“Change is the only constant.” You’ve probably heard that saying before, and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to the digital landscape. This is more prevalent than ever in our post(ish) COVID world. The shift to eCommerce has accelerated — eMarketer reports that 71% of consumers are planning to do more than half their holiday shopping online this year. Consider that when you hear that nearly 7.4 million new digital buyers are expected in 2020 due to the pandemic.
With the influx of potential customers and increase in competition, brands and retailers have no choice but to make changes to get ahead. Successful brands will be those that can meet their customers where they are and guide them through the customer journey from start to finish — and those that understand that it is not a “one-stop-shop” will be the ones who come out on top.
In this article you’ll learn why if you haven’t diversified beyond your existing channels yet, you could be left in the proverbial dust.
Why you need to diversify
What’s at stake?
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
While I apologize if I just made you hungry, the statement still stands. Relying on just one channel — even a channel that’s performing well — can have serious consequences. Not only do you miss out on a lot of opportunity, if something goes wrong, your eggs could be scrambled. (forgive me)
If you drive the majority of your business via Facebook ads, and for some reason your ads shut off, do you have another revenue driving source until you can rectify the issue? Reduce your risk by eliminating your dependency on one channel.
What works today might not work tomorrow
In today’s digital age, marketers have to constantly be up to date with various trends and policies that can have a great impact on their marketing strategy. A major blow came in 2015 as a result of the Cambridge Analytica / Facebook scandal. After a trial before congress stemming from the misuse of data from millions of Facebook users, marketers had to adjust to the new Partner Categories as well as a ton of user behavioral data being purged from Facebook’s ads platform. Valuable data such as where consumers shop and ad origins are no longer available to marketers.
In the last 2 years alone, advertisers have had to adapt compliance to GDPR and more recently CCPA guidelines. While the meat of these guidelines are quite heavy, the direct impact to marketers meant that you now had to get explicit permission from customers to collect user’s data. This meant stricter rules around every-day marketing activities like email and SMS opt-ins.
Most recently California voted in new data privacy regulations that could affect Facebook, Google, and other ad platforms. The new rules see California inching closer to rules mirroring the European Union’s GDPR.
Unforeseen changes can lead to disaster
We’ve seen it first hand this year. Q2 2020 saw brands scrambling to reassess their budget allocations, strategies, and platforms due to the pandemic. Brands that had already diversified would find that they could better pivot in this time of crisis. They had more options to reallocate budgets and shift strategies.
In the world of online marketing, it’s a risk for a business to rely too much on a specific channel. In some cases, new laws or technology shifts can dramatically impact the mediums that certain channels depend on. We may be seeing another upcoming shift as we have to shift to a cookie-less world of advertising.
In some cases, a platform can change how they operate. We saw this with Facebook’s algorithm favoring paid content — a blow to small brands using the social media giant for organic growth.
In other cases a platform can completely shut down or (we won’t hold judgement) your brand may be kicked off a platform for one reason or another. Either way, if that platform was your main revenue stream, you’d be in for a rude awakening.
Diversifying your channels gives you an edge
Obviously, there’s a great risk factor in relying on one (or few) channels. But aside from mitigating risk in the event something goes wrong, there are also several additional benefits that branching outward can have.
- It allows your brand to have a greater reach, making your products easier to find. Getting exposure from many different angles helps you meet your customers where they’re looking. Besides, discovery doesn’t happen on your website.
- It allows you to educate your customers. It takes anywhere between 5-8 touchpoints to generate a sale. You should be taking every opportunity to reach them, from display, to email, to social, and beyond. This also lets you engage current customers while attracting new ones.
- You can disperse from your competition. From mega corporations to small businesses, nearly every marketer is probably using Facebook or Google. Your competitors are using Facebook or Google. Diversifying allows you to go where your competitors aren’t.
- You may find success from unexpected channels. The adage “you never know unless you try” is applicable — the discipline is testing on a micro level before putting full force behind new channels. New sources may surprise you.
- You gain useful data and insights you may not have previously had. One of the more overlooked aspects of diversification is learning more about your customers and where & how they shop. This information can then be applied to your other marketing channels.
How to choose your channels
How many channels should you be using?
In a perfect world, the phrase “the more the merrier” comes to mind. However, the answer is a bit more nuanced than that.
How many channels you’re using will depend on a couple of factors: what your budget looks like and how many resources you have to manage the channels.
You should be looking at maintaining between 6-12 active marketing channels. This will of course depend on the factors mentioned above, but this wide-spread diversification will allow you to greatly mitigate your risk and cast a wide net across all stages of your funnel.
Think of it this way: If you’re running 3 different channels — we’ll assume all are pulling equal weight — and even just one of those channels were to encounter a problem, you’re now faced with a huge problem. Your ability to generate sales and leads has dropped significantly.
If you had even doubled the channels you were using, you wouldn’t feel as big of an impact and would be better set up to rectify the situation.
What channels are available?
There are many channels at your disposal — with more and more added every year — and some will work better for your particular needs than others.
We’re all familiar with Facebook, Google, email, sms, chat, and more. But if we take a step back there are countless options available to marketers to explore. There are quite simply too many channels to list for this blog, however Spectrio has created this infographic that lays out 51 different types of marketing channels you could be using.
Some brands rely solely on organic reach and word of mouth. Others employ a mix of paid social media, display, and a marketplace. You may find that you reach your target market by going live on Youtube or perhaps you're building your brand on TikTok.
The point is there are many different types of channels to choose from, and even more platforms to choose from.
Where do you start?
After seeing the sea of available channels, it can be overwhelming to decide where you should start. How do you know which channels you should test? Luckily you probably have a good foundation on which to base that decision.
Ask yourself this: who are my target customers and where are they searching?
At the end of the day it’s not about the channel, it’s about where your customers are on their buying journey and meeting them there. Going to your customers rather than asking them to find you will lead to a much more seamless customer experience.
Once you’ve taken into account your brand and audience, you can begin eliminating platforms that you don’t think your target audience is at. For example, if you know your target audience isn’t social media savvy but love reading blogs, perhaps it’s a mix of guest blogs and display.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices you want to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the consumer journey make sense?
- How do the platforms work together?
- How do the platforms speak to each other?
- How would you integrate into your existing stack?
How do you test for success?
Now that you’ve selected your channels, you want to make sure it’s accomplishing the goal you set out to attain. Much like the channels in your current stack you should always test and measure.
There will always be a learning curve as you expand. Perhaps you will learn something about the customer journey and need to make adjustments. If something isn’t particularly working you can make adjustments. Just as you would test elements of your own website or creative, test and measure in small quantities.
Maximize what’s working for you. If you find success in the additional channel and it’s working well within your margins, add a bit more fuel to the fire.
Conversely, if you’ve tested multiple aspects and aren’t seeing the results, you can scrap the platform. As we know there are many options waiting for you.
As eCommerce becomes more and more prevalent it’s imperative that you diversify your channels. If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, is that anything can happen. To be prepared you have to have a contingency plan — in this case other channels to fall back on in the event something goes wrong.
Choose your channels based on user experience. Don’t make your audience find you, go where they already are (or use machine learning to help you). Make the process easy for them and you’ll be thankful you did.
This magical platform formula will be different for every brand, so it’s important to test various angles. Sometimes a new platform can unlock an audience you never knew you had.
For those who are new to Klickly, we are an invite-only 100% commission-based advertising platform that allows eCommerce merchants to lock in their returns by choosing their own commission. Klickly, then, advertises your products across 25Million+ premium online destinations (like the open web, apps, games, etc) only charging when we help make a sale.