Digital Marketing: What is it and how is it used?

What is digital marketing?

A comprehensive overview to digital marketing and how it is used to target consumers and influence buying decisions.

From the time you wake up to when you put down your phone, roll over, and try to sleep, you are being targeted and influenced by digital marketing.

Like many people, you probably start each morning by checking out the local or national news sites, weather app, fantasy sports scores, social alerts, or unread emails. Each site, app, or service is an opportunity for a digital marketer to guide you down the consumer path.

Digital Marketing Definition:

Digital marketing is the advertising and promotion of brands, products, or services through a digital medium. The most commonly used digital medium is the internet but may also include digital communication networks (text and mobile notifications), and digital billboards/displays.

The most common methods for reaching consumers through digital marketing:

Search Engines

Search engines are one of the most commonly used digital marketing tactics. Advertisers will use pay-per-click advertising (PPC/SEM) to present ads for products or services that align with your search.

Search engine results that are not paid are called organic results. Even non-paid results use a form of digital marketing called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to obtain higher positions in the search results.

Mapped or location based results is another type of digital marketing content to be displayed as search engine results. This type of content utilizes tactics called Local Pack optimization to influence which stores show up at the top.

Pay-per-Click / Search Engine Marketing (PPC / SEM)

There is a wide variety of advertisement methods that can be used in SEM. Marketing platforms like Google Ads will allow you to create ads that will be displayed to users based on keywords and other factors that are used in the consumer’s search. Each time a unique user clicks on the ad your ad campaign is charged. The marketer and business can track the effectiveness of their campaign and ads by measuring several metrics like impressions, click thru rate, and cost per click.

Types of SEM Advertisements
  • Search Ads
  • Display Ads
  • Video Ads
  • Google Shopping
SEM Result Example
SEM Advertisement

Search Engine Optimization ( SEO )

Getting your site’s content displayed in the organic search results ( non-paid ) is the product of search engine optimization. SEO is comprised of many subsets of services that work together to help Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines that your content will be more meaningful to the searcher.

SEO Services
  • Technical SEO
  • Onsite Optimization
  • Content Marketing
  • Inbound Link Building
  • Keyword Research
SEO Result Example
Search Engine Optimization Results

Local Pack Optimization

Getting your site to appear at the top of location based searches is often called local pack optimization. This service utilizes online directories, business listings, and reviews to show the location of businesses in proximity to the searcher or the submitted search term. Local pack optimization is most helpful for businesses that rely onsite purchases or service areas.

Local Pack Optimization Services
  • Google My Business
  • Bing Places
  • Yelp
Local Pack Search Result Example
local pack search engine optimization results

Social Media

Like it or not, our life and culture has been submerged in social media. This makes it a powerful tool for connecting consumers to your brand, products, or services. As more and more people share stories, thoughts, and opinions through social media, it can also be an indispensable tool for managing your brand’s image and reputation.

Social Media Services

  • Brand / Reputation Management
  • Social Media Ads
  • Audience Building
  • Customer Engagement
  • Site Traffic Building

Social Media Channels

There are a number of different social media channels / services out there. Each channel has specific strengths and weaknesses that can make it ideal for your business’ marketing strategy. Understanding your target audience and their social media usage is often the first step to choosing which channel is best for your social media marketing efforts.

Example Social Media Channels

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • SnapChat
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • and more…


Advertising through video is nothing new. People have grown up with “we interrupt this program for a word from our sponsor” since television broadcasting began. Combining moving images and audio allows advertisers to push complex and powerful messages to the consumer.

Marketing through the use of video in the age of digital marketing is more powerful and much more versatile. Through digital marketing and videos you can create ads that are displayed in front of, during, or on top of videos. An advertiser can also target their ads for display on relevant content and even according to demographic or interests of the viewer.

Types of Digital Video Marketing
  • Display Ads
  • Video Ads
  • Brand Promotions
  • Educational Videos
  • Explainer Videos
  • Product Demonstration or Review
  • Influencer Content
Common Digital Video Marketing Channels
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • Twitter
  • Facebook


Websites are the common linking factor for most if not all of the digital marketing channels discussed in this definition. After all, much of your SEM, SEO, Social Media, and Video marketing efforts will be directing people to content or products on your website. But there are also digital marketing subsets that occur directly on your site.

Types of Website Digital Marketing
  • Lead Optimization
  • Ecommerce Optimization
  • Cross Content Marketing
  • Remarketing


When done right, email marketing can be the least expensive and most reliable form of digital marketing.. It allows you the opportunity to have a continual and lasting connection to your consumer base. Giving you the opportunity to notify your customer on the latest product and service, or simply to reconnect to increase brand awareness.

Most Common Forms of Email Marketing
  • Newsletter
  • Email Automation
  • Product Announcements
  • Paid Ad Placement
  • Paid Content Marketing

Mobile Phones / Mobile Apps

Take a walk outside and visit a public space like a local shopping center or coffee shop. Pay attention to people who are using their smartphones. Each one of those people on their phone represents a digital marketing opportunity. Those devices also happen to be where many people will see ads and marketing messaging from all the other channels discussed so far.

Common Marketing Methods for Mobile Devices

SMS and MMS Messaging

There are several benefits to mobile marketing for businesses to consider. You can use SMS and MMS to market directly to your customer base. You can also use SMS to grow your customer base and as a way to measure the effectiveness other traditional marketing “just text yes to 411”.

Mobile App Advertisements

Marketing platforms like Google Ads will let you target an audience by demographic or interest through mobile app advertisement. Just define your budget, campaign, and target audience and you can get your display ad within mobile apps of thousands of users.

Geofencing Notifications

Mobile applications that make use of geofencing can even push notifications and special offers when a customer is in the vicinity of your store. This can be a big win when trying to influence buying intent and impulse buying habits.

Digital Displays

A combination of traditional marketing with modern connectivity, digital displays allow you to show multiple visual ads in the same space. Digital displays can be seen everywhere rom small single stall bathroom displays to giant digital billboards on the side of the freeway. While this type of marketing is typically not as interactive and measurable as some of the other forms of digital marketing it is still a viable and effective tool to consider in your strategy and plan.

Frequent Placement of Digital Ads
  • Digital Billboards
  • Static Digital Displays / Monitors ( Restrooms, Waiting Areas )
  • Interactive Displays ( Building Directories, Shopping Centers / Malls, Restaurants, Points of Interest )


You may not be familiar with the term but you are likely familiar with one or several people who act as influencers – PewDiePie, Jake Paul, or the Kardashians. An influencer is a personality that has an active social following on one or more social platforms. A marketer will leverage an influencer to expose their target audience to their brand, product, or service.

Common Methods Influencer Marketing
  • Youtube Ads
  • Paid / Unpaid Product Reviews
  • Post Sponsorships
  • Apparel / Equipment Sponsorships


Most digital marketing channels provides opportunities for remarketing. Remarketing is where a company is able to track and continue to influence a consumers buying behavior after they have left their site.

The most common use of remarketing is in ecommerce. A business engaged in remarketing will typically track if you clicked on an, visited a particular product, added something to the cart, and even completed a purchase. They would use that tracking data to target and present additional advertising to those consumers. Shoppers who added products to their cart and then left might see ads for that exact product when they visit their favorite news or social site. If they happened to make a purchase, they may instead see an ad for a companion product.


Full disclaimer, synergistic isn’t really a digital marketing channel. We use the term synergistic as a descriptor for the assembled whole of digital marketing channels. Through digital marketing, you can continually target, reach, track and re-engage a consumer on many different channels throughout the buying cycle. The total influence a marketer can have during the buying cycle is much greater than can be reported by the individual channels.

Are you missing out on digital marketing?

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