Marketing is a vast arena that involves various methods, techniques, practices, and strategies to inform and sell to a particular audience. But at its very foundation, marketing is all about making connections. Naturally, to make connections, you need a medium or a channel to communicate. That is what a “marketing channel” is.
Businesses have been using a wide range of marketing channels to connect with their audience. There are at least 10 different types of marketing channels, and Marketing Tutor is going to discuss 11 of them with examples. Let’s start with the definition of marketing channels.
Definition of Marketing Channels
Marketing channels are the tools, methods, and techniques marketers use to connect the product/business and potential customers. The goal of a marketing channel can vary, as some marketing channels seek to establish brand awareness while others focus more on selling.
Today, businesses have various marketing channels at their disposal, which can either be traditional or digital. Regardless of the type, each marketing channel can be categorized into one of the following categories based on its function.
Categories of Marketing Channels
Communication marketing channels help connect a business and the target audience. A traditional sales letter is a classic example of a communication marketing channel.
Distribution deals with the ways and methods used to deliver products to customers. Everything from the delivery system to the product packaging falls under the distribution marketing channel category.
Service marketing channel refers to the tools and methods used for finalizing business transactions. Customers usually have little control over these channels, and they are only used to accelerate and secure payments. A particular bank that a company uses for receiving its payment is an example of a service marketing channel.
Types and Examples of Marketing Channels
Marketing channels comprise both traditional and digital types today. Have a look at them and their examples.
As the name suggests, direct selling is the traditional marketing channel where a marketer interacts directly with a potential client. In digital marketing, direct selling channels are still highly relevant. For example, most retail sales in the USA in 2021 were a result of direct selling.
Direct selling is also a time-taking process that incurs fewer expenses on things like distribution costs or advertising space.
Example. An example of direct selling is a door-to-door salesperson selling insurance plans in a particular neighborhood. The salesperson’s goals will include educating, building awareness, nurturing leads, and ultimately selling.
Catalog marketing is the marketing channel that uses a catalog to let interested customers choose from a range of options. This method is common in retail, where people browse through many similar products with different features and price points before making a buying decision.
The catalog may include images, product descriptions, and testimonials from previous customers. Catalog marketing can be both traditional and digital.
Catalog marketing also eliminates the need for in-person or direct interactions with customers. Moreover, it gives customers more control over what they want to purchase.
Example. The online marketplace Amazon is an example of a digital catalog direct marketing channel. The customer types in the name of the product they wish to buy. They are given various options with different features, specifications, reviews, and price points.
A network marketing channel is similar to direct marketing, as it involves marketing products or businesses directly to people in your network. This can include your family, friends, and acquaintances.
The job of a network marketer is to inform, engage, nurture, and sell to the people they already know. This eliminates the initial resistance people show when they are approached by a salesperson they do not know.
Example. Amway is a famous American cosmetic and beauty brand that uses network marketing as a proven and successful marketing channel. Its salespeople are known as IBOs (Independent Business Owners), and they make a commission whenever they sell Amway’s products to their network.
Value-added resale is a marketing channel where the seller adds value to a product before selling it further. Large-scale manufacturing companies cater to these kinds of businesses, where the smaller business adds value and customizes a product before selling it.
Example. For example, an online store purchases standard mugs in bulk customizes them in different designs, and sells them further to interested customers at a profit.
Digital advertisements are a modern form of advertising frequently used as a marketing channel. As more people use digital platforms like social media, digital advertisements are becoming more valuable. For example, in 2021, the average viewability of a video ad was about 66%.
Digital advertising can be conducted on various platforms such as websites, blogs, social media, web and mobile applications, email, and more. Even though it is a costly venture, it is quite effective in generating brand awareness and sales.
Example. The ads you see on this blog or other websites while reading this article are all examples of digital advertisements,
Marketers often use events as an efficient marketing channel. Organizing an event is a practical way of providing your target audience with helpful information about your brand and products.
Organizers may also hold a question and answers session with the attendees to alleviate their concerns about the business/products. At the end of the event, every attendee will leave with more information about your business, while some may even make a purchase.
Example. An example of event marketing would be a novelist holding an “author event” where they introduce their book, engage with the readers, sell signed copies, and answer their questions.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In digital marketing, SEO is a trusted marketing channel with proven results. It works by publishing content on your business website or platform that is well-optimized for search engines.
A high level of optimization leads to your content ranking well on the SERPs and generating traffic. This traffic eventually becomes more aware of your products/services with the potential of becoming your customers.
SEO is an organic, low-cost, and time-consuming marketing channel that often starts showing results after applying successful strategies.
Example. If you have an eCommerce store where you sell fishing products, having a fishing blog alongside it and optimizing it for search engines is an example of SEO marketing.
Podcasts have recently become quite popular as a marketing channel. Statistics back their effectiveness, as 62% of Americans (ages 12+) have listened to a podcast in 2022. The more people consume podcasts, the more people marketers can reach.
Podcast content is also helpful for the audience as you have to go beyond simply “advertising” your product and provide something valuable to the listeners.
Example. Future is a popular tech podcast by Microsoft that talks about the latest trends and advancements in technology. Microsoft tactfully blends personal messaging and branding in its podcast while educating its listeners.
Consumers are no strangers to video content today. Whether it is YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook, every platform has integrated video-sharing capabilities. As a result, videos will be a useful marketing channel in 2023.
Through video marketing, businesses can not only educate customers but also convey the benefits of their products, show demos, share customer testimonials, and more. Video is a highly customizable marketing format that can be adapted to the customer’s needs and preferences.
Example. A YouTube channel that discusses the latest trends in education will be a perfect way for an EdTech SaaS startup to market its products.
Influencer marketing is a growing marketing channel that uses individuals with significant social media following, also known as influencers.
Marketers hire these influencers and share with them the content they need to publish on their social media. As a result, the followers of that particular influencer become interested in that product. This helps generate awareness, traffic, and profit for a particular brand or business.
Example. If you have a sports clothing brand, you can hire a sports influencer, athlete, or sports celebrity to market your products while building brand authority.
Email is often used as a marketing channel in the form of promotional emails, lead nurturing emails, brand story emails, etc. An email marketer’s job is to develop email lists of potentially interested customers and engage them throughout a campaign.
Customers are frequently emailed regarding upcoming sales, product releases, or general information. Email marketing has been quite successful as a marketing channel, as every person who uses a computer or a smartphone today will have an email address.
Example. A popular skincare brand you once subscribed to sends you an email about a Christmas or Black Friday sale. This is an example of an email marketing channel in action.
A good marketer knows when to use which marketing channel. This decision is the result of careful and in-depth research regarding the target audience, their needs, their buyer persona, and their preferred method of communication.