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What is Digital Marketing?



As Internet grows fast and businesses need to be expanded, the term “digital marketing” becomes more and more popular. Google Trends has shown a dramatic increase in the search volume for this term, while the interests in “internet marketing” decrease over time.

So is digital marketing different from internet marketing or it is just another way to call it? The answer is: yes and no. According to Alex Chris, digital marketing is a broad term that describes a set of marketing processes that encapsulate all available digital channels to promote a product or service or build a digital brand. The channels that make up digital marketing include: Web sites, Social media platforms, Banner placement, email marketing, mobile marketing, SEO, pay per click campaigns, Web TV, SMS, billboards and anything else with a digital foundation. It means that internet marketing is a subset of digital marketing and not something different. When we talk about digital marketing in essence, we mean Internet marketing plus SMS, WebTV and digital advertising. The biggest difference according to Dave Chaffey, is whether digital marketing is simply seen as about communications (online marketing) or whether it is broader, looking at underpinning marketing technologies and options for new online business and revenue model. Let’s look at Dave’s simplest definition in the book Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice:

“Digital marketing is to achieve marketing objectives through applying digital technologies and media.”

Here it includes not only online communications techniques such as search engine marketing, social media marketing, online advertising, e-mail marketing and partnership arrangements with other websites, but also the other forms of online company presences, to develop the customer relationship through E-CRM and marketing automation. However, if we look at other definitions of digital marketing, from SAS, for example:

“Digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media and differs from traditional marketing in that it involves the use of channels and methods that enable an organization to analyze marketing campaigns and understand what is working and what isn’t – typically in real time.”

Or from Wikipedia:

“Digital marketing (also known as data-driven marketing) is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.”

We can see that often there is a focus on promoting of products and services using digital media rather than a more holistic definition covering customer experiences, relationship development and stressing the importance of multichannel integration. The full scope of digital marketing, then, is defined by Smart Insights to include activities across the customer lifecycle:

  • Digital media and communications channels
  • Digital and mobile experiences such as web design and mobile apps
  • Prospect and customer relationship management through marketing automation
  • Digital strategy and integrating multichannel communications and experiences
  • Digital technologies and platforms to manage all digital marketing activities


In conclusion, do definitions matter? We think they do, since particularly within an organization or between a business and it’s clients we need clarity to support the goals and activities that support Digital Transformation. And the term Digital Marketing, to be precise, should include the managing over other forms of online company presences rather than just the communication or promotions of products and service. In other words, digital marketing is about utilizing digital technology to achieve marketing objectives. It is not something separated from marketing as a whole but still requires certain level of digital skill sets to be successful, which will be discussed later on in another article.

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