What Is Online Marketing?

Semrush Team

Nov 11, 20226 min read
Online Marketing

What Is Online Marketing?

Online marketing is the delivery of marketing content across multiple digital channels, including:

  • Search engines
  • Social media platforms
  • Email
  • Google sites
  • Other platforms

We’ll get into the specifics of each type of online marketing channel later.

For now, just remember this:

By using multiple channels, you can get more creative with your promotional content, experiment with media formats, and target specific users based on their interests.

Why Is Online Marketing Important?

Online marketing allows marketers to target specific audiences with engaging content that increases the likelihood of them becoming customers.

Unfortunately, a massive number of businesses compete for those same people’s attention through similar online marketing channels.

To set your business apart, you need to understand each online marketing channel. And how they can be used together to build an overarching marketing strategy.

Types of Online Marketing

Technology is constantly evolving. Which means online marketing is constantly evolving.

Part of being an effective online marketer is being able to identify those changes and adjust your strategy accordingly.

That said, there are established marketing channels that you need to know about.

Online Marketing and Search Engines

Each month, billions of people begin their online journey with a search. This makes search engines, like Google and Bing, a key part of online marketing.

With tens of billions of visits each month, it’s a guarantee customers use Google.

Unfortunately, it’s also a guarantee that your competitors use the search engine to try and win the same audience.

To use search engines to your advantage, you need to know how they work.

Google uses algorithms and bidding systems to determine which paid and organic results users see for a search phrase. Each result has a specific online marketing method to improve your chances of ranking at the top of the SERP.

For organic search results, that method is search engine optimization.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search online.

The more optimized your pages and content, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract visitors to your site.

Google ranks pages based on which ones it believes will most satisfy the user based on the keyword they searched.

For example, enter “ecommerce” into the search bar, and most results will include a title, website link, and brief description of the page.

Like this:

An organic search result for Shopify’s “What is Ecommerce” page with the link, title and meta description

Here are the main steps of the organic ranking process:

  1. You create high-quality, relevant content for your customers.
  2. Google “crawls” your website, reviewing new pages in the process.
  3. After successfully crawling, Google recognizes your pages and indexes them.
  4. If your page successfully satisfies a user’s intent, it will likely appear on the SERP.
SEO involves the publishing of useful content for Google to crawl, index and display on search engine results pages

Considering over 55% of customers search Google before making a purchase, the ability to connect them with your brand’s offering is a massive part of online marketing success.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

PPC involves placing ads on specific platforms where businesses pay a fee each time a customer clicks the ad.

The most popular PPC platform is Google Ads, which has many different ad formats. Including search, display, video, shopping, and Gmail ads.

But Google is far from the only PPC platform out there.

Social media platforms are quickly becoming a major presence on the list of top PPC advertising platforms as people spend more and more time on mobile phones.

Look at how ad spending has increased over time:

PPC ad spend has increased over the past 15 years, with social media display and search ads increasing the most

The benefit of using PPC ads over SEO?

Speed.

While organic content can take months to reach the front page of the SERPs, you can reach the top of Page 1 in a few days using paid ads.

Of course, you need to balance this strategy with the cost of paying for that rank.

Knowing your budget and having a PPC strategy can help you gain valuable online real estate quickly and without breaking the bank.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing involves creating, sharing, and tracking organic content on a brand’s social accounts.

People spend lots of time on social media, so businesses must create and post more frequently to keep up and stay relevant.

Social media is a powerful tool for generating interest, reaching new customers, and even making sales.

Achieving each goal means creating an overarching strategy and managing it across your social platforms.

Social media marketers post regularly across platforms every day. Tools like Semrush schedule and track all this content

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now TikTok are incredibly popular.

As an online marketer, your task is to find out which channel(s) your audience uses and find ways to engage them through social content.

As your social media community grows, you can use these channels to research, interact with, and sell to that audience.

Social media marketing is great for reusing content that has already worked for your audience on a different channel, with over 80% of marketers saying they reuse content across social media.

With the right tools, you can determine which social platforms work best within your overall online marketing strategy and start connecting these channels to your website.

Content Marketing

“Content” means information communicated through media—so video, audio, graphics, social posts, and documents (among many others) can all be used by marketers to spread promotional materials.

Just remember not to lean too much on the salesy side of things. Or you risk breaking the key rule of content marketing:

Providing value to the customer.

It’s great if a blog post helps you rank for a keyword or get a few leads, but it won't translate into sustained success if it doesn’t answer the customer’s question or concern.

As you can see below, content marketing includes many different types and formats, including interactive, text, visual, video, and PDF:

content marketing involves the use of different content formats to engage and inform customers, including text, visual, video, interactive, and PDF content.

Like social media marketing, content marketing requires an overarching strategy that is executed according to a specific plan or calendar.

Each blog post, social post, or YouTube video serves a specific purpose within that strategy, bringing potential and existing customers closer to your brand, services, or products.

When you educate, engage, or entertain your customers with high-value content, you improve the ROI of your online marketing efforts.

Email Marketing

Email marketing involves sending advertising materials directly to the inbox of subscribers and potential customers.

These email addresses are obtained by getting visitors to your website or other marketing channels to sign up for newsletters and other email marketing materials.

Email marketing is a form of direct marketing that, when done right, offers plenty of benefits:

  • Higher ROI
  • Lower costs
  • Increased conversion rates
  • Keeping existing customers engaged
  • Personalized messaging

With social media, paid ads, search engines, blogs, and other aspects of online marketing taking up lots of attention, it’s easy to forget about the tried and true email marketing channel.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a collaboration between a business and a popular individual in which the individual promotes the business to their large online following.

The arrangement can be based on a flat agreement or carried out on a performance basis through affiliate marketing.

Online marketing can be difficult, and success doesn’t always come as fast as you’d like.

Influencer and affiliate marketing allows you to piggyback on the expertise and audience of other content creators.

Alternatively, you can also use your own niche expertise or large audience to make money by partnering with a business.

And it looks like influencer content is a worthwhile investment, with 60% of marketers stating it outperforms their traditional branded content.

Your business needs to stand out from competitors and all the other content creators out there.

So why not use the large following of these entertainers to direct customers to your website?

Improve Your Online Marketing

So now that you know what online marketing really is, you’re probably thinking, “it’s time to dive in!”

Almost, but not quite.

Before you start investing your time (and money) in the different types of online marketing, you need to have a system that allows you to track progress across all your channels.

Remember, successful online marketing is more than just using multiple channels—it’s about staying on top of the latest trends and quickly responding to change.

With the amount of data these marketing channels create, it’s key that you find a tool to monitor growth across all your online marketing efforts.

Semrush tool kits allow you to track, analyze, and report on your online marketing progress across all different channels—all from the same dashboard.

Set yourself up for success from the jump, and sign up for a trial of Semrush reporting tools today!

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