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A Guide to Digital Marketing Types: What They Are, and How and When to Use Them

types of digital marketing

Aspiring professionals have many different types of digital marketing to choose from. Explore your options in this detailed overview.

Marketing is all about attracting customers. This fact means that every marketing strategy must focus on where they find most of their target audience. Nowadays, those audiences are online since more people than ever have gone digital. All you need to do to prove it is walk down a city street and see how many people use their mobile phones!

So, marketing professionals must place their marketing campaigns online if they want the most eyeballs and target specific customer segments. Any enterprise that wants to make it in today’s competitive atmosphere must have a digital marketing strategy.

But there are many types of online marketing and many different types of digital marketing strategies. So how can anyone tell which is the best digital marketing strategy?

Fortunately, this article has the answers. We will define digital marketing, explore the different digital marketing types, and when and where to use them. We will also discuss digital marketing campaigns and how digital marketers will use an effective digital marketing strategy to increase brand awareness.

Let’s begin by defining digital marketing.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing, alternately known as online marketing, promotes brands, services, and goods, using the Internet and other types of digital communication. These include social media, text messaging, multimedia, e-mail, mobile apps, and web-based advertising.

In addition, digital marketing covers social media marketing, search engine results, digital advertising, PPC ads, search engine optimization, and website traffic.

However, there are many digital marketing categories available. Let’s break down digital marketing into its different types and see not only what they entail but their pros and cons.

The Different Types of Digital Marketing

No one can agree on how many types of digital marketing exist. Some say 9, some say 12, others say 13. These discrepancies arise because these information sources have categorized the various digital marketing types differently. So, since there’s no overarching definitive number, let’s round down and split our digital marketing classification into ten types.

Note that digital marketing types are also referred to as digital marketing channels, digital channels, digital marketing platforms, or online marketing channels. Now let’s look at ten types of digital marketing channels. Undoubtedly, future digital advances will create the need to classify other channels.

1) Content Marketing

Content marketing strategy involves connecting with your audience through informative, high-quality content such as how-to videos, blog or social media posts, infographics, and white papers. You can communicate this information through blogs, e-mails, social media platforms, or other channels. Content marketing’s primary purpose is to convert visitors into leads and employs the concept of the marketing funnel, which starts with general content at the top and narrows down to precise information.


a) It acts as the foundation for lots of other forms of digital marketing

b) It’s free or very inexpensive

c) It’s versatile since it educates, inspires, and entertains the audience


a) Consistency may vary; you must ensure that the material is high-quality and best represents your brand

b) You must rank the material organically for target keywords; keyword research is time-consuming

2) Search Engine Organization (SEO)

Search engine organization makes it more likely that your content appears in the top ranks of a search engine result page, increasing the chances that someone will visit your web pages and increasing overall search traffic. As a result, search engines are popular (and Google is the best search engine), and favorable search results will yield significant returns.

SEO is typically broken down into three approaches:

a) On-Page SEO. This approach focuses on the content that resides on the pages viewed on the website

b) Off-Page SEO. This approach covers activity occurring off the page, such as backlinks

c) Technical SEO. This approach deals with your website’s back end and how pages are coded. This process involves CSS file optimization, image compression, and structured data


a) It’s cost-efficient, especially compared to PPC

b) It increases brand visibility with little effort


a) It takes time to see results

b) Google’s algorithms are constantly changing, which may dampen your marketing efforts

c) It relies on tech and content

3) Social Media Marketing

This approach, often called SMM for short, uses social media channels to promote your brand identity, specific products and services, and content and broadcast other marketing messages. Social channels include Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

You can place paid ads on a social media platform or channel digital marketing resources into creating a profile for your business and publishing your own content.


a) SMM facilitates communication between a business and its online visitors, making it easier to generate and maintain customer loyalty

b) SMM boasts high conversion rates

c) It provides you with rapid customer feedback


a) You must keep your online social media content current; algorithms shift, and new content formats are often introduced

b) It’s a time-consuming practice

c) The nature of SMM demands that you create a strategic plan

4) Pay Per Click (PPC)

PPC is a means of driving traffic to your website by paying the host site whenever your ad is clicked. For example, you can pay for top ad slots on Google’s SERP at a price, typically set through a keyword auction, per click on the links you place in your paid advertisement.

When you conduct a Google search, you will notice an “Ad” label next to a URL at the top of the page. That’s an advertisement and a classic example of PPC.

Other digital channels that offer PPC paid advertising include:

a) Twitter Ads campaigns

b) Paid ads on Facebook

c) Sponsored messages on LinkedIn

Note that some sources fuse PPC and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).


a) PPCs are time efficient

b) PPCs help your site quickly achieve top rank


a) Popular keyword bids can get expensive

b) People have an aversion to online ads and tend to view them skeptically.

5) Affiliate and Influencer Marketing

Some lists split this entry into two, but we’ll lump them together since they both function similarly. Both marketing types increase your audience by engaging with the audience that the affiliate or influencer has already created. Both entities create content that promotes your business or mentions your product and provides a link. Whenever the link gets clicked, or a sale is made, the affiliate or influencer gets paid.


a) Your marketing message will be sent out to an already existing audience, precluding your need to build your own

b) Word of mouth remains a trusted and effective means of advertising, so an influencer marketing campaign can boost your traffic dramatically


a) There’s been a slowly growing backlash against influence overexposure, giving rise to distrust. So it would be wise if you were transparent in your transactions with them

b) You must choose which affiliate or influencer best fits your brand and determine how your marketing relationship can appear organic

6) Email Marketing

Ah, the ever-popular, ever-present email! The electronic medium accumulates in your inbox until, over time, it gets too full, and you do a Delete All without looking at any messages. Despite people’s tendency to let email pile up, it’s still a viable online marketing tactic.

Emails are a cheap, easy means of communicating with your audience. Once you convince people to add their names to a subscriber list, you can spread the word about special events, promotions, sales, or product releases. Just make sure the content is both relevant and valuable.


a) You don’t have to worry about constantly changing algorithms

b) You can build stronger relationships with your customer base with minimal effort


a) It can be challenging to keep the content interesting and engaging over the long haul

b) Many people do indeed use “Delete All” without opening their emails

7) Instant Messenger Marketing

The explosion of mobile users and mobile phones means that digital marketers should adopt instant messenger marketing as part of their digital strategy. Nearly every social media platform has its form of instant messaging, providing a means of staying in contact with your customers and getting rapid responses.

Businesses can send messages directly to mobile devices via text or on platforms such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. You can instantly inform your audience about new products, flash sales, or updates regarding their orders. Instant messenger marketing is one of the mobile device’s most important digital marketing assets.


a) Instant messenger marketing is fast and lets you stay current with your audience

b) Mobile device usage is growing, so this digital marketing form can potentially reach larger audiences


a) Sometimes people mute their devices and don’t see text messages right away

b) You must ensure that the text recipients know who you are; people get suspicious when they receive texts from unknown sources and tend to delete the messages without opening them

8) Mobile Marketing

This form of digital marketing is closely related to instant message marketing. The digital world is the world of instantaneous, and mobile marketing provides the immediacy that mobile device users have come to

expect. People turn to their smartphones for fast answers, and mobile marketing takes advantage of that to help boost engagement and customer loyalty.

Mobile marketing tactics include:

  • Create an app and have it occasionally display mobile ads
  • Offer services, products, and promotions via geolocalization
  • Use SMS to keep audiences updated on the things they like
  • Offer mobile content such as videos
  • Engage in instant messenger marketing


  • You can use specific audience segments or geo-fencing to super-target your marketing message
  • People nowadays use their mobile devices far more than they use laptops or desktops, which means this marketing strategy will reach the most significant number of people


  • Mobile ads typically suffer low click rates
  • Marketing messages can interrupt conversations, thereby risking irritating people and causing them to ignore or delete the message

Video Marketing

It’s still true that a picture’s worth a thousand words, and video takes that to the next level. Videos are a popular medium today, and video content is a successful digital marketing tool. According to ThinkwithGoogle.com, 2 billion people visit YouTube for information and guidance in making purchases; you don’t need a degree in marketing analytics to see the potential!


  • Videos leave a more lasting impression than images or text
  • Videos are better at establishing an emotional connection with the viewer, which spreads your message more effectively
  • Channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn push video content to increase engagement and extend the reach


  • Creating good video content takes time, money, and talent
  • You only have a short period to grab the viewer’s attention, so you better make the video interesting

Audio Marketing

The Golden Age of Radio might be long gone, but today’s audiences still appreciate audio content. People still tune into traditional radio and newer types of audio content, such as podcasts and satellite or Internet radio.

If you want to insert content highlighting your services and products, you must understand your audience, discern their habits, and think of what they’re doing while listening to the radio.


  • It’s cheaper and easier to produce audio content than video
  • Audio content is great for active, busy audiences who are always on the move


  • There are fewer chances of an immediate return on investment (ROI)
  • If listeners are multitasking, your audio content may get relegated to background noise, making the listeners miss your message

When and How Do You Use the Different Digital Marketing Types

Unfortunately, there is no single ultimate solution that works across all sizes and types of businesses. Your marketing strategy depends on what stage your business is in, what you’re selling, and the size of your company.

If you’re starting with a new business, choose the less expensive choices that embrace today’s technology, such as search engine marketing (SEM), social media, and affiliate or influencer marketing.

For businesses that have moved beyond the startup phase but are not quite the commercial juggernaut, consider creating profiles or pages on social media platforms and get into social media marketing. It’s easy to do and relatively inexpensive.

If you have already established your audience but want to enhance engagement and brand loyalty, go with search engine optimization and e-mail marketing. Don’t forget mobile marketing since mobile computing is staggeringly popular.

You may want to save PPC, SEO, and content marketing when you have built up a decent online presence. This is because these forms of digital marketing can get expensive and sometimes labor-intensive.

Which Digital Marketing Types Work Best for Which Businesses?

The answer to this question mirrors the previous section’s advice at the risk of sounding like a copout. The solution lies with the type of business.

Choosing the best digital marketing strategy for a business is tough, and there will inevitably be some trial and error. Why don’t we turn the question on its head and instead ask: Whose eyeballs and spending money are you trying to attract? So, turn your thoughts to your audience. Who are you trying to draw, and where are they spending their time?

If you’re trying to capture the attention of a knowledgeable niche audience, then you may want to invest in content marketing using in-depth, informational articles or white papers.

You want to focus on social media and mobile marketing to reach a younger demographic. But even here, there is nuance. For example, Facebook is more popular with the over-50 crowd, while YouTube and TikTok are the favorites of teenagers.

Are You Interested in Boosting Your Digital Marketing Acumen?

As you can see, digital marketing is a vast, glorious entity that we can’t totally understand in an afternoon. This Digital Marketing Bootcamp from UMass Amherst will give you a head start in mastering the tricky discipline of digital marketing, and help you and your business get the most out of it.

This bootcamp offers learners a stress-free yet effective way to acquire vital digital marketing skills. In only six months, this highly-effective bootcamp will teach you essential marketing skills like:

  • Conversion Optimization
  • Digital Marketing
  • E-mail Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Web Analytics

According to Glassdoor.com, digital marketing professionals working in the United States make a potential annual average of $86,839. So sign up for the bootcamp today, and start an exciting and rewarding career in one of the hottest and most in-demand commercial fields!

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