What is Digital Marketing? A Whole New Generation of Marketing Explained to the Baby Boomers


Thanks to the speed technology now progresses at each year, so many elements of our daily life are changing rapidly. From the way, we shop and order a taxi to how brands market their products. Gone are the days of taking out a decent sized print ad in the local newspaper and waiting for the sales to roll in.

Thanks to the progression of technology, people aren’t just looking at newspapers anymore. They’re checking their phones and laptops, browsing the internet for the latest deals and keeping up with their social media accounts.

Nowadays, marketing is all about creating well-written content and engaging audiences rather than selling to them. This has paved the way for Digital Marketing which is now crucial for brands.

If you’re a Digital Marketer, you’ll know how difficult it can be to explain your profession to older generations without using industry jargon. Start talking about search engine optimization, digital campaigns, and influencers and you’ll be left with a room of blank faces.

What is Digital Marketing? A Whole new generation of marketing explained for Baby Boomers #WhatIsDigitalMarketing Click To TweetIt’s a shame really as digital marketing touches the lives of so many people nowadays whether they know it or not. It’s a booming industry and one that is only going to continue to thrive.

So, finding a way to get this across without losing everyone along the way would be ideal, right? To help, we’ve compared some of the key elements of digital marketing to everyday life – removing the jargon and making each term a little easier to understand.

So, this article deals with the question “What is digital marketing?” in its simplest form possible.

1. SEO

As a core part of the digital marketing process, we’ll start with SEO. Traditionally, businesses would list their services in a print directory like the yellow pages.

If you ever needed a plumber, for example, you’d dig out the directory and give one a call. This has now essentially been replaced by Google. The online directory is what people use to find businesses locally, nationally and internationally.


‘SEO’ or Search Engine Optimisation is a process used to get to the top of the search results. As Google contains so much data, it can prove difficult for businesses to rank on the first page of results. They, therefore, must optimize their website to ensure they are discoverable online.

To do this, businesses have to include well-written content and information related to their industry on their websites. This then helps them to rank and increase their chances of being found by potential customers.

For example, if you were to type in ‘Electrician in London’ to Google, you’d be faced with pages of results. Are you really going to sift through every page or is it more likely that you’ll probably just go with one of the first few results that appear?

This is why SEO is a crucial part of most businesses’ digital marketing strategies. They increasingly invest time, money and resources into ensuring their website ranks highly in Google search results to drive business to their website.

2. Content Marketing

Have you ever come across a recipe that has been put together by a brand? Say for example when you flick through a magazine and spot one by ‘Schwartz’. If you like the look of it, you’ll probably head to the supermarket and purchase all the ingredients – including the pack of Schwartz seasoning they inadvertently sold to you.


This is content marketing. Schwartz isn’t explicitly selling to you by listing the reasons you should buy their products, they are providing you with valuable content (the recipe) whilst building an awareness of their brand.

In an age where people no longer want to be sold to, content marketing works a treat. By offering something of value to your audience, you gain their trust and increase the chances of making them want to shop with you. Content marketing comes in many forms from how to guides and recipes to video tutorials and fact-based infographics.

‘Airbnb’ is storming it when it comes to content marketing. The brand that revolutionized the hotel and hospitality market has built a loyal following thanks to their engaging marketing efforts. In 2012, they launched digital ‘neighbourhoods.’ The concept was designed to provide travelers with valuable insights from locals and those who have visited the areas previously.

The guides offer details on anything and everything from ‘historical beginnings’ to ‘subculture’ from those who know the areas best. So how does this help them sell you ask? Well, in each guide, Airbnb include local listings for that area, enticing people to click and enter the sales funnel.

The crux of content marketing is, therefore, to offer value before selling.

3. Paid search

We explained earlier in the article about SEO and how it’s about getting your website to the top of online directory search results. Well, paid search is similar only businesses pay to rank at the top of those results, which helps boost their visibility to potential customers.

To keep things simple, let’s refer back to the paper directory again. Businesses would pay a fee to have their details listed. If they wanted to go a step further and stand out, they would take out a full-page, color listing that would really grab the reader’s attention. This is similar to paid search advertising.


Businesses get their website listed at the top or side of the search results page (in an obvious place) and pay each time someone clicks their ad.

4. Social Media Marketing

Think of a door to door leaflet drop. Now imagine that you had a list of hobbies and interests for everyone that lived in each house. This would enable you to take an extremely targeted approach and, for example, only post sports related leaflets through the doors of gym goers or pet grooming leaflets through the letterboxes of dog owners. Put very simply, that’s what social media marketing enables you to do.


Each platform has a comprehensive database of users. They store information on those users such as their location, likes, interests, hobbies even political persuasions – the list goes on. Brands can then take advantage of this by posting adverts directly to their target demographic.

This can be done in a range of ways such as paying for promoted posts to reach the people you want to engage with. Or, Brands can set up company pages, gain a good following and post content related to their products or services.

Next time you’re on Facebook or Instagram, take a look at the adverts that pop up on your feed (they’ll say ‘sponsored’). You will probably find that they related to your interests, age, hobbies or interactions you partake in on the platform.

5. Influencer Marketing

Do you remember that really popular kid at school? The one who always had the latest trainers or video games? Did you ever go out of your way to ask for said trainers just because they had them? In a nutshell, this is a very early form of influencer marketing.


Thanks to the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram and Youtube, certain people are amassing thousands – even millions of followers. They are usually bloggers or vloggers (video bloggers) who have build up an impressive fan base. Their fans love to hear anything and everything from their impressive trips abroad to very basic make-up tips for beginners.

What’s important is that they are real people and in the world of social media people love and trust real people – no matter how unattainable their lifestyle is. Because of the loyal following they boast, they are known as influencers as they have the ability to influence their followers’ buying decisions.

Brands caught onto this fairly early and realized that those who follow these people, trust what they say. Therefore, fans are likely to be interested in products they either use or recommend. Thus, influencer marketing was born. Brands now invest thousands to get influencers to be seen on Instagram with their products or to recommend them in their blogs – and it works.

6. Email Marketing

You know how emails are basically virtual letters? So instead of coming through your door, they appear in your virtual letterbox or ‘inbox.’ Well, email marketing is a virtual leaflet drop only far more advanced.


Thanks to the data that’s now readily available for businesses, an email can be tailored to the exact person it’s sent to. For example, an online birthday card company could collect every customer’s email address and send them a personal reminder at the same time the following year. This will not only act as a trigger for the customer to purchase the card but will also help ensure the customer buys with them.

Email is one of the oldest forms of digital marketing but is still one of the most powerful today. Brands see a huge return on investment from email campaigns as they provide an inexpensive way to get in front of a highly targeted market.

If you want to know more about email marketing, here are some articles useful for you:

  1. Best WordPress Email Marketing Plugins – Email marketing for WordPress sites
  2. 6 Top Email Marketing Services – Leaders of the industry

To sum up

The principles of marketing haven’t changed, it’s just that the way we do it that has. We now live in a digital age where billboards and TV ads no longer capture consumer attention in the way they once did.

Now that most people own smartphones and have access to the internet, it takes a lot more to grab their attention and impress them. Brands have to be far more targeted in their approach and offer value to set themselves apart from the competition.

This is why digital marketing has flourished in recent years as, through the elements we’ve been through in this guide, it offers a far more targeted approach. Not only does it exist where people’s eyes are now (on phones or laptops) it also targets them in a very sophisticated way that no newspaper ad could ever do.

Author Bio

ryan-closeupRyan is a Digital Marketing Specialist at the Bradford based Digital Agency, Harrison Mann. Being in the digital marketing field for 7 years now, he enjoys keeping up to date with the latest in all things digital and search.

(This is a guest post. View guest posting guidelines.) 


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