How to Choose a Digital Marketing Channel

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If you’re familiar with digital marketing channels, you’ll know there’s a lot of them out there. This makes choosing a select few hard — especially when new ones are developing all of the time.

Most marketers feel more distracted than ever with their work scattered across tried and trusted channels and those that seem to the “it” thing right now.

In this session, we help you to regain that laser focus so you can prioritise the type of channels that work for you and your business.

That’s right — forget TikTok even if everybody is talking about it. If your mature audience isn’t populating this channel, there’s no use in using it. The same goes for respected high-brow publications if your youthful target market is likely to turn their nose up at them.

On the other side of the coin, for those of you who are simply wondering what a digital marketing channel is, we’ll go back to basics helping to define and exemplify this term.

The good news is, you’ve already done most of your homework to choose the right digital marketing channels — that is if you’ve been reading the research module chronologically.

Having good knowledge about your market, customers and competitors is half the battle. Read on to find out why.

What Is a Marketing Channel?

The concept of a marketing channel is simple.

Any type of platform or method used to convey marketing messages is classed as a marketing channel.

Think of the channels used to stream programmes on your TV screen. In marketing, it’s basically the same concept. The advertisements and TV programmes are the content while Channel 4 or ITV is the channel.

Traditional marketing channels are print methods like magazines, posters and newspapers. Even this “retro” way of marketing has its fair share of marketing channels to choose from.

In digital marketing, the list is even greater. What’s more, this list just keeps on growing as a result of digital innovation.

Digital Marketing Channel Examples

Some digital marketing channels spring to mind instantly.

These are the channels you might class as your “backbone” or those you use most regularly. Marketers tend to select these channels without even thinking about it. In other words, they’re must-haves for most business types.

The Most Obvious Digital Marketing Channels:

  • Blogs
  • Social Media
  • Website
  • Email
  • Press Releases
  • SEO
  • PPC

Remember when we said the list of digital marketing channels is expanding? Well, with this comes some marketing channels we might not have heard of. These channels tend to creep slowly onto our radar until suddenly they’re all we can think about.

It doesn’t take long for a new digital marketing channel to cause a full-blown frenzy in the marketing world.

These lesser-known digital marketing channels can confuse marketers. When they appear, you need to try to ascertain whether they’ll help your brand to blow up or whether they’ll prove to be a fleeting trend that results in a complete flop for your business.

Some Lesser-Known Digital Marketing Channels:

  • Apps
  • Webinars
  • Events
  • QR Codes
  • Chatbots
  • SMS Marketing

Keep in mind — these lists aren’t exhaustive.

There are literally hundreds of digital marketing channels — some that are no longer popular and some in the early stages of development.

We could have added to this list things like online forums and affiliate marketing. In the interest of time, we didn’t bother to write an entire list of digital marketing channels, so we could save time to get to the good stuff — how to choose the ones that work for you.

How to Choose the Most Effective Channel

The truth is, you can’t pick them all.

We’re guessing there’s no one reading this session with infinite resources and a never-ending budget.

Instead, you’ll need to learn to prioritise where best to invest your money and your time — and the time and energy of your team.

The second truth is, you shouldn’t pick them all.

Even if by the slim chance you did have a sizable budget and near-infinite roster of resources, it still wouldn’t make sense to focus on every possible avenue.

The third truth is, customers need you to be selective.

A brand with a clear marketing strategy with communication on a select few channels will strike a chord with customers, instead of confusing them.

Any Just Eat customer will know this fast-food delivery service is firmly focused on their app, SMS Messaging and retargeting ads.

This national brand might have the type of budget to put out content on other platforms like their blog or their Instagram. Yet, have you ever paid attention to these digital marketing channels when it comes to Just Eat? Probably not.

That’s why this brand focuses on a few lucrative marketing channels, rather than trying to make every single channel a winner.

So, how do you find your winning formula?

The odds are you’ll need to focus on at least one of these “staple” channels:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Organic Social Media
  • Email

Staple channels are golden oldies you can rely on to stay relevant and stable.

Investment in these types of channels is wise. So, here’s a bit more about them:

1.Website

It’s pretty much a given that every brand engaging in digital marketing will have a website.

Research shows that 45% of small businesses don’t have a website. These guys probably aren’t focusing on digital marketing and so — in turn — are likely to be missing out on lots of potential traffic and sales as a result.

A website is essentially like a base for all of your content. It houses everything, from your products, service pages, mission statement, press mentions and FAQs.

You’ll be hard-pressed to think of a brand that doesn’t need a website.

A website is so crucial because it gives you a place to build a database that helps you to track leads and sales.

It is your physical sales machine.

With that said, you might want to read:

And watch:

2. Blog

A blog is a small part of your website that warrants its own section.

Blogging is no small feat, with it taking 65% more time to write a ranking-worthy blog than it did in 2014.

Content marketing — the act of giving your customers valuable information as opposed to offers and incentives — is the most effective way to make sales right now.

As we saw with Just Eat, not every company fixates on their blog.

However, most companies are, as blogging is a great way to address your customers objections and build long-lasting relationships.

With that said, you might want to read:

And watch:

3. Organic Social Media

Not many brands can confidently say their audience isn’t on Facebook.

The chances are your target customer is populating at least one social platform with 3.5 billion social media users in the world — at least for 2020. That’s about 45% of the population.

We’ve now passed the point of social media being new and we can confirm social media is not a trend. Rather, it’s here to stay and is dominating many big brand’s marketing strategies and budgets.

These online communities are especially popular with younger generations like millennials, who prove to be the biggest spenders in society.

With that said, you might want to read:

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4. Email

For many of us, email feels like an old school way to communicate that has stood the test of time. Miraculously, it’s still relevant to companies today.

For many businesses, daily newsletters and sales emails are incredibly effective.

No matter how much we all feel plagued by Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, there are still more email users than social users in the world. Email trumps social with an impressive 3.9 billion active email users.

So, if you’re one of those people who insists your audience isn’t on Facebook, try email instead.

With that said, you might want to read:

And watch:

Digging a little deeper might have put your mind at ease, knowing you’re already focusing on some of the key digital marketing channels we’ve mentioned.

It might have also revealed some knowledge gaps you’ll want to address before moving on.

Now you’ve identified your staples, it’s time to inject some risk into your marketing strategy by choosing digital marketing channels that are lesser-known, yet tailored to you.

As we all know, with great risk comes great reward.

For example, an imaginative app that focuses on multi-coloured birds and green-coloured pigs could make millions. Of course, we’re talking about the unprecedented success of angry birds here.

Similarly, jumping on the latest social platform could give you a greater chance of going viral, as could cheeky SMS messages, advanced chatbots and clever QR codes.

You get the picture.

You’ll want your staple digital marketing channels as your crash mat, so when you decide to engage in some extreme activities, you’ll have something safe to fall back on in case it all goes wrong.

When deciding when and with what to take the risk, you’ll want to reference your prior research.

This is when these three things come into play:

  • Market
  • Customer
  • Competitor

When a new marketing channel emerges, your interest should peak.

At this point, you’ll need to make a logical decision — not based on hype — about whether or not this could be a good digital marketing channel for your business.

Ask yourself the following three questions:

Question #1: Does this digital marketing channel align with my market?

Question #2: Are my customers populating this digital marketing channel?

Question #3: Are my competitors using this digital marketing channel?

Let’s take TikTok, for example.

Many high-brow industries will dismiss TikTok as it simply doesn’t align with their market or customers. Companies like legal firms might make the sensible decision to take a pass on TikTok and concentrate on building a reputable blog instead.

For some, this platform will provide a lucrative opportunity. Independent artists, clothing brands and fitness companies might test this platform as a potential fit.

Infographic showing the number of active users on TikTok in 2020

Image via oberlo.com

Interestingly, some unexpected players may join the game in a bid to engage the platform’s demographic. So while it might not necessarily be a conventional market fit, some companies like the World Health Organization (WHO) might deem joining the platform worthwhile — although it might not be at the forefront of such digital marketing strategies.

Those in a competitive mainstream market — take supermarkets, takeout providers and influencers, for example — might join the platform simply to differentiate from their rivals.

Still unsure whether to take the plunge?

Do a sanity check by reviewing whether a new digital marketing channel aligns with your business goals.

If your goal is to raise brand awareness, channels related to public relations and events are more beneficial.

If your goal is to smash sales targets, interruptive channels like PPC and SMS Marketing should be on your radar.

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