How to Identify the Right Digital Marketing Channels for Your Business

marketing channels choice road
marketing channels choice road

Chances are, not every digital marketing channel available to you will benefit your business. It all depends on your marketing goals, target audience, resources, budget, industry, and competition.

Some decisions are more obvious than others for most B2B businesses – like having a responsive, active website and a social media presence.

Others are more like electives in school. You may have to test them to see how they work with your business model. If you find success, great. If not, you can adjust your strategies accordingly.

To help you decide which channels to drop and which to add to your marketing plan this year, we’ve created a guide. Walk through each step to determine which channels will move the needle forward for your business in 2021 and beyond.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Before choosing digital marketing channels for your business, you must understand your primary objectives, audience, competitors, and budget.
  • Different channels will give you different results. Your goals should guide your choices.
  • Content marketing and SEO are two channels virtually every marketing team should use to build a strong online presence.
  • Email marketing is another must-have channel – with an ROI of 4,200%.

Part 1: How to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Channels for Your Business

First, consider the essential elements of an overarching marketing plan. Then you can narrow down and select the digital marketing channels that will help your business most.

Understand Your Objectives

A CoSchedule study found that goal-setting marketers are 376% more likely to succeed than marketers who don’t set goals. Organized marketers are 397% more likely to report success.

To be successful, you must know where your business is heading. You can start by setting strong marketing goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART).

Here are some ideas to get you thinking. Do you want to:

  • Become a thought leader in your industry?
  • Build authority and trust with consumers online?
  • Build brand recognition?
  • Nurture and generate high-quality leads?
  • Drive traffic to your website?
  • Build a social media following?
  • Make sales?
  • Boost ROI?

Source: Semrush

Your goals will lead you to choose the right channels for your business. In Section 2, we’ll dive into some of the best channels for accomplishing common goals for B2B and B2C businesses.

Study Your Target Audience

Another factor to help you decide where to spend your marketing budget and resources is your target audience. If you’re unsure about which channels your target audience prefers, do some market research to learn more.

  • Where do they spend time online?
  • What types of content and topics are they interested in?
  • How do they consume content?
  • Who are they following closely online?

Look at your direct competitors to learn more about your audience. BuzzSumo, Alexa, SEMrush, and iSpionage are helpful tools that dig into competitor data.

Set Your Marketing Budget

Your marketing budget will undoubtedly play a role in which digital channels you choose to use. Some options are much more costly than others. For example, posting on social media can be virtually free, but paying for Google Ads or investing in a comprehensive content marketing strategy can be pricey.

That said, don’t forget to consider the return-on-investment potential. Using standalone platforms like LinkedIn or Instagram for marketing may not pay off as well as a killer content marketing strategy that includes weekly blogging, quarterly ebooks, and SEO.

Let’s say you write a blog post and optimize it within the week. You also create a week’s worth of social media posts. It takes you longer to write and publish the blog post, and you don’t get much traffic from it the first week. Your social posts, however, receive some engagement. They receive an average of 20 likes a piece and drive a handful of people straight to your website.

Fast forward to six months. Those same social posts are nowhere to be found. Your blog post, however, is getting 500 views per month and growing steadily even though you haven’t touched it.

Generally, the more you spend on marketing, the more success you’ll have. If you invest more up front, you could start seeing results faster. If you start slowly and build, substantial results may take longer.

In the U.S., marketing executives generally devote 7-10% of their company’s revenue to marketing. Determine your marketing budget, and then figure out how much each of your marketing activities will cost. That way, you can see which ones you can afford and which ones you’d like to add later.

Here are a few costs to consider when building your budget and choosing your channels:

  • Hiring a marketing team in-house vs. outsourcing the work to an agency.
  • Content creation, web design and development, and strategy.
  • Marketing tools and software.
  • Your budget for paid advertising
  • General costs for each digital marketing channel (to compare)

Study Your Competitors

Which channels are your top competitors using? If their digital marketing strategies are more successful than yours, go where they are to catch up.

Another option is finding gaps – where your competition isn’t spending time and money. If there’s enough opportunity there, take advantage to grow your audience.

Part 2: Effective Digital Marketing Channels to Consider

Different channels will give you different results. Understanding your options and how each channel works will enable you to make better business decisions.

Choose the channels you want to adopt based on the data you collected in Part 1. You can always adjust your strategies later if you don’t see the results you desire.

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing (CM) is a channel every marketing team should use to build a robust online presence and authority. 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing. According to Demand Metric, CM costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates three times as many leads per dollar spent.

Every successful business needs a website. The way people find your website organically online is through quality content. It’s that simple.

By giving consumers exactly what they’re looking for – addressing their pain points and challenges – you’ll gain authority, increase traffic to your website, and generate quality leads.

Here are some types of content you can choose from to fill up your content calendar:

  • Blog posts
  • Ebooks
  • Case studies
  • Guides
  • PDF downloads
  • Reviews
  • Interviews
  • White papers
  • Research articles
  • Listicles
  • Infographics
  • Press releases
  • Pillar pages
  • Thought leadership
  • Tip sheets
  • Comparisons
  • Datasheets

Content marketing is best for:

  • Lead generation
  • Generating ROI
  • Building authority
  • Brand awareness
  • Education
  • Storytelling
  • Boosting website traffic

2. Email Marketing

With an ROI of 4,200% ($42 back for every dollar spent), email is another must-have digital channel for B2B businesses. Unlike some other forms of media, virtually everyone uses their email daily – some as many as 20 times per day.

Email marketing is an effective channel for building trust with people by developing authentic relationships. It’s inexpensive and allows you to personalize content and segment lists. It’s easy to track how your emails perform and conduct tests to improve your open and click-through rates. It’s also a great way to nurture leads and sell successfully. Need I go on?

Source: OptinMonster

Email marketing is best for:

  • Lead generation
  • Generating ROI
  • Relationship building
  • Brand awareness
  • Direct sales

3. Social Media Marketing (SMM)

Social media is where you can have one-on-one conversations with people. In some ways, it’s the most personal channel. It can make your brand feel approachable and down-to-earth. You can also be less formal here by adding humor, getting creative, and commenting on current topics when appropriate.

By speaking with followers via chat or replying to comments on posts, you can use social media to build genuine relationships with prospective and current customers.

Social media is also useful for researching and understanding your target audience. Use the demographic data available to businesses on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Consider placing targeted ads to get in front of a bigger audience and generate leads.

With social media, you can spread content fast. If people love what you’re sharing, they’ll expand your reach by sharing it with their friends, family, and followers.

Source: Review42

Consider these social platforms for sharing content and building relationships with people in your target market:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • SlideShare
  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • TikTok

Social media marketing is best for:

  • Relationship building
  • Brand awareness
  • Direct sales
  • Audience targeting

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO goes hand in hand with content marketing. It encompasses keyword research, page optimization, link building, and other activities that help people find you organically.

People will search for products or services closely related to yours and have questions you can answer in depth. That’s when you want to show up as one of the first-page search results.

If you have an organic result in the #1 position, it’s 10 times more likely to receive a click than a result in the #10 position. On average, moving up just one place on the SERPs will increase your click-through rate (CTR) by over 30%.

Some of the top ranking factors in 2021 are:

  • Domain authority
  • Mobile usability
  • On-page SEO
  • Quality content
  • Backlinks
  • Referring domains
  • Organic CTR

For users to find your website on Google and other search engines, you have to put in the work. Or your content will be lost in the noise.

Source: Ahrefs

SEO is best for:

  • Link building
  • Website traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Building authority

5. Mobile Marketing

Another modern option for digital marketing is communicating with people via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Reach out to people by text, email, your website, or an app.

If you want to add mobile to your digital marketing plan, make sure your website, ads, and landing pages have a responsive design. If you send out SMS messages or develop an app, ensure they’re mobile-friendly. Creating an engaging user experience for your consumers should be a priority.

Mobile marketing is best for:

  • Lead generation
  • Direct sales
  • Sending instant updates

6. Video Marketing

In 2020, 85% of businesses used video as a marketing tool. 87% of video marketers claim video has increased their website traffic. 80% say video has directly helped increase sales, and 83% say it helps generate leads. Nearly nine out of 10 say it offers a good ROI.


Source: Wyzowl

Video marketing is at the top of its game, and it’s not going away soon. Video has the power to spread brand recognition, tell powerful stories, inform purchase decisions, drive traffic, and improve conversion rates.

You can combine video with your content marketing strategy to create hybrid pieces. For example, create a vlog to complement an educational blog post. Or use video to raise awareness of a problem in your next campaign that includes a link to your website.

Here are some video ideas to get you thinking:

  • Interviews
  • Presentations
  • Ads
  • Sales
  • Live stream recordings
  • Testimonials
  • Demos
  • Reviews
  • Tutorials
  • Explainer
  • Vlogs
  • Webinars

Use platforms like Vimeo and YouTube – where you can optimize your videos. That way, they’ll have a much better chance of appearing in search results. Share your video content on social media. Also consider publishing it on your website.

Video marketing is best for:

  • Brand awareness
  • Conversions
  • Driving traffic

7. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

PPC advertising (a type of paid search) is when marketers pay for their ads to appear at the top of SERPs – above organic search results. Unlike organic traffic that finds you naturally, PPC advertising involves “buying” traffic.

With PPC advertising, you pay a fee every time someone clicks on your ad. Search engines are common places to find PPC ads. In the example below, the top four results are paid search ads.

For your ad to appear, you must bid on keywords you think people will use to find a product or service like yours. You can also target specific demographics. If your ad appears for searchers, they can click and land on your website. When they do, the service provider charges you a fee.

Here are some examples of popular PPC ad systems:

  • Google Ads
  • Bing Ads
  • Google Shopping Ads

Google Ads – the most popular form of PPC advertising – determines your ad’s position by looking at six key factors.

  • Your bid (how much you’re willing to pay for each click)
  • Ad and landing page quality
  • Competitiveness of an auction
  • Context of a user’s search
  • The impact from ad extensions and formats (additional information you add when creating your ads)
  • Ad Rank thresholds (minimum requirements for ads)

PPC advertising is best for:

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Direct sales
  • Audience targeting

Invest in One of the Best Digital Channels: Content Marketing

Marketing Insider Group is a content marketing agency that delivers premium content that generates traffic and wins customers.

Our Content Builder Services involve developing smart strategies that target a specific audience. Our expert writers will then produce quality, optimized content that speaks directly to your ideal customers.

Learn more about our weekly Content Builder Services.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.