If you’re in the process of designing a new digital marketing strategy to grow your business, you may be overwhelmed by the many options available to you. The digital world comes with a seemingly endless list of marketing options. How do you know which digital marketing channels are right for you? How do you focus your attention and resources?
Questions like these are the very reason it’s so important to start any digital marketing effort with a clear-cut strategy. Ensuring a high return on investment begins with outlining your objectives for growth and determining the smartest way to pursue conversions online. And in order to make smart choices, you need to fully understand the digital marketing channels available to you.
The Two Types of Digital Marketing Channels
Generally speaking all digital marketing channels fall under one of two categories:
- Organic Digital Marketing Channels: These are your tools for building brand awareness and customer/brand relationships without paying for visibility.
- Paid Digital Marketing Channels: These are advertising opportunities. As the name suggests, this is where you pay for increased visibility.
There are a couple reasons you want to keep these categorizations in mind when determining your digital marketing strategy.
- Each strategy has a unique set of advantages and can satisfy a specific set of objectives within your overall strategy.
- Any digital marketing strategy should include budget considerations so you can distribute money wisely and track your ROI. When you separate marketing channels by paid vs. organic, you give yourself a shorthand for which strategies require a higher investment.
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at organic vs. paid digital marketing, how both of these categories grow your business, and the various channels within each one.
Organic Digital Marketing Channels
It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say organic digital marketing channels are free. This approach to connecting with buyers still requires an investment of your time and that of skilled employees or an expert digital marketing agency.
What organic digital marketing does offer you is free visibility. You don’t pay to get your brand in front of buyers. Rather, you increase brand awareness and drive traffic by using free platforms such as social media, search engine results, and email.
Now, as you know, there is a lot of competition for attention out on the worldwide web. That’s why organic channels require a lot of data driven strategy research and content development. You need to make sure all your efforts towards visibility put you in a position to stand out and rise above the competition.
Bearing this in mind, you may be tempted to throw all your focus behind paid advertising. After all, why do hours of research, creative brainstorming, and content execution when you could just pay for the visibility you want?
Well, because the organic marketing channels have long-term benefits you won’t get from the paid channels.
While paid digital marketing does a lot to nudge buyers to click or sign up or buy, your organic channels are how you develop lasting relationships with your buyers. These approaches are key to creating a distinctive brand voice, inspiring personal engagement, and educating your target audience about your business and products. Organic content humanizes your business and establishes you as an industry authority.
These are the benefits that turn customers into advocates who return to your brand and encourage others to do the same.
Plus, research has shown that consumers are 131% more likely to buy from you if they’ve been exposed to your educational content.
With all these benefits in mind, let’s take a look at the best organic marketing channels.
Video and Content Marketing
You’ve probably heard it more times than you can count, but it remains true:
Content is king.
Whether it’s video, a blog, a podcast, or even an infographic, anything you create to educate, entertain, or connect with buyers is bound to benefit your brand. This is especially true in the age of social media, when it only takes a click for fans of your business to share a branded video or helpful blog with 900 of their closest friends.
Not to mention, having a video on your website gives you a boost with search engines. So does regularly producing well-written, reader-friendly blog content. And we’ve seen time and again that optimized video content—especially explainer videos—drive conversion.
Plus, each new item of content you create gives buyers another opportunity to discover a personal connection between their values and those of your brand.
Organic Social Media Marketing
First, you can use the platform to optimize your organic reach. Your business page offers a great opportunity for sharing videos, promoting blog content, and even using images to give buyers a behind the scenes look at company operations and the people behind your brand. Again, these natural, personal connections are key to establishing long-term loyalty.
When you combine your organic social media marketing efforts with paid advertising, you’re bound to see some major results. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Email may be one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, but it remains one of the most important. In addition to having an exceptionally large ROI, email allows you to connect with buyers directly, right in their personal inbox. You can use email to share company announcements, promote sales with a link to product pages, or establish your industry authority through a newsletter. Ecommerce stores can even salvage sales that might otherwise be lost, thanks to product and cart abandonment emails.
Plus, in the age of automation, email marketing is easier to do and easier to customize than ever before.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the digital marketing strategy that ensures all the energy you put into the channels above pays off. A stellar blog or conversion-inspiring video means nothing if no one can find it. A good data driven SEO strategy helps your business land on the first page of the search engine results.
Ultimately, optimizing for search engines means making changes to your website and content that make the usefulness of your site clear to search engines. And because search engines are more advanced than ever—meaning they understand what users are looking for beyond keywords—all your other organic marketing efforts integrate cleanly with SEO. Search engines love sites that are regularly updated with readable content. They love videos, images, and infographics. They love to see your site linked on social media platforms.
You still have to take some extra steps to truly optimize for search engines. But overall, the more effort you make to market your business organically, the more the search engines help you out.
Once again, when it comes to organic digital marketing, you’re playing the long game.
Trust us: It pays off big.
Paid Digital Marketing Channels
Simply put, paid digital marketing channels include all the tools you use for paid advertising or promotion.
While organic digital marketing focuses more on long-term relationship building and establishing trust, paid marketing tends to focus on immediate, quantifiable actions.
In almost every case, your paid advertisements include a call to action. You’re encouraging prospective customers to make a purchase, subscribe to a newsletter, request more information, etc. Hopefully, your ad is compelling and makes the buyer feel something. But it isn’t a relationship-builder, because the buyer knows an ad when they see it. They know you’re selling to them, not sharing with them.
That’s not a bad thing. Buyers want to buy. But it’s important to know as a business owner that it is a different interaction altogether.
Now, a strong digital marketing strategy includes methods for tracking and optimizing ROI on every single channel you use. That said, the advantage of paid digital marketing is that the numbers are pretty clear cut. You know what you’re spending to advertise, and you’re reaching for measurable goals—such as conversion rates—rather than intangible objectives—such as buyer loyalty.
Here are the most common channels for paid digital marketing.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is exactly what it sounds like. You pay a fee each time a user clicks on your Internet ad.
This is the most common form of paid digital marketing, but it should be noted that there are a variety of platforms under the banner of PPC. The better you know your audience and brand goals, the better equipped you are to decide which platforms are right for you.G
Google AdWords is one of your most powerful PPC options, simply because Google itself has so much reach.
Through Google AdWords, you have two choices.
- You can advertise through the Google Search Network, which shows your ad at the top of the Google search results. While your ad is clearly labeled as such, it looks like the rest of the search results . . . making it look to a less discerning searcher like your website is the first or second search result.
- You can also advertise through the Google Display Network. This means your ad will appear on other websites whose users are likely to be interested in your product or service.
Facebook Ads (and Other Forms of Social Media Advertising)
We already discussed the importance of building an organic social media presence. One way to turn all that hard work into conversions is to advertise to users who are already falling in love with your brand . . . or who would be if they weren’t out of your organic reach.
- Facebook is the largest social media platform, with 2.5 billion active users.
- Facebook ads can be made to target users with extremely specific details, right down to hobbies and favorite movies.
- Facebook offers a variety of ad styles that can help you show your brand in its best possible light.
As mentioned, there are advertising options for nearly every social media platform. But let’s single this next one out, because it’s unique.
It also offers a couple different options in terms of pay structure.
You can boost your visibility on YouTube with text-based PPC ads the same way you can with Google or Facebook Ads. You’ve likely noticed this—the banner ads that stretch across the top of the page or the pop-ups in the corner of the video.
However, YouTube has the unique advantage of giving you the opportunity to capture attention with the most emotion-stirring form of media: video.
You know the drill. You click on a YouTube video, and there’s an ad to sit through before you can see the video you’re trying to watch. As an advertiser, you have a few options for video ad types, including those skippable ads we’ve all come to appreciate. No matter which option you choose, these video ads are not PPC. Rather, you pay per view.
Now, let’s take a quick look at an even less traditional but increasingly popular paid marketing option.
On second thought, influencer marketing isn’t so non-traditional. In reality, it’s a more personal version of the celebrity endorsements that have defined advertising for decades.
With influencer marketing, you pinpoint a popular social media personality whose own brand is perfectly in line with your own and whose audience is likely to buy from you. You then draw up a deal with that influencer to incorporate your brand into their social media presence.
More and more brands find influencer marketing to be a powerful channel in the digital age. This approach allows you to target a highly specific audience, guides that audience to associate your brand with the image of a personality they admire, and it’s instant social proof.
Whether you decide to dive into influencer marketing, use YouTube’s PPV model, or invest in Facebook or AdWords, paid advertising has one distinct advantage:
You can target and retarget the users who are likeliest to buy from you, so you don’t waste money and resources casting a wide, weak net.
Honestly, that’s what excites us about marketing in the digital age. The seemingly endless marketing channels may feel like a lot to juggle, but that variety allows you to fine-tune customer outreach.
Video, content marketing, and social media help you create a voice and values that buyers relate to. SEO increases your visibility. Email boosts your personal connection and ensures customers don’t miss a sale or promotion. And paid advertising puts your business in front of people who benefit from your product and prevents you from wasting resources on the wrong prospects.In short, it’s a lot to juggle, but it’s worth it. Also remember, you don’t have to do it alone. We’re always here to help. We’d love to help you make the most of these digital marketing channels and finally see the growth your business deserves. Reach out anytime.