How to Pick the Best Online Marketing Channels for Your Business
Posted by Brad Smith
Not all traffic is created equal.
Some of it will become your loyal customers, and some of it will bounce forever.
If you want the kind that turns into loyal customers, then you need to pick better traffic channels.
But it’s not that easy…
Some channels and tactics might work great for one business, but not for others. Pinterest might work for some businesses, while it’s a complete waste of time for yours.
How do you know what channels will work best for your business?
Here’s a guide to help you pick the best online marketing channels for your business.
Organic Search (SEO)
Every business needs organic search (or SEO) traffic.
It’s one of the best sources because people are showing intent for your product, service, or information (so it converts at a higher percentage than most). And it flows into your site consistently, growing exponentially over time (so you don’t get locked in a fixed ratio like advertising).
But there’s also a problem.
If you have a small, unestablished site, or are launching a new website, then you probably can’t go after the main keyphrases in your niche. You’re probably too small, too new, and too inexperienced to compete and win the “money keyphrases”.[pullquote align="right"]
Pro Tip: How to Compare Your Website Against the Competition
- You need to compare your site’s “value” against the competition currently ranking for your specific keyphrases.
- Head over to OpenSiteExplorer.com, enter your domain URL and the URLs of the other top competition, and compare the overall “Domain Authority” for each site.
- If you’re close or bigger, than go for it! But if you’re not within a few points, then stick to a long-tail SEO strategy.
Big, popular keyphrases can be worth thousands and thosuands of dollars to companies. So they’re going to invest huge sums of money into dominating those search engine result pages (SERPs).
So what’s the solution? Instead of competing head-on, you should use a long tail SEO strategy.
- Go after less popular and less competitive keyphrases (typically 3-5 words)
- Create awesome content around these long-tail phrases
- Get high quality links back to these blog posts
Online advertising is a great option if you (a) can measure results properly, and (b) have more money than time.
There are a few different types of online advertising. And there are different ways you can pay for it.
But they all depend on how your product or service is priced. This is because when you’re doing online advertising, your cost to acquire each customer has to be less than the lifetime value of that customer.
So let’s take a look at some examples.
High Price & High Margin
You can afford (and usually need to) spend more to acquire each new customer. So you can use Cost-Per-Click type advertising, like Google AdWords, and even Facebook advertising to get more “Likes”, and then drive those “Likes” back to your offers.
Another effective option is paying others for leads or sales (aka Cost-Per-Lead and Cost-Per-Action). Affiliate or “Joint Venture” partnerships are common online, but offline they’re typically known as Revenue Shares. You’re essentially giving other people a percentage of the revenue made, when you make a sale based on their recommendation.
Low Price & Low Margin
Because you can’t afford to give away as much money per sale on a low price or low margin product/service, you need to reach people for the least amount possible.
So Cost-Per-Impression (CPM) advertising, like display ads, are typically more cost-effective than CPC advertising. One inexpensive solution to look at is a self-serve marketplace like BuySellAds. You can also find “direct buy” opportunities, where you pay a set amount for a specific interval (like monthly) that will get you traffic but won’t break the bank.
Another twist on this idea is through reaching the communities of media properties (i.e. content-driven websites, blogs, etc.). Here, you can explore all types of content sponsorships, “advertorials“, and paying for product or service reviews.
One site, ReviewMe, allows you to pick bloggers (and pay them) to write about your company or endorse your product.
Of course, you can also do this manually. Find relevant bloggers you like and respect, strike up a relationship with them, and pitch them ideas if they’re open to it.
A lot of bloggers don’t have monetization figured out, so they’re woefully under-compensated for all the work they do. If they support your product and service, then paying them or giving them a share of revenue to endorse you may help them a lot as well.
Referral traffic comes from other websites and blogs. It usually spikes and tapers off. So you have to consistently “feed” it to keep the traffic coming.
What are some examples?
Content marketing on other sites is a great way to generate inbound traffic, links, and potential customers. Some of the most popular and well-known tactics are through submitting blog articles, interviews, and product reviews.
Like most tactics, the effectiveness of your content marketing depends a lot on (a) picking the right audience to reach and (b) your execution.
So spend some time picking the best, most active online communities you can find, and look for blogs or media-sites with the most engagement. Then really focus on your content marketing ideas and make them the highest quality possible.
“Top Down” Partnerships:
You can use social media for business development by getting to know bloggers and journalists, reaching out to other media properties, partnering with complimentary brands for promotions, etc. etc.
This is the best way to drive traffic and grow your brand. Find relevant communities of people, and figure out how you can give their “influencer” value, in exchange for recommendations (sometime in the future).
Of course, you also have each individual social network…
The social network you should use will depend on either (a) the type of your business, or (b) where your audience is on the technology lifecycle adoption curve.
- Facebook is good for almost everyone – except for the innovators and/or early adopters, who would rather be on Twitter or Google+.
- Twitter is best for early adopters . But it’s also a great tool for getting to know bloggers/journalists, reaching out to other brands, and other business development tactics.
- LinkedIn is great for Business-to-Business leads, and promoting your company/personal brand.
- Google+ is great for early adopters. (But everyone should be figuring out how to use Google+ for business. It’s going to heavily influence the future of SEO.)
- Pinterest is great for visual products/brands, with an emphasis on women.
Now it’s Your Turn
As you can see, the online marketing channels you should pick depend a lot on your specific business and unique circumstances.
So invest in yourself to learn, grow, and hit all of your marketing goals.