Let’s start at the beginning: what do we mean by marketing channels? Your marketing channels are any of the routes to reaching your audience. A channel is any individual way that you communicate with your customers. They can be digital or offline. Some of the most popular channels are:
- Digital adverts
- Magazine adverts
- Word of mouth
All of these can be used to spread the word about your business so are all valid options when it comes to marketing your business. But as you can see, there are a lot of different options (and the list above is only a snapshot).
This brings us onto the next question: what do we mean by your audience? Your audience is anyone you want to see your messages and engage with your brand. You need to have a good idea of your ideal customer and audience groups before you get to the point of working out which marketing channels to use.
Your audience is likely to be diverse and can include different groups. Broadly speaking, the three main groups to consider will be:
- Prospective customers
- Existing customers
- Previous customers
Each group requires a different approach when it comes to your marketing messages and depending on what your objectives are with each group. For example, is your objective to acquire new customers or are you focusing more on retaining existing customers? This will help work out which channels to choose. It will also help a lot with your content strategy.
That’s all very well, but how do you actually choose your channels when there are so many different options?
Follow these 6 steps to decide where to focus your marketing efforts to effectively reach your audience.
Step 1: get to know your customer
This is the first place you need to start. You can’t make decisions about which channels will be most effective without first getting to know who you’re trying to reach. One way to get into the mind of your customer is to create personas for each one. Your personas should include demographic information like their age and where they live. You should also think about their likes, dislikes, what motivates them to make a purchase, who they’re influenced by, what are their main pain points and wider external views, such as are they environmentally conscious? Give each persona a name to really help you visualise them as a real-life human, such as Ambitious Amy or Creative Carl.
Step 2: get to know your customer even better
Now you have a good idea of who your ideal humans are, delve a bit deeper and find out what kind of content they like to consume. Demographics such as age can be a great indicator here: for example, younger audiences such as Millenials and Generation Z tend to prefer visual content like high-quality images and videos.
Interests can also help. Are there any groups they’re involved in that use a specific channel? Are there any reasons they won’t use a specific channel? For example, TikTok is a Chinese-owned channel that a more security-conscious consumer might be less likely to use.
Step 3: who are their influencers?
This step can be easily overlooked but is actually one of the most important considerations. To choose the right marketing channels for the biggest impact, you not only need to know your customers, but you also need to know what influences them and where these influences are. If your prospective customer is about to buy your product but speaks to a friend who gives you a negative review, do you think your prospective customer will still go ahead and make the purchase? Not likely.
Positive reviews are the lifeblood of your business. Think about which channels you can use to capitalise on positive reviews and testimonials from influencers who are trusted by your prospective customers. Social proof is an extremely powerful marketing tool and you can make sure you think about the best channels to promote this. This could be by using dedicated review sites or by choosing channels that make it easy to share user-generated content and engage with your community.
Step 4: what resource do you have?
Be clear about your budget, capacity and the expertise you have available. All of these things affect how well you’ll be able to use each channel to reach your audience. You need to know whether you have the expertise and capabilities to use your chosen channels and create the relevant content in-house, or if not, are you prepared to outsource content creation and channel management?
Your marketing resource will also influence the number of channels you’ll be using and frequency of posting. For example, there’s a massive difference between the resource required to create and post high-quality videos to Youtube several times a week compared to tweeting once a day.
Step 5: Understand the different opportunities and limitations of channels
Once you’ve gone through the previous steps, you need to consider the opportunities and limitations of each channel. You have to balance your audience needs with the kind content you want to and are able to produce. Often you won’t be able to maximise all the channels that work for your audience groups, so it’s a good idea to prioritise and choose your top 2 or 3 channels to master. This will help you reach your target audience consistently and with high-quality content, especially if you have limited marketing resource.
For social media in particular, you need to be confident you can create content that will be pushed out by the respective algorithms to increase your reach, such as reels on Instagram or trending topics on Twitter. Here are some examples of differences between content forms on various channels:
- Long-form content: LinkedIn, blogs, website, magazine editorials
- Short-form content: Twitter
- Visual and video content: YouTube, Instagram, TikTok
If you can be clear on what content is appropriate on different channels, you’ll then be able to combine this with your understanding of your audience and choose the best marketing channels for your business.
Step 6: choose your channels
The final step! Hopefully you now feel more confident to choose the best channels because you now:
- Have in-depth knowledge of your customer and your audience groups
- Understand the influencers and influences on your customer
- Know what resource you have available to communicate with your audience
- Know the opportunities and limitations of the various channels available to you
With knowledge comes power. You can use all the information above to narrow down your marketing channels to the top ones that will bring the most benefit. Always keep your customer at the heart of your decisions and stay on top of where they hang out – and make sure you hang out there with them so they can see your amazing brand, products and services!
If you need any help with how to choose your marketing channels, get in touch to book your free 30-minute call with me!