by Tanya Van Kampen
When evaluating digital marketing channels, it’s easy to get lost in all the options, and when you’re choosing which ones are best for your small business, you might feel constrained by limited resources, be it time, budget or staffing. On top of that, digital marketing is dynamic – the trends change constantly.
Below are the top digital marketing channels to get your business in front of a larger audience. While they may not all be a current fit for you, chances are as your business grows so will your marketing needs.
There’s no getting around this one: Social media is a must. At least 50 percent of online adults use more than one social media site, so take advantage of both organic and paid social media options
However, through paid social media, you’ll be able to take advantage of the platform’s demographic data and specifically target to your desired audience. Staying relevant and posting on multiple sites can get time-consuming, but there are a plethora of tools out there to help you manage your social media marketing. For example, Buffer allows you to schedule content in advance across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn while also providing analytics regarding reach and engagement.
How many times a day do you use a search engine? Probably a lot. Through a paid search option, you can get in front of potential customers at the very moment they are looking for what you have to offer.
The two major players are Google Adwords and Microsoft Bing, but Google does have over 60 percent of the PPC market share. That being said, there are certain verticals that are very competitive and paying more than $20 per click is not uncommon. Adwords and Bing both have help centers with best practices and guidelines to get you going. It’s very easy to get bogged down on keyword data and research. If you have a dedicated marketing staffer, definitely stick them on this; paid search requires constant optimization based on search trends, keyword traffic and fluctuation in PPC costs. However, with the right amount of attention, these campaigns can drive quite a bit of success.
Of course, we can’t leave out the importance of email marketing (after all, we built our business around it). If you stick to your own email lists, you’ll definitely see more success since these are people that have opted in to receiving your emails. When compared to other paid marketing channels, email still has a reputation for lower costs and higher returns. And if you throw automation into the mix, the amount of time it can save you is priceless.
Your email contacts need to be nurtured with relevant messaging based on where they are in your sales funnel – once you’ve completed the initial setup, the automation process literally does all of the work reaching out to the right contact at the right time. Email automation also saves you expensive overhead costs of postal mailing, staffing and a lot of time.
Through display advertising, advertisers can use rich media creative formats like animated banners and video to deliver their message. Display strategies include retargeting, contextual targeting and audience data segments. The latter can get quite costly if you decide to use third-party data in your targeting efforts. If you have Google Adwords then you can access their display network and implement both retargeting and contextual strategies. Retargeting has a tendency to perform quite well since you’re putting your first party data to use.
While you can get your content out there through blogging and various social sites, content syndication is a great way to boost your brand and awareness. In addition to promoting your owned content, you can also put earned content (i.e. third party reviews) to work for you. There are non-paid options such as creating an RSS feed, however, there are plenty of vendors that specialize in syndication and will get your content in front of the desired audience. Companies like Taboola have direct relationships with publishers and cost an average of $.45 per click.
It’s not really its own channel since mobile can be incorporated into all of the above, but mobile marketing is all the rage right now. The technology behind it keeps improving as the demand for it increases. Whatever channels you decide to move forward with, make sure mobile is part of the mix since at least 80 percent of internet users own a smartphone. It’s still an affordable option but the cost will increase as more players enter the game. Remember there is a lot less real estate on a mobile screen than on a desktop.
In the end, you know your company best and what your marketing needs are. Don’t jump into everything at once. Social media is a great place to start because it offers a number of platforms, as well as flexibility with organic and paid options. From there, consider both your budget and where you can most easily access and influence your target market.
Finally, think about your product and messaging as you want to make sure it strategically fits into the mix. Whatever you decide, remember that your marketing efforts are a constant work in progress. As your business grows, there is always room to revise, test and expand.
In addition to over five years of digital advertising experience, Tanya has a special appreciation for small business as she worked for a small photography studio in Chicago for seven years. When she’s in the office, Tanya is the Sr. Display Strategist for Infusionsoft creating various ad campaign strategies. When she’s at home, she is most likely pampering her cherished cat Teddy el Gato and watching Murder She Wrote. Tanya also enjoys eating breakfast for dinner, planning her next Disney vacation, and visiting her beloved Chicago.