Okay, if you're like me, you read the words "marketing channel" and feel a wave of panic invade your body. Marketing channels is not a noun. It's an enormous segment of your responsibilities that all need attention and require more resources than you have.
Sorry if you weren't feeling the panic before. You are now.
The reason for this emotional response is that marketing channels are essentially the overarching framework for everything we do to help our companies and brands succeed. All marketing messages and material and campaigns go through some sort of marketing touchpoint.
Defining what a marketing channel is will give some structure to numerous marketing strategies available to brands.
What is a Marketing Channel?
A channel is a route or way of access that is directed or conveyed in a distinct path. For marketers, channels are the access or touchpoints for us to connect with our audience. Consider a channel similar to a tunnel or a funnel through which something may be moved directly.
A basic illustration of a marketing channel is a radio channel (which just so happens to refers to itself as a channel) When we tune into a radio channel, we hear the sound waves that the station is channeling.
A marketing channel is simply the way a brand communicates to its audience through various touchpoints.
Types of Marketing Channels
Sources to disseminate marketing fall into two main varieties: digital marketing and traditional marketing touchpoints.
Initiatives that use online media and the internet, whether through linked devices such as mobile phones or computers, are digital marketing. Search engines, social media, apps, email, and websites are all digital channels to distribute brand messages.
Traditional marketing refers to a style of marketing in which various offline advertising and promotional activities are utilized to target the appropriate demographic.
The main difference between traditional versus digital channels is that traditional is offline or not digital. On the other hand, digital marketing channels are online and, well, digital.
Digital Marketing Channels
Last week, I joined a Neil Patel webinar where he shared a master list of 22 marketing channels. These are the touchpoints included in his list.
- Content marketing and SEO
- Social Media
- Email marketing
- Pay-per-click marketing
- Package inserts
- Exit intent
- Upsell and cross selling
- Facebook page
- Facebook group
- Facebook ads
- Live video
- Google Business
- YouTube channel
- LinkedIn page
- Guest blogging
- Push notifications
All the channels listed for marketing are useful; some are more effective than others depending on your target demographics. Each channel has a niche with pros and cons.
As someone who started her career in the advertising department of a newspaper conglomerate, the first thing I noticed was that the sources were all digital marketing channels. What about traditional marketing? Do marketing experts really even consider them anymore?
Of course, traditional marketing matters and is far from extinct, but we will focus primarily on digital marketing channels, not traditional advertising or marketing channels. Because the truth is, right now, digital marketing is the most effective.
According to research studies,
Traditional marketing produces 50% fewer interactions with potential customers than digital marketing. (Source)
Over the last few years, digital marketing and advertising have had a clear advantage over conventional media outlets. Generally, companies have been cutting traditional marketing expenditures in favor of digital approaches.
According to CMOs in the United States, expenditure on digital marketing in February 2021 rose by 14.3% compared to the prior year. While traditional advertising spending was almost even, dropping 0.2%. (Statista)
Traditional Marketing Channels
Although old fashion, traditional marketing has its place and advantages. For example, if your target audience is older, say more than 65 years old, traditional advertising is your best approach. Also, local businesses such as dentists, electricians, and landscapers get great ROAS (return on ad spend) with offline marketing.
Here's one more fact to consider before abandoning traditional marketing. When tested, three out of every four people who hold and read an ad -- think flyer, direct mail, newspaper -- can remember the brand later. Yet less than half of people can recall a brand they were exposed to digitally.
For traditional physical ads, unaided brand memory is 75%, but digital brand recall is just 44%. (Kindle)
And please indulge me just for a bit of nostalgia. The following is a list of traditional marketing channels for all you Gen Zs that may be lost.
- Vehicle wraps
- Direct Mail
- Tradeshows and events
- Word of mouth (WOMM)
While many traditional marketing methods are declining, they still have a place in the marketing mix. Television and radio are often out of reach for small business owners, but advertising materials like banners, signs, and radio are still feasible and cost-efficient.
Indeed, traditional marketing has a role in your company's marketing strategy. Many companies find the optimal outcomes come from combining traditional touchpoints with digital campaigns. This traditional and digital combo works incredibly well with local SMBs (small-to-medium businesses).
Many companies today live entirely online. They may be a SaaS company with virtual offices and no physical product or an ecommerce store with a product fulfillment center. For these businesses, a primarily digital strategy is usually the most effective.
--> Each brand and industry is distinct; thus, test multiple marketing channels. Keep track of your outcomes and tweak them until they're ideal.
Try a hybrid approach using your best performing channels online and offline. Just because your competitors aren't using a specific channel does not mean it is ineffective or won't work for your organization.
Give it a go. Consumers may be drawn to your messaging because it is uncluttered and distinct from the competition.