Online Marketing – Online Advertising: What’s the Difference?

If you’re new to marketing, or just need some extra clarification, here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between online marketing and online advertising.

Key Takeaways

Online marketing is all about creating awareness and attracting potential customers to your online store or website. You are creating content (whether that’s written, audio, or visual) to attract interest in your offering.

In contrast, online advertising is simply about getting an audience to take a particular action (e.g., click on a link, make a purchase, etc.).

To better understand the differences, let’s take a quick look at how each one functions.

Online Marketing

A lot of the time, you’ll hear marketers refer to “organic” or “natural” leads, as opposed to “acquired” or “paid” leads. That is, you’ll get to a point where people are searching for products or services that you provide and decide to click on a link to your site. Typically, these leads are discovered through searches on search engines, like Google or Bing, or via email marketing campaigns.

In general, organic leads are much more valuable than purchased leads. Why? Because you don’t know if these people are actually going to become customers or not. You also don’t know how long it’ll take for them to do so. In contrast, when you buy leads, you know exactly what you’re getting and can calculate a conversion rate based on past performance.

Online Advertising

Paid advertising, also known as digital marketing, is all about attracting customers to your site, through whatever methods you choose, by convincing them to take a specific action (e.g., make a purchase, join a mailing list, etc.).

When it comes to online advertising, you’ll typically see three main types:

  • Display Advertising
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Product Advertising

Like with organic leads, you don’t necessarily need to use all three to succeed. For example, if you’ve got a physical store, you may decide to only use the latter two (affiliate marketing and product advertising) to acquire customers. You may also choose to use display advertising to attract people to your store. The key takeaway: you can do effective marketing without using paid advertising.

Why Use Both?

While it is possible to be successful in one area of marketing and not another, it’s rarely the case. For example, you may have a site where you promote fashion brands and sell their clothes, but not have any formal advertising on the site. Or, you may have a hotel site where you promote booking flights and make money off advertising, but no organic content on the site.

When you do have content in one area and advertising in another, it’s often the case that the contents of your website, blog, or even social media, are slightly skewed to the brand. That is, you may have a piece of content here and there that contains a brand name or shows an ad for a product. But, you don’t promote brands as much on the site, in comparison to the amount of content about your products.

In these situations, it’s usually best to have both:

  • Organic content, which builds credibility and trust with the audience
  • Paid advertising, which drives in new customers and builds credibility and trust with the audience

When you have organic and paid content on your site, customers are more likely to trust your recommendations, as you seem to have both established modes of communication. In addition, you are also allowing the customer to discover new things about your brand, as they are also consuming content about it. If you want to be seen as a thought leader in your industry, having a diversified marketing strategy, using both organic and paid content, is a good idea.

Content Versus Advertising

One of the distinctions between online marketing and online advertising is the difference in the types of content that each group creates. Generally, when people think about marketing, they think about content. After all, that is what we, as consumers, rely on search engines like Google to discover, along with the rest of the world, brands we may care about.

Content can take many forms, including:

  • Text: Written content, such as an article or a blog post
  • Audio: Podcasts, radio shows, and webinars
  • Video: YouTube videos, whether made by brands, entrepreneurs, or individuals
  • Images: Brochures, blog headers, and social media images

With so much content coming online every day, it can be hard to find the right piece of information, especially if you aren’t specifically looking for it. That is why content creators (bloggers, journalists, and so on) rely on marketing professionals to help them create compelling content that will attract, engage, and convert audiences into paying customers.

Tracking the Results of Your Marketing Efforts

One of the distinguishing factors of a marketing professional is their ability to measure the results of their efforts. Whether you are measuring the success of your content or the number of web visitors to your site, it is essential to be able to track these results. This way, you can prove to investors and senior management that your strategy is working and adjust your tactics accordingly.

You may decide that your video content is proving to be particularly effective, and want to re-purpose it for use in a commercial campaign, or vice versa. You may decide that your written content is not attracting the audience that you want and need, and want to try a different approach, such as a podcast or a video series. Or, you may decide that your email marketing is not converting well and want to try out a new tactic, such as a paid ad campaign.

All of these decisions are based on the results of your marketing efforts, which you can track and analyze using a tool like Google Analytics. With this tool, you can track the results of all your different marketing channels, such as searches, emails, or ads, and examine the correlations between them. This way, you can see which strategies are working and which ones you should reassess, or completely change, based on your findings.

The Evolution of Marketing

The evolution of marketing is occurring rapidly, as new technologies emerge that allow for easier and more efficient ways of getting information to the public. In the near future, marketing as we know it may be completely altered by advancements in technology and new ways of working.

With digital marketing, also known as online marketing, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for marketers. Not only can they target the right audience and encourage them to act, but they can also measure the results of their campaigns, assess their growth over time, and continue to evolve and improve their strategy, based on what they learn.

Even older forms of digital marketing, such as search engine optimization, which was popularized back in the early 2000s, can still be effective today. In fact, SEO is regularly used as a standalone strategy, even by experienced marketing executives who have moved onto more advanced tactics.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, this post has helped you understand the key differences between online marketing and online advertising. While there are many similarities, it is also important to note the differences and how each one functions separately. Knowing the differences, and being able to utilize both effectively, can help you build a powerful marketing arm and drive revenue for your company.