Multi-channel marketing mixes many distribution and promotional channels into a single, unified strategy to attract customers. This approach efficiently and effectively communicates a product or service’s value using the unique strengths of specific marketing channels. These channels include, but are not limited to, email, direct mail, websites, social media, display adverts, and/or a retail storefront. Marketers may use several distribution channels so customers can procure products in their preferred way – for example, a business may sell products at a specific brick-and-mortar retailer while maintaining their own online store.
The Benefits of Multi-Channel Marketing
Marketers have lauded multi-channel marketing for decades, with one study claiming that multi-channel customers spend two to five times more than single-channel customers. Let’s illustrate why multi-channel marketing strategies deserve this reputation.
When marketers expand their marketing efforts to new channels, they increase their reach among members of their potential audience. Many customers interact on a limited number of channels – so by expanding your campaigns to encompass more channels, it’s possible to find customers with untapped purchasing potential.
An increased number of channels often translates into a higher number of potential customer touchpoints. This doesn’t only give consumers more opportunities to engage with brands, it also opens up new channels of communication between the organization and the customer.
Reach Consumers on Their Preferred Channel
Consumers interact with a lot of different sources of media every day – instead of waiting for customers to find their brand, marketers need to uncover which channels these consumers prefer to use and meet them where they are. So, a customer who has a cursory interest in your product or service may want to receive expository advertisements on television, while a customer that is almost ready to purchase may want to read detailed reviews about your brand online.
Combined Channels are More Effective
When marketers create a strategy that ties together campaigns from multiple media channels, it creates opportunities for more impactful messages that are mindful of the customer journey. It’s possible to mix and match a variety of channels and messages, but let’s take a closer look at two proven examples of channels that can be combined for more effective campaigns:
- Social Media & Television – Nielsen Research found that campaigns with touchpoints across both television and Facebook experienced a 12 point lift in brand recall compared to campaigns that took place on a single channel. This is because social media helps reinforce marketing messages by reaching potential customers on a frequent, highly targeted basis.
- Radio & Television – Radio adverts are proven to help consumers remember television advertisements. When these two channels are combined, brand recall for television advertisements has been shown to improve by 35 percent. It is theorized that this effect occurs because it is very cost-effective to frequently expose consumers to short radio advertisements. Then, brands can solidify their image through more impactful and engaging television commercials.
The Challenges of Multi-Channel Marketing
Although there are many benefits to using a multi-channel marketing strategy, it is not ideal for every organization. Before you implement this strategy in your organization, plan to overcome the challenges listed below.
More channels demand more management – so marketers need to be ready to allot additional time, resources, and money to create strategies that are perfect for each channel. In addition to this, many organizations have heavily siloed departments where there is minimal data sharing and cross-communication. Since other teams, like finance or operations, may understand some aspects of consumer behavior better than marketing does, it may be difficult to determine the best ways to manage your campaign without their combined input.
Proper Marketing Attribution
The importance of accurate marketing attribution becomes perfectly clear when organizations embark on a multi-channel marketing strategy. A growing number of channels makes it increasingly difficult to determine which message triggered a specific response from a customer.
Many marketers have already adopted some kind of attribution model – a recent report found that 68 percent of marketers with an attribution strategy used Media Mix Modeling (MMM) while 49 percent used Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA). However, these models do not provide a holistic view across both online and offline campaigns – and MMM, in particular, is not suited for timely, future-facing marketing analytics that can be used to adjust and optimize active campaigns. Instead, marketers need to focus on attribution models (such as Unified Marketing Measurement) that provide timely insights on impressions and engagement across both online and offline channels.
Leveraging Marketing Analytics
Marketing teams believe they have a firm grip on analytics – however, the practice of creating a multi-channel marketing campaign can shine a light on improper or ineffective tactics. When creating multi-channel campaigns, 37 percent of marketers found it challenging to leverage customer data, and 55 percent found it difficult to add customer data to existing customer profiles. Additionally, 65 percent of marketers are concerned with data quality. Discovering these snags would certainly come as a rude awakening to any team that invested the time and resources necessary to bring a multi-channel campaign to market.
The data has suggested that these challenges arise due to a lack of expertise in the organization. 56 percent of marketers reported that it was at least moderately challenging to fill roles related to marketing analytics, with 18 percent claiming it was their most difficult challenge of 2019. Marketers need to either undergo training to develop these skills or use an analytics platform that makes data analysis much simpler for the uninitiated.
Keeping Up With Innovations
A decade ago, marketers were learning how to optimize ad placements on Facebook. In just a few short years, they felt the urgent need to expand their marketing efforts to Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, and more. It’s difficult to master a new social media platform every year – and this challenge is compounded when marketers also need to keep pace with other groundbreaking innovations such as Smart TV and location-based marketing. To stay ahead of the competition, marketers must constantly research up-and-coming channels, and devise strategies that will maximize the value of their messaging on those channels.
Customers don’t only need to see your message, they need to feel it resonate with their values. That’s why quality message targeting is so important - and multi-channel marketing puts additional emphasis on the importance of properly targeted messages. Multi-channel messages should be based on a customer’s demographic, psychographic, and purchasing history while considering the channels that the customer frequents. This requires an in-depth, personalized approach to marketing.
Key Steps to Creating a Successful Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign
Multi-channel campaigns are a bit more nuanced than single-channel marketing campaigns. Marketers need to pick the correct channels for certain customer segments while designing the right creative content for the audience on that frequents that platform. This requires a deeper understanding of marketing data, which can be accomplished by following a few steps.
Break Down Organizational Silos
Organizational silos disrupt communication and hinder collaboration across various departments. Silos develop naturally in an organization unless special care is taken to prevent them – people tend to stay loyal to their given group and may not share information or datasets with people outside of their team without prompting. Breaking down these barriers requires bringing the entire organization together under a single cause that they all find value in – once this has been accomplished, it’s possible to create unified and cohesive messaging that’s aligned across every channel.
Leverage a Multi-Channel Marketing Platform
A marketing measurement and optimization platform is essential to creating successful multi-channel marketing campaigns. The management side of these marketing technology tools help track campaigns across channels while keeping every department on the same page. On the optimization side, advanced marketing analytics will help your teams evaluate the path that led to a consumer’s purchase. This doesn’t only encourage accurate marketing attribution, it helps marketers collect relevant behavioral insights across particular channels, leading to an effective, optimized multi-channel strategy.
Understand Your Target Audience
Multi-channel marketing campaigns require a more in-depth view of your target market when compared to rudimentary alternatives. It’s recommended that marketers gather enough data about their target audience through extensive market research to create in-depth buyer personas that focus on small segments of your target audience. These personas should outline which channels the target customer prefers to use, what advertisements they tend to engage with, and include relevant demographic information.
Then, test the validity of your buyer persona by using A/B testing for campaign “test runs.” If a certain message gets a great deal of engagement, your current buyer persona is certainly on the right track. If the response wasn’t what your team was expecting, they should reconsider some facets of the persona and test again. Even if your persona passes the test, take care to continuously optimize your targeting since consumer attitudes are apt to change.
Create Consistent Messaging
Consumers are more likely to remember your brand if your messaging is consistent. This doesn’t mean that marketers should bombard customers with repetitive messaging that remains static from channel to channel. Instead, they should build a consistent brand image and attitude that remains consistent across channels, while the exact messaging can change depending on the media channel’s format or the audience’s attitude.
The Difference Between Multi-Channel Marketing and Cross-Channel Marketing
Multi-channel marketing and cross-channel marketing are occasionally used interchangeably, but they are two separate concepts. Multi-channel marketing focuses on communicating with customers across multiple, independent channels that are not necessarily linked together, using the best traits of each channel to maximize their impact. However, multi-channel strategies often have trouble keeping pace with the buyer’s journey. A customer who is close to the decision stage judging by their online behavior may receive flyers in the mail as if they were in the consideration stage, for example.
On the other hand, cross-channel marketing is a slightly more advanced concept where a customer’s previous behavior influences the next message they will see. This requires a much more in-depth understanding of a customer’s behavior and preferred channels, and a marketing analytics platform that can analyze multiple customer segments across many channels to determine the next best ad placement. This creates a more dynamic campaign that reacts to customer preferences, ensuring that they always receive the right messages on the right channel. However, this requires advanced marketing analytics - to explore how Marketing Evolution can provide this, click here.
Examples of Multi-Channel Marketing
Although multi-channel marketing seems complicated on paper, plenty of marketing teams engage in multi-channel strategies without making a conscious decision. Any campaign that stretches across channels is considered a multi-channel strategy – and with the ubiquity of advertising channels in the modern marketing environment, many instinctually dabble in multi-channel marketing. In 2019, the average marketer used 7.2 channels, with a few popular choices being social media, web marketing, digital advertising, and mobile marketing.
Multi-channel marketing can be as simple as putting a tracked URL in an email, promoting a hashtag on TV, or having a website send push notifications to a mobile device. However, the most successful multi-channel marketing campaigns are usually quite in-depth and use data to maximize the effectiveness of each individual channel. Consider the examples below.
Maggi and Wagner Pizza
Maggi is an international seller of products such as seasonings and instant soups with considerable popularity across regions such as Eurasia and Oceania. In 2017, they combined efforts with the Facebook Creative Team to reformat one of their very successful television ads for use on social media. They believed this would complement their media mix while allowing them to reach a much broader audience.
The team put advertisements together for both Instagram and Facebook, shortening a 30-second television spot to an 8-second mobile-optimized clip with captions. They then ran both television and social ads during the same three-month period. This multi-channel campaign was quite successful – they experienced a 9 percent lift in sales and a 3.06x annualized return on their advertising spend.
Gatwick Airport is a major international airport in southeast England, boasting over 115 gates. Being the 9th busiest airport in Europe, they were having some trouble managing their round-the-clock customer concerns. In 2010, they had the idea to launch 24-hour customer service support through a Twitter account. They trained employees to quickly resolve problems before travelers even left the airport.
Their strategy to bridge the gap between online and offline didn’t stop there. Gatwick Airport went on to install giant QR codes in areas that were under construction, and visitors that scanned the codes could see the future plans for that space. The airport also harnessed a location-based marketing service to encourage visitors to review booths in the airport. This multi-channel marketing strategy didn’t only give Gatwick Airport a wealth of customer information to fuel future campaigns and offerings – their innovation generated over 100 media pieces touting their success, and 85 percent of customer comments regarding the initiative were positive.
Frequently Asked Question about Multi-Channel Marketing
Marketers and other stakeholders may ask a few questions before they realize the benefits of multi-channel marketing. Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about this practice.
Why is multi-channel marketing effective?
Multichannel marketing combines various platforms to amplify your campaign’s frequency and reach, creating more effective messaging. One channel is often not enough for a robust marketing campaign since audiences tend to frequent many different channels. Although multi-channel marketing is more effective than single-channel strategies, marketers should consider extending to even more sophisticated strategies such as cross-channel marketing.
What does multi-channel mean?
Multi-channel refers to the use of several media channels for spreading marketing messages. This can include email, social media, print, mobile, display ads, television, and more. Leveraging multiple channels allows brands to interact with their customers across multiple touchpoints for a more comprehensive campaign.