How to select the right channels for your business or marketing campaign

When selecting the channels you want to use in a business or marketing campaign, you need to make a decision based on the channel’s functionality, availability, ease of use, and connection to your business objective.

Channel Functionality

Functionality relates to whether a channel allows for outbound or inbound marketing, two-way communication, transactions or servicing of customer needs.

For example email is a very strong channel for two-way communication making it ideal for customer services, product specification or relationship building. The channel is also very low cost which has unfortunately led to much abuse of bulk email sends.

However email does lack the perceived security of the web or store channel for making payments and therefore isn’t ideal as a transactional channel. Unless of course you are looking for email approval on a proposal or quote.

Consider what your customer needs to use the channel for and also determine if this is a channel the customer wants to use anyway.

Channel Availability

Channel availability is a measure of what percentage of your audience either regularly use or have access to the channel.

Stores or outlets only have a limited reach in a particular geography.
Facebook Pages are only ever going to be used by those with a Facebook account.
Instagram is only available to those with the app.

In each case the audience is limited by access.

Therefore business plans and marketing campaigns need to either a) focus on the most ubiquitous channels to reach the broadest audience possible or b) accept – perhaps as a point of differentiation – that they will reach a smaller but perhaps more engaged audience.

Channel Ease of Use

How easy is it for the customer to use your selected channel?

A recent learning from a trade show I attended was that it is easier to use an iPad to photograph a business card rather than having a prospect type it in to a lead capture page.

Another example from my own life has been to provide my utility provider with a meter reading:

Despite having a smart meter I received a letter asking for my readings, the website login was so complex that I gave up and resorted to the phone system, the phone IVR wouldn’t recognise my account number and so I was eventually transferred through to an operator. Five channels were required to provide a simple meter reading – that has to be unacceptable.

This isn’t simply a question of channel choice but also how the customer experience is implemented in that channel. A website can be good or awful. Therefore real world customer testing of the channel is vital.

Connection to the Business Objective

Finally, you need to consider how the channel connects to your overall business objective.

If you’re trying to build brand awareness, then above the line channels such as TV or billboard may be useful. Expensive, yes, but they can help you get eyeballs on the message.

Where lead nurture is the primary concern, a mix of email, account team and content marketing may prove useful to warm up the prospect and identify the purchase point.

What are you trying to achieve and does the channel match that objective?

Checklist for channel selection

  1. Have you considered all available channels?
  2. Have you identified the audience you are trying to reach? Are these channels right for the audience?
  3. What purpose will the channel serve for the customer?
  4. How easy is it for the customer to complete their objective in the channel?
  5. Does the channel link with your business objectives?

For a full list of marketing channels, download the all marketing channel Excel file for use in business strategy and planning.

More on marketing channels:

David Sealey is a trusted adviser to senior executives on getting the most from their investment in digital and data. David created Storm81 as a place to share his passion for business, digital technologies, multichannel marketing and everything else around these topics.

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