How to choose the best 5 marketing channels
Small businesses are often limited in resources, whether they have people or money. It is therefore crucial to choose the most cost-effective communication channels to invest in. This means that you can find low-cost and free marketing channels. This guide will show you how to identify the most effective channels by using two simple frameworks, So that you don’t start with a blank piece or screen, and can explore the possibilities.
We will review both offline and online techniques, starting with more than 30 channels to consider. Then at the end, we’ll give you a summary and help you to zoom in on the top five to make it easier.
Use the Marketing Bullseye for selecting marketing channels
Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Maiers recommended The Bullseye in their book Traction. It was a great hook to illustrate the difficulties of increasing visibility online to drive customer acquisition. Justin founded the Duck Duck Go search engine and is an entrepreneur who has been involved in other startups as a VC. This book gives Justin’s perspective on startups looking for visibility at a low cost.
It covers both traditional and digital channels. Many of these channels are free. The visual’s top left shows the simple method of choosing the most effective channels.
These are the six major media channels that any business has access to, as well as paid, owned, and earned media options.
Also read: 6 Best Social Selling Tips for Product Marketing
1. SEO marketing
To encourage click-throughs to a website, visibility is achieved on search engines when a user enters a keyword phrase. paid placements using pay-per-click via Google Ads or Bing are two key search marketing strategies and the other is placements in natural or organic listings with search engine optimization (SEO), where clicks from the engine are free.
SEO is considered owned media because it involves on-page optimization, improving content relevance, and technical improvements to websites to improve crawlability. This can all be monitored via Google Search Console. SEO can also include an earned media component. This allows for visibility to be increased in search engines by obtaining relevant backlinks from other websites, which in effect counts as a vote or citation.
2. Social media marketing
This covers both paid social media advertising and organic social media amplification. Companies aim to increase visibility through the sharing of content on social media pages and feeds that are owned media. Earned social media refers to when a partner or publisher shares a brand or updates on social media.
Social media marketing is a key category of digital marketing. It encourages customer communication on the company’s site or through social presences like Facebook and Twitter, as well as on specialist publishers’ sites, blogs, and forums. It can also be used as a broadcast medium. For example, companies could use Facebook and Twitter to send messages or invites to customers or to partners who have opted into it.
3. Display advertising
Online ad formats like banners and videos can be used to increase brand awareness and encourage click-through to target sites. Because ads are displayed on publisher websites, they are often considered separate investments from paid social and paid search ads.
Programmatic display is the selection of media and target audiences by bidding or trading against other advertisers. Native advertising is where content is paid to be published on a media site, rather than in a banner ad. This is similar to how companies pay for pages in newspapers.
Sponsorship is similar to display advertising. In both cases, a brand may pay for its name to appear on a publication or at an event.
4. Digital PR
This involves maximizing positive ‘offsite” mentions of your company, brands, and products by other people, particularly media sites and influencers like celebrities.
Mentions can increase name awareness but also have the advantage of driving visits through links and supporting SEO through backlinks. These mentions can occur on blogs, social networks, or podcasts that are accessed by your target audience.
Guest blogging is the act of writing an article that is free to another business. It is often a reciprocal arrangement.
Influencer outreach can be used in both B2B as well as B2C communications. This is usually done by working with individuals, not publishers, to gain mentions via their social media, blogs, or podcasts.
Digital PR includes responding to negative and positive online brand mentions, as well as conducting public relations via a website through a social media news center or blog.
5. Digital partnerships
Setting up and managing long-term agreements to promote your online services through third-party websites, website content, and messaging. Affiliate marketing is a commission-based arrangement in which the advertiser pays only when a sale takes place. This is most useful for the financial, travel and retail industries. Affiliate websites will be paid traffic when an online sale takes place.
Co-branding is A paid or owned media technique that allows two brands to be featured in email marketing and native advertising. Comarketing is an analogous arrangement, however, it is a contra’ arrangement in which companies share content to increase awareness and leads among their pooled audience.
We set up a comarketing arrangement between Smart Insights publisher and HubSpot martech vendor HubSpot, where we created joint research reports to increase awareness and generate leads. HubSpot has designated co-marketing managers from different regions to oversee this activity because they consider it important.
6. Digital messaging
Traditional digital messaging to subscribers to updates focused on Email Marketing. This is still a popular digital media channel because it is cost-effective. However, younger audiences are less likely to use email and more likely to sign up for mobile push notifications via apps or websites.
Digital messaging options include placing ads in third-party e-newsletters (paid medium) or most commonly the use of an in-house list for customer activation retention (owned media) and co-marketing techniques using other companies’ newsletters. The purchase or rental lists of email addresses is considered spamming technique and not allowed under the privacy legislation.
Also read: What is Channel Management and Why is it Important?
What are your top five marketing channels?
You should be able to rank your top 5 channels by reviewing the above frameworks. However, this guide will give you a quick overview of the top 5 channels that every startup and small business should consider. This list is based on research published on the most effective online acquisition channels, and our own data-driven marketing experience using Google Analytics to evaluate the most successful channels.
1. Organic search
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) allows you to tap into the search intent of people searching for your products or services. If people search for your service, and you have your SEO techniques correct, they will be your top source of the traffic to your website. It is also highly competitive so you need to be diligent and follow best practices. You may want to use Google Ads targeted to increase visibility if you are not able to make it through the crowd.
2. Public relations
PR is especially important if your services aren’t being searched for by many people. You’re trying to increase awareness and create demand for your services. You can use free digital PR techniques such as guest blogging
This is not a channel. Instead, it looks at ways to collaborate with businesses with whom you share an audience, but who aren’t direct competitors. This is an example of guest blogging.
4. Organic social
This allows you to share your posts on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. If your posts are engaging enough to share, it’s free.
Social networks favor promoted ads in their feeds to monetize users. If you don’t get the cut-through with organic search, you might need to use targeted paid social ads to gain visibility.
5. Email marketing
This channel is another free option for low-volume emails. It’s not about increasing awareness but rather supporting conversion by reminding your subscribers about the benefits and advantages of your brand’s products and services.
All of these depend on content. Before you look to improve them, we suggest that you examine your content marketing strategy to see how it can help your brand stand out from the rest.