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This content is taken from the University of Southampton's online course, Digital Marketing: Challenges and Insights. Join the course to learn more.

What is digital marketing?

Digital Marketing is the use of electronic media to communicate with customers and to evaluate the success of marketing campaigns.

It is totally pervasive in marketing today and consequently there are demands for new knowledge and skills by marketing professionals.

Online media mix

This is a constantly changing landscape, presenting marketers with both challenges and opportunities. For example, online advertising is now a significant channel, social media have captured a huge percentage of users’ time spent online and video has now become an essential element of the online media mix.

The digital space is an ever-growing source of entertainment, news, shopping and social interaction. As consumers thinking about any possible purchase, online is increasingly the first place we will look.

We have access to information any time and any place we want it, and we are far more likely to take purchase recommendations from our friends than we are from an advertisement.

We will only engage with trusted brands that communicate in a personal and relevant way, with offers tailored to our needs and preferences.

What’s different about ‘digital’?

Digital marketing is in some ways very different from ‘traditional’ marketing, although of course the core business principles remain the same.

It no longer means simply having a website, but includes customer interaction through mobile apps, digital television, interactive billboards, video … the list goes on.

Organisations can use this variety of online channels to communicate with customers and analyse marketing campaigns to understand what is working for them and what isn’t – typically in real time.

Building trust and encouraging purchase and subsequent recommendation

So the challenge for marketers is to communicate with customers where, when and how they are most receptive to the message.

This requires a consolidated view of customer preferences and expectations across all channels – online and offline.

Marketers can use this information to create customer experiences and interactions that will build trust and encourage purchase and subsequent recommendation of the business to others.


In a short course like this we cannot possibly cover all aspects of digital marketing.

Our objective is to give you a flavour (or “taster”) of the key issues that all digital marketers currently face.

We share our stories of the ongoing work we are doing with business partners, and encourage you to share your own stories of what works and does not work for you.

Additional Resources

The first time we ran this course, we invited a panel of guests from around the world to discuss the latest issues in digital marketing. You may be interested in watching the recording on our YouTube channel. Lisa Harris and Tom Chapman (who you will meet in week 2) were joined by:

  • Paul Harrigan, University of Western Australia

  • Roisin McCarthy, Manager at Datatech Analytics

  • Simon Perry, OnTheWight (who you will also meet in week 2)

  • Russell Pert - Head of Digital - Southern Europe, Barclaycard.

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This article is from the free online course:

Digital Marketing: Challenges and Insights

University of Southampton

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