The Many Forms of Marketing

Understanding the multitude of marketing strategies out there can be hard.
But never fear! We’ve broken it down for you.


According to the American Marketing Association, marketing can be defined as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Ask anyone today who’s dabbling in marketing, and each will likely give you their own unique definition, particularly depending on the form of marketing they focus on. Wait … you thought marketing was marketing? Hold on to your hats, boys and girls, this ride’s about to get bumpy.

Marketing then and now

Traditional marketing has existed for quite some time, probably since people first started selling things, and the techniques were pretty tried and true. But the technological advances of the past 30 years have accelerated things a bit—kinda like going from the horse and buggy days to warp speed on the Millennium Falcon, with no stages in between.

You can segment marketing down into dozens of categories, from more old school methods such as telemarketing and direct mail marketing, to newer strategies like mobile and viral marketing. But for our purposes today, we’ll focus on the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, as well as the subtle distinctions between interactive, digital and internet marketing.

In or Out—Which should you choose?

At its simplest, outbound marketing could be described as any marketing efforts focused on pushing a product or service on a customer, while inbound centers on efforts to earn a consumer’s interest rather than buying it.

Outbound marketing is probably what your grandparents would think of if asked to explain marketing. Its methods involved pitching products via radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, direct-mail, billboards, event sponsorships and the like. The modern take on this strategy would be mail blasts, banner ads, pay-per-click and spam.

Inbound marketing on the other hand is focused on creating a different kind of message, one that is educational, transparent and engaging, with the goal to attract consumers naturally while ultimately engaging them with your client or product. Not only does inbound come across to most people today as less confusing and deceitful, it also is way more engaging, comprehensive and educational.

Interactive, Digital & Internet—
Three unique types

We wouldn’t blame you if you thought that interactive, digital and internet marketing were one and the same. But they are actually each their own thing. Time for a break down.

Interactive marketing is akin to having a conversation—in other words, both sides should be participating. Consumers aren’t interested in being treated as a number, and this form of marketing makes an effort to acknowledge their individuality. A great example of this is the way a website will make recommendations for you based on your previous purchases.

Digital marketing takes the traditional marketing idea of push/pull, except it happens in a digital arena. For instance, the push part would entail using a method such as email or content marketing to reach out to consumers and inspire them to engage with your client or product. The pull part is when the consumer actually seeks out your company/product with a digital search and establishes a connection with you by signing up for emails or some other form of contact.

Lastly, internet marketing entails something as simple as any efforts that involve selling something via the internet to the blog posts, articles or banner ads that you utilize to drive traffic to your website.

Marketing has definitely evolved in recent decades, but the changes have not only made it more effective, but also more personalized—something consumers can’t seem to get enough of.

Measuring the Success of Marketing

Yes marketers are creatives, but today success requires more than just great art and captivating words. You need data to back it all up.

SEO rankings, inbound links, articles published, content downloads, followers and blog subscribers (aka reach), comments, retweets, Likes, shares, clicks, traffic, leads … Whew! There are a whole bunch of metrics that marketers can use to quantify their efforts. But many may not utilize this data in the most effective manner. If marketers want the C-suite folk or clients to view them as doing more than fannying about with hashtags and call to actions, they have to not only understand which metrics are right for them, but also how to reach the best conclusions with that information.

Quality, not quantity

Whether you are interested in tracking the organic growth of your web traffic, leads or opportunities or growth that stems from a more aggressive social media strategy, understanding what web traffic you generate and how that traffic turns into leads shows how your marketing efforts are impacting revenue.

Growth, when tracked over a period of time, can indicate how successful your efforts are. Content and page designs can be adjusted to not only appeal to a larger group, but also to reduce bounce rates. Using analytics in this way allows you as a marketer to demonstrate your value and prove how you have achieved your engagement goals.

Test and test again

Another way to measure your marketing success is A/B testing. This analytic effort takes into account the way that small tweaks to a title or subject line can impact perceptions and interactions from consumers. When marketers put out several slightly different versions, it provides the ability to see how effective each option is and incorporate what is learned into future campaigns.

Performing this kind of analytics can aid in determining lead generation by content, channels, initiatives or all of the above. Another plus is testing such as this offers yet another way to prove the worth of your marketing efforts and determine the value the work provides.

More than reach

Reach, as we mentioned above, comprises the total audience who is exposed to your marketing efforts. This can be Twitter followers, Facebook fans, LinkedIn followers, blog subscribers and your email or newsletter list. The immediate takeaway would be the more the merrier, right? Not so fast, friend.

The best marketing results in engagement from that reach. Let us explain. So if reach is the total number, engagement is the followers who are actually posting to your pages, sharing comments or talking about you. They aren’t passively paying attention to your client/product/brand, they are actively interacting.

In the end, for non-creative types (and heck, maybe even for them!), the rubber hits the road when all of those analytics result in revenue. The prospects and leads you generate are all well and good, but finding a way to not only translate those results into dollar signs is ultimately what will win the day.