Channel Strategy: 101 Guide
Channel strategy is the answer to changing customer behavior. People are tired of annoying brand communication; their attention span is getting shorter. To grab a piece of their attention and deliver the relevant message, you need to appear in the right channels and play by their rules.
There are many marketing channels out there, and some examples include websites, social media, ads, email, events, BTL, etc. Not all channels are created equal, and you don’t need to try hard appearing in each of them. On the contrary, if you decide to do so without a solid channel marketing plan, you’ll most certainly fail.
Although it’s essential to diversify your marketing efforts, for the most part, a small or medium-sized company won’t have enough time or budget to be present on every channel. But it would also be a mistake to focus on a specific channel (social media, paid advertising, influencer marketing) just because it seems to be the right one or a popular one. Instead, it would be best if you focused on building a robust channel strategy, considering the specifics of your business and your target audience. You need to assign each channel a specific role within the overall strategy.
So how can you do that? Let’s discuss essential steps in building a channel strategy that can get you more customers.
Channel Strategy Pre-conditions
You want your marketing strategy to answer the questions WHAT, WHEN, and HOW to say to your audience. The channel strategy will take care of the fun and creative part of HOW and partly of WHEN. Before you may unleash your creativity, you need to take care of the longer analytical WHAT.
When the strategical skeleton is ready, you will have precise objectives for your creative efforts. Having these benchmarks or even borders, you will not worry anymore if you’re overdoing it with creativity.
Answering the WHAT
Let us guide you through the process of building a marketing strategy.
Learn your customers’ needs
Understanding your audience is crucial for the success of any marketing strategy. The more you know about your target audience, the easier it will be to reach them. So, you should do keyword research to discover which specific words and phrases your customers use when searching for your products or services. You can also use surveys and interviews to get real-life data about your customers’ and prospects’ demographics, hobbies and interests, challenges, goals, and priorities.
You should create detailed buyer personas representing your ideal customer. It’s crucial to find out which communication channels your customers prefer and update your buyer persona periodically to ensure that you reach your audience on the right platform. You can regularly get this information through polls and questionnaires.
Research the competition
You should also keep an eye on your competitors and learn from their mistakes and successes. You will need to research the market and analyze several companies that offer the same or similar products or services as you do. You need to find out what specific channels they use to reach their customers and prospects and market their products.
You should determine what specific keywords they are targeting on their websites and during PPC campaigns, what social media platform they use to engage with their audiences, and what content they create to attract their audience’s attention to their products and services. The goal of this analysis is to determine which channels used by your competitors can work for you as well. Competitors’ analysis can also give insights that can help you differentiate your brand from these companies.
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Formulate your value proposition
Once you know everything about your competitors and your audience, you should use the information to create your brand’s story that will resonate with your customers’ needs and will differentiate you from the competition. You need to create your unique value proposition that will explain how your products can solve the real-life needs of your potential customers, using simple words and phrases. You should tell your audience about the benefits of your products and explain why they are better than the products offered by your competitors. If you have several buyer personas, you should create a value proposition for each of them.
Create a sales funnel
Now you have all the necessary information for creating a marketing funnel, a process of converting visitors of your business website into customers that buy your products or services. Your task is to lead your prospects through their buying journey from the awareness stage when they first learn about your brand to the purchase stage when they buy your products or services and are happy to tell everyone about their purchase.
Channel marketing plan
Essentially, channel strategy is the execution of your sales funnel. You defined what it takes to get awareness, trial, and loyalty. Some of these steps will require thoughtful education of your audience; others will need an impactful message about time-limited offers. Different channels work best to deliver different messages. Moreover, different user personas will be inclined to use different channels.
Is omnichannel just another buzzword?
Yes and no. The omnichannel marketing campaign uses multiple tools that work together to create a synergic engaging experience. Think of Disneyland. Unless you use a fast-lane pass, you spend about an hour for each attraction, with only a few minutes riding the thing. While standing in line, you examine the decorations, download a special app to play the dedicated game competing with other guys from the same queue, you interact with personnel. You can purchase dedicated merchandise after you took the ride. All of these are channels in an omnichannel experience. Each of them works separately, but engaging in every consecutive channel builds up your experience.
Omnichannel marketing mostly works for B2C communication for big-budget campaigns. If you’re planning a nation-wide promotion, giving away cars as the main prize, you’d need means to keep your audience engaged during the whole few-months campaign. This will require an omnichannel approach for sure.
Omnichannel for small business is usually used as a buzzword. In most cases, what small business need (and can afford) is not omnichannel. As a small business owner, you need a thorough channel strategy, which we described above.
Need Help to Create a Channel Marketing Plan?
We have discussed the basics of creating a marketing channel strategy, but every business is unique, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Keep in mind that your channel marketing plan should be individual to your business. You should map out the specific actions that you are going to take to achieve your business goals over a certain time. It’s crucial to know the properties of each channel you think of using and assign a role, where these properties can be used efficiently.
Creating a successful marketing strategy that combines multiple, carefully selected online channels can be complicated, but if you need help, you can always reach out to experienced marketing experts at Extrabrains. We can help you develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that will set you apart from your competitors.
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