Online marketing is a catch-all term for the collection of marketing strategies to expand your business through the internet.

There are many strategies, tools, and techniques involved with online marketing. Once you’re familiar with them, you’ll see how powerful online marketing can be in helping to drive your business forward.

Learn how online marketing works, the most popular types, and how to create an online marketing strategy to meet your business goals.

What is online marketing?

Online marketing, also known as digital marketing or internet marketing, encompasses the many ways of promoting products, services, and brands via the internet. This includes social media marketing, search engine marketing, and much more.

Depending on the business, the goal of marketing online might be to drive ecommerce sales, educate consumers about products or services, or build brand awareness.

Paid vs. organic online marketing: What’s the difference?

Digital marketing strategies can be divided into two main buckets: paid and organic.

In paid campaigns, marketers pay to put advertisements in front of their target audience. These ads might look like sponsored social media posts, bumper ads on videos (short ads shown at the beginning of videos), or Google ads (ads that show up at the top of Google search results).

Organic strategies, by contrast, involve developing content consumers stumble on or seek out. For example, a brand might share beautiful photos of its products with its social media followers. Maintaining a blog on your ecommerce site, posting entertaining videos about your product development process, and sending emails to a list of newsletter subscribers are all examples of organic tactics.

Benefits of online marketing

Online marketing has a few major advantages compared to traditional marketing:


On the internet, you can measure what users view, click, scroll, swipe, and purchase thanks to small snippets of code called cookies. Online marketers can use this to precisely measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

Some of the ways they measure this include clickthrough rates on advertisements, engagement rates on social media posts, and conversion rates, or how many visitors make purchases. Unlike most offline marketing, marketers can learn more about what works and more precisely measure their return on investment (ROI).

Targeting capabilities

Online advertising enables accurate, specific targeting by creating digital target audiences based on people’s behavior. For example, if you follow an Olympic swimmer on Instagram, Instagram would classify you as someone interested in the Olympics and swimming. When advertisers want to reach this interest profile, you will be in their audience.

You can also target specific intents, such as with search engine advertising, wherein a searcher’s intent is revealed by the way they search. For example, a business selling courses on web development could advertise on high-intent searches for “web development courses” or “learn to code online,” while avoiding informational searches like “what is web development.”


Many traditional marketing strategies, like direct mail or radio ads, require the involvement of many different people and a relatively high minimum spend of several thousand dollars. Most offline marketing strategies also require knowledge of how to produce the right marketing materials.

By contrast, online marketing strategies are more automated and self-serve with a lower cost of entry. For example, posting on social media platforms is free; all you need to do is create the visuals and write the caption copy. Even with paid digital marketing, most online advertising platforms offer campaigns for as little as $5 per day, with no minimum commitment.

Types of online marketing strategies

Explore the main types of online marketing strategies:

Social media marketing 

There are two ways to market your business on social media: paid and organic.

A paid social media marketing strategy involves running ads on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Snapchat. Each platform has its nuances, but they all have the same four main settings: budget, audience, creative, and optimization goal.

For example, an advertiser might use the following settings: spend $100 per day to reach active swimmers with an ad for better swim goggles, optimizing for as many purchases as possible.

An organic social media marketing strategy means reaching people without ads. To do this, create content engaging enough to be shared. Content can be shared by individual users through reposts or direct messages (DMs), or algorithmically shared to people’s feeds directly.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing refers to when marketers partner with influencers—individuals with their own following online—to drive results. This strategy was born out of social media marketing but is now considered a strategy of its own.

The essence of influencer marketing is to get influencers to post about your product. This usually happens on social media platforms but also on an influencer’s newsletter, podcast, or website. Influencers should be aligned with your values, believe in your mission, and be properly incentivized (through a payout, commission, or even equity).

You can connect with influencers using networking tools like Shopify Collabs to get your influencer marketing strategy off the ground.

Search engine marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) encompasses various advertising strategies used to increase traffic to your website through search engines. This typically involves using an online advertising program such as Google Ads or Bing Ads. Marketers set the type of keywords they’d like to target. These campaigns are typically charged on a cost-per-click basis, meaning advertisers only pay if their ad gets clicked. For this reason, this type is also often referred to as pay-per-click advertising, or PPC advertising.

There are many subsets of SEM ads for different businesses, including shopping ads, local search ads, and app ads.

Search engine optimization 

The goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to rank higher in the search results your target audience makes in search engines. This involves making your website and content highly relevant to your audience’s searches, optimizing your website’s technical performance, and building digital trust through reviews and backlinks.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is the practice of providing publicly available incentives for people to sell your products for you. It is similar to influencer marketing, but instead of selectively choosing influencers, you provide an open way for anyone to partner with your brand.

Affiliate marketers create a program in which other people or businesses can sign up as an affiliate of the brand, and receive a unique tracking link or discount code. When the affiliates send the brand customers via their link or code, the brand pays them a commission for their work. Shopify stores can integrate affiliate strategies into their store using an affiliate app.

Content marketing

Content marketing is complementary to the other types of online marketing. It is the practice of creating new content to inform or entertain your target audience, slowly moving them toward becoming a customer.

The best content marketing strategies consider your audience’s needs and preferences. For example, if your audience is on TikTok, create entertaining short videos showcasing your brand’s personality. If your audience is on LinkedIn, post written blog posts or downloadable content providing insight into your area of expertise.

Video marketing

Video marketing uses video to promote a brand as opposed to a website, article, or image. The first step of a video marketing strategy is to create compelling videos showcasing your brand’s message. The second step is to reach people with that video.

Some platforms like YouTube or TikTok let you reach people algorithmically, but many video marketers choose to advertise their videos as well.

Email marketing

Email marketing refers to the many different ways businesses can use email to expand their business online. This includes running an email newsletter, creating automated email sequences for moments such as when a visitor abandons their cart, or sending cold emails to prospective customers.

How to create an online marketing strategy

  1. Define your audience
  2. Identify where your audience is online
  3. Define your content
  4. Plan your budget, resources, and benchmarks

Here’s how you can start building your own online marketing strategy:

1. Define your audience

The first step in any marketing strategy, online or offline, is understanding your audience. Create a clear picture of the type of person you’d like to reach. This can include demographic, psychographic, and behavioral traits. It should also include the pain point your product helps them solve. Creating a buyer persona can be a helpful exercise in this process.

Also, define at this point what action you’re looking to drive online. For ecommerce brands, this is typically online sales, but it could also be new followers, new wholesale partners, or email signups.

2. Identify where your audience is online

What types of digital marketing channels you use will depend on where your audience hangs out online (such as what social media platforms they use) and where they go online for information or shopping.

These can be the same (some people use social media for fun and research) but are often different. If your audience uses search engines, conduct keyword research to understand what they are searching for. Both are valuable parts of an online marketing strategy.

3. Define your content

Once you know where you’ll reach your audience, define your content based on the digital channels you’re using and what your goals are. You may need to plan out your messaging on how you solve your audience’s pain point, the type of content they’ll engage with on social, or the types of questions your articles can answer.

4. Plan your budget, resources, and benchmarks

Estimate the budget needed to create the appropriate content and how you will distribute it. This budget should include advertising costs (if needed), production costs, and labor costs. This will help create the right expectations for what you need to succeed.

Set a benchmark to determine the success of your strategy. This can be a target number of sales, impressions, website visitors, or new followers. Most businesses will set goals for their online marketing on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.

Market your business with Shopify’s customer marketing tools

Shopify has everything you need to capture more leads, send email campaigns, automate key marketing moments, segment your customers, and analyze your results. Plus, it’s all free for your first 10,000 emails sent per month.

Discover Shopify’s customer marketing tools

Online marketing FAQ

What does online marketing do?

The most common goals of a digital marketing strategy are increasing online sales, building brand awareness by reaching new people, or driving brand engagements, such as likes or website visits.

How can I start online marketing?

The best way to start is by creating a plan that defines your target audience, where they spend time online, what kind of content will appeal to them, and how much you’ll spend on broadcasting content. Start with a plan ensuring you have the right tactics and resources for your online marketing efforts to pay off.

What are the three types of online marketing?

Three of the most common types of online marketing are search engine optimization (SEO), social media advertising, and search engine marketing (SEM).

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شركة النمر هي شركة متخصصة في تصميم وادارة المواقع الالكترونية والارشفة وكتابة المحتوى والتسويق الالكتروني وتقدم العديد من خدمات حلول المواقع الالكترونية والتطبيقات وهي شركة رسمية ومسجلة منذ عام 2015.

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