Un-complicating multi-channel marketing: 5 actionable steps

Aaron Agius

Aaron is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognised brands including Salesforce, Coca-Cola, Target and others, to build their online presence.

There’s so much choice available that customers can pick and choose who they buy from and where, when, and how it happens.

They want to discover, research, evaluate, and purchase on their preferred channel. Give them that option, and they’re more likely to choose you. That’s the whole point behind the multi-channel approach.

According to CMI, B2C marketers use an average of 12 different tactics and channels. When it comes to their social media plan, they use an average of seven different platforms. The story is similar for the B2B sphere: Marketers use an average of 13 tactics and channels and six different social media platforms.

How it works together - or how it should work together - is your multi-channel strategy. Keeping them separate is splitting your focus and energy. You want it to function as a single, cohesive unit.

When implementing a connected multi-channel strategy, 74 per cent of businesses increased sales, 64 per cent increased customer loyalty/acquisition, and 57 per cent noted an improved customer experience. And there are a slew of other benefits.

That said, only 16 per cent believe they’re meeting all business and analytical needs for consumer experience via multi-channels. The CMO Club found only 11 per cent had a sophisticated omni-channel strategy” and 55 per cent had yet to launch or even plan one.

What are they waiting for? From what I’ve seen, it’s multi-channel or bust. Consumers want an integrated approach to marketing.

What is multi-channel?

Web, mobile apps, physical locations, social, print, call centres, email and more. Most people have 2-5 different ways to access the internet. You need a strategy for engagement across those channels. And the connection between them needs to be seamless.

Ask yourself: How does your ideal prospect or customer experience your brand? In what ways? Are those channels connected at all, or do they exist in isolation?

If you answered the latter for that last one, you’re doing it wrong. You need to un-complicate your marketing to make it work for them... and you.

Make data a cornerstone

For a campaign to succeed, you need to understand your customer at a deep and personal level. As a whole, as segments within the larger group, and as individuals. You need data. Lots of it.

Collect it from online, offline and third-party sources such as Google Analytics, customer surveys, and market analyses are good places to start. Plug everything into a central location. Examine patterns for the group, and the individual.

Use the trends and behaviour discovered to deliver the right content, to the right people, on the right channel, at the right time. It’s all about personalisation and relevancy in 2016.

Avoid the silo mentality

Each channel needs to be connected with the others.They may have different guidelines, schedules, tactics and budgets, but there must be coordination between them if you want any chance of success. Get together. Share insights and objectives.

Make alternatives available in each channel, like a URL in your catalogue, a phone number in an email, or a physical address on your website, so customers can easily move from one to the other. The faster you get them to their favourite channel, the closer you are to the sale or conversion. They should be able to switch between channels without having to start from scratch.

It’s your job to track movement from channel to channel, conversion rates for each, and collect customer feedback. That way, you can improve your strategy over time.

It takes 6-8 touches to create a viable lead. If channels present your brand and products differently, you lose the familiarity effect (we like, enjoy, and even trust something more simply because we know it). Work with, not against each other. A consistent, shared message and brand identity is crucial. Coordination is the order of the day.

Keep your eye on the prize

But messaging alone isn’t enough. It needs to be targeted messaging based on the demographics, current locations, preferred channels, behaviour and transactional history of your customers. Who is your target?

Use a robust CRM program to keep track of all interactions across all channels. Create buyer personas based on collected data. Multi-channel only works if you offer the channels that your customers actually want and use.

Multi-channel for the sake of multi-channel is pointless. Identify your target, categorise their channel usage, monitor campaign analytics and optimise for better performance.

Uncover the right mix

So what is the right mix of channels? That depends on who your prospects and customers are, and where you can find them. That’s the ‘right’ mix.

Channel preference is paramount. Find the right ones - through data collection, analysis and feedback - and campaigns will see better response rates, greater uplift and a bigger ROI.

The channel platforms depend on your particular message and goal. Longer ones concerned with details and structure? Email. If you’re hoping it’ll spread like wildfire, you need the sharing power of social media. Shorter ones with a sense of urgency, like a flash sale, are better suited to SMS and social media. Tie the channel to the goal.

To find the right mix, you need to know exactly who you're going after, where they are and what your goal is for the campaign. Use only those channels that apply to it all.

Remember the ‘multi’ in multi-channel

The same ad seen five times on Facebook is easy to ignore. But that same message over multiple channels tweaked for each one (visual for Instagram, pithy on Twitter, and so on)? You have their attention. It sinks in.

If you rely on a single channel, you’ll annoy your target audience. Greater channel diversity speeds up the awareness, interest, and desire people have in you. It’s better to be seen once in five places than five times in one place provided it’s a coordinated effort across your channel network.

Having several channels, but not using them in collaboration to deliver a central idea, is not multi-channel marketing.

One consistent central message + multiple channels + multiple times = campaign success.

The goal is to have that message reach customers in a meaningful and coordinated way no matter how they make contact, and at their moment of need rather than your campaign timeline.

Strategies come. Strategies go. The next big thing is lurking just around the corner. In this moment, though, multi-channel works when done right: Prepare, coordinate, and refine.

Tags: digital marketing, content marketing, marketing strategy

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