What is the Difference Between Online Marketing and a Digital Campaign? [FAQ]

What is the Difference Between Online Marketing and a Digital Campaign? [FAQ]

So we’ve seen this question gets thrown around a lot: what is the difference between online marketing and a digital marketing campaign? Are they synonymous? Are they interchangeable? Does one term blanket the other?

All good questions, really. And for the sake of someone new to this area of the internet landscape, these questions definitely beget good answers. That being said, we’ve rounded up five of the frequently asked questions we’ve seen regarding online marketing. Take a look! Hopefully, these will help set the record straight.

1. What is Online Marketing?

Online marketing (also often used interchangeably with internet marketing and digital marketing) is a marketing approach that uses the internet to establish, promote, brand build, and/or disseminate information. It is actually quite a broad term, as there half a dozen different types of online marketing (thanks to an equally as numerous number of internet channels).

2. What are the different types of Online Marketing?

What is the Difference Between Online Marketing and a Digital Campaign? [FAQ]1The types of online marketing approaches are often defined by the channels they use. Below are three of the more common ones:

  • Search Engine Marketing—a type of online marketing that makes use of search engines like Google to establish a brand or promote a product through organic searches. Search engine marketing includes optimizing websites, landing pages, and social media accounts so that they appear as the top result for specific search queries.
  • Social Media Marketing—a type of online marketing that uses social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram to build their online presence, interact with their followers, and communicate with potential customers through engaging posts.
  • Content Marketing—a type of online marketing that uses digitally-created content—like videos, pictures, and blogs—to stimulate interest and get people talking. This type of marketing is great for establishing industry authority and attracting potential consumers that fit target demographics. It’s an extremely flexible strategy that can be combined with other online marketing methods to be made more effective i.e., blogs with search engine marketing, videos with social media marketing, etc.

3. What is a Digital Campaign?

What is the Difference Between Online Marketing and a Digital Campaign? [FAQ]2

A digital campaign is essentially an online marketing effort composed of coordinated actions all geared towards achieving an intended goal (or goals). These goals are typically marketing or business goals related to sales, promotions, brand awareness, and the like. The term ‘digital’ refers to the medium being used, which is essentially online channels like social media platforms, email clients, websites, and landing pages.

A digital campaign is typically a short-term run meant to achieve short-term results, but it can run longer. What most companies do when running campaigns for long-term goals is to break those goals into smaller, more immediate milestones, and then run multiple short-term campaigns to achieve each milestone.

4. How is a Digital Campaign different from Online Marketing?

If we’re looking at the definitions alone, then there really isn’t much difference between the two. In fact, mechanically speaking, a digital campaign is part of online marketing. However, the two terms aren’t interchangeable. And here’s why:

  • TIMELINE. As mentioned earlier, a digital campaignis often short-lived. It’s a short-term event meant to achieve short-term goals. For instance; using Facebook ads to announce your end-of-season sale. You can start promoting it as early as a month or six weeks before the sale, but you’ll eventually have to take down the ads once the sale ends.

Online marketing, however, has no definite timeline. It is not dependent on a goal, a digital medium, or an online channel. Once you take down your end-of-season sale promotions, your digital marketing campaign has ended. However, your online marketing has not.


  • MEDIUMS/CHANNELS. Online marketing can use any platform or channel as long as it uses the internet. Using Facebook to promote your brand? That’s online marketing. Publishing weekly blogs to stay relevant and up-to-date? That’s online marketing. Sending out an email blast introducing your brand new logo?

That’s online marketing.

But each and every example I just listed is not necessarily a digital campaign. A digital campaign can only make use or one of two mediums and, even then, those mediums need to be cohesive. Running Facebook ads to announce your sale is one digital campaign. Publishing blogs about the difference between pure cotton shirts and mixed fabric shirts to raise awareness about your shirts (and, by extension, the upcoming sale) is another digital campaign.

This means you have two digital campaigns running, but you’re only ever using one marketing approach—which is online marketing.

  • VICE VERSA? Here’s the thing: the terms online marketing and digital campaign are related. They are not, however, the same thing. Why? Because one can be used to refer to the other, but the opposite situation is not the case. You’ve probably figured it out by now; online marketing can be used when describing a digital campaign, but a digital campaign can’t be used to describe online marketing.

Every digital campaign—whether it’s running Facebook ads, sending out email sequences, or running Instagram coupon promotions—can be considered online marketing. But ‘online marketing’ does not always mean ‘digital campaign.’

Search engine optimization is a type of online marketing, but it’s not a campaign. Designing a website’s layout in a way that Google views it as more relevant and user-friendly definitely falls under search engine optimization which, in turn, falls under search engine marketing which, in turn, falls under online marketing. But it is definitely not a campaign.

5. What are the benefits of Online Marketing?

There’s a reason online marketing is now more preferable than traditional marketing.

  • Budget-friendly—online marketing requires less of a cash investment than traditional marketing.
  • Mobile—online marketing can be done anywhere. All you need is a stable internet connection and a device to connect through.
  • Measurable/Quantifiable—results, timelines, milestones, short-term goals, expenses, resource… the digital nature of online marketing makes it easier to keep track of all these factors.
  • Controllable—as such, the digital nature of online marketing also makes it easier to minimize external or independent variables.
  • Accessibility—small- and medium-sized businesses have access to the same online resources as bigger, more established companies. This gives even fresh startups and local businesses a competitive advantage.

In short, a digital campaign is considered online marketing because it uses online resources—social media platforms, emails, digital content, etc.—to achieve a given goal. Likewise, a digital campaign definitely falls under the broad, broad umbrella that is online marketing. However, the two terms are not interchangeable.