Updated: Oct 20, 2022
By Rebecca Strehlow | Marketing Expert and Blogger. Upgraded by Cincodemayo
The field of marketing is rapidly evolving. Thanks to the invention of new technologies and the continuous progress of creative thought, there are so many types of marketing for your business - and that list only gets longer with each passing year. From creating a website of your own to building a social media following, the ways to promote your product or service are nearly endless.
That’s why we’ve put together this ultimate list highlighting different types of marketing. Here, you’ll read about the most commonly used promotional strategies and how they can help you grow your business.
As you scroll, make a mental note of the methods you’d like to try for yourself. Then, think about the types you want to prioritize and develop a plan for integrating them into your existing marketing strategy.
With that in mind, here are 30+ types of marketing for your business:
Types of marketing
01. Digital Marketing Digital marketing doesn’t refer to any one type of strategy - rather, it’s a broad term that encompasses any form of marketing that uses digital technology. Today, digital marketing is mainstream among nearly every business and marketing professional. However, it’s important to remember that it’s only as new as modern tools like smartphones and the internet. Thanks to these technological advances, marketing has evolved to target customers in newer and more interesting ways. As you continue reading, you’ll notice that most of the types of marketing covered in this article are forms of digital marketing. These include:
Social media marketing
Search engine marketing
02. Outbound marketing Outbound marketing is a type of marketing that involves chasing after customers rather than attracting them naturally. This method was especially common before digital marketing became a common practice, as it involves using cold calls, print ads and TV commercials as the primary means of attracting customers. Still, outbound marketing remains a common digital marketing practice to this day. Email blasts, for instance - which are mass email campaigns sent to a broad list of subscribers - continue to be a popular promotional tactic. Outbound marketing often faces criticism because it involves pushing your message to the general public, including people who may not be interested in your product or service. That said, there is a time and place for outbound marketing when used strategically and with careful consideration of your company’s goals, target audience and KPIs.
03. Inbound marketing Inbound marketing is an umbrella term that encompasses nearly all types of marketing, from social media to content. So, what makes a particular marketing strategy inbound? That’s determined less by the specific method and more by the overarching technique. As an inbound marketer, your job is to empower consumers to make informed decisions of their own. Instead of running after customers, you’ll try to guide them to your product by offering loads of helpful resources and tips while ultimately revealing why your product is the solution to their needs. You can do this by providing valuable blog content, making yourself available via email and live chat, and continuing to offer support even after making a sale. Inbound marketing employs a very different strategy from its outbound counterpart, as discussed above. Over the past few years, it’s become the more popular of the two among modern-day marketers, since it’s a more nuanced approach that leaves consumers happy and builds lifetime loyalty. One of the most common inbound marketing methods is content marketing, which you’ll read more about below.
04. Content marketing You’ve probably noticed the increasing amount of company blogs out there when browsing the web. In fact, many of the Google search results you run across actually come from blogs run by businesses. But why, you’re wondering, are so many companies creating a blog for their business? For that matter, what does blogging even have to do with marketing? The answer is that blogging is crucial for content marketing - one of the most effective marketing strategies out there. Arguably the most important type of inbound marketing, content marketing is an essential part of any business’s toolkit. As a whole, content marketing involves the creation and distribution of content. This not only includes writing blog posts, but also posting on social media, writing in-depth e-books, sharing data-rich infographics, creating video content and even hosting podcasts. Whichever kinds of content you choose, the goal is to provide valuable information to your target audience that drives engagement, provides knowledge and support, and ultimately stimulates interest in your product or service.
05. Social media marketing Some experts argue that social media marketing is a branch of content marketing, while others maintain that it’s a world of its own. Whichever category you place it in, it’s indisputable that social media marketing is one of the most crucial types of marketing. In fact, 73% of marketers assert that this type of marketing has proven an effective strategy for their businesses. This valuable marketing strategy involves creating content for social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn or YouTube, to promote your brand. Many companies use a combination of these different platforms as part of their social media marketing strategy. Your choice of platforms largely depends on where your target audience is most active and how you want to represent your business.
06. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Search engine marketing, also known as SEM, includes all types of marketing that use Google and other search engines as the primary tool for displaying promotional material. The goal of SEM is to get your business displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs). When a page from your website - let’s say, a landing page or blog post - shows up in search engine results in response to a user’s search query, the user is exposed to your business. Ideally, they’ll click the result and navigate to your site. Search engine marketing can be divided into two main types: search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC). The main difference between the two is that SEO is organic (not paid), while PPC involves purchasing ads. To start doing SEO, you’ll need to learn about the different ingredients that make websites rank in search engines. This includes technical aspects, like the structure and page speed of your website, as well as the implementation of keywords. Content marketing and SEO are deeply intertwined, since the more keyword-rich your blog and website content, the better your chances of ranking on the SERP. The other type of search engine marketing, PPC, can be done in parallel with your SEO efforts. PPC ads are the sponsored content you see at the top of search results pages. If you’re interested in paying for sponsored results on Google, try Google Ads. This is one of the most popular, reliable choices for PPC marketers.
07. Organic marketing You’ve already seen this term mentioned in our discussion of search engine optimization. This, together with content and social media marketing, comprise a powerful type of marketing known as organic marketing. Organic marketing is any non-paid form of marketing that aims to naturally (organically) attract people to your business. It involves learning the best practices to implement in order to get search engines and social media platforms to display your posts in a prominent position. This contrasts from promoting your business “artificially” via paid links or boosted posts. This method is the cornerstone of inbound marketing, since it’s based on the principle that creating engaging social media content and strong, SEO-driven website copy will bring exposure to your business and magnetically drive customers toward your brand. In general, organic marketing is considered less intrusive than advertising, since it focuses on nurturing prospective customers and drawing them to your business over time.
08. Advertising That brings us to the next type of promotional strategy: advertising. Advertising is a branch of marketing that involves using ad campaigns to present your brand, product, service or idea to the world. There are more ways to advertise than one can count. This includes online advertising methods, such as PPC ads and social media ads, as well as more traditional methods like TV, radio and billboard ads.
As with social media marketing, choosing the right advertising platforms means taking into account the demographics and interests of your target audience, as well as how to present your messaging. Instagram ads, for example, tend to reach younger folks but will be largely unseen by older audiences who are less engaged with the platform.
09. Video marketing As you’ve seen, marketing content assumes a wide range of formats - from blog articles to social media posts to podcasts. Another one of these formats is video. Incorporating video into your marketing assets is fun and engaging, and it’s also a great way to creatively display your brand - giving you ample time and space to convey your message. You can use video not only to promote your product, but also to provide potential customers with actionable tips and insights about your industry. Think of it as a watchable version of a blog post, with the goal of offering people value to get them to trust and engage with your business. There are several places for displaying video content, including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, as well as your website. Try out this video maker to get started.
10. Influencer marketing We keep coming back to social media, and for good reason - these are some of the best platforms for reaching diverse audiences. Instagram alone boasts over 1 billion users each month, with 81% using the platform to research products and services. Influencer marketing involves harnessing the power of Instagram and other social platforms by partnering with influencers - people who already have a dedicated base of engaged followers. These people are considered experts in their field, and their followers will take their recommendations to heart. That means that when an influencer backs your product, it gains instant credibility in the eyes of their followers. The result? More exposure for your brand and new customers. Typically, influencers require compensation in exchange for promoting your brand, since many rely on sponsored content for income. In this case, you’ll essentially be sponsoring one of their social media posts. A very popular influencer (with 100,000+ followers) will be in higher demand and is likely to charge more than a micro-influencer (with 5,000 to 100,000 followers). Often, micro-influencers accept free products and swag rather than payment, especially if they’re just getting started. Do your research to find out which partnerships will be best for your market and budget.
11. Affiliate marketing In addition to paying influencers for sponsored posts, you can pay them for sharing affiliate content. This is a practice known as affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing involves two players: the merchant and the affiliate. The affiliate is someone who promotes the merchant’s product to their audience, and earns a percentage of the sale in exchange. So, how does this work? As the merchant, you’ll start by connecting with affiliates either by reaching out to them directly or using an affiliate network. Once they agree to partner with you, you’ll provide them with a unique link to your online store. Then, the affiliate will promote your link in a number of ways, such as including it in a blog post, Instagram post or YouTube video. When a customer clicks on the link to make a purchase, the affiliate will earn a commission from the sale. The benefit of affiliate marketing is that it can bring your business wider exposure. By partnering with affiliates who already have a large audience on their social media platforms or blog, you’ll have the ability to reach new customers.
12. Outreach marketing What do affiliate marketing and influencer marketing have in common? They both involve partnering with people outside your business in order to promote your product or service. This is the guiding principle of outreach marketing. An effective outreach strategy involves using email outreach to build relationships with people who can influence consumer opinions about your brand. These include social media influencers, bloggers, journalists and even other businesses. The goal of connecting with these people is to get your brand mentioned on a well-known site or social media channel. This will strengthen your brand’s authority in your niche, while building brand awareness and helping you gain exposure. It’s also a great way to network with influential people who may be beneficial to your business down the line. Many companies also use outreach marketing to build backlinks, or links from external websites to their own site. Having a high number of backlinks from credible, authoritative sources is good for your SEO and can ultimately bring more traffic to your website. That said, don’t start link building without first doing careful research, as search engines can penalize you for malpractice.
13. Email marketing Email marketing is one of the most effective types of marketing. In fact, 81% of small business marketers rely on email as their primary acquisition channel, while 80% use it for customer retention. Email marketing involves sending emails to prospects and customers with the goal of making sales or driving them further down the marketing funnel. Because it’s a direct way of reaching your customers, it tends to generate high returns. For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average ROI is $44. Depending on your goals, you can send all sorts of emails to your audience, including informational newsletters, new product releases, sales announcements and abandoned shopping cart reminders. Just keep in mind that everyone you email must have willingly subscribed to receive your messages in order for you to remain legally compliant. To start getting subscribers, add lead capture forms to your website with fields for visitors to fill in their names and email addresses. Make sure that your forms are eye-catching and that your written copy is compelling to encourage people to sign up to your mailing list.
14. Guerilla marketing As we mentioned earlier, most of the promotional techniques we discuss in this article constitute different forms of digital marketing. Guerilla marketing, however, is a bit of a different breed. It’s one of those rare types of modern marketing that involves taking your tactics offline. Guerilla marketing is the use of novel, unconventional methods to boost sales and generate awareness around your brand. While sometimes aided by technology such as social media or mobile devices, it generally involves a small group of people using bold methods to promote a brand in a high-traffic physical location. This means anything from using street art to brand a public space, to creating immersive pop-up experiences in physical locations. Guerilla marketing is very doable on a low-budget, but it does require high energy and prompt, tightly organized execution. If you’re up for the challenge, it’s a fun and original way to generate buzz around your brand. Take a look at these guerilla marketing examples for more ideas.
15. Word of mouth marketing Ever heard the phrase that happy customers are your biggest advocates? This is the main idea behind word of mouth marketing (WOMM), which is the practice of getting satisfied customers to spread the word about your product or service.
This is important for two reasons. First, achieving a successful word of mouth marketing strategy means that you’ve obtained loyal customers who are committed to your brand. And since these people will be recommending your product to their friends, it also means more potential buyers. After all, people place more weight on the recommendations of a trusted friend than those of a biased seller. There’s no tried-and-true approach to guaranteeing an effective WOMM strategy, but the most essential ingredient is consumer happiness. Offer top-notch customer service and do your best to genuinely address your customers’ needs, from the way you design your products to the values you practice as a brand. Enchant them, and the recommendations will follow.
16. Referral marketing A referral marketing strategy is one way to harness the power of word of mouth. This practice involves building a referral program, which is an organized way of incentivizing customers to recommend your products to others. Typically, these programs work by offering both the customer and their friend discounts when the customer convinces that friend to buy. Airbnb, for instance, incentivizes customers with $25 off their next booking when they successfully refer a friend to use their service. This program is a huge success - in some markets, AirBnb’s referral program increased bookings by over 25%.
17. Acquisition marketing Acquisition marketing, as its name implies, is marketing with the sole purpose of acquiring new clients. This contrasts from retention marketing and brand marketing, which you’ll read more about below.
Examples of acquisition marketing include SEO, top-of-the-funnel blog content, landing pages, and social media or Google ads. Anything that aims directly to obtain new customers or capture leads is considered acquisition marketing. The goal of acquisition marketers is to create assets that compel their target audience to click. Offering freemium products and free trials, optimizing your website’s conversion rate, and including strategic CTAs in your content are all powerful techniques for acquiring new customers.
18. Retention marketing Retention marketing goes hand-in-hand with acquisition marketing when it comes to making sales, and a strong marketing strategy requires the implementation of both. That said, retention marketing is a very different practice, with distinct goals and KPIs. While acquisition marketing focuses on acquiring new customers, retention marketing aims to bring back previous customers and hold on to existing ones. Studies have shown that this is a powerful practice with a high ROI. Acquiring new customers is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones, and on top of that, increasing retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by up to 95%.
An effective retention marketing strategy requires you to overdeliver on your promises to customers. Find ways to make your business exceed their expectations from the start, such as by thanking them with a handwritten note. Go above and beyond when engaging with them, whether it's by sending out customer feedback surveys or taking extra steps to address their pain points. Finally, schedule automated emails and continue marketing to them with relevant products and other business updates, even after their first purchase.
19. Brand marketing Unlike acquisition and retention marketing, brand marketing isn’t focused on making sales. Instead, its primary goal is to shape public perception of your brand. In other words, brand marketing involves promoting your identity, not your products. This involves coming up with a cohesive brand language, colors, website design and logo. It also requires putting together a compelling brand story, as well as a mission statement that highlights your values as a business. For these efforts to be effective, your brand needs to deeply resonate with the interests, values and needs of your target market. Start by researching your audience, and then shape a brand that speaks to them directly.
20. Behavioral marketing Behavioral marketing is a type of marketing that uses consumer behavior to decide how to target them with relevant material. This involves finely segmenting audiences based on their behavior online. To get behavioral data, you’ll need to look at users’ search history, cookies and actions on your site. These offer important insights about a particular user’s interests and readiness to purchase. Based on this information, marketers can create specific promotional campaigns tailored for different audiences. As you might expect, this generally isn’t done manually. Marketing automation plays a vital role here, with certain behaviors triggering specific campaigns. A particular action on your website, for instance, might show that user a relevant Facebook ad or send them an automated email recommending related products.
21. Nostalgia marketing Nostalgia marketing is the practice of evoking the power of nostalgia to create warm, happy feelings around your brand. This involves infusing your promotional materials with familiar concepts that evoke fond memories, and it’s a great way to build trust in a new company. Think about the retro appeal of an 8-bit era video game or a glass Coca-Cola bottle with its timeless red logo. These appeal to our love for nostalgia, for our yearning for a pure and simple past.
To tap into this strategy, try launching a nostalgia-driven social media campaign that incorporates old school references and invokes childhood memories among your target audience. Just make sure your messaging stays consistent with your brand’s story, values and product.
22. Neuromarketing Another important type of marketing is neuromarketing. This is an entire field of marketing that applies neuropsychology to market research. By analyzing brain imaging and scanning to measure physiological and neural signals, neuromarketers study the brain’s response to marketing stimuli. They can tell, for instance, if a customer is genuinely happy with a particular product, even if they don’t verbally express it. Not only is this a fascinating way to learn more about human behavior; it also helps guide organizations in creating marketing materials that truly work. All types of marketing consider psychology, but neuromarketing is founded in real, hard science. Guided by neural research, marketing professionals can develop a more informed approach to crafting marketing assets, designing products and developing a brand.
23. Emotional marketing While we’re on the subject of consumer psychology, let’s talk about emotional marketing. This encompasses any marketing effort that use emotion as the primary vehicle for getting people to purchase or otherwise engage with a brand. In order to be effective, emotional marketing needs to concentrate on a single feeling, whether it’s happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, disgust or something in between. Consider Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, which evokes the emotions of optimism, acceptance and self-love to promote its products. Studies show that feeling plays a bigger role than thinking in consumer behavior. Why? Because most people prefer to follow their heart when making a decision. So, in your marketing campaigns, don’t just focus on the advantages of your product; focus instead on how you want people to feel when using it.
24. Public relations Also known as PR, public relations is a subset of marketing that involves managing the way your business is represented in the media. The process involves using press releases - official statements for the press about a newsworthy item or event - to encourage the media to publish content about your business. For instance, you may urge the press to publish stories on your business’s launch, latest funding round, a recent award, a groundbreaking new product, or a large charitable contribution. The goal here is to shape the public’s perception of your brand and highlight your company as an industry leader. This, in turn, helps stimulate demand for your product or service. While it can be combined with other marketing efforts, PR is a full-time job. Many businesses have a dedicated PR team whose purpose is to help the company get good press.
25. Mobile marketing A core part of any digital strategy, mobile marketing has rapidly gained traction since the advent of the smartphone. This technique refers to any marketing or advertising activity that uses mobile devices as its main promotional platform. If you own a smartphone, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with this strategy. Push notifications, SMS messages, in-app marketing and QR codes are all commonly used methods for promoting a product or brand. Mobile marketing takes advantage of the fact that people carry their mobile devices everywhere. It also makes use of people’s tendency to casually browse the web through their mobile phones, and uses this data to target potential customers with well-timed messages. For example, a phone’s location services enable businesses to target users based on their physical location.
26. Relationship marketing Relationship marketing is a type of marketing that seeks to build long-term customer relationships rather than focus on short-term sales or transactions. The goal of relationship marketing is to foster a base of loyal customers who will become dependable buyers and advocates of your brand. This marketing practice prioritizes customer retention over acquisition. It involves providing high-quality customer service and making yourself available to respond to the questions and needs of your customers, whether that’s by engaging with them on social media or using live chat on your website. Importantly, building strong relationships with customers doesn’t just mean providing them good service until the time they make a purchase. On top of that, it’s important that you continue to delight customers long after they make their first purchase, such as by offering a loyalty program with special perks, complementary product recommendations, or product care tips and guides. Thoughtful acts like these are important for cultivating a community around your brand and building a lifelong relationship with your fans.
27. Voice marketing Voice marketing is a relatively new type of marketing that applies SEO practices to voice search. This allows businesses to capture searches from people who are speaking, rather than typing. While voice search has been around for several years, it’s become increasingly common with the popularity of smart speakers like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, as well as smartphone assistants like Siri. There are several ways voice search differs from typed phrases; for instance, people searching with voice may use longer phrases or even full sentences. If someone’s browsing on their computer and has a hankering for a burger, they may simply type “burger restaurant” into Google. On the other hand, if they’re busy driving, they might ask Siri, “Where can I get a burger?” Google accommodates for this semantic variation by continuously improving the natural language processing (NLP) capabilities of its search engine. To stay on top of this ever-evolving world of SEO, familiarize yourself with voice marketing and adapt your site to voice search.
28. Partnership marketing Partnership marketing is the collaboration between two or more businesses that combine their promotional efforts for mutual benefit. By partnering up, you’ll expand your reach to another business’s audience, while they expand their reach to yours. This is a great way to generate brand awareness, get new customers, and partner up with other companies that share your values. If you’re interested in trying this approach, start by researching businesses with similar target audiences. Ideally, they should also offer products that complement your own so that customers are encouraged to purchase both. And of course, you’ll want to make sure they aren’t your direct or indirect competitors. Partnership marketing options include hosting a joint webinar, conducting a research study together, or collaborating on a special product release. For instance, if you run a small business selling charcuterie boards, consider partnering with a local winery and marketing your products together.
29. User-generated marketing While partnership marketing harnesses the power of other businesses, user-generated marketing harnesses the power of your audience. Any strategy that allows consumers to participate in a marketing campaign is considered user-generated marketing. The most common user-generated marketing strategy is to get users to share social media posts of themselves using your product. On Instagram, this typically involves using a branded hashtag so that all the posts can be gathered in one place. The primary advantage of sharing user-generated content is to drive brand engagement and spread brand awareness. On top of that, content that shows real users enjoying your products helps persuade other consumers to try them out, too.
30. Seasonal marketing Seasonal marketing is the marketing of products and services at certain times throughout the year. This might involve having one marketing campaign for Valentine’s Day, a different one for Christmas, and yet another for Pride month. While every business can benefit from this type of marketing, it’s especially crucial for those that rely heavily on certain time of year for sales. A florist or jewelry business, for instance, will want to invest heavily in marketing campaigns for holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
31. Stealth marketing You’re probably already familiar with product placement, which involves subtly promoting a product by featuring it in a movie, TV show, or another form of media. This type of marketing is known as stealth marketing, also referred to as undercover marketing. As a whole, this marketing strategy involves promoting a product to consumers without their knowing they’re being marketed to. Aside from product placement, stealth marketing can also be carried out in online forums where marketers talk about a product to generate buzz around it. The goal of stealth marketing isn’t to immediately generate sales, but rather to grow brand awareness and steadily build interest in a product. This technique also makes audiences more responsive to direct advertising, as it primes them beforehand by giving them a positive impression of the brand.
32. Trendjacking What is trendjacking?
Trendjacking is a social media marketing strategy in which a brand uses trending topics, events or memes to connect with their audience. “The number one goal of marketing is attention,” explained Daniel Murray, creator of The Marketing Millennials, a podcast and newsletter that caters to marketing professionals. “Trendjacking is a way to get attention by inserting your brand into everyday conversations.”
Achieving success with different types of marketing
As you can see, you can use several types of marketing to grow your business and make sales. While there are more marketing strategies than anyone can count, the ones listed in this article are some of the most popular and effective. Now that you’ve read through this piece, select a handful that you think are best suited for your business. Then, based on the strategies you choose, create a cohesive, unified marketing strategy with highly targeted campaigns.
You may want to know a bit extra about creating content for social media platforms. Just click it.