By the year 2020, there will be more than 2 billion online shoppers. In order for businesses to thrive during this digital age, it is essential to be online with your customers.

According to a new Clutch survey, more than 500 marketers reported the top digital marketing strategies they use are social media marketing (81 percent), websites (78 percent), and email marketing (69 percent).

Top 6 Digital Marketing Channels for Businesses

The least popular method is SEO (44 percent).

Social Media Is the Most Popular Digital Marketing Channel

 Social media marketing is the most popular digital marketing strategy among marketers – and with good reason. Social media allows businesses to connect with their customers almost immediately.

Jeremy Greenberg, founder of web design and digital marketing agency 97 Switch, says social media allows companies to tell their brand’s story.

“People are responsive when you have the ability to tell your brand story, whether it’s on social media, your website, or email. With other mediums, there’s not as much ability to tell your story,” Greenberg said.

Using social media to market to customers helps companies such as IntelliChief attract leads, promote brand awareness, and engage current customers. By investing in many digital channels, there is a greater chance of meeting digital marketing goals.

“Digital marketing is like a complex recipe,” said IntelliChief Content Marketing Manager Faith Kubicki. “If you leave one ingredient out, you’re not going to completely ruin the entire dish, but it will be pretty evident that something’s missing from the final product.”

Email and Websites Are Also Successful Digital Marketing Channels

 Email marketing and websites are popular choices for businesses to use as digital marketing strategies. Both allow digital communication between the customer and the company.

Using these methods, businesses have the goal of making sales in mind.

“We call it digital marketing, but I really think it’s digital sales,” said Jon Borg-Breen, co-founder and head of sales at B2B lead generation agency Symbiont Group. “You’re trying to convert and actually get people to buy something.”

Businesses such as Pupford, a company that sells dog products, use digital marketing channels such as email and a website to help increase its revenue.

“If we didn’t have digital marketing, the only sales we’d have would be friends and family and word-of-mouth,” said Marketing Manager Devin Stagg. “It’s our main method of exposure, and all our efforts are pushing us toward getting more revenue.”

SEO Is the Least Popular Digital Marketing Channel

Only 44% of marketers reported to use SEO as a digital marketing strategy – that’s the least popular digital marketing channel.

There are two reasons why 56% of businesses do not invest in SEO in 2018.

The first reason is that businesses do not understand SEO. Greenberg points out that many businesses do not understand how SEO works with their other digital marketing efforts – thus leading them to not invest.

“They’re saying they’re not investing in SEO, but if they’re investing in and telling their story on social media and they’re doing email marketing, that’s part of it,” Greenberg said. “If they’re creating shareable content online and they’re investing in their website, that’s SEO.”

The second reason SEO is not as popular is that it does not produce immediate results. When using websites, email, or social media, the results are obvious and immediate. With SEO, the results take time.

“Businesses have a harder time with SEO,” Borg-Breen said. ”It’s not as immediately impactful as having a brand-new design on your website that people can say, ‘Wow that looks cool.’”

Many businesses do not understand that SEO goes hand-in-hand with other digital marketing strategies. SEO can pay off, however, if companies are willing to invest the time and work.

“When I first came on board, prospective customers were getting confused and leaving our website, and absolutely nobody was finding us in the first place,” Kubicki said. “So, by researching the keywords that our prospective customers are using, creating valuable, optimized content that focuses on those keywords, and promoting that content across various channels, we’re working hard to increase our digital profile.”

Why Businesses Invest in Digital Marketing

Businesses use digital marketing for a variety of reasons, but company size heavily depends on a businesses’ intentions and goals.

Digital Marketing Goals Vary by Business Size

Small businesses who have not completely broken into competitive markets use digital marketing to improve brand awareness (21 percent).

“Small companies aren’t known,” Borg-Breen said. “If you don’t get awareness, you’re never going to get someone to buy from you. Getting a big enough base of people who know who you are is critical.”

Meanwhile, larger companies use digital marketing to stand out from the competition (21 percent) because they are already well-established. By using digital marketing, larger businesses try to encourage potential customers to convert.

“Using your digital marketing to help differentiate yourself will get you more leads and increase your close rate, an essential growth strategy for larger companies,” said Flynn Zaiger, CEO of Online Optimism, a digital marketing agency in New Orleans.

Achieving Goals With Digital Marketing

Businesses use digital marketing to set and reach marketing goals. Eighty-three percent of businesses think their digital marketing efforts are effective and meet their goals.

Unlike traditional forms of marketing, social media marketing, email, and websites allow companies to easily reach their customers.

In order for a company to be successful with digital marketing, it is important to use a variety of channels such as a website, email, social media marketing, and even SEO.

Kristen Herhold

Kristen Herhold


Kristen is a writer for The Manifest and focuses on social media, digital marketing, and advertising business trends.