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Marketing channels connected

Marketing Basics: Marketing Channels
By Joyce Chen

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Developing a great product is only half the battle. To make it across the finish line, you’ll have to reach your target customers and convince them to purchase your product. With so many different marketing channels possible, it can be hard to determine which ones are right for your startup. In this article, we’ll walk through some of the most common marketing channels, and their pros and cons. 

B2B vs. B2C Marketing

Depending on whether your company is business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-customer (B2C), your marketing strategy will look a little different. A few key areas where the marketing approach will be different include: 

  • Customer Relationships: A B2B company may focus more on building long-term relationships with a select group of customers, whereas a B2C company may value the quantity of transactions more and focus on increasing the number of new customers instead. 

  • Language: Many B2C companies choose to adopt a playful or casual tone in order to relate to customers more, whereas B2B companies often choose a more formal business tone with industry jargon in order to establish a professional relationship with their clients. 

  • Process: B2C companies are more likely to target impulse purchases, using emotion-led messaging to make quick transactions. On the other hand, B2B companies need to convince businesses to adopt their product as a good business decision, so they will incorporate more logic and rational messaging. 

Set Marketing Goals

Before you decide which marketing channel to use, set a marketing goal for yourself. Marketing can be done for a number of different reasons, and identifying which ones you care most about will help you narrow down your options and optimize your strategy. Some examples of marketing goals are: 

  • Increasing brand awareness

  • Generating new leads

  • Establishing industry authority

  • Acquiring new customers

  • Boosting customer engagement


It’s important to note that not all marketing channels are one-size-fits-all. Don’t try to use every channel possible. Instead, be thoughtful about how each channel can help you accomplish your marketing goal in your strategy, then optimize that channel. 

Marketing Channels

In this article, we’ll be going over 8 common marketing channels: organic social media, paid social media, influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, search engine optimization, blogs, email, and word-of-mouth. As a brief overview, here’s a helpful table with the pros and cons of each to help you determine which marketing channel is right for your goals. 

Marketing Channels.png
Organic Social Media 

Organic social media marketing refers to any free posts that you can make on social media platforms. For example, on Instagram, you can post photos, videos, reels, or stories. Your reach will consist of mostly people already following you, people following hashtags you use, or followers of your followers if they share your content. 


  • Free to use

  • Builds an authentic brand reputation

  • Can engage directly with your users through comments or direct messages


  • At the mercy of changing social media algorithms

  • Needs to be constantly maintained and updated

HubSpot posts a variety of content on their Instagram feed, such as this graphic below, that relates to its business offering. 

IMG-3481 (1).jpg

Passport Perk: 
Track your brand’s social media mentions and monitor industry trends with our Passport perk partner, Mentionlytics. Passport members can receive 20% off any plan for the first year.

Paid Social Media 

For most social media platforms, you can choose to pay to have your content displayed to potential customers by selecting your target demographic. These campaigns are usually run by a cost-per-click or cost-per-thousand-impressions system, meaning that you only pay when a user engages with your content. 


  • Can reach new audiences and retarget existing customers

  • Flexible budget


  • Highly competitive

  • Can become repetitive to customers if they keep seeing the same ad


Paid ads on Twitter are marked as a “promoted” tweet, and offer the same functionalities of normal tweets (replies, retweets, and likes) as well as the option to add a call to action (CTA). 

Passport Perk: 

Our Passport perk partner SocialBee offers complete social media management tools and training to help you develop a strong social media strategy. Passport members can receive 50% off any plan for the first three months.

Influencer Marketing/Sponsorships

In influencer marketing, you identify a thought leader or influencer that engages with your target customer base, and pay them to talk about your product or service. Contrary to popular belief, influencers are not limited to celebrities. If you do your research, you can find smaller voices in different industries that actually allow you to narrow down your target audience and increase your chances of conversion. 


  • Puts your product in a real-life scenario

  • Can build your brand’s credibility

  • Save time on creative work



  • Difficult to measure results without direct links

  • Need to be careful with choosing influencers

  • Can be expensive


Calia Fitness partnered with Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson to advertise their workout clothes. By choosing an influencer who is known for her athletic ability, they’re able to reach her followers, who are likely also interested in working out, and gain credibility. 

Passport Perk: 

Our Passport perk partner Socxo can help you nurture relationships with nano-influencers so that you can get the right people to spread the word about your product. Passport members receive 60 days of free platform access and 20% off all paid subscriptions for the first year. 

Affiliate Marketing

A variation of influencer marketing is affiliate marketing. In affiliate marketing, a publisher earns a commission for each person that fulfills the CTA. Affiliate marketing can be an excellent way to both grow your relationship with your partners and expand your audience reach.


  • Broadens the reach of a company's target audience

  • Performance-based payment means a higher return on investment (ROI)

  • Easy to track success metrics



  • Need to manage relationships with affiliates and set guidelines in place

  • Dependent on the affiliate’s ability to effectively market the product



Amazon has one of the most famous affiliate programs, allowing people to earn a commission for each purchase that is made through their recommendation (tracked through custom links). These links can be put in blog posts and on different social media channels, maximizing visibility. 

Passport Perk: 

Manage your affiliate programs with our Passport perk partner, PayKickstart. Passport members receive 50% off the growth plan for the first six months. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

As its name suggests, SEO is all about optimizing your website so that when a search engine crawls your website to determine its quality, it interprets it as an authority on a certain topic and ranks it higher in search results. Some SEO tactics include keyword optimization and link-building. 


  • Increases website visibility

  • Long-lasting results with a higher return on investment

  • Establishes your brand as a market leader



  • Results are not guaranteed

  • Requires constant maintenance

  • May need an SEO specialist to implement strategy



Salesforce created a blog post about CRM to help improve their SEO. There are likely a number of different factors that have helped it to appear first, including strategic use of keywords, strong backlinks, and even image use. So, when someone looks up “customer relationship management” on Google, Salesforce will be among the top results. 

Passport Perk: 

Start your website’s SEO strategy with our Passport perk partner, Semrush, giving you tools to research and track keywords, conduct link building, and more. Passport members receive a free extended 30-day trial and 20% off all annual plans.


As part of your SEO strategy, you may choose to create a blog on your website. You can publish informational content relating to the industry you operate in, more detailed information about how to use your product, or even case studies where people have successfully used your product. This helps to establish your brand’s credibility and position as an expert in the industry. 



  • Can provide helpful information to your customers

  • Improves SEO

  • Gives customers more reasons to come back to your website and think about your product more



  • Can be time-consuming to produce new quality content

  • Need to constantly come up with fresh content ideas



Freshworks highlights different voices and industry perspectives in their blog, giving users an additional reason to keep coming back to their website. 


If you’ve got a list of emails of current or potential customers, you can use email marketing to send out newsletters or information about upcoming updates, events, or deals. This direct form of marketing guarantees that you’ll show up in your customer’s inbox. 


  • Customizable to smaller subgroups of customers

  • Easy to track data for future reference

  • Can run A/B tests to identify best-performing messages



  • May get drowned in dozens of promotional emails 

  • Prone to low engagement

  • Need to balance consistency and creativity without coming off as spam or clickbait



Airtable sends out emails to their user base to let them know about new functions, tips on how to use their products, and more. This helps them to maintain consistent communication and build a good relationship with users. 

Passport Perk: 

Check out our Passport perk partner SendGrid to send and track your marketing emails with ease. Passport members receive $1,000 in credits.


Word-of-mouth can be one of the most powerful marketing tools. We’re more likely to trust the opinions of the people around us, so getting your customers to recommend your product to their friends and family can be a great way to expand your reach. While this is something that happens naturally, you can encourage people to share by leaving comments or reviews. 



  • No cost

  • Higher conversion rates

  • Can build a community among your users



  • Results may be unpredictable

  • Can’t collect data



Some companies encourage word-of-mouth sharing by offering promotional discounts for referring friends to their product. For example, HelloFresh allows subscribers to share a discount with their friends. For each successful friend that they refer, they can also get a reward or discount to use themselves. 

Passport Perk: 

Check out our Passport perk partner, Credible, to start collecting reviews and maximizing word-of-mouth marketing. Passport members receive 40% off all plans for the first year.

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of the different possible marketing channels, it’s time to create your marketing plan. Like we mentioned earlier, consider your company’s specific marketing goals to determine which marketing channels can help you reach them. For instance, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, then influencer marketing could be a great option for you to reach more potential customers through selective partnerships with active voices in your intended market. However, email marketing wouldn’t be a good idea, because you would only be reinforcing your brand to existing users instead of reaching out to new ones. 

Ready to start building your marketing strategy? Access discounts with our perk partners and the entire library of marketing best practices with a free Passport account.

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