There are a number of ways marketers can reach consumers. With the proliferation of digital technology, the choice can be overwhelming. So, how do you decide which digital marketing channels to use? Let’s take a look. 

Selecting digital marketing channels doesn’t have to be complicated; the VREA framework (Validity, Reliability, Effectiveness and Applicability) can help you identify where you should be directing your efforts. 

What is a digital marketing channel? 

Digital marketing channels can sometimes be referred to as ‘digital media’, ‘digital channels’ or a ‘digital medium’. Whatever you choose to call them, digital marketing channels are any method or platform that uses digital technology to market products or services to consumers.  

Digital marketing channels could include:

  • Social media (organic and paid advertising)
  • Search engine marketing (paid search and SEO)
  • Online partnerships
  • Email marketing
  • Online PR 
  • Display advertising 
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Influencer marketing 
  • Websites and blogs

Digital marketing channels are categorised into paid (those paid for by an organisation, such as paid search), owned (those owned by organisations, such as their website) and earned (content shared online about the organisation). 

Selecting Digital Marketing Channels

The above list illustrates just how many different channels exist, but they may not all be relevant to an organisation or within their capabilities or resources. 

The VREA framework can be useful in evaluating and selecting relevant digital media channels by considering their validity, reliability, effectiveness and applicability. 

Let’s look at each of these in turn

The VREA Framework

Validity 

The validity of a channel is based on how appropriate it is for the target audience. Different channels tend to have specific user demographics. TikTok, for example, has a younger audience than Facebook. By understanding your target audience, you will know where they go when they’re online. As a result, you can determine the validity of each channel. 

Reliability

Next, we need to consider the reliability of the digital channels to get the message across to the target audience. Are there limitations within the channel that we need to be aware of? One such example of a limitation would be email; will the email definitely arrive in the inbox of the user, or will it go into the spam folder? The same goes for social media posts; they are never served organically to every single follower, so what percentage of your target audience will see the posts? 

Effectiveness

When evaluating potential marketing channels, their effectiveness and ability to produce the desired result is essential. Consider what the objectives are for the campaign. Do you want sales, leads, sign-ups, or simply to build awareness? Display advertising can be effective at driving traffic to a website but is unlikely in itself to drive deliver conversions in volume. 

Effectiveness should also consider the ability of the various digital channels to work together to deliver the desired results. Integrating both online and offline channels is critical to ensure consistency and continuity of messaging.

Applicability 

This evaluates both the usefulness and appropriateness of the digital channel for achieving the required task and the marketing objectives. For example, social media may be more appropriate to engage the target audience than email marketing. 

Applicability also takes into consideration whether the digital channel itself is usable for the organisation. Some industries are restricted with the digital marketing channels they are allowed to use (e.g., gambling, pharmaceutical and alcohol brands). This means that some marketing channels will not be applicable to them. 

Not Forgetting Resources 

All businesses will have finite resources, both human and financial. Any digital marketing channels selected must fit within the set budget as well as the capabilities of the organisation. 

Organisations should budget for any media costs alongside the time and financial costs for any content and creatives required for the implementation of the campaign. External resources, such as digital agencies and freelancers, can be used to fill any skills gaps and support digital marketing efforts. Access to these resources and the funds to utilise them must also be considered when selecting channels. 

Summary 

There are many channels at the disposal of businesses when marketing their products or services. The VREA framework provides the tools needed to assess the suitability of channels and arrive at the best combination of these channels to achieve the set goals of a campaign. Of course, this is just the beginning of a campaign. Once implemented, digital channels should be monitored, analysed and tweaked to ensure they deliver on the set objectives.  

If you want to expand your digital marketing knowledge and skills, why not find out more about our range of digital marketing courses and qualifications. Get your two-week free trial by contacting us or completing the form on our website.

About the author 

Red Barrington is a Course Level Manager at Oxford College of Marketing and Managing Director of Red Star, a boutique digital marketing agency providing on-demand digital marketing expertise to agencies and clients.