Digital transformation has given people more power than ever as a consumer, and today’s marketers have to meet their target audience where they are by determining what platforms they’re interacting with and when. A single channel approach is not going to give you the holistic understanding of your audience so that you can create a more comprehensive, personalized customer experience. With cross-channel marketing, you can take every touchpoint into account, allowing you to optimize your message along every step as the consumer interacts with your brand.
What is Cross-Channel Marketing?
Cross-channel marketing combines various marketing channels to create a more cohesive customer journey for your target audience. Channels should work together to create a connected message that leads from one to the other. By engaging with consumers at different touchpoints, marketers can utilize people based marketing to build comprehensive profiles that help personalize the customer experience and build loyalty.
Why Should You Use Cross-Channel Marketing?
Today, there are more ways than ever to reach and engage with consumers, and marketers can uncover deeper insights with a comprehensive approach that considers every channel. Here are a few key benefits of cross-channel marketing:
1. Optimize the Customer Journey
Applying a holistic view of the customer journey has a significant impact. It’s been shown that holistic, cross-channel campaigns can improve marketing budget efficiencies by 15 to 20 percent by properly crediting marketing tactics with customer actions or influence. Furthermore, a study of 46,000 people showed that 73 percent of shoppers buy from more than one channel.
As a marketer, you need to be where your customers and prospects are - taking into account that customer journeys span across offline and online channels. For a complete view of how customers engage across channels, a heavily-siloed approach will not be sufficient. In fact, 86 percent of senior leadership agrees that it’s important that the customer journey be cohesive across channels. In an increasingly connected world, marketers need to ensure that their campaigns aren’t in fragmented parts. Rather, marketers must use unified databases that store customer data in a single, central location.
2. Increased Engagement
Multichannel customers are very valuable for your business - 62 percent of survey respondents who engage with retailers across 10 or more channels make a purchase once a week or more. Emotional connections between consumers and brands are built through engaging interactions, and they are often the deciding factor that can turn your target audience into brand loyal customers.
Customers interact with brands on a wide variety of channels and marketers, so if you want to drive successful engagement, you’re going to have to put your brand in front of the customer instead of waiting for them to find you. Consider using strategic hashtags and encourage users to share your content with direct response marketing. Anything that encourages people to interact with your brand is going to build engagement.
3. Create a Strong Brand to Build Better Relationships
Multiple channels grant you additional visibility, allowing you to create a stronger brand, as well as drive customer loyalty. Consider Apple: They have brick & mortar stores, a clean website, TV commercials, and digital ads. By sticking to a consistent brand and style guide, they are able to maintain a consistent look and message at every touchpoint.
The various channels compliment each other - for example, the brick-and-mortar stores act as support for the entire Apple ecosystem, and customers aren’t necessarily expected to make a purchase when they visit a physical store. This helps to create a comprehensive experience with the brand, rather than relying only on the moment of purchase. Each channel is complementary to the next, working together to create an immersive brand experience.
Challenges of Cross-Channel Marketing
Cross-channel marketing can be challenging because it transforms a basic, simplified customer journey into something much more nuanced and complex. Initially implementing a cross-channel campaigns requires measuring a long list of media channels - and the number of channels is continuing to increase. Many brands find themselves behind the curve when it comes to embracing new platforms, which leads to a few common challenges.
Reaching Audiences at the Right Time
Given the number of marketing channels, it can be hard for marketers to select the right way to effectively reach their target audience at the right time. With so many options, it can be difficult to predict the best place and time to reach consumers, especially as many of these platforms may be experiencing shifts both in user intent and advertising/marketing capabilities.
According to 40 percent of marketers, their biggest challenge is leveraging advanced strategies to reach their target demographic at the right time. Media planners must select the right time to display ads across platforms, as well as follow best practices for each channel. In advertising, what works for a TV spot is not going to work for a Facebook post, and planners have to be aware of what messaging will be most effective for each channel.
Achieving High Data Quality for Better Insights
Data quality continues to be a challenge for many organizations. Roughly 34 percent of data leaders say they want to better leverage data insights into their business’s decision making processes. However, 42 percent of customer analytics professionals are struggling with data quality, noting it as their top challenge.
The amount of data that companies gather is always increasing, and it’s important to know what data is truly relevant for improving efficiency and understanding consumer behavior. The higher the data quality, the more accurate the insights, meaning companies can make more data-driven marketing decisions. Without high quality data, marketers struggle to derive actionable, person-level insights that can be used to drive future decision-making.
Picking the Right Advertising Channels
Selecting the right advertising channels can be a challenge for most organizations because of how difficult it is to determine where your target audience is spending most of their time, and when. Not all platforms will reach your target audience, which is why it’s so important to understand the consumer on a granular level.
When creating a cross-channel plan, campaigns need to work together across the channels your target audience engages with to increase the chances of getting your message in front of them at the right time. When choosing an advertising channel, consider the value of each channel and it’s place in the customer journey. It’s also important to keep the main objective of the campaign in mind - Is it to capture leads? Generate impressions? Improve engagement? Whatever it may be, you must evaluate which channel is going to be able to give you the results that you’re looking for.
Selecting Accurate Marketing Attribution
Many companies are still behind when it comes to marketing attribution and data quality. Consider the following:
- Only 21 percent of marketers have deployed a marketing attribution model & regularly use it in their campaigns.
- Less than 1 in 2 corporate strategies mention data and analytics in their corporate strategies.
Marketers continue to track metrics such as click-through-rates while discounting other metrics. If 1 percent of viewers click on an ad or link, the 99 percent who saw the ad but did not click may not be counted, even though this ad may have influenced a conversion later down the pipeline.
Media mix modeling (MMM) and multi-touch attribution (MTA) both have limitations in terms of marketing analytics. They cannot be combined, deliver real time data, or provide a holistic view of campaigns. Instead, marketers should take a more holistic approach to attribution by combining raw data and person-level insights. This is done with a unified marketing measurement (UMM), which provides a comprehensive view of each channel and campaign, how they impact each other, and their overall effect on driving conversions.
In order to better understand each campaign's impact on driving conversions. This will provide a more accurate view of all marketing campaigns and how they work together and affect each other, helping guide future decision making.
Examples of Brands Using Cross-Channel Marketing
When done correctly, cross-channel marketing can provide brands with a better understanding of their customers that can be used to guide future campaign decisions. Here are two brands who found success by making use of multiple channels in their campaigns:
1. Mercedes Benz
Mercedes Benz utilized a campaign strategy with both digital and offline methods to launch its CLA product, and the company said it was the best product launch in 20 years. They used research from their “Generation Benz” online community to help inform their tactics and gain an understanding of their users.
To launch CLA, they chose to do a Superbowl ad with Usher and Kate Upton (coincidentally, the Superbowl was hosted at a Mercedes-sponsored stadium). They created a microsite for their product, bought Facebook ads and created the hashtag #clatakethewheel to drive engagement. They also partook in influencer marketing by partnering up with popular Instagram photographers and Casey Neistat, a prominent YouTube personality. By the end of the campaign, Mercedes had received over 85 million organic impressions and roughly 2 million likes, and the CLA model was single handedly responsible for the company’s November sales gain, up 14 percent from the previous year.
Through the use of its app, Starbucks has combined the offline and online experience. With the help of a reinforcement learning platform, the app rewards users for their purchases and even offers personalized recommendations based on their shopping habits. Users also get push notifications for sales or other promotions Starbucks has, which encourages more foot traffic.
Through an integrated experience, Starbucks is effectively meeting its customers where they are in nearly every moment. Artificial intelligence has provided consumer insights that not only understand behavior, but anticipate it. In real-time, customers can check and reload their card directly from their phone, making it as simple as possible for users to make a purchase from anywhere and at any time.
How to Build a Successful Cross-Channel Campaign
The goal of cross-channel marketing is to create personalized and engaging experiences for customers. Consider these best practices when crafting a campaign:
1. Leverage Data
In order to develop a successful campaign, organizations must be data-driven. They need to consider who their target audience is, what platforms they frequently use, and what messaging they respond to. High-quality data gathered from multiple channels will identify trends and patterns in behavior that can be used to contextualize your audience’s preferences and decisions.
2. Create Customer Profiles
Comprehensive customer profiles can help evaluate your target audience’s motivation and shopping habits, and get a better idea of what and who they are already engaging with. By analyzing customer data, you can uncover patterns and commonalities between groups, allowing you to create segments within your audience. These insights can then be used to drive future strategies and messaging, and create repeatable success.
3. Create Clear Job Positions & A Designated Leadership Role
In a marketing effectiveness survey conducted by Gartner in 2017, 60 percent of organizations who indicated that they are outperforming their peers have a leadership position dedicated entirely to multichannel marketing. In the same survey, nearly all survey respondents said they have someone in charge of multi-channel marketing with at least a director position or higher. Roughly 30 percent of CMOs are responsible for this function, while 56 percent of respondents report directly to the C-suite.
Cross-channel marketing can be complex and detail-oriented, and it’s important that it is not thought of as an extension to the marketing strategy, but rather the marketing strategy itself. A designated leader helps to keep the entire team on track and has a clear understanding of each channel’s role.
4. Utilize the Right Marketing Technology
Strong analytics is what gives us actionable insights into our customer’s preferences, so it’s crucial that you choose a marketing technology that gathers accurate, high-quality data. Automation is another key functionality to consider when determining what tool is going to best fit the needs of your company. With the right marketing performance solution, marketers can gain a more holistic understanding of their target audience. Among other things, marketing technologies should enable the marketing team to optimize:
- When they show ads,
- Which channels they display their ads on, and
- The messages they use to interact with their target audience.
An effective marketing tech stack should streamline communications and help to create a cohesive customer journey that identifies and leverages the channels and messages that your target audience is engaging with the most.
5. Continuously Optimize Your Marketing Strategy
The key to creating successful campaigns is to evaluate past performance and apply the lessons learned to future strategies. The data collected can provide marketing teams with important insights into marketing ROI, allowing them to make informed decisions about how campaigns can be further optimized in the future.