What is digital marketing? That’s easy, right? It’s just, like, marketing, but digital—right guys?

I’ve been dreading writing this article so deeply for so many years that I can say with certainty it is the reason that I haven’t bothered to start my blog at all. If you do a google search for ‘what is digital marketing’ you’re going to fall into an endless pit of digital marketing sales pitches. Ask a salesman to tell you all about sales and you’re going to end up buying something. There really isn’t an authority on the definition of digital marketing, so to speak.

Before digital marketing existed the average person had a difficult time explaining the difference between marketing and advertising. Even the industry had a hard time defining them. The internet has only made things more complicated, but the terms still fit into a nice hierarchy, if that helps.


Figure 2a. The hierarchy of public relations, marketing and advertising


Digital marketing doesn’t change this structure in any way. But being able to visualize the structure while you’re having a conversation about digital marketing should help you a bit with terminology and scope. Perhaps you’ve heard the term digital advertising. That’s just advertising. And digital marketing, that’s just marketing. Is there such a thing as digital public relations? Well, yeah there is. The qualifier, digital, is the part we need to understand. And frankly, I wish we would use an entirely different term. Something like interactive would be better. The most accurate qualifier, though, would be information-gathering. What separates digital marketing from traditional marketing is that traditional marketing transmits information but digital marketing also collects source information from the medium. The information it collects can be analyzed in sets of data that illuminate what actions are working and with whom. And that’s it, right there folks.

What we do with that information, the information that digital marketers are collecting, that’s the stuff of genius. This massive collection of data containing insights into human patterns of behavior all over the world, this is how the human mind is being hacked. It is also what makes it possible to hone our advertising into something much more palatable for your audience. We no longer have to depend on generic messaging for the masses. We can now use data to segment our audience and hone in on messages and offerings that are just right for them. We’re at the beginning of tapping into the possibilities, as an industry, and so far it’s a literal gold mine.

Time to get moving!

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