What is digital marketing?

Dec 14, 2021
What is digital marketing

Online marketing, internet marketing and digital marketing are all terms used for marketing in the world of the online sphere. As a relatively new type of marketing, there are many ways to approach this to help promote brands big and small. The 2020 pandemic saw an increase in traffic and use of social media, email, online advertising and even direct contact with consumers via text and multimedia messages. With more and more consumers seeking valuable information in online formats before committing to following or purchasing from a brand, digital marketing bridges the gap between the consumer at home and the brand.

‘Consumers heavily rely on digital means to research products. For example, ‘Think with Google’ marketing insights found that 48% of consumers start their inquiries on search engines, while 33% look to brand websites and 26% search within mobile applications.’

 Marketo [1]

Digital marketing allows the opportunity for a brand to promote themselves directly to their audience, whether that be straight to the consumer or business to business. In comparison to traditional marketing strategies like in print, billboards or broadcasting, the competition is still high but there is more equality because of the ease of access and the ability to reach the identical audiences in the same way. Unlike physical marketing, larger brands can continue to spend more money but can’t intimidate and overshadow smaller businesses. For instance; if a small business published a printed advert in their local newspaper, a larger business could place a full page advert next to it. In digital marketing, everyone is working with similar spaces and has access to the same tools. 

‘Online retail sales increased 32.4% year over year in 2020 and are up 39% in Q1 2021. Online retail highlights from the last year showcase retail’s pivot to cater to at-home shoppers.’

 digitalcommerce360.com [2]

The trend in consumerism, with the help of the shifting impact of COVID19, shows more purchases are being made online. With the majority of UK and US residents having social media accounts, visiting online sites multiple times a day and enjoying the convenience of online shopping, brand growth can be facilitated by digital marketing. 

‘In the U.K., roughly three of every four adults (77%) have a social media account.

40% of U.K. adults say it’s very/somewhat important that companies they purchase from have a strong social media presence.’

 Hootsuite [3]

There are various ways of implementing digital marketing strategies and a combination of these can provide a worldwide, cost-effective way of making connections with audiences that can be converted to customers. Listed below are some of the most popular digital marketing avenues:


Search engine optimisation is how a website is read. The quality, efficiency, value, speed and organic traffic is evaluated and this then determines how a site ranks in comparison to others with similar content. Providing an audience with unique and fresh content that doesn’t exist anywhere else, being knowledgeable on a subject and ensuring the efficiency of a site will positively influence a site's SEO. This includes the functionality of a site, how easily it can be navigated, how fast the images load and all impact user experience. 

Content marketing

Content marketing is closely linked with SEO. This is the worth of the content on a site which helps maintain regular traffic from a related audience. The frequency, consistency and quality of the unique content keeps the audience coming back. Strategies for content marketing include distributing new content regularly with promotion across branded platforms. This builds a trusting relationship with potential customers by being authoritative and knowledgeable on a subject matter.

Social Media Marketing

‘90% of people on Instagram follow a business.’

 Instagram for Business [4]

One of the biggest marketing changes in the 21st century was the introduction of social media. Originally, social media began to connect friends, family and new people before being adopted by businesses as an ideal place to reach consumers. Social media marketing involves direct contact with customers and forming positive relationships. With most people having social media and spending time daily on these platforms, the challenge is to provide ‘calls to action’ that convert so the archetypal audience become customers.


Paying for advertising also exists under the title of digital marketing. With Pay-Per-Click a business owner only pays for traffic that clicks through to their site. Although more people may see the advert, only the ones that convert as a click are paid for. This presents business owners time to assess and manage the effectiveness of their advertising without the financial implications of physical or permanent advertising.

Affiliate marketing 

Using affiliate marketing includes a third party. This is where someone of influence, a website that receives traffic or a specific company generates traffic to a business site. The person or company providing the traffic receives a payment for each visitor, similar to Pay-Per-Click. With this type of marketing, the difference is the person of influence or company already has an audience that trusts them and uses them as a reliable source. By using affiliate marketing a business uses this already built trust to promote themselves.

Personalised ads

‘87% of people said that they took action after seeing product information on Instagram, such as following a brand, visiting their website or making a purchase online.’

 Facebook for Business [5]

With the advancements in technology, the ability to target very specific and unique audiences is easily achievable. Rather than an ad being sent to a single area where only a certain proportion of people will be interested, instead, there is the ability to target a specific criteria. This again makes marketing in this way cost-effective as only the people who will be interested in the product or business will see it. 

Email Marketing

Email marketing is again a direct marketing approach. It continues enforcement of advertising to just those who are interested. With a subscription list of only those who are intrigued by the business, the access to their inbox offers an easily attainable source of potential revenue. The options to promote products, content, relatable news and many other things make another platform for unique styling.

These digital marketing resources are both targeting potential customers at home and on the go. Unlike static advertising, they can be tailored specifically to those who relate to a business and the business can promote to this type of clientele wherever they are. 

‘Mobile has swiftly risen to become the leading digital platform, with total activity on smartphones and tablets accounting for an astounding 60 percent of digital media time.’

 Comscore, Inc. [6]

Digital marketing provides the opportunity for businesses of all sizes to share themselves across the world in a cost-effective and growth-focused manner. The connection with the audience can be one to one, making positive relationships and associations with a business. The direct nature of this marketing and the ability to communicate with only those who are interested changes the advertising world. This in combination with attention to a site’s content, increasing its chances of ranking highly on search engines, also builds trust with its audience and helps raise conversion rates. 

With digital marketing taking over from traditional marketing strategies and trends seeing increased traffic and better conversion rates, small businesses are taking advantage. We’ll be bringing you a series of digital marketing webinars that will go into more detail about the impact it can have and how small businesses can implement successful strategies. You can register to be involved by emailing [email protected] and quoting ‘Digital Marketing’ in the subject line! 

[1] https://www.marketo.com/digital-marketing/ 

[2] https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/article/coronavirus-impact-online-retail/ 

[3] Hootsuite Survey Highlights Importance of Social Media Across the Customer Journey - Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard - Hootsuite 



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