Digital marketing? Inbound marketing?
You may be thinking, there seems to be a marketing strategy for everything these days. And while that’s true, it’s important to understand how these different strategies complement each other and work together to ensure you effectively reach and delight your customers. What does this mean? Let’s discuss it further.
So, what is digital marketing?
Quick answer: Digital marketing is any kind of marketing that happens on a digital platform.
Digital marketing encompasses all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. It’s most used within marketing channels such as search engines like, Google or Bing, along with social media, email, and other websites to connect with current or prospective customers.
Now, digital marketing doesn’t include inbound marketing methods or outbound marketing methods exclusively. Instead, it encompasses all marketing strategies that are digital, both inbound and outbound.
Differentiating between inbound and outbound marketing
The main difference is that outbound tactics aim to put marketing messages in front of as many people as possible in the online space —regardless of whether it’s relevant or welcomed. Examples of outbound are banner ads at the top of websites that try to push a product or promotion onto people who aren’t necessarily interested or ready to receive it.
By contrast, inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. What really sets inbound marketing apart is that marketers who employ digital inbound tactics use online content to attract their target customers to their websites by providing information that’s helpful to them. For example, one of the most powerful inbound digital marketing assets a business can leverage is a blog – like this one.
This allows your website to capitalise on the key terms your ideal customers are searching for. So when it comes to differentiating Inbound and Digital Marketing, ultimately, inbound marketing is a methodology that uses digital marketing assets to attract, engage, and delight customers online.
Digital marketing, however, is a term used to describe online marketing tactics of any kind, regardless of whether they’re considered inbound or outbound.
Inbound marketing or outbound marketing, which should I choose?
Focusing on digital marketing in its entirety can bring additional insights and benefits to finding and reaching customers online.
In an ideal world, you would know how and when to reach your customers every time. You would have a single channel for interacting with, converting, and continuing to delight them. All of your marketing, sales, and service efforts would also be easily tracked and enhanced as you created the ideal customer experience within this single channel. But, as anyone who has ever tried to meet a quota of leads or customers can attest, if you only market in a single channel, you’re going to miss out on a large portion of your target audience. Limiting your reach can have consequences.
In fact, focusing on a single channel can create a poor customer experience and prevent you from successfully nurturing your leads. Making a positive impression on your audience requires the delivery of relevant content when they need it and how they want it. Creating different strategies for each channel and focusing on how they work together to impact your customers is key.
Let’s look at an example. Say a lead reads a blog post about an issue that your business solves and signs up for your mailing list. The marketing email they would later receive might showcase a customer testimonial from someone who overcame that same issue using your product. Later, when they were scrolling through social media, they’d see an advertisement about how your products or services continue to solve the issue they initially read about in your blog. Rather than presenting potential customers with fragmented messages about all the great things you can do, the products you offer, or the deals that you’re running, they’re receiving the content that is most relevant to their needs across a variety of channels.
This approach, whether you want to call it cross-channel marketing or omni-channel marketing, exemplifies the best of digital marketing in practice today. Why? Marketing implemented in this way provides a clear brand impression for your leads and makes their experience as seamless and direct as possible.
Additionally, because there’s clear correlation between each marketing channel, it’s easier to view your marketing efforts in a cumulative way, which can help you more clearly calculate and understand your marketing return on investment.
Usually, pulling together such a cohesive and user-friendly experience means incorporating the following strategies into your marketing efforts:
First, there’s content marketing. Your content is what populates your website. Your blog and other pieces like eBooks and guides fall under this category, as well as your graphics, interactive tools, and videos. When you create content that fits your target audience’s needs, answers their questions, and educates them, your content will naturally attract highly qualified leads when they search online for topics related to your business.
The next digital marketing strategy is search engine optimization. Search engine optimization or SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and its content to increase your chances of appearing in search engine results pages. The closer to the top of those pages you are, the more organic traffic your website is likely to receive. This is why SEO is often a top priority for digital marketers who don’t want to rely on paid ads.
Because SEO and content marketing directly impact each other, an effective content marketing strategy always considers best SEO practices.
Then there’s social media marketing. Social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn allow individuals, organizations, news distributors, and businesses to follow each other’s online activity, engage in virtual conversations, and share content. Digital marketers tend to use a combination of social media channels to drive traffic to their websites by promoting their content. It’s also used to communicate and engage with current and prospective customers.
And you can’t talk about social media marketing without native advertising sneaking in. Native advertising often refers to boosted social media posts on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, as well as pay-per-click or PPC, ads like Google search ads.
Wondering the difference between native advertising versus sponsored content? Native ads and sponsored content are both designed to look like they naturally belong on a web page. However, a native ad is paid for and created by the advertiser themselves, while an advertiser pays another brand to produce and distribute sponsored content.
Speaking of advertising, the next digital marketing strategy to consider is Ad Retargeting. Traditional advertising is considered an outbound tactic. But because digital marketing provides marketers with data to better target customers, you can use retargeting technologies to deliver ads directly to individuals who have previously visited your website. But don’t be intrusive. Remember, it’s important to deliver content that provides value to people you hope will become customers.
Finally, no digital marketing strategy is complete without email marketing. As the communication channel of choice for most business people and used by most internet users, email is a powerful tool you can leverage to reach members of your audience directly. Traditionally, email has developed a bad reputation for being spammy and promotional. However, by taking an inbound approach to email, you can use email marketing to deliver helpful, personalised, and targeted content to your prospects that they’ll be pleased to receive.
Digital marketing quick summary
Using a combination of these strategies and channels can ensure you’re always meeting your customers where they prefer to interact with content they can’t wait to consume.
Now, that can feel like a lot to cover, so let’s close out this blog post on digital marketing with some key takeaways:
- Digital marketing is any kind of marketing that happens on a digital platform.
- To continue to delight your leads and customers, you need to create relevant content on the channels they use the most.
- And to effectively implement a digital marketing strategy, you will likely need to incorporate a mixture of content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, advertising, and email marketing.