By now, most of us have heard of David Foster Wallace’s infamous commencement speech. As the story goes, two young fish are swimming along. They happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way. The older fish nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” The two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
These days, we’re immersed in digital marketing. Like the young fish who have never heard of water, it’s something we experience continually but not always consciously. It’s enmeshed in the channels where we relax, socialize, work, and research. So, in a world where digital marketing is as omnipresent as the air we breathe, how can your brand stand out as a breath of fresh air?
We’ve compiled the top five digital marketing channels your brand should use to connect in 2021 and beyond.
Why digital marketing channels matter for your overall brand strategy
Brands may have been able to get away with occasional social posts and random e-blasts five years ago. But that doesn’t really cut it anymore. Now, digital marketing needs to be highly strategic, unique (but aware of trends), and entertaining. When done right, digital marketing becomes one of your best business tools that’s also:
Hyper-targeted: Being able to target the exact audience you want is one of our favorite parts of advancing tech. Old-school marketing casts a wide net with limited channels. Now, digital marketing allows us to test and target by age, gender, location, behaviors, and interests.
Cost-effective: By nature, digital campaigns give marketers a lot of control. Because we’re able to adjust costs as needed (for as little as a dollar a day), we can give brands the most bang for their buck.
More measurable: Metrics matter. From views and shares to clicks and time spent, digital marketing enables us to get a holistic view of your campaigns—and go back to the drawing board if needed.
That said, all digital marketing channels are not created equal and will not impact every brand the same way. So we’ve narrowed it down to the top five channels your brand should focus on for optimal audience connection.
Let’s start it off with some stats. Of the 89 percent of Americans who check their emails daily, 21 percent check it at least five times per day. Despite the meteoric rise of social platforms and other messaging tools, email is still going strong. Email marketing in the digital age allows brands to convert through hyper-targeted (and repetitive) inbox messages. From a strategic standpoint, email marketing is a versatile, budget-friendly, and long-term option.
We’ll use an example. Imagine you have an online-only beauty brand. When customers come to your site, you notice they scroll around and add things to their cart, but often leave items sitting there for days. So, your marketing team helps you develop a monthly newsletter for subscribers and then creates a “welcome email” series to establish brand storytelling, as well as an “abandoned cart” campaign to help increase conversions. Even by only using three of the dozens of email marketing tools, your brand is better connected and your sales are growing.
Paid search and display ads
Paid search and display ads, often under the umbrella term “search engine marketing” (SEM), allow you to promote your brand through search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Search engines are where customers make general queries or search for specific needs. So it’s no wonder that SEM has a higher conversion rate than most other digital marketing channels. In fact, Google Ads has a conversion rate of about 4.4 percent compared to the .71 percent of social media ads.
Let’s go back to your pretend beauty brand. To effectively use SEM, you’d need to pay per click on a strategic keyword that you bid for. In this case, that might be “organic skincare products” or “non-toxic makeup.” Once you’ve discovered the most effective keywords, your brand has the potential to pop up when potential customers are searching for something similar—and steal market share from competitors.
Social media marketing
Let’s face it: if your brand is not on social media, you’re missing out on entire groups of potential customers. On the other hand, if you’re on social media and just post occasionally without ever looking at Facebook Ads Manager, you’re also not making the most of an incredibly powerful tool. The top players—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest—allow brands of every kind to find their niche audience. And new players like TikTok are bringing even more social media marketing opportunities into the mix.
Back to our pretend beauty brand (we really should give this one a name: “Naturally You”?). Your marketing team has researched (with strategy, brand monitoring, and analytics) and found that your audience is mostly Gen Z and Millennials. With that, you decide to advertise on Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok with a few test ads on Facebook for good measure. You can extend your reach and visibility by meeting your audience where they already spend most of their time (about 4.5 hours a day).
Influencer marketing is technically a subset of social media marketing, but it’s also so much more. When done right, partnering with an influencer can generate brand awareness and increase “social proof” (read: clout). Consumer trust in traditional marketing is down, but they tend to view influencers as people who have their backs and share common interests. As of recent stats, 93 percent of marketers use influencer marketing with an average $5.78 ROI for every dollar spent.
For the Naturally You brand, you know that your Gen Z and Millennial audiences distrust traditional ads and, especially when it comes to clean beauty, are picky about the products they use. By tapping influencers on Instagram and TikTok, you’re able to befriend these audiences and show them the value of your products while highlighting your sustainability goals.
Last but certainly not least is SEO marketing. Of the digital marketing channels, this one is the most effective way to drive organic traffic to your site. It involves a lot of keyword research, understanding of your audience’s behaviors, and a little bit of content magic. When you use keywords that resonate with your audience and have a healthy search volume, you have a better chance to rank higher in the billions of queries search engines process daily. And with a six time higher conversion rate than other digital marketing channels, it helps your brand get noticed.
Bringing it back to our beauty brand one last time, when you spend the time on the backend building strategic keywords into your web copy and regular blog posting, you’re opening your brand to the exact right audiences. That means those Gen Zers searching for “organic skincare products” will find Naturally You and the work you’ve done to create an authentic, engaging brand will lead to those coveted conversions.
Stay Savy with strategic branding on these digital marketing channels
Savy’s been in the business a long time, and we’ve seen digital marketing channels come and go. By staying ahead of the curve and following the research, we can offer digital marketing services that are highly customized to your brand and relevant in today’s market. Now the only question is: are you ready to connect with your audience?