The challenge of channel allocation is often exacerbated for smaller clients because they can often only afford to run marketing tests in selected channels and only on a small portion of inventory available within those channels, states Raymond Smit, Head of Paid Search at Reprise Digital South Africa.

Advertisers are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting digital marketing channels in order to encourage visitors to their website and ultimately, drive sales. Often it’s a daunting task to find the optimum digital channel mix because of the size and breadth of the channels and the numerous targeting options available within each.

My advice is that the channel mix brands opt for depends on the size of their business, the goals the advertiser wants to achieve and the area of the marketing funnel they want to focus on. A smaller online retailer with a limited budget wanting to grow sales could consider a search driven marketing approach and capitalise on search queries where users are actively looking for the products carried by the business.

Medium sized retailers should expand their search marketing efforts to all available search queries where a positive return on investment can be made. Paid search channels can then be supplemented with organic search, maximising their total coverage on all products that are selling well online. It’s a good idea to leave a small portion of marketing budget available to test different channels and events (such as Black Friday, Christmas or a product launch) because stores will most likely experience different sales peaks and valleys throughout the year.

Before embarking on any new marketing campaign: start with a win or learn mindset before implementing a test and adopt a low risk, high probability marketing approach to discover the channels and products that will drive sales. Agencies and advertisers then gain access to the data for better decisions to be made in the future. Ultimately, we learn through our data, but first, that data must be earned.

Larger retailers should focus on a full omnichannel strategy to get the most out of their digital channels to drive maximum customer lifetime value. At this stage, it’s vital for the advertiser to have a full tech stack integrated into the business, a complete understanding of the value of their own customers throughout their buying lifetime and a firm grasp on how different marketing channels affect their revenue. This is easier said than done as some channels function better as support to others, driving assisted sales rather than direct revenue.

Ultimately, different sized businesses will each have unique performance metrics they need to focus on. As the business matures, so should the metrics, goals and objectives. Allow your overarching strategy to dictate your channel approach and the performance within those marketing channels will crystalise and shape your budget allocations for you over time.