What is the most effective digital marketing channels? The answer will vary for different businesses according to many different factors. A marketing channel that works for one business might not be effective for the others.
In general, the most effective marketing channel for your business will depend largely on your industry, your business model, and especially, the kind of customers you are targeting.
So, in this guide, we will discuss some of the best marketing channel options in the market, and the reasons why they can be effective for your business. However, before we begin, let us first discuss the primary considerations when choosing marketing channels.
Key Considerations of Choosing Effective Marketing Channels
Here are some vital aspects to be considered when choosing the right digital marketing channel(s) for your business:
1. Determine Clear Goals For Marketing Channels Utilization
Different marketing channels will be more effective in fulfilling different marketing goals. So, it is important to first decide specific and realistic marketing goals before choosing the digital marketing channel(s).
Here are some of the common marketing goals, and how to use specific marketing channels to achieve them.
Maximizing Sales Conversion
In the end, all marketing efforts are done to generate more sales, so arguably this is the most important marketing goals out there. In this era where making online purchases are now the norm, we can utilize online marketing channels to drive purchase.
These are some of the most effective marketing channels for this goal, especially if you have an online store or ecommerce feature:
- Facebook Storefront
- Amazon Resellers
- Google Search Network
- Google Display Network
- Google Shopping Feeds
- Various affiliate marketing networks
The brand awareness goal can include better brand/product name recall, familiarity of your business, or more social media mentions among others.
For this goal, digital marketing channels that can offer strong brand awareness and brand development can help significantly. Here are some of the examples:
- Social media channels in general are great for this goal, particularly Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn
- Video channels like YouTube and Vimeo among others
- Promotional campaigns offering discounts and coupons
- Online events, like webinars, and offline events
- Social media advertising to engage targeted audience
Many businesses are using digital marketing primarily to generate leads, which can be an effective approach depending on the business model and industry. Here, the main purpose of the online marketing channels is to capture contact information.
Here are some of the effective marketing channels for this goal:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Various Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising
- Display advertising (online banners, etc.)
- Google Search Network advertising
- Blog, and content marketing in general
- Email marketing
If your business is promoting relatively new products and/or services, educating potential customers can be vital for your overall business success.Educating customers can also be an effective approach to encourage more conversions.
The idea of this goal is to make your audience realize the importance of your product/service in relations to their problems. In general, content marketing to provide audience with valuable contents (video tutorial, press release, white papers, ebooks, research reports, etc.) is the most effective marketing channel for this purpose.
Increasing Website Traffic
Website traffic can be a very important gateway to generating more leads. Also, if your business model involves monetizing your site by publishing contextual and display advertising, this is a very important goal, since traffic is the source of your revenue.
In general, SEO and content marketing (inbound marketing) are the best digital marketing channel for this goal.
2. Your Marketing Talent Pool
Maintaining various campaigns on various digital marketing channels can be a difficult task, and will require a certain levels of skills and knowledge on various marketing aspects. So, when making a digital marketing channel selection, you will need to consider the ability of your in-house marketing team. Outsourcing the job is certainly a possibility (will be discussed below), and these required skills should include:
- Creative: to develop written, visual, and video contents
- Search marketing: both SEO and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) require specific skills and knowledge
- Social media skills: the required skills to engage potential prospects and customers through social media
- Development/programing: for website design, maintenance, and other developmental needs
3. Your Budget Allocation
Some marketing channels can be more expensive than others. As mentioned, you will also need to consider the need to outsource when managing specific marketing channels.
Here are some considerations when planning a budget allocations for different marketing channels:
- Paid advertising budget. If you are not careful, this can be extremely expensive.This guide by WordStream might help you further
- Content creation services, including outsourcing fees. This can include fees for writers, graphic artists, photographers, filmmakers, etc
- Overhead for your in-house marketing manager and staffs
- Other fees related to specific channels
In general, your budget allocation should be based on your projected/actual revenue. Always monitor the ROI of all utilized marketing channels, and adjust whenever necessary.
8 Most Effective Digital Marketing Channels
Now that we’ve understood the key principles and considerations of digital marketing channels selection, let us discuss some of the most effective marketing channels out there, and whether they can work with your business.
1. Email Marketing
Even with all the advents of new marketing channels, email is still one of the most effective ways to reach customers. Studies even suggested that you can make $44 out of every single dollar you’ve spent on email marketing, that’s an ROI of 4,400%, far higher than any other marketing channels. The number of email users is expected to rise to 2.9 billion by 2019, and so you are missing out on a huge market if you don’t do email marketing.
The number one reason why email marketing is so effective is simply because consumers prefer email, especially to communicate with brands. Why? Here are a few reasons:
Nowadays, most people got access to their emails right on their mobile devices, giving them convenience. Consumers can stay connected with their brands wherever they are, and can easily download a content, redeem coupon codes, and even purchase the product right from their phone.
Emails provide consumers with instantaneous information. They can get information regarding exclusive offers, last minute deals, or the release of a new product instantly. For marketers, this also means we can get the word out instantly, and directly to customers.
In this saturated digital marketing world, consumers are getting countless marketing messages every single day, and so they tend to respond to messages that are relevant and personalized. Email marketing provides an easy way to personalize your messages based on the customer’s preferences and buying patterns.
Nowadays, there are various marketing automation tools to help with your email marketing efforts, allowing automated email marketing/drip campaigns. Check out our previous guide on drip campaign here. (link)
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing is now extremely important thanks to the rising trend of inbound marketing. Yet, it has been the core of virtually every digital marketing strategy ever since the advent of the internet. Many things have changed over the advancements of digital marketing, but content marketing has been the staple constant.
The reason why content marketing is so effective is its versatility. Valuable, relevant contents are extremely important for SEO. Contents are one of the best ways to increase brand awareness, and contents can effectively educate customer about your product to encourage conversions.
The main purpose of content marketing, however, is to attract inbound traffic (traffic that comes into your site when they stumbled upon your content, mostly via Google search). Inbound traffic is generally the most qualified leads, because they are the ones who are searching for a solution.
Content marketing by itself is a pretty broad subject on its own, and we won’t give it much justice here. Refer to our previous content marketing guide here (link) to help you further.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Almost everyone who are familiar with the internet are familiar (and effectively use) search engines to find information and solution. To date, there are over 3.5 billion searches being made on Google every single day. So, if you are not optimizing your site (and your business) on the search engines, you are missing out.
Yet, many are still skeptical about the importance of SEO, and virtually every single year we heard the news about “the death of SEO”.The truth is, SEO is alive and well, if not more important than ever in this saturated digital marketing environment.
While SEO can be a very complicated subject on its own, there are only four key aspects of SEO:
- Keyword Research: finding the right keywords to target, with proper search volume and manageable difficulty according to your industry/niche
- Content Development: we will need relevant, high-quality contents to target the aforementioned keywords. This is why SEO and content marketing should always work hand-in-hand
- On-Site Optimization: technical optimizations of your site from XML sitemap to optimizing title tags.Check out this comprehensive guide by Backlinko to help you.
- Off-Site Optimization(Link Building): a huge part of off-site optimization is to get more inbound links from high-authority sites. If your contents are high-quality and relevant, sooner or later you will get backlinks, so again content is the most important factor here. Check out this guide by MOZ about off-site SEO strategies.
Keep in mind that contrary to popular assumptions, SEO is a long-term channel. Expect to invest 6 to 12 months before you see significant results. So, consistency is the key of success in this marketing channel.
4. Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign is a form of online advertising in which we will need to pay only when users click the ads, hence the name. Google Adwords is the most popular (and arguably, the most powerful) PPC platform out there, and so it should be your main consideration if you want to use this channel.
In PPC advertising, typically we,as advertisers, should bid the perceived value of a single click. The more popular the keyword is, the more expensive the bid should be. Different audience type might also dictate cost.
PPC campaigns are generally very effective for various campaign goals from maximizing revenue to promoting brand awareness to generating more leads. PPC can also generally generate short-term results, and so is a great choice if you are looking for a quick fix. The downside? It can be extremely expensive if you don’t manage it well.
So, while effectiveness is generally not an issue with PPC as a marketing channel, the main consideration is how we can maximize ROI and cost-efficiency. It is a pretty broad subject on its own, and so we won’t give it much justice discussing it here. Check out this guide by PPC Hero here to help you further with this subject.
5. Social Media Marketing
If SEO is a channel with long-term results and PPC is short-term, social media marketing offers the best of both worlds by being so versatile. If you want a quick traffic increase, there are ways to do that through social media. If you want to build long-term relationships, social media can also do that.
With social media marketing, marketers can reach highly-targeted prospects through personalized engagement. Generally, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are your best choices when considering social media marketing, with LinkedIn and to some extent, Twitter are the better choices for B2B businesses, while Instagram are Facebook are more for B2C companies.
The main consideration about social media marketing in 2018 is that growing organic audience, and organic reach is now very difficult. So, we will need to invest on paid social media advertising to get ahead of the pack.
With that being said, treating social media marketing in 2018 is quite similar to how we should treat advertising campaigns: it’s all about optimizing cost and maximizing ROI.
A great thing about social media advertising is that all platforms, especially Facebook, offers excellent targeting options. Targeting is an essential part of maximizing social media ROI as a channel, so make the full use of it. This guide about social media targeting from Digital Marketing Institute might help you.
6. Display Advertising
Display advertising is one of the oldest forms of advertising in the internet, and admittedly, its reputation hasn’t been so great in recent years, thanks to various ad-blocking technology and newer advertising forms.
The truth is, display advertising is no longer an effective marketing channel on its own right. Yet, it is still very powerful when paired with other newer technologies, namely remarketing and programmatic advertising.
Remarketing (or popularly known as retargeting), is targeting those who have visited your website and/or have triggered certain actions with display advertising. The idea here is to show the ad to those who have already shown interest to your brand, and thus will be more effective. You can quite easily set up a retargeting campaign via Google AdWords or Facebook Ads, and this guide by Neil Patel might help you.
Programmatic advertising, on the other hand, is buying display advertising space automatically using programs/software. The software will use data to decide which ads to buy, and how much. So, implementing a programmatic campaign will save your time, resources, and potentially can improve cost-efficiency. Check out this guide by Think With Google to further understand programmatic advertising and how to implement it.
7. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing, or referral marketing, is in essence, allowing your audience to be affiliate/referral marketers. This way, they will promote your business in exchange of incentives. In 2016, U.S retailers spent $4.7 billion on affiliate marketing, and this number is expected to grow to $6.8 billion by 2020.
Although affiliate marketing can be quite complicated, the main thing to consider here is your incentive: offer too low, and you won’t get too many of affiliate marketers. On the other hand, offering too high can sacrifice the quality of your referrals, where there can be low-quality affiliate marketers only aiming for the quick cash (a lot of the times involving spammy, detrimental tricks). Amazon is considered one of, if not the top platform offering affiliate marketing, and you might learn from their incentive model.
Affiliate marketing is generally the digital marketing channel to go for if you are striving for more conversions, especially if you have an online shop or ecommerce division. Some industries like fashion, sports, and health will work better with affiliate marketing compared to others, but it is a channel worth considering if you are looking to drive more sales. Check out this guide on affiliate marketing by Marco Basile.
8. Public Relations
In the digital marketing environment, online public relation activities are often overlooked in favor of other channels. Yet, public relations, especially building proper relationships with authority sites, blogs, and online press is still a very important marketing channel especially in building brand reputation and awareness.
In recent years, PR has changed to acclimatize itself with the digitized world, and in this era where the internet is so saturated, a voice by an established media or site can be really valuable for your business. So, if you haven’t, you should start engage the important media, sites, and high-authority blogs of your industry and gain media placements.
PR can be considered a long-term strategy, and good PR results will take time. A huge part of online PR success is finding the right media/blogger/site for your business, and thankfully, there are a lot of tools available that can assist you in this aspect.
A proper, cohesive digital marketing strategy shouldn’t rely on a single marketing channel to achieve all goals and generate all results. On the other hand, a successful digital marketing strategy is about optimizing how the different digital marketing channels work together to achieve a collective goal.
Each of the digital marketing channels we have shared above is effective in achieving a certain goal, but they all have their weaknesses. A specific marketing channel might not be effective in engaging a certain audience or achieving a certain goal. So, the key here is how you can combine these channels to reach your end goals.