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18 Marketing Channels: Types & Examples To Help You Choose Yours

Published November 13, 2020
/ Updated February 26, 2024

Looking for a marketing channels list to determine which channels to use for your business? We’ve got a list of 18 marketing channels you can try today.

What Is A Marketing Channel?

Marketing Channel

A marketing channel is an outlet or platform through which businesses connect and communicate with their target audience. Marketing channels include online and offline, as well as free and paid platforms. Marketers often share messages and content through marketing channels with the goal of introducing ideal target audiences to product or service offerings and influencing profitable customer action.

For example, a marketing channel is a target audience member’s email inbox. Marketers may leverage this channel for pay-per-click (PPC) marketing tactics, referral marketing tactics, event marketing tactics, and more.

Similarly, a social media network such as Facebook is a marketing channel. Marketers may leverage Facebook for live streaming marketing tactics, co-branding and partnership marketing tactics, content curation marketing tactics, and more.

Marketing Channels Vs. Strategies Vs. Tactics Vs. Content

A marketing strategy is the highest-level, big-picture vision that ensures all marketing activities align with strategic business objectives.

A marketing team may leverage a variety of different types of marketing, many of which may require strategies led by specialized marketing strategists who need to take advantage of best practices and opportunities that are unique to their specialization areas.

Marketing tactics are the activities marketers leverage to promote their brands, products, and services. Tactics aren’t specific to a single type of content or marketing channel—rather, these are concepts that may unify campaigns.

Marketing channels are the avenues through which brands deliver messages to (and communicate with) their target audiences. Those messages may be delivered through different types of content or collateral.

Marketing Strategy by category

For example, a business may have an SEO marketing strategy that takes advantage of marketing tactics such as:

  1. Topic clusters
  2. Semantic website structure

A topic cluster marketing tactic may leverage content types such as:

  1. Blog posts
  2. Web pages

A semantic website structure marketing tactic may take advantage of content types such as:

  1. Hub knowledge base pages
  2. Ultimate guide pages

Marketing channels to communicate the messages from the content included in both of these SEO marketing tactics could be:

  1. The blog as a platform (the sum of all of its parts)
  2. Microsites as platforms (separated, specialized entities for specific SEO content)
  3. Search engine results pages (SERPs) as outlets that curate and rank your content for your target audience to discover

Marketing channels are your delivery mechanism through which your target audience discovers your brand messages. The best marketing channels are typically the ones your target audience uses most frequently.

What Are Marketing Channel Strategies?

A specialized marketing strategy may focus on a type of marketing or a marketing channel.

For example, you may hear marketers refer to a digital marketing strategy, which would leverage many digital marketing channels including website, email, and social media.

However, some companies find value in marketing channel strategies where each channel has its own approach—a website strategy, email marketing strategy, and social media strategy.

Either approach can work well as long as all marketing activities align with the big-picture vision set forth in a unified marketing strategy.

You have several options to choose from when creating a marketing channel. Ideally, choose your marketing channels based on where your target audience spends their time the most.

Types of Marketing Channels

1. Free Marketing Channels

Marketing channels that are free to use fall into this category.

If you plan and execute a marketing strategy using a free channel, you’ll invest in nothing more than time. If you hire professionals to help with the marketing, you’ll be investing more resources such as cash in free marketing channels.

Free marketing channels include social media apps like LinkedIn, Q&A platforms like Quora, and websites like Product Hunt.

For example, look at this Product Hunt launch of Harry Dry’s website, MarketingExamples.com. Product Hunt’s platform allows businesses like his to advertise their products and services for free and helps them gain a customer base with honest reviews and votes.

2. Paid Marketing Channels

As the name indicates, marketing platforms that you pay to access or use for marketing your business fall into this marketing channel.

Examples can include paid ads, commercials, and influencer marketing. Remember that certain marketing channels can be free and paid by nature. For instance, where Twitter is free to use, Twitter ads are paid. Check out this promoted post from Bridgecrew on Twitter as an example of how you can utilize paid ads.

3. Digital Marketing Channels

Any marketing done online is known as digital marketing.

Some leading marketing channels that fall under digital marketing are social media, organic search (SEO), paid search, blogs, emails, and video marketing.

The Australian beauty brand, Frank Body, is a great example of digital marketing.

Frank Body gained traction using Facebook and Instagram with a starting budget of less than $10,000.

The founders created a cheeky brand persona that resonated with their audience, grew their presence on social media, and then leveraged user-generated (UGC) content to fuel further growth on the same marketing channels.

In two years, Frank Body made $20 million utilizing and leveraging their digital channels.

4. Traditional Marketing Channels

Any marketing that you don’t conduct online is traditional marketing.

Traditional marketing channels include direct mail, broadcast, print, and outdoor advertising such as billboards.

Traditional marketing helps you connect with a diverse, local audience. It also gives you more control of your marketing message and helps you better get your audience’s attention as digital marketing channels become crowded. In fact, marketers are predicting a growth in traditional marketing is just around the corner.

Here’s a clever marketing move from Netflix for the launch of their popular show, Stranger Things’ fourth season:


Marketing Channel Examples

5. Website and Blog

A website is your business’s digital home on the internet. On the other hand, a blog is a regular publication on a site that brands can use strategically to educate or update their target audience.

1 in 5 bloggers says blogging helps drive “strong results” for them. These include more traffic to their business, lead nurturing, and conversion.

For instance, Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko, used blogging to grow organic traffic. He used the skyscraper technique to create comprehensive blog content that grew his traffic and got him backlinks.

6. Email Marketing

Another of the most effective marketing channels is email. Email is used by 4.3 billion people worldwide — about half the world population.

Use this channel to educate, nurture, and maintain relationships on your email list. You can include a call to action, provide helpful tips, or update subscribers on developments in your business, among other actionable items.

Take it from Pioneer: they share members-only discount codes with their email list while also getting them excited about upcoming product launches.

7. Content Marketing

Content marketing involves creating and distributing original content on the marketing channels a business’s target audience uses.

97% of the 1,500 respondents SEMrush surveyed shared that they use content marketing as part of their marketing, with 72% agreeing they plan to increase their content marketing budget.

Masterclass is an excellent example of using content marketing to grow. It drives 6.7 million monthly unique visitors from organic search. In the first 4 months of its launch, it also sold 30,000 course sign-ups — all thanks to producing high-quality, actionable content.

8. Social Media Marketing

Adults spend 95 minutes daily on social media, making it another effective marketing channel to engage with your target audience.

You can also leverage social media for building a community of brand advocates and for social selling.

Chewy, for instance, uses Instagram to connect with its target audience of pet lovers. Instead of taking a “salesy” approach, the pet food retailer leads by educating.

Here’s an example of a live Q&A session they hosted with an expert to answer their audience’s questions.

9. Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing is growing through referrals or recommendations from your customers and others.

Offering an incentive or doing something outstanding (think: providing excellent customer service) are some ways to grow through this marketing channel. And it works wonders because 90% of people take recommendations from their friends — even trusting strangers over advertisements.

Dropbox saw a 3,900% growth in 15 months with its referral program that gave referrers 32 GB of free storage space when they invited friends to use Dropbox.

You can also generate word of mouth by offering something smaller, like James Clear’s offer of a PDF in exchange for newsletter referrals.

10. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves pairing up with influencers or creators your target audience already trusts to market your product/service.

89% of marketers using influencer marketing say its ROI is comparable to or better than other marketing channels.

For ButcherBox, for example, influencer marketing helped the Boston-based meat subscription service get on its target audience’s radar. Initially, health influencer Chris Kresser tweeted about the business, leading to many sign-ups. The founder, Mike Salguero, then paired with food and health bloggers to reach more of his audience.

11. SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is another one of the leading marketing channels to try. It involves getting your site to rank in search (Google) to get in front of your target audience.

But why bother? Because searchers used Google 89 billion times in the last month alone — giving ranking businesses a golden marketing opportunity to get in front of them.

Living Cozy founder Ash Read tweeted about his business reaching a significant milestone, hitting over 2 million all-time pageviews.

12. Networking

Networking is connecting with different people in your industry and beyond.

You can always build genuine relationships by attending networking events such as conferences or connecting with people online via social media.

Although not very measurable, networking delivers several benefits. For example, it helps you forge business partnerships, collaborate with creators, and get in front of your target audience (particularly in the B2B industry).

The American Marketing Association, for example, holds conferences, webinars, and free training for their members. These opportunities allow members to learn from other marketing professionals and create valuable connections with people in their field.

13. Events

Hosting, participating, and attending online, in-person, and hybrid events come with its benefits.

For example, hosting events helps with brand awareness, lead generation, audience engagement, and networking. 52% of marketers think that investment in in-person events will increase in the coming future. To add, 68% of B2B marketers agree that live events help them generate the most leads.

Don’t have a big budget to dedicate to hosting an in-person event? Host virtual events. For example, host webinars as Clearscope does.

14. Podcasts

Podcasts use audio as a marketing channel to reach a business’s target audience.

In each episode, you can either share your expertise on a specific topic (think: personal branding) or invite and interview other expert guests.

Either way, podcasts help position you as an authority in your industry. They are also an effective channel to grow brand awareness and drive leads to your business. Moreover, you can easily repurpose podcast episodes into other content formats.

A shining example of using podcasting for building authority is Michael Stelzner, who started the Social Media Marketing podcast to get in front of his audience.

Stelzner wanted to increase awareness of the Social Media Marketing World Summit and gain higher attendance. Thanks to their podcast, Stelzner was able to attract 1,100 attendees to their conference in only a few short months.

15. Community-Based Marketing

Community-based marketing involves building solid relationships with your target audience by offering extensive value.

Community-based marketing helps grow both brand awareness and brand advocacy. And it works because modern-day buyers with many choices to pick from want to connect with brands dedicated to their success.

Put another way, community-based marketing ditches the “salesy” approach in favor of a give-first approach.

Look at how Glow Recipe has successfully used this marketing channel. The brand’s website offers audience-relevant, helpful content such as tutorial videos, product recommendation quizzes, and more that make skincare fun.

The skincare store also created a Glowipedia on their site that educates its audience on how to achieve the look they want. To top it all, the brand supports its community of empowered women with its Boss Babes interview series. In it, they feature female entrepreneurs’ success stories.

16. Online Advertising

Also known as web advertising, this market channel uses the internet to promote products/services using online ads.

In the US alone, digital ad spend stands at $143 billion, with the average ROI of Google ads being $2 in revenue for every $1 spent.

You can run ads on Google (PPC ads) and social media channels (social media ads), including YouTube. Grammarly, for example, uses this tactic with short and targeted YouTube ads:

17. Video Marketing

As its name suggests, video marketing uses video to reach a target audience. These could be educational videos, review videos, or videos made for entertainment.

Wyzowl conducted a survey to learn how marketers and consumers utilize video in 2022.

  • 92% of marketers already use this marketing channel by sharing videos on social media, their website, or their own YouTube or OTT channel.
  • 94% of marketers say video has helped them grow their audience’s understanding of their product or service.
  • 81% have driven direct sales from video marketing.

Take it from Tuft & Needle, a mattress company that grew its business on the back of video marketing. The founders started with videos comparing their authentic experience with the traditional mattress industry’s gimmicks.

They also used video ads, videos sharing their brand story, and social proof-packed videos.

18. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing uses affiliates or partners to market your business.

Essentially, it’s using affiliates’ already established marketing channels to get your product/service to your audience. 84% of publishers, therefore, run an affiliate program to collaborate.

The best part? You can use this marketing channel for all stages of your buyer’s journey. According to the same survey, 83% of marketers, for example, use affiliate marketing in the awareness stage, and 79% use it for conversion.

Take a look at the affiliate application page from BigCommerce. They promise an enticing commission for their affiliates, encouraging them to sign up and promote BigCommerce on their channels.

Marketing Channel FAQs

What Are The 4 Types Of Marketing Channels?

Broadly, the four main types of marketing channels are paid, free, digital, and traditional channels. Several marketing channels, including social media, influencers, and paid ads, fall under these main marketing channels.

What Is Meant By Marketing Channels?

A marketing channel is any platform or medium that helps you reach your target audience. Both digital and traditional marketing channels can help you get your business in front of your ideal customers.

What Is The Best Marketing Channel?

The best marketing channel is the one that your target audience uses. Identify it by researching who your audience is and where they spend their time. You can also look through online marketing channels’ demographic breakdown.

What Is The Purpose Of A Marketing Channel?

A marketing channel’s purpose is to help connect a business selling products/services and consumers looking to buy products/services. Avoiding a “salesy” approach to convert prospective buyers to customers is preferable.

Why Are Marketing Channels Important?

Marketing channels are important because they give businesses a way to market and sell to their target audience. At the same time, marketing channels help consumers find and buy the right products or services they need.