7 Marketing Channels to Focus On In 2021

Even though Field of Dreams is one of my favorite movies, the saying “If you build it, they will come” sadly doesn’t apply to content marketing. Too often, we forget that content marketing consists of two separate words — content and marketing. Creating content is usually the most fulfilling and enjoyable part of a marketer’s job but, distributing that content is just as important.

After all, if no one sees your content, they definitely won’t come. 

This is why it’s important to understand marketing channels and which ones you should use to leverage your content marketing goals. In short, marketing channels are the different tools and platforms you use to communicate with your target audience. While the decision to use specific channels should come from your audience insights, it’s essential to understand different channels’ value. 

In this post, we’ll discuss different marketing channels to consider using that will amplify your reach, resonance, and revenue, all while prioritizing what matters most: your customers.

Download Now: Free Marketing Plan Template

1. Word of Mouth Marketing

70% of consumers say that trusting a brand is more important today than ever before. Unfortunately, consumers also trust brands and the paid content they create less than ever before. So, what’s a marketer to do when the very people they need to persuade don’t trust them? They need to rely on their customers’ recommendations of their brand to inspire other customers to make purchases, also known as word-of-mouth marketing

People trust other consumers over marketers because marketers have an agenda. They promote their products and services to generate sales, but customers will only rave about a product or service if it truly benefits them. If you’re skeptical, consider the following research findings: 

  • Consumers report that a person like themselves (another consumer) is 14% more credible than a brand employee.
  • 39% of consumers build trust in a brand from peer-to-peer conversations than 23% from a brand’s paid advertising. 
  • 9 out of 10 consumers read reviews when making purchasing decisions. 

Word-of-mouth marketing doesn’t just have to be a face-to-face conversation, though. Satisfied customers will post about you online, tell their roommates they like your service, and leave positive reviews on your product pages. Only one of those examples involves an actual, in-person conversation, but they all include consumers vouching for your brands’ credibility and authenticity to inspire others to purchase your products. 

You can encourage this type of marketing by creating a customer experience that meets your audience’s needs and providing top-notch customer service. In other words, you need to serve your customers’ needs before your own.

2. Podcast Marketing

55% of the U.S. population aged 12 and above listened to podcasts, and 37% listened in the last month for an average of six hours per week. The demand for audio content has exploded, so it’s worth considering podcasts to meet your audience where they already are. 

Featured Resource: How To Start a Podcast For Your Business

Not only is demand high, but podcasts and their hosts can help you develop a unique relationship with your audience as episodes feel conversational and share a more human side of your business.

Podcasts also create more opportunities for interaction, as customers aren’t restricted to listening while staring at their phone screen. For example, your ideal listener can play an episode in their car during their morning commute, while walking their dog, and while they’re cleaning their house. 

According to researchers in the neuroscience field , storytelling is one of the best ways to capture attention and resonate with consumer emotions. The human brain is programmed to crave, seek out, and respond to a well-crafted narrative — that’ll never change.

3. Email Marketing

Wasn’t email supposed to die this year? And last year? And the year before that? As much as marketing gurus claim the final nail of email’s coffin is forthcoming, the data says otherwise. 91% of American internet users in 2019 used email, and Statista predicts that global email usage will grow to 4.48 billion users in 2024, a 580 million increase from 2018. 

Encouraging users to subscribe to your online publications is a great way to keep them up-to-date with your latest news and stories. And, since it takes an average of six to eight touchpoints to generate a qualified sales lead , encouraging people to subscribe to your emails will generate more leads and revenue for your business. 

While you may only associate email marketing with newsletters, you can use it to send personalized communications to your target audience, promote time-relevant content like product launches and sales, and nurture leads . Also, email is an owned media channel — nobody is dictating when, how, and why you can contact your prospects (but keep in mind that customers will unsubscribe from oversaturation). 

Featured Resource: Email Marketing Planning Template

4. Social Media Marketing

3.6 billion people worldwide were using social media in 2020, and Statista predicts this number will grow to 4.41 billion in 2025. So, chances are, your customers are already on social media, meaning that it is an essential channel for your marketing efforts. 

Consumers report using social media to escape everyday life, entertain themselves, connect with friends, and interact with the businesses they enjoy. Marketers use social media to generate brand awareness, foster relationships with their audiences and advertise their products. 

A large number of social media platforms may make it a daunting channel to leverage. Still, the beneficial aspect of social media is that each platform offers different, unique audiences ready and able to interact with your content. 

As mentioned above, these users also use social media for various purposes that likely align with your marketing goals, like researching brands and products of interest . Granted, using many of the platforms requires a significant amount of daily effort, but it will undoubtedly pay off: 

All in all, if you take the time to create a social media strategy that is tailored to each of the platforms you use, you’ll likely find success on the channel and meet your audience where they are. 

Featured Resource: Social Media Marketing Course

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Marketing

Search engines are arguably the best marketing channel for acquiring attention. In fact, search engines are the primary source of discovery for new products and services among all internet users . This has big implications for businesses using the channel for advertising, especially since people make 89,144 searches on Google per second. 

Search engines are also one of the highest converting marketing channels . Since people actively search for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems on Google, they’re likely to download your offer or sign up for a free trial if you can provide them with what they’re looking for. 

This means that optimizing all of your business’ existing channels will likely bring traffic and increase conversions. While a website may be your first thought when optimizing for SEO, this also applies to your YouTube channel , Google Maps Google My Business profile, your blog , and even your podcast episodes

To build a thriving organic presence online, consider implementing the pillar-cluster model into your blog. Using this strategy, you’ll create a single pillar page that provides a high-level overview of a topic and hyperlinks to cluster pages that delve into the topic’s subtopics. This signals to Google that your pillar page is an authority on the topic.

Hyperlinking all of the cluster pages to the pillar page also spreads domain authority across the cluster, so your cluster pages get an organic boost if your pillar page ranks higher, and your cluster pages can even help your pillar page rank higher if they start ranking for the specific keyword they’re targeting.


6. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is when a business partners with a relevant, popular creator in their industry to put out advertisements or specific pieces of content. It’s a valuable marketing channel, and 71% of marketers say that the quality of traffic generated from influencer marketing is better than other ad formats

Leveraging influencers to meet your marketing goals can be beneficial in terms of generating brand awareness , as well as increasing social proof

As mentioned before, consumers are trusting marketers less and less, and they shy away from sales-to-drive leads type content. They trust influencers more, as they view them as a person like themselves, especially when they share common interests. The content that influencers create is a form of user-generated content , a.k.a word-of-mouth marketing. 

In addition, 93% of marketers are already using influencer marketing. Your competitors are already sharing this high-trust and high-return content with their audiences, and you should be too. An added bonus is the return on investment (ROI) for influencer marketing, with every one dollar spent totaling $5.78 ROI.  

Featured Resource: The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing

7. Video Marketing

If you’ve yet to consider using video marketing , now is the time to do so. Video can boost conversions, improve ROI, and help you build relationships with audience members. In addition, 69% of consumers prefer to learn about what a brand offers through video. 

Video is also a non-restrictive form of content advertising. On some channels, you may only be able to incorporate text, some only allow for images, and others prioritize audio, but video can be all three. You can also create product advertisement videos, how-to demonstration videos, or even live videos to answer customer questions and troubleshoot customer questions. 

The videos you create can be repurposed for various channels you may already use, like social media and email . In a sense, you’re creating video content for one channel and repurposing it to meet the needs of your other channels.  

Featured Resource: The Ultimate Video Marketing Starter Pack

Consider Using a Multi-Channel Approach

Different marketing channels bring various benefits, but most businesses can find a way to use different channels in their marketing strategies to meet business goals. 

After all, your audience is likely diverse and spread out, so using different channels creates multiple points of contact which, in turn, nurture leads and increases conversions.


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AI IN CONTENT MARKETING: How leading marketers are taking advantage of AI to accelerate content generation, better understand content performance, and refine content promotion

Summary List Placement
This is a preview of the Business Insider Intelligence AI in Content Marketing premium research report. Purchase this report here

In the last decade, marketers have embraced the value of creating and distributing content to different audiences asa means of driving engagement, building authority in an industry, and guiding consumers through the purchasing process. Whether it be through blog posts, case studies, or ebooks, content marketing is now a core part of most modern digital strategies.

Advancements in subdivisions of AI, like natural language processing, have fostered the creation of a range of AI-powered content tools. For marketers, AI presents a new opportunity to accelerate and optimize the creation of written content.
AI tools can transform the entire production process to help marketing teams make data-driven decisions about what to write, who to write for, and how to reach readers in the most efficient way possible.
In the AI In Content Marketing report, Business Insider Intelligence examines the current and potential role AI can play in enhancing an organization’s content marketing efforts.
We examine why content marketers struggle with planning and producing a high volume of written content and dive into how AI-based tools can enhance topic research, generate prewritten outlines, and maintain consistency across the content production process. We also discuss the issues marketers face in content performance and examine how AI tools can optimize content for search and social and personalize the content distribution process for different audiences.
The companies mentioned in this report include: Acrolinx, Atomic Reach, Automated Insights, AX Semantics, Brightedge, BuzzSumo, Concured, Curata, Frase.io, HubSpot, Keywee, MarketMuse, Narrative Science, Publishthis, Qordoba, Scoop.it, Showpad, Stackla, Uberflip, Vennli, Yello, Yseops.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:

AI can assist with the planning stage of content production using tools that dynamically cluster relevant content topics to help marketers identify actionable opportunities.
The tech can help marketers maintain a consistent tone and writing style, both over time and across departments.
AI tools can help scale content production by providing machine-written outlines or content briefs to accelerate the writing process.
These tools can also help marketers navigate changes in search engines and social media algorithms to ensure the regular creation of rankable, quality content.
AI tools can assist marketers in aggregating, filtering, and adapting content from various third-party sources to automate quality content curation.
AI tools can analyze large quantities of audience data to help marketers recommend content at every stage of the purchasing process. 

In full, the report:

Helps marketers evaluate if and how they should approach pursuing AI for their content marketing efforts.
Identifies opportunities and applications for AI-based tools at each stage of the content marketing process — from production to distribution to measurement — and explains the value such tools can provide.
Enables marketers to assess the current ecosystem of AI-based content tech vendors for each potential AI application within content marketing.

Interested in getting the full report? Here’s how to get access:

Business Insider Intelligence analyzes the media and marketing industry and provides in-depth analyst reports, proprietary forecasts, customizable charts, and more. > > Check if your company has BII Enterprise membership access to the full report
Purchase & download the full report from our research store. > > Purchase & Download Now
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