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by Maricel Rivera | Updated Aug. 5, 2022 – First published on May 18, 2022
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Peter Drucker, also known as the founder of modern management, once said: “There are only two things in a business that make money — innovation and marketing. Everything else is cost.”
But with so many marketing channels to choose from, how do you know which to adopt?
In this guide, we explore 10 marketing distribution channels and how to best use them to your advantage.
No matter the size of your business, there’s a wide range of marketing channels you can tap. But the question is: Are they the right fit for your goals and needs?
To help you answer that, here’s a rundown of the 10 most popular marketing channels modern businesses use today.
According to HubSpot, 62% of consumers use a search engine when they want to learn more about a new business, product, or service, while 41% use a search engine when they’re ready to buy.
Add to that the fact that trillions of Google searches are made every year, and it’s clear that the search engines are still the go-to method for finding information online.
Search engine optimization is the process of making your website rank high in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for a certain term or keyword. This allows your content to be visible and easily accessible to those searching for the term, or something similar to it.
With SEO, you obtain “organic” website traffic from the search engines, because you’re not paying for ad placement.
SEO as a technology changes constantly, and the tactics that SEO professionals employ must adapt quickly. However, “there are certain fundamentals of SEO that change very little over time,” says Moz’s Bridget Randolph. These are:
While being found online is key to growing a modern business, it’s critical that your site shows up on the first or second page of the search engines.
A HubSpot study shows that three of four internet users never scroll past the first page of the SERPs.
Bombarding existing and prospective customers with “buy” messages when they’re not ready is a big marketing no-no.
Not only will they avoid you like the plague — they’d think all you care about is the sale — but they are also likely to tell their family and friends about the experience. This will earn you negative word of mouth (more on this marketing channel below) and thus a negative reputation.
Content marketing is an approach centered on consistently developing and distributing valuable content — blog posts, videos, infographics, ebooks, case studies, interviews, white papers, etc. — to attract a specific segment of the market.
The goal of content marketing is to drive leads or customers to perform an action that’s profitable for your organization.
Companies use content marketing to:
For content marketing to work in your favor, know that:
Market research firm Radicati predicts that by the end of 2023, the number of email users worldwide will top 4.3 billion. This makes sense. How many people without an email address do you actually know? Not many, right?
This widespread use of email is the reason why email marketing is such a powerful way to engage with people who have shown interest in your product, service, website, or brand.
Email marketing uses email to develop relationships with current and prospective customers.
It’s a channel often used for brand building, keeping customers informed, and delivering marketing messages that specifically address recipients’ needs as determined by their position in the buying journey.
Here’s a summary of the email marketing process to get you started:
According to statistics compiled by wearesocial.com, social media users around the world total approximately 3.5 billion in 2019, with Facebook still the number one social media platform for increasing your online following and connecting with customers.
Social media marketing leverages the use of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and Pinterest to build your brand, grow your following, establish relationships, and generate sales.
How likely are you to purchase something a person you trust recommends? When was the last time a friend’s social media post made you research a product, service, or company?
According to a study by Convince & Convert Consulting, 83% of Americans are more likely to purchase a product or service recommended by a friend or family member through word of mouth.
Word of mouth marketing (WOMM), also known as word of mouth advertising, happens when customers express their satisfaction with a product, service, or a brand. It’s the result of both targeted efforts and organic sharing of experiences.
When amplified by social media, positive word of mouth from happy customers can positively affect other buyers’ intention to buy.
Influencer marketing is the use of influencers — people with a dedicated social media following — to mention or endorse your product or service to their followers.
Influencer marketing campaigns include:
In the age of the internet, it’s easy to write off offline advertising as a viable marketing or sales channel. But remember, not everyone uses the internet to find information on the products or services they need.
According to a recent study by Pew Research, 10% of U.S. adults don’t use the internet. Worldwide, the United Nations expect more than half of the world’s population to be connected to the internet by the end of 2019 — a goal initially set for 2017 — leaving a still staggering number of people without internet access: 3.8 billion.
This only means that there’s still a wide audience demographic that you can reach through offline advertising.
Popular offline advertising methods you can use include:
Online advertising uses the internet to promote a product, service, or marketing message. Online ads are generally found on sites like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and individual websites. Online advertising types include:
Some key benefits of online advertising:
Partnership marketing happens when two brands collaborate to create campaigns that are beneficial to both parties.
It’s a cost-effective way of amplifying your market reach and solidifying your brand’s reputation by working with an organization whose products or services complement yours.
Examples of this form of marketing include:
Building a community around a brand is one of the best marketing strategies you can employ. Take Harley-Davidson, for example. The company was on the brink of extinction in 1983 but reemerged as a multibillion-dollar company 25 years later because of its steadfast commitment to building a strong brand community.
A brand community is a group of people — ideally, your customers and target audiences — who come together because of their attachment to a product or brand.
Other prominent brands with active brand communities include Apple, Jeep, Walt Disney, Barbie, Lego, Xbox, Sephora, Lululemon, and Starbucks.
There are several advantages to building a brand community, such as:
The above are just 10 of the channels you can use to realize your intensive distribution objectives. There are more. Fortunately, you don’t have to adopt every marketing channel imaginable to become successful. As a matter of fact, doing so will likely only result in failure.
Instead, evaluate every channel you’re using now, then add or subtract depending on the results.
In the end, you only want to keep the channels that bring you the best return on investment.
Maricel Rivera is a software and small business expert writing for The Ascent at The Motley Fool.
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