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Advertising vs. Marketing: What’s the difference?

Advertising vs. Marketing: What’s the difference?

Most will agree that marketing is necessary when it comes to launching, growing, and sustaining an eCommerce business. Potential customers have to know that your brand and products exist to be able to purchase them. That being said, many people use terms like marketing and advertising interchangeably, even though they’re different in practice. What is that difference and do you need both? Read on to find out!

What’s the difference between marketing and advertising?


Marketing is the overall plan or strategy used to source, attract, and retain customers. There are two types of marketing: inbound and outbound. Inbound marketing involves organically gaining customers and drawing them into your website or business. Outbound marketing is broader, usually involving paid promotion to reach a larger audience. Inbound marketing can include blogs, email, social media, influencers, webinars, whitepapers, e-books, podcasts, videos, and SEO. Outbound marketing can include events, print ads, social ads, SEM, cold email, direct mail, TV ads, and public relations.


Advertising is one component of a marketing strategy and involves paid promotion of a good, service, or brand. While marketing often involves increasing engagement and excitement for a brand or product, advertising is direct, one-way, and aims to get the viewer to take action. There are two different types of advertising: digital and traditional. Digital advertising can include sponsored social media posts, social media ads, and paid search ads. Traditional advertising is advertising that takes place outside of the internet, like print ads, billboards, radio spots, and tv commercials.

Marketing and advertising for eCommerce

Strategy Building

There is an immense amount of research behind the most successful eCommerce marketing strategies. Your research should include specific data about which tactics work best for your industry, who your target audience is, and how your customers interact with different marketing mediums. From there, you can develop a strategy that makes the most sense for your brand and the products that you sell. 

As we discussed earlier, advertising is one component of a larger marketing strategy. In order to decide whether or not your brand should invest in paid advertising, you need to have a broader marketing strategy in place. To determine that strategy, you need to have a clear goal in mind. Is the goal customer acquisition, building engagement, or successfully launching a new product? Once you know what the goal is, you can decide how best to achieve that goal utilizing marketing.

Paid advertising is best leveraged when you have the budget for it. Whether you’re a new brand trying to reach a wide audience or an established brand launching a new product, it’s best to ensure you have the budget for paid advertising if you want to include it in your marketing strategy.

eCommerce Marketing

If you are solely an eCommerce business (meaning your products are only sold online), then digital marketing and advertising should be your focus. Within that focus, there should be an emphasis on visuals. Your customers can’t go to a brick-and-mortar store to touch your products, sample them, or try them on. The images of your product are going to be the main selling points to your customers. That goes for both your inbound and outbound marketing strategies. It’s just as important to have quality visuals on your brand’s social media account as it is to have them in your paid ads.

Once you have great visuals, then you want to focus on your words. When it comes to eCommerce marketing, the visuals will attract while the words persuade. Make sure your product descriptions are accurate and enticing. Use email marketing to draw customers to your website for sales or promotions. Use content marketing to build excitement around your brand and products, and to gain trust with your customers. Make sure that your website is optimized for search engines. With high-quality visuals and copy, your brand will be on its way toward a successful eCommerce marketing campaign.

Digital marketing and advertising can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re thinking about investing in digital advertising but aren’t sure where to begin, the team at Blue Wheel would be happy to help!

Simply fill out the form below and we’ll get in touch to discuss your marketing and advertising goals.

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