The Different Kinds of Online Marketing

We need a new doctrine – a new way of thinking, a new set of principles about how everything works together, and what we have to change strategically and operationally as marketers to take advantage of this relatively new situation. Owned media is the “unifying theory”. It exists in complete and total harmony with paid and earned media. In fact, all three approaches work best when they work together.

Owned media can include lots of different tactical approaches. It’s important to understand the very subtle, but very important differences between each approach and how they function within owned media. For instance:

Inbound marketing

This is a set of interactive marketing tactical best practices designed to deliver sales leads. It uses search engine optimization (SEO) to bring people to your content. Inbound marketers tend to be driven by research and numbers more so than content marketers and social media marketers. Inbound marketing is also beginning to use social media marketing. However, while it’s great for sales organizations, it does not really address listening and response, being able to account for so-called “soft” metrics such as preference and awareness, or audience development beyond the basics.

Content marketing

This is about content, with very little focus on the paid and earned media strategy. Close, but not broad enough. Content marketing is a single tactic: Create good stuff. You create content that makes people take interest in what you’re doing, enough interest not only to read/watch/listen, but enough interest to take further action. Maybe it’s to sign up for your newsletter, to download something from your website or even to buy something from your store. But again, the focus here is only about content, which is only half the battle in today’s media environment. Content just sits there. To build an audience, we have to get the content in front of the people we want in our audience, and we have to respond to them in real-time. Media is a two-way street. Content marketing does not really account for that.

Social Media Marketing

This is a misnomer. All media are social. Social media marketing is also a single tactic: form relationships with people, get them to trust you and steer them toward your content. You do this on Twitter by sharing good stuff. You do it on Facebook by engaging your audience, or you do it on LinkedIn by connecting with fellow industry professionals. And you try out every new tool that shows any promise, just so you don’t miss the next Facebook or Twitter. What if you never had to worry about the next new social network? When you build a social media strategy, you are constantly playing catch up. When you build an owned media strategy, focused around content and engagement on a platform-agnostic and channel-agnostic basis, the digital media world evolves around you, not the other way around.

 Digital / Interactive / Web / Online / Internet marketing

We still don’t really know what we mean when we are using these mostly interchangeable phrases. But this is how a lot of marketers still see and discuss this area of the marketing world. If it happens on the Internet, it is Internet marketing. It’s about websites, microsites and templates and banner ads and Flash and HTML5 and maybe email. There tends to be little focus on either content or audience when this is the topic of conversation – it is an afterthought, not the central focus, as it should be.