Do you often get confused what field of Digital Marketing you should pursue your career in?

Do you find it difficult to understand the difference between different types of Digital Marketing?

Don’t fret!

Learning Digital Marketing is no easy feat. It is a skill-based sector that rewards professionals who understand and build expertise in at least one area of Digital Marketing while at the same time have an above average understanding of other fields of Digital Marketing.

Sometimes, this category of Digital Marketers are called T-Shaped Marketer.

T-Shaped Digital Marketer Infographic
T-Shaped Digital Marketer

As a Digital Marketer, you would often come across queries from your clients or your boss that will require you to have above average (if not expert) understanding of other areas of Online Marketing.

Or, you may work with teams at your company who would be responsible for website traffic, visibility and revenue from other disciplines of Digital Marketing.

At the same time, if you are looking for a job in a startup, which can not afford to hire experts from each type of Digital Marketing, you may be evaluated basis your understanding of the entire Digital Marketing ecosystem.

Knowing the fact that we are living in a dynamic world, having our ears and eyes opened to entire marketing ecosystem (not just Digital Marketing) is not just crucial but a great differentiation point.

However, we do not need to get overwhelmed with everything in one go or in the beginning itself when we are learning from scratch. You can read about How to start your career in digital marketing

Importantly, we need to build our expertise in one area and really drill down to the depth of our chosen field. At the same time, keep ourselves exposed to basic understanding of other types of Digital Marketing.

Through this article, you would get a broad understanding of different types of digital marketing. Do share this article with your friends who are in the same journey as you are.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the building our knowledge:

1. Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization, popularly known as SEO, is a practice that requires you to optimize your website (technical SEO) and content (content SEO) to offer the best experience to users who are looking for solutions to their queries.

SEO does not just stop at On-Page SEO (technical and content), it also requires you to build authority of your website and the page by getting value-links from the other websites (mostly in the similar domain as you are in). This is known as back-linking.

Example of Organic listing on Google search results page

Why Do You Need To Do SEO?

Search Engines get billions of searches a day. Google alone gets an estimated 3.5 billion searches per day, that’s 40,000 search queries a second.

The best thing about the Search engines is 20%-30% of the search queries are completely new, means they haven’t been asked before.

With so much of internet traffic every single day, and everyone looking for answers to their queries, it is goldmine of traffic for business who sell products and services or interesting in building their website traffic so that they can monetize later.

Optimizing your website for important search queries (keywords) and building authority around your domain & page by getting quality links can help you rank on the first page of Search Engine Result Page (SERP).

Ranking on the Page 1 of SERP would get you free (Organic) traffic of users who are looking for something or seeking a solution to their questions.

There is no limit to how much Organic traffic you can build for your website this way. But it depends on the kind of industry you are in, search volume of the keywords you are targeting, difficulty (competition) of keyword, time of the year (seasonal queries), & more.

2. Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing, also known as SEM, is a marketing solution where you pay for the targeted search queries on Search Engines to show ads when a user makes those searches.

Search Engine Marketing is an instant form of digital marketing where your ad can start showing up in a day’s time and you do not need to spend a lot of time and efforts in optimizing your website to rank organically on SERP.

Example of Search Engine Marketing Ad
Search Engine Results Page

However, it needs to be understood that paying for keywords to generate traffic to your website can become expensive if the keywords you are targeting are highly competitive (just like you there are more marketers bidding on keywords to show their ads :P)

Ads on Search Engines is one of the best way to get high-traffic traffic to your website as all these visitors are looking for solutions to their queries or are planning to buy something that you offer.

No doubt, Search Engine Marketing is so critical for businesses of all sizes, in every industry, and that earned Google a cool $134.88 billion US dollar in ad revenue in 2019 from Google ADs platform.

3. Social Media Marketing

Just like Search Engine Marketing, where you bid on keywords to get traffic to your website, with Social Media Marketing, you target audience who matches your target buyer persona and bid to get your ads shown on their feed or the other placements on the Social Media platforms.

Social Media Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, & more, have billions of users on their platforms and to monetize this user base, all Social Media platforms have built their ad solutions through which you are set-up campaigns to show ads to the audience that you chose to target.

Facebook, out of all, has the biggest digital marketing channel, given the sheer size its user base (2.45 billion Monthly Active Users as per latest data). Combined with Instagram (Facebook bought Instagram in 2012), Facebook is a behemoth in the world of Advertising, generating $69.66 billion in ad revenue in 2019

The example below shows an ad run by Google on Facebook :P.

Isn’t it amazing that a multi-billion dollar AD network like Google is using Facebook AD network to reach out to the audience and get more users for it’s own network.

That’s the power of Social Media Marketing.

Example of Social Media Marketing

You can find customers who otherwise would not have found you or may have visited your website but not taken an action you want them to take (it is called Remarketing)

4. Email Marketing

Email Marketing is one of the oldest and still one of the most effective ways of Online marketing.

Did you know that the first marketing email was sent in 1978, which generated $13 million US dollar in sales. How cool is that!!

No Digital Marketing strategy is complete without Email Marketing.

And the reason for that is Email Marketing is free..

Other than the cost of third-party email marketing tools, you pay nothing to send your emails to your email marketing list.

However, email marketing still requires a lot of time & effort in building your email marketing list.

Gone are the days, where you would buy a list and send emails to the entire list, expecting traffic or sales from the same.

Today, an average user get more than 100 emails per day – some personal but mostly commercial. And most of these commercial email go to trash or reported as SPAM without even getting a chance to get opened.

The best strategy to follow is to build your email marketing list through an effective lead generation or opt-in email subscriber signup on your website.

Once the user enters in to your funnel explicitly, you can nurture this user through an drop email marketing campaign and slowly guide the user to a purchase or an action you want user to take on the website.

5. Content Marketing

As a modern-day marketers you would be spending most of your time and energies on building, nurturing and leveraging a strong connect with your audience to achieve your business objectives.

As per Content Marketing Institute,

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Content Marketing Institute

You can see content marketing (one of most used digital marketing strategy) being used all around you. In fact, this article is a form of content marketing. I am creating this content, which solves some of your queries, helps you in learning something useful and if you like it, you will share it with your community on social media platforms. You may even become my subscriber and engage with my content and build a connection with me. That’s Content Marketing!

6. Influencer Marketing

Influencer is anyone who has a following, from small to large to mega, and an ability to make people take an action that is in the interest of business, society or his/her own self.

We all know celebrities and how to make a brand look good. We buy if a popular star endorses a product, isn’t it?

In it’s digital form, this type of marketing has evolved into much larger and stronger form of marketing.

With the evolution of social media, blogging, question & answer platforms like Quora, we have a daily stream of content (Content Marketing in use) from 1000s of creators who put out content that entertains us, educates us, help us build a skill, and we follow these creators if we like their content.

Gradually, we trust these creators and follow their advice and suggestions (related to their topic). This helps creators to build their follower base and eventually, become an Influencers. This is the journey every influencer takes on Digital platforms.

An Influencer is classified from Nano to Mega basis the number of her followers.

Instagram Influencers Tiers
Influencer Classification on Instagram

Seeing the follower base and the engagement level (likes, shares, comments) of an Influencer with its followers, brands reach out to the Influencer for Paid promotions.

If an Influencer is small, even a barter (free product) works as a compensation. Mega Influencers can charge 1000s of dollars for one promotion post.

As a Marketer, you would need to understand your objectives, budget constraints, product category and your audience to create an effective Influencer marketing strategy.

7. Affiliate Marketing

An affiliate is someone who promote your products or services for a percentage commission of your sale.

Affiliate Marketing globally is worth billions of dollars (estimated at $12 billion per year globally) and contribute around 16% of e-commerce business. Amazon runs it’s own affiliate program to sell the products on its plaform and it is one of the largest affiliate programs in the world.

Brands run their own affiliate program to increase their revenue and reach out to more audience at a fraction of the cost of what they would spend to reach this audience.

The reason Affiliate Marketing is effective is – it is a win-win proposition

  • it help affiliates make money on products they don’t own and there is no headache of operations and customer service to manage.
  • it helps brands to get an army of people to promote their products and build social proof around their brand through blogs, reviews, comparisons, testimonials, etc

As a Marketer, you would build & manage Affiliate programs to drive your business and marketing objectives. Hence, it is essential to understand how Affiliate Marketing works.

8. Display Advertising

Display Advertising is a type of digital marketing campaign that involves using graphics (using logo, image, video, text, GIF) and targeting your audience with highly-creative and relevant display ads on display ad networks.

Google has a display AD network (it has more access to 90% of global websites). That’s massive! isn’t it?

It means you can reach your audience as they visit some of these websites and show them ads, engage with the audience and influence them to visit your website.

You can also retarget your website visitors through display ads and warm-up your audience before they make a purchase from you.

While Display Advertising has many benefits, it is considered to be one of the least effective form of advertising. Less percentage of people interact with a display than other forms of advertising. Users also have an option to block ads through the use of Ad blockers. There are about 181 millions users who use Ad blocker softwares.

As a Marketers, you would test this form of advertising to see results and accordingly take a call on whether to run Display advertising campaigns for your business or not.

9. Native Advertising

Simply put, Native Advertising is form of digital marketing strategy that uses advertising that matches the style, tone and themes of the website that is displaying that ad. So that, it blends with the content and user can not differentiate whether it is content or an ad.

Over the years, people have developed a sort of blindness towards ads. If anything looks similar to an ad, our brains can understand it well in a split of a second and turn blind towards it in an instant.

This is one of the reason display ads have such low CTR rates (0.06 – 0.2% on an average). Native Ads helps resolves this by blending into the content and trick the brain into thinking that the ad is part of the content.

There are various Native AD platform, like Columbia (owned by The Times of India group), Taboola, Outbrain. There are also service available like Times Internet Spotlight which posts sponsored content on Times of India properties.

Native Ads are an effective way to build visibility for your brand and create opportunities to advertising your products without really advertising them from the point of view of users.

10. Pay Per Click Advertising

Pay Per Click advertising, also known as PPC Advertising, is an advertising solution where advertisers pays each time a users clicks on the ad. Most of the times, Paid Search Ads (SEM) and PPC ads are used interchangeably.

As a Digital Marketer, you need to understand that not all PPC ads are Paid Search Ads. Any ad on any platform that charges on CPC basis is a PPC ad and should not be referred to as Paid Search Ad, for the obvious reasons.

11. Video Advertising

Videos are the hottest form of content on the Internet as more and more people prefer to watch Video content over other formats of content on the internet.

As a Marketer, you would be using Video Advertising in your campaigns, which simple means, using Videos as an content format in place of text or images.

Youtube & Facebook are the biggest ad platforms to run Video Marketing campaigns and rightly so, 45% of the users on Facebook & Youtube watch at least an hour of content a week.

Video Marketing is cheaper, effective and most engaging form of advertising. Using Video Ads can give you better ROIs on your campaigns (depending on the quality of the video).

12. Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing is a form of marketing in which you create a content that is so good that users shares your content with their community and make it spread like a virus.

Remember ALS Ice Water Bucket Challenge? Started in 2014 to promote awareness about ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), quickly spread globally, raising $115 million US dollars for the research and treatment of patients suffering from ALS.


These are the top types of digital marketing that you would hear in your digital marketing career. As a marketers, understanding in-depth at least one type of digital marketing and building above average understanding of other fields of digital marketing can help you position yourself as a T-Shaped Digital Marketer and help you differentiate yourself from the crowd.

To build your knowledge and gain more insights, you can read the top 11 best digital marketing books in 2020

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I am a self-taught digital marketer who loves to build funnels of traffic and help organizations achieve fast business growth by gaining customers at profitable ROIs. I deeply understand Google Ads, Facebook Ads platforms and have above average understanding of Search Engine Optimization. I have a growth-mindset towards life and I invest a lot of my time, energy and money in continuing my learning journey to become the best Digital Marketers out there. I am an Advanced Scuba Diver and Yoga Practitioner (Certified). I love exploring new places, bike rides, local cuisines. My life motto is: Never Never Give Up

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