What is Digital Marketing?

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Digital Marketing is a relatively new area of marketing, and perhaps like the new kid on the block it has received a lot of attention over the last few years. One of the problems with terminology though, is that many people start using the language, but not that many really know  what it means.

screenshot Digital Marketing

This article aims to explore the history and meaning of the term ‘Digital Marketing’ and give you all the information and facts that you need, in order to understand exactly what people are (or at least should be) talking about.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing is a term used to describe any system of marketing, for goods or services, that uses digital technology to reach and convert potential leads into customers. Other terms that are sometimes used are online marketing or internet marketing.

The internet is often considered as the main form of digital marketing but other mediums such as mobile technology, apps, TV and video are all forms of digital channels that can be used.

Some companies emphasise the importance of measurement within digital marketing, since statics and analysis are usually part of any digital marketing strategy.

When Was Digital Marketing First Introduced?

Digital marketing evolved alongside the development of the internet. The first types of linked computers were introduced in the early 1990s, before that (and I remember these days) computers were isolated machines and everything had to be entered in manually in code.

screenshot Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing can seem quite scary at first

After the introduction of computer sharing in the 1960s, then the first direct communication between computer networks in different locations started to be developed at various universities and research units. By the mid 1980s several protocols to the early internet were developed until the world wide web was finally introduced.

However it wasn’t until the 1990s that banner advertising was first seen, with the first one attributed as the AT&T advert in 1994. This led onto the use of outbound advertising techniques such as adverts, pop ups, banners and mass emails to attract readers attention.

The next major change to affect online advertising was the introduction of cookie technology.

The Technology of tracking Cookies

Cookies are small bits of text that a web site can use to link your website to their website for example your login details or shopping cart. Each cookie is requested specifically by a site that you visit and can only be accessed by that site. It is usually a summary text of information you have already submitted to the site such as login details.

The technology behind cookies was developed in the mid 1990s by the company Netscape. It was introduced onto their site in 1995 to check whether visitors had previously visited the site before.

Tracking cookies enabled advertising to change, because now advertising companies began to tailor adverts specifically to the interests of the people, based on the types of websites they visited.

Social media and marketing

social media image

The first social media platform according to Digital Trends was probably classmates.com  which was developed and in popular use in the mid to late 1990s and is still operating today. Other precursors to the modern social media sites we know today included Friendster in 2002, which has since retired from social media, and MySpace which was launched in 2003. It is also no longer operating as a general social site but focuses more specifically on bands and musicians.

Facebook was officially launched in February 2004 and since then a variety of other social media platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Tsu have all taken their place in the digital marketing world.

Social media has again changed how advertising works since influencer advertising or using existing networks has led to different advertising approaches. Marketing psychology shows that people like to have products recommended especially by someone they trust, whether it is a media idol or a friend. Social media can help marketeers to tap into this need, if used correctly.

The Backlash Against Outbound Marketing Strategies

The vast amounts of advertising and flashing images that began to take over websites and emails, eventually started to be rejected by many readers. Even as far back as 2004 it was recognised that at least 60% of the population felt there was too much advertising and that it was too intrusive.

screenshot adverts

Advertising has had to become more original to grab people’s attention

The market had become saturated with overt messages about buying and selling products. All of these overt strategies are often referred to as outbound marketing strategies, because they reach out to people and try and capture their attention. However there are disadvantages because people are finding ways to block them out or ignore the messaging.

Antispam software has enabled people to filter out most advertising and popup bans meant that websites became visually quieter. A different form of advertising was needed that wouldn’t cause people to switch off straight away or ignore the messages. This was where inbound marketing strategies were developed.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound strategies focused on people actively seeking out information on different goods and sought to educate and inform them more about the products they were looking at.

Content marketing became a huge part of this strategy, with the aim to encourage people to read or watch videos and make up their own mind about whether they should buy or not. The approach was more subtle and worked with the human psychology of buying.

Psychology of Buying

screenshot online shopping

image found on new mobility.com

Like all marketing techniques inbound marketing has to work alongside the psychology that people apply when they are buying products.


Different sales companies, such as insight squared have highlighted key factors that apply to most buyers. They state that buyers need to;


  1. Feel that what they have purchased is good value
  2. See how this product will benefit them
  3. Be reassured that others found the product to be beneficial
  4. Be able to relate emotionally to the product through images, stories
  5. Justify their decision – through facts and figures.
  6. Try out the product before making a final commitment decision.

Content marketing aims to provide the answers to these needs and prepare the potential buyer ready for the final stage which is to try the product.

If a buyer can arrive at a landing page or sales page equipped with all the information they need to make a purchase then it is a lot easier for them to make the final decision and complete the sale.

How to Learn Digital Marketing Skills

Another advantage to digital technology is that it is now easier than ever to learn the skills needed to run an online business. More and more people are looking to the internet as their main source of shopping, whether by mobile phone, laptop or tablet.

Most people interested in learning digital marketing skills are either working in the sector already or thinking of setting up a business in this area. It makes sense therefore to practice any of the marketing training you acquire directly into your own business or work.

Wealthy Affiliate university

There are many online courses available but the one that I am involved in, both as a contributor and also where I learnt my first basic skills, is the Wealthy Affiliate University. This online course can be joined for free and you can complete module one of the training course and set up a website at no cost.

Some of the lessons in module one include.

  • Choosing a Niche
  • Build Your Own Website
  • Getting Your Site Ready for SEO
  • Finding Content Ideas and Keywords
  • Understanding Website Pages

The website platform is also available independently of the university and is called Siterubixso it can be joined separately and for no cost if you stay as a sub domain name.

Mentoring and Support Available on Digital Marketing

It is hard learning a new skill and trying to build up a business at the same time. Whether you are an experienced marketeer or just starting out, getting support and learning from others in the same industry as yourself is vital.

There are a number of advantages to having either a mentor or community support, whilst you develop your own business.

  1. It can save a lot of time learning from the mistakes and experiences of others.
  2. It is often easier to create new ideas when 2 or more people come together.
  3. Getting feedback on your website can be hard from family and friends who may not be that honest or objective about your work.
  4. Linking in with others can help build up your social network groups quicker and with relevant people from within your industry.

I have written another article, in more depth about the advantages of having a mentor, which also provides a number of resource ideas for acquiring mentoring support.

Resources Available on Digital Marketing

I hope this article has provided many of the answers to questions that you might have had about Digital Marketing and what it involves. There are also some other articles on the topic of Digital Marketing, which are available on this site, these include;

If you have any questions or queries please feel free to add them in the comments section below and I will get back to you as soon as possible, thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “What is Digital Marketing?

  1. Chris

    The information in this article is very informative and I enjoyed reading it. Love how you tied and brought it all together with the differences in digital marketing strategies. Then getting into the info of how to learn the skills to be a digital marketer for those that would be interested in it and understanding what is involved and what they need in doing so.

  2. Chris

    Great article – covered a few facts I hadn’t really thought about before! I still agree with your point about intrusive marketing – advertisments do seem to be everywhere these days. My pet hate is those awful pop ups – I’d never consider using them on any of my sites ( WAY to intrusive and pushy! ). Great read – really enjoyed this!

    1. Marie

      Thanks Chris it is a fine line to walk really about adverts, especially pop ups. They are annoying unless you are interested in the product and then they are really useful and quick to fill out.

      This article Is Inbound Marketing Relevant to Bloggers? also offers some unique insights into how to manage this balance. Thanks again, Marie

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