A weak marketing channel can cripple any businesses…
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling software, educational products, or physical goods; just like us humans eat food to stay alive, businesses need healthy marketing channels that provide leads to fuel growth. And winning leads in today’s marketing world is no easy feat.
Especially if you’re wondering which channel your limited budget should be invested in.
Because it’s not just about getting people to visit your website or download your free e-book. It’s about cutting through the noise, and bringing in high quality leads that convert into customers who like, trust, and stay with you; all while sticking to your budget and picking a marketing channel with a solid ROI.
So how do you do that?
The Most Popular Current Marketing Channels
Before diving into how to choose the best channels for your brand/ business, it helps to know what’s already on the menu. So below is a brief list of the most popular current marketing channels.
- Email Marketing
The process of collecting email addresses from potential leads and marketing to them via email messages.
Examples: Email newsletters, brand focused messages, and offer/discount alerts that aim to quickly convert.
- Viral Content Campaigns
The act of producing informative, or shockingly good content that aims to generate massive traffic via links, referrals, and through search engines.
Examples: Massively popular Youtube “how-to” videos, or ultimate guide blog posts.
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Optimizing, simplifying and improving the path from initial contact with a brand to clicking the “buy it now” button. The primary goal being to get more customers, leads, or subscribers.
Examples: Split testing, landing page copy tweaking, or purchase-process simplification.
- Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
The process of bidding for placement at search engines to earn visibility and traffic when relevant searches are performed.
Examples: Google Adwords, Yahoo! Search Marketing.
- Online Public Relations
Generating media from primarily online outlets in order to attract attention, and quickly earn heaps of traffic.
Examples: PRNewswire, PRWeb, Newsjacking agencies.
- Display Advertising
The at showing ads on third-party websites to create brand awareness and generate traffic.
Examples: Banner ads, video ads, interactive ads, overlays, interstitials.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The process of earning rankings in the “organic” results of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing)
Examples: Keyword research, link building.
- Affiliate Marketing
The process of incentivizing other sites to push your product in exchange for a share of the revenue they drive
Examples: Commission Junction, in-house affiliate programs, etc.
- Social Media Marketing
Harnessing the power of social media platforms to earn visibility and traffic.
Examples: Facebook Group pages, posting catchy content on Dig, or pushing infographics on Twitter.
Respect The Sales Funnel
A solid understanding of funnels – and how they influence your business – is critical for squeezing the highest return out of your channel on a slim budget.
Research shows a whopping 68% of B2B organizations fail to identify their sales funnel. This is a huge mistake. You must know how potential leads will slot into your sales funnel before thinking about where to spend your limited budget, and time/effort to attract.
Let’s look at what activities attract people to your business based on the three stages of the funnel. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a funnel conversion scientist, it’s much simpler than that:
Top Of The Funnel (TOFU)
If traffic to your website is alarmingly low, that’s a TOFU problem. Your focus should be on attracting attention from the market. You need to constantly attract new prospects and raise awareness for your product or service.
Middle Of The Funnel (MOFU)
If you manage to attract attention to your business, but not enough people are filling out your forms, that’s a MOFU problem. To fix this, you could improve how you market your lead generation hooks (webinars, ebooks, etc.) or create new ones on demand.
Bottom Of The Funnel (BOFU)
Leads at the BOFU are low hanging fruits in comparison to leads at other stages because they have already expressed interest in you. If you retain them, you can increase the lifetime value of that customer, and also reduce churn.
Grasping the core sales funnel principles helps you create resources that are integral to your growth. It also plays a huge role in guiding your selection of a marketing channel.
For example, let’s say you sell an educational course about Microsoft Excel hacks for corporate professionals and accountants. Your funnel might heavily rely on of social proof to emphasise the benefits of your material. You then can tailor this to the marketing channel you choose. So paid Youtube ads for office related videos, or direct mail pieces with testimonials from managers about how employees are more efficient.
Develop A Killer Customer Profile
Selling products and services without knowing your customer is like rock climbing while blindfolded. It’s pretty dangerous…
That’s why one of the biggest keys to finding your target audience, engaging them in the most useful way, and selecting the right channel, is to develop a solid customer profile.
Your customer profile isn’t a few generic sentences strung together about your customer. It’s an in-depth look at your typical customer that should include:
Demographic information: Usually information on age, gender, ethnicity, income and marital status.
Psychographic information: Dives deeper and expands on demographic information. Usually information on hobbies, interest, values, lifestyle and attitude.
By combining both types of information in your customer profile. You’ll know exactly “who” is buying, and “why” they are buying.
Experian increased a client’s conversion rates by 10%. Which Resulted in an opportunity to create an extra £500,000 in revenue, and guess what? Customer profiling was an important part of their strategy.
Want a done for you worksheet that’ll get you creating killer customer profiles in no time? Check out this viral, easy to use template.
Answer These 4 Key Questions
What does your sales cycle look like?
For short sales cycles, quickly generating traffic is an important thing.
For this type of business, paid search is valuable because it places ads in front of people at the sweet moment where they’re ready to buy. This is usually used by B2C companies – like Vision Direct, an online retailer of contact lenses.
The customer wants to find some cheap but reliable contact lenses, and he simply visits the site and orders lenses that match his prescription.
It’s a pretty straightforward sales process.
Longer sales cycles need more nurturing and attention.
The travel & hospitality industry is a great example. People can take months to decide what hotel to book and where to stay. Google research even shows that some travellers have over 400 digital moments before booking.
If you’re a hotel website, retargeting will keep your brand at the forefront of consumers’ minds, and content marketing efforts – like travel vlogs/ location tours – will strengthen your brand, boost search traffic, and make you look more credible.
Is your product/service already well known?
Is your product something that people will easily search for?
A combination of SEO, content marketing, and viral content may be better approaches if you have a chance to rank organically for high-value search terms.
If you need to educate people about your product or service, offering discounts to popular influencers, is a smarter, and more budget-friendly option.
What’s Your Competition Doing?
If someone has a similar product/service to you, chances are they have similar customers to you.
Which means a quick glance at their business can tell you something about your own.
When sneaking a peek at your competition keep your eyes peeled for:
- Their customers feedback on social media.
What social media channel do most of their customers like to interact on. And more importantly what are they saying? If people are complaining about something, you can show how you solve the same problem better in your advertising.
- Their market positioning.
What’s their pricing like? Why do customers buy from them? If you could offer something extra, would your target audience be willing to pay more for your product service?
- What channels are they using?
This is not about copying your competitors, it’s about learning from them. See what they’re doing well and ask yourself if it can enhance the efficiency of your channels and funnels.
Do you rely on repeat business?
If customer loyalty is the bread and butter of your business, a channel like email marketing or a strong social media platform makes sense.
They are excellent for staying in touch with customers, showing that you care, and keeping your brand fresh in their minds. They’re also great for delivering personal messages, exceptional customer service and collecting data.
However, if your product/service is purchased seasonally, you’ll need to constantly search for new sales through advertising channels like paid search, social media, or SEO.
Track & Test Channel To Find A Winner
In 2010, eConsultancy interviewed marketers at 100 companies to see how they decided which channels to incorporate into their marketing. And some shocking truths about how marketers select their marketing channels surfaced:
- 51 percent of companies interviewed were using five or more channels.
- 98 percent were using at least three marketing channels.
- Only 35% were storing the information gathered from those channels in a single database.
Want your channel to yield a high return while minimizing costs? Then tracking and testing is a must.
Now most companies take the multi-touch approach and use a variety of different channels. They’ll combine content marketing, ppc, and social media. And their traffic charts end up looking something like this…
Traffic is going up, that’s obvious. But what does this chart say about the effectiveness of marketing channels?
All that wonderful traffic might be trickling in from all channels combined, or it might be the result of one kick-ass channel among a group of losers.
To get a better understand of what channels are driving results…
- Dive deeper into your sources
Knowing whether things are doing good/bad isn’t enough. You have to probe further to understand what’s broken, and what needs fixing. And you can’t do that if you’re looking at generic traffic/conversion results. That’s why it’s smart to pin down metrics for each individual channel.
- Use custom URLs that are specific to each channel
- Keep your eye on business results
The ultimate goal of your marketing channels is to make your business more successful. But you won’t know how – or if – your channels are doing that if you don’t hold them accountable to business goals.
At the end of the day, you should be able to review your channels and accurately determine the cost in dollars/effort to bring in new customers/conversions.