If your paid search keyword strategy, Facebook ads, and automated emails aren’t generating any positive growth or getting people into your funnel, you likely need to reevaluate which marketing channels you focus on.
To help kick-start your creativity, we’ve compiled some unique and overlooked marketing channels. But before we list them, here is a brief refresher.
The basics: What are marketing channels?
A marketing channel is the outlet used by any company to deliver products and services to end consumers. The strategic use of different marketing channels affects how (and if) your products and services are delivered to your customers. To establish a solid strategy, it’s important to select your best channels by creating an effective channel management strategy.
Channel management is the process of developing various marketing techniques and sales strategies to reach the widest, most relevant customer base, and to streamline communication and product delivery between you and your customer. It includes selecting channels according to the characteristics of your industry and product/service; the goals of your business; and the specific details of your target audience — their pain points, needs, buying patterns, etc.
When multiple channels are selected (aka multi-channel marketing) each one is often interdependent of one another to ensure the fastest, most effective delivery to the customer with an optimal user experience.
Keeping all of this in mind, consider the following 5 digital marketing channels to refine your team’s strategy going forward. It is also worth mentioning that the best advertising channels help establish integrated promotional campaigns and will likely produce better results than any single channel.
The 5 most overlooked digital marketing channels
1. Messaging platforms
2018 is the year for businesses to really start engaging with customers via messaging platforms for several reasons:
- Familiarity: Consumers already use messaging platforms for their daily communications. Three of today’s top five social networks are messaging platforms: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat — so relying on these types of messaging platforms for communication with businesses feels more natural to consumers.
- Convenience: Consumers are becoming increasingly immune to traditional communication methods, like email and phone calls, and would rather interact with your business when, where, and how it’s convenient for them — which is proving to be messaging platforms.
- Speed: One of the leading indicators of success — the quicker your business’ workflow, the more revenue earned, and the higher your ROI will be. Time is money, and advertising on messaging platforms — with Facebook Messenger ads, for example — takes less time than phone, direct mail, and even email.
It’s not only about what produces the best results for your business because what the customer wants matters even more. Consumers already use messaging platforms on a daily basis, so using this channel gets you in front of prospects where they’re already spending their time.
2. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing (aka referral marketing, influencer marketing, or partner marketing) is a performance-based strategy where an individual or brand works with another brand to establish a mutually beneficial advertising campaign. Each party can promote the other’s product or service on their own platform (think guest blogging) so both parties benefit. Or, the affiliate partner can be rewarded for a specific metric (clicks, sales, etc.) when the outcome is due to their efforts.
To demonstrate the second scenario, here is actress Mandy Moore promoting HelloFresh on Instagram. Notice how the ad reads, “Paid partnership with hellofresh” in the top-right and uses the hashtag #hellofreshpartner in the description:
No matter what you call it or how you use it, the bottom line is that affiliate marketing can increase brand awareness, build credibility, and even boost sales from co-marketing efforts with strategic partners.
3. Company blogs and repurposing content
A corporate blog should be the cornerstone of your marketing strategy because not only is it a great way to build credibility among your readers, but it’s also ideal for generating quality leads. Companies with an active blog are 13x more likely to receive a positive ROI, and while content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, it generates more than 3x the leads.
What many marketers forget, though, is that articles can be repurposed into new bite-sized content and redistributed to additional channels for additional reach and exposure:
- Turn your content into videos and promote on YouTube
- Create a slide deck of your content for SlideShare
- Design infographics to share on social media
- Answer questions on forums (Quora) and link back to your content
Since content marketing produces the most visibility and generates the most leads when distributed in various formats across multiple platforms, many businesses use at least 13 different content marketing tactics. There is no limit with content marketing so get creative when repurposing blog articles.
Social media marketing is nothing new, but Instagram has quickly become a highly-compelling marketing channel for many brands. According to Entrepreneur, Instagram is now a more valuable channel than Facebook, with brands receiving more engagement on Instagram than any other social media platform. Equally as impressive, check out how Instagram Stories surpassed Snapchat in terms of daily active users, in such a short amount of time:
If those facts aren’t compelling enough, another primary reason to advertise on Instagram is because 75% of users take action (e.g. visiting a website) after viewing an Instagram ad.
Powerhouse brands like Walmart and Amazon understand Instagram’s power to reach their target audiences, spark engagement, and persuade users to take action:
With ever-expanding advertising features and precise targeting options, Instagram is one digital marketing channel that simply can’t be ignored.
The 2017 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey asked 105 marketing executives which engagement tactics they felt were most successful in generating qualified, top-of-funnel leads. Webinars ranked the 2nd highest-rated channel (62%), directly behind live events (69%). Without any geographical barriers, webinars are an ideal digital marketing channel to reach wide audiences and new markets. The two biggest webinar advantages include…
Time and financial savings
Attending conferences and trade shows is time-consuming and very costly. Webinars are a perfect substitute because they eliminate the need for your team to travel; so less need for conference booths or on-site sales meetings.
Time can be saved during webinar preparation, as many platforms offer features for pre-recording and scheduling. These allow marketers to create content, polls, descriptions, and titles beforehand, removing some of the stress from presenting live. Additionally, webinars can be repurposed in various forms (see point 3 above).
Many webinar platforms offer detailed analytics and supplementary tools, such as polls and surveys, to provide additional insight on attendees’ behavior during the webinar. This data and feedback can be used to plan future content and webinar topics, and to profile the audience for targeted follow-ups. When paired with the information collected during the webinar registration process, these insights can be used to guide attendees further through the customer journey.
With unique valuable content, and perhaps co-presented with industry influencers — webinars are a vital digital marketing channel. They have the power to educate and inform, deliver tangible insights, and generate engagement – all while ushering attendees further down the marketing funnel.
Bridging the gap between offline and online marketing
With consumer behavior and decision-making processes constantly in flux, connecting online and offline marketing channels is more important than ever. In fact, 87% of senior marketers agree that consistent integration across all platforms, both online and offline, is essential to creating the perfect customer experience.
Some integration ideas include:
- Collecting email subscribers inside a retail store
- Hosting a contest with details printed on product packaging (for example, asking customers to upload selfies to their social media accounts with a particular hashtag)
- Advertising on a billboard with a short, easy-to-remember link to your post-click landing page
- Including your website address on brochures and newspaper/magazine ads
Offline and online marketing don’t have to be mutually exclusive to each other. By integrating the two strategies, you can spread your message to countless more prospects to boost visibility, leads, and customers.
Identify your highest-performing marketing channels
Hopefully this list has sparked some creative ideas to help fill your funnel with new leads. Think about your current marketing campaigns, and identify how some of these ideas could get your metrics back on track.
Keep in mind that with marketing channels quickly evolving, you should always reassess your tactics and tools, A/B test your ads and post-click landing pages, and update as needed. For additional tips on how to maximize your lead gen efforts, consult the Top 20 Lead Gen Tips Guaranteed to Fill Your Sales Funnel.