Marketing Channel Research: How to Design a Prioritization Scheme?

December 2, 2011 by

Prioritization Cartoon

Image Credit: quantumwhisper.com

What prioritization factors really matter when identifying which marketing channel types to utilize in your company’s marketing campaign?

And which factors should your company use to select marketing channels within a given channel type?

These are important questions that every marketing team has to answer when designing a marketing campaign. Your team’s decisions will drastically impact the way your team identifies and evaluates marketing channel opportunities and determines how to best utilize your team’s resources in its marketing channel strategy. Thus, it is important to make sure that the project supervisor and all key stakeholders in the project agree with the prioritization scheme before the project gets started, as this will greatly improve the buy-in of key stakeholders at the end of the project and increase the likelihood of adoption.

Step 1: Identify Target Segment, Target Buyer and User Personas

The first step in defining the prioritization scheme is to develop a clear definition of the target segment for the marketing campaign and identify the target buyer and user personas, as these factors will be key in evaluating the relevance of each marketing channel. These definitions should be clear and not contentious amongst stakeholders.

Step 2: Clarify Project Goals

The second step is to develop a clear understanding of the project goals and how they relate to specific human resource, capital and channel availability constraints, as this will impact the way your team will select and weight metrics in your prioritization scheme.

Step 3: Identify Appropriate Metrics

The third step is to identify which metrics make the most sense for your marketing channel prioritization scheme. We can roughly classify these potential factors into four main categories:

  1. Content Relevance – the fit of a given marketing channel in terms of content and audience.
  2. Reach (Influence) – the number of potential customers that your company could influence, educate or interact with via a given marketing channel.
  3. Cost (Resources, Time) – the human and capital resource requirements necessary to effectively utilize a given marketing channel.
  4. Effectiveness – the marginal return that can be expected from utilizing this channel.

Typically, a marketing channel ranks higher if it has highly focused and relevant content, extensive reach, low cost and effective at generating sales leads and opportunities.

A prioritization scheme takes into account these factors in one form or another, but the weighting and metric selection can differ depending on the marketing channel types your team is considering, the number of quality channel types available in the targeted space and the human and capital resources available to your team.

Gauging Channel Types

To evaluate channel types against one another it is best to evaluate each of these factors based on experiential data from previous marketing efforts and publicly available statistics that can be found in competitor news reports or adjacent industries. Every marketing channel has its pluses and minuses and should be considered in all marketing campaigns. Obviously, some channels can be ruled out rather quickly, but others will take some serious theoretical evaluation. All decisions should be supported by data because some channels may not be as intuitive as they seem and your first impression may be incorrect.

To evaluate marketing channel opportunities within a channel it is best to define a publicly available metric based approach. The prioritization scheme should remain the same as was used to evaluate marketing channel types; however, the inputs to these 4 factors will change from channel type to channel type due to the availability and relevance of various metrics.

Often times these factors cannot be measured directly without experimenting with a marketing channel and/or utilizing extensive resources to collect data to evaluate these factors, so we have to develop proxies to help us estimate the relative quality of a marketing channel opportunity.

For example, there are no publicly available statistics to gauge the exact audience to lead conversion rates for event marketing channel tactics, but the number of competitors participating in an event is a quick proxy for the effectiveness of this channel and the relevant percentage of the audience based on the attendance demographics divided by sponsorship cost is a more precise estimate.

Gauging Influencer Reach

Similarly, it is hard to gauge the actual reach of one influencer relative to another, especially if they are active in social media and traditional marketing mediums. Klout has attempted to calculate the social media reach of influencers with the Klout True Reach Metric, which could be used to estimate the reach of influencers even though this metric does not evaluate traditional content mediums like print publications. Another quick metric that can be used to proxy the true reach of an influencer is the Number of Twitter Lists. However, these proxies place a very heavy weight on the influencer’s social media or Twitter presence and exclude other important audiences like blog readers and traditional publication subscribers. Thus, the best proxy for reach in this situation would be some combination of blog reach and social media reach.

Below is a list of some common marketing channel prioritization metrics classified by category:

Marketing Channel Prioritization Metrics

An Iterative Process

The most important point to remember with this process is that developing an effective marketing channel strategy is an iterative process. As you learn more about the availability, return and cost effectiveness of each marketing channel, you will be able to further refine your channel prioritization scheme to help your team more effectively and efficiently identify marketing channels and develop its marketing channel strategy.

If you are interested in learning more about marketing channel research, I recommend reading my previous post on how to choose the best events. This post provides the four tips on how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your event marketing research and planning process.