Marketing reach: The different channels compared

There’s one challenge that every business owner faces, regardless of what they sell: promotion. Simply put, if people aren’t aware of your brand and its products, they can’t invest in them. Once they do know, however, you need to maintain a positive association in their heads and simultaneously lift yourself above the competition; this is why marketing is so important.

These days you can advertise in a number of different ways, but choosing the right channels can be difficult. It pays to think about what exactly you’re trying to achieve. One of the key objectives will of course be to reach as many people as possible, but it may also be about engagement, advocacy or any other metric.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of your options.


Newspaper advertising has been around for longer than any other channel mentioned here, and it’s for this reason that many businesses look to it first. While the internet’s prominence as a source of news is growing quickly, the main printed titles are still popular, especially among those aged 45 and above.

On a national level, the biggest names on offer have daily circulation figures in excess of one million, with The Sun (1,978,702) and The Daily Mail (1,688,727) leading the way as of January 2015. Now, to take a full-page ad out in the Daily Mail from Monday to Wednesday, it will cost anything upwards of £32,000. Local papers will, of course, be cheaper, so this might be worth considering if you’re only operating in your city.

Before going ahead, though, it’s worth noting research which shows that only 42 per cent of readers remember full page advertisements after they’ve finished with the newspaper, and the figures are much lower for smaller ads.


TV is another of the traditional channels, having been a major part of British culture for decades now. In terms of advertising, it’s possible to reach significant audiences, providing of course you choose the right slots on the right channels.

Take ITV, for example. It’s most popular programme is, by some way, Coronation Street, which goes out around tea time on weekday evenings. According to the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB), it can attract between six and seven million viewers each night. A 30-second advertising slot at this time starts at £51,320 if you want to cover all regions, but can go up depending on time of year.

You also have to consider the cost of actually making an advert that engages your audience, and the fact that many people leave the room during the break to make a cup of tea.


Millions of people across the country listen to the radio every day, but bear in mind that the biggest national stations are operated by the BBC, so there won’t be any opportunities to advertise here.

The next biggest station in terms of reach is Classic FM, which has around 5.4 million listeners every week. An advertisement here would certainly be heard by a large audience, but think carefully about who you’re trying to reach – most of the station’s listeners are over the age of 35 and fall into the ABC1 demographic (upper middle class, middle class and lower middle class).

Once again, if you’re operating within a small geographic area, local radio could be the way to go. Liverpool’s Radio City, for example, attracts 400,000 listeners every week.

Social media

Social networking is a relatively new concept. The two biggest platforms – Facebook and Twitter – have only been around since the mid-2000s, while sites like Pinterest and Instagram are even younger. That said, they have a mass appeal the newspaper publishers can only dream of, with literally billions logging on every month.

According to Facebook, 64 per cent of its users check their News Feeds daily, and while you can’t exactly reach every one of them, you do have the opportunity to target those who are most likely to respond. With so much data to hand, you’re able to get your content in front of the right people in the right places.

Social media is much like television in that the age range of its user-base is vast, with an increasing number of over-50s logging on today. Just be aware that only 29 per cent of tweets and 17 per cent of Facebook News Feed stories are actually read, though.


With around four billion accounts currently in existence, email has plenty of potential when it comes to reach. Of course, it’s impossible to make it into every one of these inboxes, but with the right tools (data and software), you can certainly whittle the audience down to a pool of relevant recipients.

Email is a lot cheaper than the traditional channels mentioned above too; you’ll probably spend more time and effort than money, and you can get some great returns. It isn’t enough for your message to simply arrive at its destination, though; it must be opened and read too. This is where the approach falls down – research shows that less than a quarter of all marketing emails are actually opened.


Last but certainly not least we come to SMS – a marketing tool used effectively by businesses across all industries, and for good reason. When you consider the number of people who have access to mobile phones, it really can’t be beaten. When SMS technology reached its 20th birthday in 2012, it was being used by close to 60 per cent of the global population, and accessibility has only risen since.

As is the case with email, text marketing is about more than just having people to whom you can send messages – these people have to listen to what you say as well. Unlike email, though, open rates are impressive. For example, research shows that 95 – 98 per cent of all messages are read within minutes of receipt, with most mobile owners keeping their devices within arm’s reach 24 hours a day.

What’s more, three-quarters of consumers say they’d prefer to receive promotional text messages from brands than see advertisements in mobile apps or on the internet; so not only are you reaching more people, you’re keeping them happy too, which is conducive to sales and conversions! When it costs as little as 4.2p per direct message, it stands above the competition as a sure-fire way to promote your business.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing; the channels you choose (and there should be more than one) will be different depending on what you’re hoping to achieve. Once you’ve set out your business goals and objectives, though, the ideal solution should make itself very evident.