Choosing the Best Marketing Channel for Your Business
Social Media Marketing
Social media is a vital part of our day-to-day lives and is easily one of the most important tools for modern marketers. This channel requires using social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and others — to promote your brand. In addition, the most-trafficked social media platforms offer opportunities for both paid and free advertising via ad campaigns. There’s a reason why most of your favorite businesses brand their social media profiles on everything from their websites to their product labels!
Does it Work? It depends who you ask. Only 45 percent of marketers think their Facebook efforts are effective. Think of social media marketing as a channel within a channel. It’ll work best when you analyze which platform to use to best market your target consumer.
Who It’s Best For: Everyone. Social media marketing was once reserved for small businesses that wanted to connect with a younger audience, but the pervasive nature of social media — Facebook now has over 2 billion users — makes it a valuable tool for any business.
The ROI Factor: It’s notoriously difficult to measure the ROI of social media campaigns. For instance, 35 percent of small business owners are unsure of whether their Facebook efforts are successful. However, we know that organically growing your social media profiles through optimization, organic posts, and content creation brings a big ROI, since your investment is nothing.
Think of email marketing as today’s version of the advertising mailer. It provides readers valuable information on promotions, new products, and other important information. Marketers consider email marketing as one of the best channels for reaching customers at a low cost, primarily because it focuses on a base of customers who have already expressed interest in your business by making a previous purchase or signing up for a mailing list.
Does it Work? Absolutely, when used correctly. Email marketing is particularly useful in helping to leverage existing customers and curbing abandoned carts. Before you send emails, research the best time and day to send them, and optimize them for mobile to help make your campaigns even more effective.
Who It’s Best For: Businesses looking to leverage existing and repeat customers, improve brand identity, and increase credibility.
The ROI Factor: Three-quarters of businesses that use email marketing agree that this platform offers excellent to good ROI, according to a 2016 study by Econsultancy. The marketing research firm also reported that most marketers believe that email marketing has a better ROI than any other digital channel.
Inbound marketing is a relatively broad term used to describe marketing that relies on putting content out into the world and enticing user engagement. This includes content marketing with blogs, social media, and web copy as well as search engine optimization (SEO). Inbound is the opposite of outbound (traditional marketing), which relies on directly targeting users through print and media advertisements, direct mail, telemarketing, and other channels.
Does it Work? Yes. Different inbound methods have varying success rates, but SEO is a good example of this method’s ability to help grow your business. The majority of all B2B marketers start their research via Google, and the first position on the Google search results page has a click through rate of nearly 30 percent.
Who It’s Best For: Everyone. According to this year’s HubSpot State of Inbound Report, the majority of all marketers say their top challenge is generating traffic and leads. By tailoring content to your specific user and enticing them to click and share, you’ll likely see increased traffic.
The ROI Factor: The ROI of inbound marketing is becoming increasingly more evident. Studies show that most customers now go through the buying cycle online without the help of a sales team. Since inbound focuses on the organic side of marketing (i.e. not traditional, costly ads), it has the potential for a very high ROI.
Outbound marketing is inbound’s wiser, older sister. Still, she’s not quite as savvy as she once was. This method relies on directly targeting consumers via traditional print advertisements, TV commercials, radio ads, cold calls, and flyers. Despite the fact that outbound marketing is largely considered less successful than digital advertising channels, most companies still spend as much as 90 percent of their marketing budgets on outbound.
Does it Work? Sometimes, but outbound marketing tends to have a relatively low rate of success compared to other marketing channels. The reason is that outbound doesn’t allow for the same high level of customization and customer tailoring as inbound and other methods. Studies also show that more people are “tuning out” traditional advertising, which makes this tactic less effective than it once was.
Who It’s Best For: Outbound marketing has higher success rates in certain scenarios, such as if you’re marketing to a consumer who makes quicker purchasing decisions or who tends to be extremely busy. Methods like creating eye-catching custom labels always translate to better sales for businesses competing in a retail environment. Deciding to use outbound marketing comes down to studying your target audience and their purchasing habits.
The ROI Factor: This marketing channel has a relatively low ROI compared with inbound marketing. Studies show that your cost per lead will be about 62 percent lower with inbound versus outbound. That’s because physical ads cost more up-front, when the return is equal to or lesser than that of digital marketing.
All marketing channels, when implemented correctly, should generate a return on investment. The key is to find the channel that best aligns with your business’s core audience, growth expectations, and general marketing goals. It’s important to review all your options and consider how they’ll affect your business before committing to a single strategy. For most businesses, combining strategies will bring the most substantial ROI.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.