12 Types of Marketing: A Guide to Different Marketing Strategies

Social media stories. Video marketing. And the instantly recognizable TV commercial. These are different types of marketing with shared goals: to engage, inform, and attract customers to a business’s products or services. Marketing refers to any of the activities companies engage in to promote or sell products and includes operations such as market research, content production, and advertising. In 2021 alone, both digital and non-digital advertising generated more than $200 billion in revenue. 

A core part of marketing includes researching and collecting data to effectively target and retain potential customers, plus increasing a company’s sales. Without such efforts, businesses would have a difficult time reaching consumers and promoting a product or service. Since marketing takes many forms, determining which is the most effective type comes down to the business model, desired demographic, and budget.

5 types of traditional marketing

Companies often rely on traditional marketing methods, like TV ads and billboards, that work in tandem with digital marketing to reach a wide audience. 

1. Outdoor marketing 

Outdoor marketing is any type of marketing that takes place outside of the consumer’s home—and outside of the digital realm. This form of marketing relies on high visibility within the public realm and may include billboards, flyers, shop signs, transit vehicles, bench ads, or even stickers—all designed to draw attention to a particular business or service. 

2. Print marketing

This form of marketing is the distribution of advertising in magazines, newspapers, and brochures. This method can help gain attention for a business at either the local or national level. Print ads in a local newspaper, for example, can help promote services throughout a community, while an advertisement in a nationally distributed magazine can garner brand awareness more broadly, across multiple markets. 

3. Event marketing

Event marketing is a marketing strategy specifically designed for conferences, professional seminars, trade shows, or other industry events. With event marketing, business representatives set up booths or promotional hubs to maximize their exposure, generate leads, and increase their potential client base. This approach involves direct face-to-face interaction, effectively connecting customers with a brand or service to build a solid, long-term relationship. 

4. Direct mail marketing

With direct mail marketing, businesses send advertising materials directly to the customer’s home. Effective mailings often contain a call to action (CTA) or an incentive like coupons and discounts to encourage potential customers to become actual customers. Direct mail marketing recipients may have previously expressed interest in the business, or simply been part of a community mailing effort by a local business. 

5. Television and radio marketing

While TV and radio have evolved to meet the demands of the streaming era, TV and radio commercials are still highly influential and effective marketing methods. The costs for television ads can vary depending on network and time slot but can be expensive—even for a few seconds of airtime (over $6 million for 30 seconds during the Super Bowl). The same goes for radio stations, where pricing for a spot may differ depending on the broadcast location. 

With the possibility of thousands (or millions) of dollars on the line, TV and radio advertisers must get creative and maximize their time to captivate their target audience. That may mean using punchy, emotional, funny, or otherwise memorable content to quickly grab and hold the viewer’s attention—increasing the likelihood of gaining a new customer (or at least piquing interest in researching the business). 

7 types of digital marketing

Digital marketing is an entirely different beast than traditional marketing, though with the same goals in mind: customer acquisition and retention. Digital marketing appears in a variety of forms across the internet—from pop-ups to YouTube commercials to targeted ads. 

1. Search engine marketing

There are two main types of search engine marketing tactics businesses employ to increase traffic: paid and organic. Both are effective in their own right, providing a company with two distinct ways to reach its audience. 

  • Paid. Paid search engine marketing (SEM) places sponsored advertisements on the search engine results page (SERP), increasing the likelihood that users will be targeted by those ads compared to finding them organically. 
  • Organic. Organic search engine optimization (SEO) relies on an understanding of internet traffic patterns and targeted keywords to increase a company’s ability to reach users in a more natural way. SEO uses these terms to help improve a website’s ranking, which in turn increases visibility and attracts more customers.

2. Email marketing

Email marketing is a form of direct marketing that targets groups of current or potential customers. Similar to direct mail marketing, email marketing delivers promotional materials straight to a person’s inbox. These materials take the form of sale solicitations, coupons, promo offers, and donation requests. 

3. Content marketing

Content marketing is a type of marketing that relies on produced content to not only entertain audiences, but also drive engagement, promote a brand, or build customer loyalty. Creating valuable content is an effective form of inbound marketing, which draws viewers to a brand rather than aggressively chasing after their attention. 

  • Podcasts. Podcasts are audio-only content that can help bring awareness to a particular person or service. For instance, a business analyst with a weekly podcast series may give away advice on their platform to capture audience loyalty. In turn, this could lead to paid speaking engagements, teaching offers, or other lucrative activities for the podcast host. 
  • Infographics. Infographics combine visuals and data to educate an audience about a specific service or product. This data-rich content provides user-friendly information alongside graphics, which come in various forms including flow charts and step-by-step breakdowns. Together, they make it easy for viewers to absorb and retain information. 
  • Video. Unlike podcasts and infographics, video content incorporates audio with visuals to create a compelling CTA. Video marketing can attract users to certain social media platforms, websites, or product pages. 

4. Social media marketing

Social media marketing is a popular marketing strategy for any business with—or looking to build—an online presence. Social media marketing strategies include both organic and paid methods to recruit new customers and reach out to existing ones. 

  • Organic. Organic social media marketing involves free posts on social media sites that use photos, videos, captions, and hashtags to reach an audience. These posts may appear on sites like Twitter or Instagram, but are subject to the platform’s algorithm and come with no guarantees of reaching a targeted number of viewers. 
  • Paid. Brands or companies can pay certain social media platforms to bypass the free algorithmic limitations and promote their advertising content. Paid social media posts have a higher chance of reaching a larger viewership by extending beyond the business’s own follower pool. 

5. Performance marketing

Performance marketing, sometimes called affiliate marketing, relies on advertising through a third party to convert customer interest into a definable action, specifically, a purchase. The name derives from the affiliates that promote the product or service, and only earn a commission if their strategies result in a buy. This is a low-risk, trackable strategy for brands, which only pays advertisers if they are making money themselves.

6. Influencer marketing

An influencer marketing strategy involves companies paying an external content creator or otherwise influential person (often with a substantial social media following) to promote a certain product or brand. Influencers usually get paid per post or promo, with the goal of driving engagement or increasing a company’s conversion rate. Influencers may also participate in affiliate marketing, although they are not guaranteed payment unless their strategies result in a sale. 

7. Acquisition marketing

Acquisition marketing is a strategy specifically designed to attract new customers, converting strangers to the brand into qualified leads. Focusing on the top of the sales funnel, acquisition marketers focus less on retention and are more concerned about attention. Companies can use tactics such as SEO, email marketing, and social media marketing to increase customer acquisition rates. 

What is brand marketing?

Brand marketing spans both traditional and digital marketing, and extends beyond the basic awareness-to-conversion funnel to establish a lasting relationship between the consumer and the brand itself. Brand marketers research their customers to build buyer personas, around which they can create messaging that establishes a connection between the business and the customer. This relationship and trust built with the customer help make items or images associated with the brand more readily recognizable (think the Apple logo or Nike swoosh). High visibility and recognition are two effective ways to remind customers about your products. 

Final thoughts

Marketing is a complex field that requires research, analytics, and strategy to determine the best way to reach an audience. The right marketing strategy depends on a number of factors, such as company size, budget, and ultimate goals. For instance, direct mail marketing may be more successful in older, tight-knit communities, whereas younger audiences may be more receptive to punchy social media campaigns and trendy video content. With so many marketing avenues to choose from, every company has ample opportunity to embrace the strategies that might be the best fit based on short- and long-term goals, target demographic, and available financial resources.

Wrapping up

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