24 min read
Updated: June 24, 2021

So, What is Digital Marketing, Exactly? Everything You Need to Know

So, What is Digital Marketing, Exactly? Everything You Need to Know

The world as we know it revolves around a little something called the internet. With approximately 61.4 percent of the population using the internet on a frequent basis, the world of marketing has understandably become digital over the last decade.

As consumers began to pivot into a more digital world, marketers began to adjust accordingly, and they’re still doing so to this day. Brands are automatically missing out on sales if they don’t have a functional digital marketing strategy in place. Enter the world of digital marketing, or any type of marketing done online.

What is Digital Marketing?

Marketing as a whole revolves around reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time. Traditional marketing campaigns run in mediums such as newspapers, magazines, billboards, television and radio. Think of any type of marketing that you don’t need Internet access to see.

While these marketing channels are still utilized today, they aren’t nearly as effective as digital marketing efforts.

Digital marketing refers to any marketing effort that is completed in a digital manner. Compared to traditional marketing methods, digital marketing is significantly cheaper and more cost-effective; it allows for highly targeted campaigns on digital platforms that your audience is already on.

Today, businesses of all sorts leverage the power of digital marketing to create effective email campaigns, social media campaigns, SEO campaigns, and other powerful avenues to reach their target audience and attract new customers.

What Is the Role of Digital Marketing to a Business?

Businesses can harness the power of digital marketing in an immense number of ways, making it a key player in the success of any given brand. As digital marketing revolves around online touchpoints, brands can explore avenues such as social media platforms, email marketing campaigns, videos, SEO strategies, and many more to reach the right audience.

In order to become and stay relevant in today’s world, brands need to implement digital marketing into their budget. Without a website or digital ad strategy, gaining a customer base is extremely difficult.

Consider the consumer’s perspective; if you want to learn something about a particular product or service, you want the ability to research it online.

Brands can (and should) lean into a variety of digital marketing tactics to help establish themselves and create a following. Play around with different platforms and mediums to find what works best for you. It’s important to have a method to the madness, however, so analytics and data dashboards should be utilized to drive future campaigns.

Types of Digital Marketing

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common and effective digital marketing tactics and what it takes to be successful at each one.


Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a digital marketing tactic that utilizes Google’s search algorithm to appear on the first page of Google’s search results. SEO involves optimizing your website as effectively as possible to outrank your competitors on search engines.

Simply put, the higher your page ranks on Google’s search engine results page (SERP), the more traffic your website will receive. This can help lead to more conversions and more loyal customers in the future.

SEO campaigns are built around many moving parts to help achieve results, including:

On-Page SEO

One type of SEO is referred to as on-page SEO. It refers to website content that is viewable to consumers when they’re navigating your URL. Utilizing a mix of relevant keywords and search volume intent, you can help answer questions that often appear on the SERP and outrank your competition.

Off-Page SEO

This type of SEO focuses on your website activity that occurs behind the scenes and it is not viewable to the consumer. Don’t mistake unpublished content for irrelevant content, though. Your off-page content strategy should revolve around building a link hierarchy to help show Google what keywords you care about the most.

You can also build a network with other publishers and collaborate to build a series of external links that direct traffic to your website.

Technical SEO

The third type of SEO is dedicated to the coding of the back-end of your website. All of your files, including photos, structured data, image compression, and CSS file optimization are part of your technical SEO. When done incorrectly, those assets can take a toll on your website speed, which in turn negatively impacts your SEO.

Regardless of the type of SEO, remember that the strategy as a whole is a long-term game. Results take at least a few months to begin to show up, so be patient and know that good results take time.

PPC Advertising

Pay per click advertising, or PPC, is the method of driving consumers to your website by paying every time they click on one of your ads through a publisher. Think of PPC advertising as a way to purchase website visitors instead of promoting your website organically.

When PPC campaigns are implemented correctly, they can produce impactful results, making the small fee that you pay per click worth it. For example, if you paid $5 for one click but it resulted in purchase over $100, that margin is well worth the investment.

In order to build a successful PPC campaign, businesses need to complete the proper research and utilize the right keywords to make ad groups. PPC landing pages must also be implemented and optimized to help drive conversions.

Plus, Google and other search engines will charge you less per click if your PPC campaigns do well. The sooner you start implementing smart PPC campaigns into your digital marketing strategy, the sooner you will begin seeing results.

Google Paid Advertising Campaigns

Google Ads

The most common type of PPC advertisements are made through Google Ads; companies can pay for high-ranking spots on Google’s search engine results page to promote their product or business.

Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is the most popular PPC platform in the world. It allows users to create PPC advertisements directly in the platform which makes it easy to keep track of your ad’s character count.

Ranking Factors for PPC Campaigns

  • Quality score: Your ‘quality score’ is how Google rates the relevance and quality of keywords, landing pages, and PPC campaigns. The better your quality score, the cheaper you can typically get ad clicks at a lower cost.
  • Keyword relevance: Developing a relevant keyword list with organized keyword groups can help improve PPC campaigns.
  • Landing page quality: Your landing pages should have relevant content with clear language to help attract consumers.
  • Overall creativity: Your ad copy should inspire and entice your audience to interact with your brand.

Users of Google Ads can place bids on keywords, paying each time someone clicks on their advertisement. When a user searches something on Google, the search engine quickly scans its advertising pools to see what is most relevant to the user.

Google Ads is a particularly ideal PPC platform due to the sheer popularity of Google itself. It is significantly more popular than other search engines and it can help deliver a significant amount of traffic to your website.

Facebook and Instagram Paid Advertising Campaigns

Brands can also choose to run paid advertisements on both Facebook and Instagram. Each platform offers similar deliverables but is tailored toward different demographics. Whether you choose to run paid ads on one or both platforms depends on your budget and overall strategy.

Ad Management

Marketers can use Facebook Ads Manager to manage both Facebook and Instagram paid ads. This makes overseeing ads on both platforms a breeze and you can easily monitor and harvest important insights.

The main difference is Instagram is simplistic in how they set up their ads while Facebook allows for a variety of objectives and ad sets. If you’re new to PPC ads, it’s ideal to start with Instagram to help learn the routes. Doing so can give you important practice for how to run a successful Facebook ads campaign.

Demographics & Audiences

The term ‘demographics’ refers to the majority overall user base of a brand and ‘audiences’ refers to your account followers that you are able to reach.

It’s no surprise that Instagram’s demographic skews younger while Facebook’s demographic covers a wide variety of age ranges.

Determining your target audience is an important part of developing your paid ads strategy. Once you know where your demographic spends their time online, you can show up in the right spots at the right times.


Defining clear goals and benchmarks for your ads is essential in determining your success metrics. On Facebook, you select your goals from the start of each campaign, and most options are available on Instagram in a limited capacity compared to Facebook.

However, running an ad on the Instagram app does not allow you to alter your objectives, so this is something that you should keep in mind before moving forward with an Instagram paid ads campaign.

facebook ads marketing

SEO vs. PPC: What is Better?

Determining whether SEO or PPC is a better approach for your business can be tricky and complicated, as each platform offers different benefits that should be carefully considered.

Before you implement both an SEO and PPC campaign simultaneously, know that as much as they are effective together, they can also impact one another’s results. For example, if you notice that your SEO results have been increasing, Google likely won’t keep your PPC ads running in such a high position.

Whether you choose SEO or PPC depends on your marketing goals. Do you want to start marketing a specific product through digital marketing immediately? If this is the case, we recommend opting for PPC. Pay per click advertising doesn’t require a ton of time to see results and it can help drive immediate traffic to your site.

If you only have a small marketing budget but you aren’t sure how to spend it, consider opting for SEO instead. SEO experts can help take your strategy to new heights and get the most results for your money.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a general term that refers to both the creation and circulation of a variety of content assets for your business. High-quality, engaging content can help increase brand awareness and deliver strong results, and the more people who view this content, the more eyes on your brand.

Different channels to help improve your content marketing include:

  • Blogs: Does your company site have a blog section? If it doesn’t, consider adding one. It’s a space to publish relevant, timely articles for your audience and keep them engaged with your brand. Your blog section can also help generate organic search traffic and increase the chances of converting.
  • Infographics: Another supplementary content marketing piece is an infographic. Infographics are pieces of visual content that bring statistics to life and keep your readers engaged. Infographics can be combined with blogs or optimized on their own.
  • Ebooks and whitepapers: Long-form content such as ebooks and whitepapers can help educate your readers. You can also be strategic and provide readers with engaging content if they provide their email address and name.

Content marketing is a part of SEO, so results won’t happen overnight. Be patient and consistent to yield the best results.

Email Marketing

email marketing

Email marketing is another important and effective digital marketing tactic. Companies can tap into email marketing to help communicate with a large number of people. It’s an ideal way to promote products, send discounts, or communicate important information with your audience.

You may wonder whether email marketing is still relevant or if it’s an outdated digital marketing technique. In reality, the numbers prove that email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels available.

Eighty-five percent of adult internet users have an active email account and the number of active email users by 2023 is going to be 4.3 billion. Plus, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42. Not bad for a seemingly outdated platform!

If you aren’t sure what email marketing platform to use, make sure to research your options before choosing a platform.

Social Media Marketing

It’s impossible to mention digital marketing without mentioning social media marketing. Brands can tap into the power of social media platforms to help build brand recognition and drive traffic.

In today’s world, the most popular social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Each platform has different primary demographics and uses, so research where your target audience spends their time online.

There are five core components that work in tandem to create an effective social media marketing strategy: strategy, planning & publishing, listening & engagement, and analytics & reporting.


Consider how social media platforms can help your business reach and surpass its goals. Do you want to increase brand awareness, generate engagement, or drive website traffic? Once you have a better handle on your strategy, you can pinpoint what platforms you need to be on and begin to produce content accordingly.

Planning & Publishing

Social media is home to nearly 3 billion people, so take advantage of simple interactions that can help promote your brand. Write and share engaging blog posts and push out content that your audience will enjoy.

Take advantage of social media scheduling tools to help put the process on autodrive.

Listening & Engagement

As your brand following begins to grow, you’ll start to figure out what type of content does well and what type of content doesn’t get high engagement.

You can also practice social listening and see what consumers have to say about your brand without letting you know directly. These insights are extremely valuable to your brand and can help shed light on honest conversations around your brand.


Performance will help determine what strategies are working and what strategies need to be changed. Utilize the analytics that come with platforms like Facebook and Instagram to create even more successful campaigns in the future.

Social media marketing

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a digital marketing methodology in which you attract customers and engage with them in a positive way throughout their buyer’s journey. Inbound marketing is typically a combination of the aforementioned marketing tactics to help create a positive experience for the customer.

On the opposite hand, outbound marketing consists of disrupting your consumer with information that they didn’t ask for.

Inbound marketing techniques revolve around attracting, engaging and delighting your target audience. Examples of inbound marketing include blogs, organic social media marketing, SEO website text, ebooks and webinars, just to name a few.

Affiliate Marketing

This is a type of digital marketing during which brands receive a commission for promoting another company’s products or services.

Affiliate marketing is based on revenue sharing meaning that if you find a product that you like, you can promote it and earn a piece of commission in return. The ‘affiliate’ refers to either an individual or a brand that publishes the content on behalf of the merchant.

For example, eBay, Amazon, and even Home Depot have affiliate programs in which advertisers only pay commissions when a conversion is made. This benefits both the company as well as the affiliate involved, a win-win situation.

Can I Run Successful Digital Marketing on my Own?

Digital marketing is possible to do on your own, but that doesn’t mean it will be done correctly. Smaller companies may have one person dedicated to the company’s digital marketing efforts while larger companies may have a team dedicated to it.

There are some areas of digital marketing that you may be able to pick up on your own such as organic social media posts or inbound marketing. If you’re patient, you can also approach digital marketing with a trial and error approach, but this won’t yield as effective or timely results.

Many businesses choose to pass their digital marketing efforts onto a professional company so they can focus on other important aspects of improving the business.

How to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Channels

If your company is already taking on digital marketing efforts, you are likely already tapping into the potential of digital marketing. At least a portion of your target audience segment is likely being utilized, but there’s always more that you can do.

Understanding how your target audience spends their time online can help you show up in the right place at the right time to attract their attention. Don’t rush into this process, however; digital marketing is best implemented with a strong strategy behind it.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to fine-tune your digital marketing efforts, our team at Comrade is happy to help.

Whether you’re new to digital marketing or you simply want to explore new channels and platforms, we are ready to help your business thrive.

Contact us by filling out our online contact form or call us at (312) 265-0580 and we’ll even provide a full marketing audit free of charge. Simple as that.

Need a high-performance website for your company?
Book a 15-min call to discuss

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a digital marketer need to know?

To succeed in digital marketing, you need to possess a wide range of skills and knowledge. Basically, you need to be savvy about how data shapes and drives the customer experience across various platforms and master a few tools, including Google Ads, Google Analytics, social media ads managers, etc.

Do you need to know coding for digital marketing?

Understanding code is now of great importance for most of the jobs in the IT industry. And digital marketing is not an exception. If you plan on marketing your project on your own, you absolutely need to develop a set of programming skills to do the job right.

Is digital marketing difficult?

We'd not be honest in saying that digital marketing is an easy job to do. When going on to market your project, you should be ready to accept that this job is also extremely demanding, and it takes a lot of hard work and willingness to face high competition and take risks to succeed.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you would like to discuss your project, reach out to our specialists.

discuss your project
About the Author
Sasha Berson
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Comrade Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency dedicated to solving client’s most pressing digital challenges.
Rate this article!
Share this article
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Growing Sales
Does your website generate enough traffic?
A complimentary, no-obligation digital marketing performance audit
  • Website UI/UX, content and conversion review
  • SEO: 20-point performance check
  • Digital marketing strategy
request free audit

Ready to start your project?

Get in touch with us to discuss your specific objectives and the best, tailored-made strategy to reach and surpass them.
Contact US
Thank You For Your Interest
One of our specialist will be in contact with you shortly.
Before you go, we would love to get additional information to help us better understand how we can serve you best. Please fill out this four question survey.