15 Digital Channels Your Business Can Use to Build an Effective Online Presence
What does it mean to be online?
Whether you own a small business or would like to partner with one, the digital world always has room for you—especially if you know how to navigate your way around the digital marketing concepts. Digital marketing itself was picking up in popularity in the early 2000’s and now it’s an inseparable part of our lives, both online and offline. If you can make the most of the available marketing opportunities, going digital can help you create a strong, effective online presence.
Where opportunities exist
One of the perks of being online is that people can find you when they do an online search for a business like yours. When they clicked on your website and go through the behind-the-scenes photos of your most recent product launch, they might decide that they like you, and that they want to learn more about your small business. They might’ve watched a video you posted and learned one thing or two about your values...
And they might want more! Exciting, right? This is exactly why the right time to get your business online is now. It could be nerve-wracking to jump into something without a plan of action, so let's first get to know the available channels you can use to help build your brand awareness.
1. Email marketing
Sharing valuable content via email is an incredibly productive way of connecting with your audience. A good email marketing turns strangers into happy customers. According to Statista, active email accounts are expected to reach 5.6 billion by 2019. It is still the preferred means of communication for business purposes for the majority of professionals.
On the receiving end, people are expecting relevant and integrated email marketing. When your audience has decided to opt-in to receive content from your business, they also have the option to opt-out of the email newsletter. By sending out relevant and integrated email marketing that display well across devices, your email marketing will help you achieve your goals.
2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
The key to getting your site in front of the right people, those who are looking for what you are offering, is to know what keywords people are using when they search online. These are the words that are the most relevant to your small business. The SEM channel is used to increase your visibility through search engine results and through the use of advertising. Businesses pay to advertise to the people who are searching for certain keywords.
By bidding on the keywords using an auction system, your business can then show ads along with the keywords you’d like to target. The moment someone searches for the things your business offers, they will see a display advertising that will increase their awareness of your brand. This, in turn, will gain you website traffic. Display ads can come in various formats, including texts, images, videos and interactive ads.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Businesses increase the amount of visitors by optimizing how they use the search engine. As defined by Google's Knowledge Graph, the SEO is “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.” It helps promote your business in the organic or unpaid search results.
To optimize your search engine results, businesses can make changes to web pages, content, and content promotion across the web to improve visibility. The SEO process is made up of both off-page and on-page activities, which are dependent upon the changes to Google’s algorithm. Knowing your way with these activities can help you connect with lots of people while growing your business online.
4. Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
Investing in PPC properly almost always results in a guaranteed placement on a search engine results page, which is one of the ways your business generates leads for sales. This method can deliver results over a very short period of time, depending on how much you are willing to pay to acquire a customer, how well your chosen keywords perform, and how optimized your visuals and text ads are. According to Wordstream, the average cost-per-click (CPA) in AdWords, Google's online advertising service, across all industries is $2.32 on the search network and $0.58 on the display network.
5. Display advertising
Your business has the option to reach out to people on more places on the web by placing relevant display ads on third-party sites that your potential customers often visit, such as blogs, community forums, and other websites. These display ads can come in the form of banners, text ads, videos, interstitial ads, interactive ads, to audio and other ads linked to your landing page. Using them strategically can grow awareness while creating demand for your products. Be sure not to waste all your advertising money on platforms that do not immediately serve your goals as a business.
6. Social Media Marketing (SMM) or social media
People are spending more and more hours socializing and sharing their personal memories, opinions, and works online, spending almost one-third of their time on social media sites. This is a huge potential for a small business. By having a presence on the social media sites where your potential customers are already living, they might discover your business easier and even click over your sites for tips, photos, event updates, etc.
However, social marketing requires a lot of time listening and responding, and those are a lot of difficult work. You'll likely have a lot more success interacting with your audience by developing the skills that are needed to be effective on social media. In addition, you need to select the most appropriate social networks to appeal to a particular audience. Common ones are Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. People’s use of the internet will continue to evolve, so if you keep up with their online behaviour, your business will stay relevant and adapt.
7. Content marketing
We do a lot of things online, from reading the news, browsing for recipes, checking sports scores, watching videos, to building communities. The networks where you have created pages or profiles for your brand can connect you with lots of people. By starting meaningful conversations and sharing content that people would want to read, watch, or listen to, you nurture the relationships you have with your customers.
One way to make sure that your content marketing efforts will yield you long-term return is to produce evergreen content, or “content that addresses timeless themes.” Other ways are to create a home for your online content and optimize the performance of your content with SEO, tagging relevant keywords within your website content, and optimizing other elements of your site. If you publish content that your customers need when they need it, your business will have an impactful online presence.
8. Affiliate marketing
Marketers who can sell your products or services get a certain commission through an affiliate network. They promote them and earn a profit from the revenue sharing. These products can be digital products, online services like online courses, and physical products. The challenge is to find an audience interested to make the purchase. You can also create additional educational materials to accompany your main products or services as you build your network of affiliates.
Also known as "word-of-mouth marketing", referral is probably one of the most trustworthy forms of advertising. People are making purchases based on other people’s influence. Your customers arrive to your products after reading the stories shared by people they respect, their family members, friends, or social media influencers.
Referrals are very powerful because it is based on trust. These trusted referrals generate specific leads that are highly likely to result in a purchase. Your small business can create and promote referral programs based on social sharing and offer a substantial incentive in return.
10. Website marketing
Today’s website can help people do a lot of great things, such as conduct research, chat with experts, buy products, read reviews, track orders, and watch more videos. It is your business’ home on the digital world, where potential customers can come and learn about you. Website marketing consists of marketing activities conducted using a website. By creating valuable experiences that leave a positive impact on people, you attract potential customers to your website.
Blogging is yet another powerful channel that can potentially increase your brand awareness. By planning the content of your blog, labelling and displaying your blog posts properly, you will create content that hopefully gets discussed and shared. Having occasional guest bloggers to share their expertise is a way to make sure that your blog content stays relevant and useful. Maintaining your blog properly means making sure that the posts are functional, and all the recordings, podcasts, articles, news subjects and commentary are up-to-date. Your blog is also your chance to listen to and learn about your customers.
12. Mobile and location-based (geolocation)
The current customer experiences your content on multiple screens: the PC, the laptop, the smartphone, the TV, the refrigerator, and other smart home gadgets. Someone could start reading your content on an Android phone while cooking and then continue on a tablet in front of the television set, and then finish it up on a laptop. A successful mobile marketing should translate to a seamless, optimized experience on each of these devices. Your brand’s presence on mobile needs to be tailored to mobile’s limitations and capabilities.
Mobile technology is now equipped with the ability to make use of geolocation in mobile marketing efforts. With the data gathered from geolocation tracking, marketers can present more relevant ads, more shareable content, and promotions or coupons that are usable within a certain distance of your customer’s location. It can further be used to present apps search results that are based on location.
13. Native marketing
Native marketing can take the form of an article, a blog post, or a video that is recommended for a user. It is usually a form of advertisement where your brand will either pay to have the content appear in the recommendations section—such as the “Recommended for You” sidebar of a website—or to have the content created and published by a particular publisher or a certain platform.
Some examples are:
- the “sponsored content” section of an online newspaper,
- the posts labeled “sponsored” on a blog,
- when an entire magazine is sponsored by a single advertiser, and
- branded content, in which a piece of content is created by a brand.
14. Video marketing
Online video content has been growing triple-digit within the past five years. Millions are watching videos on social media sites and websites like YouTube and Netflix daily. Video is now becoming important on every platform and channel. It is predicted that some social media platforms will be all video in the next five years. By creating the types of videos that can help increase awareness of your brand, your small business will also enjoy an increased engagement.
15. Event marketing
Events could leave a lasting impression of your brand on potential customers. Today’s events are not just held offline. Online events too can be attended, hosted, or sponsored. Such events are your chance to earn the trust of potential customers, to build relationships, and to display goodwill. The event marketing process involves developing a display, presentation, or an exhibition to promote a product, a service, a cause, or an organization.
How the channels work
As you take your business online, your business goals will also become more varied. These are just some of the digital channels that a small business could use to establish an impactful online presence. As yours thrive, you will need to learn more about how these specific channels could help.
Sources and further reading
- (2018) Hubspot.
- Garima Kakkar. (2017) 10 Types of Online Marketing Channels & their Practical Applications. Digital Vidya.
- Neil Pattel. (2018) Neil Pattel Blog.
- John Collins. (2018) Content as a growth engine for your business. Intercom.
- Mitch Lee. (2016) Rethinking referral codes… or. The Mission Podcast.