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What is Digital Marketing? A visual summary.

Defining the scope of digital marketing using the ‘5Ds of Digital’ and the Smart Insights RACE planning framework.

My recent blog post on digital marketing trends shows the latest innovations, but here we go back to basics to define digital marketing. This is important since for some in business, particularly more traditional marketers or business owners, ‘digital’ is simplistically taken to mean ‘our website’ or ‘our Facebook page’. This thinking limits the scope and opportunity of what’s managed and it means that activities that should be managed may be missed.

The 5Ds of digital marketing

To understand the importance of digital marketing to the future of marketing in any business, it’s helpful to think about what audience interactions we need to understand and manage. Digital marketing today is about many more types of audience interaction than website or email… It involves managing and harnessing these ‘5Ds of Digital’ that I have defined in the introduction to the latest update to my Digital Marketing: Strategy, Planning and Implementation book. The 5Ds define the opportunities for consumers to interact with brands and for businesses to reach and learn from their audiences in different ways:

  1. Digital devices – audiences experience brands as they interact with business websites and mobile apps typically through a combination of connected devices including smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, TVs and gaming devices.
  2. Digital platforms – most interactions on these devices are through a browser or apps from the major platforms or services, that’s Facebook (and Instagram), Google (and YouTube), Twitter and LinkedIn.
  3. Digital media – different paid, owned and earned communications channels for reaching and engaging audiences including advertising, email and messaging, search engines and social networks.
  4. Digital data – the insight businesses collect about their audience profiles and their interactions with businesses, which now needs to be protected by law in most countries.
  5. Digital technology – the marketing technology that businesses use to create interactive experiences from websites and mobile apps to in-store kiosks and email campaigns.

Defining digital marketing

The use of the Internet and other digital media and technology to support ‘modern marketing’ has given rise to a bewildering range of labels and jargon created by both academics and professionals. It has been called digital marketing, Internet marketing, e-marketing and web marketing and these alternative terms have varied through time…

Digital Marketing is the term most frequently used today, as we can see from these digital marketing definitions, so that is the term we focus on.

Because of the recent debate about the use of the term ‘digital marketing’, we thought it would be useful to pin down exactly what digital means through a definition. Do definitions matter? We think they do, since particularly within an organization or between a business and its clients we need clarity to support the goals and activities that support Digital Transformation. As we’ll see, many of the other definitions are misleading.

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