Online Marketing Face-Off: The Best Channels For Your Business

In the spirit of March Madness, we pitted 8 online marketing channels against each other to find out which ones small business owners like best.

Here’s how they voted, with our own expert analysis of the qualities that make each channel the better choice for marketing a small business.

Here’s the final outcome:

ROUND 1


Facebook vs Pinterest | Winner: Facebook

What Makes Facebook Better:
Most online marketing mediums are a fad. Surprisingly, Facebook is still here and that’s a good thing.” -from a Facebook user

While Pinterest might not be just a “fad” as our Facebook commenter suggests, it does tend to be more niche-specific than Facebook. Facebook, on the other hand, is easily leveraged by all kinds of businesses, whether you’re a local establishment or an online consultant.

Pinterest depends on big, beautiful images that other users can get inspired by. That makes it perfect for artists, designers and retailers. In fact, 69% of people have purchased something that they saw on Pinterest. But if your business is outside of those niches, you might have a harder time finding success on the network.

Facebook doesn’t depend on visuals like Pinterest does. While photos tend to make followers interact with your post more (by liking or commenting on it), you can also make text only posts and reach your audience that way.

Text Messaging vs Email | Winner: Email

What Makes Email Better:
Email all the way. Text messaging seems tooooo private for me.” -from a Facebook user

Most consumers share this sentiment – only 9% of people want text messages from businesses and most admit that text messages don’t impact their buying decisions at all.

People are used to seeing marketing emails in their inboxes. 77% of consumers actually prefer marketing messages as emails than through any other medium.

Text messaging is still too intrusive – and both marketers and consumers feel it. If you want a response from your customers, email is definitely the way to go.

Google+ vs Twitter | Winner: Twitter

What Makes Twitter Better:
I actually have found more useful information that I have benefited from on Twitter. Twitter’s brevity is a huge plus.” -from a Facebook user

Google+ might give your SEO a boost, but Twitter has a more vibrant community.

Twitter’s brevity of 140 characters or less means you can make a meaningful connection in less time and share or glean useful information without scrolling through long status updates.

YouTube vs Blog | Winner: Blog

What Makes Blogging Better:
YouTube has its place in marketing and can even drive traffic to your site, but nothing beats a blog for keeping people interested once they get to your site.

You can distribute a variety of content through a blog that will keep people coming back and linking to you. YouTube can help with your initial push, but a blog keeps them interacting with your site.

Plus, you might find blogging easier for your business. You don’t need to be a New York Times best-selling author to whip up a quick post your audience will appreciate. The only equipment you need is your computer and your fingers.

Quality YouTube videos take more work. You may need to invest in lighting equipment, a good camera and some sound equipment to give your video a professional feel. Some businesses just don’t have the time or the resources for that.

ROUND 2


Facebook vs Email | Winner: Email

What Makes Email Better:
Facebook clobbered Pinterest in the first round, but it was almost no contest against email.

Email is more personal, one-on-one communication with your readers. Plus, you face less of a risk of getting buried in someone’s news feed and your message getting missed. Email puts you in your readers’ faces in a way Facebook can’t always do.

Twitter vs Blog | Winner: Blog

What Makes Blogging Better:
Quality is better than quantity. Twitter is too impersonal.” -from a Facebook user

Twitter beat out Google+ in the first round because of its brevity. But sometimes brevity can equal impersonal.

Twitter is great for getting quick updates out to your followers, but a blog gives you space to tell your story. Stories connect and resonate with your audience in a way short tweets might miss.

The persuasive power of storytelling wins out over short and timely tweets.

CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND


Email vs Blog | Winner: Email

What Makes Email Better:
Email campaigns and blogs are both mediums for telling your brand’s story. But the big problem with a blog is that you need to rely on your readers to bookmark your site and come back again.

Most people check their email at least once a day. If you’re emailing your readers – whether it’s with your blog posts or a newsletter or a special announcement – they’re more likely to see it in their inbox.

YOUR ANALYSIS


What do you think? Do you agree with the outcome and our analysis? Would you have liked to see a different winner? Do you think the right channel ultimately won? Tell us why in the comments!

Become a Better Email Marketer

Subscribe to This Blog by Email
Why Subscribe?

22 Comments

  1. What a creative article…… thanks for sharing these online marketing results.

    4/15/2013 4:51 pm
  2. ALL of the winners above I agree with. But initially, I thought Google+ would get the edge over Twitter.

    4/16/2013 6:10 pm
  3. Excellent analysis.. guess Email has always been the winner. ;)

    4/17/2013 4:43 pm
  4. I totally agree with the results.Nothing can beat emails as everyone checks his/her email at some point of day or the other.

    4/18/2013 6:40 am
  5. Great idea for a playoff. I agree that email is the best – even though people have been declaring email dead several times already. No wonder aweber has an email signup that pops up after you visit this page :)

    4/18/2013 1:49 pm
  6. Thanks for the analysis. It confirmed where I need to focus and alloting my time to more productive marketing channels.

    4/18/2013 2:08 pm
  7. For the past 8 years email has been the strongest tool to deliver my message. Once you get the open rate doing well then your message works to drive them to your website that should do the selling for you not the body of the email.

    4/18/2013 2:39 pm
  8. I find that youtube is a great source of traffic as It get index by both youtube and google and it is easier for you to get ranked for certain keywords. I am surprised that the podcast isn’t here as most online marketers swear by it

    4/18/2013 3:01 pm
  9. This was a great post Rebekah. I was surprised with email being the champion. Many preach email is failing because of low open rates. I was also surprised that texting was viewed as too personal. That could be a roadblock to the advocates of text marketing.

    4/18/2013 6:25 pm
  10. VERY eye-opening, thank you! Not really close to what I would have expected.

    I do believe that YouTube is going to become much more relevant as well as Google+

    4/18/2013 6:57 pm
  11. Interesting. So bottom line is Email, Blog, Twitter, and Facebook are the overall winners. This is very promising to me as I’m just starting this process and those are the four areas I’m building from. Guess I’m on the right track! Thanks. This is very encouraging.

    4/18/2013 8:42 pm
  12. Carlos

    email verses text preferences is definitely is skewed buy an age bias . Youth tends to prefer text. older prefer email because it’s easier to read on mobile .

    4/18/2013 8:49 pm
  13. Hi Rebekah,

    thanks for this great analysis.

    It proves again that blogging and email goes hand in hand, and if a blog is your “body”, your email campaigns are its “life blood”.

    4/18/2013 9:25 pm
  14. Jeff

    Very cute article, and while I agree with your conclusion, you might be a little biased!

    4/18/2013 11:09 pm
  15. This is more proof email marketing is still alive an well.

    4/19/2013 2:13 am
  16. I agree on the conclusion especially for B2B companies focusing on technical or industrial field. Is more serious, technical and project the values that are mostly requested by buyers: quality, solidity, innovation and no blah blah.
    I still struggle to see how Facebook can be a good medium for these kind of companies but maybe is my limit…
    can you give me some best practice on this topic?

    4/19/2013 3:45 am
  17. Interesting. The only argument I think you’d get is the blog vs youtube result, since YouTube proponents would say it’s second only to Google for good reason. I think in the technical B2B market, though, I’d trust the blog.

    The problem with email, of course, is having good opted in lists. It becomes a chicken or egg problem especially for new small businesses unless you can cold email in a non-intrusive way– maybe an oxymoron. And people are getting too jaded and cluttered to opt in reliably.

    Kent

    4/19/2013 11:35 am
  18. Interesting stuff. Like some others, I thought email might be a slightly questionable process as I myself do not open all emails everytime, And then spend time deleting them when they pile up! Thanks for the breakdown.

    4/20/2013 1:23 am
  19. Wonder why LinkedIn wasn’t included? Great post though.

    4/20/2013 12:37 pm
  20. This is exactly as I’d expect. I am wondering though when choosing between blogging and going through YouTube – is YouTube in this case being considered a “vlog” or not? Or some other form of advertisement/marketing technique?

    In the case of vlogging – I’d say blogging would win hands down. Even though it’s a video, unless it’s done well visually, I’d much rather read a blog than listen to someone talk. So in that case I’d say blogging would win out every time if it was ever put against vlogging.

    Interesting read thanks for the post!

    4/26/2013 11:52 am
  21. I’ll take Google+ over Twitter any day. I don’t like the vibe I get when I’m on twitter. Too many people use automated tools to post to it and the spam is like something I’ve never seen before. I’m excited about the changes Google has made with Google+ (the interface). Great content nonetheless.

    6/11/2013 6:36 pm
  22. nice article, facebook is the best marking tool especially people who belong to facebook groups.

    10/5/2013 6:13 am