Online vs Digital Marketing – What’s the Difference?

The name “online marketing” probably causes your heart to skip a beat. After all, you’re probably used to seeing the word “online” coupled with “marketing” and “advertising.” Well, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that the difference between online and digital marketing is more nuanced than you’d think.

To begin with, let’s define the terms.

Digital Marketing

This is the umbrella term for everything related to marketing and selling products or services digitally, whether that’s through social media, email marketing, or mobile marketing.

Even if you’re not a digital marketer per se, you’ll likely still call yourself a marketer and work with digital marketers. What exactly is digital marketing? It’s basically all the methods we use to get people to do business with us, whether that’s through their phones or laptops.

Online Marketing

This is the umbrella term for all the methods we use to get people to do business with us, whether that’s through their phones or laptops. Most businesses that are relevant to this article are online marketers. It’s important to note that online marketing can refer to both traditional and digital arms of the company. For example, an e-commerce store that sells products online is an online marketer, but so is a marketing agency that creates digital campaigns for businesses.

Many companies, products, and services can be found online. If you’ve ever shopped online, you’ve probably seen online marketing. You might have even thought that everything about your online experience, from the items you bought to the delivery men who came to your house, were part of an online marketing campaign.

In fact, a lot of digital marketing happens online nowadays. We use websites to gain insight into potential customers’ needs and wants. We communicate with them through various forms of social media. And, of course, we advertise on social media platforms and search engine results pages (SERPs).

Marketing Mix

In the marketing sciences, there’s an abundance of terms and phrases that are thrown around. One of the most important of these is the marketing mix. The marketing mix is a combination of things that you, as a marketer, use to determine the best way to reach your audience and ultimately grow your business.

The marketing mix helps you determine what’s the right combination of content and media to disseminate, when to disseminate it, in what format, and through which channels.

In other words, the marketing mix is the sum of all the things that you think are important when crafting your strategy for marketing campaigns. When developing your marketing mix, it’s essential to consider the strengths and weaknesses of your product, as well as the target audience’s informational, social, and emotional needs.

When developing an information product, you’ll probably want to consider several marketing channels. You might want to create content for SEO purposes, and you might want to create content for Facebook and Instagram users. While both of these audiences have different needs and desires, you’ll ultimately want to create content that speaks to both of them. This way, you’ll maximize the possibility of having your content read by as many people as possible.

On the subject of media, you might want to consider print media, radio media, and television media. While these are all available digitally, your target audience might not have easy access to all of them. For example, print media is great for reaching a wide audience, but it’s not the most efficient way to communicate with customers for a business that sells products online.

In an ideal world, you’d develop content for all your marketing channels and platforms using all the available mediums. However, if you don’t have the time or resources for that, then you should consider creating content for your chosen platforms using only the best available medium. For example, if you want to create content for Instagram, but the only tools you have are web-based, then you should create content using only images uploaded directly to Instagram as opposed to using an external source like Canva or HubSpot to do all the graphics for you.


Along with the marketing mix, the term channels is another important one to know. When referring to marketing, we often use the word channel to describe the place we disseminate our content, whether that’s through social media or search engine results pages.

When referring to the information we get from our customers through our websites, we call these channels of communication.

In other words, channels are where we disseminate content. When we talk about the different types of marketing channels, we’re generally referring to places where we can reach our target audience, whether that’s through social media, search engine results pages, email marketing, or mobile marketing.

Each of these places has its perks and quirks. Take social media channels, for example. While Facebook and Instagram are both fantastic places to disseminate content, they’re not exactly the same. Facebook is usually used for sharing content that’s already been created. Instagram is used for sharing images that you’ve captured yourself (hence the name “Instagram Stories”).

You can use all the tools and tactics you want to reach your audience on social media. You can create live video broadcasts, you can run Instagram and Facebook ads, and you can use all the other platforms’ capabilities through a small app. But at the end of the day, the channel you choose will depend on your niche, the resources you have, and how much you’re willing to spend.


Last but not least, let’s consider the cost. As a business owner or marketer, you’ll want to consider how much you’re willing to spend on marketing. While it’s not always easy to quantify, there are many tactics and strategies you can use to determine how much you’re spending on marketing and what you’re getting in return. To begin with, you can analyze your marketing goals and take note of how much you’ve spent (and how much you’ve earned) so far. Then, you can compare that to what you had in mind when you started.

For example, if your goal is to increase revenue by 25% in 2018, and you’ve already spent a considerable amount of money on marketing, you might want to reconsider whether or not that strategy is working. You can’t just look at the numbers though. You also need to factor in the time you’ve spent developing these marketing strategies and the resources you’ve used to make them happen. This is where you put in the hours and the effort and determine how much you deserve (and how much you can afford) to spend on marketing. Just keep in mind that marketing is not a one-time event. It’s a continuous process that begins the moment you make the decision to enter the market.

To learn more, check out these marketing blogs that will teach you everything you need to know about digital marketing.