What Is a Channel in Marketing?
Marketing channels are the ways, methods and avenues marketers use to promote and distribute information about their company and products to their audience. The number of channels available to a marketer seems to grow by the day, but there are some that marketers should make sure to include in their marketing plans because they are the most effective ways of reaching audiences and achieving the team’s marketing strategy.
Eight most effective marketing channels
Most companies use one or more of the following marketing channels to reach potential and current customers with information about their brand.
- Content marketing: Content marketing is a great way to reach an audience with information that they are already looking for. If you are able to create actionable content and share it through blog posts or tutorials, the information will also continue to impact the site’s SEO rankings as time goes on.
- SEO marketing: SEO allows marketers to improve their website's rankings in search engine result pages, and therefore increase their brand visibility and reach potential customers. While SEO can take time and resources for marketers to leverage, it can be one of the best ways to drive organic traffic to your website.
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising: PPC advertising is similar to SEO marketing, but it involves paying a fee every time someone clicks on an ad for your company or product. These ads are connected to keywords people are searching for and typically appear at the top of the search page above organic results.
- External signage marketing: External signage is designed to take advantage of footfall and traffic past the signage location. Some marketing departments might choose to book large billboards on a busy highway, while others could employ movable sandwich boards on a busy sidewalk. What external signage marketing a company uses can sometimes depend on the regulations in their area and what types of signage are allowed. The other major limitation is cost: highway billboards can be costly but can pay off in brand recognition.
- Word of mouth marketing: While it might seem like word-of-mouth marketing would be difficult to quantify, there are ways to use and track this channel as well. Affiliate or referral programs capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing to encourage people to share your product with their friends. Word of mouth marketing can also capitalize on reviews from sites your target customers trust, like Yelp, Google Reviews, or TrustPilot.
- Event marketing: Whether your marketing team plans an event, such as a conference or networking mixer, or attends an event to hand out brochures or speak with potential customers, event marketing can be a valuable way to get information to your target audience. The key to ensuring event marketing is worth the resources is to choose or host events that cater to your key buyer personas.
- Social media marketing: Social media marketing is one of the most popular channels for marketing teams to use. According to one study, social media users spend around three hours a day updating and checking their feeds — meaning plenty of opportunities to reach would-be customers. Marketers can choose to use a mix of text, video, and imagery to engage their followers and build brand loyalty.
- Website marketing: The company’s own website is another channel that marketers should include in their marketing distribution of information about the company, brand, and products. Successful website marketing requires having a cohesive message and tone across the site and ensuring the visitor’s experience on the site is a positive one.
- Print marketing: Print marketing includes paying for advertisements in magazines, newspapers, or other periodicals. Print ads can be designed in-house or by the publication’s design department and should reinforce your brand messaging.
- Email marketing: Communicating information to customers via email is a simple and cost-effective way to reach current and potential customers. An effective email marketing strategy can also mean a huge return on investment. One 2019 UK study found that the average ROI from email marketing stands at £42 for every pound spent. That’s why email marketing can be a critical component of any winning marketing strategy. Email marketing relies on creating a robust email list, usually through email sign-ups, and then optimizing the content and timing of the email communications.
- Video marketing: Video marketing is on the rise, with 86% of businesses saying it’s a part of their marketing strategy (up from 61% in 2016). Though it can be easy to brush off video marketing as too expensive or time-consuming to undertake, especially for smaller companies, marketers now have a range of video editing and production software at their fingertips. This software can be used to share information about the company via simple, short videos for social media, webinars, and even SEO-focused how-to videos for organic growth.
Creating a marketing plan that includes several marketing channels can offer a comprehensive communication strategy to reach your target audience. Many marketing teams find it helpful to begin with a core set of marketing channels and excel at these before moving onto more.