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Online Marketing

Online Marketing: Brief Summary


Online marketing is the name given to all forms of marketing that use the internet to deliver promotional content to an audience. Also known as internet marketing or digital marketing, it includes a wide range of different practices. In most cases, online marketing is intended to promote products, goods or services to consumers, but it may also be used for other strategic objectives, such as building brand awareness, establishing credibility, or increasing website traffic.

Internet-based marketing techniques grew in popularity throughout the 1990s, in line with technological developments, and today they form a key part of the marketing mix for most organisations or brands. With that being said, early forms of online marketing were widely considered to be disruptive, and many of the tactics and methods used to reach a target audience have since evolved, in order to provide consumers with a better online user experience.

Online Marketing: Detailed Summary


The concept of online marketing became mainstream in the 1990s, following the emergence of the World Wide Web and the growth in personal computer sales during the decade. However, the origins of online marketing can actually be traced back to the 1970s, when the first example of a marketing email was sent by the Digital Equipment Corporation to users of a precursor network to the internet, known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET).

By the late 1990s, online marketing was already a significant part of many business’ marketing mix and this continued into the 2000s, especially as broadband became more widely accessible. In these early years, however, online marketing largely consisted of email marketing and display advertising only. Search engine advertising began on the platform in 1998, but did not become mainstream until the early 2000s, with services like Google AdWords.

Today, online marketing includes a range of different marketing types and the term is used to describe all marketing activities that are delivered via the internet. Generally, much like with other forms of marketing, the marketer or advertiser will pay a publisher to display their advertisement or promotional material to an established audience. However, this is not the only way online marketing can take place and some forms are delivered directly to consumers.

One thing to note is that many online marketing methods are controversial, including things like spam emails and pop up advertisements. This has led to a situation where many consumers are distrustful or resentful towards certain online marketing methods and it also explains the widespread use of ad-blocking software or browser extensions.

Within the marketing profession, many have responded to this trend by attempting to make their marketing as relevant and useful as possible, so that online users find marketing helpful rather than disruptive or frustrating.

Types of Online Marketing


While there are many different types of online marketing, the following can be regarded as the main types:

  • Email Marketing – Email marketing refers to the practice of sending marketing content or messages to consumers via email. It is the oldest form of online marketing and is ideal for reaching a large number of people with the same or similar content. However, marketing emails are also easily ignored and are heavily regulated.
  • Display Advertising – Another early example of online marketing, display advertising is the use of graphical or video advertisements on websites and other online platforms. The marketer will typically create the display advertisement and pay a publisher to feature it on their website, app or social media platform. In many cases, the publisher then makes money based on the number of clicks or conversions that are generated by the ad.
  • Content Marketing – Content marketing is a type of online marketing, which is based around the idea of creating and publishing useful content that is aimed at a target audience. Content marketing may be intended to boost name recognition, promote products or services, or encourage readers to perform specific actions, and it is often tied in with search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts, which are designed to increase visibility.
  • Search Engine Marketing – Capitalising on the modern popularity of search engines like Google and Bing, search engine marketing is any form of marketing that is delivered via these services. This will include paid adverts through platforms like Google Ads, but also includes content marketing that has an SEO element.
  • Affiliate Marketing – The idea behind affiliate marketing is that the marketing business or brand rewards an affiliate – or multiple affiliates – for the results produced by their own marketing efforts. The money will usually be paid according to a cost per click or pay per sale model and affiliate marketing often relies upon affiliate networks.
  • Social Media Marketing – Social media marketing involves promoting goods, services or a brand through social networking websites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This includes creating and sharing content on these platforms, but also paid advertising too, where very specific demographics can be targeted.

Advantages and Disadvantages


One of the biggest advantages of modern online marketing is the ability to use data to produce highly targeted campaigns. In many cases, this can allow marketers to aim their marketing content at the audience that it is most relevant to, while avoiding the wasted expenditure associated with aiming content at people it will not appeal to. Best of all, much of this can also be automated, which can help to limit the need for continuous human involvement.

Using the internet for marketing tends to be more cost-effective than other methods and it also provides the potential for a global reach. On top of this, most online marketing is relatively easy to measure, allowing changes to be made if some of the key metrics indicate that a marketing campaign is producing a performance that is below par.

Arguably the single biggest disadvantage of online marketing is the potential to disrupt users. This disruption can cause people to ignore certain online marketing, and may even cause damage to a brand’s reputation. For this reason, many of the most effective marketing methods rely on identifying a clear target audience and communicating value to that audience. There also needs to be a strong focus on content being useful, informative and relevant.

There are a number of security, privacy and legal concerns associated with many online marketing methods, meaning marketers need to keep on top of legislation and take great care to avoid misusing or mishandling consumer data. Furthermore, the sheer number of brands and organisations using online marketing techniques can mean that a substantial amount of competition exists to reach the exact same demographics or the same target audience.



Online marketing methods have become an increasingly important part of the marketing mix since the concept first became truly mainstream in the 1990s and early 2000s. Today, most organisations and brands engage in some degree of online marketing, whether it is email marketing, display marketing, content marketing, search engine marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, or a combination of these different approaches.

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