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  • Writer's pictureJean Telelli


Updated: Mar 27, 2023


“Digital marketing” and “online marketing”. If you are a marketer, you have probably come across these two words. But you have never understood what sets them apart. If so, don’t feel bad. I too work in the industry but have never seemed to understand what makes them different. Understanding the difference between these two words will help you in planning well your marketing strategy.

In order to have a clear understanding of these two terms, let me remind you a bit about the two main marketing channels.

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Traditional Marketing

It’s the most common marketing channel. It includes printed advertisements such as brochures, newspapers, and flyers. Traditional marketing was the most used method of marketing before the growth of technology. Today, things have changed and marketing has advanced. We now have a second marketing channel- digital marketing.

Now that you remember the two main marketing channels. Let’s dive in to see what makes digital marketing and online marketing different.

Here is a brief of what we will discuss today,

  • · What is digital marketing?

  • · What is online marketing?

  • · The difference

  • · Does the difference really matter?

Digital marketing, what is it?

The term digital marketing refers to delivering marketing messages to your target audience through digital channels and devices in spite of whether it is online or offline. With digital marketing, you are not limited to using the internet to market. This makes digital marketing the parent of all the techniques using technology to deliver marketing messages.

Let me give you an example. When you do SMS campaigns. You will need the internet to create and send the SMS to your customers but your customers don’t need the internet to receive your message. This is what digital marketing is.

That’s why anything that uses digital media to market is considered digital marketing regardless of whether it uses the internet or not. Some of the digital marketing strategies include,

  • TV Ads

  • Radio Ads

  • SMS Marketing

  • Video marketing

  • Content marketing

on the other hand,

Online marketing

Also called internet marketing, is a subset of digital marketing which requires an internet connection to deliver a marketing message. Unlike its father (digital marketing), online marketing requires a user to be connected to the internet to be able to receive marketing messages.

An example of online marketing is what we see when we scroll on social media and see “sponsored ads”. We are only able to see such ads because we are connected to the internet.

Also, when you search something on google and you see PPC Ads or browse on a website and see displayed banners of offers. All these are just some examples of s online marketing. Some online marketing strategies include,

  • SEO(Search engine optimization)

  • PPC Advertising

  • Email marketing

  • YouTube Ads

  • Social media marketing

The difference

Being the father of all strategies that use digital media to deliver marketing messages, Digital marketing doesn’t require you to be online. You can still achieve your digital marketing campaigns when you are offline too. We have seen this in the SMS campaign example earlier.

Contrary to digital marketing, online marketing on the other hand will require you to be connected to the internet to receive or send marketing messages. Both of these, advances with technology. How things were done in the earlier days is now different from how things are done nowadays. New features are being developed daily to keep up with the needs and new trends.

For example, Google's display network now includes television, allowing Ads to be served on smart TVs.

Does the difference really matter?

To be honest, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you now know and understand the applications of each when planning your marketing plan.

This brings me to the most important thing when doing your marketing. Strategies. No matter how you will decide to do your marketing. You need to strategize your marketing plan well.

Include all the important actions on the plan. Who are you targeting? What do you want to tell them? How will you tell them? Are you looking for awareness or to sell?

Having these questions well answered will put you a step ahead into understanding where you need to put your money- is it digital marketing or online marketing or both.

Did you like the topic? Did you learn something? Let me know in the comment section below.

If you need help with your digital marketing campaigns, kindly contact us.

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