No matter the size of your marketing budget, every dollar needs to work as hard as it can to bring you results. Knowing where to target your marketing money, and which strategies to use, keeps your business moving forward instead of lagging behind the competition. But in today’s world, there are so many marketing options it can be tricky to know if you’re on the right track.

For most organizations, good marketing means using digital technology, including the internet. Many consumers are digitally connected, so it makes sense to bring your brand to your audience using technology. Looking at social media alone, there are three billion people using these platforms around the world, a good reason why 97 percent of marketers are using social media to target this audience.

In investigating how you can best reach your own customers, however, you may have run into two terms that get jumbled together and become confusing. There’s digital marketing and online marketing. Let’s look at which strategy you need when it comes to choosing online marketing vs digital marketing.

Digital Marketing Defined

When you think about marketing, traditional approaches might still come to mind. We are all subject to conventional marketing every day, encountering offline ads and promotions that are generally put in front of us without any personalization or targeting. When you hear an ad on the radio, see a print advertisement or billboard, pick up the paper and find marketing information, or hear a television commercial, that’s traditional marketing.

While traditional marketing certainly has its place, even alongside more modern digital approaches, it is hard to target specific demographics. Sure, a print ad in a magazine might appeal to its readership, but there’s no way to really drill down into the ideal audience for visibility or interaction.

That is why, as Adobe’s research shows, digital is imperative and transformation is here. Using digital marketing, brands grab the spotlight on any digital device, platform, or channel. It is not just about the internet, but any kind of digital technology, like phone applications, text messages, or videos. In many situations the internet is a part of these advertisements, but digital marketing does not necessarily require an internet connection. For example, a company can include a scannable QR code on a print ad, which brings in digital technology when a consumer scans it with their device.

This definition means that online marketing is actually a subset of digital marketing. When you are looking at digital marketing techniques and strategies, online marketing is a potential possibility. When you engage in online marketing, you are using digital marketing too.

The Ins and Outs of Online Marketing

Online marketing as a subset of digital marketing does require an internet connection. The strategies and tactics of online marketing all rely on that live connection and its associated audience.

There are many different approaches that fall under this umbrella, such as:

Search Engine Marketing

Otherwise known as SEM or paid search, this strategy involves using paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages. When someone searches for a keyword that matches your content, your ad will appear alongside those results, giving consumers exactly what they are looking for.

difference between online marketing and digital marketingSearch Engine Optimization

Also known as SEO, with this strategy, your brand is using content marketing to appear high up in search engine results pages. Unlike SEM, SEO does not require an advertising cost. However, it does require a commitment to keyword research and quality content creation. Search engines are looking for content that is helpful and relevant to searchers, and that is how you get your links to rank.

SEO also depends on well-made, organized websites, good networking and linking between yourself and trusted sites, and strong metadata in all of your content. It is generally not something you can stumble into, nor ‘set and forget.’ With a plan and consistency, however, the work will pay off.

Social Media Marketing

As noted, the social media audience is large and certainly something marketers are taking advantage of when it comes to brand promotion. Using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube, companies can interact with their audience directly.

With social media marketing, your organization can increase your sales, direct people back to your website, run advertisements, garner reviews, and overall generate engagement. Knowing the specific goal of your social media marketing is important, given that there are so many options, so setting your focus and your chosen platforms is a good early step.

Just like with SEO marketing, social media marketing calls for consistent, high quality, appealing content. When your audience likes what you are sharing, they will share it themselves and your brand will enjoy even more exposure.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is not a matter of sending out unwanted, unsolicited spam messages. Rather, it is a way to reach out to your audience with the information they want, where they are likely to read it. Hubspot says that two-thirds of customers have made a purchase as the direct result of an email marketing message, which goes to show how valuable this strategy can be.

To avoid being accused of spamming, be sure that your email list is made of people who want to hear from you. You can start with regular customers, and use sign-up lists and similar opt-in methods to build your audience. Be sure that anyone who does not want to receive your messages can easily unsubscribe.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is another one of those umbrella terms, covering any website marketing strategy that involves creating and sharing useful, relevant content with your audience. That could be blog posts, social media influencing, newsletters, you name it. It isn’t about sharing a particular product or service or stuffing a page full of keywords just for the sake of including those phrases. Content marketing hinges on how beneficial it actually is for your audience, setting you apart from the rest of the noise. These are a few of the most common online marketing methods. Depending on your company, your industry, and your audience, you may find that one method works better than another, or that you want to try a different approach.

The great thing about digital marketing, and online marketing as a subset, is that it is easy to track key performance indicators and metrics and change anything that is not hitting the mark. Compared to traditional marketing methods, digital marketing gives you remarkable insight into the effectiveness of each campaign, and in the event that you want to make a change, it is quick, easy, and painless. Best of all, online marketing typically comes at a lower cost than conventional methods. Even if you are experimenting with strategies, it won’t break the bank.


There is no outright winner in a case of online marketing vs digital marketing. Often, they are necessarily integrated. Ideally, your marketing strategy will integrate various aspects of online marketing, digital marketing, and perhaps traditional marketing to find your audience and show them the information that generates interest and ultimately leads and sales. By finding the right mix of methods to attract your ideal customer persona, you are hitting marketing from all angles, and bringing in all kinds of new leads.

We are your partners in ensuring that every marketing dollar you spend brings a good return on that investment. Using digital marketing, online marketing, and our proven expertise, we will make your website and your brand stand out amongst the competition.

We can help you make informed decisions when faced with online marketing vs digital marketing. Get in touch with us using our convenient online contact form. You can also call us at 973-317-8765 or email us at