The 7 Essential Digital Marketing Channels You Need in 2021

If you’d like to sell your products or services effectively, digital marketing is a great option. These days, there are a variety of digital marketing channels that can help you meet — or even exceed — your goals. Since every channel is different, it can be difficult to determine which ones to pursue. After all, you may not have the budget, resources, and expertise to incorporate each one into your overall strategy. 

Below, we’ll dive deeper into seven of the most important digital marketing channels you’ll want to consider in 2021. You’ll find out what each one entails and what types of businesses may benefit from it most. This information can make it easier for you to design the ideal marketing plan for your unique business. 

  1. Social Media Marketing
  2. Email Marketing
  3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  4. Content Marketing
  5. PPC/Paid Search
  6. Direct Marketing
  7. Word of Mouth/Referral


1. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing uses Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, and other social media platforms to help an organization succeed. You may use it to promote your offerings, build brand awareness, engage current and prospective customers, and increase website traffic. 

 Since all types of people use social media, it can be an effective channel for a variety of industries. There are over 3.6 billion social media users worldwide so no matter what you sell, chances are your target audience is active on social media. 54% of those on social media use their platforms research products. Therefore, it’s no surprise that retail stores, colleges and universities, bars and restaurants, newspapers, and magazines often use social media to their advantage. 

Tips for Social Media Marketing Success

  • Test out different frequencies, times of day, and days of the week to determine what’s most effective for your target audience. 
  • Include your social media platforms everywhere: on your website, in your emails, and in employee signatures so that people can easily follow your brand.
  • Tailor your social media content to each platform. What may work for Facebook might not do the trick for Instagram. 


2. Email Marketing

Email marketing involves sending educational and promotional emails via solutions like Adobe’s Marketo Engage to build relationships, convert prospects into buyers, and turn one-time buyers into loyal customers. The emails in an email marketing campaign may promote upcoming discounts, sales, and offers, drive your audience to interesting blog posts, or convey general messages about your company. 

59% of survey respondents revealed that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions, and proved that this channel is an effective way to sell products and services. Emails are particularly powerful when they are relatable — the most opened emails related to hobbies. They are also most effective when they are sent at the right times

Hospitality companies, big box retailers, and luxury brands tend to make the most out of email marketing, but being cost-effective and easy to implement makes it beneficial to any business. 

Tips for Email Marketing Success

  • Test different subject lines to figure out which ones lead to higher open rates and conversions.
  • Avoid using all caps, as this can make it seem like you’re yelling at your audience rather than trying to help them.
  • Keep your emails short, sweet, and to the point. Most people won’t read paragraphs upon paragraphs of text. 


3. SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the process of optimizing your website to earn higher search engine rankings and increase organic traffic. While there are a variety of SEO tactics, the most common ones include keyword and meta optimization, content creation, and link building. 

68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, so the primary goal of SEO is to bring qualified visitors to your website so that you can eventually convert them into customers. The fact that 90.63% of website pages don’t receive any organic search traffic from Google indicates that a solid SEO strategy is important if you’d like your site to bring you customers. Regardless of your business or industry, SEO can help you thrive organically. 

Tips for SEO Success

  • Build quality backlinks by guest blogging, leveraging industry influences, and reaching out to sites with directories. 
  • SEO best practices are ever-evolving, so stay in the loop by subscribing to newsletters and reading sites like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land
  • Add ongoing, high-quality content on a regular basis to show search engines that you are an authoritative source that deserves high rankings. 


 4. Content Marketing

Content marketing uses high-quality content to answer questions and help your target audience make informed decisions. It’s less promotional and more educational. Some of the most common types of content marketing assets include blog posts, landing pages, white papers, e-books, case studies, and infographics. 

Compared to traditional marketing channels, content marketing generates 3 times more leads per dollar and costs 62% less. After customers read a blog, 61% of them eventually make a purchase, proving the value of informative content. If your company is solving a complex problem, expanding to a new market, or trying to prove or disprove a concept, content marketing is the way to go.

Tips for Content Marketing Success

  • Ensure your content is consistent with your brand voice. Your reports should not have completely different messaging than your blog post, even if the way in which you present the message (the “tone”) varies.
  • Use data such as open rates, likes, retweets, and leads generated to measure your content success and make tweaks as necessary. 
  • Format your content creatively with headlines, bold text, and images so that it’s appealing and scannable.


 5. PPC/ Paid Search

Pay per click or paid search is the process of purchasing search engine ads to gain relevant website traffic. While Google AdWords is the most popular way to participate in this channel, you may also try Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, and Yahoo Gemini. 

Every time someone clicks on your ad, you’ll pay an amount — the price will depend on the keywords you’ve set. In most cases, the more general your keyword is, the more expensive the cost of your ad will be. “Handbag,” for example will likely be pricier than “cheap leather handbag for women.” You’ll be able to use a variety of metrics to measure the results of your paid search campaigns. 

According to a report from Google, businesses earn an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads. Additionally, 41% of clicks, on average, go to the top 3 paid ads on the search results page. Since people search for virtually everything online, there’s a good chance you’ll benefit from this channel, no matter what you’re trying to sell or accomplish. 

Tips for Paid Search Success

  • Make sure your ads bring users to relevant landing pages that allow them to convert.
  • Test and optimize different ad copy, keywords, bidding strategies, and landing pages on a continual basis. 
  • Use tools like Ahrefs or SpyFu to get an idea of what types of keywords your competitors are bidding on. 


6. Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is any type of promotion that involves direct communication with customers. Mailers, fliers, catalogs, telemarketing, and event marketing are all examples of direct marketing strategies that convey information about products or services. While other types of digital marketing focus on brand awareness, direct marketing encourages customers to take action. This action may be signing up for an email list, scheduling a consultation, or making a purchase. 

You may be surprised to learn that prospective customers are 15% more likely to respond to an oversized mail piece if they have never interacted with your company before. Also, 73% of American customers say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read it at any time they’d like. If you’re a small or medium sized business with minimal to no brand recognition and a modest budget, direct marketing is certainly worth considering. 

Tips for Direct Marketing Success

  • No matter how you choose to implement direct marketing, personalization is essential. Customers should be able to relate to your messaging with ease. 
  • Ensure your content is straightforward. It should be clear that you’d like your customers to take a specific action.
  • Promote a solution, rather than a product or service. Most customers are more interested in how your offering can help them rather than how many features it contains.


7. Word of Mouth/Referral

Word of mouth marketing uses conversation to spread information or opinions about products and services from one person to another. Since over 90% of customers trust recommendations from their friends and family more than advertising and 79% of people say user-generated content plays a vital role in their purchasing decisions, word of mouth marketing is very powerful.  

Content created by your customers and influencers can help you leverage word of mouth marketing. It offers free, organically generated marketing and brand awareness.  It may also help you build social proof and most importantly, increase your conversions and sales. Word of mouth marketing is ideal if you’ve been in business for quite some time and established a loyal following of satisfied customers who are willing to vouch for your brand. 

Tips for Word of Mouth Marketing Success 

  • Create an exceptional customer experience. Go above and beyond to exceed their expectations so that they’re more likely to refer your brand to their network.
  • Encourage user-generated content. To do so, create contests and quizzes on social media, offer rewards, and ask questions.
  • Push ratings and reviews. Ask your customers to review their experience with you on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, and other relevant review sites. 


Create a Robust Digital Marketing Strategy with Ease

Regardless of your target audience, offerings, or goals, a digital marketing strategy can help you take your business to the next level. A robust tool like Marketo Engage can help you implement a variety of channels and track your success. Use it to automate and maximize your marketing efforts at every stage.  Intrigued? Take an interactive tour today.

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