types of digital marketing

Types of Digital Marketing: Which Will Provide the Best ROI?

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As the world becomes more online based, the majority of marketing is moving into the digital realm.


is the return on investment actually worth it?



We totally could have hung that out a little longer, but the reality is that no matter which way you look at it, digital marketing has reshaped both the advertising industry and the way which brands and customers connect with one another.

But before we get to that…

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is a term that many people try to implement, without really fully understanding because the definition is so broad.

Due to the infinite size of the Internet, the possibilities that digital marketing can bring to a business, tends to bring an abundance of confusion alongside them. This is because there are so many options when it comes to the different types of digital marketing activities that are available.

So how do you determine which digital marketing approach will provide the best return on investment for your company?

Well… It depends upon your audience.

With the increase in the Internet’s popularity, came a decrease in people’s attention spans.

After all:

There are so many different companies all vying for a person’s attention at any given moment.

Which is why the first step in any marketing campaign should always be, to take the time to truly understand whom your audience is and what they want—

Not what you think they want!

Once you know this?

The next step is to create an approach where your product or service really speaks to their pain points and offers a useful solution, fast!

Because if it doesn’t, your audience will be on a search engine finding a company that can quicker than you can say Google!

What Type Of Digital Marketing Activities Are There?

Digital marketing is a broad term.

Therefore, in order to evaluate which method will be most effective for your business, it’s important you understand the benefits that each platform can bring.

types of digital marketing

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is a marketing channel that technically started back in the ‘90s.


It’s only been during the past decade that many companies have truly taken notice of the difference an optimised website can make to their business.

The methodology behind search engines is clever, concise and continues to grow – to the point where it is often able to decipher a user’s search intent before they hover over the ‘Enter’ key.

Because of this growth and ability to understand what people are looking for, SEO can truly make or break a business.


It takes time to develop and implement an SEO strategy but, when done correctly, a well-optimised site has the ability to provide both lead generation and search visibility.

As a result, it’s an area that, regardless of your business size, shouldn’t be ignored.

The only immediate downside to SEO is that it’s an ongoing process.

So if you’re looking for a campaign with instant results, this method of marketing won’t provide them.

Paid Search

Search engine platforms, such as Google and Bing, have advertising models where companies can pay to have advertisements for their products or services, displayed above organic search results.

When used correctly, this element of digital marketing can be an incredible tool for generating high-quality leads.

Because you have the ability to target search terms that are relevant to your business.

However, it can get costly.

Because you have the ability to bid on relevant terms for your industry, and paid search results are limited, it creates an incredibly competitive marketplace where costs continue to rise.

Which is why it’s best practice to use paid search alongside other marketing tools to ensure you’re not relying on one platform for lead generation.

Social Media

Social media has been a game changer for digital marketers, not just because of the advertising options with each platform (which we’ll take a look at in a minute) but because almost everybody is signed up to at least one social platform.

In the UK alone, Instagram accounts for 10% of social media minutes.

The main appeal of social media is that people are already frequenting the platforms, often multiple times per day, so you don’t have to work to get the audience online.

You just have to plan how you’re going to speak to them.

So how do you do that?

Well, each social media platform has a different user experience and as a result, creates a different atmosphere.

Because of this, each platform has developed its own style when it comes to sharing content, so whilst your brand voice needs to be consistent, it also needs to be tweaked slightly in order to fit the platform that you’re posting on.

An infamous example of how each social media platform is worded, is this:

Once you’ve sussed your tone of voice on these platforms, the possibilities for what you can achieve are innumerable.

Each platform has its own advertising model built in, which offers insights and analytics into your audience demographics.

You can also see an engagement breakdown on each post – so tracking the progress of a campaign has never been easier!

Take Facebook for example. Their platform:

  • Is advertiser-friendly
  • Offers options for adverts of all kinds, such as boosted posts or retargeting ads.
  • Has the ability to target ads based on people’s interests, location, age etc.

Or Instagram, which offers:

  • The same intuitive advertising approach as Facebook.
  • The ability to cross-promote between Instagram and Facebook.
  • The ability to add shoppable product links.

The low cost of the above platforms, and ability to choose whether you pay per click (CPC) or per impressions (CPM) make it a desirable choice for marketers, especially for those in industries such as eCommerce.

Whereas a platform such as LinkedIn, requires a completely different approach because it’s more B2B focussed.

It can still drive sales, but not in the way that Facebook or Instagram do.

This is because LinkedIn is a platform that orientates around business and employment.

So you wouldn’t necessarily sell a one-time product to somebody on LinkedIn—instead, you’d take the time to develop relationships with industry professionals and key decision makers in a particular business.

Think less “one-time shopping trip” and more “wholesale stockists.”

Co-Branding Partnerships

More and more brands are starting to partner with one another in order to reach new, already established, audiences.

It’s stated small with one-off collaborations in the fashion (H&M and Maison Margiela) and cosmetic (MAC and Rihanna) industries, but now long-term partnerships are becoming increasingly common.

Take the partnership between Apple and Nike for instance – or the collaboration between GoPro and Redbull. Neither brand competes with one another.

Instead, they focus on creating streamlined, mutually beneficial, results. For example; the Apple and Nike integration enables a customer’s fitness journey to become seamless across both products. Or in the case of Redbull and GoPro – they continue to align themselves as adventurous lifestyle brands.

You’ll even see brands paying one another!

For the past few months;

Coors Light has been sponsoring stories for National Geographic on Instagram.

This new era of collaboration has opened up new opportunities for tapping into existing markets.

Take HelloFresh for example.

Their service provides a home meal subscription service.

And inside the delivery box along with the food that the customer ordered, is an envelope containing promotions and offers from other brands and companies.

The companies inside this envelope have stuck to traditional marketing techniques such as discount codes, flyers and free gifts.


They’ve added a digital spin to it.

Because the online meal subscription service has become a trojan horse:

Helping companies to bypass the forgotten about letterbox and get hand carried straight to the kitchen!

Affiliate Links

Affiliate marketing is an incredibly useful thing to implement because the name of the game is simple:

People promote your product or service and receive a commission on successful sales conversions.

It’s a great way to drive sales because there isn’t an up-front cost investment.

Instead, affiliates make their money by sharing revenue.

The most popular industries for using affiliate marketing tend to be software, eCommerce and booking websites such as hotels or tour operators.


Businesses across all industries can benefit if affiliates are implemented correctly.

Neil Patel has put together a great resource on getting started with affiliates which you can read here.

One of the most important aspects of affiliate marketing is ensuring you have everything set up correctly.

After all:

You need to be able to track where your sales come from so you can pay the right person their commission!

One option for tracking affiliate sales is with the use of a discount code.


This tends to work better with specific campaigns, because it can become difficult to track if the volume of affiliates increases.

For larger projects?

A link-based tracking system works best, as it enables you to scale and to set up different commission structures for different products.

For example:

Amazon pays different commission rates for electronics, then they do for clothes or homeware.

But unlike Amazon, you don’t have to develop your own software!

Networks, such as CJ Affiliate or ClickBank, enable companies to set up affiliates through their platform and act as an intermediary between the advertiser and the promoter.

With the right affiliates promoting your product, the return made from affiliate marketing can be hugely profitable because almost all affiliate schemes run off commission—which means there’s no financial loss to you if your affiliates don’t make any sales. 

Referral Marketing

Similar to affiliate marketing is referral marketing.

This approach works differently than affiliates, as advocates do not receive a commission of the sale price.


Each company has its own variation of reward.

For example:

  • Uber rewards advocates and new referrals with free rides.
  • HelloFresh provides a £20 credit on their services to both the advocate and each new referral they sign up.
  • Airbnb provides a £25 discount to new referrals and also rewards the advocate with a £15 credit when new sign-ups book a stay, and a £55 credit if they host.

It works because, as we all know, word of mouth recommendations are the strongest.

With this approach, the customer acquisition cost isn’t as high, and you save on resources because your customers are doing your lead generation for you.

Digital PR

PR is word of mouth through relevant platforms and publications.

After all, when was the last time you tried something that you didn’t read up upon, or checked out reviews on, beforehand?

Managing relations between company and publication, can be a tricky thing.

However, it can be an incredible resource when it’s done right.

But Digtial PR is one of those channels where the distribution of information is usually a lot more favourable when you have a pre-existing relationship with the publication or those who work within it.


If you want to see a worthwhile return from your investment in Digital PR, it’s vital that you have (or you find a company that has) an effective outreach strategy.

The downside to PR is that it’s a tricky thing to measure in terms of return because you can’t always directly attribute value.

For example;

Sending out a press release may result in a radio interview where you’ll be unable to track click-through’s, unless it’s hosted on an online platform.

Therefore it’s incredibly important to be clear on what you’re using PR for and what you hope to achieve from it before you start your campaign.

Tracking metrics for PR include:

  • Brand mentions
  • Backlinks (Improving SEO visibility) 
  • Referral traffic

Content Marketing

Words have always been important, but now their impact stretches further than landing pages and sales sequences.


Content is being utilised in every way possible by companies, with the aim of providing entertainment, and helping their audience whilst providing ample opportunity for growth at the same time.

Examples of content types include:

  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Whitepapers
  • Ebook

Utilising these methods to create a well thought out strategy which features high-quality content, creates opportunities for rankings, reach and to demonstrate your authority on a subject.

For example;

You may create an industry-specific guide that gets sent out and linked back to by other websites.

This exposure not only creates brand awareness but can result in an increase in traffic, which leads on to an increase in conversions.

Email Marketing

Email marketing has been going strong for years now, and its heyday isn’t over yet.

Email offers a direct channel of communication to a person and by sending regular updates or offers to your customers, you can develop and nurture that relationship.

This channel isn’t always as instant as people would like it to be.

After all, individuals check their emails at different times of day and at different frequencies.

Yet even after all these years, email is still a platform that people respond positively to.

One of the most actionable steps when it comes to email, is ensuring that your drip campaigns are set up correctly.

Doing this will help you create a strategy for converting prospects, driving sales and retargeting lapsed customers

All of which can make a huge difference to the return a business receives.

Not just on sales or promotional events—but conversions in general.

So, let’s get to the nitty gritty!

What Digital Marketing Platforms Generate The Highest Return On Investment?

The truth is, is that a return on investment is still incredibly hard to nail down because long-term ROI, and short-term ROI are so profoundly different.

In addition to this, the return a business sees will depend upon a variety of factors, such as the quality of a marketing plan

After all, email may be a good platform for generating a return on investment in general, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ll see good profits.

The success of a campaign, regardless of the platform it’s on, depends upon how well it is executed.


If your emails are poorly worded, don’t have strong calls to action or are badly designed – you’re not going to get the same results as somebody who focussed on optimising those areas!

To summarise, digital marketing can be truly transformative to a business.

Its ability to tailor communications to target individual segments, and its ease of implementation, makes it favourable.

But there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to creating a digital marketing campaign that works.

So, if you want to see a generous return from your digital marketing efforts – listen to your audience, provide something of value, and then use a combination of the above approaches to create a strategy that both helps customers with their pain points, and really informs the audience of who you are as a business and what you can offer them.