WTF are Marketing Channels?

To get the most out of your digital marketing efforts, you’ll need a way to group your traffic into logical buckets. Marketing channels are just that – categories you define and build rules around to group common traffic together. Some of these categories may be unique to your business or industry, most will likely be standard channels that could apply to any organization. Take the proper time to think about the right buckets for your business based on the traffic you hope to drive.

Personally, I think it’s useful to think about the channels broadly by paid, owned and earned – then categorize your channels against those. Here’s a quick outline to get started.

Group Channel
Paid Paid Search
Paid Paid Social
Paid Display
Paid Remarketing
Paid Affiliate
Owned Direct
Owned Self-Referral (Internal)
Owned Email
Earned Organic Social
Earned Organic Search
Earned Referring Domains


Do remember that you can always create new channel groupings should your needs change. This list should cover most businesses for the core marketing efforts you’d engage with. You’ll need to exploit your web analytics tool to ensure the platform processes your traffic into these categories. But that’s for a different time on a different day. 

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