There’s no such thing as a marketing silver bullet. When it comes to marketing, your brand needs a marketing arsenal.
Because one marketing channel that helped your business grow from A to B, might not get you to C through Z. You’ll always need to explore new marketing channels to expand your reach, find new customers, keep old customers, and compete with bigger brands.
So how do you go about choosing the right marketing channels for your brand? After all, businesses have different marketing needs and audiences that exist in different spaces.
Well, good marketing boils down to understanding your audience, its needs, its behaviours and intents. With that in mind, here are three marketing channels that are based on an understanding of how people eventually make purchases.
- Data Analytics
- Referral Marketing
- Content Marketing
Okay, so data analytics isn’t a marketing channel per se. However, it takes time, focus and dedication to get good data. This data will also guide the rest of your marketing strategy – it lays the foundation.
Using tools like Mixpanel, Google Analytics, or insightful CRM tools helps you understand how visitors explore your site, where they convert and where they drop off. You can use that information to run critical marketing experiments with higher chances of success. Without any of it, you’ll struggle to understand your core audiences.
Why is data analytics so important now? It levels the playing field, giving brands the insights they need to grow quickly and compete on a world stage. Over this past decade, data-driven marketing has quickly become the competitive edge for rising businesses.
The ability to track and understand data sets allows you to identify new opportunities to generate revenue or determine if you’re spending your marketing budget wisely. You can use your data to consistently run small-scale experiments to test different hypotheses. Then the experiments with positive outcomes inform and guide your entire marketing strategy, directing your marketing channels and greatly improving their impact.
Referral marketing encompasses a few things which I’ll talk about. Particularly, let’s look at affiliate programs, product reviews (on sites like Google, Capterra, G2, Trustpilot), or securing authoritative mentions on other publications.
Let’s start with affiliate programs. An affiliate program is an arrangement between yourself and other parties who will link to your site on theirs, and receive compensation from any sales generated because of that link.
The advantage here is that you don’t lose revenue upfront, and while a portion of revenue generated goes to the affiliate, it’s revenue you may not have had in the first place.
Affiliate programs have grown significantly in popularity over the years, and today a majority of brands use affiliate marketing. Brands that don’t either trail behind, or have to discover another set of marketing channels to have the same impact.
Getting started with an affiliate program is fairly straightforward.
Then we’ve got product review sites. Of your last ten purchases, how many of them did you read a review for? Probably all of them! Whether it’s something cheap or expensive, I personally tend to check out a few reviews before my purchase – I want to make sure I’m getting value for my dollar.
Levi Olmstead, from 2nd Kitchen, shares a valuable insight in this marketing trends post: 95% of online shoppers read online reviews before making a buying decision, as does 92% of B2B buyers.
In fact, reviews are a bigger purchasing factor than family, friends, the brand itself, and free shipping. Yet, brands tend to overlook the ability for reviews (good and bad, funny enough) to generate revenue. With the right customer review strategy, you can consistently get more reviews written for your products/brand on a regular basis.
Finally, driving referral traffic through online mentions is also a solid growth driver. And I don’t mean backlinking for SEO purposes.
The right backlinking strategies can be the foundation of any brand’s growth and success. That’s because it supports your keyword rankings and SERPs, among other things. But I want to focus on just the real-world value of mentions itself.
When it comes to authoritative mentions, there are two benefits worth pointing out: Added traffic and added trust.
There are plenty of authoritative sites like Entrepreneur, Forbes, Business Insider, Inc., and others that get tons of traffic daily. If you share audiences with these publications, then a mention of your site/product/tool can drive valuable traffic to your site.
This is a great way to complement your organic search traffic, by getting in front of the same audiences in a different way. It’s also a way to compensate for slow organic traffic periods, or when your own organic rankings experience a drop.
Then there’s the trust you are constantly building for your brand through authoritative mentions. When industry experts reference your pages or content in their articles on reputable sites, readers take notice. It signals to them that you’re a trustworthy source, an authority on a topic, and have a highly reliable product or service.
In many ways, content marketing is seen as synonymous with SEO. You create content that ranks, drives traffic, and gets people to convert. But if your content isn’t relevant, informative, helpful or easy to consume – it won’t matter.
Beyond just an SEO play, content marketing should educate and help your audience solve problems in their day-to-day. And content marketing encompasses all kinds of content – blog posts, infographics, video marketing, webinars, social media, podcasts, eBooks and everything else under the sun.
Now, why is good, relevant content such an effective growth channel for businesses?
Content marketing is the most effective way to establish leadership, connect with your audience, build trust, and more. It’s your brand’s chance to actually communicate with your audience on a regular basis and create more brand awareness. It’s also highly accessible (for content creators and consumers), no matter the medium.
For example, if your audience enjoys podcasts during morning commutes, you can look into podcast hosting. If they prefer to use Google to find solutions, then consider creating blog posts or video content that ranks. If they’re too busy to read blog posts or watch videos, then create infographics that are stat-driven and insightful. If they enjoy educational webinars, consider hosting webinars or developing an online course.
The key takeaways are these:
- Good content provides value and trust, driving conversions
- Creating good content is something anyone can do with the right tools and platforms
What do you think the most important marketing channels are this year? Share your thoughts! I’d be happy to hear what’s working for you.