For marketing activities designed to get you onto a consumer’s radar—called top-of-the-funnel marketing in industry parlance—there are seven main digital marketing channels to consider.
Google processes over 3.5 billion searches every day. That probably doesn’t surprise you — online search has become our go-to solution for almost every question or problem we have. If your website is one of the first things to show up in search when someone’s looking for answers to a problem your products solve, it can translate into thousands of new people learning about you.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is how you get your website to show up on Google. It’s a competitive digital marketing channel and one that takes time to start seeing results with. But when you can get your website to show up on the first page of Google (and other search engines, but mostly Google), it pays significant dividends in brand awareness. More than that, it helps you achieve relevant brand awareness since SEO keyword targeting means you specifically reach people looking for what you do.
While SEO results can take a while to achieve, playing the long game brings its benefits. The more you build up your website’s authority, the more keywords you’ll be able to claim on Page 1. And once you get to Page 1, staying there is easier.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is SEO’s paid brother. Both digital marketing channels are focused on gaining visibility in the search engines, but where SEO is focused on organic results, PPC is how you show up in the paid results. For some searches, those paid results dominate the search engine results page (SERP), requiring searchers to scroll down to even see the organic results.
PPC provides some distinct benefits from SEO. Because you pay directly for those top spots, rather than having to work to earn them, PPC raises brand awareness much faster than SEO does. You can start showing up on Page 1 of Google the first day you start running ads (if you follow best practices). And PPC campaigns give you the power to specify who your ads will reach based on factors like demographics, geography and search behavior.
You can also achieve an especially wide reach since Google’s PPC platform includes a display network that powers the ads you see on websites across the web, as well as on other Google properties like Gmail and YouTube. Google says its display network reaches 90 percent of all internet users.
3. Social media marketing
A majority of people in the U.S. are on social media, and it’s the norm for social media users to visit a social media platform at least once a day. Social media has become a huge part of how people spend their time and where they get their information. Social media marketing is, therefore, another important digital marketing channel to include in any brand awareness strategy.
Social media marketing encompasses everything you do on social media for free—or at least, that you only pay for it in labor costs. It starts with researching the best channels to target, based on where your audience spends their time. And while it includes sharing content and promotions from your own website to raise brand awareness, it’s just as important to spend time on your social media platforms interacting with other accounts.
Social media marketing should be part self-promotion, part relationship-building. Use your platforms to share content from other blogs and influencers in your industry that are useful to your audience, and to participate in relevant conversations. By courting new relationships, you’ll start to build a following, which is crucial for using social media marketing for brand awareness.
4. Social media advertising
A big challenge in social media marketing, especially for new accounts, is that the only people who see most of your updates are those who have already followed you. That makes using social media marketing for brand awareness a slow proposition. But you can earn visibility and followers faster by also investing in social media advertising.
Social media advertising is to social media marketing what PPC is to SEO. All of the main social media platforms include advertising options, and most of them are pay-per-click like search advertising is. They also include extensive targeting options so you can get your messaging in front of the specific social media users most likely to be interested in your brand.
In addition to advertising with the main social platforms, many brands are gaining traction on social media by identifying popular influencers in their niche and working with them to promote their brands. People with a large following on social media have already gained the trust and attention of your audience. If they post about your brand, it’s a quick way to gain more interest and followers.
5. Content marketing
Content marketing is both an important digital marketing channel in its own right, and one that supports many of the other channels on this list. When you consistently create high-quality content that’s relevant to your audience, it gives you the chance to target more keywords in SEO and keeps your website fresh, which Google likes. It also gives other websites more reasons to link to you, which is a key ranking factor for the search engines.
In addition, every piece of useful content that your audience will want to click on is something you can promote on social media and in your ads. If the only thing you have to promote on these channels is your products, then you’re hoping someone will convert the first time they hear about you. For B2B companies, that’s unrealistic. Buying cycles often take months or even years and involve multiple people. You should assume most people won’t be ready to buy the first time they learn about your brand.
Content marketing gives you the chance to reach prospects with helpful content when they’re first asking questions that relate to your products. You can achieve that first point of brand awareness and use it to build trust, so you’re more likely to be top of mind later when they’re closer to making a purchasing decision.
Public relations is another powerful digital marketing channel and one that often gets less attention than the others on the list. A good PR strategy will earn you mentions in publications your audience is reading, which both increases brand awareness and can result in authoritative links that boost your SEO.
Modern PR also includes pitching guest posts and thought leadership articles on relevant websites around the web. By writing on topics your audience cares about in high-profile industry publications, you build trust in the voices that represent your brand, even if the content isn’t directly about your products.
With more than 1.8 billion users, YouTube is one of the most popular websites on the internet, which goes to show just how much people like watching videos. Sure, some of that is cat videos, but consumers also partake in brand videos. Over one third of consumers said they prefer video to other types of brand content, and 53 percent have said they’re more likely to engage with a brand after viewing a video.
Video marketing overlaps with content marketing. It can be a useful form of content for providing helpful information and answers to common questions your customers have, and can be promoted on social media and in ads just like written content.