What Are the 9 Types of Digital Marketing?

Afoma Umesi, Contributor to the CareerFoundry blog

With 63.1% of the global population—almost two thirds!—being internet users, more people are online than ever. While traditional marketing is great, every marketing team knows they cannot ignore the call for digital marketing efforts. It is essential to be seen in today’s over-saturated and competitive market.

Before you delve into the field, you must know that there are many types of digital marketing to explore. For example, it could be posting consistently on your social media, asking users to sign up for a newsletter, sending them emails, or even strategically putting relevant keywords in your blog posts. Typically, marketers use different types of digital marketing together to achieve a marketing goal. 

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  1. What is digital marketing?
  2. Types of digital marketing
  3. When and how do you use different types of digital marketing?
  4. How to learn digital marketing
  5. Next steps

You can use the clickable menu to skip ahead to any section. Let’s get started!

1. What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing, also called online marketing, is the promotion of products and services using online channels and digital technologies like the phone, computer, or tablet. 

It can increase your brand’s visibility and create awareness across various digital channels. It also helps to improve the potential customer’s experience since it creates a convenient way to connect with you and find information about your products and services. With digital marketing, it’s easier to track and monitor the results of your marketing efforts.

You can learn more about digital marketing by reading our complete guide. For now, let’s look at the different types of digital marketing.

2. Types of digital marketing

Digital marketing is a complex ecosystem. To be effective as a digital marketer, you need to understand how the different parts work. There isn’t always a clear-cut difference between the types of digital marketing because they sometimes work hand-in-hand. 

Here are some of the major types of digital marketing:

1. Content marketing

Content marketing involves educating, persuading, and entertaining customers through digital content. It is geared toward guiding your audience through the marketing funnel from awareness to conversion using written, video, or audio content.

Content marketing is not a one-size-fits-all approach, as your preferred content types depend on your audience. For example, B2B companies with an audience reliant on higher stakeholders for decision-making may focus on data-driven content like blog posts, reports, case studies, infographics, videos, e-books, and white papers. 

On the other hand, B2C companies tend to focus on blog posts, posts, quizzes, e-books, and fun videos. 

Benefits

  • Content is the fuel for many other types of digital marketing channels, such as social media marketing or email marketing. When done right, it makes those methods more effective.
  • It can help you connect with your audience and establish your brand as an authority in their field. 
  • Content marketing is largely driven by search engine optimization and can be a great way to drive organic traffic.

Challenges

  • Content marketing is a saturated space, so it can be challenging to stand out.
  • If done poorly, it can affect other digital marketing efforts and create a negative brand image. 

Skills 

Some of the skills required for content marketing include:

  • Content production
  • Content strategy
  • Editing
  • Research
  • SEO skills
  • Data analysis
  • Project management

2. SEO and SEM

Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are digital marketing efforts based on search engines like Google and Bing. 

SEO refers to the process of refining website content to increase its chances of ranking highly on search engine result pages (SERPs) for specific, relevant keywords. This is important because most people typically do not look beyond the first result page. If they don’t find an answer on the first page, they’ll rather change their search query.

There are several elements of SEO, and they can be categorized into three categories:

  • On-page SEO: This involves optimizing the content on your site, such as including keywords in your header and meta description.
  • Off-page SEO: This involves SEO efforts outside your website, like backlinks and social media shares.
  • Technical SEO: This refers to optimizing the technical aspects of your website, like mobile-friendliness, site speed, and avoiding duplicate content. 

SEO increases your site’s visibility organically, while SEM promotes a website and increases its visibility for relevant keywords through paid search advertising. The most common tool for SEM is Google Ads, and you get to bid for relevant keywords you want your site to rank for.

Benefits

  • SEO is cost-effective as it only requires a lot of time and effort as opposed to pooling money into additional resources.
  • SEO and SEM will increase your website’s traffic quantity and quality. 

Challenges

  • Search engines constantly change their algorithm, so you’ll have to update your site regularly. 
  • SEO is highly competitive, so ranking high for relevant keywords can be challenging.

Skills required

Some of the skills you need to specialize in SEO and SEM include:

  • Keyword research
  • Google Ads
  • Link building
  • Technical SEO
  • On-page SEO
  • Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
  • Analytics

Related reading: SEO vs SEM: What’s the Difference?

3. Email marketing

Email marketing refers to sending regular marketing and promotional materials to customers’ email inboxes. It’s a direct way to reach customers with promotional and informational messages, and is especially popular among retail businesses. 

An important part of email marketing is receiving consent and personalizing content. Since users will have to opt-in, you’ll be reaching people interested in your messaging. However, getting people to opt-in is not always so straightforward, so you’ll need to provide incentives like a discount or a valuable ebook. 

To send marketing emails, use email service providers such as Mailchimp, Sendinblue, Convertkit, and GetResponse. Your email marketing will be more effective when you segment your list to send more targeted messages based on your audience’s interests. In addition, email automation will ensure you send emails triggered by your customer’s behaviors.

Benefits

  • It allows for personalized, direct messaging with your audience.
  • It improves conversions by giving room for re-engagement—for example, after an abandoned cart or using a personalized coupon. 
  • It is not dependent on the ever-changing algorithm of search engines and social media platforms.

Challenges

Skills 

Some of the skills you need to have for email marketing include:

  • Copywriting
  • Design 
  • Automation tools
  • Analytics and testing
  • List segmentation
  • Template editing

3. Social media marketing

Social media marketing (SMM) is using social media to promote products and services. 59% of the global world population is active on social media, which makes it a good channel for wide reach. It also allows for high engagement and interactions with customers (and potential customers). 

SMM can be organic, where you create content, post it on your feed, and expect your followers to see it. You depend on your followers sharing it with their audience and coming up in searches for hashtags you included in your caption. This is an effective way to build your brand’s reputation, but it is limited in its reach. 

Social media algorithms constantly evolve and tamper with how much organic growth you can have. This is where paid social media comes in. In this case, you pay the social media platform like Facebook or Instagram to boost your content, allowing it to reach a targeted audience who will be interested in seeing it.  

The best way to get the most out of social media marketing is to target the platform where your audience is and include organic and paid social media in your strategy.

Benefits

  • SMM can help you reach a large audience and gain new customers.
  • Paid SMM can help you target your ideal customers.
  • It can help you build a relationship with your existing customers.

Challenges

  • It can be difficult to manage a social presence on multiple platforms simultaneously. 
  • It can be overwhelming to respond to backlash and criticism on social media.
  • It requires consistently creating valuable and entertaining content, which takes strategic planning, time, and effort.

Skills 

Some of the skills you will need to pursue a path in social media marketing include:

  • Content curation
  • Creativity
  • Writing
  • Project management
  • Awareness of trends

5. Performance marketing

Performance marketing is a results-based type of marketing. Brands run campaigns where they only pay marketing service providers or advertising platforms based on a resulting action like a click, lead, or sale. 

This type of marketing is highly measurable and helps with making iterations. For example, by noticing which keyword generates more sales than other targeted keywords, you can decide which one to prioritize. Some of the most popular metrics used for performance marketing campaigns include:

  • Cost-per-click (CPC): The performance measured in this model is a click. That is, you only pay when someone clicks your ad.  
  • Cost-per-mille (CPM): Also known as cost per thousand impressions, it is the cost for every 1000 impressions of the brand’s ad.
  • Cost-per-lead (CPL): The performance measured in this model is a lead. The prospective customer has to perform an action that qualifies them as a lead, usually submitting their contact information.  
  • Cost-per-acquisition (CPA): Also known as cost per action, it is the cost to reach a customer that carries out a predefined specific action. This action may be a purchase or a sign-up.  

Performance marketing channels include banner ads, social media, SEM, and affiliate marketing. 

Benefits

  • It is budget-friendly, since you pay for only outcomes.
  • It is highly measurable and trackable. 

Challenges

  • It is very conversion-based, so there’s no brand building. 
  • The death of third-party cookies due to browser changes and privacy concerns will make targeting users difficult.

Skills

  • Data analytics
  • Collaboration
  • Strategy
  • Decision making
  • Awareness of emerging technologies and trends

6. Multichannel marketing 

Multichannel marketing is a type of digital marketing that mixes several marketing channels into one strategy. It leverages the unique strengths of each specific platform to promote products and services.  

It creates multiple touchpoints for potential customers—more than one option to discover and interact with a brand. Multichannel marketing, in practice, may look like a business running an ad on social media, ranking organically for a relevant search query, and sending promotional emails. However, they may also include an offline marketing strategy like mounting a billboard. 

Multichannel marketing aims to be where your customers are, and to provide them with a seamless customer experience.

Benefits

  • It expands your reach and engagement. 
  • It allows you to reach potential customers on their preferred platform.
  • With more touchpoints, you can collate more data.

Challenges

  • Managing multiple marketing channels can be difficult.
  • With several marketing channels, it can become difficult to measure which has the most impact.
  • You can lose consistency in messaging since each platform has unique content requirements. 

Skills 

Some of the skills you need to be a multi-channel marketer include:

  • Content creation
  • Storytelling
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Web analytics
  • SEO and SEM
  • Testing
  • Marketing attribution

7. Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing

Pay-per-click marketing is a type of digital marketing where you pay for each click on your ads.  PPC is commonly used for search engine advertising, the most popular being Google Ads. It uses a bidding system where you determine the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. PPC ads are typically the first result for relevant keywords on the SERP.

Benefits

  • You only pay for the desired action.  
  • It’s a fast way to rank high on SERPs. 
  • It has good targeting options.

Challenges

  • Customers are usually wary of ads and may choose to check the results that rank organically.
  • It requires expert knowledge to run successfully.
  • It can get really expensive if you’re bidding for a competitive keyword.

Skills 

  • Analytical skills
  • Knowledge of Google Ads
  • Ad copywriting
  • Design
  • Creation of landing pages
  • Knowledge of ecommerce

8. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing involves partnering with individuals who have a sizable audience to promote your products. It is an effective way to create brand awareness, increase visibility and build trust. 63% of consumers say they trust the recommendations of influencers more than brands. However, it is vital to work with a reputable influencer.

Influencers are on different social media platforms and can be celebrities, experts, or content creators. They are usually paid per post, and their price varies based mainly on their audience size. 

Benefits

  • Influencer marketing provides brand awareness.
  • Influencers with a loyal following can increase your sale based on their recommendation. 
  • It is a cost-effective marketing effort, with 60% of marketers agreeing that it has a better return on investment (ROI) than traditional advertising.

Challenges

  • It may be difficult to find and partner with the right influencer. 
  • It can be hard to spot influencers with fake followers. 
  • There is a growing distrust of influencers amongst consumers. 
  • Influencers, especially celebrity influencers, can be very expensive. 

Skills

  • Influencer outreach
  • Social media marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Campaign management
  • Project management
  • Content creation
  • Communication

9. Affiliate marketing 

Affiliate marketing provides individuals with the opportunity to promote your business for a commission. These promoters will receive a referral code that will help to track conversions which may be a sale or sign-up, and they will earn a commission for each referral. The promoters can be influencers, bloggers, or even regular individuals.  

Benefits

  • You only pay them for successful referrals, so there’s no upfront cost. 
  • Increased brand awareness and visibility.

Challenges

  • Managing affiliates can be challenging.
  • It can be difficult to ensure consistent messaging amongst all affiliates.

Skills

  • Analytics
  • Campaign management
  • Negotiation
  • Project management
  • Problem-solving
  • Affiliate management tools

3. When and how do you use different types of digital marketing?

The type of digital marketing you use will depend on your audience and your business needs. Where is the first place your audience looks to find the kind of products and service you offer? For example, a survey showed that 67% of consumers depend on social media to learn about beauty and personal care products. 

Understanding consumer behavior will help you determine which digital marketing channel to utilize.

Deciding on your digital marketing goals will also help you know the digital strategy to employ. For example, visibility and lead generation are priorities for a new business, so types of digital marketing like SEO and SEM, social media marketing, and influencer marketing will work great. 

However, for a business with an existing customer base, the goal may be brand loyalty and an increase in recurring purchases. Email marketing is an excellent fit to reach that goal. 

Your digital marketing strategy may also change based on consumer behavior and business needs.

4. How to learn digital marketing

A good place to start learning digital marketing is by using free online resources. These resources may be in the form of blog posts, podcasts, and even tailored courses. You can also opt for paid online courses, especially those that provide direct contact with a mentor or a tutor—or both, in CareerFoundry’s case.

Once you’ve learned the basics, practicing your skills is next. You can decide to start a blog or grow a social media account to test first-hand the things you learned in theory. The experience you gain during this process and your results can serve as a portfolio for future employment. 

You can also choose to apply for internships in digital marketing agencies. These agencies are usually fast-paced but will afford you to see how digital marketing strategies are carried out. 

Ultimately, digital marketing is a broad field constantly evolving, so you’ll keep learning on the job. 

You might also be interested in checking out this live event we had with CareerFoundry’s very own CMO, Ed Wood, in which he outlines his own career path in digital marketing and hands out some sage advice on how you can forge your own path.

5. Next steps

Now, we’ve looked at the most popular types of digital marketing. Since they usually intersect, it’s important to understand how they work, even if you will eventually specialize in one. 

Digital marketing efforts are growing in every industry, and now is a great time to enter the scene. It is an exciting and innovative field filled with profitable opportunities. If you’re a proponent of life-long learning, you’ll enjoy starting a digital marketing career.

Want to get a hands-on introduction to digital marketing? Why not try out this free, 5-day short course?

Enjoyed this blog post? We think you’ll like these, too:

What You Should Do Now

  1. Get a hands-on introduction to digital marketing with a free, self-paced short course comprised of five short tutorials.

  2. Take part in one of our FREE live online digital marketing events with industry experts.

  3. Talk to a program advisor to discuss career change and find out what it takes to become a job-ready digital marketer in just 4-7 months—all backed by the CareerFoundry job guarantee.

  4. This month, we’re offering the first 100 students reduced tuition—worth up to $1,120 off our full Digital Marketing Program. To secure your spot, book an advisor call today.

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