Guide to the Kinds of Digital Marketing - Content, PPC, Affiliate & More

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Digital marketing intersects with many other tech industries and grew out of traditional theories of advertising, marketing, and sales. Just like traditional marketing, the goal is to reach your target customer base, build brand awareness, and make a meaningful, data-generating connection.

A recent article by the Wall Street Journal cites an IAB report concluding that two-thirds of marketing revenue comes from digital ads—the vast majority of which are viewed on mobile phones. The closely-related field of advertising, promotions, and marketing management is projected to grow by 8 percent between 2018 and 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In the era of big data, digital marketing has embraced the abundance of user-generated data from apps, social media networks, leisure services, and political institutions. In 2011, there were 150 registered, itemized tech companies offering marketing analytics tools and platforms. By 2017, there were 4,891 martech companies. As systems the world over become more automated, big data will help more and more advanced AI programs monitor and maintain their domains. PayScale lists the average annual salary of a digital marketer at $69,000, a figure based on self-reported data from 6,477 digital marketing professionals.

With the prevalence of data-based client solutions and the abundance of actionable user data in the world, most digital marketing positions will require candidates to possess skills in data visualization, data charting, data mining, web analytics, web metrics, copywriting, text structuring, how to use intelligence-sharing platforms for collaboration, pattern identification and utilization, and the major commercial and research uses of big data. Where relevant, digital marketers will be expected to have proficiency in common software, programs, and programming languages.

Read on to learn about the ten most common types of digital marketing, what the jobs entail, and all about specialized certifications in their respective areas of expertise.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting an outside product or service via a business’s professional platform. By way of promoting other products, you earn a commission based on the number of clicks, purchases, or user engagement with the affiliated items.

This is one of the most common forms of digital marketing and where many small or one-person businesses get their start in the field. This might involve offering an incentive for discount on your own services when users sign up for the affiliated product, or simply promoting the item a few times on your business’s social media platform.

Audio Marketing

Sometimes also called radio, traditional, or satellite radio marketing, audio marketing uses the audio format to conduct brand outreach. This involves writing commercial spots or engaging in affiliate marketing, producing audio content, and entering into sponsorship agreements with podcasts, celebrities, or other brands. Companies like Apple and Microsoft even give us the opportunity to directly interact with their forms of audio marketing, such as Siri or Window’s Cortana help bots. This is a convenient form of digital marketing that continues to see wide use today.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the umbrella under which most digital marketing falls. We’ve included it here because it encompasses such a wide range of activities, but operates with a finger on the pulse of most major media outlets. The purpose of this pulse-taking is to determine which cultural markers are useful for driving brand engagement.

Content marketing is a strategic approach that includes the fields of public relations, social media marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, inbound marketing, and general marketing strategy. High quality content is always the name of the game, so finding a content manager with skills in CMS, SEO, and curation are key. The ability to operate databases and present user data may be required, as well.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, and involves the targeted cold-contact of potential customers. The goal, as always, is to establish brand awareness and give people something interesting to engage with right from their email. It’s similar to direct-mail marketing, just done digitally.

Most of us see spam in our inboxes on a daily basis and bemoan the state of things, but this is actually an example of the worst kind of email marketing. Customers signing up for a newsletter is a wonderful way of knowing who wants to be included in your email marketing campaigns. These users tend to engage more than those who are cold-contacted.

Instant Messenger Marketing (IMM)

Sometimes called mobile or cellular marketing, instant messenger marketing involves the use of programs like chatbots to drum up interest in a brand or social media destination.

With the exponential growth of instant messenger use the last decade, this is one of the newer digital marketing tactics. Using Facebook Messenger for brand outreach makes the marketing attempt conversational, and thus takes pressure off the user. They can opt in or out, which will depend quite a lot on how well your copy is worded. Links to drive traffic to a predestined location or to an affiliate marketing link are common features of this strategy.

PPC Marketing (Pay-Per-Click)

PPC marketing is pay-per-click marketing and involves advertisers paying—you guessed it—for each click. In essence, it buys directed traffic to your page. When search engine users query a phrase and those sponsored links come up first, that’s search engine advertising, a subfield of PPC. Through Google’s ad service, for example, companies bid and pay an amount for specific phrases in the hopes that their bids will put their locations at the top of the page.

In addition, Google’s ad service offers ad hosting on a variety of websites. Each time an ad is clicked, a visitor-user is sent to the targeted website. At this point, those companies who have bid pay a small fee per click. It’s one of the oldest and most-trusted forms of digital marketing.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing was once the mother of search engine optimization. Over time, however, the SEM acronym has come to refer only to paid forms of search, such as the PPC approach mentioned above. Search engine marketing includes the marketing techniques of paid search ads, paid search advertising, PPC (pay-per-click) and PPC (pay-per-call, through Google Voice, for example).

Sometimes email and audio marketing are considered facets of this field, and an SEO professional might work in the SEM department of a business.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is the process of naturally directing web traffic to your website by utilizing keywords that people use when typing in search queries to Bing, Google, or Yahoo. These “primary” search results, in contrast to the purchased first few entries on most pages, are thought of as organic clicks or visits.

There’s no payment involved, as with PPC marketing, so a talented copywriter is critical to this line of work. SEO is a form of SEM, or search engine marketing.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)

Social media marketing is about creating content that has been tailored to the context of a specific social media platform in order to drive user engagement and sharing. Sharing is one of the modern means by which companies spread the word about their services and projects. Social media marketing can involve anything from Facebook ads to instant messenger marketing and is typically overseen by a digital marketing manager.

Television Marketing

One of the more classic types of marketing, television or commercial marketing utilizes commercial time to promote awareness of a particular brand. It tends to be a bit more on the expensive side since commercials often run for an extended period of time. This form is most commonly used by major corporations, brands, movie studios, and more.

There is a lot of ad space purchased for free streaming services, and think of how often you see ads before watching a YouTube video! The practice of television marketing is still alive and well, although it’s also available on our mobile devices, tablets, and computers these days.

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