What Are the Digital Channels?

If you have not ventured into digital marketing yet, here is a summary of the digital channels available as categorized by Google. Their primary function is to drive traffic to your website or online products:

1. Organic Search

This is when someone enters a set of words or voice prompts into a search engine and consequently gets directed to online content. When one visits that content, it is considered organic traffic. The site owner does not have to pay a fee to the search engine company for this traffic.

For organic traffic to materialize, much valuable and relevant content creation and search engine optimization (SEO) work need to take place. This often takes months if not years to materialize. So organic traffic may not be the short term solution that you are seeking while your clients are in lockdown mode.

2. Direct

These are users directly visiting your site. For instance, when I want to buy a computer, I go to dell.com or Microsoft.com. When I want to buy a smartphone, I go directly to apple.com. I don’t do a search, I simply type the web address in my browser, or click on a bookmark that I have saved there. This is considered direct traffic.

Direct traffic is a function of brand building for your company, products or services. Brand building of your website takes time to accomplish. It is however never too late to start, particularly if you already built a recognized brand.

3. Social

Social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. When people are checking their social media pages, they may see a posting about your company, product, or service with a Learn More link. When they click on it, it will take them to your website. This traffic is tagged as social traffic.

Social traffic is not hard to build, but it requires the creation of frequent relevant and engaging content. If your business has a good client base that loves your product, you can stay in touch with them on social media by reminding them of your product’s value and engaging them with attractive content or offers.

4. Email

This is the traffic generated by your outbound email campaigns and email interactions. Someone for instance sees a link embedded in the email, clicks on it, and it takes them to your website. That is considered email traffic.

With more people confined to their homes, they are more likely to read their emails. Email traffic is the least costly and can be very effective when done correctly. Leverage your email list as much as you can during this lockdown. But be sensitive to the current situation.

5. Referral

This is referred traffic from one website to another. It is akin to word-of-mouth, but between websites. When backlinks and citations are present on others’ sites back to your site, they will generate traffic flow to your site.

Link building is the most ignored digital channel, yet one of the most important ones. Backlinks are critically important due not only to the traffic they generate, but the authority they create for your site.

You can use your downtime to affect the authority of your website by proactively pursuing backlinks from relevant high authority websites to yours. This is PR work that can generate huge dividends for you during and after the lockdown.

6. Paid Search

This includes banner ads, Pay Per Click, social media posts boosts, GeoMarketing, GeoFencing, etc. Unlike organic traffic, they require you to pay for each ad, each display, each visit or each conversion.

While GeoMarketing and GeoFencing should take a backseat during this lockdown, you should consider investing the bulk of your marketing dollars in paid advertising. It is the fastest and easiest, yet costly, way to direct traffic to your website and products.

7. Other channels include affiliate programs and third-party resellers like Groupon, Rakuten, Amazon, eBay and Etsy

Consider adding online affiliates to promote your products and services. You will have to give up a percentage on each sale that comes through these channels. But that may be better than paying upfront for ads when your cash flow is dwindling.

Also, if you are having difficulties directing traffic to your website, why not sell your products through the sites that garner most of the traffic? The top 3 online resellers are Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

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