How to Find and Test New Marketing Channels

testing marketing

Do you remember when Google released AdWords? It was like the gold rush because companies were making millions of dollars from those ads.

If you fast-forward to today, AdWords is still a great marketing channel, but it is more expensive due to its saturated marketplace. You won’t make as much profit from it now as you could in the past because all marketers know about it.

The same thing is happening with Facebook ads. It’s still a great channel, but it was much easier to make money from it a year ago than today.

This situation doesn’t just apply to paid channels either. There weren’t as many SEOs 5 years ago as there are now, which made it easier to rank high. Google eventually caught on and updated its algorithm to combat SEOs.

No matter how good of a marketer you are, it’s never easy to scale marketing efforts. Why? Because every good channel becomes used, and eventually abused, by marketers.

So, what are you supposed to do?

All you can do is continually find and test new marketing channels. Sure, some channels will work better than others, but as you continually expand, you’ll see good growth.

Download this small cheat sheet to learn how to find and test new marketing channels.

Here is how to find and test new marketing channels:

Experimentation

Do you remember how fun it was to try new things as a kid? Experimenting with your marketing efforts is just as fun!

What is marketing experimentation? It’s all about trying and testing new channels. You’ll never grow your marketing if you don’t constantly test new channels, whether they are paid, organic or partnership-based.

How can you find these channels?

The simplest way to do it is to spy on your competitors. From Spyfu to SEMrush to What Runs Where, the possibilities are endless. All of those tools will show you what your competitors are up to.

hubspot analysis

In addition to using the tools above, you should continually be monitoring what your competitors are doing. A simple way to do this is to enter your competitor’s URL through the Quick Sprout Analyzer to see the breakdown of what they are doing from an organic and social media perspectives. You can even compare how you stack up against your competition. This analysis will give you a good idea of what you should be focusing on.

competitive analysis

Lastly, a simple way to continually learn about new marketing channels is to read the following blogs:

  • Search Engine Land – this blog covers all the news and trends of search engine related marketing.
  • Marketing Land – this blog covers the news and trends of the marketing industry.
  • Moz – you’ll learn about new strategies and tactics from this blog.
  • Quick Sprout – I tend to cover tactics as well.

When launching experiments, you should focus on speed. When it comes to money, ideally you don’t want to spend much. I typically try not to spend more than $500 per experiment. If your business has a lot of cash on hand, you can spend up to a few thousand dollars per experiment.

Growth

Experiments don’t always work out, which is why they are called “experiments.” A few of the marketing channels you test out will be instantly profitable, and the majority will be losing you money.

Out of the ones that will be losing you money, some will only be losing a small amount of cash because they would still drive a few paid customers, and some will be losing you a lot of money as they would bring no new customers.

The ones that don’t drive you any new customers can be cut off unless you feel that the channel is a viable strategy in the long run.

The growth strategy I use for paid channels is:

  • Increase the spend for profitable channels until they break even.
  • Grow the channels that are losing a bit of money, but make sure you aren’t losing any more from a percentage standpoint. You typically don’t want to be in the red more than 5 or 10%.

As for organic channels, keep doubling down and don’t worry about ROI for at least 6 months. If you can’t do this, then come back to organic channels at some point in the future. Getting a ROI in a short period of time rarely works out.

Don’t put too much emphasis on learning each marketing channel. Your overall goal from a growth perspective is only to increase volume.

Optimize

Now that you are getting a lot of traffic and sales from these new marketing channels, it’s time to optimize. Your goal is to keep the number of sales the same, while cutting the dead weight.

The way you would do this is by learning how to leverage each channel. You can find videos on Quick Sprout University that will teach you everything from paid ads, SEO, content marketing, and even social media marketing.

For example, when I was helping Tim Sykes get more applicants to his millionaire challenge, I created Facebook ad campaigns that drove signups.

tim sykes

The overall goal of the advertising campaign was to generate fans of the page and then convince them to apply to the millionaire challenge through wall postings.

Although the campaign was losing around $5,000 a month, I quickly learned that over 90% of Tim’s students were males while I was spending 37% of his ad budget towards females.

I changed the targeting of the ads toward males only. This did decrease the number of new fans Tim received each day, but the number of millionaire challenge applicants stayed the same.

I also learned that most of his students were based in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. But a lot of his fans were coming from Asia. So, I adjusted the targeting to target fans only in the countries that drove applications. This again decreased the cost per new applicant.

From all of those changes, Tim’s Facebook campaign went from losing $5,000 a month to making him well into five figures in profit each month.

The way you optimize each channel is going to vary. You will have to keep playing around until you’re happy with the results.

Tweak and Maintain

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, all good marketing channels become saturated…it’s just a question of “when.”

To keep up, you have to continually tweak and maintain your campaigns. With paid advertising, costs will naturally go up over time, so you will have to remove keywords that aren’t profitable. Because people tend to have banner blindness, you will have to keep changing up your ad copy and images on a regular basis.

As for organic campaigns, you’ll find that they become more cost effective as time goes on. But the moment you let your foot off the gas pedal is the moment your traffic will start declining. So, you will have to continually think outside the box and come up with techniques people haven’t used before.

The biggest mistake you can make is to leave your marketing campaigns on autopilot. You have to adjust them on an ongoing basis since marketing changes over time.

Conclusion

The reason a lot of companies stall in growth is because they aren’t continually finding and testing new marketing channels. If you dedicate at least 10 hours a week to growing your marketing campaigns, you will see your revenue and profit growing month after month.

Before you get started with this whole process, make sure you:

  • Test at least one new channel each week.
  • Do not spend more than a few days to get an experiment up.
  • Cut the channels that are losing you a lot of money.
  • Spend roughly a month growing each channel before you move onto optimization.
  • Spend roughly a month optimizing each channel before you move to the tweak and maintain step.
  • Never stop tweaking and maintaining.

So, how do you find and test new marketing channels?

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Comments

  1. Peter Kortvel :

    So which channels do YOU recommend to test?

    • Peter, test out Facebook advertising.

      • Hi Neil. This is yet another gem from you. Thank you. I agree with you. Testing can be dangerous though if you do not track well so that you do not find yourself in the red.
        This could be a little bit off but what are your thoughts about marketing on Google plus as a social platform. Indeed Facebook is the king in the social site world but I just read somewhere that G+ receives 1.2 billion visitors a month. These are compelling figures that as marketers we cannot ignore. The question now is, how does one position themselves in G+ to make make some money before, as you mention, it becomes saturated?

        • Sauti, I think by focusing on great content and ensuring your authorship profile is well integrated you can do wonders. It’s very important to expand your community in regards to G+.

      • Peter Kortvel :

        Come on! I thought we are talking about trying experiments and something new… 🙂

  2. Great stuff as always Neil! I think your right about Facebook. Its hot right now but it is slowly going the way of Google Ads saturation. You have mentioned testing ads on Stumbleupon. Are there any other new channels that you have tested recently?

    • Stefan, you may want to try out some content aggregation sites. They are a healthy medium if you find one with great content.

  3. MIchael Kawula :

    Thats amazing data on Tim Sykes and his marketing is brilliant. Loved his interviews on Mixergy.

    Have to learn to check out Search Engine Land more often. Agree with Stefan and Peter’s comment towards what channels are you testing in now, anything different?

    • Those are the main ones. I have been testing Twitter Ads a lot recently and it has been working well. I’ve also been testing sending Facebook ads to a blog style landing page, which seems to be working well too.

      I’ve also been buying a lot of banner ads from Buy Sells Ads.

  4. Miguel González :

    Thanks for another awesome post Neil. 🙂

    A question to the community: A good channel for local marketing? Despite Adwords/Facebook.
    I’m starting with Shareasale trying to find good local affiliates.
    Suggestions?

    Thanks!
    Miguel

  5. Thanks Neil! Test, analyze data, tweak, repeat.

    Question: what do you suggest new marketers do to have their own site to experiment with? I work with an SEO company and am still learning the ropes. I obviously don’t want to play with clients sites as a newbie. Whats a good solution?

    • Brice, I would say that’s the most important thing. You should ideally have your own site so you can test things out on the fly.

  6. Yeah, I remember when adwords was a gold mine. Now in any competitive industry you pay so much per click that your conversion rates need to be very high to make it worthwhile. Facebook is still paying dividends, however, but I agree that its going away as well.

    But I think what separates marketers is the ability to adapt to a constantly changing environment.

    • Justin, great point. Facebook advertising is still an untapped medium that has huge potential. It’d be good for people to pay close attention.

  7. Is it OK if I disagree just a little bit?

    This is good advice for businesses that already have solid traffic sources.

    But if you are just starting out, it’s much better to focus on one traffic source and optimize it.

    If you spread yourself too thin, you don’t achieve anything.

    • Gron Rowlands :

      I know what you mean exactly but if you manage your time well you can concentrate on at least 2 and that way you can also monitor your traffic to see which is the best source of traffic too and also it might work out that they are both doing well, just in my opinion, plus you can practise out what you are learning on both and tweak stuff here and there until you become happy with whatever it is you are doing e.g your content writing skills and stuff like that. :] I think all this learning you actually become more wise and learn also thats its all about psychology and stuff.

      • Chris Sanfilippo :

        If growth is your priority you can… You can test multiple channels easily. This isn’t rocket science, it’s marketing. Run fb display ads, promote content in LinkedIn/Google groups, guest blog on some influencer niche community or buy a sitewide banner ad on some forum. This stuff is doable people.

      • Technically yes… but … just becoming adapt at one traffic source takes months if not years.

        I was just pointing out that if you are starting out and don’t want to get overwhelmed, you need to start with one traffic source.

        If you already have a website and a product and you’ve hit a dead end with one traffic source… or you’re feeling your ROI on your first traffic source begins to diminish, then you can think about diversifying.

    • Yoav, I would agree with your assessment. You really need to have your initiatives in place before you go after the big fish.

  8. David Andres Salgado :

    hey Pat, since i discovered your webpage you become like a master to me, you are one of that persona who gives brilliant ideas, thank you so much for your time and tips.

    David

  9. Gron Rowlands :

    Neil once again spot on. Ive been practising stuff now for a while and taking in absolutely everything Ive been learning because I know with all this information our long term plans are good and I trust in myself to get everything done that needs doing and have so much faith in everything that I will be doing and will continue to do so as well. Thanks once again and its all appreciated.

  10. Tushar Purohit :

    Neil,

    Again a great post, the points that you have mention- I’ll be going to use in my marketing pitch.

    I believe that for every Industry the channels will be a different, so you can not define predefine everything here and in fact no one can but the tools that you have mention is really one of those which will create a good impact and the way you can mix your social & SEO strategy – it will be crux.

  11. Praveen Ravindran :

    I always believe that finding the types of readers that suits your niche is important. Then you can figure out the ways to reach out to each type of reader groups. By this way you can get ideas specifically for your niche.

    Thanks
    Praveen

  12. Brandon Pindulic :

    I like how you emphasize growing something before optimizing it.

    I’ve had people tell me they run A/B tests when their site attracts <1000 visitors per month. Clearly a waste of time.

    Grow that number, and then you’ll
    1.) be able to collect worthwhile data
    2.) begin to see a more significant change from the tests.

    • Brandon, great points. I think you really need to have a large enough data set to really make the assumptions people have been making.

  13. I’m tempted to ask, which channel isn’t saturated already?

  14. Great article Neil, I think the key is like you stated that to always keep looking for new marketing channels, because nothing last forever, awesome tips!

  15. Great post. You have to keep experiment until you’re happy with the results. I think this is rule of success .

  16. The hard part is testing new channels for clients. If you are providing marketing services for other companies and channels stop working (like SEO) then you are to blame. This seems to be a constant struggle and I wonder how other marketing firms overcome this?

    • Joe, it’s very true. It’s all about being on top of the game and seeing what opportunities are available.

  17. My No. 1 source for marketing channels is: alexa.com

    I think that is the best information source, which shows where are people engaged from time to time.

  18. Brodey Sheppard :

    Great advice, I liked how you said most sign ups were from USA and Australia, We are so cheap here in Australia Penny stocks match us Aussies perfectly.

    Good Article!

  19. Great article as ever Neil – some great tips in there and yes content marketing is the way to go. Which is why we have set our site up – trying to capitalise on this market.

    Cheers

    Jason

  20. Steven Leconte :

    Thank you Neil for this great post. I tested with Facebook and didn’t get the results that I was hoping to get. Perhaps, I didn’t know what I was doing but I have been testing with classified ads websites such as Craigslist and that worked really well for me while helping me improving my copywriter’s skills as well.

    A few colleagues claim to have good results with Kindle books as marketing channel.

    I haven’t tried it yet but I could see how it could be beneficial as well.

  21. Barbara McKinney :

    Thanks for sharing these tips Neil! Whether we like it or not, we have to embrace the power of “experiment” in order to reach our desired goal. There are a lot of changes happening in our industry so we must be aware of what really works for us.

    • Barbara, that’s very true. You have to be ready for anything and try every channel possible to achieve great results.

  22. Dara Schulenberg :

    Thanks for a great resource to help reinforce client discussions when asked for regurgitation of ‘better sameness’ and then wonder why their results are diminishing! Feels like the dynamic applies to converged media en mass – and the content crash which may soon be upon us.

  23. manujeevanprakash :

    Hi neil,
    Fantastic article , I would test new marketing channels by goint through my analytics data , by creating advanced segments in Google analytics . IT works for me . 🙂

    Cheers !!!

    • That’s a great strategy. I think you really have to know your strengths if you want to focus on the right things.

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  26. HI Neil,

    once again a great informative post that you put together.I think facebook is great for getting targeted traffic but as you said we should experiment other sources as well.this way we are not putting all our eggs in one basket.

    • Abdul, exactly! That is the main point I was trying to get across. You really want to diversify your online marketing porfolio!

  27. Nice article Neil, I want to ask which channel will be better for affiliate marketing?

  28. Neil,you completely rock in SEO score 🙂

  29. A great article about experiments, if it contained specific examples – that would be even better.

  30. Hi Neil

    This is amazing and almost from past 3 months I am following your blog articles. I have one question for you If I want to get traffic to any big website portals (like movie review portals) which marketing channels will you prefer

  31. I believe that for every Industry the channels will be a different, so you can not define predefine everything here and in fact no one can but the tools that you have mention is really one of those which will create a good impact and the way you can mix your social & SEO strategy

    • Angelina, definitely. It all depends on the niche. Each strategy should be catered to the specific niche you are targeting.

  32. I ran a marketing campaign for a new college on Ad Words and Facebook Both worked well. Adwords exploded because it was the month everyone was searching for new colleges.

    I am always on the look out for new Marketing Channels and want to test twitter ads this year!

  33. I have made it my mission to test out new marketing platforms in 2014 – specifically, I want to test out Rich Pin’s on Pinterest for a few personal e-commerce clients. I think this is a great opportunity.

    Last year, I focused on Instagram and building a community. Client now makes 40 – 50 sales per month from Instagram, tracked through a new analytics software.

    I am interested in Vine, too, although the potential for advertising seems limited to creating a 6 second clip that’s going to go viral.

    • Jack, I think I would suggest trying out all channels for a period of time and seeing which one converts best for you. That’s the strategy I have always utilized.

  34. Alan | Networking Secrets :

    Hi Neil,

    It all seems like so much work. I do love the idea of experimenting, but not of spying on my competition. Truth be known, I don’t even know who my competition would be or like to think of things in terms of competition – but I do appreciate that that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day.

    Building a platform, thinking long term, providing value, optimizing… all these things feel very natural and logical to me, but going out and analyzing competition doesn’t somehow – should it?

    • Alan, in you do it in an honest way there shouldn’t be any moral issue. I think people fall into the trap of doing it all wrong when they are doing it underhanded and malicious.

  35. Thanks Neil, Great article I appreciate all the great insight you provide.

  36. H Neil, thanks good information here. I was thinking of using facebook advertising to get likes and subscribers from a fan page to link back to my blog or my squeeze page.

  37. Thanks for mentioning AdWords and thlink to there. But I would love to know what makes for a good Google AdWords Audit. I read your SEO Audit blog post and loved it, but notice that there isn’t one for Google AdWords? I’d love to know how to do one so I can best optimise the campaigns for my start up.

    • Angela, I think a good Adwords Audit would have a number of factors in play. You would definitely have to count conversions to see what keywords and phrases are getting the most clicks. I will probably do a guide on paid advertising soon.

  38. Hi Neil,
    Nice piece of information Neil. Was searching for new options for marketing, this article is very useful. Social Accounts like Google+, Facebook, and Stumble upon have proved to be really beneficial for branding and exploring new channels have become necessity. Looking forward to implement suggestions given by you and test the results.

  39. Amazing article Neil. Social marketing is very useful to boost your blog ranking.

  40. Hello Neil ! I got very interesting idea from your post about exploring the new marketing channels. I guess this is great idea to be proactive in this competitive world. Thank you so much for this guide to follow.

  41. Hello Mr. Neil, I’m noticing that his posts are full of images “infographics” I ask them if it includes a question for seo or to better explain yours article ?

  42. Some of the marketing channels I use for my online business 🙂

    Ebook marketing
    Infographic Marketing
    Social Media (I love BuzzBundle)
    Youtube
    Google ofcorse 😉

    Thanks for another awesome write-up Neil.

  43. Brent Carnduff :

    Hey Neil,
    Definitely important to keep on top of options and alternatives available. Keeping up with leading blogs is a great way to get ideas and suggestions. In addition to the ones that you list, I would recommend Search Engine Watch, Backlinko, and Traffic Generation Cafe.

  44. Niel ,its also a nice post.
    and i had really touch this sentence that you have been shared in your experimentation. That is “Do you remember how fun it was to try new things as a kid?”
    http://www.abovei.com

  45. Hi, I am new in SEO and wanting to be a perfect SEO expert so I will implement your instructions to be a good SEO.
    I love the worthwhile information which you discussed in your post. Excellent luck for the subsequent!

  46. Hey Neil,
    You shared an awesome post here and you create always best SEO tutorials. Thanks for discussing here for us.

  47. Implementing your tips these days on sites. I used many resources for marketing the sites like E-book, Infographics and impressive videos. Thanks for sharing such a informative post.

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  49. Derrick Behrendt :

    Hi Neil: Thanks for the new marketing lesson!!! I’ve been trying to figure out how to post my dance class schedule. I just turned my notes tab into my class schedule. Is that the best way to share this important info? I tried to change the name of the tab but that didn’t work for me.
    Thanks.

    • Derrick, that is definitely a good way to use it. Did you trouble shoot to see if you missed any steps?

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