Digital Marketing: What It Is and How to Get Started

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

The internet has revolutionised marketing. Find out how you can leverage digital marketing to launch your career.

[Featured image] Man and woman working on marketing plan at computer

Digital marketing, or online marketing, is a form of advertising that uses the internet and digital technologies to connect with customers. Digital marketing seeks to accomplish the same thing as traditional marketing except by leveraging computers, smartphones, and other digital devices rather than traditional media, such as print, radio, or television. 

Read on to learn more about digital marketing, its methodologies, and what a career in digital marketing requires.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is a form of marketing that leverages the internet and digital technologies, such as computers and smartphones, to connect with customers. As with other forms of marketing, its purpose is to increase brand awareness, drive sales, and promote goods and services. 

Over the past two decades, the exponential increase in internet users has led to a similar rise in digital marketing efforts. Approximately 64 per cent of the global population is online today [1]. A study from April 2023 illustrates the pervasiveness of digital technology in the world with the following figures:

  • Active Internet users: 5.15 billion 

  • Active mobile internet users: 4.32 billion 

  • Active social media users: 4.8 billion

As a result, advertisers have increasingly devoted more and more of their budget to digital marketing year after year. According to IDC’s India Digital Transformation (DX) 2022 Survey, three-quarters of all Indian organisations surveyed planned to increase their digital use allocated digital spending [2]. With this in mind, digital marketing will likely continue to be a growing field with an increasing impact in several sectors within India’s digital economy. 

Data also plays a big part in digital marketing. In addition to collecting valuable information by tracking a customer’s journey in real time, data also allows marketers to target specific audiences by tailoring content to their preferred digital channels. For example, Nestle India has been known to use data collected from their sales to identify seasonal trends and identify which regions have the highest sales [3].

5 types of digital marketing examples (with examples)

Digital marketers connect with potential customers through several different channels. The following digital marketing tactics, used by small companies and big businesses alike, remain amongst the most popular and impactful used today.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a technique that seeks to improve the ranking of online material on search engines, such as Google or Bing. If you have searched for something on Google, you’ve likely noticed that even the simplest search can yield millions of results. Yet, you probably rarely go past the first few suggestions, let alone the next page. 

In such a highly crowded space, digital marketers use SEO to ensure potential customers find their products or services online. Some common ways to go about SEO include:

  • Creating quality content that meets searcher intent

  • Using keywords to help search engines identify relevant material

  • Using long-tail keywords (specific phrases that searchers use) to help content reach its target audience

  • Ensuring that content loads quickly and is compatible with mobile devices 

Data drives SEO marketing

In SEO marketing, you'll monitor data, such as the bounce rate or clickthrough rate, to measure how well a blog, product page, or social media post is doing. You'll need to become familiar with tools like SEMRush and Google Analytics and business intelligence tools like Tableau and Looker to generate and analyze data from your organization.


Read more: What Is SEO Marketing? + How to Improve Your SEO

Content marketing

Content marketing is an approach that connects with a target audience by creating original content. Rather than being concerned with making sales, content marketing typically seeks to raise brand awareness through material that appeals to a particular audience.

Content marketing can use either digital or traditional media, but it is most often used today as a form of online marketing. This online content is often used for inbound marketing, effectively drawing audiences in with enticing content that piques their interest and raises overall brand awareness.  

Content marketing can take many forms across a range of digital media channels, including:

  • Informative articles and blogs 

  • Original videos

  • Podcasts

Email marketing

As the name suggests, email marketing uses email to reach customers. To do it, marketers send timely emails to large groups of people who have signed up for their contact list to advertise sales, discounts, and new products or services. Many email marketing agencies, such as Octane, exist in India to help companies connect with their, Mail Marketer, and MailGet Bolt.

Some common examples of emailing marketing include:

  • Timed emails that raise brand awareness during holiday seasons 

  • Blast emails that inform recipients about upcoming sales events 

  • Targeted emails that send personalised offers and messages to specific groups on an email list 

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a digital marketing model that involves an advertiser paying a publisher each time their ads are clicked. Typically, the publisher is a website owner, search engine operator, or social network platform like Facebook or Instagram.

Typical examples of PPC advertising include:

  • Banner ads that flank web content on the sides or top of the page 

  • Social media ads that appear in the feeds of targeted audiences 

  • Ads that appear when a specific keyword is searched on a search engine, such as Google

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is a form of digital marketing that uses social networks, such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, to reach customers. A core feature of modern digital marketing, social media marketing leverages the reach of social network platforms with data-driven efforts to reach targeted consumers. 

The active user size of social media platforms makes them particularly enticing to marketers. One study published in January 2022 quantified the number of active social network users in the billions [4]:

  • Facebook: 2.958 billion active users

  • YouTube: 2.514 billion active users

  • WhatsApp: 2 billion active users

  • Instagram: 2 billion active users

Whether through computers, mobile devices, or mobile apps, social media offers the opportunity to reach a wide—and targeted—audience of possible consumers. 

Examples of social media marketing include:

  • An engaging video posted on social media by British Airways about their UK-based cabin crew flying into India for the first time whilst promoting a three-day offer on flights between the UK and India.

  • Pictures posted on Instagram that reflect a brand’s identity, such as Sabyasachi’s fashion-filled Instagram account.

Digital marketing salary and job outlook

In addition to increasing marketers’ budgets, it also offers the opportunity to reach billions of people using the Internet today. As a result, the value of India's digital marketing sector should exceed $19 billion USD within the next five years [5].

Glassdoor estimates that the average monthly salary for a digital marketer in India is ₹60,000 as of August 2023 [6]. Digital marketing managers in India annually earn about ₹7,55,000 [7].

How to become a digital marketer

Digital marketers generally need a firm grasp of marketing, business, communications, and digital technologies. Many employers prefer candidates with a qualification in either business or marketing, though a degree isn’t always necessary if you have the right skills. It may also be helpful for candidates to have done an internship or relevant apprenticeship.  

In addition to possessing the proper credentials, you must create a portfolio demonstrating your digital marketing abilities. Some of the skills you should showcase in your portfolio include the following:


  • Marketing

  • Communication 

  • Collaboration

  • Creativity

  • Decision making

  • Data analysis

Next steps: How can I start digital marketing?

A career in digital marketing is possible with the proper preparation, training, and approach. Start building the marketing skills companies seek with the Google Digital Marketing & E-commerce Professional Certificate on Coursera. Learn techniques in digital marketing, such as how to engage customers, analyse company data, grow brand loyalty, and find your first entry-level position.

Article sources


Statista. “Global Digital Population as of January 2021,” Accessed August 14, 2023.

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