As technology has become more pervasive, traditional marketing strategies have become more outdated as consumers shift their media consumption from general mass media, to more niche and specific channels on outlets such as YouTube.

During this shift, around 1990 the term ‘Digital Marketing’ first emerged. However, it was not until late 2012 when searches for the term ‘Digital Marketing’ began to surpass its more popular moniker, ‘Internet Marketing’.

In fact, during the last two decades, the term has otherwise been known by a range of other pseudonyms including ‘online marketing’ and also ‘web marketing’. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that ultimately the differences between the terms are purely semantic, and what we now call ‘digital marketing’ is a practice that is almost three decades in the making.


To better understand how digital marketing has evolved over time, we must first look back to the early days of Web 2.0 over a quarter of a century ago. The internet back then was almost unrecognisable in comparison to the web we are familiar with today. Popular platforms for digital marketing such as Facebook, Twitter and even WordPress simply didn’t exist.

The fundamental practises of SEO (search engine optimisation) during this period would now be considered highly antiquated by modern standards, as Google has shifted from a site that delivers ‘10 blue links’ to a site populated with rich multimedia content such as imagery, video, maps and customer review data.

What is Digital Marketing? Digital Marketing Defined

This is just one example that demonstrates how digital marketing is a practise that is constantly evolving and changing. Due to the lower barriers of entry, modern marketers in many ways face an uphill challenge in keeping up to date with the rapid changes in digital marketing technology.


In order to understand the term better, we need to take a look at some definitions of ‘digital marketing’ from some of the industry’s leading experts and top marketing practitioners.


“Digital Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.” (Chartered Institute of Marketing, 2015)

“Achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies.” (Smarter Insights, 2000)

“The application of the Internet and related digital technologies in conjunction with traditional communications to achieve marketing objectives.” (Chaffey, 2012)

On review of the definitions, it appears that despite the continues changes to the technology and external environment in which marketers compete, in many ways there is some consensus between practitioners on the term digital marketing from a philosophical standpoint.

It’s not that digital marketing replaces traditional marketing. Instead, it’s actually an additional set of strategies and tools to be used in conjunction with your offline marketing in order to achieve the highest chance of success.

Parallels can be drawn between the previously cited definitions in the sense that ‘digital marketing’ is therefore any activity which utilises digital technology to work towards an overarching and more general marketing strategy.

Additionally, it’s important to mention that the constant evolution of technology will therefore have a direct impact on the field of digital marketing, which will also have to adapt to incorporate the latest developments.

Amalgamating our findings into our own definition of digital marketing, utilising a synthesis of the leading approaches, we suggest the following definition for the term ‘Digital Marketing’.


“Digital Marketing is the use of digital technology and internet connected devices to achieve marketing goals. It can be used to further augment the brand experience online and can also be used to provide a low-cost delivery network for your marketing content in comparison to traditional marketing methods.”


Now that we know exactly what digital marketing is, it’s time to discuss the core benefits it brings and review exactly how the use of digital technology can be applied to your business.

Utilising a range of modern technology to support marketing efforts, digital marketing can be applied in a multitude of ways, such as;

  • Advertising method
  • Direct response or customer service tool
  • Platform for sales transactions or eCommerce
  • Lead generation method
  • Content distribution method
  • Relationship building medium


In many ways the benefits of digital marketing are clear; it creates a new medium to speak with your audience, allows your business to save in comparison to traditional marketing methods and also provides a new platform for you to extend your brand experience in unique ways.

The following three benefits were originally mentioned by Chaffey in 2005, however due to the rapid changes within the field of digital marketing, the benefits have been adjusted further to suit a modern context.

  1. Speak
  2. Save
  3. Sizzle


Get closer to your customers and further understand your audience.

Create a two-way conversation between web users & your brand through the use of advanced social media listening & customer research surveys distributed online to learn more about your audience.

Once formal understanding of your audience has been gained, your brand can now transmit messages to this audience through the use of leveraging emerging trends or ‘trendjacking’ to create context around your marketing communications.

A good example of brands using digital marketing to speak to their customers is fast food chain, Wendy’s, who recently caused controversy with a series of tweet’s deemed ‘too real for retail’.


Save costs versus the investment required on traditional marketing.

Making use of digital marketing for your business is a proven method to save money in comparison to traditional marketing communications methods which involve some recurring costs (i.e: print, postage etc).

Because digital marketing can be used as a method of content distribution, businesses can also save on customer services as savings are accrued through ‘web self-service’ in which basic customer queries & enquiries are resolved online, through your website with online content.

A good example of using content to assist with customer searching is e-Liquid retailer, Vape Club, who have managed to direct impressive volumes of traffic to their site through the use of a highly informative YouTube video – The Beginners Guide to Vaping. The video itself has amassed over 1,250,000 plays on YouTube.

Vape Club state that they were inspired to create the video through analysis of their in-site searches backed up with solid numbers provided through AdWords. Their research pointed to a content gap in the market, i.e. customer searches for vaping guides were widely underserved, creating a valuable niche to create content within.


Extend the brand experience online.

Due to the continuous advancements within digital technologies, there is the opportunity for businesses to use new technology & innovations to vastly improve the customer experience online.

Swedish furniture brand IKEA utilise the power of Oculus Rift & VR technology to revolutionise the customer experience and to bring the IKEA brand experience online in a fun & innovative way. The IKEA VR Experience allows users to create and craft the interiors designs of their dreams from the comfort of their own home.

Utilising the full IKEA catalog and available to download for free on Steam as well as on the HTC Vive, branded experiences such as IKEA VR really help to set brands apart in unique ways, through the use of digital technology.


  • Multimedia Content Marketing (Blogs, Videos, Infographics etc)
  • Maintaining a mobile-friendly, up to date Website
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Display Advertising, Adwords & PPC
  • Social Media Marketing (Organic & Paid Social)
  • Email Marketing (Direct Marketing, Sales Promotions, Newsletters)
  • Online PR (Blogger Outreach, PR Wire, Help A Reporter)
  • Direct Selling (Webinars, Online Chat)
  • Other forms of branded, interactive content (Apps, Games, Wearable Technology)