Types of digital marketing

Keen to know your SEO from your PPC? Read our 11 types of digital marketing to really understand the top trends of today

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Broadly speaking, the term digital marketing encompasses any digital communication exchanged between business and customer. Within that, there’s a huge variety, encompassing everything from affiliate marketing to Pay Per Click.

Whether for promotional purposes, or to foster healthy customer/business relationships, the key point is that technology is used to create an ever strengthening bond between client and company.

Every digital touchpoint offers an opportunity to communicate with your audience, be that via social media, email marketing, SMS, SEO targeting and more!

Below, we take a deep dive into 11 essential types of digital marketing, and explain how you can use them to your best business advantage.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

How does SEO work?

Search engine optimisation pretty much does what it says on the tin: It takes into account on-page and backend factors to ensure your business ranks as highly as possible in search results for key terms.

To understand SEO, you need to know a little about how a search engine works. A search engine will decide upon you site’s position on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) depending on how well the content on your site matches the search term.

So, when it comes to SEO, you need to know what your customers are searching on Google, and think how your content can match their query (the co-called ‘user intent’).

The better you match the user intent, the higher your ranking will be.

What are the benefits of SEO?

  • It’s free (unless you invest in an expert, or an assisting tool)
  • It’s efficient
  • It gets your website where it needs to be, ie: at the top of the SERP
  • It’s relatively easy to do (the plug-ins above are really helpful and will give loads of advice on how to make the most of the service they offer).

How much does SEO cost?

Free plugins/tools Keywords Everywhere, SEO Minion, Google Analytics (free to SME’s and used to track your keyword optimised content)

SEM Rush = £80.80 per month

Who is SEO best suited to?

Any business with a website.

Got a business, but not a website? Learn how to build a website in our handy step-by-step guide: how to create a business website.

2. Pay-per-click (PPC)

How does PPC work?

PPC (Pay Per Click) is a form of online advertising that charges the advertiser each time a user clicks on one of their online ads.

The paid search ad is the most common type of PPC advertising. Such ads appear on the search engine results page of those specifically searching for something to buy.

But ads don’t simply appear in the search engine results willy-nilly, the ad must match the user intent, otherwise it’s deemed irrelevant and won’t appear. To match the ad with the user intent, search engines use something called the ‘Ad Auction’.

The ad auction determines the relevance of ads by automatically assessing an advert’s applicability in relation to the customer’s original search.

If an advert is deemed ‘relevant’ after the Ad Auction, then it will appear in the SERP.

What are the benefits of PPC?

  • PPC is a targeted form of advertising that’s directly relevant to the user intent
  • PPC makes your brand visible to the right people, at the right time
  • PPC is highly measurable, so you can see what’s going well and what needs tweaking with great efficiency

How much does PPC cost?

This is very much dependent on how many ads you place, and how much you spend on the ad auction. In theory, PPC can become quite expensive, but it’s possible to set an achievable budget on your Google Ad words campaign. So, you could choose to spend £20 or £200 per month on a solid PPC campaign, depending on your budget.

Who is PPC best suited to?

Retail businesses that have an ecommerce platform.

Learn more about selling online in our guide on how to start an online shop.

3. Display advertising

How does display advertising work?

Display advertising is a form of paid, digital marketing, designed to increase the click-through rate to your business landing page.

Through the clever combination of striking imagery, well-written copy, animation, and even video content, display advertising is most commonly used to increase brand awareness.

Display ads can also be used to generate new customers as they’ll lead potential customers to a landing page via a click-through path. The point of a display ad is to engage the potential buyer by developing their interest in your product or service.

What are the benefits of display advertising?

  • Display advertising is a highly targeted form of advertising and often generate a high conversion rate
  • Display ads are relevant and often highly ‘clickable’
  • Display advertising will be a familiar for of advertising to the customer, increasing its ‘trustability’ factor

How much does display advertising cost?

This is wholly dependent upon the platform that hosts your ad. For example, Facebook and Instagram charge per thousand clicks (£10 and £5 respectively), whilst Google charges per click. Plus, the size of the campaign and the length of time you choose to run it for will also impact the cost.

For more information on display ads and how your business can benefit from this simple marketing method, be sure to pay a visit to our what is display advertising page.

Who is display advertising best suited to?

Similar to PPC, display advertising is best suited to those businesses selling a product online that’s clickable and easy to market.

4. Content marketing

How does content marketing work?

Content marketing uses a variety of mediums (namely, graphics, editorial and video) to entice your buyer onto your site via interesting blog posts, great imagery or cool videos. And it’s not to be sniffed at: according to a survey carried out by Marketing Profs, 72% of marketers consider relevant content creation to be the most effective SEO tactic.

So, according to the professionals, if you want your site to land at the top of the SERP, great content that hits the SEO-nail on the head is the best way to do so.

What are the benefits of content marketing?

  • Content marketing is relatively cheap (if you have in-house capacity, if not, compare marketing agencies via our form)
  • Content marketing is a great way to create an authentic brand narrative
  • Good content is entertaining to create and can really boost your business’ status both on and offline

How much does content marketing cost?

As the old adage goes, how long is a piece of string?
In seriousness, this totally depends on your in-house capacity. If you have someone able to write well that’s able to blog for your business, then get them involved. However, if creative juices are running dry, a freelancer is an obvious option.

You can hire a freelance copywriter for £20-£30 per hour, and getting them to spend a few hours a week on creating some interesting content for your site could be a worthwhile investment.

Or, you could hand your digital marketing over to the professionals. Our free online form compares a variety of agencies that are selected to suit your business needs. Pop to the top of the page to receive free online quotes.

Who is content marketing best suited to?

Any business with a website and some blog-able news. Or, a business keen to capture their success on camera to create some memorable (and shareable) videos. Your blog should cover the stuff your customers are interested in and are therefore likely to search.

For example, if you own a salon and your business has a website, you might consider writing a blog post. You could write “Secrets from the salon: the 10 best beauty hacks that’ll transform your routine” and then fill a blog page with interesting beauty tips that your customers will love reading. Also, this content will feature in a broad range of search terms, therefore maximising your website’s outreach.

5. Social media (organic)

How does organic social media marketing work?

Organic social media marketing refers to social media activity that occurs without a paid promotion. This means creating a business account on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn (or any other social media platform).

For example, when you make a post on your own Twitter, you’d use relevant hashtags, or @ tags, to keep what you’re posting engaging and relevant. The same principle applies to using social media for your business.

Using the (free) tools available to make the most out of your business profile on various forms of social media. Similar to how you might nurture a personal profile, give the same TLC to your business profiles and organic traffic should start to roll in.

What are the benefits of organic social media marketing?

  • Well, the main benefit is that it’s completely free
  • Organic social media marketing allows you to connect with your audience on a personal level
  • It’s relatively straightforward
  • Over 21 million people use social media in the UK, so both your customers and your staff should be comfortable using social media to interact with a brand

How much does organic social media marketing cost?

A whopping £0.00

Who is organic social media marketing best suited to?

Businesses looking to foster a more personal relationship with their customers, willing to put some time and effort into maximising the potential gains to be had from slick social media.

6. Social media (paid)

How does paid social media marketing work?

Paid social boosts your website (or brand profile) presence in third party feeds and pages via sponsored content or advertising. For example, if you take a scroll down your newsfeed, you might notice that some posts are tagged ‘sponsored’, such tagged posts are paid social in action.

Video advertisement, boosted posts and optimised adverts (designed to generate more clicks) are all examples of paid social media. Paid social essentially gives any post a kick directly into the sightline of any business’ specific demographic, making sure your post is seen by the people that matter most: your customers.

What are the benefits of paid social media marketing?

  • Your posts will reach far and wide
  • It’s a relatively low-cost way of gaining more visibility for your brand
  • It’s not too complicated

How much does paid social media marketing cost?

This depends on the platform, and the number of paid posts you make. However, companies spend roughly £200 – £700 per month on their paid social strategy. Which, might sound steep, but there’s a high ROI to match.

Who is paid social media marketing best suited to?

Those businesses with more budget than time, willing to invest in making sure fewer social posts have more impact.

7. Email marketing (CRM)

How does Email Marketing (CRM) work?

Email marketing works by managing the customer’s previous engagement with your brand and communicating with them accordingly. Email marketing is an efficient way of communicating with your customers by landing right in their inbox, and is an umbrella term that describes the sending of emails – from those with commercial intent, to those more tightly aligned to a strategy of brand awareness.

Email CRM combines customer relationship management with email marketing, and requires your CRM system to either merge with a pre-existing email database, or for the CRM system itself to host your business email account. It’s quite a hefty topic, which is why we’ve written an entire page on Email CRM – check it out if email CRM has tickled your fancy.

What are the benefits of email marketing (CRM)?

  • The impact of an email marketing campaign is directly measurable, and therefore optimisable
  • Typically, over 50% of all Internet users check their inbox, or send an email every day (Crossware)
  • Email marketing allows you to personalise each customer journey
  • It’s a budget-friendly marketing option

How much does email marketing (CRM) cost?

There are lots of CRM platforms that can support an email marketing campaign, and they range from £0 to £115 per user, per month. For more information on this, take a look at our best CRM for small businesses page.

Who is email marketing (CRM) best suited to?

Any business looking to drive sales and build healthy relationships with its customers.

8. Influencer marketing

How does Influencer marketing work?

Influencer marketing involves businesses working with people of influence to help broaden their customer reach. This involves identifying those who act as influencers and operate within the same niche as your business, contacting said influencer offering a sample of your product.

The influencer then features your product as part of a social media status, YouTube video or pops a mention in a podcast. Their followers then become interested in your product and, all being well, will seek to find out more via your website or social platforms, which in theory, will lead to a sale.

That’s all very well and good, but who is an influencer and where do I find one?

An influencer is a person able to have an impact upon the purchasing choices made by others. This impact comes as a result of he/she having specific knowledge, authority or a unique relationship with a large online audience, with whom they proactively engage.

The best place to find an influencer is on social media (hint: Instagram or YouTube are the favoured influencer mediums).

So, do your research, and before you approach anyone with ideas of collaboration, make sure your brand is well aligned with the image they portray, as a mismatch of values could prove detrimental to both parties.

But, if that all sounds a bit too time consuming, you could get in touch with an influencer agency. An agency will act as the middle man between your business and influencer, with a bank of contacts and good knowledge of the industry, an agency is an efficient (yet costly) way of working with influencers. We recommend:



What are the benefits of Influencer marketing?

  • It’s very current
  • It’s an effective form of marketing
  • Influencer marketing bucks the ‘conventional marketing’ trends and is an opportunity to really push your brand to new audiences

How much does Influencer marketing cost?

The cost of working with an influencer very much depends on the size of their following and just how ‘influential’ they are.

Sometimes all it takes is sending some freebies, other times costs of £100 – £1000+ might be involved.

Who is Influencer marketing best suited to?

Those looking to push towards a slightly younger audience (as 75% of all Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 24). Also, those businesses with the communication resource available to contact and work with influencers, because it can take quite a lot of time and energy.

9. Affiliate marketing

How does affiliate marketing work?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based strategy that sees a business pay another business (known as the affiliate) to generate online traffic to their website. The affiliate gets paid for each new customer they generate for the business in question, whilst the business will receive traffic from areas of the web they were otherwise unable to reach.

What are the benefits of affiliate marketing?

  • Affiliate marketing is easy to track, manage and improve
  • It encourages you to develop positive business relationships with others in your sector
  • Affiliate marketing exposes your business to a new audience sector

How much does affiliate marketing cost?

As above, affiliate marketing is a performance-based digital marketing method, meaning that you’ll pay on delivery (so to speak). So, depending on what deal you make with your affiliate partner, will depend on how much the strategy costs.

Who is affiliate marketing best suited to?

Businesses looking to expand their online presence and network who aren’t afraid of some negotiation and are prepared to work with others.

10. Lead generation

How does lead generation work?

Lead generation works by one company attracting prospective customers and converting them into willing buyers for another company.

A lead generation company will attract the original customer and use their content to convert them into a solid lead. This lead will then be passed onto your business, meaning that the hard ‘salesy’ bit is already done. By the time the lead is passed to your business, they are (in theory) primed and ready to purchase your product.

What are the benefits of lead generation?

  • It allows you to glean powerful information about your audience demographic (via third-party lead generation forms)
  • The measurable nature of affiliate marketing means that it can be easily optimised to generate more revenue
  • Done effectively, it’ll speed up your online sales process (as most leads that come your way will be ready to purchase)

How much does lead generation cost?

This very much depends on the industry. There’s also a distinction between leads that follow through with the purchase, and those that seriously considered it, but didn’t end up buying.

So, a lead could cost £30, whereas a qualifying lead could cost £60 (note: this is an estimated cost).

Who is lead generation best suited to?

B2B businesses, tech companies or businesses selling high-value products/services such as cosmetic surgery or large-scale domestic equipment like solar panels and boilers.

11. Viral marketing

How does viral marketing work?

Viral marketing refers to a marketing message that spreads at an uncontrollably fast rate. The success of a viral campaign relies upon the people that share it, and the likability (and further shareability) of the content.

So really, it’s the consumers in this instance who do the heavy lifting of the campaign via liking, sharing and generally talking about it. All you have to do is create some killer content and hope the right people see it at the right time. Via the power of social media and the internet, it’s word of mouth at its finest.

What are the benefits of Viral marketing?

  • It’s super time efficient
  • Viral marketing creates a real buzz around your brand
  • Viral marketing is relatively low-cost, as the money goes into the original content, rather than the sharing of it

How much does viral marketing cost?

This depends on how much your original content costs to produce. But, once the content’s done, the overheads are pretty low. So if you’re confident in your content creation but low on budge, the vial option is worth considering.

Who is Viral marketing best suited to?

Brands unafraid of the buzz, keen to create some waves.

Next steps

Now we’ve seen the 11 most popular forms of digital marketing, it’s time to start marketing your own business to success!

We’ve got a whole host of useful resources when it comes to marketing your business efficiently and effectively. For more information and cool inspiration, be sure to read our page on digital marketing strategies: top tips and hints.

Or, if you’re thinking you’d like to leave it to the experts, head to the top of the page and fill in our free webform. We’ll source a selection of digital marketing agencies ready to accommodate your individual business needs and provide you with a quote.

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