The 7 Best Marketing Channels to Prioritize in 2021

Discover the 7 most effective marketing channels to capitalise on 2021.

Get top PPC & CRO insight delivered
right into your inbox

Articles, PDFs, exclusive content helping you generate more profit

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on whatsapp
Share on reddit

As far as marketing channels go there’s not exactly a lack of options for businesses.

Regardless of whether you’re working with a 6 figure budget or a couple of dollars, it stands to reason that you’re going to want to make the most of it. So here are the 7 marketing channels predicted to be big moneymakers this year.

And best of all they’re accessible to any business, whatever the size.

1. PPC Marketing

One of the biggest players in digital marketing is predicted to continue asserting its dominance this year. PPC (or Pay-Per-Click) is an internet marketing model whereby advertisers pay a fee each time a user clicks an ad.

With the right targeting options and keywords, paid ads can be an extremely successful and relatively cost-effective way of getting users to your site.

Of course, once they’re there it’s up to you to convert them into paying customers. That’s where relevant landing pages and user-friendly websites come in, which we’ve written more about here.

There are two main types of PPC ads that you can utilize:

  1. Search Engine Advertising (with Google Ads being the most popular)
  1. Social Media Ads (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, Youtube, Twitter)

Search Engine Advertising

Google (or Bing and Yahoo) search ads are a form of targeted paid advertising that appears above organic search results. Identified by the ad sign, they’re effective because they target users with high buyer intent. In other words, users who are actively looking for your product/service. Assuming you’ve got your keywords right of course…

Marketing Channels - Search Ads

Google Display ads work in a similar way to paid social media ads in that they allow you to advertise to users who aren’t directly looking for your product/service. They use existing audience data (including search history) and generate ads that appear on other websites, Youtube videos, mobile apps, Gmail etc. They are particularly effective as a retargeting tool. However, marketers can take advantage of in-market audiences to reach new users too.

You can see from the display ads in the example below that I’ve recently been comparing ski gear and looking for new furniture to update my bedroom and Google knows!

marketing channel: display ads

Social Media Ads

Facebook alone has 2.7 billion active users a month. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder businesses are looking to the social media giants as an effective marketing channel.

Much like display ads, social media ads are shown to users who might be interested in, but aren’t actively searching for, a product/service. They can be an effective way of advertising as their unobtrusive nature means they blend well with regular content. Plus with people spending an average of 90% of the time on their phones using apps like Instagram and Facebook, you’ve got a pretty captive audience.

different social media ads
examples of social media paid advertising across platforms

As with all forms of advertising, a clear CTA is key to the success of your social media ads. That and having a relevant landing page; you wouldn’t want to click on the Etsy ad above and be taken to a homepage, you want the ottoman!

2. Social Media

We’ve established how social media can be used for PPC marketing, but the profiles themselves can be an effective marketing channel too. Well-optimized accounts can help spread brand awareness, with the added benefit of being completely free! There’s really nothing to lose.

Increasingly, customers actively seek out brands on social media and are turning to the platforms to make buying decisions. If you don’t have a social presence, you’re missing out on valuable community-building opportunities, as well as the chance to be front and centre with your target market.

While you can afford to be more sales-focused in your ads, your social media profiles (on whatever platform you’ve chosen) should be all about building trust with your customers.

People’s bullsh*t detectors are pretty fine-tuned at this point, they want transparency and an honest look into the workings of the company. Show behind-the-scenes content, be personable and handle negative comments with grace (or humour if that works for your brand).

twitter interaction between customer and brand
For this pun-lover, his interaction with a British supermarket chain made his day

Choosing the right platform for your business is more than just where you’re audience might be. You need to be posting valuable content that your follows will want to engage with; if you can’t generate aesthetic visual content then Instagram probably isn’t the place for you.

For more information about setting up a strong social media marketing plan take a look at our article here or call us for a free consultation.

Influencer Marketing

In the last 5 years, Influencer marketing has exploded in popularity and become a $5-10 billion industry. It’s fast becoming one of the most popular marketing channels for brands. And the reason? Social Proof.

A recent study showed that 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals over brands, even if they don’t know them. It doesn’t seem to matter that Influencers (anyone from bloggers and content creators to industry experts and social activists) are being paid to advertise the product either.

If you have the budget the returns can be impressive; 90% of businesses agree that ROI is comparable if not better than other marketing channels. However, with mega-influencers (1m+ followers) charging upwards of $10,000 a post (and usually a lot more!) it’s not a marketing channel that’s open to everyone. Although a recent study into micro-influencers might be about to change all that…

Experticity found that 82% of people are “highly likely” to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer (10,000-50,000 followers). In part this is because people are wising up to inauthentic selling from both brands and influencers. Those with smaller followings are seen as more trustworthy because it isn’t all about the money.

If you’re going to start or increase Influencer marketing spend, consider starting small and choose your Influencers carefully.

3. Email Marketing

Contrary to popular belief email isn’t dead. In fact, it remains one of the best marketing channels for direct response marketing. This is because users have opted-in to hearing from you, making them more willing to open messages.

However, email marketing comes with a warning. Don’t take advantage of being invited into the conversation and dominate by sending too many emails.

Best Practices

  • Make the emails as personalized as possible. Segment your audience to ensure you’re sending out the most relevant content each time.
  • Unless you’re sending out a detailed newsletter, then brevity is your friend here. People are time-poor and have diminishing attention spans, keep things short and to the point and include a clear CTA.
  • Work on your opener. Your subject line should be short enough to be readable in preview and offer value or incite urgency.

4. Website & SEO

While not everyone considers a website a marketing channel, it is in fact one of the most important tools you have.

You can run a great ad and have an incredible social media presence, but if people land on your website and it’s hard to navigate then they’re unlikely to stick around. And that’s assuming they can find it in the first place…

If there’s one thing we always recommend here at SH1FT it’s that you’re constantly monitoring the data available to you. Use your website analytics to understand your conversion funnel and identify where you’re losing people and then rectify it.

Your website should be a reflection of your business/brand and show clearly what you’re offering. Make it easy to navigate, have clear CTA and work on your loading speed. 53% of people leave if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, so make it fast!

It’s also good practice to conduct site audits and check SEO performance. (We’ve written more about that here if you’re after a refresher on SEO optimization.) While you’re deep-diving into your website, test your interface. Ask someone who isn’t familiar with the site to find a certain page/piece of information (such as contacts or FAQs) and see how easy it is to navigate. This is especially important if you built the website; what makes sense to you might not to someone else and could affect your bounce rate.

5. Content Marketing & SEO

SEO, so important it made the list twice!

Content marketing is a great way to attract and build trust with your audience. It’s also hugely beneficial to SEO, helping make you more discoverable in organic search results. It’s a win-win and stays firmly on the list of marketing channels for 2021.

Content marketing involves creating and distributing quality, valuable content to attract and engage your target audience. It’s an effective way of demonstrating authority and expertise in your industry and helps to reach customers at different stages of your conversion funnel. It’s also another way of ensuring you’re making the most of your keywords.

Quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to content marketing. While you need to ensure you are consistently producing content to stay relevant and boost SEO (those bots need something new to crawl!), that content needs to be high quality and add value to your audience.

‘Evergreen posts’, or content that remains relevant, should form the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy. Examples include checklists, top-tips, how-to guides, case studies, resources and glossaries.

Best practices

  • Use keyword research and audience data to influence topics for content.
  • Make content actionable, include in-text CTAs and add social media links if appropriate.
  • Consider both visual and text versions to appeal to different sections of your target audience.
  • Actively distribute content across multiple channels using social media, sharing buttons, backlinks and guest posts. Publishing and hoping for the best is not a content marketing strategy!

6. Word of Mouth Marketing

One of the oldest forms of marketing, this channel still plays an important role in 2021. Originally an in-person conversation, word-of-mouth marketing has moved online but the premise remains the same. Family and friends’ recommendations are more reliable than a salesman paid to promote a product/service.

There are two main ways to encourage word of mouth marketing (aside from having a product so good that people can’t help but talk about it!):

  1. Referral programmes – Loyalty programmes that reward customers for purchases are a great way of generating repeat business. Offering incentives for referrals as part of this programme is an easy and cost-effective way of getting reliable recommendations. Possible incentives include money off or bonus loyalty points when someone they refer makes a purchase. In the example below both the referer and the referee get an incentive – who doesn’t want free money?
  1. Ask customers directly – Reach out to customers after a purchase and ask them to leave a review. This can include an incentive, such as entry into a prize draw or just a reminder that they haven’t left a review yet. Either way, make it easy by including a link straight to the review page or make it possible to do it without leaving the email, as with the Sportchek example below.
marketing channel: word of mouth 
sportchek email asking for reviews

7. Podcasts

Podcasts are fast becoming one of the marketing channels to watch in 2021. Comparatively new as far as other marketing channels go, Businesses are increasingly looking to podcasts to help get their name out there. And they’re not just advertising on them, no, they’re starting their own.

Everyone from fitness brands to toothpaste companies are doing it. While they’re not necessarily suitable for every brand, there is a lot of room for creativity and thinking outside of your niche if you can come up with something interesting to say.

For instance, the toothpaste podcast mentioned above is created by Zendium. Instead of hour-long episodes debating the pros and cons of fluoride they’ve come up with the concept ‘2 minutes of Zen’. Each episode contains quick and easy wellness hacks brought to you by leading experts, all designed to be achieved in the time it takes to brush your teeth – genius!

37% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly which is roughly 104 million people. If you’re not ready to commit to your own podcast yet then consider guest appearances on popular podcasts relating to your industry instead.

2021 promises to be a year full of marketing opportunities. If you need help making the most of your marketing efforts this year, why not get in touch with us for a free consultation?

Master the art of Facebook ads

Download our 54-page Facebook ads manifesto and learn how to target, retarget, optimize and create the best ads for your business.

Ready to get your proposal?

It's free and it's easy. Two things everyone likes.

Deep dive research

Keywords, PPC research, performance, traffic and more...

Custom growth plan

Inbound marketing, design plans, A/B tests, CRO ideas...

What we charge

Our fee in relation to your ad spend and your ROI.

Share article

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

Get your free marketing plan

Deep-dive research

Keywords, PPC research, performance, traffic and more...

Custom growth plan

Inbound marketing, design plans, A/B tests, CRO ideas...

Your custom pricing

Our fee in relation to your ad spend and your ROI.

The best IG ads of the month

Directly in your inbox

We send you, once a month, the best Facebook and Instagram ads we’ve found with explanations as to why they’re working. The best inspiration there is.