What Is An Online Marketing Channel?
An online marketing channel is a digital platform you can use to reach and connect with your target audience.
An online marketing channel is synonymous with a digital marketing channel.
Different online marketing channels serve different purposes.
For instance, social media is conducive to customer engagement and a friendly/communicative environment…
…whereas Google is a place where people go to get information and frequently asked questions answered.
Small business owners need to determine which online marketing channel their target audience spends the most time on and invest their efforts there.
So, in this ultimate guide, we’re breaking down the top 15 online marketing channels to help you make that decision.
Let’s get started!
Top 15 Online Marketing Channels
Social media is a term that encompasses several different individual social networks.
These include Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, and more.
Again, each platform has its different nuances and primary demographic, but social media as a whole is a place where users gather to interact through a news feed with friends, family, brands, and influencers.
It gives customers direct access to brands and vice versa.
Social media has facilitated customer relationship management like nothing else has before.
Organic social media marketing, meaning unpaid social media marketing, is a great tool to garner brand loyalty, brand awareness and stir up conversations in the comments with your audience.
You’ll want to perform research to determine which of the social media platforms for business makes the most sense given your specific target market, and plug into that platform.
This can look like going live on that platform, posting Stories, responding to comments, etc.
The goal of any social media channel should be to foster a positive and ongoing relationship between your brand and your target audience.
Social media advertising is the paid side of social media marketing. Every social media platform has its own advertising platform built in.
Facebook and Instagram have Facebook Ads Manager, Twitter has Twitter Ads, TikTok has TikTok Ads, and so on.
While most social media advertising channels are similar, it’s important to note that they’re not the same.
They have different targeting capabilities, different campaign objectives options, and so on. As a result, they have different pros and cons.
You’ll first need to weigh the benefits of the varying platforms as they relate to your ultimate goal and determine if they will help you reach your desired outcome from social media marketing.
Overall, social media advertising lets you put your valuable content creation directly in front of your audience to nudge them towards your call to action.
Social media advertising will drive traffic, leads, and sales that you often can’t get from organic social media marketing.
The downside is that it requires an ad budget to fuel these basic tasks, unlike organic social media marketing.
That’s why you’ll want to perform the research upfront to determine which social media channel is going to be the most fruitful for you to advertise on.
You don’t want to waste your ad budget or time on a platform that doesn’t hold much of your target market.
3. Email Marketing
If all of the social media giants like Facebook and Instagram were to crash and “go down” today, would you still have a customer base to market to?
A lot of small business owners make the mistake of relying on their following on external platforms to have access to their potential customers.
You need to own your customer list so that if push comes to shove, you still have access to your customers. Email marketing is the way to do that.
Email marketing is the process of sending emails to your leads and customers regularly to move them further down your sales funnel.
Whether you need to turn a follower into a lead or a lead into a customer, email marketing is the bridge that fills that gap.
There are two main types of email marketing you can perform: manual, weekly newsletters, and automated drip campaigns.
Manual, weekly newsletters are exactly what they sound like. They’re relevant, topical emails that you type up and send to your email list on a daily basis.
Automated drip campaigns serve as marketing automation tools. They are emails that you set up in advance with conditions in place…
…so that the email marketing software can continue to send those emails for you on its own after that.
For instance, you don’t want to sit down and manually send out an order confirmation email every time a purchase is made, right? Of course not!
An automated email sequence can take care of that for you. The important part of automated emails is that they go way beyond simple logistic emails.
The real magic in email marketing happens when you set conditions that say if a customer opens email A, send them email B. If not, send them email C, and so on.
You’re creating a smart, personalized, and strategic email sequence that sends on its own! It can work while you’re sleeping.
Email marketing is (still) one of the best business online marketing channels available to help nurture leads and convert prospects into customers.
Is the product or service you offer something that your audience often searches for on Google when they need it? If so, SEO is for you.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a great online marketing channel for businesses whose nature is to be searched.
Off-page SEO refers to the process of actions that are taken outside of your website. They effect your rankings within SERPS (search engine results pages).
SEO is the organic process of helping your website rank in the Google search results- or technically any search engine results.
Your page speed for SEO should be up to three seconds or less.
You can perform SEO on any search engine including Bing or DuckDuckGo, but Google is the most popular search engine and therefore it’s where most business owners start.
If someone types in a search query, or keyword, into the Google search bar that is related to the product or service you offer…
…you want your website to be the first result that appears at the top of landing page 1.
SEO is the process that helps you accomplish that.
There are hundreds of ranking factors that Google looks at and considers when deciding which websites are going to rank in which order.
As a result, there are hundreds of things you can do to optimize your website for SEO, including on-site SEO vs off-site SEO and more.
If you need help putting an SEO strategy together, check out that blog.
SEM, Search Engine Marketing, is the paid version of SEO. SEM is also sometimes referred to as PPC advertising which stands for Pay-Per-Click advertising.
SEM is the process of ranking in the top paid spots in the search engine results. Take a look at this photo again to see the difference.
You pay Google for the top spot in the search results, giving you tons of exposure and relevant clicks.
The difference between SEM vs SEO is that SEM only works for you as long as you’re feeding it an advertising budget. Soon as the budget is cut off, you will no longer rank in the top spot.
SEO takes a lot more time and work, but the results last longer and don’t depend on an unlimited ad budget.
On average, the first five results on a search engine results page get more than 67% of all clicks for any given search query.
That means you’ll want your business to appear in those top five results building your online presence, let alone on page 1! SEM and SEO are both methods to achieve that goal.
If you want to learn more about the two online marketing channels to determine which would be better suited for your business, check out our blog on SEO vs SEM.
6. Display Ads
Display ads are a type of Google ad that are visual. They are a form of paid ads.
Instead of having a text ad at the top of the search results, you have a graphic without separate text or a caption that appears across Google’s Display Network.
Display ads can appear across millions of websites, apps, and other Google-owned properties like Gmail and YouTube.
The idea with display ads is that you retarget your website visitors and follow them all across the web, putting your brand in front of them again and again until they convert.
Most people do not purchase upon the first click, the second, or the third. The average person needs to be retargeted seven times before they’re compelled to take action.
This is especially true when they’re seeing advertisements from small businesses they’ve never heard of before.
Display ads give you the reach and opportunity to retarget your website traffic across the world wide web as opposed to just any one platform.
7. Google Shopping Ads
Google Shopping Ads are a great online marketing channel for eCommerce store owners in particular.
Shopping ads are where the right people see product listings in the search results for certain search queries.
Unlike Google search campaigns (SEM) where you as the business owner input the competitive keywords you want to rank for, the keywords for Shopping campaigns are pulled by Google.
Google sources the keywords by automatically pulling from the words listed in the product title and description.
So, you’ll want to make sure you set up your product catalog thoroughly and accurately in order for Google Shopping campaigns to work well.
8. SMS marketing
SMS marketing, otherwise known as text-message marketing, is a great retargeting tool for small business owners.
Many businesses are familiar with the process of obtaining a customer’s name and email address so as to follow up with them via email.
Businesses today, however, are not stopping there. They’re asking for your name, email, and phone number so that they can follow up via email and via text message.
Some consider SMS marketing to be an extension of email marketing as many email marketing softwares offer SMS marketing alongside email.
Plus, if you already have an email marketing campaign up and running, it’s easy to make a shortened version of it to fuel your SMS marketing campaign.
However often people check their email every day, people check their text messages a lot more.
An SMS campaign helps keep your brand quite literally in your customers’ faces every day.
9. Short Form Video
Short-form video has taken the world by storm in the last three years.
Whether we’re talking about TikToks, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, or YouTube Shorts…
…collectively there are billions of people scrolling through their phones watching these every day.
In order to stay relevant online, your brand needs to be producing videos to some degree.
The great thing about short-form videos is that they’re easy and cheap (or free) to make.
You don’t need a Hollywood budget or professional product to create effective, viral short-form videos. All you need is a smartphone and a good idea.
10. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has become a multi-billion dollar industry in recent years.
Influencers are social media personalities with large followings. This can range from someone with a couple of thousands of followers all the way to celebrities with millions.
Brands then pay those influencers to promote their product to their large following, which, if done well, results in a lot of sales for the brand.
The trick to making influencer marketing work for you is to find multiple influencers to partner with whose followers align with your target market.
If your product or service is for women and you partner with influencers whose followers are mostly men, that partnership probably isn’t going to work.
If you can find influencers that share your target audience and can work within your budget, you’re likely to see a profitable partnership.
11. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing in its simplest form is when someone gets paid a percentage of the sale for selling your product.
Influencers make money via affiliate marketing often. One route in influencer marketing is for you the brand to pay them a flat rate for promoting your product.
Giving them their own affiliate link is another common option. Instead of paying them a flat rate, you pay them a commission for every sale they bring in.
This can level the playing field a little bit and make influencer marketing more accessible for small businesses on a budget.
Small businesses often take advantage of affiliate marketing by giving influencers their own customized link to their website via UTMs or by giving them a discount code.
Doing one or both of those two things will help you accurately attribute sales to the influencer
12. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the process of publishing online relevant content that is of relevance to your target audience.
This can technically take many forms, be it social media high-quality content, course content, videos, etc. but today we’re talking about long-form blog content.
Regularly maintaining a blog helps you establish authority both in Google’s eyes for SEO purposes as well as in your customers’ eyes as an expert.
As a result, you’ll want to make sure you’re thinking about both what Google wants to see and what your customers want to see when picking your blog topics and writing them.
If you need help putting together a content marketing strategy, check out that blog.
13. YouTube Marketing
Around 250 million hours of videos are watched every single day on YouTube.
Publishing YouTube videos is a great digital strategy to build good brand consumer behavior and trust, overcome any objections to purchasing, and establish yourself as an expert in your industry.
Your videos will convert viewers into customers increasing your conversion rate, but what’s more…
…you can also monetize your channel and make money from YouTube just for posting the videos, to begin with!
It’s a win-win!
People used to say video marketing was the way of the future, but at this point, it’s the way of the present. Video marketing is here and it’s effective.
YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google, making it a great place to start with video marketing.
More than 400 million people listen to podcasts, including over half of the adults in the United States.
Whether you’re hosting your own podcast, or you’re promoting an ad on someone else’s podcast, they’re a great way to get in front of attentive listeners.
If you have a YouTube channel and publish videos regularly, you can convert those into MP3s and create a podcast with those audios.
It can be that simple! Just make sure you’re providing value to your listeners and speaking directly to their goals or pain points as it relates to your industry.
You can learn how to start a podcast on that blog.
15. Website Marketing
What better of a digital platform to promote than your own website?
Earlier, we discussed the importance of owning your own email list so that you always have access to your customers. Owning your own space on the internet is equally important!
You want to own and promote your own domain and website. Don’t park your website under a domain that’s owned by someone else like an Amazon Store or Blogger.com.
You want to have full ownership and control of your website so you can change it as needed over the years and have full access to your website visitors all of the time.
Your website is today’s brick-and-mortar. It’s the face of your business and the main source of information for your customers.
Make sure it’s updated, clear, designed well and value-packed.
Your website is one of the most important online marketing channels to upkeep, so make sure you maintain it well.
The Best Online Marketing Channels
The best online marketing channels for small business are the ones that hold the highest percentage of your target market while giving you an affordable means to reach them.
This may look different from industry to industry, but it’s worth taking the time to research. We hope you enjoyed this beginner’s guide!
If you need help with utilizing these online marketing channels for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us today to get your custom proposal!