Marketing yourself online these days, either individually or as a business, is critical to success. In this day and age of digital communication however, it’s often common to see so many acronyms and short forms evolve almost on a daily basis. When it comes to the types of digital marketing options available, we’re faced with the same challenge. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep the who’s who and what’s what straight!

The Alphabet Soup Demystified

When you are communicating online, it’s hard to keep track of tech-talk – especially if you’re new to the world of digital marketing. When someone texts you about SMM – are they talking Super Mario Maker (Nintendo video game), or do they mean Social Media Marketing? And if you are into sales, does SMM mean Sales and Marketing Management?


When building your online marketing strategy however, context is everything. The “A”s and the “B”s in various acronyms could mean different things, depending on the digital marketing context you are talking about. So, lets try and demystify this alphabet soup for you in the context of some of the types of digital marketing options available.

Back to the Basics

For the novice, wishing to make an informed decision about internet marketing strategies, at a very basic level, digital marketing isn’t about the marketing of digital goods and services (although it very well could be!). Rather, it is the use of digital technologies and strategies to facilitate any type of marketing activity. The results that you are aiming for will of course depend upon:

  • The type of products and services you wish to market (while Tanks and submarines aren’t particularly suited for mas digital marketing, Electronic items, Runners and Yoga Pants certainly are!)
  • Whom you want to reach out to (your target audience)
  • How that audience uses digital technologies today (cellphones, laptops, desktops)
  • The time horizon over which you expect to achieve results (1 week, a year)
  • The extent of your marketing budget (some types of digital marketing are cheap, others are expensive)

The types of online marketing strategies that you employ in your marketing campaign will then depend upon these major constraints.

In order to understand which digital tools you should deploy, as part of your marketing strategy, it’s important that you understand what types of digital marketing approaches are available out there, so you can match strategy with tools appropriately. And that’s where most novice digital marketeers (and some veterans too!) step on a minefield of acronyms and abbreviations.

In the following section, we’ll demystify that alphabet soup for you, so you can hopefully understand what types of online marketing options are available to you, and which ones will best meet the objectives you’ve set out for your marketing efforts. As you go through each of these digital marketing options however, you should always keep in mind the various constraints we outlined earlier. They will be your guiding principles in choosing one (or a combination) over the other types of digital marketing.

Digital Marketing Types

Generally speaking, there are a handful of abbreviations for digital marketing that you should be aware of. Out of those few core approaches, digital marketing professionals create various other types of hybrid digital marketing strategies. When you are talking to, or negotiating with, digital marketing service providers, it is important for you to understand “digital marketing speak”, so you can make informed decisions. For instance, these days you hear a lot about things that go “viral”. Well, there now is a specialized digital marketing strategy, which uses various types of digital marketing alternates, which revolve around making things “go viral”. It’s a strategy known as Viral Marketing, and it uses a hybrid of several online marketing approaches. We’ll cover some of them in greater detail shortly.

Your Choices – What’s on The Menu?

So, without further ado, lets do a deep dive into the various forms of digital marketing. Be warned though – you’ll be exposed to many acronyms and abbreviations.

But don’t worry – we’ll break it all down for you:


In the old days, you’d base your marketing strategies upon surveys or polls conducted through third-parties. Many online marketers still do that, but now there’s a better way. They use social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to take their message directly to the client.

Social Media Marketing (SSM) if one of the types of digital marketing that’s rapidly being used by large companies and small start-ups alike. It’s growing popularity is partly due to the fact that it puts businesses directly in touch with consumers. But the other reason that SSM is gaining in popularity is because of cost. Its low cost means many more businesses can adopt it and unleash the power of their social networking platforms to market themselves.


To understand SEO, just think of your browser’s home page. As soon as you go to MSN.Com or Google’s home page, you’re flooded with popular or trending news stories or items of interest. Well, SEO aims to do just that: It takes your message to various search engine result pages (SERPs) and displays it prominently, ahead of your competitors, so surfers and would-be customers get to view them quickly.

The science of SEO is complex, and based on algorithms (called Bots, Crawlers and Spiders) and processes that parse the contents of websites and social media platforms, to rank and rate them for relevance. These types of digital marketing approaches therefore depend on making sure your content includes a lot of “food” – called Keywords, Tags, and Meta Data - for search engine Crawlers and Bots. If the hungry algorithms are satisfied with your content, they’ll rank your online presence higher up in search engine queries – which is a great marketing opportunity!


Remember we talked about “hybrids” earlier? Well, one of the types of digital marketing hybrids is called content marketing. This strategy depends on high-quality, SEO-rich content, that you then serve across a number of online platforms – including websites, social media sites, Blogs and other digital presences.

With good content in hand, CM-specialists then use different destinations, including those owned by you as well as owned and operated by others, to host that content. Some of this content goes to paid destinations, while others are hosted/posted in reciprocal arrangements (you post mine, I’ll host yours!). The result: Well-created content, widely distributed and marketed, casts a wide net and creates a continuous pipeline of potential clients.


We talked a little bit about VM earlier. Essentially, it is the art (some call it a science!) of taking some digital content, and marketing it in a way that it becomes the “talk of the digital world!”. Content could be a funny video, a thoughtful photograph, a passionate essay, or a mind-blowing piece of animation. It doesn’t matter what your content is created from, as long as it stirs a lot of online interest.

Next, VM uses various types of digital marketing strategies to push out that viral message, and link it to your brand or message. That could be done on YouTube, through Twitter, on your Facebook page, or through Instagram or Pinterest. With your message attached to that content, the more people like what they see, the more they share it with their own network of contacts, and the more viral it gets. VM is really that simple (and effective)!


Unlike SEO-enabled links, which rise to the top of any SERP because of their popularity and relevance to the searchers’ query, PPC marketing actually pays search engines to display your links or advertisements in prominent places on their pages.

If you are rolling out a short-term promotion of your goods and services, sponsored links and paid advertisements are a great way to be “up front, and top and center” on SERPs. Once that period is over, and you stop paying for your PPC campaign, your content will no longer appear “in your face” of searchers and casual surfers.

The duration of your marketing blitz, and the extent of your budget will dictate whether PPC is for you.


To understand what Affiliate Marketing is, all you need to do is walk into any local franchise of a popular brand (Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire) and see how it works. AM is similar (though not identical!). These types of digital marketing strategies identify a host of “affiliate” platforms – websites, social media networks, Blogs – and recruit them to spread the word about what you are offering.

In effect, what you are doing is tapping into the popularity of your “affiliates”, so that you can convert some of their clients (or website traffic) into your own clients. There is an up-side and a down-side to AM. Firstly, you need to be diligent about selecting the proper affiliates, because if they aren’t honest and credible operators themselves, your brand could be irreparably harmed.

Also, AM means you have to split your revenue with your affiliates. The more prospects your affiliates convert into paid sales, the less revenue you get to keep.

However, the up-side to marketing through affiliates makes it one of the more popular types of digital marketing strategies around. Firstly, you don’t have to spend much of your own time, effort and money on marketing (although it is advisable that you continue to do so!). In the hope of increasing their own revenues, your affiliates will invest time and capital in marketing activities on your behalf.

In addition, since they have already built sizeable followings, you have a captive audience to target the marketing of your goods and services towards. And that’s a key advantage of using someone else’s contact list to sell yourself!


One of the “indirect” types of digital marketing that’s gaining traction today, is called Influencer Marketing. Like affiliate marketing discussed earlier, IM is a marketing strategy that relies upon the popularity of others, to market your own products and services.

Here’s how it works:

You search and find individuals, groups or businesses that are well-respected within your niche. Then, you enter into an arrangement with them, whereby they promote and endorse your business, brand or marketing message.

Remember, because of the “authority” they hold within the niche, people they reach out to are more likely to get “influenced” and get converted when they hear your message. As an indirect marketing tool, AM often uses celebrities or other individuals (groups or entities) to influence prospective buyers to become paying clients. As in the case of affiliates however, credibility is of utmost importance!


As alluded to earlier, some types of digital marketing strategies involve multiple strategies rolled into a single approach. Online marketing is one such hybrid marketing tool that involves a broad array of internet marketing initiatives.

Just as individuals in the old days marketed themselves using the Yellow Pages, Newspaper advertisements, door-to-door Flyer deliveries, Classified ads in community newspapers, Television spots – so too online marketing uses a myriad of digital marketing strategies to get the message out.

Web Marketing - Online Marketing

From marketing on specialized websites, to listings on niche online directories, to getting paid and reciprocal links from/to other online platforms from/to your website, this type of strategy takes a shotgun approach to marketing. You could write Guest Posts to promote yourself; buy paid links on search engines; write and publish content on niche sites, or launch a Press Release every time you roll out a new product or service, or have something newsworthy to report.

And there…now you know Who’s Who, and What’s What about digital marketing. As you can see, the types of digital marketing strategies are as broad and diverse as the products and services you are trying to market. Some of them can be launched on your own, others might need professional inputs. And still others need partners (affiliates) to pull them off successfully.

Happy Marketing!

And now, for the BIG questions:

  • Are some of these better than others?
  • Should you avoid some and embrace others?
  • Which one is the best for you?

Unfortunately, the best answer to all of these questions is a rather vague (and politically correct!): It depends!

When it comes to online marketing, there’s no one-size fits all approach. Which types of digital marketing strategies you adopt will depend on many factors, including on your marketing objectives. While PPC might work for your competitor, your business may be better suited for SMM. To choose which one is ideal for you, go “Back to the Basics” above, and review the five constraints we provided. Keep those in mind when deciding what types of digital marketing you should adopt. And happy marketing to you all!