Is That Channel Right For You?

The ever-expanding list of digital marketing channels available to marketers doesn’t make the task of finding the most effective customer acquisition channels any easier.

Even once you’ve decided which combination of SEO, PPC, social, content, affiliate, email, display, mobile etc is best for you, you’re still left staring at an incredibly confusing landscape full of contradictory opinions, sales pitches and questions.

So, how do you ensure that the channels you invest in and companies you work with are right for you?

Ignore the clichés

Assumptions and opinions abound in digital marketing. There are plenty of stereotypes floating around that can easily serve to distract you from your goals. For example, did you know that: LinkedIn is always the best option for B2B marketers? Or that Instagram is the best channel to reach millennials? And Google is best for bottom of the funnel work?

These statements may or may not be true, depending on lots of different factors.

Take the LinkedIn example for instance: if your marketing objective is to generate B2B leads with a £50 cost per lead (CPL), you may find that despite better B2B targeting on Linkedin, you actually get a better ROI on platforms like Pinterest or Facebook because of the lower costs of targeting the same audience on those platforms.

While you could reach your target audience on Linkedin with very little wastage, it’s important to remember your key marketing objective is to generate leads £50 CPL. Despite offering the most ‘obvious’ fit, Linkedin may not be the best channel as it’s certainly not cheap. This is why it is essential to test all viable channels and never lose sight of your personal objectives. The conclusions reached by other people in the past didn’t take into account what you are trying to achieve now.

Use your data

Internal data on historical performance is a great way of understanding the potential of new channels. In your business you’ll have mountains of valuable data on previous marketing results and performance statistics of the traffic coming from the different marketing channels.

Using this data is essential when deciding on new, similar channels. For example, if you find that search is your best performing channel, your next new channel thought process should be “OK, Pinterest gets two billion searches a month, have we tested this to see how it compares to the traditional search platforms like Google?” Lessons learnt in one channel can help you assess the viability of other related channels, and you’ve already got the raw material to start drawing these conclusions.

Don’t forget context

Different channels promote different user behaviours, and these often change over time and with growth. It’s important that you understand the predominant user behaviours that exist on any channel before you start testing. For example, as mentioned above, Pinterest tends to be used more as a search engine that it does a ‘traditional’ social media platform. This should inform your decision regarding whether it’s something that could work for you.

Similarly, it pays to ensure your content and messages are appropriate for any given platform. You may read a case study about a company extracting huge value from channel ‘A’ but if your your ability to deliver the kind of experiences channel A’s user base are expecting there’s no point jumping on the bandwagon. There is no one size fits all here.

To make your next experiment easier, here’s our new channels checklist:

1) Marketing objectives: make sure yours are at the forefront of your thinking
2) Company data: it pays to know what worked well (and what didn’t) in the past
3) Understand the platforms: how do people use them? And can that work for you?
4) Ignore the hype: don’t take blogs, sales pitches and case studies as gospel
5) Don’t jump on the bandwagon: ensure decisions are being made based on business insight, not what’s currently trending.