Multi-Channel Marketing: Create a Winning Plan To Be Everywhere at Once
In the digital age, you get to reach your customers through dozens of channels. They often use these channels multiple times a day.
The question is: is it worth reaching them everywhere?
Let the numbers speak for themselves. Today, about 44.8% of internet users say they turn to social channels when looking for information about products or services. 91% of consumers who follow brands on social media will also visit their website at some point.
Expectations are high to run a brand that’s active on all channels. 79% of users expect a response in the first 24 hours.
Multi-channel marketing takes work, but it’s worth it. You just need to be strategic about it.
In this article, you will learn how to create a winning multi-channel marketing strategy. You will be able to implement these tips even if you are a small startup or an entrepreneur new to the world of marketing.
WHAT IS MULTI-CHANNEL MARKETING?
Multi-channel marketing means that your brand is reaching existing and potential customers via several online and offline channels at once.
So, is it as simple as writing a post in a social media scheduling tool and sending it to multiple platforms simultaneously? That’s one option, but you should explore doing more than that. Today, consumers expect companies to be personable and present.
Effective multi-channel marketing is about storytelling. The modern approach is to add an overarching topic to each campaign that talks to the consumers on a personal level. The focus of the message should be adjusted and then communicated across all channels for a consistent user experience.
A great example of this is Dove’s #ShowUs campaign. The message? They wanted to help womxn get more representation by creating a resource for stock photos featuring a more diverse range of models.
They launched the campaign on YouTube (see above), Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Note how the launch video for YouTube and Instagram are not the same, and one is not even a shorter version of the other. They re-worked the video to fit the Instagram audience better: snappier cuts, more direct messaging, less fluff.
The results? Strong engagement across multiple platforms.
Plus, an ongoing source of content and conversation. See below how they incorporated this campaign into this year’s Women’s Day messaging.
If you want to elevate your multi-channel marketing strategy, you could add influencer marketing to your content mix. This way, you would be present on channels you don’t even own and still reap the benefits.
For example, Mariah Carey was an early adopter of Airbnb, which propelled the startup to become a luxury brand available for the stars.
More recently, a single Airbnb promo post by actor Michael B. Jordan gained an engagement rate of about 13%.
It’s OK if you can’t score A-list celebrities like this for your own business. Why? Because engagement among micro-influencers is even higher than average. Test the waters with a micro-influencer first (for as low as a few hundred dollars) and see whether it works for you.
Starting and maintaining a topic across different channels is not easy, especially if you have a revenue target to meet as a young startup. Keep reading to learn about best practices in the coming sections.
What is omnichannel marketing?
The omnichannel marketing approach is similar to the multi-channel concept. It’s a cross-channel content strategy where the customer experience emerges as the single most vital sales factor for the company.
This means that a customer’s all encounters with your business need to be as seamless as if the messages all came from one person – online and offline.
One of the best examples of successful omnichannel marketing is Sephora. Their tactics have long gone beyond just posting on different channels. They offer a wholesome experience from offline to online channels.
Here’s the (near) complete list of omnichannel platforms, tools, and services Sephora uses:
- Ecommerce store (incl. buy online, pick up in-store)
- Social media (incl. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Snapchat and TikTok)
- Sephora community
- Sephora mobile app (incl. make-up try-on augmented reality)
- Sephora account (incl. tracking in-store recommendations given by your Beauty Advisors)
- Brick-and-mortar store (incl. charging stations)
- Beauty Insider rewards program
- Sephora credit card program
- Virtual beauty consultation services
- Virtual classes and events
Sephora has a data-driven strategy that brings all consumer experiences to a full circle. For example, with data from the Google Analytics 360 Suite, their marketers were able to determine which online ads were driving purchases in the stores. This led to a 3x increase in conversion rates from digital ads.
The ecommerce giant continues to invest in new omnichannel services and provide more resources to its customers. Just recently, they announced Instagram checkout and same-day shipping with Instacart.
What’s clear is that omnichannel and multichannel marketing will keep evolving. Now is the time to invest your resources to remain competitive.
THE BENEFITS OF MULTI-CHANNEL MARKETING
Marketers who use 4 to 6 channels in their campaigns report the best response rates. This is because today’s consumers have different preferences in online and offline platforms. You need to be where your customers are.
50% of companies who do multi-channel marketing say they “usually” or “always” hit their revenue targets. A seamless customer experience across various devices pays off.
Sephora was an early adopter of omnichannel marketing. Now, their market share is nearing $6 billion per year.
Multi-channel marketing means you get…
- More attention from customers. It’s the law of large numbers. The more channels you cover, the more people will get interested in you.
- More touchpoints. And more touchpoints mean more leads.
- More opportunities to connect where it matters. Everyone has their favorite channels that they visit regularly. Let prospects reach you through those, or let them switch between mediums as they prefer.
- A consistent brand. Talking about the same topic across different channels is the way to go. People are busy, and repetition will bring home the message.
The great news is that you don’t need to have Sephora’s budget to succeed. Simply start blending your offline and online presence to offer the same or similar experience.
HOW TO LAUNCH YOUR MULTI-CHANNEL MARKETING
Are you ready to allocate some resources and dive into multi-channel marketing? Let’s get started. Here’s how:
1. Identify your buyer persona
You need to know exactly who is buying your products or services. It will not only help you make more sales: having a buyer persona at hand leads to more effective marketing campaigns. Why? Putting a “face” to your ads makes a difference.
Perform thorough audience research to identify one or more personas for your business. You can do this by compiling data on your current customers (think: surveys, Google Analytics data, reviews, customer service tickets, etc.).
If you don’t yet have a big enough customer base to draw conclusions, you will need to do a bit more research:
- Lookup a competitor’s consumer strategy (think: case studies or Buzzsumo)
- Set up social listening through your current social tool
- Ask people in Facebook or Slack groups (preferably within your target market)
Establishing your buyer persona can make or break a marketing plan. Don’t rush through this part, as it will serve as the foundation for the rest of the steps.
2. Choose your preferred channels
How do you go about selecting the marketing channels for your business?
Remember this: you need to pick your channels based on your buyer persona first, and your business needs second. Do they read a lot online? Set up a blog for your company. Are they on social channels all the time? Find out which ones and adapt your voice and style.
Here’s a quick list of channels you can use to reach your customers:
- Brick-and-mortar retail store
- Website or ecommerce store
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- PPC or other online advertising
- Mobile marketing (apps, SMS, etc.)
- Direct mail
- Radio, TV, newspapers
- Call center
You may have to cover multiple channels. But don’t fret. A few common tactics to help you implement everything you need include:
- Managing campaigns as separate projects
- Creating relevant pairings
- Setting up a content repurposing strategy
Offline+online pairings can work especially well. Let’s say you have a clothing store called “Mira Clothing.” You can add signs in-store asking people to tweet about your brand with the hashtag #miraculousme. You can then interact with the user-generated content or repurpose it for other projects.
3. Create messaging specific to the persona
You have the buyer persona, and you have the channels ready to go. It’s time to create a strategy that caters to your future customers.
Getting the message right is crucial for success. For example, you cannot successfully grow your audience on Instagram if you don’t speak their language.
Halo Top Creamery is an ice cream brand that has created a consistent voice and style. They know their audience and understand what they like. In this case, that means ice cream + Bridgerton on Netflix.
Find out the other likes and preferences of your customers to connect with them successfully. Take the time to hang out on Facebook pages or forums that they visit. What’s their commenting style? Lots of slang? Or rather eloquent? Do they use a lot of hashtags?
Once you have a basic idea of what your target audience likes, you can settle on a tone of voice.
4. Understand the ins and outs of each channel
Different channels call for different approaches. Some are visual, while others require more editorial posts. You need to adapt your messaging to each to stay relevant, especially on social media.
For example, if you want to do lead generation, you should try LinkedIn prospecting. If you are looking to provide video tutorials for your audience, then get active on YouTube.
See below a summary of the type of posts that perform well on a few popular social channels.
|Channel||Recommended format||Great for…|
|Text, images, videos, links, stories||Company loyalty building|
|Photos, videos, stories||Visual presentation|
|Jobs, links, or editorial content||Lead generation (B2B)|
|Short-form content, GIFs, videos, links, images||Quick promos, customer service|
|Images, infographics, links, video||Visual presentation|
|YouTube||Video||Any video-based content|
|Links, texts, images||Engaging with the community|
|Medium||Long-form content||Blogging, sharing value-added content|
Other online channels include:
- Email: At over 14%, email is one of the most effective channels out there. You can do anything from email automation to ad-hoc promos using popular providers like ConvertKit or Mailchimp.
- Blog: 81% of people perform an online search before making a purchase. Starting a blog is a great way to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. You can do this by writing articles that solve problems for your customers.
Pick the channels that make the most sense for your company. Also, be mindful of how much you take on at once. It’s easier to grow one channel at a time than to get lost trying to keep up with too many right away.
5. Integrate the experience across channels
Providing a consistent experience throughout multiple channels is not easy.
Firstly, you need to ensure not to fall into the silo mentality. A silo mentality is where your marketers work simultaneously but never check with each other on what is being communicated to users (and how). This kills brand marketing.
Secondly, you’ll have to establish your own content distribution standards. What does this mean? It means not posting just for the sake of posting but going about it strategically.
The answer is repurposing.
Repurposing means that you take a piece of content and adapt it to a different format. For example, you can take a section from your ebook and make it a blog post.
The beauty of repurposing is that it helps you create content across channels and different stages of the sales funnel. In short, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel from week to week. Simply adjust your message.
In the below example, you can see how it’s done through some real-life examples. This was a campaign about the new Cinnabon frosting pint that you can use to make frosting-filled cookies.
What were the main campaign elements?
Note how the Insta post and the tweet are the same while they created an original video for Facebook. It’s fine to use identical content, as long as it fits the channel.
Tip: start with one piece of content and extract information that you can use elsewhere. For example, you can create an in-depth ebook about baking chocolate cake. Then take some of the tips and put together an infographic or two. Then create a blog post about it. Finally, share some insights as tweets.
6. Leverage your website as a channel
While ads may help you gain awareness and traffic, your website should be the home base of your multi-channel marketing. This is the only platform that you have complete control over.
There are a few strategies and tools you can use to grab the attention of your audience.
- House your ecommerce store on the same domain
- Optimize it for SEO
- Provide additional content about your company
- Add a live chat to enhance customer support
- Set up landing pages for your ads
- Generate leads directly
Also, ensure that your website is responsive and that it works on all devices.
7. Track your performance across channels
Multi-channel marketing requires an organized approach to performance tracking.
Firstly, handling multiple channels is a lot of work. You need to be sure that what you’re doing is not just busy work.
Secondly, just because you committed to x number of channels, it does not mean that you have to stick with them forever. Take note of frequently underperforming channels and either optimize them or remove them from your strategies.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Establish your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each channel
- Move any vanity metrics (number of followers, etc.) to the bottom of your reportings
- Plan how you’ll measure attribution (linear, time decay, or position-based model)
- Measure the effectiveness of your campaigns
Pro-tip: Use marketing automation tools to manage your multi-channel marketing tasks better.
Remember that it’s OK to change your direction now and then if the metrics call for it. Rebrands happen all the time. Look to the big brands for inspiration but always stick to the feedback of your own customers.
8. Invest in retargeting
Retargeting can be a powerful tool when used in multi-channel marketing. In sales, 60% of customers say no 4x before saying yes. People get bombarded with so many messages today that they need regular reminders of products and services they liked.
Let’s say you set up a few ad campaigns that drive traffic to your blog. Even if they bounce, you can still retarget them on multiple other platforms.
Within retargeting itself, we differentiate between static and dynamic retargeting. You can use either one, depending on your business and goals.
Static retargeting means that you create several formats of the same ad. You upload them to your ad serving platform and maybe even assign different audiences to your ad variations. If your users have been to your website, they’ll see one of these ads later.
Static campaigns are best if you’re trying to aggregate leads or spread awareness.
Dynamic retargeting means that your customers get ads unique to their browsing history. For example, if they were looking at shoes on your website, they will see the same shoes as ads while on other websites.
Dynamic campaigns are best for product-focused ecommerce stores. It would otherwise be highly unproductive to create ads for each of your hundreds of products manually. Dynamic ads’ machine learning takes care of that for you.
Once you have run a few regular paid campaigns, you’ll know which type of retargeting would work best for you.
Finally, don’t lose sleep over trying to create the perfect multi-channel strategy with all the bells and whistles. Keep adjusting your campaigns to see great results regularly.
MULTI-CHANNEL MARKETING IS HERE TO STAY
This marketing approach is not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s evolving into omnichannel marketing and other customer-focused strategies. You’re making the right choice by getting in the game while you can.
If you’re switching from single-channel marketing to multi-channel marketing, remember to scale up mindfully. Invest some time in setting up some automation in the beginning.
If you are a new startup owner starting from scratch with multi-channel marketing, remember to repurpose your content. This practice will save you time and help you keep the message the same across multiple channels.
At the end of the day, the success of multi-channel marketing campaigns is not about posting to exactly six channels. It’s about knowing your audience and understanding their purchase behaviors.
Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer that helps brands create and distribute rad content. On a similar note, Mark loves content and contributes to several authoritative blogs like HubSpot, CoSchedule, Foundr, etc. Connect with him via LinkedIN or twitter.
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