Both digital advertising and digital marketing encompass a variety of strategies and techniques to promote products, services, or brands through online channels. So, on the face of it, they seem similar processes – both aimed at growing a customer-base and increasing revenue for a business – but which approach is more effective?
The effectiveness and suitability of specific strategies can vary depending on the business type, business goals, target audience and the industry itself. For some businesses, especially startups or businesses wishing to accelerate growth, both digital advertising and digital marketing can be run in parallel: the advertising to support short-term goals and marketing to support longer-term business objectives. For other businesses just one approach may dominate. And, of course, available budget will influence all advertising and marketing decisions.
As with any advertising or marketing approach, monitoring and analysing the results is essential to make ongoing data-driven improvements, assess the effectiveness of individual campaigns and determine the return-on-investment (ROI) of different approaches.
So let’s take a brief look at some of the different strategies that any business could use.
Digital Marketing Strategies
A successful digital marketing strategy often involves a combination of processes, tailored to the specific needs and objectives of the business. Regular monitoring, analysis and adaptation are crucial for ongoing success in the constantly-changing digital landscape.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO involves improving a website's content, structure and user experience plus promoting the website via high-quality links from other websites. This will ensure a website is visible on search engines when people enter a particular keyword or search phrase. The target keywords and search phrases that are important for any particular business or industry are determined via a detailed keyword research and analysis process.
The primary goal of an SEO campaign is to rank as high as possible in search results for the target keywords, driving relevant traffic to the website. However, that traffic has to convert to sales or leads so an SEO campaign will also aim to engage visitors and encourage them to take desired actions on the website such as buy a product, contact the company, download a guide, sign up for more information etc.
Content marketing involves creating blog posts, articles, guides, white paper, videos, infographics, and more. Then distributing this valuable, relevant content to attract and engage a target audience. It is usually part of an SEO strategy because it will also help a website to gain valuable backlinks to support improvements in search engine rankings. The content that is produced will be influenced by the keyword research undertaken as part of an SEO strategy.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a digital marketing strategy that involves using social media platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram, X, LinkedIn) to connect with the target audience, build brand awareness, drive website traffic, and promote products or services. The primary goal of social media marketing is to engage users and foster a community around a brand, ultimately leading to increased brand visibility, customer loyalty, and conversions.
Email marketing involves sending targeted emails to a group of recipients with the goal of building relationships, promoting products or services, and driving engagement or conversions. It is a powerful tool for businesses to communicate directly with their audience, whether it's potential or existing customers, leads, or subscribers.
Influencer marketing involves collaborating with people who have a significant and engaged following on social media platforms or other online channels to promote a brand, product, or service. These people, known as influencers, leverage their credibility and influence to endorse and create content related to the products or services they are promoting.
Digital Advertising Strategies
As with digital marketing, choosing the right mix of these digital advertising strategies depends on the specific goals, target audience, industry and budget. Regular monitoring, testing and ongoing improvements are crucial for maximising the effectiveness of any strategy.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
This most often takes the form of Google Ads that appear in search engine results when users enter relevant keywords or searches. These listing are marked as “sponsored” and appear above and below the organic (natural) search results on each pages of the search listings. Advertisers pay a fee each time their advert is clicked.
PPC ads can also appear as banners and images on websites and social media platforms such as Meta (Facebook, Instagram) but also on X (formerly Twitter) LinkedIn and others to target specific demographics and interests.
Remarketing or Retargeting
"Remarketing" and "retargeting" are often used interchangeably, but their meanings can vary depending on the context. In general, both terms refer to the practice of targeting users who have previously interacted with a website or brand. This is done by displaying ads to them on other websites they visit. However, some marketers and platforms make distinctions between the two so let’s take a quick look at the difference between remarketing and retargeting:
- Remarketing – is more specifically used in the context of Google Ads. In this context, remarketing refers to the practice of using Google's advertising network to display ads to users who have previously visited a website. These ads can appear on Google's search results pages, on websites within the Google Display Network, and on YouTube. Essentially, Google's remarketing is a subset of retargeting, focusing on ad placements within Google's ecosystem.
- Retargeting – aims to re-engage people who have interacted with a website but did not complete a desired action, such as making a purchase. This interaction can include visiting specific pages, adding items to a shopping cart, or taking other meaningful steps on a site. Cookies are used to track people across the internet and display targeted ads to them on other websites or platforms. These ads are designed to bring users back to the original site and encourage them to complete the desired action.
Video content can also be used for advertising on platforms like YouTube, social media, and other video-sharing websites.
Delivering ads to users based on their geographic location. This can be particularly effective for businesses with physical locations or those targeting specific regional markets.
Using interactive elements in ads, such as quizzes, polls or games, to engage users and create a more memorable experience.