A multi-channel marketing strategy is more than simply launching some marketing initiatives on multiple platforms. Instead, a true multi-channel approach creates a unified experience across more than one channel so you can reach your target audience wherever they may be interacting with you at the moment.
This approach is effective as today's consumers have a lot of technology at their fingertips and want to engage with companies in a variety of ways, but without feeling like they are jumping around while doing so. For example, a potential customer may come across your Facebook feed and click a link to read a post on your blog. From there, they may venture into your business to learn more.
That customer wants to feel like they've accessed a single touch point--your company--even though it was really three unique points. Here are a few ways to adopt a multi-channel strategy into your mix.
Before You Get Started
Before you venture into a multi-channel strategy, there are a few important ducks to get in a row. The first is to have a consistent look and feel across all your channels, so make sure your social media feeds, website, and printed materials all have the same branding elements to create a uniform experience.
Next, take the time to create a thorough profile of your target audiences. Without a deep understanding of their needs along with plenty of details about their online and offline habits, you won't be able to leverage the strengths of different channels in a way that will make your audience respond. In other words, you can't give people what they want if you don't know what that is.
Then, make sure you have specific, measurable goals for your strategies so you'll know whether your initiatives are effective or not. That way, you can double down on what's working and take a second look at anything that's not working so you're not wasting resources.
3 Ways to Approach Multi-Channel Marketing
Any combination of marketing channels is possible when creating a multi-channel marketing strategy. Here are three of them to give you a jumping-off point when planning yours.
1. PPC Ad Extensions. Pay-per-click ad extensions from Google give you several options for bringing search traffic to other channels once your ads are seen, especially for mobile users. One option advertisers are given include a "view offer" link that directs clicks to a landing page and allows users to print or save offers for use in-store.
There are lots of other options for ad extensions, too. Some let you provide extra details about your products and services, show specific call-to-action buttons, display store locations, clickable phone numbers that dial the call, and buttons for mobile app downloads.
Each of these can be used to capture the attention of people who are using Google to solve problems and search for solutions, and bring them into the fold of your other channels.
2. Event Warmups. Let's say there's a big tradeshow or conference coming up for your industry and you're deep into the planning stages for the event. Your tradeshow booth and marketing materials are designed and with the printer for production. Your customized swag is on its way. Your collateral packages are ready and you've had extra business cards printed with a custom URL to welcome new prospects you've met at the event.
Along with these preparations, give your audience a bit of a brand warmup in the days or weeks leading up to the event. This will provide them with an opportunity to see your name a few times and have an idea of what you're about rather than encountering you for the first time at the event. For example, a targeted social media ad campaign can help boost your name recognition while also drawing in potential event attendees.
3. Paper Outreach. There are lots of ways to build your digital audience, but an often overlooked avenue is offline campaigns. A direct mail campaign that targets less-frequent digital users can be a great way to bring new people into your online space--especially if you've been unable to reach them with digital efforts due to their infrequent connection to the web.
Consider an offer sent via U.S. mail that invites people to "check in on Facebook" the next time they are in a store to receive a discount. Or a printed insert that can be handed to customers at the checkout that directs them to your website for more offers. You can keep these outreach efforts simple, or try something fun like creating a photo booth in your store with props and signage. Customers can snap a pic and upload it to social media to share with their friends.
When you encourage customers to bring their in-store experiences online, not only will those customers then be part of your digital network, but your brand will be exposed to all of their connections as well.
Always Consider Customers
The key to making cross-channel promotions work is to focus on what your customers will respond to. There may not be much action from a photo booth at the tax accountant's office, but those clients are very likely to be interested in your blog series on how to be smart about tax-advantaged savings accounts. When you put your customer's needs first and keep your branding and messaging consistent across all your assets, your audience will enjoy a seamless trip across channels and you'll meet your marketing goals.
Print remains the bedrock of great marketing. However, marketing still needs to be multi-channel. As put so well by Lazar Dzamic of Kitcatt Nohr Digitas, a London-based creative agency, “People don’t think ‘offline’ and ‘online.’ They just see a brand in all its touch points.” In other words, there isn’t print marketing and digital marketing. It’s all just marketing. So how does print fit into this larger, omnichannel world?
Regardless of channel, marketing success starts with data. You want to gather as much data about your target audience as possible to make the message richer and more effective. You also want to present a consistent brand and marketing message across channels.
Here are some best practices to get you started:
• Verify and correct existing customer data.
• Update and expand on that data to learn as much as possible about each customer.
• Segment messages based on full customer profiles.
• Layer on personalization.
• Be consistent in your branding and messaging across all touch points.
When you develop the print portion of your campaigns, focus on those aspects that are unique to print or that are particularly suited for it:
• Invest in exceptional design that leaps off the page.
• Capture the richness and depth of printed color to create a lasting impression that digital cannot match.
• Add special effects such as coating, die-cuts, or embossing.
• Integrate tactile media such as textured surfaces, unusual coatings, or memorable stocks.
• Use dimension, folds, pulls, and other interactive elements to create a physical 3D experience.
Print offers unique benefits that cannot be replicated on a screen. Take advantage of them!