When it comes to marketing your business, there are a lot of decisions that come to mind, such as trying paid advertising or making the choice to hire outside help. During the month of September, we will analyze some of the tougher decisions every marketer has to make as they promote their business. Each week in our “Versus” series, we will look at the pros and cons relating to each of these decisions to help you be better prepared to handle these decisions in your own business.
The “best” digital marketing channel.
We get asked about it a lot.
Of the three primary types of digital marketing channels (website, email marketing, and social media), which one is the best or more effective?
The answer isn’t straightforward, but that’s actually good thing!
At Beacon Marketing, we believe that a multi-channel approach to marketing is the best way to promote your business. When you use multiple marketing channels, you can reach your audience where they are, and you’ll have multiple places where they have the chance to see your messaging.
This gives your message more staying power and provides your ideal customers with more opportunity to take the desired action.
However, we know that time and money are short when you own a small business. Right now, you may only be able to focus on one specific marketing channel to start with.
So, which one is the best one to start with for you and your business? Let’s take a look.
Creating a website for your business establishes a sort of credibility for your organization. For those old enough to remember phone books, a website is like having an ad in one, but you can put in so much more information.
- Gives You a Basic Online Presence – Your website is like an office or storefront that never closes. Without a website, many people will think your business doesn’t exist.
- Can Serve Like an Employee Who Never Clocks Out – Imagine an employee who knows your business inside and out and who can address questions a customer might ask. Better yet, they never go home. Done properly, a website can be just that.
- Highly Customizable – There are a variety of tools available that can make your website represent what truly makes your business stand out from your competitors.
- Potentially Most Costly of the Three – If you are doing anything more than a one page landing page, developing a website is an investment of time, money, and effort.
- Can Get Outdated Fast – As your business grows and evolves, you have to make sure your website does as well. If you don’t keep it updated, your website could be sending out the wrong message about your business.
A website is probably the lowest maintenance of the three primary digital marketing websites. Once you get it going, a routine check every six to eight weeks should be enough to keep it up-to-date. If you plan to blog regularly or do seasonal specials, you may want to consider more frequent check-ins with your site.
It takes an average of twelve “touches” from a business for a potential customer to become a paying one. Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your customers.
- Drive Traffic to Other Channels – Email marketing is a great way to direct your customers to your website or social media accounts.
- Generates Revenue – According to HubSpot, 59% of users say email marketing influenced their buying decisions.
- Build Credibility and Establish Trust – By sending out quality content on a regular basis you are letting your customers know who you are and how you can help them. When they are ready to make a purchase, you will be at the top of their mind and list.
- Your Email List Belongs to You – Social media sites go down. Algorithms change. But your email list is yours, and unless someone has a spam filter or deletes your message without opening it, they will see it.
- Have to Build a List – For email marketing to be truly effective, you have to build a list of qualified email subscribers who are looking for the type of content you provide. You have to set up a system to collect email addresses from potential customers and process them so they go onto an appropriate list.
- Spam Filters – Due to a heightened concern about privacy, spam filters have become more aggressive with the emails they filter out. Even good quality emails occasionally will get filtered out. The worst part is that you may not even know when certain emails get filtered out.
Email marketing is a great way to build customer relationships. Over time your audience begins to trust you and even seek out your thoughts. It does take time to build a loyal following, but if you do the rewards are well worth the efforts.
Social media is a complicated category because there are so many different platforms. The key is finding one that serves your particular target audience.
- Potentially Huge Audience – Depending on the platform, you could be speaking to a very large audience that doesn’t necessarily have to follow/like you to see you. If you have a post that goes viral, your brand could gain a large amount of exposure.
- Create Conversations in Real Time – Social media is meant to generate connections in the moment. You can use it to speak directly to specific audiences or even address complaints in real time.
- Creates Loyalty – Because you are able to have those conversations, social media is a great way to develop a lasting relationship with your key audience.
- Must Be Ready to Respond – Being able to respond to customers in real time means that you must have a plan to respond in real time. This could be you, an employee or some form of artificial intelligence.
- Tone Does Not Always Come Across Correctly – Due to the nature of social media content, it is easy for a well-intended message to be misinterpreted by your audience. You must be careful to understand who your audience is and the image that you are trying to portray for your business when engaging in social media.
When used properly, social media can be a valuable tool in developing a devoted audience. To be successful you must understand what you are trying to accomplish at all times with your social media efforts.
Like we said at the beginning of this blog, a multi-channel approach to marketing is best. However, if you can only start with one channel we suggest looking at where you are now and your goals.
How do you do that?
By developing an in-depth marketing strategy that will help you determine which marketing channels are appropriate for your marketing efforts.
You most likely want a website first. A one-page site with some basic information on what you do, how people can contact you, and a way to collect the users contact information is a good start. You’ll want more as your efforts evolve, but that will get you going.
Next, you want to focus on email marketing and social media. For email marketing, start building a list of emails. Create a system of collecting and processing emails so you are consistently growing your list of subscribers. You can develop an email marketing plan at the same time. It’s okay to start before you’re completely ready.
For social media, determine where your audience is most likely to be and start engaging. Start small by posting once a few times a week and commenting on others posts.
Follow people and companies who you admire or with whom you want to start cultivating a relationship. Start developing your persona and engaging with the platform.
Tl;dr: There really is no “best” place to start. It all depends on your situation and the needs of your business. The key is to understand where you are, what you are trying to accomplish, and what your ideal clients/customers need.
And this is something you can only understand with a highly-developed marketing strategy.