If you're even a casual reader of the business blogosphere, you've probably heard more than once about this great big shift in how consumers buy. And although we have plenty of jargon in the marketing world, another term is rising in popularity in response to that shift: multi-channel marketing.
What Is Multi-Channel Marketing?
Multi-channel marketing is defined by many organizations, unsurprisingly, as communicating with and marketing to prospects and customers across many channels, online and offline.
That means instead of running a single start-and-stop campaign or using one marketing tactic, like TV or email, marketers today are pacing with how consumers operate: in lots of places all at once.
Think about your own habits: We have enormous choices facing us every day, between thousands of TV channels, numerous screens and devices, and millions of websites and individual pieces of content.
That means you might want to perform research and execute a purchase in a lot of different places — by reading a blog post on your tablet,by checking for deals in your inbox,or by visiting a store so you can speak to someone in-person.
Multi-channel marketers,then,are ones who identify the channels their target customers are usingand understand how their target customers move from one channel to another to create a congruous experience.
What Are the Hallmarks of Great Multi-Channel Marketing Strategies?
Multi-channel marketing seeks to establish a marketer's presence across these many places. Online, that includes search engines, blogs, social networks, email, and more. Offline, that means print, TV, and radio among others.
Success, however, doesn't come by just being present on these channels. Nope — just like the inbound methodology describes, marketers need to address their multi-channel marketing in several areas to be successful:
Brand Reach - The advantage (and thus the goal of) multi-channel marketing is to increase brand awareness by expanding reach. You'll want to choose the channels that will accomplish this goal.
Message - The effectiveness of multi-channel marketing will be predicated on how well your message resonates with your target buyer.
Consistency - One key to multi-channel marketing is not just choosing the right message but also staying consistent in that message across channels.
Engagement - Not all channels are solely for content distribution. Social media, in particular, requires a level of engagement — prospects with your contentandyou with your prospects — in order to sustain long-term success.
Experience - If prospects will be interacting across multiple channels, their experience must be exceptional across those channels. That means channel integration and unified communication.
How to Launch a Successful Multi-Channel Marketing Strategy
Once you know that multi-channel is the right thing for you, here's how you get started:
1. Identify your buyer persona.
Having a clearly defined buyer persona (or multiple ones) that entails specifics about their ideal buyer is a necessity. This information helps marketers decide on which channels they should focus their efforts and what kind of tone and messaging to have.
If you could show up everywhere, no doubt you would, but the fact of the matter is that effective multi-channel marketing can be costly. With each channel comes a larger time and monetary investment as you craft strategy, produce content, and pay for ads or sponsored placement.
That's why you need to decide which channels to target. Depending on your buyer persona and your unique goals, there may be some channels that make more sense than others. Start with those and expand to other channels as you see increased success.
That said, don't be afraid to experiment when resources permit. You might be surprised at the channels that end up performing.
3. Create singular messaging for that persona.
You likely have team members who specialize in different channels, so it's easy to end up with a siloed approach where each team or department operates independently. However, with multi-channel marketing, it's important to have a cohesive experience across channels. Otherwise, your audience will be jarred or confused when switching from one platform to another.
Ensure that each member of your team understands your persona and the messaging that you're using to target that persona.
Marketers also need to be useful and helpful, sharing relevant, consumer-first content instead of pushing me-first marketing messages. This useful philosophy — in other words, the inbound approach — must be apparent in every tactic deployed.
4. Play by the rules of each channel.
Even though the messaging must be consistent, you'll also have to be strategic with regard to what works on each channel. For example, extremely visual channels such as Instagram may see more success with images while articles may perform better on more editorial platforms like LinkedIn.
For that reason, despite having similar messaging, you'll likely need to create individual strategies for each channel and create varying types of content.
5. Figure out how you'll integrate the experience across channels.
All channels marketers decide to use must also work together. It's not enough to just set up and use Twitter, Facebook, email, a website, a blog, et al, if they don't work in harmony to attract and convert business. The same consumer moves across all of these places quickly, so your strategy and your analytics need to adapt similarly.
Speaking of tracking interactions and engagement, marketing automation for your multi-channel marketing efforts is a must. Paired with a CRM that stores information such as pages visited, CTA clicks, and email opens, your marketing automation can help you make make decisions and take action personalized to your leads' unique paths.
7. Keep in mind that your website is a channel.
Given consumers use multiple platforms (from social, to email, to blogs) and devices (from desktops, to tablets, to smartphones) to get their content, marketers implementing multi-channel efforts will need a responsive website — which can be created inHubSpot's COS— so that their audience will have easy, uniform access to all marketers have to offer them.
8. Plan how you'll measure attribution.
With multiple channels in play, marketers will need to carefully measure the results of their multi-channel approach. Closed-loop analytics (through HubSpot or other analytics software) will inform them as to which channels were effective, which channels influenced other channels, and which channels they can eliminate from their efforts.
As you're evaluating performance, you may want to consider attribution models, such as:
Linear Attribution Model - Providing attribution to all touch points equally per sale, not taking into account influence.
Time Decay Model - Providing more attribution to the most recent touch points.
Position-Based Model - Providing more attribution to touch points along certain stages of the lifecycle of the lead.
9. Invest in retargeting.
Retargeting — a form of advertising that targets your website's bounced traffic on other platforms — is powerful when used in conjunction with multi-channel marketing. By having multiple platforms from which your audience can find your website, you'll end up increasing website traffic. Anyone who bounces away will see retargeting ads on other platforms, ones that you may have a presence on.
In the end, your goal in this consumer-first world is to step beyond just being present on multiple channels and start connecting them all together into one, thriving, multi-channel approach to inbound marketing.
Originally published May 20, 2020 2:00:00 PM, updated June 17 2021