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Digital marketing for dummies (Learn digital marketing in 5 minutes)

    This article is a guide to digital marketing, and it covers various topics, such as

    • What is marketing?
    • Why marketing is required?
    • Marketing strategies
    • What is digital marketing?
    • Marketing fundamentals
    • Why digital marketing?
    • Types of digital marketing
    • Traditional vs digital marketing

    World’s first digital marketing

    On 25th April 1874, an Irish mother gave birth to a baby boy in Bologna, Italy. His Italian father sent him to a technical school in Leghorn. The boy turned out to be very intelligent and demonstrated extraordinary skills. By the age of 20, this young man got interested in the works of Heinrich Hertz, who had discovered and first produced radio waves in 1888. This young boy was fascinated by the idea that using electromagnetic waves it would be possible to have communication without running wires. In 1895, this young man started conducting experiments on transmitting signals over a distance of one and a half miles at his father’s home in Pontecchio. After initial success, he set out to England in 1896 to seek a patent for his apparatus. The patent office granted him a patent for this ingenious technology. He demonstrated that his system was capable of transmitting radio signals across the Bristol Channel. Soon after that, he established the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company Limited, which was later renamed Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company Limited in 1900. This genius guy was none other than radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi.

    Wait a minute! I thought the article was on digital marketing. Where does Marconi come here? Well hang on for a minute and it will be clear what Marconi has to do with digital marketing!

    Guglielmo Marconi.

    It took another ten years for the radio to reach the general public. On 13th January 1910, the first public radio broadcast was done from a live opera performance at the Metropolitan Opera House where several famous opera singers performed live. Can you guess what resulted from this experimental radio transmission? People became crazy, and they went and purchased show tickets for the Opera. This was the first time technology-driven marketing was carried out successfully. Thus, Marconi’s creation was the first technology-driven marketing in history.

    Later, radio became very popular and so became radio advertisements. In 1927, television was invented and with time it continued to dominate prime time marketing. Later in the 2000s, the internet became popular and so people started marketing on the internet. Today, digital marketing is a very popular term that is often linked with marketing on the internet.

    Fundamentals of Marketing

    What is marketing?

    In simple words, marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services to customers.

    Why marketing is required?

    Once upon a time, there were two friends, Govind and Kartik, who used to collect the Apple Ber (Jujube fruit) from the forest and sell it in a small town in Gujarat. Every morning, both the friends would go to the forest and would apple bers from trees, fill their baskets with the bers and then go to the town for selling them. By the end of the day, Govind would have sold all the bers while Kartik would have hardly made any sales. Both of them would collect bers from the same trees and both their bers were equally tasty. Yet Govind would manage to sell all of them while Kartik would struggle to sell his bers.  Out of frustration, Kartik asked his friend, “How can you sell all your bers, while I can’t even sell half of them? What technique are you using for your sales?” Govind smiled and asked, “How do you tell your potential customers about your bers?” Kartik was a bit puzzled and said, “I don’t. I just walk with the ber basket on my head from one street to another until someone sees me and asks for bers. Govind laughed and said, “My friend I move across the streets shouting, ‘Sweet Ripe Bers! Come and have them before the stock is finished!’”

    This simple story depicts why marketing is really important. You may have an excellent product for sales, but as long as you don’t do its marketing how will people come to know about your product. In the context of the above example, there is a saying in the Gujarati language, which says,

    “Bole ena Bor vehchay”

    Gujarati Proverb (The one who speaks sells his bers)

    Marketing strategies

    There are two models of marketing:

    Product driven model:

    The product comes first. In this traditional model, businesses build a product and then resort to the marketing of that product. However, a major drawback of this model is that there is no clear idea about what the customer wants and how the product will satisfy the need of the customers. Many entrepreneurs spend days and years perfecting their ideal product without even analysing whether the potential customer needs the product or what features will benefit the customers.

    Market-driven model:

    Good marketers resort to marketing their product even before the actual product is made. This way they come to know about the need for the product, they understand what the customer is looking for, what features of the product will attract customers and what will be the overall demand of the product. If there is no demand for the product, then there is no point in wasting hours and days perfecting the product.

    For example, consider the case of famous Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas. She is a renowned actress and has a huge fan following in India and the US. When she wanted to write her book on memoirs, she announced she will write her memoir in the year 2018. Three years later, on 9th February 2021, her book titled “Unfinished” was released.

    Additionally, this model has added benefit that once the product is ready, there is already a need for this product and this can result in immediate sales.

    Good businesses run on a great product. Great businesses run on a great product and an excellent marketing strategy.

    That doesn’t mean that you can market an inferior product. Marketing will aid in the sales of your product. But for sustaining the sales, you need to have an excellent product first. Marketing helps you not just sell the product, but also have a good perception of the product. Consider the case of Apple phones. Good marketing strategies can boost the initial sales of iPhones, but if the Iphones themselves were not a great product, then people would never buy them.

    “It’s not what you sell that matters as much as how you sell it!”

    Brian Halligan, CEO & Co-Founder, HubSpot

    Branding and Market positioning

    If I ask you who was the first man to land on the moon? You probably know the answer. But if I ask you who is the second person to land on the moon? You probably will not know the answer, because we only remember the number one. So if one has to succeed in marketing and business, then one must position their brand to be the number 1 brand. In fact, I would say,

    “Don’t be the no.1, be the only one.”

    Now I know, you will say, this sounds good in textbooks but not practically. There is always going to be competition and standing out in the competition is always hard, if not impossible. But you can always stand out from the competition for a particular niche. For example, both BMW and Volvo sell super luxurious cars. But both stand out in different niches. BMW is known for their stylish and performance-oriented cars, while Volvo is known for its safety features. Standing out in a niche gives you the desired monopoly in that niche. You need to carefully look out for unexplored niches, where there is still less or no competition. For example, though people have landed on the moon, still no lady has landed on the moon and so the first lady to land on the moon will create a history.

    What is Digital Marketing?

    Digital marketing, or online marketing, is the marketing or promotion of brands to connect with potential customers using the internet and other forms of digital communication. These include email, social media, web-based advertising, text and multimedia messages, etc.

    In the last century, newspapers, radio, and television had dominated marketing platforms. But today things have changed drastically.

    People prefer to read news through Google News or news based applications such as Inshorts.

    People prefer to listen to music through add free apps such as Spotify, Prime Music or Gaana over conventional FM radio.

    People prefer to watch online entertainment on OTT platforms such as Netflix, Prime Video or Hotstar over conventional TV broadcasts.

    With this changing scenario, marketing has also changed. Today, most companies are running their promotions in some form or other using digital marketing. There is certainly no doubt that digital marketing has huge potential for growth in the future.

    Why Digital Marketing?

    Digital marketing offers some unique advantages over conventional marketing. For example, when a mobile company telecasts its advertisement on television, it is shown to a very broad public. Most of the people who watch this mobile advertisement are not even planning on purchasing a new mobile and so the conversion ratio is very poor. On the other hand, the beauty of digital marketing is that it will show the advertisements only to those customers who are actively looking to purchase a new mobile. Also, it will only show the advertisements which are very relevant to the person’s budget and expectations. There are many ways in which this becomes possible, but the easiest example is that when a person types “Best smartphones under 10000” in Google, Google comes to know that not only is the person interested in purchasing a mobile, but he or she is looking for a smartphone with a budget of under 10000. This way Google’s algorithm will then display advertisements of smartphones with a budget range of about 10000. Many of us have observed that when we search for a particular term in Google, then we keep on seeing the advertisements of the related products not only on Google but also on our social media platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram. The whole idea of running a digital marketing campaign is that it will show advertisements only to the relevant customers, which will increase the conversion ratio of advertisements and increase sales. Also, the customers get to see the products only which interests them and that way it is a win-win situation for both customers and marketers. For example, if a person with a budget of 10000 sees an advertisement for a smartphone with a price of 50000 then he or she will not buy such product and so it is a loss to both the marketer in terms of advertisement cost and to the customer in terms of his time and attention.

    Types of Digital Marketing

    There are many forms of digital marketing. Broadly speaking there are seven major categories:

    Search engine optimization (SEO)

    Search Engine Optimization is the process of taking steps to help a website or piece of content rank higher in Google search results. The key difference between SEO and paid advertising is that SEO is “organic” ranking, that is you don’t pay to be in that space. For example, when you type “Best restaurant in Mumbai”, there is a list of restaurants that will appear on the Google page. The topmost search result is the website, which has done SEO to rank on top of the search results.

    Pay Per Click (PPC)

    SEO is a long term ongoing process. But if you want instant results? What if you want to rank your website on top of Google search results without having to wait for Google’s algorithm to rank your website on the top? Well, the answer is to pay for it. PPC is a paid counterpart of SEO. It is known as Pay Per Click because you only pay when a customer clicks on your website.

    Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

    SEM or Search Engine Marketing is a mixture of SEO and Pay Per Click (PPC). SEM involves bringing in traffic to your website using SEO (unpaid) and PPC (paid).

    Social Media Marketing

    Social media marketing is the process of marketing using social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin. Facebook advertisements are very popular because of their low cost and wide reach. This can include several forms, such as a social media post, a story or a reel.

    Content Marketing

    Content marketing is a unique form of indirect advertising. For example, you are having a hair fall problem and you are looking for solutions to hair fall. You come across a website or blog, where there is a detailed article regarding different techniques for dealing with hair fall. One technique describes the use of hair oil from a particular company. This form of advertising through content creation is called Content Marketing.

    “Content marketing is really like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.”

    David Beebe, Founder & CEO, Storified Hospitality Group

    Email Marketing

    Email marketing is one of the most popular forms of direct advertising, where the marketer sends information about the products and services through emails. Email marketing is great for reaching customers through newsletters and interacting with them after purchases.

    Influencer Marketing

    Influencer marketing is not new. Using celebrities and eminent personalities as brand ambassadors has been popular for several decades. The only difference now is that these celebrities or influencers now use digital means for endorsing the products such as a social media post or story.

    Affiliate Marketing

    Affiliate marketing is a mixture of influencer marketing and content marketing. Here, the affiliate drives traffic / encourages the purchase of products or services through various online sources such as YouTube videos, blogs and social media posts. In return, these affiliates get some percentage of money earned through sales. The key difference between Influencer marketing and affiliate marketing is that, unlike the influencers, affiliate marketing can be common persons who might not have a very huge fan base.

    If you are still not clear about the different forms of digital marketing, then visit the “On a lighter note” section at the end of this page.

    Traditional Vs Digital marketing

    If digital marketing is so powerful, then does it mean that it will completely take over traditional marketing? Well, the answer is yes and no both, because it depends on the product and the context.

    For example, if the product is very generic or if the company wants to create brand awareness, then it will run traditional marketing to reach out to more people and to position itself as a market leader. For example, Samsung may still run its advertisements on television broadcasts to create brand awareness for Samsung. Later, Samsung mobile retailers may use digital marketing to reach out to potential customers who are looking to buy mobile phones using digital marketing.

    So traditional and digital marketing are both going to prevail, and a smart marketer will use them to supplement and complement their offerings.


    • Marketing is essential for selling any product.
    • There can be a product-driven model or a market-driven model of marketing.
    • Branding and market positioning are very important.
    • Don’t be the no.1, be the only one by selecting the proper niche.
    • Digital marketing is an emerging field with a huge potential to grow.
    • Broadly, there are seven different types of digital marketing–SEO, PPC, SEM, Social media marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing and affiliate marketing.
    • Both traditional and digital marketing are going to stay as both have their merits and demerits.

    On a lighter note

    Let me explain to you different types of digital marketing through an example. Let’s say you see a beautiful woman and desire to marry her. Here is how different types of digital marketing scenarios work in this condition.

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    The girl searches for the most eligible bachelor in Google and your name comes on top of the list in organic rankings. This is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing!

    Pay Per Click (PPC)

    The girl searches for the most eligible bachelor in Google and your name comes on top of the page because you have paid more to show up on the top of the page. The girl clicks on your profile page and you pay for this click. This is Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing!

    Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

    The girl searches for the most eligible bachelor in Google and your name comes on top of the page in the organic listing as well as sponsored category. This is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)!

    Social Media Marketing

    The girl is scrolling through her Facebook and sees the advertisement for your profile. This is Social Media Marketing!

    Content Marketing

    The girl is reading through an article written by you on “Why a girl should marry?”. In the middle of the article, there is a recommendation to marry you. This is Content marketing!

    Email Marketing

    The girl receives an email from you describing why you are the most eligible bachelor and why she should marry you. This is Email marketing!

    Influencer Marketing

    The girl is a big fan of Film star Shahrukh Khan and he recommends marrying you on his Instagram post. This is influencer marketing!

    Affiliate Marketing

    The girl is looking for an article on marriage and lands on your friend’s website. The article is on the benefits of marriage and at the end of the article, there is a link to your profile. The girl discovers you through your friend’s website and you, in turn, pay him a commission for this. This is affiliate marketing!