What is Multichannel Marketing?
“I had this guy leave me a voicemail at work, so I called him at home, and then he emailed me to my Blackberry, and so I texted to his cell, and then he emailed me to my home account.” – Drew Barrymore, He’s Just Not That Into You
Tech is cheap and fashionable. The average person leads a complex life both in the real world and online, spending time on a variety of platforms and switching between them at lightning speed.
Our behavior has changed, which means businesses need to change the way they market to us. One way to reach consumers across all platforms is through multichannel marketing.
Multichannel marketing is a strategy that targets users with a consistent message across different channels. For example, a multichannel campaign might include direct mail, email, and social media.
Why Multichannel Marketing Matters
Many businesses slap an ad on Facebook and call it a day. But effective marketing is planned, strategic, and expertly timed. That’s why businesses need multichannel marketing.
Multichannel works because it delivers a consistent message to your customers across multiple platforms, both online and in the real world. This reinforces your message and ensures you’re seen and heard through the swaths of competing information.
The problem with shotgun-style marketing is that people might not see your message on one channel; so many things compete for their attention. Multichannel maximizes the effectiveness of your messaging by reaching customers with the right message, at the right time, through the right medium.
Sure, it’s easier to do a one-and-done Facebook ad, but it’s not getting the ROI you need. Multichannel matters because it mimics the way customers live in real life: people go in between real and online platforms all the time. Imagine a businessman listening to a podcast and staring at a billboard while sitting in traffic on his way to work. He’s both online and offline at the same time, absorbing information.
Multichannel marketing gives your audience a cohesive brand experience. People know what to expect from your business, no matter where you are. Customers can choose when and how they engage with you, which makes them more likely to buy. Think about it: you’re reaching someone in the way that’s most convenient to them. No more crossing your fingers and hoping your Pinterest users will buy.
Multichannel is a fantastic marketing strategy, but it’s not without its challenges.
It requires everything to be choreographed to utter perfection. The message has to be fine-tuned, adjusted in advance, and formatted correctly for each medium. Otherwise it will look like you slapped the same ad on four social media – and that’s not true multichannel marketing.
Another issue with multichannel is consistency. The user experience needs to be uniform from end to end. That’s not to say there can’t be variability in your message and design, but the overall theme has to make sense for users.
The final challenge to multichannel marketing is measurability. This isn’t to say that multichannel marketing is hard to measure; it’s anything but! It’s a highly quantitative way to market.
The issue is that the analytics and tracking have to be installed correctly ahead of time. Multichannel is complex, and you need the tools and expertise to untangle the data.
But hey, if you set everything up correctly and know how to analyze the data, multichannel will be a breeze for you.
How You Can Do Multi-Touch Marketing
Feeling intimidated by multichannel? Don’t worry! There are several best practices to help you get started and crush your next campaign.
Analytics and CRM
The all-important first step is to set up both analytics and a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Between the two tools, you can get a single view of the customer across different channels. The CRM tracks where your leads are coming in. It also shows how many times a customer received a touch point from your campaign.
If these systems aren’t in place, you might as well not do multichannel marketing. That’s how important they are. There’s no sense to a marketing campaign, especially one that’s highly strategic and planned, if you can’t measure its effectiveness.
Implement these systems and get on the road to great quantitative measurement with tools like Google Analytics and Salesforce.
The second step is to give your user a consistent end to end experience. The design, messaging, and call to action need to make sense for the customer’s journey.
A superstar example of consistency done right is Apple. This is a company that provides a seamless experience, no matter where they interact with customers. Their packaging, physical stores, and even entertainment apps give customers an experience that’s both high end and cohesive. Customers continue buying from Apple because the company provides a seamless experience. Put bluntly, people know what to expect, so they keep buying.
You want the same thing for your campaign.
Choose The Right Channels
Some people hear “multichannel” and think it means choosing every channel at their disposal. While you can certainly do that, it’s more important to be strategic. Don’t pick random channels or even all of the channels you have.
Research your audience first to know what channels work best for them. Do they prefer going to your website or a physical store? Do they want to hear from you via email, TV, billboard, text message, or direct mail?
Have a strategy for your multichannel campaign. Most campaigns follow three phases: priming (tell them to watch for your offer), presenting (send the messages), and reminding (following up on your call to action). The messaging for each phase will differ.
To strategize your mutichannel marketing campaign, choose the channels you want to use and the timing. The key is to keep messaging valuable and timely to encourage people to act on your message.
Here are a few examples of multichannel marketing to get your creative juices flowing:
- Clark runs a dog grooming company. He sends a postcard to people in certain ZIP codes that own dogs. On his postcard is a coupon and a custom URL for that person to visit. When they go to Clark’s website, they can upload a photo of their dog and dress up their pet through fun filters. Customers can share the adorable pics on social media with a link to Clark’s discounted booking link.
- Jenny runs an event planning business. She promotes a Nacho Eating Contest on Facebook Ads in the months and weeks leading up to the event. Users click through her ad sign up to attend the Nacho Eating Contest. A few weeks before the event, Jenny follows up with RSVP’d users through email, announcing a drawing at the event for a year of free nachos.
- Abhishek runs his own software company. He uses an email list and direct mail campaign to encourage people to sign up for a free webinar training on a certain software. He follows up with webinar attendees through social media and email to set up a prospecting phone call.
Keep in mind that your strategy will be unique to your audience and your needs. Get creative!
Rinse And Repeat
Multichannel marketing campaigns are highly measurable. The work of the marketer doesn’t end after the campaign is over. Look at how your message performed on all channels using analytics and a CRM.
Subtract the cost of the campaign against the new business it brings in. This is your return on investment. And although ROI is important, remember that it’s hard to measure qualitative factors, like brand authority and trust, that improve over the course of a campaign.
Look over your campaign to see what you can improve, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
The Bottom Line
Multichannel marketing is complex, but it’s one of the most effective marketing strategies. It combines the power of print and digital marketing tactics to meet customers where they are, when they’re ready to buy. Use multichannel marketing to be where your customers are. Connect with them in an authentic, personal way while boosting your bottom line.