sugan plus logo

What is digital marketing?

11 min read (22 words)
Author: Suganthan Mohanadasan

Digital marketing is the promotion of products or services on a digital platform or technology.

The majority of the time digital marketing is based primarily on the internet, and marketers can promote their campaigns across websites, social platforms, mobile apps, and on streaming platforms such as Spotify or YouTube.

Although digital marketing has been around since the early 1990s, it has flourished within the past 15 years or so, and now any business, no matter how large or small, can use digital marketing to promote products and services.

In 2017, $44 billion was spent on digital marketing in the US and the UK alone, which represents a massive 44% increase from the year before. Globally, it is estimated that $100 billion was spent on digital marketing campaigns.

There are many forms of digital marketing (often referred to as channels), so it is important to know what kind of digital campaign would best suit your brand, service, or product.

Different types of digital marketing

From direct marketing, through to more subtle marketing that is designed to attract customers searching for answers or solutions, there are a vast number of different kinds of marketing that a company can invest in. You can choose the right type of marketing channel for your business (e.g: e-commerce, Lead generation)


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a constantly evolving, complex, and long-term digital marketing strategy that can help direct large amounts of people (otherwise known as traffic) towards a company’s website.

Generally, this is done by optimising a website so that it contains key information, products, or services that people will search for in search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. 

This can often be done through an effective content marketing campaign that will help the brand become more visible in organic search results.


Websites appearing at the top of results pages for the search term “”Sykkel” (Cycle)

It is often thought that the more a website is optimised, the higher it will rank in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), but competition between businesses is often tough, and there are many factors to consider.

This means that among many other things, that a website must be technically sound, offer good user experience, be friendly for users on mobile devices, offer high-quality information through content creation, and adhere to search engine guidelines and rules.

Although SEO might not be an area of online marketing that everyone has heard of, it is predicted that by 2022, businesses in the US will spend over $100 billion on this channel alone.

The great thing about SEO however, is that it can be utilised by small and large companies alike, although their budgets will undoubtedly differ.


Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising (sometimes referred to as paid advertising), is similar to SEO and display advertising in many ways, and often works in alignment with it and other online marketing channels. In fact, many companies and brands choose to use the same company to provide their PPC and SEO services.

Whereas appearing in SERPs is free, a PPC advert will cost a company every time that it is clicked.

Often a PPC ad will appear at the top of a related SERP (before what is known as the organic results), and the cost of a click will depend on how popular the search term around the advertisement is, as the more people that search for a particular term, the more expensive a click will be.


PPC or “sponsored” advertising for the search term “Sykkel” (bikes)

According to Medium, the most expensive term in Google Ads (Google’s online advertising platform), is “Business Services”, which in the US, costs a staggering $58.64 per click.

This means therefore, that it would cost a company $5,864 for every 100 clicks, although if the business makes just a few conversions, depending on what services they offer, Pay Per Click can be a very effective and lucrative advertising channel.

Native advertising

Native advertising is a very diverse form of advertising that can be spread across many different digital platforms and across web pages and mobile marketing.

Slightly similar to product placement, native ads are a form of paid advertising that often matches the type of function or media that a person is using, which means that the advertisement is not obtrusive.


A sponsored post in the form of content marketing, and a good example of native advertising, as found on The Daily Mail

Native advertisements can be often found in social network feeds, be a recommended content piece on a website (in the form of content marketing), or can be found as a suggested video. 

You can find native advertising being used across digital media and on a variety of social networks including:

  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • TwitchTV

Over the past decade, more companies have begun turning to native advertising, and some of the world’s best-known brands now utilise it, such as Audible and Squarespace.

Native advertising can be very effective, and one study found that 25% of people are more likely to look at a native ad than a banner ad, and 53% will look at them more frequently.

Social media marketing

It goes without saying that over the past 10 to 15 years, social platforms have become a part of everyday life, with over 3 billion people using social networks across the world in 2018.

Whether on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, social platforms allow businesses to advertise directly to potential customers and clients, whether or not the audience has any preconception of the brand.


Norwegian airlines is one of the most followed brands on Twitter in Norway.

Through social platforms, where ads often appear in a person’s feed, companies are able to improve brand awareness by gaining new followers, likes, leads, and even clicks through to their official website and more.

Now more than ever, some of the biggest brands are using social media marketing as part of their strategies, and hundreds of millions of pounds and dollars are being spent on platforms such as Facebook alone.

Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the most direct forms of digital marketing, and is used by brands and companies to directly sell their products or services.

Sometimes a brand will already have a relationship with a customer and might offer them exclusive deals and offers through email, alongside other marketing communications.

On occasion, a brand might not be familiar to the person that they are contacting, and could be emailing them to make introductory offers and first-time discounts.

A good email campaign will involve personalised emails, which can help increase both sales and customer loyalty.


Here is a great email my local gym SATS sent me around New year. They appreciated my business and wanted to give group training sessions for free.

It will often be the case that a company will use a curated email list, rather than one that is bought from a provider, and will offer opt-out or permission-based marketing to contact potential customers.


Another great personalised email I got from the Norwegian airlines.

As you’re probably aware, email marketing is used by brands both large and small, and can be very advantageous when used correctly and with care.

Why digital marketing is more effective than traditional marketing

Quite possibly one of the best reasons why more companies are turning to digital marketing is the fact that when done properly, it can offer so much more value and return on investment than traditional forms of marketing, such as billboards or newspaper advertising.

With so many digital marketing options, it also means that marketing budgets can be split evenly across digital channels, so that if one isn’t found to be quite as effective, this can be easily supported through the success of other channels.

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages to digital marketing is the fact that it is so quantifiable, with advertising tools offering incredible amounts of KPIs, real-time data, and feedback.

For example, if you advertise on Facebook, or a similar social network, the platform will provide you with the data to show which audiences are interacting with your advertising, where they are based, and even during what time of the day they are more active.


This advert shows my local car wash brand using sponsored video posts to its advantage, with high levels of interaction. (Yes, I’ve washed my car here after seeing the offer)

Through the information that ad tools provide, companies are able to discover what forms of advertising are more effective so that they can change their marketing activities accordingly across digital technologies so that they can effectively target customers.

This kind of feedback and insight simply isn’t available in more traditional forms of advertising, and businesses can develop strong digital assets that will help them keep ahead of the competition as they continue to invest in their marketing efforts.

Why digital marketing is the future integral to any business

In 2018, more than 4 billion people were using the internet, and by 2025, it is expected that over 61% of the world’s population will have regular internet access.

This means that no matter what service your business provides, or what kind of products that you sell, the likelihood is that there is a receptive audience that is ready and waiting on the internet, and a good digital marketing strategy can help you connect with that audience. If you remember the Fyre festival you will know how digital marketing played a major role in selling tickets. Even though the whole thing turned out to be a scam we need to remember how influencers were able to drive a significant amount of ticket sales.


Using effective social media marketing the organisers were able to sellout tickers within days.

What’s more, if you aren’t using digital marketing channels effectively, or worse, not at all, you could be losing customers and clients to your closest competitors, even if you only happen to be a local company in a brick and mortar shop.

In fact, a survey conducted last year found that 99% of businesses in the US planned on increasing their digital marketing budgets in 2019, while 64% wanted to increase budgets on social platforms alone.

How much does a digital marketing strategy cost?

How much a company or brand spends on their digital strategy can vary wildly.

The biggest brands in the world, such as Nike, McDonald’s, or Starbucks, will spend hundreds of millions of dollars across digital channels and social media posts to ensure that their brand is being seen and interacted with by as many people as possible.

On the other hand, however, a small business might spend only a thousand dollars per month and still find the investment to be highly profitable and worthwhile.


I use Facebook ads to get visibility on my blog posts and as you can see I’ve managed to reach 736 people for the cost of 12Kr.

When it comes to the majority of digital marketing campaigns, a brand will often turn to industry experts in the form of digital marketing agencies, who for a fee, can either consult with stakeholders in the brand, or set up an entire advertising campaign or digital marketing plan.

A company might pay a digital advertising agency or consultant a set fee for this service, or in the case of SEO or PPC services, a monthly fee might be paid for long-term campaigns.

Suganthan Mohanadasan

follow on twitter
Suganthan Mohanadasan is an International SEO Consultant with a decade of experience. He is currently living in Stavanger, Norway. He is the Co-founder and Technical SEO Lead at Snippet Digital.
May 19, 2019

It goes without saying that the world of dentistry is incredibly competitive, and the same is true for the industry when it concerns online marketing and SEO (search engine optimization). With this in mind, it is crucial that dental surgeries are implementing the best and most up to date practices for their sites. In this article, I’ll discuss some of the best and most important factors that you must consider before and during a dental SEO campaign. You can do some of these things yourself or find an agency/consultant that can help you with dental SEO services.  Most dental practices use PPC extensively. However, PPC can be expensive and…

read it all
May 6, 2019

The world of the internet and web design moves at an astoundingly fast pace, which means that websites need to keep up with the very latest technology, industry standards, and best practices to ensure that they remain competitive. When it comes to website redesigns and migrations, both businesses and webmasters must lay the groundwork well in advance to ensure that the coming changes do not compromise their organic search campaigns. With that in mind, here are my top tips and recommendations for website redesigns and how to maintain or even boost your search engine optimisation (SEO) and digital marketing campaigns. Think about…

read it all