Which Online Marketing Channel Is Right For My Business?

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Which online marketing channel is right for my business? Is a common question that you (and many other) online business owners may be asking yourself.

“I ask Google 10 questions a day so that must be the right channel” you might think.

Or, “I waste 1 hour of my day on Facebook every morning so maybe I should be reaching my customers on Facebook”.

Even, “I’ve spent the past 2 days pinning every food item I’ve ever wanted on Pinterest. That must be where all my customers are!”

And while these are all good thoughts, they are looking more at your own online tendencies and not asking the right questions, which are 1. “Who are my target customers? and 2. “Where are they spending their time online?”


Because although you may spend all your time repinning desserts on Pinterest (Oh wait maybe that’s just me..), the 35-55 year old small business owner who lives in Florida with his wife and two kids is actually easier to target by audience on Facebook or on Adwords where he spends his time typing your product’s name into Google because he is actively looking for it.

Below I’ll give an overview of the 5 most common and profitable online advertising channels and what type of customer they are able to reach. This should give you some insight into which channels will be able to reach your target customer and a better idea of where to start your marketing efforts.

Google Adwords

free adwords coupon

Arguably the most effective, common, and profitable online advertising channel, Google shows your ads to people who are actively looking for your product. The user types in a specific keyword ie “Where can I buy [Your Product]”, your ad shows on the Google Search Results Page, and you pay when the user clicks your ad and is directed to your website.

Online Marketing ad

Adwords is effective because it is a high-intent search channel that shows people what they are looking for when they are looking for it.

The Adwords flow goes something like this:

Adwords Purchase Flow

Someone wants to buy [Your Product]. They type [Your Product] name into Google. They see [Your Product] ad. They click [Your Product] ad. They go to your site. They buy [Your Product]*

Adwords also offers the opportunity to retarget site visitors which tends to have a very high ROAS, to show ads on the display network, and to show ads on Youtube as well as Gmail. All of these can be very effective when approached in the right way.

*Best case scenario.

Google Shopping

Shopping works similarly to Adwords search, however it does not target keywords and it shows pictures instead of text ads. It does this by using a combination of your bids and product titles and descriptions to show a picture of your product everytime someone types in a related keyword.

Google Shopping adsGoogle shopping is highly effective for all types of ecommerce stores, and tends to have the lowest cost per clicks and highest conversion rates of all the channels in regard to online ecommerce products.

Bing Ads

Bing is a great option for anyone seeing success advertising on Google. They also have search, shopping and retargeting, and campaigns can be directly imported from Google into Bing with minimal hassle.

Bing Ads Example

Bing is a search engine like Google, used by a slightly older, slightly wealthier demographic than Google that is also much smaller. Bing tends to have less competition and be cheaper than Google, however as fewer people use Bing in comparison to Google, you should also expect less volume from this channel.

Facebook Ads

Facebook is unique in that it does not target keywords or intent at all, instead allowing you to be as specific as you want in targeting your exact target audience.

Facebook Ads Example

You can essentially get as specific as you want using age, gender, location, race, profession, professional interests, personal interests, pages liked on Facebook, recent purchases, to as specific as if they have children or have purchased a house in the past 6 months.

Facebook Audience Targeting Example

Facebook’s audience-targeting capabilities are without a doubt the most sophisticated and effective of all the channels. The specificity it allows you to target may be creepy to outsiders but to you it may be an incredibly profitable, useful tool that allows you to show your product to all the people who want it but haven’t thought to type it into Google yet.

Facebook also offers the opportunity to show ads on Instagram. Instagram ads, being mobile, tend to see fewer direct conversions, however can still be a great opportunity to reach your target audience.

Instagram Ad Example

Facebook also has retargeting capabilities which are often extremely effective.

Pinterest Ads

Pinterest is the newest advertising channel that many people are unaware even serves ads. When thinking about Pinterest as an advertising channel, be aware that the demographic is 80% female, the majority in the 24-34 age range.

Pinterest is a search-intent channel, much like Adwords and Bing. However Pinterest allows you to target past-search intent as opposed to real-time search intent. For example, if someone searched for “Fuzzy Bunny Socks” on Pinterest 1 week ago, you could target them with your Bunny Sock pins 1 week later.

Pinterest Ad Example

The most-overlooked channel, Pinterest is unique in that its value has the potential to increase over time, which none of the other channels possess. Pinterest is able to do this because its value is cumulative and increases over time as promoted and non-promoted pins are repinned and saved to users’ boards. Users often revisit their boards and decide to purchase later on, and dormant pins can also be reactivated when people start repinning them again, both benefits none of the other channels have.

Pinterest is perfect for image-focused companies, brands and articles including clothing stores, makeup companies and companies with strong before/after pictures such as one with before/after acne photos.

More Opportunities

Depending on your product, service, app or other offering, you may find opportunity in these as well as the many other online advertising channels. The above are the most common and for the majority of business, produce the most effective results; however your business is unique and there is the potential to find success on many other channels as well.

For some sites, it may not make sense to spend money on ad dollars at all. For example, a site such as 4 pics 1 word answers, does not have a clear product to sell other than ad space or definitive goal other than traffic, so ads would most likely not be appropriate for a site such as this. Organic traffic only would make monetary sense since anything spent bring visitors to the site would be either completely lost or made back in a small part by ads.

Here is a list of a few more channels you may want to consider:

  • Twitter ads
  • Linked ads
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Amazon product ads
  • Amazon text ads
  • Programmatic ads
  • Reddit ads
  • Tumblr ads
  • Google Plus ads
  • Yahoo Gemini
  • Ebay ads
  • Yelp ads
  • Retail deal sites
  • Don’t forget organic traffic methods as well!

There are so many channels and opportunities to drive traffic to your site. I hope this article gave you some insight into which channels you can best reach your target customer on and which you will start with.

Paid search is an awesome opportunity to grow your customer-base and to do so in a profitable manner when approached in the right way!

I will end with a quote that summarizes this article quite nicely

A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” – Henry Ford

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I wish you the best of luck with your advertising endeavors and feel free to reach out to me with any questions or wish to connect, [email protected]

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