What are marketing channels and which should you focus on?
Allow us to kick off this blog by echoing the words of the one and only Peter Drucker (aka, the father of management thinking):
“There are only two things in business that make money—marketing and innovation. Everything else is cost.” And nothing has ever sounded so true.
However, if you’ve dined alongside marketers before, you probably know that choosing the right marketing channels isn’t exactly a cakewalk.
There are so many changes happening in marketing right now (lookin’ at you, chatbots), and it isn’t easy to know which platforms are actually worth it.
Worry no more. Below, we’ll explore the best marketing channels and how to use them to your advantage.
But first, a quick refresher.
What, Exactly, Are Marketing Channels?
By the simplest definition, a “marketing channel” is the mechanism by which a product (both tangible and intangible) moves from the producer to the end user.
However, experienced marketers will tell you that this task is much harder than the simple definition would have you believe.
Ever watched AMC’s spectacular series Mad Men? Awesome.
If you can remember well, Don Draper and his colleagues had three go-to marketing channels: print, TV, and radio. Fifty years later and technology has caused a seismic shift in the marketing world.
But there are so many marketing channels today that the “Mad Men” (and women) would truly have gone mad upon seeing the options at their disposal. No kidding.
Away from the (iconic) Mad Men series…
Although marketing channels and distribution channels are terms that are often used interchangeably, these two are inherently different.
Generally speaking, marketing channels refer to the entire ecosystem (including retailers, wholesalers, organizations, materials, etc.) required for getting products from the point of production to the point of consumption.
On the other hand, distribution channels are explicitly concerned with moving a product to the target audience.
Now, let’s shift gears to the very thing that made you click on this blog: the top marketing channels to focus on right now.
6 Marketing Channels to Keep an Eye On Today
1. Word of Mouth Marketing
We’ve all done it as far back as we can remember.
“See these shoes? They’re the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn.”
And then: “I saw an epic movie last night.” Or: “You’ve got to try our new Chinese eatery.”
To most people, it’s known as friendly conversation, mere banter. But to most marketers, it’s the magic wand of marketing known as word of mouth marketing (WOMM).
WOMM might be the oldest marketing strategy around, but it remains the most valuable. Here are some numbers to back up the hype:
- 93% of consumers trust the opinions of friends and family when purchasing products or services. (Kantar Media Study).
- 83% of customers are willing to refer after a positive buying experience (Texas Tech University).
- People are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend (Nielsen).
Judging from these numbers, it’s easy to see why marketers are so revved up about WOMM.
To help take your WOMM game to the next level, we’ve compiled these three E’s:
- Engage: Give your target customers the gift of you. That’s right. Engage with them.
Listen to their conversations about your brand. Be so consistently close to them until your brand becomes the first thing they think about when they wake up.
- Equip: Give them something to talk about. Aim to create an unforgettable consumer experience.
It can be excellent services, magnificent products, incredible stories, or even funny disclosures. Just make sure whatever you settle for leaves an indelible mark in your target audience.
- Empower: Lastly, give your target audience different ways to talk and share.
Let your fans know that they mean the world to you and that sharing their opinions is equally as important. Help them find ways to share your content within their circles.
An example of WOMM done right is Lay’s 2012 “Do Us A Flavor” campaign—arguably one of the most successful marketing campaigns ever.
Just take the plunge. Then thank us later.
2. Social Media Marketing
Who doesn’t know just how big of a player social media is in the marketing arena right now?
It might be cliché, but social media marketing remains one of the best ways to supercharge brand awareness.
Besides, social media offers valuable community-building opportunities that you won’t find anywhere else.
And these stats illustrate just that:
- 73% of marketers say that social media marketing is effective for their business. (Buffer)
- 54% of social browsers use social media to research products (GlobalWebIndex)
- Twitter ads are 11% more effective than live-TV ads during live events. (Twitter)
There’s a lot to cover when it comes to harnessing the power of social media, but here are the most important things to keep in mind:
- Choose the right platforms to be on: Posting consistently on social media is a big deal, and it’s harder to do if you’re on every other platforms. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the four best platforms for marketers, so focus on those.
- Think about transparency: You still want to remain professional, but you can be professional without appearing like a sleezeball.
Address those negative comments with grace and show those behind-the-scenes pieces of content. Your target audience will notice this, and they’ll trust you more.
- Focus on relationships, not sales: If people wanted to be sold to, they’d head over to your website. Instead, they’ve come to social media because they want to know a thing or two about your brand.
Aim to interact with them ardently. And, please, don’t treat them like they’re merely an open wallet.
All in all, if you take the time to create a social media marketing plan tailored to each of the platforms you use, you’ll likely find success. Patience, as they say, pays.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Marketing
Make no mistake about it. Search engines are the highest converting digital marketing channels today.
And they’re arguably the best marketing channel for acquiring attention (how’s that for dominance?).
If you think we’re making stuff up, take a look at these stats:
- Over 3.5 billion searches are made every day on Google (Internet Live Stats)
- 87% of consumers use a search engine when they want to learn more about a new product or service. (Salesforce)
- On the first page alone, the first five organic results account for 67.60% of all clicks. (Martech)
If these numbers are anything to go by, optimizing all of your different channels for SEO can bring traffic and increase conversions.
Perhaps worth noting is the fact that SEO as a ranking technique changes quickly. And the tactics that marketers employ must adapt quickly as well.
Question is, are you really paying attention to, and optimizing for, the ever-changing fundamentals of SEO?
If the answer is ‘no,’ then it’s about time you upped your SEO game. And by that, we mean:
- Use video and optimize it: Don’t let budgeting limitations stop you from unleashing the SEO king in you. Between motion graphics and phone recordings, there are plenty of options available to you.
- Make your content user-friendly: SEO is ultimately about people, and most search engine updates favor user-friendly content. Do whatever it takes to learn about user trends, buyer personas, and human behaviors.
This, coupled with technical SEO, could catapult your marketing campaigns to new heights.
- Focus on user intent: When conducting keyword research, incorporate user intent search queries and tie them together with voice search queries, like questions, to help support those user intent queries.
- Utilize a referral: Personalize your CTAs based on referrals. You can also do this based on location and keyword search queries.
While a website may be the first platform you optimize for SEO, don’t turn a blind eye on other platforms—your blog, Google My Business Profile, infographics, and your YouTube channel.
4. Content Marketing
Whoever said “Content is KING” wasn’t joking around. And marketing is the vehicle that ferries the almighty “king” to his destination.
To show you just how big of a deal content marketing is, here are a few of our favorite celebrity quotes:
- “Content marketing is no longer a numbers game. It’s a game of relevance.” (Jason Miller)
- “You need to create ridiculously good content—content that is useful, enjoyable, and inspired.” (Ann Handley)
- “Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” (Doug Kessler)
- “Content marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.” (David Beebe)
And then, the numbers:
- A whopping 95% of consumers say that content helps them trust a brand more. (Demand Gen Report)
- 61% of consumers have bought something recommended in a blog post. (Social Media Today).
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing campaigns. On top of this, it generates three times more leads. (Demand Metric)
The beauty of this distribution channel is that it provides long-lasting SEO benefits. It also yields valuable lead generation and relationship-building advantages. Did we mention that it’s been one of our top-performing digital marketing channels here at Welcome?
Here’s how you can get the most out of content marketing:
- Be strategic: Use your content to actually accomplish something, rather than just writing for the sake of it. Leverage buyer personas and keyword research to shape the topics you write about.
- Provide value: Make sure every ounce of your content is actionable. That’s the only way your brand is going to remain top-of-mind.
- Know that it’s not a stand-alone distribution channel: Content marketing drives other marketing channels. Yup, you heard that right.
Therefore, aim to integrate it with your overarching marketing plan as well as with other digital marketing channels.
- Leverage a content calendar: A well thought out and organized calendar can act as the final piece in your content marketing puzzle.
All the best in your content marketing journey! Just don’t forget to plan effectively.
5. Email Marketing
Wasn’t email marketing supposed to face the hangman at the start of the year? And last year? And the year before that?
As much as marketing clairvoyants keep anticipating the death of email marketing, the numbers tell a completely different story.
- There are 4.15 billion email users. This number is expected to climb to 4.6 billion by 2025. (Statista)
- 78% of marketers say email is important to the overall success of their brand. (Litmus)
- 73% of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come from email. (Adestra)
- Apple iPhone is the most popular mobile client for reading emails, with 29% of all opens happening on this platform. (Campaign Monitor)
The more subscribers you get for your email publications, the more leads you’ll get. And as you well know, more leads means more revenue!
Here are some tips to get your email marketing campaign going:
- Get personal: Don’t misunderstand personalization as addressing your subscribers by name. While this is part of it, there are other aspects of personalization you need to stay on top of.
These include anticipating your subscribers’ needs, sending timely emails, and being relevant.
- Promotions aren’t everything: The heart of your email marketing campaign must be to establish and nurture lasting relationships with your customers. Everything else is of secondary concern.
- Only send an email when you’ve got something valuable to share: Your subscribers haven’t got all the time in the world to read your “haha” and “huhu” emails.
Most of them have got planes to catch, pets to feed, meetings to get to. Only send valuable emails.
- Don’t ignore the subject line: You need to give subscribers reasons to click.
That said, let’s raise a glass to more email marketing wins!
6. PPC Marketing
As far as marketing channels go, pay-per-click advertising still reigns supreme.
It’s essentially a model of digital marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads gets clicked.
As we speak, Facebook ads and Google ads are the two dominant forces in the PPC world.
Google’s search ads can help you connect with individuals who are looking for a service or product like yours.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s paid social ads and Google’s display ads can help you promote your offerings to people who weren’t looking or didn’t even know you existed.
Now, some quick tips on how to spruce up your PPC marketing campaigns:
- Optimize your campaigns for mobile users
- Use a high-performing keyword
- Write an engaging ad copy
- Make the most of ad extensions
- Optimize the quality of keyword (focus on the keyword score)
Hungry for more PPC marketing tips? HubSpot has got you covered.
What About All The Other Marketing Channels?
Just because a distribution channel didn’t make it to our list doesn’t mean it’s not important or effective.
Plenty of marketers have had enormous success with influencer marketing, podcasts, billboards, or TV.
Who knows? You might just also get lucky with one of these underrated channels.
One more thing…
As you strive to amply your brand’s online presence, we recommend that you connect your marketing channels into one giant web.
Why? You ask.
Well, the reasoning for this is quite simple: omnichannel marketing can improve your marketing results everywhere you have a brand presence.
Multi-channel marketing was once touted as the future of ecommerce, but it is happening right now and going nowhere soon. The sooner you embrace it, the better for your brand, your target audience, and certainly, your bottom line!
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