podcasts, audiobooks, virtual reality, or digital art.
The digital age began to unfold in the second half of the 20th century, as computer technology slowly infiltrated different industries and then moved into the public sphere. Yet analog technology remained dominant even through the 1990s. In the years that followed, newspapers, magazines, radio, and broadcast television were still the primary means of communication, with fax machines and pagers becoming most people’s first casual forays into the digital world.
When the internet went from a niche hobby to something common in most American homes, the digital age was fully underway. Now, most people walk around with at least one digital media device in their pocket, purse, or backpack, using digital communication at work, on their commutes, and even while out to dinner or shopping. After that, they might come home and play a video game or stream a show, interacting with digital media yet again. Before they go to sleep, they might talk to their digital home assistant, finding out the weather forecast for the following day. What is digital media? The answer is not a simple one. Defining digital media is difficult because it is rapidly evolving alongside innovations in technology and how people interact with it. As we move into the future, our day-to-day use of digital media will likely only increase, particularly as holographic and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are developed and incorporated into our daily lives.
Exploring Types of Digital Media
Traditional (nondigital) media includes several types of communication technologies, some of which have existed for hundreds of years. Newspapers, magazines, books, and other printed materials were among the first types of traditional media. Those forms of media persist, joined in the 19th century by the telegraph and in the 20th century by radio and television, the first examples of mass media.
The digital era, however, meant a whole new set of media transmission methods and devices, with more developed every year. These days, most types of digital media fit into one of these main subgroups:
- Audio: Audio forms of digital media include digital radio stations, podcasts, and audiobooks. Tens of millions of Americans subscribe to digital radio services such as Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, and Sirius, which provide a wide range of musical stations and allow users to listen to databases of millions of songs on demand.
- Video: Many digital media outlets are visual, from streaming movie and television services such as Netflix to virtual reality surgical simulators used in medical institutions. One of the biggest players in visual digital media is YouTube, which hosts billions of videos. Launched in 2005, the website is one of the most popular destinations on the web.
- Social media: Social media includes sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat, which enable their users to interact with one another through text posts, photographs, and videos, leaving “likes” and comments to create conversations around pop culture, sports, news, politics, and the daily events of users’ lives.
- Advertising: Advertisers have made their way into the digital media landscape, taking advantage of marketing partnerships and advertising space wherever possible. The internet has moved away from the use of pop-up and autoplay ads, which flooded early websites and drove away visitors. Instead, advertisers look toward native content and other methods of keeping consumers invested without overselling their product.
- News, literature, and more: Traditionally, people consumed text via books, print newspapers, magazines, and the like. Even though digital media has proliferated, the desire for those kinds of reading experiences has endured. Research from the Pew Research Center indicates that 38% of adults in the U.S. read news online. The proliferation of literary websites, the popularity of resources like Wikipedia, and the rise of e-readers like the Kindle all further underline the continued importance of written work in digital media.
Examples of Digital Media
Digital media encompasses a wide array of websites, tech devices, and platforms. You may be aware of some uses of digital media, but the fact is that digital media influences many industries and has opened a range of avenues for people to make a living and utilize their talents in different ways.
Prior to digital technology, surgeons and other medical professionals had to rely on clunky simulators, videos, or cadavers to practice new surgeries, which made it difficult to perfect certain operations and increased complications when they were performed on living patients. Digital technology has introduced all sorts of new tools into the surgical suite, allowing doctors to better practice and perform such procedures, thus increasing patient safety and reducing mistakes while lowering costs. Modern-day surgeons practice using advanced virtual reality (VR) systems, working through different scenarios with digital versions of the same miniature cameras and sensors they’ll rely on during an actual surgery.
Digital media has also led to entirely new careers. Websites such as Twitch allow people to stream their daily lives, and people can pay to subscribe to individual channels to watch what interests them. Twitch streamers include video gamers, musicians, social influencers, and even those who just stream their daily activities, such as going to the store, cooking dinner, or cleaning the house. Users from all different walks of life expose subscribers to different cultures and lifestyles. Digital media professionals can also take advantage of easily obtainable technology such as cellphones and open-source coding to film their own shows, movies, or podcasts and stream them at little or no cost, creating greater equity in media. These are just a few examples of digital media, though the market for such products is expanding, and there are more applications every year.
Major Digital Media Companies
As the digital world has taken over the modern business landscape, some of the most valuable companies in the world are in the tech sphere. Many of these companies have diverse interests and divisions, including in various forms of digital media and related ventures. As such, the top digital media companies are among the largest corporations on Earth.
- Google, founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, started as a revolutionary new search engine, which spurred the growth of one of the world’s most valuable brands (worth $309 billion in 2019, according to statistics reported by CNBC). Google has become a massive, multinational technology company, developing all things internet-related, including its own web browser (Chrome), laptops (Chromebooks), smart glasses, and internet television streams (Chromecast). In 2015, Google announced that it was forming the parent company Alphabet to run the organization’s diverse departments with Google existing as a subsidiary.
- Netflix launched in 1997 as an online-based movie rental service, where people could order DVDs and have them delivered to their home. Customers made their wish list of films, and Netflix sent them DVDs from the list. Users could keep DVDs as long as they wanted, receiving the next movie on their list upon return of the first. Netflix has since grown from third-party movie distributor to online streaming giant, with over 150 million subscribers paying for a mix of television, movies, and original content. The brand has launched pop culture sensations such as “Orange Is the New Black,” “Stranger Things,” and “BoJack Horseman.”
- Apple has grown from a niche computer company with elegant marketing into one of the dominant technology forces on the planet. Founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976, Apple spent the first quarter-century of its existence as a cutting-edge though struggling computer company, with a few impressive products that never quite caught on. Then, with the introduction of the iMac in 1998, followed by the iPod three years later, marketed with Jobs’s brilliant strategies driving intrigue and demand, Apple moved to the forefront of the gadget market. In the years since, products such as the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch have kept Apple going strong. Millions of Americans consume large amounts of digital media each day through their Apple products, such as iTunes and Apple TV.
- Facebook and Twitter are two of the biggest social media websites. Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok also have substantial user bases in the hundreds of millions or more. According to a 2018 Pew Research Survey, 75% of all U.S. adults use YouTube and 68% use Facebook. Over 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds use YouTube, and 80% of them use Facebook. Major players in the business world own these brands. For example, Facebook owns Instagram and other platforms such as WhatsApp. Additionally, Google owns multiple web ventures including YouTube. As generations that grew up with social media get older and new users come of age, the number of people on these platforms will likely continue to grow.
- Amazon remains a digital commerce titan, with an enormous presence in the digital media sphere. The company, in fact, is one of the world’s largest by market value according to Investopedia. From Amazon Prime and its accompanying streaming service to personal assistants, cloud service, and digital advertising, the company has an expansive presence online. This is reflected in its growth, with revenues tripling between 2017 and 2018, from $117.9 billion to $232.9 billion.
Digital Media Jobs and Salaries
Digital media includes a wide range of platforms, products, and industries. As such, the job market and earning potential for digital media careers varies based on industry, location, work experience, and education, but in general, the outlook is strong. Many digital media jobs, including those below, exist in various industries, including in the public and private sectors. As such, careers in digital media provide the opportunity to work in all sorts of different environments.
Jobs in digital media include many graphic design positions. Graphic designers create digital illustrations that convey information, from company logos to movie posters and much more. They use sketch pads, computers, tablets, and other devices to create their work. They utilize different fonts, colors, photographs, shapes, and aesthetic elements along the way. Those in graphic design work with clients to discern what they’re looking for, then go through a design process where they develop several options and tweak their ideas to fit the client’s needs.
There were 290,100 graphic designers working in the U.S. as of May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They earned a median annual salary of $50,370, with those in the bottom 10% of earners making under $29,610 and those in the top 10% earning more than $85,760 each year. By industry, the median annual salary for this position can range from $40,170 (printing and related support activities) to $51,380 (advertising, public relations, and related services). The BLS expects the job market to grow 3% between 2018 and 2028, which equates to 8,800 new jobs.
Web design specialists use their graphic design skills to create websites and other web-based applications. They possess some knowledge of programming and coding, in languages such as CSS, HTML, or Java. Web developers help companies update their websites or design new sites from scratch, using existing templates or frameworks such as WordPress or Squarespace. They make sure websites look good on different devices while also remaining functional.
According to the BLS, there were 160,500 web developers working in the United States as of May 2018, making a median annual income of $69,430. The BLS has high expectations for the job market for web developers, expecting it to grow by 20,900 jobs between 2018 and 2028, at a rate of 13%. Publishing industries ($75,360) and computer systems design firms ($68,670) had the highest median annual salaries.
Digital Media Specialist
Digital media specialists fill a vital role in the digital media job market. These versatile media professionals are able to perform a number of tasks, combining various skills. Digital media specialists can work in social media, where they use graphic design skills to assist companies with their branding and voice. They may also use on-camera and writing skills, as well as video or audio editing abilities to create packages for use in digital marketing campaigns. Different projects require different tasks and abilities, and digital media specialists can fill any number of them.
According to statistics from PayScale, the median average salary for digital media specialists was $34,000 annually as of December 2019. While the BLS doesn’t keep specific data on digital media specialists, reports from web marketing news outlets such as Social Media Today indicate that global online ad spending continued to rise significantly in 2019 (4% worldwide), with total spending set to reach $329 billion by 2021, which will account for 49% of all ad spending. These trends suggest favorable job growth in digital media careers.