What is Digital Marketing + 5 Key Differences Between Affiliate & Referral Marketing (2023)

Regarding different marketing practices, digital marketing has become one of the most prominent ways businesses promote their work. Although an umbrella term for the numerous approaches organizations can take up, digital marketing has become essential for companies to market themselves to their target customers. How about we take a deeper look into what is digital marketing?

Organizations must take up the methods that will align with their goals and reap maximum results. Since digital marketing groups different practices together, it is necessary for businesses to understand how each approach will work and whether it is of benefit to their operations. Here’s a look into a few different types of digital marketing practices that businesses can apply themselves. 

4 Types of Digital Marketing Practices

  1. Social Media Marketing: Businesses can use online platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and more to promote their work. By creating enticing content for their offerings, organizations can use their social media profiles to attract new customers from their target audience groups.
  1. Email Marketing is an efficient way to promote business services and products to target audience groups. By sending out promotional emails, organizations can conveniently connect with their target audience groups in the B2C and B2B environments. When you look up what is digital marketing? Or what are the most essential marketing practices, you will find the mention of email marketing for its efficiency.
  1. Referral Marketing is a marketing approach that relies on word-of-mouth recommendations from one customer to another about a specific product or service. Businesses may encourage their customers to refer to their offerings through special discounts or offers only available with a referral. 
  1. Affiliate Marketing: Businesses can collaborate with online social media influencers or bloggers and partner with them to promote their products and services. Organizations will also have to pay a percentage of their revenue from these promotions to the person or group promoting their work. 

What are the Differences Between Affiliate and Referral Marketing?

  1. Person Involvement: In referral marketing, promotion relies on first-person recommendations between two or more consumers, often on a word-of-mouth basis. Consumers become aware of an organization’s work from other customers directly. On the other hand, affiliate marketing takes a third-party approach. Businesses will have to search for the most suitable individuals or groups who will promote their services efficiently. 
  1. Target Audience Groups: Referral marketing often takes a personalized approach as recommendations pass from a customer to their friends, family, and other acquaintances they may have. On the other hand, the target audience groups in affiliate marketing depend on the reach of the affiliate partner and the customers they cater to. 
  1. Marketing Approach: In a referral marketing approach, promotion usually occurs through word-of-mouth between one person and another through conversations, text messages, shared social media links, etc. For affiliate marketing, a partner may promote an organization’s work through their work medium, such as online videos, social media posts, blogs, and more.
  1. Rewards: Businesses may offer non-cash incentives to their customers for their referrals and to get more people to use their services. These often occur through discounts, cashback, or complementary products. In the case of affiliate marketing, partners have to be paid a commission based on the revenue a company receives from its promotional efforts. 
  1. Value to Customers: Because referrals have a personalized approach, there is more trust present in the words of a consumer. People will be more likely to engage with a business when a person they know uses their services satisfactorily. On the other hand, affiliate partners must be strategic with how they connect with their audience, as there will be a lower level of trust. They have to promote an organization’s reliability when marketing their offerings. 


Digital marketing can be highly effective for businesses, irrespective of their scale of operations. However, when choosing the most suitable practices, organizations must pick methods that align with their goals and reap the desired results. When taking up affiliate marketing or promoting referrals, businesses must be aware of their audience reach and the efficiency of each. It is best to thoroughly check if these measures will benefit the organization and bring in profits. 

When taking up these marketing practices, businesses work on connecting with their consumers and onboarding reliable affiliate partners, as it will help them build a healthy relationship with their target audience groups and grow in the industry.

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