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, including 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.

Mutli-channel marketers, then, are ones who identify the channels their target customers are using and understand how their target customers move from one channel to another to create a congruous experience.

What are the hallmarks of successful multi-channel marketing?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. For help integrating all your marketing channels, read this blog post.
  4. 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 in HubSpot's COS -- so that their audience will have easy, uniform access to all marketers have to offer them.
  5. 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.

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.

Are you getting started with a multi-channel approach? Have you already implemented one? Let us know how you're multi-channel efforts are working below! 

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Originally published Jan 13, 2014 3:00:00 PM, updated August 27 2017


Content Marketing