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Online vs Content vs Digital Marketing – What’s the Difference?

Online, Content and Digital Marketing – What’s the Difference?

In the last decade, the terms content marketing, online marketing and digital marketing has been thrown around so often they almost sound interchangeable. This can leave people like you and I consistently questioning our version of the definition. Even the most tech savvy online marketer can be left confused by this never-ending riddle.

The lack of proper explanation has left marketing experts, management and customers asking, “What is the difference between content marketing, online marketing and digital marketing?”

To answer this question, we must look at where they came from and their “raison d’être”.

What’s Content Marketing?

When we are asking ourselves “What is content marketing?”, we are really asking ourselves, what is considered content. Content is something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts, such as an article or a video.

Many has heard the word “content marketing” dawdle around the internet for the last decade but in fact, content marketing has been around since the 16th century, back when information sheets, we know today as “newspapers”, were distributed across Europe.

As time went on, printed materials turned into radio broadcasts – turned into television shows –turned into blogs – turned into social media posts – turned into online videos – turned into podcasts.

This is the art of using storytelling and valuable information to create awareness from your target audience and lead them to take an action. By the end of the content, the goal is to have the reader, viewer or listener feel like they’ve went through a transformation.

Content marketing components

Content marketing has 2 components: creation and distribution.

Content creation is created on a platform that will allow the content owner to modify all aspects of the content to intrigue potential views, captivate an audience and encourage engagement. The content and its display must be customizable by its owner with lead generation methods uninterrupted by the limitation of a third party, such as a phonebook.

Content distribution involves the channels where the content will travel through to land in front of the eyes of its targeted audience. This could be through search queries on Google and YouTube or social network following like Facebook or Linked In.

It is clear how these two components don’t depend on technology. As mentioned earlier, content marketing rules can be applied offline. Reason being that its success relies on a fundamental interpersonal formula made to build trust between a storyteller and its spectators, a seller and its customers.

What's Online Marketing?

Online marketing, also known as internet marketing, is all form of marketing which requires internet connection to get the attention and actions from the customer.

The use of online marketing has become a common practice for business owners thanks to the popularity of the internet. As time went on and more and more people got access to the internet, new marketing strategies has been created.

•   Affiliate marketing
•   Search engine optimization
•   Display advertising
•   Social media marketing
•   Video Marketing
•   E-mail Marketing

These listed marketing strategies are all results of new technology gaining the attention of the masses. From sharing information on websites to connecting with social media friends through funny uploads. Every time new technology is available, there is always a way to capture the attention of new spectators.

Online marketing is all the online component of content marketing. Although most people associate online marketing with the content distribution Channels (SEO, SMM, advertisement), it does also incorporate content creation methods (Conversion Rate optimization, On-Page SEO, writer tone, image placement).

What makes online marketing different from content marketing is that not all online marketing methods requires a compelling story, carefully structured presentation, or proper information display. Some online marketers just need to be online, at the right place at the right time or in the way of traffic to receive the kind of attention they require.

What's Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is an umbrella term used to define any marketing strategy that relates to digital devices. Therefore including, but not limited to, online marketing, mobile marketing, SMS targeting and more.
Not all forms of digital marketing require the targeted customer to have internet connection (SMS marketing, preinstalled software, offline ads display, notification/ desktop ad display, geo targeting). Some companies use digital marketing to collect information on their customers’ interaction with their devices to determine which method would be more marketable for the individual and enhance their advertisement experience.

Digital marketing is the form of marketing out of all three that is the most affected by the constant changes of technology. It profits from the connection between the potential customer and his or her digital device whereas online marketing profits from the connection between the potential customer and the internet.

Pre-installed apps on your phone are an example of digital marketing that wouldn’t be considered online marketing since these apps didn’t require any internet connection to be presented to the user.

Does it make a difference?

The truth is, kinda. The difference is a mere technicality so don’t be surprise if you hear an online marketer use the term differently from what’s mentioned above. However, what matters is that you understand the implications of each one and choose them wisely when building your overall marketing plan.

Which leads me to my next point: plan your strategy. Regardless of what your business is, you’ll need to have a definite chef aim. The marketing strategy will depend on the result you seek. Are you looking for exposure? Do you wish to better understand your audience? Do you aim to increase sales from recurring customers? This will need to be determined before you can move forward.

Now that you know the difference between content marketing, online marketing, and digital marketing, you can now plan to implement the best strategy for you and your business.