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Online Marketing Basics, Definitions and Application

Online Marketing Basics, Definitions and Application

Like, really basic.

It would be pretentious on my part to state that I have all the marketing answers, especially having “marketing basics” in the title. I just wanted to write down some of the fundamental concepts that once understood have helped me a lot in my marketing journey.

Possibly a boring issue that you can simply keep as a reference in a dusty corner of your digital world. Or one that will help ignite a sense of passionate mastery of life leading to the your most intimate goals.

So buckle up.

Marketing: A Fun Game You Can Also Play Online

There are 1.8 billion people playing video games online! Interesting phenomenon. Now, what if we played the online game of “5X’ing the company sales by the end of the year”? That could definitely be an interesting game!

The game has a few key elements:

  • People
  • Products & Services
  • Places

I’m sure we could come up with more key elements but without inventing new theories I just wanted to group a few existing concepts. So for the moment let’s just take a closer look at these 3 elements and see how they related to online marketing.


marketing having to do with audiencesToday’s advanced digital tools help us discover our potential customers with great speed. In general we just don’t use these tools enough. In order to find your potential customers you need to find out who they are, what they want and what they are looking for. When working with keywords or content (articles, videos, ads), it is vital to keep that viewpoint in mind.

Some of the things that can be come under the banner of people:

  • Goals
  • Friends
  • Desires
  • Their stuff
  • Pets
  • Problems
  • Anxieties
  • Curiosity

Knowing your people and what they want is key.


products and services as far as marketing is concernedIs your product/service digital or physical? Is there a lot of competition? Are there good reviews about the service? At what price are your competitors selling a similar product? How can you make you brand stand out? How is your service unique?

From company to company all of these factors vary tremendously. But there are a few factors that are present in each one of them.

  • Brands
  • Price and quality
  • Industry market
  • Customer service
  • Reviews
  • Availability
  • Intended use or purpose of the product
  • Similar or competitive items

It is a good practice to look at what your competitors are doing online.

Know your industry trends and any changes in the market.

Now, even if we had the best product or service available it might still be the case that nobody is finding it. That’s why we need to be in the right places.


marketing in relationship with placesIncluding different “places” in our online marketing strategyIn many cases, Though your company’s website is usually the main online “place” for your business. Though today we need to include different “places” in our strategy, here’s a short list:

  • Websites
  • Social media sites such as Facebook and Youtube
  • Organic rankings in search engines
  • Paid placements (online ads)
  • Influencers and affiliates
  • Offline places (flyers, billboards, cold-calls, et al.)
  • Mobile devices, desktop computer, apps

As we start playing with those elements and combining them in the right way, we find ourselves winning the game.

I consider content to be the umbrella over PEOPLE, PRODUCTS/SERVICES and PLACES.

The story we tell people about our brand through articles and through the images and videos we publish on our website or social media channels is all “content.” In the virtual world we need to show the reality of our company through a two-dimensional window: a screen!

So a very, very, very vital concept to understand about online marketing is content.

Define Content

content is the lifeblood of online marketing

An ad is content, right? A video also is.

Content turns out to be much more than just articles or words on a webpage.

The root of the word comes from the Latin word “contenta” which means “things contained” (Oxford). It includes all of the “stuff” that you put on your webpage or on Facebook. It’s what we publish on Youtube and iTunes. All of this is content.

Content is also the medium which carries your message and your “voice.”

Content is big today and it’s only going to get bigger. Some scientists predict that there will be over 7.5 billion people on Earth by 2020. Projections show that by then over 54% of the world’s population will be connected to the internet. Wow! Conclusion: investing in content creation is not a bad idea.

Again I’m not attempting to list all of them but here are a few types of content:

  • Articles
  • News stories
  • Blog
  • White Papers
  • Case Studies
  • Videos
  • Images
  • Infographics
  • Slideshows
  • Ads of all types
  • Podcasts
  • Downloadable brochures
  • Testimonials and reviews
  • Music
  • Email
  • Social media posts
  • And many more

Content is the lifeblood of online marketing.

Next month we will cover what we should publish online in order to increase conversion.

A Few More Definitions

Now let’s quickly go over some basic terms related to marketing products and services online.

Define Social media

Social media is a place to hang out, make friends and to see what’s new. Social media is also a place to create brand awareness. It is a place for ads. And today, is also a place to buy products and services. However, social media is not really a good place for your sales pitch.

The word “media” dates back to the late 16th century and originally meant “something intermediate in nature” (Oxford). “The media” are the main channels for information and entertainment. They include TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, and today, of course, the internet. “Social media” could be defined as a channel for mass communication where people can socialize and take an active role in the creation of content through online group activities on a variety of platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter. Essentially, “social media” are communication channels.

Quite some powerful stuff.

Define Email Marketing

email marketing not dying

One of the most powerful marketing weapons on Earth to date: email marketing!

A person’s inbox is a very intimate place. There is very little space between you and the potential client. In most cases, people have willingly provided their email address and agreed to be on mailing lists.

Email marketing implies lists. Create lists and nurture them. Market to those lists wisely. Different tactics will apply for different audiences. Keep your lists updated.

Email marketing means sending communications or ads to your lists.

Your image and the way your audience will perceive your brand can be improved through email.

Define Organic

The route to free traffic. Organic means not paid.

Organic is the route to free traffic. Organic means not paid.

For example when referring to “organic search engine rankings,” I like to define “organic” as those search results that show up in the unpaid or “natural” section of page on Google. You didn’t pay Google to show up for a particular keyword.

For example John types “table etiquette during a black tie dinner” in Google and your website shows up on page 1 in the main, center section of the results page. That is what is meant by an “organic result.” Paid results are usually at the top of the page (before the organic results) or on the right side of the page (to the right of the natural results).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about improving your organic ranking. Creating content that will rank in search engines usually is a good investment.

In social media, organic refers to those posts that have been seen by people without you having to pay for advertising. “Organic reach” in Facebook would mean the

number of people your posts reached without paying or boosting.

Define Metrics

Since business owners usually manage by statistics, I just wanted to take a second to define this word.

graph exampleJust know that it has nothing to do with the metric system. When measuring online statistics, metrics means numbers that measure something. For example “average shares per posts” would be one type of metric. Another metric could be “cost per lead.” A very important metric is of course conversion rate. Another vital one is “traffic source,” which shows how people arrive to your website, for example whether they got to your site from an email or from Google or Facebook. I have been living in a world of metrics for years and it has almost become poetry to me.

We will dedicate a complete article to metrics in August.


There are many other terms and concepts that we could have defined but for the purpose of this guide that’s all we’ll be covering for the moment.

A familiarity with the basics of online marketing will help a business owner stay oriented despite constant changes in technology.

The rock-bottom basics of online marketing could be summarized into: website, content, social media, email marketing and paid advertising.

Next month we’ll be covering what type of content you should create for your business and how to get quality traffic.


I could recommend that you go over the main points above and see how they apply to your specific business.

See you soon.


If you missed it, you can read the January issue on setting online goals.

About The Author

Patrick Debel

Online marketing since 2003.