Conventional marketing is a straightforward process that takes a product/service from the manufacturer to the consumer. It involves investing money on a few tried and tested strategies and waiting until results poured in. In the past decade Internet has changed the way businesses have approached marketing. These methods are more in line with the complex requirements of the world today. Naturally, the internet is at the centre stage of this revolution. There are countless channels, each promising to yield better results than their predecessor.
But as the American psychologist Barry Schwartz observed, too many decisions lead to too much confusion. The solution to this is to figure out your goals and weigh them against available options. Here’s a brief rundown of the different digital marketing channels available for an average marketer:
I’ve constantly heard people prophesying that email marketing has gone the way of the dodo. But the truth is that there’s never been a method more successful. Almost 66% of in-house marketers’ rate email marketing to be very effective. And an equal percentage of consumers in the US have chosen to purchase a product after reading an email message. Blogs, Facebook posts and tweets may fetch you an audience, but there’s no guarantee that these audience would become happy converts. Besides, email marketing campaigns are Google Panda and Penguin safe!
Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing are examples of pay per click advertising. The process works by marketers bidding for placing their advertisements when the relevant search query comes up. This is probably the best way to reach out to targeted customers within a very short span of time. The success of this program depends on the advertiser’s willingness to invest and understanding consumer psychology.
Even with higher advertising budget, the advertiser remains in control of the spending by setting up restrictions on the maximum spend-limit for a day, week or month.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
This is another channel that’s been in the news lately thanks to Google’s algorithm updates. Marketers promote a website or product by increasing their rankings on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Link building and content optimisation are the major activities in this strategy. Keyword research, on page optimisation, etc. is other activities that influence organic ranking.
Texts, images and other relevant content placed on websites are called digital advertising. Banner ads, boxes, interactive ads, video ads, etc. are popular examples of display advertising. This is used to create a better brand awareness among users and may even help to convert possible leads into sales. The cost of these ads is determined by factors such as Cost Per Click.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Around 87% of marketers believe that social media marketing has helped them improve sales. It is also found that companies that managed to generate around 1000 likes per day received more than 1,400 visitors to their website. But there’s so much choice in the social media sphere that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to choose a channel that’s just right for your business. Common social media channels include:
- Facebook: This is undoubtedly a trendsetter and the most popular of all. In fact, if Facebook were a nation, it would be third largest country in the world.
- Twitter: With a 140 character limit, a tweet can be a great opportunity to raise brand awareness and reach out to customers.
- LinkedIn: This is a network of professionals and business owners who’d like to network with fellow professionals and reach out to target audience.
- Google+: Although a relatively new entrant to the social media circuit, Google+ has gained importance. A good presence on Google+ automatically enhances search engine rankings.
- Pinterest: Businesses that promote products through visuals will find Pinterest very useful.
Despite the drastic changes to search algorithms, content marketing continues to remain relevant. However, the focus has now shifted to high quality and relevant content. Content need not necessarily be through text; graphics, videos, etc. are also a great source for content marketing.
Affiliate marketing is about working with fellow marketers who offer to sell/promote your product. Their income is a certain percentage of commission in the sale. eMarketer reports that global ecommerce sales were around 1.2 trillion dollars in 2013 and affiliate marketing was a significant contributor to these numbers.
Online Public Relations
Online public relations are a major part of brand building and are done through online PR networks like PRNewswire, PRWeb, etc.
How to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Channel
Every campaign is different in terms of target audiences, budget, etc. Your choice of a channel would primarily depend on these factors. Here are a few factors that should help you place your decision;
(1). Defining the campaign’s primary goals: Some of the common goals that a business may intend to achieve would include
- Brand Awareness: If building a brand is your company’s ultimate aim the social media channel is undoubtedly the most effective. SMM helps to promote customer engagement, promote visuals through Pinterest and Instagram, promote videos through YouTube and Vimeo, etc.
- Sales Generation: If the ultimate aim is to generate sales channels such as affiliate marketing, Facebook storefronts, Google search network, Amazon resellers, etc. are the best.
- Lead Generation: If generating leads is the goal channels such as SEO, PPC, display advertising, blogging, email marketing, etc. are useful.
- Create Awareness About a Product: To help explain consumers about the potential of a product channels such blogging, online public relations, content marketing are ideal.
- Generate Traffic: If the aim is to get people to visit your website, display advertising is a great idea.
(2). Defining a Campaign by its Budget: The budget specified for a campaign also helps to identify the right channel. Common considerations within this sphere include fees for the marketing manager, advertising budget, content creation fees, fees for graphic artists, photographers and other related people.
(3). Defining a Campaign by the Resources Available: The success of a campaign largely depends on the skill and expertise of the people involved in the project. A marketer’s challenge is to identify people who can contribute to the campaign through their knowledge. Business owners also need to make a decision about the need for outsourcing this requirement. Common skills that determine the choice of a digital marketing channel include development skills, creative skills, search skills, social skills, etc.
Sometimes a single resource is enough to launch a successful campaign and sometimes you may have to look into multiple channels to get the desired effect. The idea is to understand the audience and respond accordingly.