I think we can all agree that ice cream is great, but it’s even better with the right toppings. When it comes to promoting your small business, your marketing plan is the ice cream and your chosen channels are the toppings. Your foundation is great, but you need those layers on top to maximize results.
With the right channels, your marketing plan can look this good!
We’ll show you how building your strategy with the right marketing channels is like building the perfect ice cream sundae—trying some of each kind will bring in the sweetest success! Here is how we’ll break it down:
Use this post to make picking your marketing channels easier than choosing toppings for a sundae.
Marketing channels are the various places you promote your business and/or communicate with your target audience—both online and offline.
For example, a potential customer could see a print ad and navigate online to learn more. From there, they might search for your business on Google, see a video about your brand on YouTube, or find your business on social media.
That’s all part of a multichannel marketing strategy that ensures you catch every potential customer within your sales funnel.
Typically, there are two types of marketing channels most businesses use:
However, these labels can be a bit outdated. They don’t accurately reflect the ever-changing marketing space as many channels could now fit into either of these categories. How you choose to organize your different types of marketing channels will depend on what makes the most sense for your business. That said, knowing the difference between these two types of marketing channels can help you ensure you’re promoting your business both online and offline.
Like with anything in marketing, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to which channels you choose for your business. The best marketing channels for your business might be different from the channels your competitor is using. Ideally, you’ll use as many marketing channels as possible to maximize your chances of interacting with potential buyers throughout their customer journey. Be ready to test various marketing channels and benchmark your progress to find out what mix of channels is right for you.
As you plan out your campaigns, these are the marketing channels that should make up the foundation of your strategy since they require little to no marketing budget:
This past year, 46% of Google searches had local intent. Plus, searches for “near me” or “close by” have grown by over 900% since 2018. This means that in 2023 and beyond, local SEO will continue to be a game-changer for small businesses.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. In other words, you’re working to get your business to show up on search platforms like Google or Microsoft’s Bing. Local SEO takes things a step further by optimizing your onsite and offsite content specifically for local searches.
The best part about this marketing channel is that it’s completely free. No cost means no reason to not have local SEO as a part of your marketing plan!
Quick tips for local SEO:
An example of finding keywords to fold into your SEO strategy.
Want a quick list of quality keywords to jumpstart your local SEO? Try our Free Keyword Research tool.
Today, 93% of people read online reviews before making a purchasing decision. What’s even better is that people are now willing to pay 22% more for a product or service if the company has a good online reputation.
Achieving that stellar online reputation in 2023 all comes down to managing your local listings. Your local listings not only show up on the specific listings’ sites—like Yelp, Google Maps, and CitySearch—but they can also help you to show up in search engines.
Plus, listings like the Google Business Profile allow customers to find vital information about your business. For example, your business description, contact hours, or address can all be found in one spot.
Tips to elevate your local listings:
This year, social media marketing is a must-have marketing channel. That’s because there are now 3.7 billion active monthly social media users worldwide, and the average US adult currently spends over two hours per day on social media.
Some examples of popular social media platforms you can promote your brand on are:
Within the social media channel, you have two options: organic, or unpaid, social media marketing and social media advertising.
Your organic social media marketing strategy relies on engaging your audience and building a community. Plus, with those numbers and options to choose from, you’re sure to catch your ideal audience on social media this year. To do so, establish social media marketing goals.
Preplan what you’ll post (plus where you’ll post it) and how you’ll track success. Using a social media scheduling tool or leveraging a marketing partner can help you with this.
Tips for your organic social posts:
Word-of-mouth marketing can be just as effective as other free marketing channels, like online reviews and local listings, since 84% of people weigh online reviews the same as they would a word-of-mouth recommendation from friends or family. This means that word-of-mouth marketing is a highly trusted channel for customers to learn more about your business.
Word-of-mouth marketing tips:
The connections you build throughout your career can turn into mutually beneficial partnerships. When you network with other small businesses and local organizations, you’re opening up opportunities for people to learn more about you and your business. This could lead to partnerships with other business owners or organizations where you could cross-promote one another’s offerings. Networking also allows you to share marketing ideas and source inspiration for new campaigns based on what your connections are doing.
Whether you’re running your own events, or joining in on community and industry events, event marketing provides countless ways to grow your business with any budget. Both in-person and virtual events can help you get more leads. In fact, 79% of U.S. businesses use event marketing as a lead-generation tactic.
Event marketing tips:
Although the following marketing channels will require you to spend a bit of your budget, the marketing ROI can be well worth it for your business!
The beauty of social media is that you can market your business for free or decide to put a bit of budget towards paid social ads.
Paid social ads help you to show up in your follower’s feeds more efficiently, and even reach folks who may not be following you yet.
You don’t need a monster budget to get started with social advertising. For example, you can start by putting a few dollars behind an organic post you already created—which will “boost” or “promote” it.
Tips for your paid social content:
An example of a small business’s paid social ad on LinkedIn.
PPC, or pay per click, ads (also known as search engine marketing, SEM, paid search, and more) show up above organic results on the search engine results page for searches related to your business—making local PPC the perfect marketing channel to complement your local SEO efforts.
Quick PPC tips:
Updated search advertising benchmarks for your industry! Plus, expert tips to improve results.
An example of search ads on the search results page
Along with paid search, one of the other main forms of PPC ads is display ads. Display ads are images or videos that show to your audience passively as they browse websites. Display’s outlook for 2023 and beyond looks very promising, as it has grown to take up over 21% of global advertising in 2022.
To start, you can place an image ad on a relevant website that your audience may frequent, or have your video ad play alongside content on YouTube. This helps you tap into your audience even when they might not necessarily be searching for you.
In fact, running display and search ads together works like a charm. Your display ads can spark awareness—triggering your audience to look for your search ads on the SERP later. You can even measure the effectiveness of display and search together through a metric called view-through conversions. (Find out more marketing metrics you need to know and track here!)
Tips for display ad:
An example of display ads shown on a news site.
This hot marketing channel is sure to be a hit in 2023 since OTT (over-the-top) streaming has increased by 115% in 2021 compared to previous years. In contrast to display and search ads, OTT ads use different pathways to show paid video ads.
With OTT your video ads could appear on apps like Hulu, Google Play, and more.
OTT ads instill brand awareness and spark searches for your business later which can result in conversions. Plus, OTT helps you reach beyond the SERP or social media to find people you may have otherwise missed.
With affiliate marketing, you’re letting someone else do the hard work of selling your product or offering. Essentially, you offer a financial incentive for a third-party seller to promote your business for you. For example, if a customer purchases your product or service through an affiliate link, that affiliate would earn a commission. This can be an especially powerful marketing channel for businesses that don’t yet have a lot of reach or brand awareness. Instead, you’re leveraging the credibility and resources your affiliate has to help grow your business.
Affiliate marketing tips:
12. Influencer marketing
When you leverage influencer marketing, you’re tapping into someone’s larger following by having them recommend you on their social pages or blog sites.
Most businesses tend to shy away from influencer marketing because they picture a celebrity with millions of followers charging them hundreds of thousands of dollars per post. On the contrary, using micro-influencers that have a lower price per post and a niche following can bring just as effective, if not better, results.
Influencer marketing tips:
Think of these next few marketing channels as a “choose your own adventure challenge.” You could try any of these channels with little to no budget, or put more money towards them depending on your business’s unique needs.
In 2023 and beyond, email as a marketing channel will continue to be a major revenue driver for small businesses. That’s because, back in 2021, there were over 4 billion daily email users, and 64% of small businesses already use email marketing to reach customers. Those numbers have only continued to climb since then. So you won’t want to miss out on the benefits email marketing can bring to your business in the coming year.
Email marketing tips:
Mobile marketing is a must-have marketing channel for any business because of the sheer numbers behind mobile usage. Check out these mobile marketing statistics:
To try out mobile marketing, you’ll first want to ensure you have an easy-to-navigate, responsive website that is mobile-friendly. From there, the mobile world is your oyster as you connect with your audience in a trendy new way!
Mobile marketing tips:
Nearly 60% of people agree audio is more engaging than other forms of content. Don’t just get eyes on your content, get ears on them too. The emergence of audio across marketing channels in recent years has brought to light the endless audio capabilities businesses now have.
For example, 55% of the U.S. population aged 12 and above listen to podcasts. There is a podcast for just about every niche market out there, so see if you can place an ad for your business on a popular, fitting podcast. Or, start your own podcast to build your brand’s community!
Another way audio has crept into the marketing world is through social media. Many platforms now offer ways to foster communities through virtual chat rooms with designated speakers and listeners. For example, Twitter introduced Twitter Spaces as well as voice tweets. With Twitter Spaces, folks can listen and chat with others about hot topics. Voice tweets are audio clips followers can playback.
By using these platforms, you can discuss your brand while also connecting with your audience.
Audio marketing tips:
The forecasted AI growth rate between 2020 and 2027 is 33.2%. Talk about a trendy marketing channel!
A plethora of AI marketing capabilities has become accessible to all businesses just this past year. AI (artificial intelligence) in marketing uses machine learning based on large sets of data to do tasks for us like:
AI marketing tips:
92% of customers feel satisfied with their experience after using live chat, so don’t miss out on this easy website win this year! Adding live chat can work as a bonus marketing channel because it can make suggestions to customers. For example, your chatbot could promote a new product or offer users an exclusive deal.
Live chat tips:
Although print advertising is a bit more of an “old-school” marketing channel, it’s still a lucrative strategy for many businesses. Print advertising includes tactics like direct mail, advertisements in publications such as newspapers or magazines, flyers, and more.
Print advertising tips:
We can’t do a marketing channels roundup without a nod to traditional marketing channels like TV and radio. While digital marketing channels should primarily be your focus, TV and radio can help supplement any other online and offline promotions you may be running.
Tips for TV, radio, and similar traditional marketing channels:
Make this year your year to thrive. With so many easy marketing channels to choose from, there’s no reason not to! To recap, here are our top recommended marketing channels for small businesses:
Susie is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream, where she uses her experience as a PPC consultant to share tips, tactics, and best practices in the ever-evolving marketing and advertising space. Outside of work, Susie loves to get outside for some snowboarding or (once the cold weather melts away) hiking!
See other posts by Susie Marino
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