What is Digital Marketing? A Comprehensive Guide to Digital Marketing Mastery

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What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is the marketing or promotion of products or services using digital technologies.

It includes online as well as offline channels. The key online digital marketing channels include email, search engines, social media, mobile apps, and websites while the key offline digital marketing channels are radio, television, and electronic billboards.

The worldwide digital ad spend is expected to cross $375 billion by 2021. (eMarketer)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What is digital marketing?

What is the definition of digital marketing?

Digital marketing is defined as the advertising or promotion of products and services through digital channels such as search engines, email, websites, social media, and mobile apps.

What is digital marketing strategy?

Digital marketing strategy is the complete set of activities that help you achieve your sales and marketing goals through online marketing channels. It is a master plan, or a blueprint aimed at achieving a long-term business goal. A digital marketing strategy involves steps such as:

  1. Competitor analysis
  2. Defining customer profiles
  3. Defining marketing objectives
  4. Identifying target markets
  5. Managing and allocating resources
  6. Reviewing and optimizing performance and more

What is Ecommerce? A Comprehensive Guide to Ecommerce infographic

What are the types of digital marketing?

Digital marketing can be split into two categories – online and offline. There are various types of online digital marketing. The key online digital marketing techniques are:

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  3. Pay per Click Advertising (PPC)
  4. Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  5. Email Marketing
  6. Content Marketing
  7. Affiliate Marketing
  8. Influencer Marketing
  9. Public Relations Content
  10. Mobile Marketing
  11. Brand Journalism
  12. Video Marketing
  13. Audio Marketing
  14. Native Advertising
  15. Augmented Reality Marketing

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science of increasing website traffic by improving the visibility of a website on a search engine. Since the majority of website traffic comes from free, organic, search results via search engines, ranking higher in search engines can significantly increase traffic to a website.

2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) uses paid methods to increase the visibility of a website in search engine result pages (SERPs). SEM enables your business page/website to feature as a result of a search query when a user types in a certain keyword.

3. Pay per Click Advertising (PPC)

Pay per click is a type of paid search. It is a process of purchasing visits to your website, instead of getting them organically through SEO or other mediums. Every time people click on ads, marketers have to pay a fee for advertising. It includes affiliate advertising and display advertising.

By 2020, 50% of all online searches will be voice searches (Wordstream, 2018)

4. Social Media Marketing (SMM)

Social media marketing is the process of using social media platforms to attract and engage traffic. It helps brands increase visibility and build strong and meaningful relationships with customers. Social media marketing plays a key role in supporting inbound marketing activities. It helps catch audience attention, drive relevant traffic to the website and convert them.

5. Email Marketing

Email marketing is the practice of sending commercial messages to a group of people, through electronic mail (email). In essence, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing. Content and the timing of the email are two important things that make an email marketing campaign successful.

6. Content Marketing

Content marketing refers to the practice of creating and distributing content to promote a product or service to a target audience. The main goal of content marketing is to drive customer action which can result in an engagement or a sale. It is an integral part of the other digital marketing activities like SEO, social media marketing or email marketing.

7. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a highly effective marketing technique that lets brands increase sales by allowing individuals (affiliate marketers) to earn a commission by recommending the product to others. The affiliate promotes a product or service by sharing it on a blog, social media platforms, or website and earns a commission each time someone makes a purchase through the unique link associated with their recommendation.

Video content is 50 times more likely to drive organic search results than plain text. (Omnicore, 2018)

8. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a technique of getting someone with a huge following to endorse your brand. This is one of the best ways to increase your audience. This type of marketing has been used outside digital marketing too, for instance brands sponsoring actors or sportspersons. By getting a famous person to recommend your brand online connects you to their audience and encourages them to try your product or service.

9. Public Relations Content

This is one of the key marketing techniques, where the audience is more convinced to experience your brand when someone else complements the product or services, rather than your own advertising. One of the best ways to boost PR strength is by asking the people who converted to give a good review on social media platforms, offer them free samples of other or new products.

10. Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is a cross-channel digital marketing strategy aimed at promoting a product or service by reaching the target audience on their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, via websites, email, SMS, social media, and apps. Like electronic advertising, mobile marketing uses text, graphics and voice messages.

11. Brand Journalism

Involves creating content which your audience finds interesting. It also contains less call-to- action to supplement this content. There is a mutual transaction between the audience and the brand, where the audience is provided with interesting content and brands get to promote themselves.

12. Video Marketing

People love videos and it’s the best way to captivate the audience’s attention. According to a report, 92% of people share mobile videos with others. Brands post videos on their website, social media accounts or on YouTube. This is a great way for brands to stand out and circulate people.

By 2021, global retail ecommerce sales will reach $4.5 trillion. (Shopify Plus, 2018)

13. Audio Marketing

Audio media is an integral part of the online ecosystem. The latest trend these days are podcasts and music streaming sites. Audio advertisements on these platforms are the most effective ways to market your product and services. An advertisement endorsed by the host of the podcast are more personal and nonchalant than the traditional radio advertisement. You can host podcast relevant to your brand to increase the popularity.

14. Native Advertising

Native advertisements are authentic and positioned within articles and websites. Users don’t like advertisements that suddenly pop up or startle you sound and video or distract them though the sidebars. Native advertisements don’t distract the visitor while they browse the website content. To avoid annoying the visitor it is better to position your visual advertisements natively.

15. Augmented Reality Marketing

The latest developments in technology right now and the most powerful and effective types of digital marketing are AR and VR. Brands that can afford to use augmented and virtual reality techniques in their campaigns, should certainly go ahead.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What are the types of digital marketing?

What are the three types of digital media?

There are three types of digital media each with their own advantages and disadvantages. In next week’s blog post, we’ll discuss how to use these three types of media together in order to create a robust digital media strategy.

Paid Media: Paid media is the most traditional of the three types of digital media. Paid media refers to activity related to a company or brand that is generated by the company or its agents. Examples include digital display ads, paid search, and native advertising. Paid media lets you reach a large-scale audience and direct attention to your content that wouldn’t otherwise find it.

Earned Media: Media activity related to a company or brand that is not directly generated by the company or its agents but rather by other entities such as customers or journalists qualifies as earned media. It includes SEO rankings, social media mentions, and content getting picked up by a third party. Earned media can be immensely effective because of its organic nature. It’s also more credible than a paid ad since people will listen to a real person’s endorsement.

Owned Media: Owned media refers to activity related to a company or brand that is generated by the company or its agents in channels it controls It includes. Everything that you publish on this channel is yours, and you can adapt or change content as you need. This includes any media that is controlled directly by your brand, such as your company website, company blog, company press releases, and company-owned pages/accounts in online social networks (e.g., Twitter account, Facebook brand page).

What are the different channels of digital marketing?

Studies have shown that there are seven highly effective digital marketing channels. These are:

  1. Email
  2. Websites and blogs
  3. Organic search
  4. Display ads
  5. Paid media
  6. Mobile ads
  7. Social media

What’s involved in digital marketing?

Digital marketing is all about understanding and responding to the needs and requirements of the user and engaging them. It completely depends on user data, progressive thinking and analysis. It involves:

Analyzing user data

The most important element of digital marketing is data. Data is the very foundation of marketing campaigns. It’s very important to understand what your visitor do, need and expect. You need to analyze their complete journey and find out which are the most effective and ineffective areas of your website. Understand, observe and engage with your customers. Find out their interest and design the website accordingly.

Mobile will account for 72% of digital ad spend by 2019. (eMarketer)


People are bombarded by thousands of advertisements every day. There is no guarantee that they will be reading it. People prefer content that is relevant, informative, interesting and useful to them. You need to put the user at the center of your co-marketing and send them information through blogs or UX content. Focus and create content that engages people. This will increase your website traffic, sale and enquiry and brand awareness.

Creative assets

Creative assets are the key to inspire people and get their attention. Creative assets consist of logos, photos, videos, infographics, social channel branding.

  • The first thing your customer see’s is your organization’s logo. They think whether to invest their time and money, based on the first impression of your company.
  • The next thing customers notice are the photos on your website. Use original imagery instead of stock imagery to grab the attention of the users and increase your conversion rates.
  • Videos are one of the most powerful assets. 90% of customers say videos help them make a purchase decision and 64% say that prefer buying products after watching their videos. Users mostly prefer short content (1minute videos) or else they lose interest.
  • While building your creative assets, it is very important to appropriately brand your social channels. People often discover brands through social media pages. Therefore, the branding used on the social media pages should match your website or else the user will not trust you.

Social media

There are billions of people around the world who use social media every day. Social media has paved the way for content marketing, memes, detailed audience targeting and mapping, videos and more. This is all possible because of user data. User data is not only for seeing what the user is doing, but also understanding what their likes and dislikes are, their career or relationship status and much more. This helps in creating personas and target them accordingly. Social media is the best way to converse, engage the audience, collect insights, build trust and loyalty.

Pay per click (PPC) 

Pay per click first appeared in 2000 and it has revolutionized advertising. It drives traffic to websites and allows businesses to pay only when the user clicks on the advertisement. It also helps in collecting user data. Google Ads, Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads are some examples of PPC.

Personalized emails increase transaction rates by up to six times. (Marketing Land)


According to a report, 24.9% is the average open rate of an email marketing campaign and 4.19% conversion rate. With the new rules on GDPR, users have the choice to opt-in or out to receive marketing emails. Those who want to hear from your business will surely subscribe for it. Personalization and personalized content for email marketing increases the conversion rate 6 times higher than an ordinary email.

What is digital marketing strategy?

Digital marketing strategy is the series of actions taken to achieve organizational goals by selecting the online marketing channels such as social media advertising, email marketing etc. to support campaign around the business. The following are the 6 key elements of a solid digital marketing strategy:

  1. An engaging, responsive website
  2. Measured search campaigns
  3. Email marketing
  4. Social marketing
  5. Content marketing
  6. Measurement and improvement

1. An engaging website

An increasing number of customers are interacting with brands via their smartphones and tablets. A consistent and intuitive experience across all devices is must-have for brands. A responsive web design is imperative to make your website automatically conform to all mobile devices like mobile phones, tablets and smart watches. Using technologies like AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) helps in loading the pages faster on mobile devices.

2. Search campaigns 

SEO is alive and well but perhaps a bit more difficult than in the past due to an increased number of requirements and the ever-changing Google algorithm. But search marketing isn't just about SEO. Pay-per-click campaigns are incredibly effective. A Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategy is imperative for Google Ads and Facebook Ads which helps in customizing multiple ad formats. With localized ad capability and superior metrics Google makes it easier to track how well your ads work. One can choose graphic display ads, YouTube video ads, text-based, search ads or in-app mobile ads depending on the needs and the target customers.

3. Email marketing

Sending email to your target audience is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic, engagement and conversion. Email marketing is used to generate more leads compared to any other methods by increasing your sales and conversion rates.  This is the most affordable method available and can be combined with social media share icons and referral reward systems, which will in turn help you in turning the sales cycle shorter.

93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine (SEOtribunal)

4. An effective social strategy

Social media allows you to delight your customers, boost to your brand's awareness and add credibility and thought leadership to your industry voice. An effective social media strategy enables you to automate posting content when the audience is reading.  By utilizing tools like Hootsuite for scheduling contents in different time zones helps with global content reach.

5. Content marketing

An effective content marketing strategy is about attracting a big part of targeted customers by keeping the content valuable, consistent and relevant. Since, more than 50% of global devices are smartphones and tablets, making the content smart phone compatible will help influencers promoting the business. Utilizing the automation tools will help sending the content to the customers on their mobile devices at the right time.

6. Measurement and improvement

Marketers across the world are under immense pressure to prove the ROI of their marketing efforts. Brands are operating under tight budgets but expect huge results. The only way to consistently deliver value is to constantly monitor and measure the impact of marketing campaigns and make improvements wherever necessary.

How to build an effective digital marketing strategy?

Digital marketing strategy is the complete set of activities that help you achieve your sales and marketing goals through online marketing channels. It is a master plan, or a blueprint aimed at achieving a long-term business goal. A holistic digital marketing strategy includes six key elements:

  1. Competitor analysis
  2. Defining customer profiles
  3. Defining marketing objectives
  4. Identifying target markets
  5. Managing and allocating resources
  6. Reviewing and optimizing performance

1. Competitor analysis

This is the first step in building a watertight digital marketing strategy. Conducting a competitive analysis helps you compare the tactics and channels driving performance for you and your competitors, identify untapped opportunities to outperform the competition, and differentiate your brand against competitors. The goal of competitive intelligence is to validate your marketing strategy before you dive into execution.

2. Defining customer profiles

Buyer personas represent your ideal customers. Creating a buyer persona helps you understand who you’re selling to, and how your customers may receive your message. To create a buyer persona, you must conduct extensive research by surveying your target audience and understanding their preferences. This would help you get a well-rounded picture of your persona.

Landing pages videos increase conversions by 86%. (Wordstream, 2018)

3. Defining marketing objectives

Before you get started with executing your plans, you must first clearly define your goals. Identify your key priorities and align them with your digital marketing goals. Make sure your goals are quantifiable, for instance increasing online sales by 20%, or growing your email database subscription list by 1500 contacts. Once you define your goals, you are halfway to achieving your goals.

4. Identifying target markets

Every brand wants to make sure that it reaches the right people. That’s why target audience analysis is a central component to any marketing strategy. Not only does it give you an informed view of who your audiences are, it also helps you understand who your audiences are not, and, tweak your strategy accordingly.

5. Managing and allocating resources

This is one of the most important yet the most commonly overlooked aspects of creating a digital marketing strategy. Putting a digital marketing strategy into action is a resource-intensive process and businesses must make sure they make the best possible use of the available time and money. Not only will this be beneficial for the strategy, but the clarity will also lead to happier, less overwhelmed employees.

6. Reviewing and optimizing performance

Timely reviews and monitoring are critical for the long-term success of any digital marketing strategy. Since every prominent platform today has its own form of analytics, accessing this info is easy for marketers. By learning and assessing this data first hand, marketers can equip themselves to make their future digital efforts even stronger.

71% of marketers believe mobile marketing is core to their business. (Salesforce)

Digital marketing examples


This ride sharing company has one of the best services. With the tap of a few buttons on the app, a new car with a private driver arrives for the pick-up and drops a person wherever required, that too within few minutes. This business grew through word of mouth marketing. Around 81% of customers used this service based on recommendation from friends. They also offer incentives like free rides for those who refer their service to friends and family.

American Express (AMEX)

Many organizations are now creating online communities to encourage their customers to have online conversations with them. But very few businesses create any community of value. American Express has invested in its ‘Open Forum’ website, where they invite guest authors from various sectors to share their business wisdom and knowledge. It is a content rich website and is popular with the search engines.

Baby-sitter services

This service is a third-party service has a website which connects parents with baby sitters or nannies that are suitable to their requirement. This website is currently working in the US. This website enables parents to get instant care for their children, while they are away at work. This service provides the best nannies and gives them an edge over the previous methods of babysitting.


This is one of the most successful, impressive and most mentioned brand in social media, especially on Twitter. It has a very high engagement number on Twitter, and ranks number three. Despite Tweeting just four times a month it is highly successful because of their CEO Elon Musk, who is extremely active on Twitter. He not only posts about product announcements and promotion, but also other kinds of social posts to engage his 20.7 million followers. Tesla also livestreams their events, as wells as the events of their sister company SpaceX.


This apparel company has changed the way people shop. This company is a combination of fashion and technology. They have the most effective digital marketing campaign called the ‘global image campaign’. They activated it in their physical as well as online stores. Fast moving images on billboards with unique product codes were displayed. The customer just has to take a photo of the display and upload the five-digit code to the campaign website to redeem a sample from their ‘Heattech’ clothing line. They received a huge response from the people and also subscribed to their newsletters.

68% of emails are opened on a mobile device. (Marketing Land)

Top digital marketing skills

1. Search

Instead of simply Googling questions, you must dig deep for information with search queries or else you will waste time going through irrelevant information. It is better to do your own research, than making others do it for you, as you will get better insights on things.

2. Excel

You should be able to able to perform basic functions in Excel. Learn what is required for your job profile, use it efficiently to deal with a huge amount of data. Use advanced functions to get information related to keywords to backlinks.

3. Research and gather data

You must gather data from various sources to audit a website. There are multiple tools and sources for information. It is imperative to figure out where to search for it and how to get the required information. For creating content, you need to find and verify the information acquired.

4. Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a very important tool to get all the information related and needed for your site. It consists of data related to traffic and tracking conversions to your site and it’s absolutely free.

5. Use a minimum of one SEO tool

It is imperative to use at least one digital marketing tool, other than Google Analytics. It can give you a different data set. Every tool can provide you with data and reports that is highly beneficial.

6. Communication

It is essential to have good communication skills. Most of the employees and clients work remotely and you must ensure you connect with them. It is very important to spend a lot of time emailing and staying connect with them.

7. Find out what’s wrong and what’s going on

In case traffic drops or bounce rate suddenly increases, it is imperative to know how to start tracking the possible reasons behind it. You need to know where to find the problem and get the solution and information to fix it.

8. Crawler

There are various great crawling tools. Make it a point to familiarize with at least one. It can be very helpful to get information about duplicate or redirect content.

9. Coding

Advanced programing skills are very helpful. But SEO experts should know basic HTML. Coding is essential as it helps you think logically and enhances your problem-solving skills.

Top 10 digital marketing books

SEO 2019: Learn search engine optimization with smart internet marketing strategies

Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital – Philip Kotler

The New Rules of Marketing & PR – David Meerman Scott

Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Dr. Robert Cialdini

Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence & Persuade – Robert Cialdini

Inbound Marketing – Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence – John Hall

Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook that Drives Sales – Samantha Stone

The Content Formula: Calculate the ROI of Content Marketing & Never Waste Money Again – Michael Brenner & Liz Bedor

Executive summary: What CMOs should do next

The role of the modern day CMO has evolved. The data-driven era has transformed marketing into a data-driven science and CMOs are becoming more accountable for driving business impact from their digital marketing efforts. To effectively and consistently deliver maximum ROI on their marketing spends, there are five best practices they must follow.

1. Create a performance-based work culture

Today's marketers are in charge of managing multiple channels — such as email, search, social, display and more. The complexity of digital businesses has rapidly grown and keeping an eye on performance has become an organizational headache. The future will belong to organizations that can not only measure and understand the effectiveness of their digital marketing, content and distribution channels but can use these techniques as a plank to architect a performance-based culture.

2. Balancing marketing with technology

According to a research, the technology spend by CMOs will increase 10X in the next 10 years. CMOs who can successfully orchestrate a balance between marketing technology and intelligence and make sure they are implemented correctly, will have a transformative impact on the business bottom line. CMOs who will build digital marketing technology stacks in their enterprise and empower their organizations to run digital marketing based on performance metrics will be successful in the long run.

3. Embrace data

Data should be a strategic focus area for modern day CMOs aiming to deliver targeted and personalized customer experiences. But the challenge is significant. Marketers must ask themselves -- how many of the following types of data have they mastered to optimize your own marketing activities?

  • Prospect profiles
  • Customer behaviors (purchase, interaction, repeat purchase, etc.)
  • Individual campaign or program results
  • Sales conversion
  • Marketing operations
  • Customer loyalty

This list is long and the sheer magnitude of the data available for strategic decision making is hard to digest. CMOs must see the big picture and understand how all the disparate data in different functions within the organization can be used to drive informed decision making.

4. Customers first

Being customer focused is not enough anymore. Today's CMOs should be customer obsessed and the customer should top the list of all their stakeholders. This would require a fundamental philosophical shift for some companies. For example, the ROI conversation could shift from customer acquisition cost to customer satisfaction and lifetime value. Customer service budgets would no longer be trimmed to save costs. The smart CMO will realize the importance of this. That’s why they would put the customer satisfaction before and above everything else.

5. Treat content as a strategic asset

Your content is your brand’s voice to the world.  Not only does effective content help you frame the conversation on your own terms, it also helps guide prospects through the buyer’s journey. A solid content strategy would take into consideration what questions a prospect might ask at each stage and prepare answers to each of those questions. CMOs who understand content properly align marketing programs according to the journey and the questions that will influence the content. A smart CMO would never focus heavily on the design, while ignoring content. Make content your strategic asset, rather than something you have to do to get a landing page completed.

About TA Digital

TA Digital is the only global boutique agency that delivers the “best of both worlds” to clients seeking to achieve organizational success through digital transformation. Unlike smaller, regional agencies that lack the ability to scale or large organizations that succumb to a quantity-over-quality approach, we offer resource diversity while also providing meticulous attention to the details that enable strategic success.

Over the past 20 years, TA Digital has positioned clients to achieve digital maturity by focusing on data, customer-centricity, and exponential return on investment; by melding exceptional user experience and data-driven methodologies with artificial intelligence and machine learning, we enable digital transformations that intelligently build upon the strategies we set into motion. We are known as a global leader that assists marketing and technology executives in understanding the digital ecosystem while identifying cultural and operational gaps within their business – ultimately ushering organizations toward a more mature model and profitable digital landscape.

Recognized in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2020 and 2021 Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States, TA Digital is pleased also to share high-level strategic partnerships with world class digital experience platform companies like Adobe, SAP, AcquiacommercetoolsSitecore, and Elastic Path.


Mayank Trivedi

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