Digital Selling Vs. Digital Marketing: Why Most Companies Have it Wrong

why Digital Marketing and Digital Selling need to work together

When people hear digital marketing, what comes to mind first? 

Is it increasing brand visibility across an industry or market? 

Probably not. 

That’s what people should be thinking about, but many conflate marketing with sales—and, instead, the focus is on pitching products and making sales. 

The #1 problem with marketers at most B2B companies is that they are not actually marketing. They’re selling.

This isn’t because most marketers don’t know what they’re doing. The truth is, when people hire marketers, they don’t fully understand what the job entails. So, instead of focusing on turning your brand into a household name and building demand for it, they are forced to accommodate an already established audience.

Related reading: Acquisition or Retention? The Results Are In: B2B Marketers Need to Focus On New

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is the practice of promoting products, services, or brands through electronic media, primarily on the internet. It encompasses a wide range of tactics and techniques, including search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and more. The goal of digital marketing is to connect with customers where they spend a lot of their time: online.

What is Digital Selling?

Digital selling refers to the process of selling products or services through digital channels, such as the internet or mobile devices. This can include various tactics and techniques, such as e-commerce, online marketplaces, and social media selling. Digital selling can take many forms, such as setting up an online store, listing products on e-commerce platforms like Amazon or eBay, or using social media platforms to promote products and take orders. The goal of digital selling is to reach customers where they are spending most of their time online and to provide an easy and convenient way to purchase products or services.

Why is it essential for marketers to recognize the difference between digital marketing and digital selling?

Recognizing and understanding the difference between the two allows marketers to develop and implement more effective and efficient digital strategies that address the unique needs and goals of both activities. Marketers that understand this distinction also helps marketers to align their campaigns and activities to reach the customer at the right stage of the buyer’s journey and providing them with a seamless and efficient experience.

B2B marketing is all about attracting people to your brand and making them want what you have to offer, not the other way around. You have to show people that what you have is the next big thing, and they’ll regret not striking while the iron’s hot, so to speak. You lose the true meaning of marketing and give way to sales when you start worrying about finding consumers instead of letting your target consumers find you.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. As long as my brand receives some form of engagement, then it shouldn’t matter. If the end result is someone purchasing my product or subscribing to my services, then it’s a win. Right?

Unfortunately, that is not the case here. 

The difference between digital marketing and digital selling

When it comes to digital marketing and digital selling, the lines are undoubtedly blurred—but marketing ≠ sales. 

While the difference may not be significant to the average person—putting all your eggs in the sales basket will hinder your brand’s chances of higher engagement and growth. 

Here is a breakdown of both terms.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is an effort that uses a variety of assets to connect with a large audience of consumers online. 

It involves creating brand awareness and visibility through various channels, including email, websites, social media platforms, images, videos, and written content. It also includes specific marketing tactics to drive engagement, such as pay-per-click advertising, paid search and social, and search engine optimization, to name a few.

The possibilities offered by digital marketing channels are almost unlimited. This powerful strategy enables businesses to get in front of the right people at the right time—improving the odds that those people will choose the marketed B2B brand. 

A good digital marketing strategy tells a story people want to hear and, in turn, will capture their attention and turn them towards your company.

Digital Selling

In contrast to digital marketing, digital selling is responsible for driving revenue and works to convert an audience into buyers. 

A well-designed digital selling effort leverages digital tools like customer relationship management systems, content management platforms, lead-generation resources, social platforms, and various communication methods for striking up business. 

Related reading: How To Sell in 2022

Let’s not forget that digital marketing efforts can, and often do, impact revenue, but digital selling is focused solely on driving sales and closing the deal with your consumers. 

Since the line is muddled, most marketers feel like they are an on-demand sales collateral center for digital sales. They are not hired to market but to sell in the guise of “marketing.” So, where they should be accountable to the consumers, they are actually responsible for how much they can get consumers to buy. 

While most digital marketing experts will agree that equal attention should be given to both digital marketing and sales initiatives, it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing predominantly on sales to the exclusion of marketing altogether. This approach not only risks landing on a disengaged or desensitized audience, but it can also become a nuisance—damaging the reputation of growing B2B brands that are so sales-heavy they become annoying or aggressive.

Related reading: 4 Ways The B2B Sales Cycle Has Changed

How digital marketing and digital selling work together to win sales

Now that the world has gone almost completely digital, we’ve become dangerously obsessed with pushing the purchase of our products or services. And this is a problem. 

In its simplest form, digital marketing is focused on the top of the sales funnel—it’s used to create online desirability, credibility, and trust, which will drive online traffic to your brand. 

Digital selling is all about closing the deal after the digital marketing campaign brings consumers to your brand.

Let’s take a look at three companies that do both digital marketing and digital selling effectively.

4 Companies Using Digital Marketing and Digital Selling to Win Sales


Amazon is a great example of a company that excels at both digital marketing and digital selling. They use a wide range of digital marketing tactics, such as search engine optimization and email marketing, to drive traffic to their website. Once customers are on their site, they use effective digital selling strategies, such as personalized product recommendations and easy checkout process to convert visitors into customers.


Netflix is another company that effectively uses digital marketing and digital selling to grow their business. They use targeted online advertising, social media marketing and email marketing campaigns to attract new subscribers. They also use data-driven personalization and recommendations to upsell and retain their customers.


Airbnb’s focus is on digital marketing, they are successfully built a strong brand through targeted online advertising, content marketing and social media marketing. They’ve effectively used these channels to build trust and establish themselves as a go-to option for vacation rental accommodations. On the selling side, the platform has a smooth, user-friendly interface that makes it easy for potential renters to find and book properties.


Nike is a good example of a company that does digital marketing and selling effectively, they use a combination of search engine optimization, social media, and B2B influencer marketing to promote their products and build their brand. They also have a user-friendly e-commerce site that makes it easy for customers to purchase products.

These are just a few examples, but there are many other companies that do both digital marketing and digital selling well. Keep in mind that what works well for one company may not be the best strategy for another, as the digital landscape is continuously evolving.

Understanding the difference between these two beneficial tools will make it easier for you to position your brand and close sales.

If you still need help figuring out how each piece fits into your business model, give us a call. We’d love to help you.


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