Online Marketing

Online marketing is a marketing discipline that, in contrast to classic advertising, is based solely on the medium of the Internet. In online marketing, search engine marketing, banner advertising, e-mail marketing, affiliate marketing and social media marketing, among others, can be distinguished.

Online marketing has long been a permanent fixture in the marketing mix of companies. According to the Online Report 2021/02, almost a quarter of companies’ marketing expenditure now goes on advertising on the Internet. This makes online marketing the second most important factor in companies’ marketing mix after television. According to the Online-Vermarkterkreis (OVK), the market development of online advertising in Europe is currently driven primarily by search term marketing and display advertising. At the same time, campaigns on the Internet are becoming increasingly creative and the online marketing discipline is becoming increasingly complex.

Goals of online marketing

Like traditional marketing, online marketing can pursue a variety of goals. According to the B2B Online Monitor 2021, these include:

  • Increasing product and brand awareness
  • Acquiring new customers
  • Increasing the number of hits on the website/traffic
  • Customer loyalty
  • Better placement in search engines such as Google
  • Improvement of the image (branding)

In the long term, companies’ online marketing measures are usually aimed at increasing revenue – for example, through more orders on their own website or more sales. However, many companies also pursue measures that support branding, such as increasing mentions in social media like Facebook, through online marketing.

When planning campaigns on the Internet, it is usually not enough to transfer concepts from the offline world 1:1 to the digital world. Instead, online marketing calls for its own strategies. Depending on the company’s target definition, a wide variety of instruments are used:

Search engine marketing

Search engine marketing is divided into the areas of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine advertising (SEA). All search engine marketing measures are aimed at achieving better visibility in the search result lists of search engines such as Google. While search engine optimization (SEO) aims to achieve a better ranking in the organic search hits, search engine advertising refers to paid advertisements in the search result lists.

According to the SEO Monitor 2021 survey by the SEO agency Barketing, search engine optimization has the highest priority in companies’ online marketing mix, ahead of search engine advertising. But achieving a good ranking in Google’s search engine results is complex. The exact evaluation algorithm of Google is not known. According to its own information, Google weights over 200 different factors that have an influence on the ranking of a website in search engines. According to many experts, these include the number and quality of backlinks. Increasingly, social signals via Facebook, Google+ and Twitter also seem to play a role. According to Google, however, it is above all the quality of the content on a website that is decisive for the ranking. It is important that the content of the website is unique. Google rates unique content as positive, while the search engine penalizes duplicate content.

Search engine advertising (SEA), on the other hand, involves buying adverts for specific keywords. This is also known as keyword advertising. Due to Google’s high market power, keyword advertising in Germany is usually the same as advertising through Google Adwords. In order to achieve a good placement of their own advertisements on Google, companies should ask themselves which search terms potential customers could use to search for their own offers via Google.

Due to the increasing complexity of search engine marketing, many companies rely on the support of an agency specialized in SEO or SEA and Google Adwords.

Banner advertising

Banner advertising refers to online advertising with graphic advertising media. In this context, the Internet advertising media usually link to a company’s website or its own landing page. In this context, the term display advertising is often used, whereby banner advertising is often classified as the best-known type of display advertising. While the first banners were static, a variety of dynamic and animated formats now exist. Depending on the size and format of the banner, a distinction is made between various standard formats. According to the German Association for the Digital Economy, these include full banner, super banner, rectangle and skyscraper. Special advertising formats include wallpaper and interstitial.

Campaigns with banners are initially measured using the click-through rate. This records how many users have clicked on an ad. The potential customers are then expected to interact on the company’s website (e.g., place an order or register). Increasingly, companies are also using graphic advertising media as part of branding campaigns. These campaigns aim to build or strengthen the company’s own brand. In order to show users advertising materials that are relevant to them, banners are increasingly being delivered by means of target group-specific targeting. The delivery of the advertising material is often carried out via so-called ad servers.

Since many users on the Internet feel disturbed by banners, advertising filters are often used. In addition, experts are now discussing so-called banner blindness: Internet users no longer perceive the advertising media on their screen. For this reason, many companies are switching to alternative forms of advertising, such as online video advertising, for their online marketing campaigns. According to a study by the OVK, whether and how a campaign with graphic advertising media is successful depends largely on the creation.

E-mail marketing

E-mail marketing refers to the sending of advertising messages by e-mail, e.g. through newsletters. E-mail marketing is still considered an efficient instrument in the marketing mix of companies. On the one hand, e-mail marketing is increasingly encountering technical and legal hurdles. On the other hand, the possibilities for e-mail marketing are becoming more and more diverse. Trends are, for example, the integration of social media buttons as well as the integration of videos.

In marketing practice, different variants of emails are often tested in order to identify the more successful advertising medium. The content and length of the subject line are essential for the opening rate of an email. The right address distribution list and the design of the advertising medium are also important for the success of e-mail marketing. In addition, personalized e-mails are considered to be particularly successful. Many companies use professional e-mail marketing software.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a marketing principle in which an affiliate (partner) advertises the products of a third-party company (merchant) on its website and receives a commission for this. The merchant can thus advertise its offers through many partners. There are different models by which affiliates can earn income in affiliate marketing, including:

  • Pay per Click (payment per click on the advertising material)
  • Pay per Lead (payment per contact of the potential customer)
  • Pay per sale (payment per sale)

Affiliate networks have established themselves, which provide a platform for affiliate marketing and mediate between partners and merchants. Among other things, they identify suitable affiliates for merchants, provide advertising materials and handle billing between merchants and affiliates. In Germany, well-known affiliate networks include Zanox and Affilinet.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing means advertising via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. This includes, for example, placing paid advertisements on Facebook (Facebook Ads) and creating a company’s own fan page on Facebook.

Marketing via social media is still a fairly new discipline in online marketing. But with the growing use of social media, the importance of social networks in the marketing mix of companies has also increased. According to the 2021 State of Marketing study, 57 percent of corporate marketers plan to increase their budgets for social media.

According to a survey conducted by the German Institute for Marketing in 2012, the most common goals that companies pursue with social media marketing were customer retention and new customer acquisition. Many social media marketing measures are also aimed at branding. According to the German Institute for Marketing (DIM), companies most frequently use the Facebook, Xing, Twitter and YouTube channels as part of social media marketing.

The advantages of social media marketing are that advertising can be tailored precisely to companies’ target groups and that corporate content can spread virally on the social web. However, the extent to which social media marketing actually contributes to corporate success is controversial. Experts advise a well thought-out strategy and consistent monitoring of all social media activities.

The importance of the Internet in the media mix is increasing. Digital advertising has become a matter of course for most companies. A major advantage over traditional advertising is the direct measurability of online marketing measures. In order to successfully conduct and measure online marketing, many companies rely on tools such as Google Analytics or on an experienced online marketing agency. In addition to the trend toward new and more creative formats and an even more specific target group approach, the optimization of advertising media for mobile devices is another important future topic in online marketing.


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