Selling a product or service involves convincing consumers to buy. For most companies, this is impossible to do without marketing.
But, because small businesses have limited resources, choosing the most cost-effective channels when executing your marketing strategy is critical.
What is a marketing channel?
A marketing channel is a free or paid medium that helps businesses connect with their target audience. Marketing channels include but are not limited to direct mail campaigns, network marketing, social media, and other online and offline mediums and platforms.
Paid marketing channels require you to spend money to advertise to potential customers. Google Ads is an example of a paid marketing channel.
Organic marketing channels allow you to create and share content without paying. Social media content marketing is an example of an organic marketing channel.
Digital marketing channels allow you to market to clients and prospects via digital platforms and mediums such as TikTok, Instagram, SEO, blogs, video marketing, etc.
Traditional marketing channels allow you to market to clients and prospects via traditional methods like direct mail, broadcast, print, and outdoor advertising.
Here are six of the most effective marketing channels for small businesses and startups.
The first thing most people do if they want to know more about a business or its products is search online. 89% of B2B buyers and 68% of online shoppers use search engines to find out more about new products and services.
Their research influences their perception of your business and their decision to purchase your products or services.
A well-designed business website can increase brand awareness and communicate your message. And it can build loyalty, trust, and brand equity.
A poorly designed website will confuse customers and prospects and undermine their trust.
We’re constantly surprised how many businesses still don’t have a dedicated website. Having a presence on Facebook or other social networks helps, but it doesn’t replace the advantages of having your business site. So if you haven’t yet deployed a dedicated website for your business, consider doing so.
And if you have a business website, are people easily able to find it? It’s not enough to have a website. You also have to find opportunities for your site to appear higher in search results on Google and other search engines.
You can do this with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a method of tapping into the search intent of people who are looking for your types of products and services. With the right SEO techniques, you can get people searching for your service to your website.
Good design combined with SEO can help you build a respected, well-known brand and grow your business faster.
Business website tips:
- Make sure your website domain matches your company name. Otherwise, you’ll confuse your target audience.
- Pick an affordable web hosting service. There are many good options.
- Ensure that your overall website design helps optimize sales and increase profits.
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Blogs and Content Marketing
Content marketing has become one of the most powerful marketing strategies.
Providing regular new, original content is one of the best ways to attract more customers to your business. Every entrepreneur and business owner should know how to blog.
Blogging offers a direct, easy, and fast method of communicating with consumers. This allows you to provide information about your business and ask for feedback and opinions. This information can be used to research the needs of your customers.
The best business blogs provide well-researched, thought-provoking blog articles.
And look for opportunities to publish guest posts on other blogs.
Guest blogging lets you reach a bigger audience by publishing an article on another website. In many cases, the arrangement is reciprocal.
Blogging and content tips:
- Choose a content management system that saves you time and is easy to use.
- Make sure your blog design matches your overall brand identity.
- Use writing and editing tools like Grammarly to optimize your writing and eliminate common mistakes.
- Remember to promote your content. It’s not enough to create content. You must invest time promoting it as well.
Email marketing is the most direct, low-cost, and effective method of connecting with potential customers, nurturing them, and converting them into paying customers.
Email marketing helps build and sustain customer relationships through the sharing of valuable information regularly.
The most important advantage of email marketing is that the business has complete control over the content. For example, you can customize email messaging in ways that cannot be done using other marketing channels.
According to McKinsey &Co., emails get 40 times more customers than social media marketing.
Because emails are an extension of your company’s website, ensure that your email campaigns reflect your brand and your website’s writing style and design. And don’t forget to include call-to-action buttons.
Keep your emails short, sweet, and to the point. And whenever you have more ideas and information to share, turn those ideas into a blog post instead and share the link in one of your email campaigns.
Email marketing aims to raise brand awareness and improve email conversions by reminding subscribers about the benefits of your brand’s products and services.
Email marketing tips:
- Integrity and transparency are crucial factors in email marketing since companies should be as open as possible with their customers.
- Generic emails have lost their appeal as consumers prefer to receive more organic emails. Opt to send your subscribers more personalized emails instead.
- Subscribers should find it easy to sign up for a newsletter from your business. People should not have to go through too many steps.
- Before signing up, potential subscribers should know what to expect regarding content.
With over 4.7 billion social media users worldwide, it’s no secret that social media marketing is touted as one of the largest and most powerful marketing channels.
A key component of social media marketing is to engage a target audience by creating and sharing content such as text, images, or videos on a social media platform.
Social media makes your business more accessible and keeps your customers informed. Additionally, it allows you to respond to conversations in real-time. You can also use social media to provide customer service, solicit suggestions, and resolve complaints.
Customers use social media for customer service 67% of the time, and 33% prefer it over calling.
Ultimately, your small business should have active social media accounts. But what matters much more is how much time and resources you should allocate to growing your online audience.
And because there are many social media platforms, choosing the most suitable platforms for your target audience is crucial. Pick the channels where your audience spends time and keep your focus on growing those channels.
Social media marketing tips:
- Set clear goals. Too many businesses don’t know what they want to accomplish on social media and waste their time. Are you trying to build an audience? Become a thought leader? Increase sales?
- Be sure you have a consistent brand personality on all social channels. You want people to recognize your brand on any social channel, and if you have different personalities, you’ll confuse your target audience.
- Highlight your unique selling proposition. You should not be selling all the time on social media, but ensure that when you mention your brand’s products and services, you focus on the unique ways you differentiate from competitors.
Local marketing involves marketing your business to your local community or to an audience in a geographic area where your company operates. Local retail outlets, restaurants, and many small businesses rely on this marketing technique.
People searching online for a product or service usually see results based on their location. By marketing locally, you can reach and be made available to your geographic customer base.
Here’s why local marketing is essential:
Local marketing can include direct mail, community events, or sponsorships of local sports teams. As a result, a business can develop a repeat customer base near its location.
Local marketing has unlimited benefits for every business regardless of size, as most people prefer shops near them versus ones located far away.
Local marketing tips:
- Ensure that you have a Google Business profile. this will help your business appear in local search results.
- Keep your business information up to date on Google and other social sites. You want customers and prospects to be able to reach you easily.
- Pay attention to reviews. People who shop locally often read reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and others.
Referral marketing (also known as word-of-mouth marketing) is one of the most effective methods of acquiring new customers. Referrals play a significant role in the growth and success of small businesses and should be an essential part of any customer growth strategy.
In addition to having the highest ROI of any of your marketing channels, it also produces the best customer leads.
Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) occurs when a consumer’s interest in a brand reflects in their everyday communication with their peers.
Your customers are a reliable source of referrals, which can lead to an increase in business. That’s because 92% of consumers trust suggestions from family and friends more than advertising.
This trust is explained by psychology. People trust other customers more than they trust marketers.
Most people believe that marketers have an agenda and will do anything to generate sales to promote their business.
But remember that people will recommend your business to family and friends only if you satisfy their needs and turn them into loyal and passionate followers.
Referral and word-of-mouth marketing tips:
- Create a great customer experience, and people will become advocates for your brand.
- Promote customer testimonials and reviews. Social proof is powerful.
- Create referral programs that pay people in credits, money, or free products when they promote your business to others.
Ultimately, your choice of marketing channel will be based on your needs and budget. All these channels can and do work together, so experiment to see what works best for your business.