Digital Marketing Channels are a ‘must’ to understand to get ROI on digital marketing execution. It is always a joy to educate clients on the benefits of Digital Marketing and how it could help them increase awareness for their brand / product, increase sales, grow revenue and ultimately keep the business profitable.

My enthusiasm is usually met with skepticism from decision makers and they make comments like:

Ibukun, social media does not work for our business. Even when we tried it, likes and shares does not translate into revenue. It really looks like a waste of resources.

If you also feel that way, then this article is for you.

First, social media is NOT all there is to Digital Marketing.

This is the first hurdle that many businesses have to cross  to know that Digital Marketing comprises of many digital marketing channels that will help you grow your business.

Social Media is one of those channels, and not all social media platforms will be the right channel for your business. Social Media might not have delivered for your business, which is why in this article, I want to show you the other main Digital Marketing Channels, their standout features, how you can use them, and more importantly combine them to grow your business.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing is ‘using digital marketing channels to promote, or market, products and services to consumers and businesses.’ – Digital Marketing Institute (DMI)

Before we continue to the channels, I am making 3 assumptions that are important to the success of any type of marketing you are deploying for your business.

Assumption 1

That you have a good product that truly solves an identified problem for your target audience and potential customers. No amount of marketing can fix a bad product.

Assumption 2

That you know, you have identified and have built a profile of your potential customer to enhance the effectiveness of your marketing.

If you haven’t done this, it is not too late, you can start now to profile your ideal customers who truly need your product.

Assumption 3

That your target audience is willing and able to solve this problem by paying for your product or service. If you are not sure, good marketing can help you ‘re-frame’ how your potential customers view the problem and move them to action.

Now let’s look at Digital Marketing Channels and how they can help you grow your business.

Here’s a list of the channels I will review in this article:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Search engine marketing (SEM) / Pay per click (PPC)
  • Digital Display Advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  • Content Marketing

The key elements I will address are:

  1. What is it?
  2. How does it work?
  3. When is it best used?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

What is it?

This digital marketing channel offers a unique opportunity to align your website with the search phrases of your target audience and to target web users who are actively searching for the product/service you offer. – DMI

How does it work?

Well, when you need something, chances are high that you ‘Google’ it first. I call it the ‘miracle’ of the internet that someone you don’t know goes online to find solution to a problem they have. They search, your website comes up as a solution, they click, they buy or contact you, and your business makes money.

I did a quick search for ‘best SAP partner in Ghana’ for B2B solutions. You can be sure that the companies that show up on page 1 will get clicks and even calls to their businesses.

SERP- 2 - Digital Marketing Channels

Here’s another search for ‘best chinese restaurant in accra’. Imagine if you are the owner of Imperial Peking or Palace Chinese, you will feel good knowing that you are visible to people who want to eat chinese at the time they are craving for it.

SERP - 1 - Digital Marketing Channels

When is it best used?

If you have a website, SEO should be top priority for you as a digital channel so that everyone who is searching for your products and services get to find and know about you. Why is it important? People who are searching most probably have identified a problem and are actively looking for a solution. Who best to sell to than someone who is already looking? SEO helps with discovery, awareness and conversion without using paid advertising.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) / Pay per click (PPC)

What is it?

SEM is very similar to SEO because it also deals with showing up in search engine results when people search for specific keywords. The difference is, SEM is paid advertising, while SEO is organic.

How does it work?

With SEM, you pay the search engine e.g. Google to show your result when people search for a relevant keyword and get them to click on the Ad. You will only pay when the user clicks on the Ad,not when they see it. SEM listings is identified by the green Ad text in a box beside the URL in the result.

When is it best used?

SEO can take time for the website to get ranked in search engine results, however with SEM it can be setup and working within minutes. So it is best used when:

  • You want to reach an audience that is already looking to make a purchase
  • You want to test how well a new product will perform in terms of sales.
  • Since you only pay when the Ad is clicked, it is safe to assume only interested people will click (if the Ad is setup very well)
  • It is a strong conversion channel i.e a channel that helps you to make sales directly.

I co-wrote an article with Spiros Tsaltas of HireLoyalty on Why PPC Campaigns do not work. It is a great read on the Business & Financial Times website.

Digital Display Advertising

What is it?

Digital Display advertising can be simply described as online banners. Whether these are displayed on websites, or run as Ads on social platforms.

How does it work?

Using either direct placement, where you find a publisher website to put up banners as advertising or use a platform like Google Display Network to display banners on millions of websites.

When is it best used?

Digital Display advertising is best used for branding and creating awareness about a brand, product, or offer.

People do not generally click on display banners, so it is not the most effective in driving traffic or generating sales directly. Average click-through-rate for display ads is <0.1% according to DMI. However, they are very effective in influencing user behaviour even if viewers think they don’t take notice of the Ads. Retargeting can be used to increase the results from display ads.

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Banners on our platform – Pulse

Email Marketing

What is it?

Email marketing is a channel that can be used to reach consumers via email. One key element of Email Marketing is personalisation.

How does it work?

This is done using specialised companies or platforms called Email Service Providers (ESPs). They allow brands to send bulk emails with advanced data tools for reporting elements such as open rates, click rates, A/B testing of subject lines etc.

Users can receive triggered email based on many factors such as activities they performed on a website, previous emails opened (or not opened), interest in specific products or services, previous purchase history and many more.

When is it best used?

Data shows that for every $1 spent on email marketing, brands experienced a ROI of about $44 – DMI.

Email marketing is a strong conversion and loyalty channel. It allows you to send personalised communication to your consumers and move them to action no matter which stage of the consumer funnel they are in.

You can send onboarding email campaign for a new product that has been purchased or upsell other products, or coupon codes or gift vouchers based on customer events such as repeat purchases.

The opportunities available with Email marketing are many and brands should explore more ways to maximize this channel.

Social Media Marketing

What is it?

Leveraging social media platforms to reach, engage and interact with potential (and current) customers.

How does it work?

Brands have the ability to create own profiles or pages on the platform and create content for their followers. In addition to this, brands can utilise the massive user data points the platforms have gathered to target specific demography or interest targets with advertising.

Many brands, especially B2B brands have complained about the lack of results obtained from Social Media Marketing. This happens mostly when revenue generation is the KPI for the social platform.

When is it best used?

Social Media Marketing can be successfully used to give the brand a voice, a personality and engage with customers on the platforms they already use.

Purchase decisions have become more complex for users. They want social proof, feedback from friends and family, but also, accumulated impression from the brand using Social Media to forge a relationship with customers.

Content Marketing

What is it?

This is the use of content to move customers systematically through the conversion funnel or the buyer journey

How does it work?

Let me use a quick example. Imagine you are in the market for a new car and you have decided a saloon car is preferred to a SUV based on your budget.

Content 1 – Comparison Article. (Awareness & Interest content)

You searched for best family saloon car on Google and you found a dealer website with an article comparing family saloon cars from 6 different brands. Chances are you would take a look at that article

Content 2 – Deep Dive review. (Consideration content)

As you read the comparison article, the website then gave you links to the in-depth review of each car brand. So if you are leaning towards a particular model, you can now click to read a full review of that model with a test drive video.

Content 3 – How to finance a new car (Consideration content)

You left the dealer website. 3 days later, while you are on Facebook you saw a promoted post from the dealer website you visited in your timeline sending you to an article on how you can finance your new car.

Since you are interested in getting a new car, you clicked through to read the article. At the end of the article, there was an interest calculator prompting you to see what your monthly repayment would be. To use the tool, you had to give your details (Name, Email & Phone number).

Content 4 – Conversion Action (Phone Call)

24 hours later, you received a call from the dealer to follow up on your interest and help you make the decision on which car to purchase.

Content was used to guide the customer through funnel until a conversion is set to take place.

When is it best used?

It is best used every time by creating content that is relevant to where the user is in the consumer journey.


Brands must understand that a strategic combination of Digital Marketing channels is the recipe for outstanding results.

This image by DMI will give you a colorful summary of this article:

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Your Turn

What other digital channels are you using to grow your business?. Plhare in the comments.

If you would like to get more information on I can help your business grow using Digital Marketing, connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a message.


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