Prioritizing Channels

The Importance of Prioritizing Marketing Channels 

With the expanse of channel opportunities available, most of us know of the importance of zeroing in on our most scalable options and resourcing efficiently against our strongest channels.

The level of effort to stand up with a brand new channel is non-trivial, and overnight successes with exploratory or developing channels are rare. More common, though, will be early signals of promise that with significant iteration and optimization, the channel will someday be ROI-positive.

Even after becoming ROI-positive, most channels will need some degree of ongoing optimization, care, & feeding before they become a meaningful revenue contributor.

Start with the Operational Implications

It’s helpful if the the operating mindset for prioritizing marketing channels mirrors that of creating a product roadmap. Three key inputs to creating a performance marketing roadmap are:

  • Level of Effort
  • Expected Impact
  • Availability of Needed Resources

A critical difference between launching a site and launching channels is channel maintenance. Unlike a website launch, few channels are “set it and forget it” and most require ongoing attention and optimization.

3 Methods for Prioritizing

1. Look for Quick Wins

Look for quick wins: or channels with the lowest Level of Effort (“LOE”) and financial risk, but at least moderate impact. For instance, affiliates and incentivized referral programs have the following characteristics:

  1. Tech infrastructure, as well as on-going management, & can be outsourced.
  2. Some exec/senior attention needed to launch but overall LOE is relatively low.
  3. Impact will be moderate/non-game-changing. At full maturity, best case is likely mid to high single digit percentage of revenue.
  4. Often worth doing but keep expectations low and consider opportunity cost.

2. Focus on Big Channels

Focus on the big channels: Established channels with significant volume can return results and patterns quickly.  For instance, Search Marketing (SEO, Paid Search & Paid Social)

  • Google and Facebook account for ~80% of online ad spend.
  • Few online businesses are built that don’t tap into at least one of these platforms.

Each offers advantages and disadvantages and almost always entail extreme focus to be successful.

3. Be Ruthless with the Smaller Channels

Strategically select – and then ruthlessly prioritize – from smaller channels

  • Email and retargeting are commonly on the top of the list
  • Non-Facebook social (Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc) is another big bucket
  • Additional short-list candidates include:
    • Performance content distribution (e.g. Outbrain, Taboola, etc)
    • Non-retargeting display ads
    • Gmail sponsored ads
  • Offline Channels like Television, Radio and Direct Marketing (snail mail) where some degree of Performance Marketing principles can be applied.

To go deeper on the intricacies of each marketing channel, check out our “Performance Marketing Channel Overview.”