How to pick the right paid marketing channel for your business?

Table of Contents

There are five major online marketing channels for you to choose from organic search, paid search (PPC), social media, email marketing and referral traffic and there are many factors to take into consideration when choosing which one is right for you and your business.  

It may be tempting to choose all channels and try to optimise them to help scale your business, but the key is to choose two or at most three that will help you start building and scaling. The truth is most companies do not have the resources to optimise them all.  

One or two strategically selected marketing channels that drive your website traffic are the key to a great marketing strategy. Before discovering what channel is the perfect pairing for your business you must ask yourself a few questions to determine your goals and what you wish for your marketing channel to achieve. 

Questions to ask yourself before picking the perfect marketing channel for your business 

We suggest asking the following questions when choosing new channels: 

  • How big is the channel currently? This helps you gauge how much you can make within a short timeframe. 
  • What is the growth rate of the channel regarding the number of new signups/shoppers? This helps you gauge the channel’s possible future outcome. Remember, percentage growth can be misleading. 
  • Is the way people interact differently in this channel than in your original channel and is the way they buy different? Can you use what you have learnt on your previous channel and learn new skills with this new channel? 
  •  What growth levers does this new channel offer and is it more attractive for its low penetration? This helps you understand other alternative benefits the channel may offer you such as low penetration that may give you the chance to charge a higher price and provide unique shoppers other channels may not. 
  • What is the most effective way to start a portfolio on this channel?  
  • For your unique items are you ready to sell on a larger scale if required? 

Define your Audience 

To ensure you are marketing your product efficiently and presenting your products to the right audience you must define your ideal client and build an audience persona to truly get a portrait of your potential customer. There are handy tools Facebook Audience Insights, Google Analytics and Twitter profiles to help understand your audience better, using these tools you can build a profile and you don’t need an advertising account to view this just a Facebook profile and a little time. At first, you should start with broad options just to gauge the type of person you are targeting and then you can get into specifics such as: 

  • Gender 
  • Age 
  • Interested Lifestyle 
  • Career 
  • Estimate Income 
  • Educational level 
  • Household 
  • Online activity and device usage 
  • And most importantly… their spending habits. 

When you have all the data from these handy tools and research you should always keep your audience and their intent in mind when creating content or during any marketing campaign or activity.  

Secondly, find out where your customers hang out! 

It may not seem important but will help you find out and, where and what kind of media they consume, what apps they visit frequently and what keywords they search when searching for your product. 

You need to know where to communicate with your consumers, what frequency and through what channel. In a digital age, consumers have almost continuous and constant access to media and can feel bogged down and bombarded with ads and information. Create only targeted ads with a clear message, at a place you know they’ll be. 

There are many factors to consider when targeting what platform to use for example 

Targeting Gen Z, engage them on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch.  

Targeting CEOs, get on LinkedIn 

Define Your Business Goals

Now that you understand your buying persona you must define your business and growth goals. 

You must ask yourself the scale you wish to grow and in what timeframe, including leads and clients you wish to acquire monthly. After considering this you must also ask yourself the value of your leads and the budget or assets you realistically must invest in marketing. Getting a clear perspective and awareness on the allocation of your budget, time, effort, and assets that you can accurately support and what marketing channel can accommodate your plan. The fundamental question is: what are you hoping to achieve and what would be your best outcome?  

Each marketing channel provides a different outcome, and each comes with its own advantage and disadvantages and can help you achieve your goal quicker and more efficiently than others. 

Marketing outcomes come in many forms: 

  • You may wish to increase sales 
  • Heighten your brand’s awareness 
  • Get more customers newsletter sign up 
  • Create a list of customers and build healthy relationships. 

The key and foundation to a successful and strong marketing strategy are to set these clear goals and boundaries. 

Identify channels that are already driving traffic

To find out what can work you must also identify what is already working and what channels that your web traffic is currently concentrated or running through. 

Using free tools such as Google Analytics helps you analyse your data, make decisions based on the information that is gauged, and deliver business results. Google Analytics can also help you identify your current top channels. 

Google Analytics requires basic technical knowledge but takes approximately 30 minutes and yet provides incredible insights. 

You can view your website traffic source with Google Analytics’ acquisition reports but remember to account for anomalies in your data. 

Identify the channels your competitors are using 

Competitive research is always a healthy way to gauge what is happening within your space, know where to direct your efforts and find out what may work for you. There are many tools out there to help with competitor research including Semrush. Simply type your competitor’s domain into the Semrush Traffic Analytics report to see the amount of traffic your competitor receives and the traffic source in nice, neat and helpful charts. We recommend you run your competitor research with a handful of your top competitors, to get several data points, ensuring a more accurate data sample and further your understanding of the channels used and working within similar businesses. 

How to choose channels and enhance your customer journeys

Your customer journey and how you help them move through your marketing funnel is the ultimate consideration when choosing a marketing channel. Do not forget about your converted customers, a relationship is a relationship whether it is a personal or customer relationship. Your marketing channel will help your consumer move to the next phase of their discovery and purchasing journey and help you nurture them thereafter.  

To maximise your marketing efforts, you should choose channels that help your customers convert and stay connected during all the customer journeys and act as a touchpoint throughout. 

Your marketing channel must encourage a meaningful relationship and establish trust to promote brand loyalty, create brand ambassadors and stay connected including retargeting. 

Selecting the appropriate channel for your marketing strategies and making the right choice of marketing channels can be crucial for your business’ success, especially for startups, companies with a limited budget or small companies. 

It requires some research into the multiple choices, some planning, and some setting realistic goals to achieve the outcome you wish. It also takes some reasonable knowledge of what choices can work with your skillset and can add to your existing knowledge of digital communications, business management skills and in-depth marketing knowledge. 

Business success takes the effort of a team of people with a goal in mind and a direct path towards the perfect outcome. Understanding what is worth the time, effort, and money to invest in and what can wait until your budget or circumstances change. 

The ultimate question to ask is what channel can deliver the biggest ROI? Our helpful, handy guide can help you navigate this question and other questions you make along the way to choose what channel can work for you and the pros and cons of each. Enjoy!  

Understand the marketing channels and how they can work for you 

Organic search, SEO & Content Marketing 

Organic search refers to the ‘free’ traffic your website receives from search engines and for users to discover you organically when searching specific keywords. Organic search accounts for 50% or more of all website traffic. Although it is known as free traffic, it takes some effort to optimise your website’s editorial and technical aspects and get your site ranking, also known as SEO (search engine optimisation).  

SEO and a great marketing strategy, that will help you rank higher, especially on search engines such as Google involve optimising your webpage by creating relevant, informative content, producing high-quality assets such as videos and creating or achieving backlinks from partner websites. SEO can be very competitive and changes almost every day with your competitors trying to rank for keywords and achieve a higher ranking. 

Organic search also offers a great ROI (as it is free) but expect to invest your time before seeing any gain with most SEO taking 3 – 6 months to see it take effect. Various aspects affect the time it takes for SEO to take effect such as domain authority, backlink building, asset availability, website design and the age of your website. Building a website takes time to develop, if your website is new, it may take and results 6-12 months before you reap the rewards of your efforts. 

Optimising your content for SEO can be costly if it is required to hire a professional copywriter that can help keep your content fresh, and exciting whilst developing a tone that will resonate with your users whilst adding in your main keywords naturally. A professional copywriter can create relevant blogs, webinars, e-books, whitepapers, and videos with a strong and thought-out strategy that can help you rank higher not only in your customer’s eyes but also in Google’s. A great teacher leads, with blogs and content that shows your customers that you understand the space you are in and that you’re the right choice compared to your competitors. 

If quality content is where you wish to concentrate your efforts the benefits can be rewarding but can take time and effort, if you wish for fast results then display ad options PPC may be a preferable choice for your business. 

To check if SEO campaigns are the best investment for your business, you can use website ranking tools such as Ahrefs, Google Search Console and SEMrush to measure your site’s Search traffic and find new ways to make your site shine for your users and Google Search results. You may find you are already ranking for particular keywords whilst finding potential ways for future SEO campaigns or development. 

Marketing Tips and tricks 

Do it if: If you are willing to invest your time in rich content creating and want to rank higher organically using SEO and keywords 

Don’t do it if: You want fast results. 

Paid search (PPC) 

Paid search, also referred to as pay-per-click or PPC is when a website owner pays for traffic from search engines such as Google. Any ad on the top of Google search with ‘Ad’ next to it is a paid ad. Every time the link is clicked, the owner of the ad pays Google. Paid ads provide quick highly targeted traffic, through either Bing ads or PPC. 

Paid search is responsible for generating a significant share of website traffic. Although it isn’t as extensive a space as organic search, businesses of all shapes and sizes invest in paid search campaigns. 

Paid search campaigns are effective and you can start seeing the impact and see a quick boost in traffic almost immediately, within 15 minutes from launch, compared to organic searches and SEO. You are guaranteed page 1 of Google with paid search ads. 

The downsides of paid search ads are they cost and are still competitive with competitors creating paid search ads and campaigns almost and bidding to win pay-per-click bids. 

B2C AND B2B companies rely heavily on Bing Ads and Google to gain new users within a short timeframe. For businesses that are new or have not concentrated efforts into creating awareness previously and wish to promote their business, PPC, email marketing and social media campaigns are ideal channels to promote their services and products and get traffic to their website quickly. 

Marketing Tips and tricks 

Do it if: If you can afford CPC (cost-per-click) and you wish for results fast despite the costs 

Don’t it if: Your budget is limited, and your audience or customer’s journey would start at Google or Bing search looking for your products. 

Learn how to improve your campaign tracking with our UTM guide

Social media organic campaigns and social ads (SMM)

Social media serves as a touchpoint for customers and can help build brand identity, and credibility whilst initiating conversations and engagement from potential customers. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook really boost traffic to your website. Social media marketing (also known as SMM) is a powerful tool when used right, it can be great for brand building and creating awareness of your company and your services. Social media can help you improve your marketing and accomplish branding goals using regular text, videos, images and as well as targeted remarketing social media ads on your social channel. SMM can help you increase audience engagement and improve your social presence. 

The downside to using your social media as a channel is that it can be hard to funnel traffic to your website. Even with many followers, engagement, photos, videos and comments a follower may never visit your website. SMM does involve implementing a consistent posting schedule. 

Your social media marketing strategy and social media platform you use is dependent on the type of business, for a business that relies on highly visual content Instagram and Pinterest are ideal, whereas a B2B company will find LinkedIn and Twitter more useful social media tools for their marketing strategy. 

Marketing Tips and tricks 

Do it if: If your business relies on social media such as using influencer videos or posts and your business is visual and your business can benefit from a strong social presence. 

Don’t it if: Your users find you and search for your services or products through alternative channel methods such as Google and Bing. 

Email marketing

Emails may seem like an antiquated channel, but nearly all businesses will receive or send an email to a customer in some way or form, be it sending transactional receipts or enquiry help. 

Email marketing, however, is another way and channel to reach customers and encourage engagement and just like all the channels it has its pros and cons. 

Email marketing feels personal, almost a digital way to send a letter. Social media can often feel less personal with many people posting with fake profiles without consequence, sending an email to a personal inbox feels more personal and can help filter those fake profiles or random comments or social media inbox messages that end up being fruitless. 

Email marketing is inexpensive, much like organic search if you choose the right CRM tool. 

Email marketing is also measurable, and you control what is sent, viewed and the channel. E-commerce companies particularly rely on email marketing but also use SMEs to sell to existing customers.  

For existing customers, you are looking to reengage email marketing is the way to go and is a more personal way of contacting and nurturing your existing relationship, if they have not opted out of receiving your emails you are free to email them with an email address you can on your system. You can encourage existing customers to purchase from you again, upgrade or upsell the previous products or services they purchased initially and provides them with initiates to become loyal, brand ambassadors and advocators. Turning satisfied customers into brand advocates, whilst lowering your acquisition costs. You can send links to tools such as Yotpo where your customer can build loyalty points from customised rewards and referral programs. This helps engage existing customers whilst reaching new ones. Email marketing allows you to send offers, promotions, and newsletters. 

The downside of email marketing is list building, it takes time, it takes connections, and it takes patience. For a great email marketing strategy, you need to get creative creating compelling, targeted, and relevant emails directed at your audience.  

If, however, you already have a comprehensive list of customers and database at your disposal email marketing can be a real gold mine. In fact, studies have shown that email marketing can award you a 4,300% ROI. 

When a contact on your email marketing list receives irrelevant emails or too many emails, they can get annoyed, and it can turn them against your company. 

Marketing Tips and tricks 

Do it if: You already have a pool of customers 

Don’t it if: If you do not have a good list of clients as list building takes time. 

Referral traffic

Referral traffic is the traffic you receive from another website than yours, such as mentions on an article, blog, or webpage. 

The benefit of using referral traffic as a channel is that it is free if you have not paid the website owner to feature you and your website. 

The investment with referral traffic is not through money but time in building relationships. 

Referral traffic is not commonly used as a top channel, as although it is valuable and can often be trusted more as those people are willing to ‘vouch for you’ it is such a small space. 

Remember- Your marketing channel strategy never stops! 

Now that you understand the channels and which may work best for you, you can pick which to target but remember always experiment.  

Great things come to those that learn! 

Learn from your mistakes, your failures, and your accomplishments 

First, work with what you know and then build on what you don’t, just like anything in life. 

Dip your toes into various digital marketing strategies. For example test, social media and email marketing whilst developing another channel- mix it up and don’t stop trying to find the perfect one. 

The perfect marketing channel to build a strong lead generation funnel, you may not see instant results but when it pays off you will have the foundations of something amazing, for you, your company, and your customers.  

Work, work and rework your strategy and monitor your results. Analyse your successes with the tools mentioned in this guide. 

A strong marketing strategy isn’t to set, sit and forget. Constantly push, test, and update your plan to optimise your marketing strategy. Your goals may change, and so may your audience, update and keep your marketing strategy fresh with new ideas, whilst having the knowledge, history and insights on previous campaigns is a strong combination. If something isn’t working, change it until you find something that works. Revisit this guide and check out the other marketing channels that are on offer, readdress the questions asked and update the answers given for your current situation and intent. 

Get more advice and talk to an expert! 

We hope this helpful guide has helped your kickstart your integrated marketing journey. For more advice, information, tip, or tricks visit our Integrated Marketing Agency website or contact us to help you capture a deep understanding of your customer’s journey and how we can help you optimise your marketing channel and to drive your business growth. We’re a team of passionate and experienced minds, driven to understand your business and the customer journey. Chat with one of our digital marketing specialists today to learn how we can take your business to the next level.

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Article by AEK Media

January 12, 2024

AEK Media is an award-winning integrated digital marketing agency and web design agency focused on providing systemised and scalable digital growth solutions. Creating content-rich digital marketing funnels and websites that tell a ‘connected’ story across all digital interactions with your potential customers. We offer an end-to-end solution, acting as an SEO agency, PPC agency, google shopping agency social media marketing agency, and more to create sustainable growth.

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