Digital Marketing Channels, Then and Now

2017.03.23

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Then : Standard Digital Marketing Channels

The digital marketing industry has grown by leaps and bounds. Subsequently, the number of marketing channels have grown over time, as well. The most common digital marketing channels have been the cornerstone of many traffic-driving, promotional, and acquisition strategies. These strategies revolve around these:

Direct (Direct Load)

  • Definition: A user arrives at the intended target with no outside direction other than a “direct” intent to arrive.
  • Example: A customer types into a browser the URL where they plan to shop.

Search Organic (SEO)

  • Definition: A user arrives at the intended target by using a search engine without the aid of illuminated or sponsored content.
  • Example: A user searches for a subject and is presented with a paid advertisement and a standard title link. Both links lead to the same webpage, but the user selects the standard title link.

Social (Social Network)

  • Definition: A user arrives at the intended target by clicking through a link featured in a post on a social media channel.
  • Example: A user is browsing their Instagram feed or Facebook wall, and they click through a link in the profile or a link in a wall post.

Email

  • Definition: A user arrives at the intended target by clicking through the content of an email message.
  • Example: A user clicks through a marketing email for a discount on a shirt. A user clicks through a transactional email so they can track a shipment.

Affiliates (Affiliate Partner)

  • Definition: A user arrives at the intended target by clicking through content that is provided by an approved third party, and said third party will receive compensation for providing a type of acquisition.
  • Example: A blogger takes a photo of a new sweater and refers their viewers to the shopping website where the sweater is available for sale. The blogger has a direct agreement with the sweater brand, and as part of that agreement they receive compensation based on a defined metric. This agreement requires that the link to the website have unique tracking properties for the blogger and usually results in a percent of the total transaction or compensation based on the number of visitors referred.

Referral

  • Definition: A user arrives at the intended target by clicking through a URL on another website while not qualifying as an Affiliate or a Social Network.
  • Example: A digital news publication writes about a particular subject and lists the URLs featured in the article or has used to source the content they have written about.

Paid Search (SEM)

  • Definition: Featured search results on SERP that are often highlighted and brought to the top of the page. These results are paid for by an advertiser.
  • Example: A clothing brand sells its product to multiple retailers. They want to advertise their product and choose to pay to have their direct website links show up when prospects search above the third-party

Display

  • Definition: A type of advertising that is formatted in digital banners and rich media. It primarily presents images, video, and audio, but excludes text-based ads.
  • Example: A 300×250 banner advertising shoes that is shown on a publication website that does not sell products.

Other

  • Definition: A user arrives at the intended target while not triggering any of the rules that placed them into the above-mentioned Marketing Channels.
  • Example: A customer comes through a Push Message from an App with it’s own campaign tagging.

Into the Future with an actionable approachFor less complicated campaigns, or for businesses not focused on an omni-channel marketing approach, these general marketing channels will be enough. However, with the ever-expanding challenges of reaching end users on a personal and relevant level, the traditional approach fails to deliver actionable data in a timely manner. Furthermore, the data that is delivered can be misaligned with a Channel Attribution Modeling approach. This facilitates a model wherein the method of how a customer interacts or “touches” an end state determines a channel’s overall contribution and KPIs. By taking a more granular approach within an omni-channel marketing strategy, a business can set a hierarchy determining how end users qualify for channels. Once this hierarchy of qualification is established, channels that are more important, or have more complexity in a business, can be broken out. Breaking out channels allows for quick access of KPIs without the need of extensive data mining. Below are some of the more useful Digital Marketing Channel expansions:

Extended Digital Marketing Channels

CSE (Consumer Shopping Engine)

  • Definition: Aggregate shopping locations that build together data feeds of multiple retailers into one location for customers to shop from or review products and prices. This usually entails a percentage of sales back to the aggregator.
  • Example: Google Shopping, Facebook Product Feed

Display : Performance

  • Definition: Similar to standard display advertising, except the experience is enhanced to show products and services from an advertiser relevant to actions that were performed previously on the advertiser website.
  • Example: A customer looks at several apparel products on a website. When they go to their favorite news/media website, there is an advertisement showing the product previously browsed on the shopping website, reminding the customer to purchase.

Display : Online Ads

  • Definition: Advertising that consists of text or image that entices a customer with brand loyalty or promotions to obtain their business or following.
  • Example: Seen on the right column of a website, static text that shows an offer/promotion/value. Additionally, this could be a image or animation that has the same placement.

Email : Direct Marketing

  • Definition: Marketing messages that are sent out via electronic mail that communicate to a recipient who has opted in to receive such correspondence.
  • Example: A message is sent to a recipient that has opted to receive updates on current site articles or brand promotions.

Email : Triggered

  • Definition: Marketing messages that are sent out via electronic mail that are created and delivered based off an event or interaction that occurs.
  • Example: A customer adds three products to their shopping cart on a website. They leave the website without purchasing, and an email is sent the next day reminding them to checkout.
    Example: A reader opts in to receive updates on news articles. After opting in, an email is sent welcoming them to the publication.

Email : Client

  • Definition: Electronic Mail that is sent to a client in response to utilizing or purchasing a good or service. Unlike Triggered emails, these messages are related to a completed action that is not intended to drive further interaction with the original source and medium.
  • Example: A customer purchases a subscription or product/service. A bill is sent monthly reminding a customer to pay for their subscription, or a receipt is sent immediately after purchasing a product/service.

RAF (Refer a Friend)

  • Definition: A program in which an advocate enlists a supporter or like-minded individual to recognize or interact with a brand or opportunity. This type of interaction usually offers an incentive or mutual benefit to one or both parties for participating and achieving an objective.
  • Example: A customer shares a product they love with a friend in a social media post and knows that if the recipient purchased a product from the link they will get a percentage off the next purchase. This share also informs the recipient that they can receive a percentage off their first purchase, enticing them to interact more readily.

Push (Push Notifications)

  • Definition: This channel is contributed through “Push Notification.” These notifications are small SMS/TXT formatted information bites, are delivered from a server, are application independent, and allow for a receiver to manage their opt-in.
  • Example: A customer receives a message on their mobile phone overtop of an application. This message notifies them of a new sale on their favorite shopping app and is stored for review alongside other notifications, like a weather condition update.

Social : Organic

  • Definition: A user arrives at the intended target by clicking through a link featured in a post on a social media channel.
  • Example: A user is browsing their Instagram feed or Facebook wall, and they click through a link in the profile or a link in a wall post.

Social : Paid

  • Definition: A user arrives at the intended target by clicking through a link featured in a sponsored/paid post on a social media channel.
  • Example: A user is browsing their Instagram feed or Facebook wall, and they click through a link on their feed/wall that is marked as “Sponsored” or a post that allows for a paid interaction, such as “join now.”

TAM : Print (Traditional Ad Marketing)

  • Definition: This is printed media that relies on subscription or view-through results to track (although print can be tracked digitally with vanity urls or designated landing pages.)
  • Example: An individual is viewing a newspaper and looks at a quarter-page ad that refers them to a sale with a sale page on a website, “www.store.com/new-sale1.” This could also be a direct mail message where a postcard is sent to a recipient with a web link to follow.

TAMB : Broadcasting

  • Definition: Transmitting marketing messages via radio or television. This message relies on view-through or ratings correlations to relay success. However, tracking can be achieved digitally with a vanity url or designated landing pages.
  • Example: An individual is watching a sporting event on TV, and between the scrimmage a commercial message is aired. During or after a commercial, a website is then shown or announced, “www.store.com/new-sale1”.

Internal : Experiments

  • Definition: Used to qualify campaigns associated with A/B testing or optimizations. This channel type captures variations of digital content to relate back to one effort, and changes are not tied to a marketing channel.
  • Example: A customer interacts with women’s content on the homepage of the website and then has their entire experience tailored to the content of the “Women’s Content” interaction.

Internal : Promos

  • Definition: Promotional messages that receive interactions through banners or application codes on a website.
  • Example: A customer clicks on a banner saying “save 10% off for signing up for email” or enters a promotional code at checkout for “Free Shipping over $150.”

The New Other

  • Definition: A campaign is triggered but does not qualify for any of the rules that govern the flow of traffic into a marketing channel.
  • Example: A customer clicks a tracking link that is improperly configured. They have a campaign in the URL that triggers them to be tracked, but does not qualify the traffic to be in a specific marketing channel for credit.

As a result of the expanding capabilities and marketing channels, below is an aggregate view of a new version of  “Standardized Marketing Channels.”

  • Search : Organic (SEO)
  • Search : Paid (SEM)
  • CSE (Consumer Shopping Engines)
  • Affiliate : Network (Affiliate Partner)
  • Affiliate : RAF (Refer a Friend)
  • Display : Performance
  • Display : Online Ads
  • Email : Direct Marketing
  • Email : Triggered
  • Email : Client
  • Social : Organic
  • Social : Paid
  • Digital : Notice (Push Notifications)
  • Digital : Triggered (App Events)
  • Direct (Direct Load)
  • Referral (Referring Domain)
  • TAM (Traditional Ad Marketing)
  • TAMB (Broadcasting)
  • Internal : Experiments
  • Internal : Promos
  • Other (New Other)

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