A well-executed, multi-channel marketing strategy can yield great results: an increase in traffic, productive customer engagement, and skyrocketing sales. But companies are still hesitant to integrate multiple channels in their marketing. In a study of marketing professionals in North America, Heinz/PFL found that while 50 percent of marketers use both digital and non-digital channels, only 13 percent of marketers have these channels truly integrated.
While online marketing is rapidly growing in reach, a good number of people still find old-school, offline marketing to be more reliable. Consumers still trust their local newspapers and many customers are more likely to buy a new product if they come across it through a newspaper or magazine.
With the ability to increase your sales and client retention rates, it’s important to implement multiple areas of interaction with your customers. These five steps will help you achieve your marketing goals across many channels.
What is Multi-Channel Marketing?
Multi-channel marketing refers to the use of a combination of multiple channels or platforms to interact with customers. Usually, this means you use the same strategy across a combination of direct and indirect, and digital and traditional channels in an attempt to better reach customers.
Some argue that digital forms of marketing are a better approach. Others argue that offline marketing channels are just as effective and that their “death” is over-hyped. A multi-channel marketer says, “Why not have the best of both worlds?”
Some of the most common marketing channels used today include (but are not limited to):
- Online advertising
- Mobile marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Direct mail
- Mail order
- Online videos
- TV/Radio features and advertising
- Print media (flyers, catalogs, brochures, etc)
While the average marketer tends to focus on just one or a few of these (usually leaning towards either online or offline), a multi-channel marketer focuses on integrating a combination of several of these and uses both offline and online channels.
How Effective is Multi-Channel Marketing?
An effective multi-channel marketing strategy will contribute positively to both customer acquisition and retention; research shows that companies with strong multi-channel engagement retain 89 percent of their customers.
Here are four real-life case studies that explore the results brands have received from their Chat Marketing efforts.
Case Study #1: eHarmony’s Leap Day Campaign
Relationship brand eHarmony launched a Leap Day campaign that showcased a success story of a couple that used their service. The campaign was aimed at boosting engagement with the eHarmony platform and used several channels, including:
- Social media
- Push notifications
- Public outreach
- TV promotions
This combination of online and offline marketing channels, plus the use of push notifications which they had never used in a marketing campaign before, led to great results. The use of push notifications alone led to a 72 percent higher engagement compared to their average campaigns. In the end, one-third of users who received eHarmony’s notifications had engaged with their platform.
Case Study #2: Coca-Cola’s Liquid and Linked Campaign
In an attempt to better appeal to its teenage audience, Coca-Cola launched its Liquid and Linked multi-channel marketing campaign. The campaign, which used multi-layered storytelling and mystique to appeal to teenagers’ need for social recognition and interactivity, used a combination of channels that included social media (Facebook and Twitter), online videos, mobile apps, social gaming, and TV ads.
The campaign was so successful that it resulted in over 36 million Facebook likes, over 3 billion impressions, over 45 million conversations, and a 5 percent sales increase in North America for Coca-Cola.
Case Study #3: Dickies
Working with MediaVision, Dickies, the Workwear apparel company, used a combination of channels that included social media, outreach, and onsite content in an attempt to better reach its users. It also created dedicated landing pages that were integrated into these campaigns.
Thanks to a well-executed multi-channel marketing campaign, DickiesStore saw organic growth on social media increase by 1,000 percent in just one year. It saw a 903 percent increase in ROI from paid search, and it experienced a 180 percent increase in search traffic.
Case Study #4: Unicef’s Campaign to Increase Donation to Syria
Unicef created a Christmas appeal to get people to donate to children in Syria. In an attempt to increase donations, the organization decided to launch a campaign that included a combination of display advertising, organic search promotion, and paid search promotion. In the end, Unicef had served display ads to about 5 million people and enjoyed a click-through rate of 1.79 percent (which is a lot more than the industry average of 0.1 percent), More importantly, it did this with a cost per acquisition rate 4.5 times less than was projected. At the end of Unicef’s multi-channel marketing campaign, it got more than three times the amount it expected in donations.
Five Steps to a Successful Multi-Channel Marketing Strategy
While the above case studies are impressive examples of the power of multi-channel marketing, it is important to realize that your multi-channel marketing campaign will only be successful if you have the right strategy. A successful multi-channel marketing campaign goes beyond simply saying, “Use online and offline channels,” or “Use these mediums.” Rather, there is a process, and the following five steps will help you create a successful multi-channel marketing strategy.
Step 1: Set a Clear Goal.
The first step towards a successful multi-channel marketing strategy is to have a clear goal. Not having a goal means you’re simply beating around the bush, and it becomes difficult to know whether or not what you’re doing is working.
For example, is your goal to boost your brand’s reach, gain market share, achieve social dominance, generate traffic, or increase sales? You can have just one of these as a goal, or you can have a combination of two or more. Regardless, you only have a strategy when you have a goal. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve makes it easy to determine what channels you want to use and which KPIs you want to track.
Step 2: Understand Your Target Audience.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to multi-channel marketing; a brand with products designed for geeks and avid gamers has a different audience from a brand with products for elderly women. Besides both brands having a different audience, their approach to multi-channel marketing, as well as channels used, will be different.
You want to make sure you have a very clear understanding of who your target audience is when designing your strategy.
Step 3: Automate the Process.
One of the most important steps involved in creating a successful multi-channel marketing strategy in this digital age is automation. There is only so much you can do or keep up with manually. As such, you want to automate as much of the process as you can. This can be done with the use of the right Customer Relationship Management software. The right software makes it easy to automate and track all the interactions a user has with your brand. Some CRM software will connect to practically all the channels you use and automatically create a profile for users as soon as they interact with your brand. This profile is then regularly updated with their activity and interaction with your brand, even if it is outside channels you directly control.
Step 4: Ensure Consistency of Experience.
One of the key things you should keep in mind when using multi-channel marketing is the importance of ensuring consistency of experience. Ensuring that the user experience across channels (through logo, media, colors, styles, etc) is consistent can go a long way to maintaining the success of your multi-channel marketing strategy. A consistent experience solidifies your overall brand image and increases your ROI. An inconsistent experience, on the other hand, will not only negatively impact your ROI, but it can also dilute your brand image, resulting in your multi-channel marketing efforts yielding negative results.
Step 5: Track Your Results.
The final and most important step of a successful multi-channel marketing campaign is tracking your results. Regardless of how impressive your campaign appears to be, only data will tell whether or not it is effective.
This means there has to be proper integration of your analytics software and CRM to ensure you are able to see results from each channel at a glance, as well as compare results across channels. You can also see whether the introduction of a particular channel is having an indirect impact on another channel. There are also ways to go about tracking offline user activity; while it might not be as effectively measurable as online channels, tracking is still possible. This could be by offering unique coupons to offline users or directing them to a different landing page.
Multi-Channel Marketing Success Starts With the Right Strategy
While there are many dimensions to successful multi-channel marketing, success starts with creating the right strategy. By following the above steps, you should have a solid multi-channel marketing strategy that will give you a positive ROI.
About the Author
Ayodeji Onibalusi is the founder of digital marketing agency Effective Inbound Marketing and online reputation management agency BoostMyMedia.com. He’s an experienced content marketing strategist and can be reached via LinkedIn and on Twitter via (@ayoonis).