What Is Digital Online Marketing and Why Should You Care?

The lines are blurred between online marketing and digital marketing, and you might be surprised to learn that not all online marketing is created equal.

The term “digital” is used to represent all forms of content and communications that exist and exist solely in digital spaces – websites, mobile apps, newsletters, etc. As a result, marketing strategies and activities that were performed and measured in the past will need to be adapted to fit into the digital age.

Here are some of the key differences between online marketing and digital marketing, and why you should care about adapting your strategy to fit into the digital age.

Traditional vs. Digital Marketing

Many companies and brands have been using online marketing (also referred to as e-marketing or digital marketing) to target potential customers and attract new business for years. Traditional marketing, on the other hand, is the practice of sending out mass-produced materials (such as posters, postcards, or pamphlets) to sell a product or service to the general public. While digital marketing is often used interchangeably with online marketing, these strategies and activities are not equal. Here are the main differences:


Traditionally, marketing expenditures are higher than those of digital marketing because you need to purchase and distribute tangible items to reach audiences. Cost-wise, you’re generally paying for postage, printing, and distribution (unless you’re purchasing a list of names and email addresses, in which case you’re paying for the list itself).

However, the cost-per-acquisition for digital marketing is often much higher than that of traditional marketing because there is a substantial amount of cost savings associated with digital marketing. Most big-name companies that engage in traditional marketing end up spending a fortune on advertising and PR to get “free” media coverage. In contrast, you can get the same result with a well-executed paid campaign on social media.

Targeted vs. Untargeted Marketing

The main difference between targeted and untargeted marketing is that targeted marketing is supposed to be more effective. With targeted marketing, you have an idea of who you’re trying to reach with your marketing materials and the content you’re using to reach them.

With traditional marketing, you’re generally trying to reach an audience that is not-so-secretly hoping that you’ll spam them with your ads. As a result, your efforts are largely wasted because your messages are not tailored to appeal to a specific audience. For example, if you’re a shoe store and you want to advertise your shoes, you would not use a billboard on TV to promote your business. You would choose online marketing, where your message is directly related to shoes and shoe store owners.

Measurable vs. Unmeasurable Marketing

The goal of marketing is to grow your business, so you can measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. In contrast, the goal of social media and some online marketing tactics is to spread your content as far and wide as possible to grow your audience. While this might seem like a no-brainer, many businesses get this wrong and wind up relying solely on web analytics to tell them the success of their marketing campaigns.

To avoid this pitfall, you must understand the difference between measurable and unmeasurable marketing.

Measurable Marketing

With measurable marketing, you can track the results of your campaigns directly. While this might not sound like a convenient option, a lot of companies and brands that do this measure the success of their marketing efforts and adjust their strategy based on the findings.

For example, if you’re running a paid advertising campaign on social media and you measure the results of that campaign in terms of how many people reached your target audience and ultimately bought your product or service, you can conclude that your social media marketing efforts were successful. This is also called “return on investment.”

Unmeasurable Marketing

With unmeasurable marketing, you cannot track the results of your campaigns directly. This is primarily because there is no way to directly connect the actions of one person (the individual purchasing the product or service) to the results of your marketing efforts (i.e., increased brand awareness, traffic, or sales).

Instead, you need to focus on measuring the impact of your marketing efforts in terms of its “unintended” consequences – whether general brand awareness grew as a result of your campaign, mobile traffic increased as a result of paid search ads, or sales increased as a result of displaying discounted prices on your website.

This type of marketing is referred to as “experiential” marketing because you are providing customers with an experience that is directly tied to your brand. For example, if you are a restaurant and you display discounted prices on your website as a way of attracting and engaging potential customers, you’re providing them with an experience that is tied to your brand – you are advertising food at a great price. In other words, marketing that is not directly tied to sales is considered unmeasurable. Therefore, it is essential that you track the impact of these campaigns independently from direct measures of sales.

In light of these differences, it is clear that marketing strategies and activities that were once considered “traditional” need to be adapted to fit into the digital age.

Why Care About Adapting Your Strategy to Fit Into the Digital Age?

You should care about adapting your strategy to fit into the digital age for several reasons.

Firstly, the shift to digital means that your existing customers are now capable of locating your business – irrespective of whether you have a physical location or not. In other words, your customers can find you online and via other digital means. This provides you with the opportunity to communicate with them at any time, which is more convenient for both parties.

Secondly, in the age of digital, the number of potential customers is virtually unlimited – provided you have a working internet connection and a mobile device. In other words, the world is your oyster as far as marketing is concerned.

Thirdly, the line between marketing and sales has blurred. Your customers can become advocates for your brand or product, sharing your advertisements and online offers with their networks – effectively growing your customer base.

Fourthly, measuring the success of your strategy is much easier in the digital age. You can track the results of your campaigns easily via web analytics, social media, and mobile app analytics.

The Takeaway

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you are doing everything possible to reach your customers. With customer experience (CX) at the core of every business, digital marketing provides you with the opportunity to improve your business’ reputation and gain long-term loyalty from your customers – even when they are not facing or interacting with your brand directly.