Many companies have a fragmented approach to marketing, focusing on specific digital platforms in isolation without considering the importance of consistent messaging across all available channels.
Multichannel strategies allow companies to market everywhere, from social media to email to blogs, and even offline methods such as in-store and direct mail.
Multichannel marketing has gained importance since the dawn of social media and other forms of digital marketing, yet many companies are still not implementing it (some sources say as little as 14% of organisations have campaigns that are coordinated across all channels).
This article discusses the importance of multichannel marketing and some key considerations organisations need to keep in mind while developing a multichannel strategy.
Why is Multichannel Marketing Important?
The importance of multichannel marketing cannot be understated. No matter the industry, customers are using more than one channel when they interact with a brand. While some customers may stick to one form of communication, many others will use multiple channels.
The most successful brands are consistent across all channels; they publish new content on a regular basis, engage with customers as much as possible and respond to queries and feedback in a timely manner.
A multichannel approach allows businesses to reach more people and it seems that the more channels a company uses, the better; companies using seven or more channels are 26% more likely to experience a “good or very good response” from their multichannel strategy.
A multichannel strategy allows marketers to reach potential customers where they spend their time and this is especially important for B2B companies where buyers make their decisions based on gathering information from a variety of sources.
For customers, multichannel marketing provides a variety of benefits. In today’s business landscape, they expect to be able to interact with businesses through a variety of channels whether they have a question or a complaint. They also expect a consistent, cohesive experience across platforms; providing that experience helps to ensure that customers have a positive overall impression of the brand and allows them to build a stronger relationship with the businesses that matter to them.
Another factor to consider is that these days, many consumers spend more time researching products before buying. Being present across multiple channels allows businesses to engage with potential customers before they are ready to buy, providing an opportunity to make a bigger impact.
If a business is growing and trying to reach new customers, a multichannel approach can help with accomplishing this goal faster by repurposing content from their top-performing channels to promote products or services on other channels. This will make it easier to attract potential customers from a variety of places.
A multichannel approach is also beneficial for highly segmented target audiences. When targeting a specific group, their preferred channels should be used to reach them rather than applying the same strategy to all segments. Using multiple channels also provides much richer data to work from – for example, tracking behavioural data across multiple platforms allows businesses to build more robust and complete customer profiles.
Another trend that highlights the need for a multichannel approach is personalisation. Customers expect personalisation and 76% of them are frustrated when they don’t get it. Segmenting based on which platforms the audience uses and further segmenting on each platform is a form of personalisation. Again, this comes down to enhancing the customer experience through the option of convenient communication on their preferred channels.
What is Required to Build a Successful Multichannel Strategy?
Before developing a multichannel strategy, it may be worthwhile to do a marketing audit. Reviewing all current marketing efforts and how they could be improved provides a strong foundation to build upon.
To create a successful multichannel marketing campaign, it is necessary to first identify the right channels for the given audience. Where do these customers spend their time online? Which social media platforms do they use the most? What are the best publications to partner with? Are they engaging with podcasts?
Once detailed customer profiles have been defined and the required channels have been selected for each segment, objectives should be defined. For example, is the goal to acquire new customers or retain customers? KPIs should then be selected based on those objectives.
After deciding which channels to focus on, it’s important to decide which ones to focus on first. In some cases, it may make more sense to start by improving the cohesion among the channels already in use. In other cases, businesses may choose to prioritise those with the potential for the greatest impact. Again, it all comes down to what the objectives are.
Creating Marketing Assets
Campaign plans will then need to be created. The content published on each channel should be consistent, resonant, relevant, and shareable. Visual branding must also be consistent across platforms. All in all, the key is to sure that all channels are properly aligned and working together towards the same goal.
Measuring the success on each platform will provide insights into the return on investment of each channel for each segment. The strategy can then be continuously adapted based on the insights discovered.
After identifying the right channels for the audience, they must be cross-pollinated. Linking all channels together makes it easier for customers to find content and for products and services to be promoted.
Overcoming Common Barriers to Multichannel Marketing
There are several common barriers that organisations face when integrating new channels into existing marketing strategies and processes. It is important to plan ahead in order to navigate these challenges, should they arise.
Lack of Collaboration
In organisations with team members responsible for different channels, there is a risk that they will operate independently. A lack of collaboration between teams means little integration across channels. It also makes it difficult to accurately measure the ROI for each channel as there will be no standardised processes for measurement. Thus, it is vital to make sure a unified approach is in place and that all teams are aligned. In addition, all team members must understand the brand identity and messaging that needs to be brought to each channel in order to ensure consistency.
When teams are operating separately as described above and are using their own tools to manage campaigns, their data may be stored separately, creating a series of data silos.
The problem with data silos is that data cannot be accessed in one place, making it difficult to analyse how each channel drives traffic, leads, and sales. There is no integrated view of the customer and their behaviour across channels, making it difficult to optimise. There is also the risk of making decisions based on incomplete data, which could lead to bad marketing strategies.
Of course, there are scenarios where data for each channel needs to be assessed separately. The problem is when they are not connected. Using a customer data platform allows companies to consolidate all their data into one centralised place that is accessible for all teams.
Incorporating New Channels into Existing Processes
When adding a new channel to the mix, it is important to ensure the correct processes are in place to support the additional workflows and that all the required staff are briefed on those processes. This can be challenging for large companies that have multiple brands.
Timeliness is another factor when it comes to adding new channels. If a quick response is needed to changes in trends, robust processes need to be in place to prevent bottlenecks.
Lack of Cohesion Between Marketing and IT Departments
A disconnect between marketing and IT departments stalls progress, especially when quick responses are needed due to industry development and new marketing technologies. In fact, 51% of marketers cannot react to new channels due to out-dated technology and 49% have to contact IT to do something as simple as edit their web content.
Establishing a common vision is a key step in aligning the two departments. Improving communication is another – this helps ensure that marketers can easily find out whether what they want to do is feasible within their existing architecture. In other scenarios, digital transformation may be the key to bridging the gap.
In order to be successful, businesses need to meet their customers where they are and provide a consistent experience across all channels. A multichannel marketing strategy can be the difference between struggling and thriving in an increasingly digital world. It provides a great opportunity to gain the competitive edge, especially since many companies are allegedly struggling to make their multichannel strategies work.
When it comes to creating a cohesive customer experience across all channels, businesses needs to ensure the messaging across channels is aligned, that content is tailored to each segment and that team members are knowledgeable about all of your channels and how they should be used. Customer feedback and analytics should be used in order to continuously improve the customer experience across all channels.
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