Customers have become more accustomed to flexible communication from eCommerce companies in recent years. It’s easy to see why: Customers use many marketing channels every day, so they expect brands to share information on all of them.
Not all marketing channels are the same. Some channels require you to spend money in order to provide information to potential customers. Others allow you to distribute content naturally.
This post will explain the definition of marketing channels and provide examples to help you choose the best ones for your company.
What’s a marketing channel?
Marketing channels are the media you use to communicate your message to your target audience. There are two types of channels.
- Paid channels allow you to spend money to share information with potential customers.
- Organic Channels allow you to create and share content, without having to pay to have it distributed to others.
Your overall marketing strategy will be determined by the mix of channels you choose.
The most effective marketing channels
1. Email marketing
Email marketing is the use of email to promote your company’s products and services. Either send an entire email campaign, or a single email to inform people about a sale or promotion. You can send emails at key points in the customer journey such as when customers sign up for your email list, or when they complete their checkout.
Gathering contacts is essential before you start emailing potential customers. A lot of brands offer a discount for building an email list. Luxy hair extensions brand offers new subscribers an exclusive discount on their first order and hair tips.
We recommend prioritizing customers who are not yet ready to make a purchase. Personal touches and additional messaging can help you generate significant incremental revenue by reaching people in the consideration phase.
2. Marketing via social media
Social media marketing is a great way for niche audiences to be found, engaged, and built relationships. You might find a niche audience on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok depending on the product you are selling. These people will listen to your story and purchase from your business.
Posting content to your own social media channels is organic marketing. This is unlike paid or display advertising. You don’t have to pay for leads. You can build a following on social media, work with influencers, and then sell products directly from the platform.
3. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is when you work with professionals to promote your products. Affiliates can use a promotional code or special link to direct customers to your store via blog posts, reviews, and other social media content. A fashion blogger might list items from your clothing store in a post called “Top Picks” for the season.
Affiliates get a share of any sales made by someone who uses their affiliate link to buy an item. This marketing strategy works because it uses an affiliate’s credibility and promotes your business to the public. Trusted people are more likely than not to buy items.
Finding the right affiliates that have a connection to your target audience is key to success. Affiliate Marketing: A Guide For Beginners will help you make the most out of this marketing channel.
4. Referral marketing
A recommendation from a friend or family member is more trustworthy than a paid ad or blog post. Referral marketing is extremely effective because it encourages people to share your brand’s name and products with others they know.
Referral marketing works in the same way as affiliate marketing, but it uses specific links that link a referral to an account holder or customer. Instead of paying customers a commission for referring you, you may reward them with discounts on your next purchase, free shipping, or other exclusive benefits.
Referral marketing campaigns can reward both the person who made the referral as well as the new customer. Allbirds offers $15 off for each referral, and $15 off the first order for the new customer.
5. Paid search engine marketing
Search engine optimization is also known as SEM. It involves both organic and paid strategies to increase your visibility on search engines such as Google and Bing. Paid search engine marketing is where you pay a fee to have ads appear above other results when people search for a particular term.
Focusing on the intent of your target audience when you use SEM strategies can increase your chances of reaching customers who are already interested in your product or service. An accounting company might target customers looking for “accountants near my location”.
Paid search engine marketing can also get you to the top of search results quicker than organic ads. Paid search engine marketing is often used in conjunction with organic content creation.
6. SMS marketing
SMS marketing is the sending of text messages directly to customers, new and repeat. This marketing strategy is similar to email marketing in that it aims to educate, sell or build loyalty.
Because of the personal nature of SMS channels, brands often have to offer sign-up incentives. Its direct and immediate nature makes it so powerful. According to Gartner SMS open rates can rise as high as 98% while SMS click-through rates can reach as high as 45%. These figures should encourage any brand to include SMS in their marketing strategy.
SMS marketing requires that you only reach your audience sparingly and only when you have something to offer. Olipop is a healthier alternative to soda that uses SMS marketing to inform customers about new flavors. The brand has had great success with one campaign earning it around $30,000 in just 15 minutes.
7. Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization (or SEO) is a powerful channel to get your brand in front a large audience. This involves optimizing a website, such as a product page to meet the search engine user’s intent. If someone searches for “retro iPhone cases for sale”, they are likely to be looking for a product. Your webpage should be optimized to meet their needs, i.e. it should allow them to purchase the product.
To rank higher in search results, you must satisfy the search intent. Search engines like Google reward ecommerce brands that meet users’ expectations by ranking their websites higher on their search platform.
Electronics accessories brand CaSETiFY found success using ecommerce optimization. Its retro collection page ranks first in search results for the same query.
8. Event marketing
Your brand can grow by showcasing your products in person at trade shows, craft fairs, and farmers markets. While it is beneficial at all stages of your business, attending events may prove especially valuable to validate your ideas in the early days.
Real-time feedback is available to help you better understand your marketing messages and build relationships with your target market.
9. Marketing in partnership
Partnership marketing is when you work with another business to reach their audience. This could be done with online retailers by collaborating on product designs and selling the product in their stores. This partner could be a retailer, brand or other entity whose target audience is similar to yours.
To make it easy for customers to test out the mattress, Casper joined forces with high-end furniture brand West Elm. These collaborations can be mutually beneficial and help increase exposure to a wider customer base.
10. Direct-mail marketing
Direct-mail marketing is the practice of sending customers physical items via snail mail. You can pursue this marketing channel in many ways. You might send a direct mail campaign with a coupon code and a postcard, while another brand might announce a sale, or a new product. Many businesses send complete catalogs.
DTC bedding brand Brooklinen sends out sturdy brochures that explain its product benefits and features.
Prioritize the best marketing channels for your company
Before you start to explore any marketing channels, you should evaluate your business model, what resources you have and what skills you are best at. This will help you to identify the best channels for your business.
You can also conduct market research to determine the right channel mix. You can use market research to determine the best platforms for customer-focused marketing.