Online marketing includes all marketing measures that are realized online. Online marketing is also known as digital marketing. It can be used to increase sales, traffic or reach. Important sub-disciplines in online marketing are social media marketing, search engine marketing, affiliate marketing, email marketing and referral marketing. If online marketing measures are predominantly controlled via success KPIs, this is also referred to as performance marketing.


Online marketing emerged with the spread of the commercial internet. Different forms of marketing have always adapted themselves to the respective medium. At the same time, new forms of online marketing have emerged with new online channels such as social media. The developments in online marketing can be roughly classified with the terms Web1.0 and Web2.0. With Web 1.0, newsletter marketing and search engine marketing developed, while in the course of the expansion of Web 2.0, social media marketing or blog marketing emerged. Today, the subtypes content marketing or referral marketing play an important role. In the field of advertising booking automation, programmatic marketing has become an important factor with the help of big data and machine learning.

Advantages of online marketing[edit]

Compared to classic advertising in TV, radio or print, online marketing has the advantage that successes can usually be better scaled, and campaigns can be analyzed very precisely. The ever larger data sets generated with the help of web analysis tools enable increasingly accurate conclusions to be drawn about user behavior. Whether online marketing as a whole is actually always cheaper than print or TV advertising depends on the scope of the respective campaigns. Online forms of advertising also have the potential to have a viral effect. This means that a high reach or turnover can be achieved with a low financial and material outlay. Reach is another advantage of online advertising over traditional marketing. A website alone can potentially reach customers all over the world if it is optimized and designed accordingly. An advertising spot on TV or a print ad in a magazine or newspaper does not achieve this reach.

Forms of online marketing[edit]

There are various forms of online marketing that do not always have to be carried out alone. The individual sub-areas often complement each other.

Social Media Marketing[edit]

Social media marketing involves the use of social networks such as Facebook, YouTube or Twitter to raise the profile of a company or product. The aim of social media marketing is also to increase the reach of information about a company. Social media marketing is therefore often used in the context of content marketing. Social media channels can also be used specifically for customer relationship management as part of marketing measures. In addition to the organic coverage structure, advertising customers can also advertise individual postings in social networks in order to better reach certain target groups.

Search engine marketing[edit]

Search engine marketing comprises all marketing measures relating to search engines with the aim of achieving the highest possible ranking. A distinction is made between paid search engine advertising (SEA) and organic search engine optimization (SEO).

For search engine advertising, a separate area marked as advertising is available in the search results. In addition to the organic search results, these advertisements are also subject to an internal ranking, with the main difference that they are subject to a fee (paid search results). With search engine optimization, there are many different possible measures to optimize a website to improve its rankings.

Email Marketing[edit]

E-mail marketing includes all contact with existing business customers and potential new customers by e-mail. Sending newsletters regularly can help bind customers to the company. Similarly, individual mailings can remind customers of special actions or company news. Further advantages of this email marketing include low costs and a quick transfer of information.

Long-term goals of email marketing can include the expansion of market shares, image maintenance, customer loyalty and increase in sales.

As receiving too many advertising emails can be annoying for customers, a good design combined with useful information with discreet advertising can give a newsletter a less intrusive effect.

Affiliate Marketing[edit]

Affiliate Marketing describes a partner program in which a cooperation between merchant and publisher is established. The external website is used for the company's own advertising purposes by integrating banners or links to the online shop. Depending on the agreement between the business partners, the website operator receives a commission for the mediation of interested parties. The commission depends either on the period of the switched advertisement, the acquisition of new customers, or the order entrance. Affiliate marketing is a cost-effective alternative to comparatively expensive banner marketing.


Banners can be graphics in different formats and in different designs. These are displayed on websites, search engines or Internet portals as advertising material. These are linked in such a way that the potential customer is directed to the desired Internet presence of the advertising company by clicking on the advertising space. The goals of display marketing are reach and market penetration. However, this form of advertising is attributed the greatest wastage in the context of online marketing measures, which is why banner advertising is usually only a component of complete advertising campaigns. In order to increase success with this form of advertising, banner advertising is usually used in retargeting.

Content Marketing[edit]

In the 2010s, content marketing established itself as a permanent fixture in the online marketing mix. The aim of this form of marketing is to make a brand or product better known by distributing high-quality content in image, text or video form. Content marketing is usually not aggressive and has an indirect effect. Content marketing is closely connected with storytelling.

Referral Marketing[edit]

Referral marketing transfers the principle of recommendation marketing to the internet. The aim of this sub-form of online marketing is to increase brand awareness or the reach of a product through recommendations. Social networks play an important role here.

Influencer Marketing[edit]

With Influencer Marketing, a method already used in public relations has found its way into online marketing. Similarly as with the Referral marketing it concerns recommendations. But in this case it is influential people, that can be well-known bloggers or celebrities, who recommend a brand or a product on the web for example after a product test.

Performance marketing[edit]

This form of marketing is a part of online marketing that is particularly strongly based on success optimization. The main goal is to continuously generate more sales, using analyses and often programs that are based on machine learning

Programmatic Marketing[edit]

Programmatic Marketing consists of the automatic, data-based delivery of advertising content to a previously defined target group. An important prerequisite for the success of Programmatic Marketing is the availability of a valid database. Only in this way can campaigns be conducted in a target group-oriented manner. The great advantage of Programmatic lies in its low wastage and the associated cost savings.


Online marketing develops continuously with the web. It is to be expected that more and more subforms of online marketing will emerge. It is important that advertisers do not always consider only one method for their measures, but also combine different forms of marketing depending on their efficiency. Online marketing plays out its strengths against classic forms of marketing, especially in the evaluation of advertising measures. The digital data streams can be analyzed very well and used for optimization. In the future, Big Data will play a major role here. Virtual reality is also predicted to have a major influence on the entire industry.