Digital Marketing Channels — What to Look For and How to Choose

Dec 03, 2019

Digital marketing is no longer a business luxury used exclusively by large multinationals with enough budget to experiment.

A good digital marketing strategy forms the backbone of all good marketing strategies.

However, before you decide on what specific marketing strategies you use, you have to understand what’s out there.

In this blog, I’ll discuss a range of different paid and organic tactics. Hopefully, I’ll cover some areas you haven’t heard of before and give you some new ammo for the next marketing meeting.

Let’s get started!

Organic Vs. Paid

All digital marketing tactics can be described as either paid or organic. Both organic and paid tactics have their benefits and drawbacks. For a full comparison of the two, check out our blog post: Organic Vs. Paid: Where You Should Invest Your Budget.

Here’s a quick primer on the differences between the two.

What is organic?

Organic search results are determined by search engine algorithms and are based on the merits of each site.

What is paid?

Paid advertisements usually sit alongside organic results and are bought rather than earned.

Organic Marketing Strategies

Organic marketing is a pretty loose term and it covers a huge swathe of digital marketing. In general, though, I’d say organic marketing covers any tactics that you don’t have to pay for.

Below I’ve touched on the three main strategies you’re likely to come across: Search Engine Optimisation, Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing.

Yes, there are loads more but this is just one blog and it’d be impossible to do them all justice.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

When people think about organic digital marketing, they think about search engines. Get your website ranking higher for key transactional keyword searches and watch as qualified leads pour in.

SEO is a long-term process and sadly there’s no silver bullet. Backlinko has a really handy list of the 200 most important ranking factors and you’ve got to hit most of them if you want to rank well.

Do the basics well and you’ll start to notice tangible results within a couple of weeks. Keep building on that foundation and you’ll climb up the rankings.

Social Media

Over the past five or so years, social media marketers have reported both reach and engagement steadily declining.

According to Socialbakers, a post from the average Facebook page will only reach 2 percent of its audience. So if you have 100 likes, you’ll reach two. If you have one million likes, you’ll reach 20,000.

Most businesses do not have multimillion fan audiences so two percent works out at a tiny number. And that tiny number is simply not enough to generate a return on their investment.

The fundamental problem with organic social media marketing lies in the business model of the social networks. You see, every network has to make money and so tend to promote their own advertising products at the expense of organic exposure.

If you have a super-engaged audience or have built a community around your brand, organic social media can still deliver excellent results but you typically have to do something a little out of the ordinary to get noticed.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the creation and distribution of valuable and relevant content with the goal of attracting new leads. That content could be videos or blogs or infographics or podcasts or white papers or explainer articles or case studies or interviews or pieces of news or templates or checklists. You get the idea.

The CMI claims that content marketing costs 62 percent less than outbound marketing yet generates three times as many leads. So, just judging by the numbers, it’s one of the most cost-effective marketing channels out there.

For a full introduction to content marketing, check out our Content Marketing 101 blog.

Paid Marketing Strategies

Unlike organic marketing, paid covers all strategies where you pay for exposure. Below I’ve touched on five common strategies you’re likely to come across: Display Advertising, Paid Search, Retargeting, Social Media Advertising and Paid Content Promotion.

Yes, there are loads more but this is just one blog and it’d be impossible to do them all justice.

Display Advertising

Display adverts, also known as banner adverts, are a type of paid online advertising that delivers images to users on third-party sites. If the user clicks the image, they are taken to the offer landing page.

Unlike search adverts, which are displayed within search results, display adverts can pop up wherever a website has integrated a display advertising block into its design.

Unfortunately, as ad blocking technology becomes more prevalent, the display advert faces an uncertain future.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Paid Search

Paid search, also called search engine marketing (SEM) and pay-per-click (PPC), is essentially paying a search engine to jump to the top of their results page. It’s how Google makes the lion’s share of its revenue and is super popular among digitally savvy business owners.

Paid search works on an auction basis. You tell Google how much you’re willing to pay for an advert spot and then your bid is compared with everyone else’s. The highest bidder gets the top spot, the next highest bidder gets the second and so on and so on. Admittedly, the auction system a bit more complicated than that but that’ll have to wait for another day.

Unlike slower organic strategies, paid search allows a company to attract qualified traffic right from day one. Set up your campaign, pay your money and watch as the leads come in.

Unlike other marketing channels, when you stop paying for ads, the leads immediately stop. There’s no long-term investment and no sustainable traffic sources.


Retargeting might not be a technique you’ve heard of before but — if implemented correctly — it’s one that can drive fantastic results.

Here’s a quick primer.

When someone visits a particular page on your site, you drop a tracking cookie onto their browser with info about what specific pages they looked at. When that user goes to another site, your remarketing ad provider knows what pages they’ve been looking at and can deliver a highly tailored advert to ‘retarget’ them. In practice, it allows you to follow non-converting users around the web, advertising your services or products to them.

It’s super effective as your audience is all partially qualified. However, you do limit your audience a lot as you are only targeting users who have been on your site before.

Social Media Advertising

Like we mentioned above, all social networks have to make money and so tend to promote their advertising products at the expense of organic exposure.

While that’s bad news for organic social media marketers, it’s great news for anyone wanting to advertise their business on social media.

While the functionality behind most social network advertising platforms lags behind established advertising platforms like Google AdWords, they are improving every year.

If you put in enough effort and keep coming back to tweak your campaign, you can achieve outstanding results advertising on social media.

Paid Content Promotion

Content marketing is an awesome organic strategy. However, where people often fall down is on the promotional side. How do you get people to actually read your blogs, watch your videos and listen to your podcasts?

Next time you’re on a commercial blog or news site, look down at the bottom of each article for a block of related or sponsored content. Usually, someone’s paid for that content to be there.

It’s basically paying a platform to promote your content to their audience. Sometimes it works on a cost per click basis and other time you’re basically just renting advertising space.
However, it works, paid content discovery is an awesome marketing tactic and attracts a steady stream of genuinely interested readers to your website.

Want to Know More?

So, there are eight fantastic digital marketing tactics for your company. Now, I don’t recommend you try them all at once. All companies have a finite pot of resources and spreading them too thinly is the probably the easiest way to fail.

Instead, select one at a time and trial it for a couple of months. If you’re seeing results, double down! If, for whatever reason, your trial isn’t bringing in many results, just move onto the next one.

if you’re just scoping out where you are and where you want to go — then we provide an excellent free SEO audit that can help you identify a few of your strengths and weaknesses. All you need to do is plug in a few details such as your name, email and URL and then we’ll send you over a report within the hour.