What on earth IS digital marketing?

Zanzi is a digital marketing agency. We’re also an online marketing agency, we help with inbound marketing, and we do content marketing.

Who knows what these mean? Well, we do… after all, they’re how we earn our bread and butter. But do you?

Many business people don’t understand these phrases, and even people working in the digital world can find them confusing. Talk to someone from a traditional advertising background for example, and they’re likely to have a different understanding of what ‘digital’ is to, say, someone who works in website design.

Why is there such a muddle?

I think there are two main reasons:

  1. This kind of marketing is still young. Just think that the invention of Google, a significant digital marketing landmark, was only 17 years ago.
  2. Internet marketing is developing quickly, and so is the language that we use to describe it. Like it or not, Google does set much of the agenda and they make over 500 changes to their search algorithm every year.

All this means there are very few firmly established phrases that have a single, precise, meaning. It all depends who you’re talking to.

And how can we get over this confusion?

For me, it comes down to thinking carefully about who you’re talking to, and figuring out their perspective on the whole thing.

For example, at Zanzi we’ve realised that a lot of the pages on our website may just be too complicated for the clients and partners we want to work with. That means senior people in well established businesses. They tend to be experts in their field who know they need to invest in marketing.

Very often they don’t really know what ’digital’, or ‘content’ or ‘inbound’ marketing is and so they don’t use those phrases. They might however know that they should be doing more or better online marketing, web-based marketing, website marketing, or SEO. And so it’s those phrases that we need to use in our own marketing.

So, what actually is digital marketing?

Searching Google for answers produces surprisingly few definitions that don’t descend into gobbledygook.

Neil Patel, a well-regarded authority in digital marketing, has a nice try, telling us that ‘digital marketing is any form of marketing products or services, which involves electronic devices‘.

The simplest definition we’ve come up with ourselves, so far, is that digital marketing is ‘using the internet to get better results for your business’. Inbound, content, integrated marketing and all the rest, are just variations on that theme.

Have you got a simple definition that you like to use? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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