Today, with nearly half the world's population wired to the internet, the ever-increasing connectivity has created global shifts in strategic thinking and positioning, disrupting industry after industry, sector after sector. Seemingly, with each passing day, some new technological tool emerges that revolutionizes our lives, further deepening and embedding our dependence on the world wide web.

This course examines how digital tools, such as the Internet, smartphones, and 3D printing, are revolutionizing the world of marketing by shifting the balance of power from firms to consumers. Marketing in a Digital World is one of the most popular courses on Coursera with over 150,000 Learners and is rated by Class Central as one of the Top 50 MOOCs of All Time (https://www.class-central.com/report/top-moocs/). This course is part of the iMBA offered by the University of Illinois, a flexible, fully-accredited online MBA at an incredibly competitive price. For more information, please see the Resource page in this course and onlinemba.illinois.edu.


One of the most enduring misconceptions about search engine marketing is that whomever has the largest advertising budget wins. Although a larger advertising budget can certainly be advantageous, especially when targeting highly competitive keywords, but it’s far from a requirement for success with search engine marketing. This is because all ads go through a process known as the ad auction before appearing alongside search results. For the purposes of this explanation, we’ll be focusing on the ad auction in Google AdWords.


To this end, companies make use of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram to reach audiences much wider than through the use of traditional print/TV/radio advertisements alone at a fraction of the cost, as most social networking sites can be used at little or no cost (however, some websites charge companies for premium services). This has changed the ways that companies approach to interact with customers, as a substantial percentage of consumer interactions are now being carried out over online platforms with much higher visibility. Customers can now post reviews of products and services, rate customer service, and ask questions or voice concerns directly to companies through social media platforms. According to Measuring Success, over 80% of consumers use the web to research products and services.[30] Thus social media marketing is also used by businesses in order to build relationships of trust with consumers.[31] To this aim, companies may also hire personnel to specifically handle these social media interactions, who usually report under the title of Online community managers. Handling these interactions in a satisfactory manner can result in an increase of consumer trust. To both this aim and to fix the public's perception of a company, 3 steps are taken in order to address consumer concerns, identifying the extent of the social chatter, engaging the influencers to help, and developing a proportional response.[32]
Using an omni-channel strategy is becoming increasingly important for enterprises who must adapt to the changing expectations of consumers who want ever-more sophisticated offerings throughout the purchasing journey. Retailers are increasingly focusing on their online presence, including online shops that operate alongside existing store-based outlets. The "endless aisle" within the retail space can lead consumers to purchase products online that fit their needs while retailers do not have to carry the inventory within the physical location of the store. Solely Internet-based retailers are also entering the market; some are establishing corresponding store-based outlets to provide personal services, professional help, and tangible experiences with their products.[26]

Understanding Mobiles: Understanding mobile devices is a significant aspect of digital marketing because smartphones and tablets are now responsible for 64% of the time US consumers are online (Whiteside, 2016).[44] Apps provide a big opportunity as well as challenge for the marketers because firstly the app needs to be downloaded and secondly the person needs to actually use it. This may be difficult as ‘half the time spent on smartphone apps occurs on the individuals single most used app, and almost 85% of their time on the top four rated apps’ (Whiteside, 2016).[44] Mobile advertising can assist in achieving a variety of commercial objectives and it is effective due to taking over the entire screen, and voice or status is likely to be considered highly; although the message must not be seen or thought of as intrusive (Whiteside, 2016).[44] Disadvantages of digital media used on mobile devices also include limited creative capabilities, and reach. Although there are many positive aspects including the users entitlement to select product information, digital media creating a flexible message platform and there is potential for direct selling (Belch & Belch, 2012).[46]

Often the line between pay per click advertising and paid inclusion is debatable. Some have lobbied for any paid listings to be labeled as an advertisement, while defenders insist they are not actually ads since the webmasters do not control the content of the listing, its ranking, or even whether it is shown to any users. Another advantage of paid inclusion is that it allows site owners to specify particular schedules for crawling pages. In the general case, one has no control as to when their page will be crawled or added to a search engine index. Paid inclusion proves to be particularly useful for cases where pages are dynamically generated and frequently modified.
Using digital marketing without a strategic approach is still commonplace. I'm sure many of the companies in this category are using digital media effectively and they could certainly be getting great results from their search, email or social media marketing. But I'm equally sure that many are missing opportunities for better targeting or optimization, or are suffering from the other challenges I've listed below. Perhaps the problems below are greatest for larger organizations who most urgently need governance.
With brands using the Internet space to reach their target customers; digital marketing has become a beneficial career option as well. At present, companies are more into hiring individuals familiar in implementing digital marketing strategies and this has led the stream to become a preferred choice amongst individuals inspiring institutes to come up and offer professional courses in Digital Marketing.
Organic search (SEO): When you enter a keyword or phrase into a search engine like Google or Yahoo!, the organic results are displayed in the main body of the page.When your prospects search for information about your products and services, you want to rank highly in search engine results. By “optimizing” your site, you can improve your ranking for important search terms and phrases (“keywords”). You can also improve your rank by getting other important sites to link to yours.
Just think about any relationship for a moment. How long you've known a person is incredibly important. It's not the be-all-end-all, but it is fundamental to trust. If you've known someone for years and years and other people that you know who you already trust can vouch for that person, then you're far more likely to trust them, right? But if you've just met someone, and haven't really vetted them so to speak, how can you possibly trust them?
Email marketing - Email marketing in comparison to other forms of digital marketing is considered cheap; it is also a way to rapidly communicate a message such as their value proposition to existing or potential customers. Yet this channel of communication may be perceived by recipients to be bothersome and irritating especially to new or potential customers, therefore the success of email marketing is reliant on the language and visual appeal applied. In terms of visual appeal, there are indications that using graphics/visuals that are relevant to the message which is attempting to be sent, yet less visual graphics to be applied with initial emails are more effective in-turn creating a relatively personal feel to the email. In terms of language, the style is the main factor in determining how captivating the email is. Using casual tone invokes a warmer and gentle and inviting feel to the email in comparison to a formal style. For combinations; it's suggested that to maximize effectiveness; using no graphics/visual alongside casual language. In contrast using no visual appeal and a formal language style is seen as the least effective method.[50]

As the number of sites on the Web increased in the mid-to-late 1990s, search engines started appearing to help people find information quickly. Search engines developed business models to finance their services, such as pay per click programs offered by Open Text[7] in 1996 and then Goto.com[8] in 1998. Goto.com later changed its name[9] to Overture in 2001, was purchased by Yahoo! in 2003, and now offers paid search opportunities for advertisers through Yahoo! Search Marketing. Google also began to offer advertisements on search results pages in 2000 through the Google AdWords program. By 2007, pay-per-click programs proved to be primary moneymakers[10] for search engines. In a market dominated by Google, in 2009 Yahoo! and Microsoft announced the intention to forge an alliance. The Yahoo! & Microsoft Search Alliance eventually received approval from regulators in the US and Europe in February 2010.[11]
Today, with nearly half the world's population wired to the internet, the ever-increasing connectivity has created global shifts in strategic thinking and positioning, disrupting industry after industry, sector after sector. Seemingly, with each passing day, some new technological tool emerges that revolutionizes our lives, further deepening and embedding our dependence on the world wide web.

An omni-channel approach not only benefits consumers but also benefits business bottom line: Research suggests that customers spend more than double when purchasing through an omni-channel retailer as opposed to a single-channel retailer, and are often more loyal. This could be due to the ease of purchase and the wider availability of products.[26]
As mobile devices become an increasingly integral part of our lives, it’s vital that marketers understand how to effectively communicate on this unique and extremely personal channel. Mobile devices are kept in our pockets, sit next to our beds, and are checked constantly throughout the day. This makes marketing on mobile incredibly important but also very nuanced.
Affiliate marketing is the art of marketing products, services or information for others. It doesn't require that you ever house or warehouse a single thing. But it does require that you have an audience to market those things to online. Without that audience, whether it's through search engines like Google or social media channels like Facebook, you'll find a difficult time with affiliate marketing.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site's user experience and performance in organic search results. You're likely already familiar with many of the topics in this guide, because they're essential ingredients for any web page, but you may not be making the most out of them.
Your Brand Persona and Target Audience. When you eventually start creating content, you have to know who you’re talking to and tailor your brand voice to appeal to them uniquely. If you aren’t targeting the right audience (those people who will lean in to hear what you’re saying), you won’t find success. And, if you can’t find a way to stand out, you’ll blend into the hordes of other brands competing for attention in your industry.
Inclusion in Google's search results is free and easy; you don't even need to submit your site to Google. Google is a fully automated search engine that uses web crawlers to explore the web constantly, looking for sites to add to our index. In fact, the vast majority of sites listed in our results aren't manually submitted for inclusion, but found and added automatically when we crawl the web. Learn how Google discovers, crawls, and serves web pages.3
To prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (this could split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URL in the structure and internal linking of your pages. If you do find that people are accessing the same content through multiple URLs, setting up a 301 redirect32 from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL is a good solution for this. You may also use canonical URL or use the rel="canonical"33 link element if you cannot redirect.
The fee structure is both a filter against superfluous submissions and a revenue generator. Typically, the fee covers an annual subscription for one webpage, which will automatically be catalogued on a regular basis. However, some companies are experimenting with non-subscription based fee structures where purchased listings are displayed permanently. A per-click fee may also apply. Each search engine is different. Some sites allow only paid inclusion, although these have had little success. More frequently, many search engines, like Yahoo!,[18] mix paid inclusion (per-page and per-click fee) with results from web crawling. Others, like Google (and as of 2006, Ask.com[19][20]), do not let webmasters pay to be in their search engine listing (advertisements are shown separately and labeled as such).
Video advertising - This type of advertising in terms of digital/online means are advertisements that play on online videos e.g. YouTube videos. This type of marketing has seen an increase in popularity over time.[52] Online Video Advertising usually consists of three types: Pre-Roll advertisements which play before the video is watched, Mid-Roll advertisements which play during the video, or Post-Roll advertisements which play after the video is watched.[53] Post-roll advertisements were shown to have better brand recognition in relation to the other types, where-as "ad-context congruity/incongruity plays an important role in reinforcing ad memorability".[52] Due to selective attention from viewers, there is the likelihood that the message may not be received.[54] The main advantage of video advertising is that it disrupts the viewing experience of the video and therefore there is a difficulty in attempting to avoid them. How a consumer interacts with online video advertising can come down to three stages: Pre attention, attention, and behavioural decision.[55] These online advertisements give the brand/business options and choices. These consist of length, position, adjacent video content which all directly affect the effectiveness of the produced advertisement time,[52] therefore manipulating these variables will yield different results. Length of the advertisement has shown to affect memorability where-as longer duration resulted in increased brand recognition.[52] This type of advertising, due to its nature of interruption of the viewer, it is likely that the consumer may feel as if their experience is being interrupted or invaded, creating negative perception of the brand.[52] These advertisements are also available to be shared by the viewers, adding to the attractiveness of this platform. Sharing these videos can be equated to the online version of word by mouth marketing, extending number of people reached.[56] Sharing videos creates six different outcomes: these being "pleasure, affection, inclusion, escape, relaxation, and control".[52] As well, videos that have entertainment value are more likely to be shared, yet pleasure is the strongest motivator to pass videos on. Creating a ‘viral’ trend from mass amount of a brands advertisement can maximize the outcome of an online video advert whether it be positive or a negative outcome.
Facebook had an estimated 144.27 million views in 2016, approximately 12.9 million per month.[109] Despite this high volume of traffic, very little has been done to protect the millions of users who log on to Facebook and other social media platforms each month. President Barack Obama tried to work with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to attempt to regulate data mining. He proposed the Privacy Bill of Rights, which would protect the average user from having their private information downloaded and shared with third party companies. The proposed laws would give the consumer more control over what information companies can collect.[107] President Obama was unable to pass most of these laws through congress, and it is unsure what President Trump will do with regards to social media marketing ethics.
When traffic is coming to your website or blog, nearly unfettered, it gives you the opportunity to test out a variety of marketing initiatives. However, without that traffic, you're forced to spend money on costly ads before really determining the effectiveness of your offers and uncovering your cost-per acquisition (CPA), two things which are at the core of scaling out any business online.

Social media marketing provides organizations with a way to connect with their customers. However, organizations must protect their information as well as closely watch comments and concerns on the social media they use. A flash poll done on 1225 IT executives from 33 countries revealed that social media mishaps caused organizations a combined $4.3 million in damages in 2010.[93] The top three social media incidents an organization faced during the previous year included employees sharing too much information in public forums, loss or exposure of confidential information, and increased exposure to litigation.[93] Due to the viral nature of the Internet, a mistake by a single employee has in some cases shown to result in devastating consequences for organizations. An example of a social media mishap includes designer Kenneth Cole's Twitter mishap in 2011. When Kenneth Cole tweeted, "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor has they heard our new spring collection is now available online at [Kenneth Cole's website]".[94] This reference to the 2011 Egyptian revolution drew an objection from the public; it was widely objected to on the Internet.[94] Kenneth Cole realized his mistake shortly after and responded with a statement apologizing for the tweet.[95]

In order to engage customers, retailers must shift from a linear marketing approach of one-way communication to a value exchange model of mutual dialogue and benefit-sharing between provider and consumer.[23] Exchanges are more non-linear, free flowing, and both one-to-many or one-on-one.[7] The spread of information and awareness can occur across numerous channels, such as the blogosphere, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and a variety of other platforms. Online communities and social networks allow individuals to easily create content and publicly publish their opinions, experiences, and thoughts and feelings about many topics and products, hyper-accelerating the diffusion of information.[24]

By using Internet platforms, businesses can create competitive advantage through various means. To reach the maximum potential of digital marketing, firms use social media as its main tool to create a channel of information. Through this a business can create a system in which they are able to pinpoint behavioral patterns of clients and feedback on their needs.[32] This means of content has shown to have a larger impingement on those who have a long-standing relationship with the firm and with consumers who are relatively active social media users. Relative to this, creating a social media page will further increase relation quality between new consumers and existing consumers as well as consistent brand reinforcement therefore improving brand awareness resulting in a possible rise for consumers up the Brand Awareness Pyramid.[33] Although there may be inconstancy with product images;[34] maintaining a successful social media presence requires a business to be consistent in interactions through creating a two way feed of information; firms consider their content based on the feedback received through this channel, this is a result of the environment being dynamic due to the global nature of the internet.[31] Effective use of digital marketing can result in relatively lowered costs in relation to traditional means of marketing; Lowered external service costs, advertising costs, promotion costs, processing costs, interface design costs and control costs.[34]


Brand awareness has been proven to work with more effectiveness in countries that are high in uncertainty avoidance, also these countries that have uncertainty avoidance; social media marketing works effectively. Yet brands must be careful not to be excessive on the use of this type of marketing, as well as solely relying on it as it may have implications that could negatively harness their image. Brands that represent themselves in an anthropomorphizing manner are more likely to succeed in situations where a brand is marketing to this demographic. "Since social media use can enhance the knowledge of the brand and thus decrease the uncertainty, it is possible that people with high uncertainty avoidance, such as the French, will particularly appreciate the high social media interaction with an anthropomorphized brand." Moreover, digital platform provides an ease to the brand and its customers to interact directly and exchange their motives virtually.[35]

By 2004, search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. In June 2007, The New York Times' Saul Hansell stated Google ranks sites using more than 200 different signals.[26] The leading search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages. Some SEO practitioners have studied different approaches to search engine optimization, and have shared their personal opinions.[27] Patents related to search engines can provide information to better understand search engines.[28] In 2005, Google began personalizing search results for each user. Depending on their history of previous searches, Google crafted results for logged in users.[29]
To cease opportunity, the firm should summarize their current customers' personas and purchase journey from this they are able to deduce their digital marketing capability. This means they need to form a clear picture of where they are currently and how many resources they can allocate for their digital marketing strategy i.e. labour, time etc. By summarizing the purchase journey, they can also recognise gaps and growth for future marketing opportunities that will either meet objectives or propose new objectives and increase profit.
Disney/Pixar's Monsters University: Created a Tumblr account, MUGrumblr, saying that the account is maintained by a 'Monstropolis transplant' and 'self-diagnosed coffee addict' who is currently a sophomore at Monsters University.[73] A "student" from Monsters University uploaded memes, animated GIFs, and Instagram-like photos that are related to the sequel movie.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising.[1] SEM may incorporate search engine optimization (SEO), which adjusts or rewrites website content and site architecture to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages to enhance pay per click (PPC) listings.[2]

For that reason, you're probably less likely to focus on ‘leads' in their traditional sense, and more likely to focus on building an accelerated buyer's journey, from the moment someone lands on your website, to the moment that they make a purchase. This will often mean your product features in your content higher up in the marketing funnel than it might for a B2B business, and you might need to use stronger calls-to-action (CTAs).
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