Even though Field of Dreams is one of my favorite movies, the saying "If you build it, they will come" sadly doesn’t apply to content marketing. Too often, we forget that content marketing consists of two separate words — content and marketing. Creating content is usually the most fulfilling and enjoyable part of a marketer’s job but distributing that content is just as important.
After all, if no one sees your content, they definitely won’t come.
This is why it’s important to understand marketing channels and which ones you should use to leverage your content marketing goals. In short, marketing channels are the different tools and platforms you use to communicate with your target audience. So, while the decision to use specific channels should come from your audience insights, it’s essential to understand different channels’ value.
In this post, we’ll discuss the findings that will help you understand how to amplify your reach, resonance, and revenue, all while prioritizing what matters most: your customers.
Marketing Channels to Focus On
Search Engine Optimization
Top B2B Marketing Channels
According to HubSpot data, the top channels used by B2B marketers are social media, websites and blogs, and email marketing (as shown in the image below).
Social media is the top-used digital marketing channel likely because of LinkedIn (which is reported as their most effective channel). It’s filled with business-minded individuals, which is exactly who you want to reach as a business-to-business marketer.
B2B marketers likely focus significant effort on website and blogging channels because buyers often rely on websites before making purchasing decisions, so a website is a great way to convey information to people involved in B2B sales.
SEO is one of B2B marketers’ primary marketing strategies, likely because of the popularity of websites. Using keywords that are hyper-related to your business helps you draw customers to your website, as they can search for keywords directly related to what you offer and come upon your site in SERPs. Considering that search engines are the primary source of discovery for new products and services and people make 97,105 searches on Google per second, SEO has significant implications for businesses using the strategy for advertising.
Email is a powerful channel for B2B marketers because it helps share educational content with customers. In fact, 40% of B2B marketers say that newsletters are critical to success. When sending emails, subscriber segmentation and message personalization are the most effective strategies.
In 2022, you can expect B2B marketers to continue their investments in blogs and email marketing and increase their investments in social media.
Top B2C Marketing Channels
B2C marketers invest in the same top channels as B2B marketers, but the order is different: social media, email marketing, then websites and blogs. However, despite using similar channels, B2C marketing is typically focused on offering enjoyable content and quick solutions than B2B desire to build long-lasting business relationships with their customers.
The focus on social media likely centers around the fact that 3.6 billion people worldwide were using social media in 2020, and Statista predicts this number will grow to 4.41 billion in 2025. Given this, B2C customers are likely already on social media. When using social media, the trends that marketers typically choose to leverage are short-form video content and influencer marketing.
While you may only associate email marketing with newsletters, you can use it for B2C-type content like personalized communications, time-relevant notifications like product launches and sales, and cart abandonment emails for reminders. Also, email is an owned media channel — nobody is dictating when, how, and why you can contact your prospects (but keep in mind that customers will unsubscribe from oversaturation).
When it comes to websites and blogging, the two work hand in hand; blogging helps you generate brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, convert leads, and, most importantly, establish yourself as a source of authority. When you create your blogs with SEO tactics in mind, you’re even more likely to meet your marketing needs as you’ll surface in SERPs when customers make queries related to your business content.
Like B2B marketers, B2C marketers will continue their investments in websites/blogs and email marketing and increase their investments in social media.
While it may seem best to focus your efforts and investments on one single marketing channel, that strategy no longer suffices. In fact, HubSpot research shows that 92% of marketers leverage more than one channel, and 81% leverage more than three.
Neil Patel, CMO & co-Founder of NP Digital, champions this tip and says that marketing is shifting its focus: “All good channels eventually get saturated. In 2022, brands will prioritize all channels and go more omni-channel...It’s the only way to stay competitive.”
A strategy that many marketers leverage with omni-channel marketing is content repurposing, with 82% of social media marketers repurposing content across various social channels. This practice, however, is more popular for B2C companies than B2B companies.
If you’ve yet to consider video marketing, now is the time to do so. Video can boost conversions, improve ROI, and help you build relationships with audience members. Video is the top media format marketers leverage their strategies. In addition, 69% of consumers prefer to learn about what a brand offers through video.
When creating video, short-form content takes the cake for both B2B and B2C marketers, and they plan to increase investments in the strategy for 2022 (29% of marketers even plan to leverage it for the first time). When sharing video, the most popular channels are Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, with Instagram being among the most effective video marketing channels.
Influencer marketing is when a business partners with a relevant, popular creator in their industry to put out advertisements or specific pieces of content. It’s a valuable marketing channel, and 71% of marketers say that the quality of traffic generated from influencer marketing is better than other ad formats. Leveraging influencers to meet your marketing goals can be beneficial in terms of generating brand awareness, as well as increasing social proof.
Consumers trust marketers less and less, and they shy away from sales-to-drive leads type content. Instead, they trust influencers, as they view them as a person like themselves, especially when they share common interests. The content that influencers create is a form of user-generated content, a.k.a word-of-mouth marketing.
53.6% of B2B marketers and 59.5% of B2C marketers who use the strategy say it is effective. Your competitors are already sharing this high-trust and high-return content with their audiences, and you should be too. A bonus is the return on investment (ROI) for influencer marketing, with every one dollar spent totaling $5.78 ROI. Marketers will also continue using the channel in 2022, with 87% planning to continue investing the same or increasing their investments.
This means that optimizing all of your business’ existing channels will likely bring traffic and increase conversions. While a website may be your first thought when optimizing for SEO, this also applies to your YouTube channel, Google Maps Google My Business profile, your blog, and even your podcast episodes.
To build a thriving organic presence online, consider implementing the pillar-cluster model into your blog (35% of B2B and 59% of B2C marketers report it as an effective strategy). By doing this, you’ll create a single pillar page that provides a high-level overview of a topic and hyperlinks to cluster pages that delve into the topic’s subtopics — signaling to Google that your pillar page is an authority on the topic.
Other SEO tactics that marketers report as effective include using a search insights report, optimizing photos or videos for visual search engines, and optimizing load speed.
55% of the U.S. population aged 12 and above listened to podcasts, and 37% listened in the last month for an average of six hours per week. The demand for audio content has exploded, so it’s worth considering podcasts to meet your audience where they already are.
Not only is demand high, but podcasts and their hosts can help you develop a unique relationship with your audience as episodes feel conversational and share a more human side of your business.
Podcasts also create more opportunities for interaction, as customers aren’t restricted to listening while staring at their phone screen. For example, your ideal listener can play an episode in their car during their morning commute, while walking their dog, and while they’re cleaning their house.
According to researchers in the neuroscience field, storytelling is one of the best ways to capture attention and resonate with consumer emotions. The human brain is programmed to crave, seek out, and respond to a well-crafted narrative — that’ll never change.
Only 1 in 3 marketers reported leveraging podcasts or other audio content in their strategies, but 53% of those that do say that it is the most effective media format they use. In addition, 51% of those who already use the channel will invest more in 2022, and 26% of marketers plan to leverage it for the first time in the upcoming year.
Word of Mouth Marketing
70% of consumers say that trusting a brand is more important today than ever before. Unfortunately, consumers also trust brands and the paid content they create less than ever before. So, what’s a marketer to do when the very people they need to persuade don’t trust them? They need to rely on their customers’ recommendations of their brand to inspire other customers to make purchases, also known as word-of-mouth marketing.
People trust other consumers over marketers because marketers have an agenda. They promote their products and services to generate sales, but customers will only rave about a product or service if it truly benefits them. If you’re skeptical, consider the following research findings:
Consumers report that a person like themselves (another consumer) is 14% more credible than a brand employee.
39% of consumers build trust in a brand from peer-to-peer conversations than from a brand’s paid advertising.
9 out of 10 consumers read reviews when making purchasing decisions.
Word-of-mouth marketing doesn’t just have to be a face-to-face conversation, though. For example, satisfied customers will post about you online, tell their roommates they like your service, and leave positive reviews on your product pages. Only one of those examples involves an actual, in-person conversation, but they all include consumers vouching for your brands’ credibility and authenticity to inspire others to purchase your products.
You can encourage this type of marketing by creating a customer experience that meets your audience’s needs and providing top-notch customer service. In other words, you need to serve your customers’ needs before your own.
Over To You
Different marketing channels bring various benefits, but most businesses can find a way to use different channels in their marketing strategies to meet business goals.
After all, your audience is likely diverse and spread out, so using different channels creates multiple points of contact, which, in turn, will help you nurture leads and increase conversions.
Originally published Dec 13, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated December 16 2021