Now more than ever, people are paying attention to an increasing number of channels before making a purchase decision. Often, the channel that influences whether a user does business with you isn’t where they initially discovered you.
In its 2019 holiday shopping predictions, based on a study of habits of more than half a billion global shoppers and a survey of more than 10,000 customers, Salesforce discovered that, on average, shoppers use eight channels to engage with brands during the shopping journey, and are more likely to engage with customer service on an average of three channels.
For smart marketers, this underscores the importance of multichannel marketing. More likely than not, even if you aren’t aware of it, you’re involved in some form of multichannel marketing. The key question is whether you have a strategy and are intent about how you approach it.
Below are six multichannel marketing best practices you should follow to boost your marketing ROI:
1. Outline a clear goal for your multichannel marketing efforts
Perhaps the most important thing you should do when working on a multichannel marketing strategy is to be clear about your goal from the start.
Ultimately, your goal will determine what mix of marketing channels you favor and what approach you use. It’s worth asking yourself what you aim to achieve with your multichannel marketing campaign: are you looking to increase product sales, create more brand awareness, generate traffic, or boost conversions? Being clear about this makes it easy for you to determine what methods to use.
2. Be clear about who your target audience is for your multichannel marketing campaigns
Target audiences behave differently and have different preferences. Millennials, for example, not only have extremely different habits compared to baby boomers, but also use different channels. If your target audience consists mainly of younger males, your approach and marketing channels would differ from what you’ll use should you be targeting elderly males or women.
The Financial Times’ multichannel marketing campaign that was initiated to increase the paper’s readership among youths highlights the importance of being very clear about the target audience of a multichannel marketing campaign.
In an attempt to increase brand awareness among younger, tech-savvy people, The Financial Times (FT) decided to launch a campaign in partnership with digital marketing agency Essence. Using data, FT's multichannel marketing campaign was optimized for smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices (which is what is predominantly used by their target audience) and targeted younger readers on channels they were more likely to use. Relevant messages were then delivered to these people during times they were more likely to be active on these channels (such as during their commute and at lunch breaks).
Some of the results FT achieved as a result of having a clear idea of who their target audience is and designing their campaign accordingly include:
- Doubling visits to FT's mobile site month on month while the campaign was running
- Getting 82% average completion of video media placements (much higher than the 74% industry average)
- Increase in post click and post impression subscriptions as well as significant improvement in weekly subscription volumes
FT’s success wasn’t only possible because it had the money to spend; rather, it was very clear about who its target audience is. Since it wanted to target youths, its campaign leveraged media youths are receptive to, was designed with devices youths spend a lot of time on in mind (mobile and tablets), and was placed in channels where youths are more likely to be active.
3. Integrate offline and online marketing efforts
While there were several key marketing insights from the 2019 holiday season, a fact worth noting is that brick-and-mortar retail sales fell by 6.2% while foot traffic fell by 2.1% during Black Friday.
While this shows increased preference in shopping online, that’s only half the story; it emphasizes, more than ever, the importance of integrating offline and online marketing efforts.
Whether you run an offline business or an online business, the importance of ensuring an integration of offline and online marketing efforts can’t be overstated. This goes beyond simply advertising on one or both mediums but ensuring an integration of both.
Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign shows just how powerful effectively integrating offline and online marketing efforts can be for a multichannel marketing campaign. While the campaign used a mix of offline and online media to create awareness (Israel's largest billboards were turned into interactive signs that greeted citizens by name, for example), the campaign encouraged users to come online by uploading pictures of Coke bottles with their names on Twitter using the campaign's “ShareaCoke” hashtag.
It was so successful that consumers went online and shared over 500,000 photos using the #ShareaCoke hashtag on Twitter, ensuring significant social media exposure for Coca-Cola. The masterful integration of offline and online marketing for the "Share a Coke" campaign also contributed to Coca-Cola gaining about 25 million Facebook fans that year alone as well as a 2% increase in sales in the United States.
Often times we watch TV shows and are asked to go online and tweet a certain hashtag, join a social media debate, take a certain poll or quiz, or take some other action online. That’s a good example of offline and online marketing integration. Your campaigns should be designed in such a way that offline users are constantly prompted to interact with your brand online and vice versa.
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4. Leverage the power of interactivity to increase engagement
Leveraging the power of interactivity can provide a big boost to your multichannel marketing efforts; getting users to interact is so powerful that research shows that a company was able to boost engagement by up to 1,000% by using gamification.
If there's a way to incorporate an element of interactivity into your multichannel marketing campaign, particularly if you’re targeting a younger audience, then by all means go for it!
In its Liquid and Linked campaign, by making its campaign a quest in which users go through a series of challenges to discover Coke's secret formula, Coca-Cola was able to generate over 3 billion impressions and 45 million conversations just in the beginning stages of the campaign. The campaign also helped Coca-Cola get over 36 million likes on Facebook and contributed to a 5% increase in Coke's sales volumes in North America.
5. Ensure message and brand consistency across channels
Multichannel marketing campaigns should always be designed while keeping your brand image in mind. In other words, you want to ensure brand consistency.
Amazon comes to mind as a good example when it comes to ensuring brand consistency across channels. Whether it's an Amazon TV commercial such as this one or this one, or whether it's an email from Amazon.
When you’re actually on the Amazon website, one thing is clear: it's big on brand consistency. There's the “Amazon look and feel” across channels and it's usually easy to tell that it's Amazon. This is done through consistent color usage, consistent logo usage, and ensuring consistency when it comes to user experience.
When designing your multichannel marketing campaigns you should make sure that your messaging and branding are consistent across all channels.
6. Carefully track response across channels
Your multichannel marketing campaign is only as effective as your ability to track it. As such, it's important to ensure that your campaigns are properly tracked—this way, you know which channels to focus on and which ones to drop.
Going back to the case studies used in this article, Financial Times was only able to get good results because it operated based on data; this made it easy to know what channels to focus on and for how long to continue its campaign. Coca-Cola also knew exactly how many people were uploading pictures in response to its "Share a Coke" campaign, how many people were following it on Facebook, and how many people were interacting with its brand as a result.
Depending on the goal of your campaign, you can use analytics and CRM software such as Keap to track interaction across channels. You can also use hashtags and UTM parameters to monitor performance across channels. Regardless of your approach, it's important to make sure you’re tracking results.