8 Effective Marketing Channels in 2021 (And How We Use Them)

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Marketing channels are instruments and platforms that you simply use to speak with a target market.

In at present’s world of digital media dominance and customers turning prosumers, advertising and marketing must make use of an omnichannel advertising and marketing technique. That means the entire advertising and marketing channels you’ll be able to consider should work collectively to create a seamless expertise.

Cycle chart showing store, web, mobile, phone, and social media marketing channels are connected

In this text, I’m going to stroll you thru eight efficient advertising and marketing channels that helped us develop into an eight-figure ARR firm. We’ll cowl:

Organic search refers back to the non-paid search outcomes from a search engine. This advertising and marketing channel generates guests at any time when somebody clicks a hyperlink on a search engine outcome web page (SERP) pointing to a web site.

The follow of optimizing an internet site or webpage to extend the amount and high quality of its site visitors from a search engine’s natural outcomes is named SEO (search engine optimization).

Works finest when:

  • There is search demand for subjects associated to your online business.
  • You deal with search engine optimization as a course of. To get the most effective outcomes, you could cowl every step from key phrase analysis, via hyperlink constructing, to technical search engine optimization.
  • You do search engine optimization systematically and repeatedly. The extra you do it, the simpler it turns into and simpler to get outcomes.
Pros Cons
Almost free, steady site visitors. Ranking excessive in search engines like google takes time.
Compounding results. A weblog publish written 4 years in the past can nonetheless get you site visitors and can get you site visitors sooner or later so long as you rank excessive. Lots of uncertainty (e.g., fluctuating SERP rankings, search algorithm updates).
Can be used to draw, educate, convert, and retain your prospects. In different phrases, search engine optimization content material can affect your entire advertising and marketing funnel. Slower results for newcomers, i.e., web sites with a small variety of high-quality backlinks and low topical authority.
Relies extra on high quality and creativity than funds.  ROI of search engine optimization and content material advertising and marketing might be troublesome to measure.
Qualifies potential prospects via their search intent.
The extra you do it, the simpler it turns into to rank excessive.

How we use it

Organic search is certainly one of our high three buyer acquisition channels. But by way of the place our advertising and marketing crew places most of its efforts, this channel has the best precedence.

Our instance right here will probably be running a blog. We create weblog posts about related subjects that individuals seek for on Google. Very easy technique, but very efficient.

By conserving our content material product-led, we are able to profit from the entire benefits of natural search as a channel.

Publishing product-led content material implies that aside from having stable site visitors potential, subjects that we write about ought to permit us to characteristic our product. The intersection of search demand and enterprise worth is the candy spot.

One of the nice issues about utilizing content material as a advertising and marketing device is that it may be environment friendly by way of influencing the advertising and marketing funnel. Namely, one article can serve a number of functions.

Table showing 4 questions with corresponding answers that are used to decide which stage(s) of the marketing funnel a blog article serves

Following this technique, article after article, our weblog grew to be probably the most distinguished blogs about search engine optimization in a number of years. This brings us a compounding stream of site visitors.

Line graph showing significant increase in traffic to Ahrefs blog from Jan 2016 till Sep 2021

This advertising and marketing channel permits you to distribute your content material and advertisements in a video format.

Works finest when:

  • You design your movies with distribution in thoughts. You can base your subjects on Google and YouTube key phrase analysis and/or safe a funds for selling them via paid site visitors.
  • You can repurpose your movies in many retailers. This method, you will get further mileage out of your funding in creating high quality movies. It works the opposite method round too; you’ll be able to repurpose your written content material into movies.
  • You have the experience and sources to provide high-quality movies.
Pros Cons
An image paints a thousand phrases. If your product is less complicated proven than defined, contemplate creating movies about it.  Can be fairly resource-heavy (time, individuals, cash).
Can be extra partaking than written content material. Video is nice at grabbing consideration. Harder to replace than written content material.
Can be distributed on many alternative platforms.

How we use it

Our YouTube channel is a core ingredient of our content material advertising and marketing technique.

Within three years, we’ve revealed 181 movies. Such output is barely potential with a devoted particular person for that advertising and marketing channel (and that’s Sam).

Similar to our weblog, we maintain our movies business-oriented. Most movies present how Ahrefs can resolve frequent search engine optimization and advertising and marketing issues.

Overview of videos on Ahrefs' Youtube channel

But no content material advertising and marketing technique is full with out content material repurposing. We republish our movies in related locations all through our webpages. Sometimes our present movies are good companions to weblog posts, giving the movies “another life” and extra views.

An Ahrefs video strategically embedded in a blog post

Other instances, we “repackage” movies into totally different varieties, akin to a full Ahrefs course on advertising and marketing.

Video of a full course in Ahrefs Academy

Not solely are you able to generate extra views in your movies this fashion, however you too can attain totally different audiences.

Social media drives site visitors to your webpages and creates engagement together with your model by the use of social media platforms.

Social media isn’t just Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Messaging-only apps like Discord, Slack, and Whatsapp additionally fall into the identical channel class.

Works finest when:

  • Your target market really makes use of social media to speak with manufacturers.
  • You have the sources to always monitor social media platforms and create devoted, likable content material for them.
  • You are ready to obtain (and deal with) unfavourable suggestions publicly.
  • You develop a constant “voice” and “personality” whereas partaking together with your viewers.
Pros Cons
Allows you to work together immediately together with your viewers.  Makes you susceptible to unfavourable feedback and “trolls.”
Takes benefit of large audiences gathered round social media platforms. Depending on the social media platform, conserving constant outcomes might change into resource-heavy.
Enhances buyer help.  Many social media platforms incentivize companies to spend on advertisements by lowering natural attain.
Can be used as a channel for content material repurposing. 
Allows you to run social media PPC campaigns. 
Can induce model loyalty.
Allows you to leverage on influencers.

How we use it

Social media provides a broad set of potentialities. Here’s how we use it for promotion functions.

While open self-promotion isn’t all the time welcome on social media, it’s nonetheless positive to do it every so often. And should you’ve obtained a candy deal like a free premium search engine optimization device, you’ll be able to even pin the pin that promotes it:

And in case your prospects recognize being up to date on product information, as ours do, this subsequent instance of auto-promotion is greater than welcome.

The concept of digital promoting is to achieve your target market on web sites that supply promoting house.

Digital promoting is available in many sizes and styles. Some on-line advertisements can immediately cowl your complete viewport. Others are extra delicate “nudges” posted in locations the place you want them the most.

Works finest when:

  • You can afford to run campaigns lengthy sufficient to establish the way to get essentially the most out of them.
  • You promote to an viewers that’s conscious of your model or not less than has an consciousness of the issue your organization solves.
  • You work out a reliable model of attribution.
  • Your touchdown web page delivers what the advert guarantees.
  • Your supply really suits your target market. Some advertisements will probably be ineffective due to how they’re designed, and a few will fail as a result of the supply turned out to be unattractive.
Pros Cons
Fast method to get site visitors. You can begin quick and get outcomes quick. Suffers from signs like advert fatigue and banner blindness.
Allows for particular focusing on. Increasing use of advert blocks and default third-party cookies blocking by net browsers.
Can be used to advertise something: product, content material, or the model itself. Arguably the most costly method to get your message throughout on-line.
Easy to measure, management, and scale.  Showing too many advertisements with too persuasive content material can compromise your model. 
Wide vary of advert codecs and promoting platforms. 
Can be used to check hypotheses, e.g., the most effective changing worth proposition of a product.

How we use it

Digital promoting is an auxiliary supply of site visitors in Ahrefs’ omnichannel technique. Thanks to PPC advertisements, we are able to attain individuals we haven’t reached earlier than and/or create one other touchpoint with the people who find themselves already conscious of our model.

Here is an instance of advertisements used to advertise content material.

Two paid ads promoting Ahrefs' article and guide, respectively

When it involves immediately selling our merchandise, we normally go along with selling our free instruments. The much less friction on the touchdown web page, the simpler the marketing campaign. Besides, some customers of our free instruments improve their plans and change into paid prospects.

Email advertising and marketing helps you to attain your prospects’ mailboxes with messages that both immediate direct motion or are geared toward making a long-term relationship with the model.

Works finest when:

  • You don’t overdo it and maintain a constant schedule.
  • Your emails are partaking and supply distinctive worth.
  • Marketers follow e mail personalization based mostly on behavioral information.
  • Your emails are visually interesting. On the opposite hand, should you’re serving principally instructional content material, they are often fairly fundamental.
  • You measure outcomes, iterate, and curate your e mail record.
Pros Cons
Can be extremely customized and segmented.  Takes time to organically (and legally) construct a high quality e mail record. 
Fast method to attain your collected viewers. If you overdo it, you’ll be able to break e mail advertising and marketing laws (GDPR, CAN-SPAM).
To some entrepreneurs, e mail is an economical channel. Most e mail advertising and marketing platforms will let you “pay as you grow.” Difficult to interrupt via tons of of different emails and get consideration.
Easy to measure. 
Affordable method to conduct lead nurturing campaigns and lots of kinds of ecommerce campaigns. 
Shareable, which suggests you will get further eyes in your message.

How we use it

As you’re studying this, there’s a floating widget to the best providing you to subscribe for weekly updates (should you’re on a cellular machine, that widget will probably be on the backside of this publish). This widget is the one method we acquire emails for our publication. No pop-ups; no further incentives.

The deal is straightforward. If you want our content material, we are able to ship it to your mailbox each week so that you simply don’t want to maneuver a finger to get it.

We maintain our publication format easy. It’s targeted on delivering a specific week’s articles from Ahrefs and the editor’s picks of nice reads outdoors of our weblog.

Example of Ahrefs' newsletter, aka Aherfs' Weekly Digest

Sponsorships as a advertising and marketing channel include all prospects coming to your online business via publicity to your model in a sponsored materials or occasion.

Works finest when:

  • The factor/particular person you fund is one thing that your target market cares about. In most instances, firms select to sponsor occasions attended by their target market.
  • It’s used for 2 sorts of targets: model consciousness and model picture (i.e., gaining prospects’ belief).
  • The aim is lengthy time period.
Pros Cons
Can drastically enhance model consciousness in a brief time. Limited management. Risk of undesirable model associations should you sponsor the incorrect occasion or particular person. 
Can elevate your organization’s profile. No assured returns. 
Sometimes permits for exact focusing on (e.g., Ahrefs sponsoring an search engine optimization convention). ROI is tough to measure.
An alternative for private engagement together with your target market and others within the business.

How we use it

Brand consciousness, principally. The aim of using sponsorships for model consciousness is to “imprint” the model within the minds of listeners utilizing a optimistic affiliation.

You can see we do sponsor numerous podcasts or movies like this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLqM3LJ2Ses

Aside from podcasts and movies, we regularly sponsor business occasions just like the BrightonSEO, the place you’ll be able to come up with our “swag.” That additionally interprets to model consciousness. Additionally, it permits us to contribute to the search engine optimization scene.

7. Live chat (conversational advertising and marketing)

Live chat, or conversational advertising and marketing normally, facilitates direct conversations with individuals who go to your web site or your social media platform.

Conversational advertising and marketing permits you to interact in discussions together with your prospects as an alternative of one-way broadcasting.

Works finest when:

  • You should be accessible 24/7. Chatbots could make that occur or take a number of pressure off your customer support.
  • Your chatbot and studying supplies are complete and as much as date.
  • Aside from an awesome chatbot expertise, you supply the choice to speak to an actual particular person.
  • Content on the pages with put in chat is related to questions you’ll almost certainly get. For instance, whenever you supply a stay chat possibility inside your product, put together to get buyer help questions.
Pros Cons
Bots can interact prospects 24/7 and qualify leads for particular gross sales reps (based mostly on territory or requested questions). Bad dialog experiences can frustrate your prospects and compromise your model. 
Chatbots can interact with a limitless variety of guests concurrently. Prepare to get every kind of questions you weren’t essentially ready for. 
Customers can attain out when it’s the best time for them.
Conversational advertising and marketing provides a personalised expertise (i.e., some ways to study concerning the firm).
All touchpoints are tracked. Offers perception into how individuals interact together with your content material.
Can be a simpler different to guide technology varieties and conventional contact varieties.

How we use it

Most of the questions we get via our stay chat channel are buyer help questions. With a posh product like ours, it’s actually exhausting to design an automatic chatbot response to each case.

That is why we record speaking to a stay particular person as #1.

Popup showing live chat as option no. 1

Self-service by shopping via our data base is #2. This possibility ranks excessive on the record, as we all know some individuals want to learn a how-to information or an in depth clarification.

An explanation about canonicalized URLs in knowledge base

Conversational advertising and marketing is the place advertising and marketing meets buyer help (and gross sales). You can by no means predict the questions you’ll get through this channel.

For occasion, is asking about customized plans for greater firms nonetheless for buyer help? What a few query on how a product characteristic will help sort out technical search engine optimization. Is that advertising and marketing or buyer help? Maybe each?

It appears that Gartner is right when it says that prospects are largely channel-agnostic when in search of info to get a job achieved.

Word-of-mouth advertising and marketing is the method of influencing and inspiring pure discussions a few product, service, or firm. In different phrases, it’s about giving individuals a purpose to discuss.

WOM is efficient as a result of people generally trust what others have to say about an organization and its services or products.

Works finest when:

  • You amplify the WOM impact by sharing what individuals say about you: opinions, scores, testimonials, and many others.
  • It feels pure. You may give individuals a slight nudge to share their experiences. But keep in mind: People ought to speak about you as a result of they need to, not since you pay them to (exception: influencer advertising and marketing).
Pros Cons
Grows model consciousness and gross sales with out advert spend. Hard to affect, unattainable to manage.
Builds a group round your model and product/service.
Positive WOM drastically will increase model fairness.

How we use it (really, how we earn it)

Last however not least, we’re going to focus on one other of our high three advertising and marketing channels. WOM is the grand finale of our omnichannel advertising and marketing technique.

We don’t really create WOM. Instead, we earn it. Everything we do in another channel is designed to participate in our flywheel advertising and marketing mannequin. Let me clarify.

Our flywheel advertising and marketing mannequin is impressed by tales just like the one shared by Moz in 2013. As somebody completely summarized within the video’s feedback, this can be a ridiculously underrated video. Take a second to observe it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNdgSxLVarc

This is the idea Jeff Bezos had for Amazon and the identical concept behind the inbound advertising and marketing flywheel.

The concept of the advertising and marketing flywheel is straightforward but genius: put money into self-reinforcing ways.

Think about it. Social media followers create extra followers. Getting hyperlinks to your content material will make your content material extra seen. This, in flip, will get you extra hyperlinks. Finally, pleased prospects create extra pleased prospects.

And that final half is what works nice for us, and that’s what we transfer towards daily. Our prospects’ happiness is why we win in search engine optimization product polls:

SearchEngineJournal poll showing Ahrefs as the favorite tool for monitoring competitors' backlinks

Or earn nice rankings.

Summary of various companies' high rankings of Ahrefs

So how will we earn all that WOM?

There are a number of contributors to that. But firstly, it’s the impact of getting an outstanding product. All else isn’t value your time should you don’t meet that one requirement.

Then, you could get it in entrance of sufficient individuals to create a “snowball effect” of suggestions. You can pitch web sites for opinions and even give your product at no cost to the early adopters.

We’ve amassed fairly numerous opinions over the years.

Google search showing there are over 2,000 reviews of Ahrefs

And each month, there are roughly 288k searches globally for the time period “ahrefs.”

Overview showing there are 288k monthly searches globally for "ahrefs"

To echo our CMO, Tim Soulo: With a superb product, your advertising and marketing can focus solely on being the communication bridge between prospects and builders.

Final ideas

Whatever advertising and marketing channels you select, we strongly advocate contemplating them as components of 1 omnichannel buyer expertise. As talked about in Gartner’s examine, prospects are channel-agnostic. They simply anticipate you to assist them get the job achieved, whatever the channel.

Also, some entrepreneurs say the extra channels in your channel combine, the higher. In this recreation, extra is extra. More channels imply extra comfort in your prospects, extra prospects reached, and extra ROI in your firm (you’ll be able to learn extra about this idea here).

Let’s not overlook the flywheel impact. If used strategically, advertising and marketing channels reinforce themselves.

But it’s not precisely that channels do one thing on their very own. It’s the optimistic experiences shared by your prospects. Positive experiences create pleased prospects, and pleased prospects create extra pleased prospects. 

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.



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