It can be tough to get started with digital marketing. With so many avenues and a plethora of tools to consider, it can become overwhelming to pursue just one, let alone embrace a cross-channel marketing approach. Just where do you begin?

Traditionally, It was considered a wise move to invest your time and effort in doing one aspect really well.

But times are changing. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket anymore. The ever-evolving digital landscape is constantly bringing new technology, new practices and strategies into the mix. More pertinently, consumer interests and behaviors are changing.

People interact with brands every day, either in-person or on a device, through email, social media or on company websites. And so, just as modern marketing gets more challenging, it also presents fantastic opportunities for businesses that are ready to meet people wherever they are.

The question is, just how can you do that?

The answer is through cross-channel marketing.

Young marketing team at meeting with laptops.

Source: Unsplash
https://unsplash.com/photos/gMsnXqILjp4

What is Cross-Channel Marketing?

Cross-channel marketing has a few interchangeable names, most notably multichannel marketing, and omnichannel marketing.

Which begs the obvious question:

What is the difference between multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing?

While they are closely related, there are some subtle differences. Put simply, multichannel marketing is the use of many channels, whereas omnichannel is the use of all channels. In either case, both of these cross-channel marketing strategies have the same goal:

To offer people more choice in how they interact with your brand.

Even within a small audience, there will be smaller subsections that deviate from the larger group. Therefore, when your business opens up several lines of communication, it can spread the net. This lets you engage more people in the ways they want to talk to brands.

The most common marketing channels today include:

  • Retail store
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
  • Website Traffic
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Mobile Advertising
  • Direct mail

You may already be using several different channels to market your business and products. Without a clear, defined plan that considers how one channel will work in tandem with the others, you can easily miss out on big opportunities.

6 Key Benefits of Cross-Channel Marketing

So, by making the effort to meet customers on several different channels, you are sure to have your work cut out. It won’t be easy, but will it be worth it?

Absolutely.

1.     Your Brand Will Get More Attention

The more you are seen, the more curiosity you stir up. People will want to know about you.

According to research from WordStream, YouTube ads can generate a huge boost in brand awareness. Studies indicate Google searches for your brand name can grow by more than 400%.

By getting your brand into the mix with competitors and customers, you’ll soon take up residence in the minds of your target audience. They may not need you yet, but with consistent brand awareness, you’ll be the first to spring to mind when the time comes.

2.     Low-Cost Brand Marketing

In B2B marketing, a cross-channel marketing strategy allows you to negate considerable risk when trying to reach a wider audience.

Let’s say you want to market to prospective new clients in the UK. It has more than 5.5 million small businesses. Many of these will have a mix of employees who use different social media, while others prefer phone or email. By throwing everything behind one channel, you could generate a paltry return on investment (ROI).

Conversely, with a multichannel marketing approach, you can reach more contacts in these companies. This will generate a better ROI, even if the initial outlay is a little more expensive.

3.     Customers Can Use Their Favorite Medium

Over 70% of consumers prefer to make contact with a brand on multiple different channels before they make a purchase. People are less trusting of traditional advertising methods. They want to feel like they have more control over the shopping process.

By offering options to your target audience, you allow them some choice on how they will interact with your business. This makes for a better user experience, which improves the chance of conversion.

Woman using smartphone and laptop together.

Source: Unsplash
https://unsplash.com/photos/SpVHcbuKi6E

4.     Optimize Communications with Prospects

Here’s a fun fact:

96% of first-time visitors to your website aren’t ready to buy anything. People need time to get acquainted with your brand. Therefore, they must go through several stages before they pull out their credit card.

The Marketing Rule of 7 asserts that your prospect must encounter your brand message at least seven times before they will take any action to buy your product or service. Through contact at multiple digital touchpoints, you can nurture customer relationships at a quicker pace, but one that is still comfortable for your prospects.

5.     More Digital Touch Points

Data is an integral aspect of modern marketing, and as machine learning and artificial intelligence-led systems improve, the value of data will grow.

So, why not have more touch points in your marketing funnel?

With more consumer data, you’ll get deeper insights into consumer behaviors and the performance of your current marketing strategies. Knowledge is power, and with more data, you can make smarter marketing decisions.

Birdseye view of someone standing on road with 'caution' written in yellow paint.

Source: Unsplash
https://unsplash.com/photos/FFgcWvplwsc

3 Potential Pitfalls of Cross-Channel Marketing

It all sounds great, doesn’t it?

We’d love to tell you that the move to a cross-channel marketing strategy is all peaches and roses, but that wouldn’t be true. Of course, you probably suspected that already. Otherwise, everyone would be doing this by now.

So, what’s not to like about multichannel marketing?

1.     There is Data Everywhere

It’s possible to purchase third-party data to get clearer insights into the customer journey. However, this can be quite expensive. Alternatively, you can collate the data yourself, but the more channels you explore, the greater the task becomes.

Imagine you are bringing together data from all these channels, including:

  • Beacons
  • Call Centers
  • Loyalty programs
  • Specialized landing pages
  • Website sign-ups
  • Email lists

Suffice to say, you could be swamped in data, which makes the challenge of understanding the customer journey tougher. It’s best to do plenty of research first. That way, you can identify the data sources that are most closely aligned with what you need.

2.     You May Not Own the Point-Of-Sale

Imagine you are open to the idea of multichannel marketing, but you don’t own the point-of-sale. It could be a call center or the physical store that customers visit to make a purchase. If you only have full access to the data on some channels, like social media, then there will be a gap between your marketing and the final point of purchase.

Only by blending online and offline efforts can you hope to get the big picture. Without this cooperation, your omnichannel efforts will falter and likely fail to live up to their true potential.

3.     It’s Easy to Misunderstand Multichannel Marketing

The benefits are alluring, and certainly worth the effort. However, a lot of companies make the mistake of plunging in headfirst. How will you run an omnichannel marketing campaign if you don’t understand how to make it work?

Ideally, all your channels will complement each other to move prospects along with your marketing funnel to the point of purchase. However, if you don’t understand things like targeted email marketing, it may be best to brush up before things get too complex.

The Rising Importance of Multichannel Marketing

You may be thinking that this all sounds like a lot of hassle. It’d be great if you could just keep on doing what you’re doing without any worries of a complete strategy overhaul. What works today may still work tomorrow. However, in the long-term, the very nature of digital marketing means you must adapt to remain competitive.

Small businesses that dig their heels in and refuse to embrace the changing tides in their market will flounder. They may eventually sink as consumers turn away from them in search of more innovative brands that are a better fit for their needs.

You may not need to use all channels, as in bonafide omnichannel marketing, but you should definitely look to adopt a multichannel approach.

Today, consumers are more empowered and more demanding. Over 70% of consumers expect a personalized experience from brands. The rise of AI technology and data analytics has made it possible to offer that. It has set the stage for more interactive, responsive marketing, which goes hand-in-hand with a multichannel approach.

According to Google, “About 85% of online shoppers start a purchase on one device and finish on another.”

By jumping on the trend, you can create a better online experience. It will be one that is more integrated, and more user-friendly. Best of all, it will help you reach consumers and deliver the solutions they are searching for.

If you don’t get on board soon, your business may be left in the dust.

4 Examples of Cross-Channel Marketing in Action

Speaking of Google, it would know a thing or two about this strategy. Here are a few examples of how cross-channel marketing is already changing the game.

1.     Google Ads

The largest paid advertising platform in the world makes multichannel marketing easy, providing users with several options for Google Ads PPC ad extensions, such as:

  • Click-to-Call – By adding your business contact number to your ads, you can integrate PPC advertising and mobile communications.
  • PPC Offer – This extension allows you to add coupons to your ads. Users can then print at physical stores, effectively merging their online and in-person shopping experience.

2.     Television Hashtags

You’ve no doubt seen this one before. The “2nd screen effect” is a commonly-exploited tactic that companies have been using for several years.

While viewers are watching TV, companies will encourage online discussion with the use of a branded Twitter hashtag. This motivates people to use their smartphone or laptop as they watch the show.

In 2017, AirBnB used their Superbowl slot to launch the #weaccept campaign, promoting diversity. With some clever marketing and subtle timing, it was an instant hit. In the following four months, it received more than 3.5 million impressions, reaching over 2.4 million people.

3.     REI

Have you ever found yourself in a brick-and-mortar store, consulting your mobile device to research a product that is in that same store?

Research from Forbes found that 82% of customers do this before buying a product. For ambitious companies that want to tap into the sales potential here, omnichannel outreach can help you persuade more people to follow through with a purchase.

The clothing brand REI uses its app to cater to customer’s needs here. You can scan the barcode of products in the shop, and the app will bring up all the information including customer reviews. This is a great example of how you can market to customers in a way that they will truly appreciate.

4.     Starbucks

The Starbucks Rewards app is widely-regarded as one of the best cross-channel marketing experiences in use today.

If you’re not familiar with it, here’s how it works:

  • First, you receive your free rewards card, which you can use anytime you make a purchase.
  • However, unlike many other customer loyalty schemes, Starbucks has made it possible for customers to check their card balance, and reload it. You can do this in the store, on the website or on your phone through the app.
  • Any changes to the card rewards balance or your profile will automatically be updated across every channel, in real-time.

Imagine you’re standing in the line, waiting to order your daily Double Caramel Frappuccino and a coffee for your boss. She has taken a real shine to you after your stunning performance in this morning’s board meeting.

Suddenly, it dawns on you that your Rewards card is almost empty. Disaster – this could be embarrassing. Fear not, you can quickly reload it through the app. It’ll all be good by the time you swipe your card a few minutes later!

How to Implement a Cross-Channel Marketing Strategy in 2019

Okay, you’re sold on the idea by now. It’s clear there is much to gain. Most importantly, you’re prepared to put in the effort required to make a success of this. It’s time you learned how it’s done!

Follow these seven steps to start multichannel marketing this year.

1.     Create Buyer Personas

No matter which form of marketing you are thinking of, there’s one critical aspect that you absolutely must have covered before you get started:

Know your audience.

If you don’t understand the people you are trying to reach, it will be almost impossible to sell to them. You’ll struggle to find them at first, and stand even less chance of keeping their interest and establishing trust between them and your brand.

Look to create detailed buyer personas that consider the needs and interests of your audience. What sites do they visit? How do they research products and services in your industry?

With these defined personas, you’ll have a strong foundation to work from.

2.     Segment Your Audience

One audience persona is not enough.

In 2016, 74% of consumers said they were frustrated when website content was not personalized for them. Chances are that number has increased over the past couple of years.

Data insights give marketers incredible power to discover more about their audience, and the reality is that you will likely have several types of customer. They may share similar broad interests, but with segmentation, you can divide them into several distinct groups.

For example, you could segment by:

  • Geographical location
  • Age group
  • Primary Device used

With a great marketing automation platform, you can perform segmentation with relative ease. Then, you can let the technology take care of the hard work. Once this is in place, you will be able to tailor your message for each segment. This allows you to offer a greater level of personalization for all your customers.

3.     Align Content With Specific Buyer Journeys

No two customers are the same. When you understand that, your brand can look to give each customer individual attention, depending on where they are in their journey.

Abandoned cart emails are a clever way of reigniting interest just when it looks like a sale is on the brink of collapse. Salesforce found that 60% of people return to complete their purchase within 24 hours of getting a personalized email about their abandoned cart.

Sometimes, people just need a little nudge to complete the sale. Quite often, a 1-to-1 approach through a personalized email can do the trick.

4.     Prioritize Channels and Devices

You may have heard that marketing is 20% content and 80% marketing. This belief is based upon the Pareto Principle that 80% of the results are derived from 20% of your efforts. This theory is widely proven to be a good yardstick in the world of online marketing.

So, if you invest more in the devices and channels that your customer prefer, you can be pretty confident that it will yield results.

5.     Invest in Customer Support

Poor customer service will cause 54% of millennials to stop doing business with a brand. Considering the rise of mobile use and millennial spending, it’s a smart move to try and keep them happy.

When it’s done right, customer service is the bedrock on which multichannel marketing can thrive. It looks beyond conversions and considers quality service as a key factor in building brand loyalty. When you do that, you can keep people coming back, again and again.

6.     Measure Your Efforts

There is little to be gained from any marketing campaign if your company has not identified key performance indicators (KPIs) to track.

If it’s a brand awareness campaign

, you may track social media interactions and page likes. A PPC campaign may have website traffic or conversions in mind. An email marketing drive would put open rates and responses on top of your list.

By keeping a close eye on the metrics that matter to your goals, you will be able to determine if your efforts are succeeding. Moreover, you’ll learn what isn’t working and can adjust accordingly.

With multichannel marketing, it can be hard to keep track of everything. However, with a reliable CRM program in your corner, things are different. You can avail of comprehensive reports that make data analysis easy. This gives you the insights you need to improve your ROI.

7.     Tweak and Test

Finally, when you’ve made sense of the data at hand, you can implement the necessary changes in your campaigns. This is what really unleashes the full power of an omnichannel strategy.

Consider each channel individually, and think about how they relate to one another:

  • Does your social strategy support your website strategy?
  • Does the email strategy support the social strategy?
  • Does your website strategy support your mobile strategy?

When you take a holistic approach to your multichannel marketing strategy, the channels begin to take cues from each other. Through consistent monitoring, tweaking and testing, you can bring it all together to create a fully-integrated, seamless user experience.

And when you have that, you have a winner.

A Unified Approach Will Get the Most From Cross-Channel Marketing

Nowadays, it’s important to consider key trends when you’re devising your marketing strategy. You should strive for a larger, more visible presence on the mediums and devices that people use.

A cross-channel marketing strategy considers allows your brand to reach prospects on different devices. Furthermore, it has brand messaging and offers that are aligned with each individual’s current position in the customer journey. The tricky part is putting it all together.

By using a unified all-in-one platform, you eliminate most of the challenges and will find it much easier to monitor all your channels. When you are managing multiple channels on one platform, you can strive for a consistent, unified voice and approach to your customer communications. Ultimately, that will help you offer the perfect omnichannel experience that people desire.

In the end, you can use this approach to forge stronger relationships with online consumers. This will make it easier to turn more of them into loyal customers and advocates of your brand.