Modern consumers have more buying options at their disposal than ever before, including the way they purchase, whom they purchase from, and how they research the products they purchase. To address these customer journey changes and overall shifts in business trends, marketers have evolved accordingly and shifted their tactics to engage consumers across the wide-range of channels they now have at their disposal.
This approach, known as multichannel marketing, is an extremely effective strategy for generating campaign visibility, increasing brand awareness, and demonstrating customer value. Shifting to a multichannel marketing strategy takes effort and commitment, but when planned and executed properly it can deliver great results.
Here’s a deeper look into what multichannel marketing is, why it’s such an important approach for modern marketers, and what items you need to plan an executive and effect multichannel strategy.
Multichannel marketing is a marketing strategy in which you engage and interact with your customers on a variety of marketing mediums. The ultimate goal of a multichannel marketing approach is to create a strong brand presence and visibility across the channels your organization has deemed essential for business, and to deliver cohesive messaging across these channels to help you execute toward a specific marketing campaign objective. This objective will obviously change from campaign to campaign, but an obvious example would be for the customer to purchase one of your products.
Rather than relying on a single channel, multichannel marketing spreads your campaign messaging across multiple channels. This helps to expand the reach and visibility of your campaign (as well as your brand) and guarantees that you’re delivering a consistent, clear message to consumers regardless of the channel they encounter it on.
Multichannel marketing has become an extremely effective approach for modern marketers due in large part to the increasing number of channels that today’s consumers use. This diversification has largely been driven by the continued expansion of digital marketing, which has added several more channels to the arsenals of marketing teams (with more potentially coming in the future as new channels emerge and marketing continues its constant evolution). Today’s most popular and widely-used digital channels include:
That being said, traditional marketing has not gone by the wayside and continues to be an effective form of outreach as well. In fact, according to recent research, direct mail (a traditional marketing channel) has actually grown in popularity in recent years. Today’s most popular and widely-used traditional channels include:
So as traditional marketing and digital marketing both continue to be successful avenues for marketers, which form should marketers choose? With multichannel marketing, you don’t have to decide between them.
Prioritizing only one of these marketing strategies over the other actively prevents you from engaging with large portions of your customer base and potentially puts you at a huge disadvantage among your competitors. But with a multichannel marketing method, you seamlessly blend your traditional marketing and digital marketing efforts together to create a more cohesive and controlled approach to your outreach. This makes the overall marketing operation at your organization more agile and allows you to better connect with your customers.
Now that we’ve discussed what multichannel marketing is, let’s also look at what multichannel marketing isn’t. Multichannel marketing is closely related to several other marketing strategies, most notably cross-channel marketing and omnichannel marketing.
Cross-channel marketing is often used interchangeably with multichannel marketing. But cross-channel marketing is actually a subtype of multichannel marketing. The main difference between these two particular marketing strategies is that in cross-channel marketing, your marketing channels interact with one another to deliver users messaging/content based on event triggers from other channels. One example of this is an email sent to a customer with product recommendations or a personalized incentive following an online shopping cart abandonment.
Omnichannel marketing is also often used interchangeably with multichannel marketing. Like cross-channel marketing, omnichannel marketing is also a subtype of multichannel marketing. The main difference between omnichannel marketing and multichannel marketing lies in the approach. In omnichannel marketing, delivering a seamless and interconnected experience for the customer across all touchpoints is the top priority. This is accomplished through data collection and analysis that is used to deliver ultra-personalized and highly-relevant messaging/content to the customer based on any and all previous interactions they’ve had with you. Like cross-channel marketing, these are based on event triggers.
As previously noted, today’s consumers are active on more channels than ever before, and as such, marketers now need to craft campaigns for more channels than ever before as well. This alone demonstrates why a multichannel marketing approach is so necessary to connect with today’s consumers, but there’s much more to it than a “just because” explanation. So, let’s dig deeper to understand why multichannel marketing is so important.
The rise of e-commerce has led to changes in consumer behavior and has also fundamentally changed the customer journey. It used to be that consumers could only learn about your business and your products, browse your product offerings, and purchase from you through a physical store or catalog. This meant there was a much larger focus on reaching customers via the traditional channels we outlined previously. But today, consumers aren’t just browsing catalogs or heading to stores to browse the merchandise. Instead, they’re turning to Internet search engines or social media channels to research your brand and products. In fact, Salesforce research uncovered that nearly 90% of retail shoppers now start their search for a new product online. Interestingly though, the research we conducted in January 2020 on customer loyalty and consumer habits found a nearly dead-even 50/50 split among consumers on whether they make the majority of their purchases from their favorite brand online or in-store.
Together, these two points are perfect examples of the importance of a multichannel marketing approach, because while digital channels can’t be ignored, traditional channels are far from dead. And just because a consumer is using one channel to learn about your product or your business, doesn’t mean they’re using that same channel to ultimately purchase. By limiting your marketing to just one particular channel, you miss out on the opportunity to engage customers through their buying journey, thereby handcuffing your efforts.
Multichannel marketing also plays a role in creating a positive customer experience. While areas such as product quality or customer service are more common customer pain points, this can extend to marketing engagements as well. Think of marketing as the outward face of your organization, as well as an avenue for public relations. If a customer has a pleasing reaction to your content, it can have a meaningful impact on their opinion of your organization as a whole. The better the experience your customers have with your business, the more likely they are to shop with you in the future and recommend you to those they know.
A perfect example of this is a shopping cart abandonment. There are a variety of reasons why one of your customers might abandon their cart, but regardless of cause, this situation presents a great opportunity to connect with them and drive a future purchase. A follow-up email with language such as “We saw you decided against purchasing today. We understand, stuff happens. When the time’s right, here’s 10% off your next order for thinking of us.” You’ve now taken what was a negative event and turned it into a business-driving opportunity while simultaneously demonstrating your customer’s value to them. This is the type of event-driven, personalized marketing outreach only possible with a connected, multichannel approach.
At the end of the day, consumers are looking for a solution to a problem they have. As a marketer, your job is to demonstrate to them that your brand has the best solution for their needs. But if your messaging isn’t reaching them on the channels they’re active on, you’re not maximizing the reach of your campaigns and seriously hampering your customer acquisition and customer retention efforts. Likewise, if your marketing engagements elicit any sort of negative sentiment from your customers, they can potentially sour your customer’s opinion of your organization as a whole and cost you future business from them.
It’s no secret that the business world (and if we’re being honest, the world in general) has become increasingly data-driven, and marketing is no exception. Multichannel marketing is much more effective when you have the data available to analyze customers’ behaviors and preferences, as well as how your campaigns are performing.
Here are three ways that the use of customer data and analytics enhances multichannel marketing.
1. A better understanding of your customers
Customer data provides you with insights into customer behavior which can help you better plan your marketing campaigns. These data points can range from basic (such as email engagement) to extremely specific (such as the redemption of a one-time event-based offer). Use these data points to shape multichannel campaigns that provide relevant offers based on each customer’s past behavior. The more data you collect and analyze, and the more accurate and specific that data is, the better you’re able to understand your customers’ behavior.
To take it to the next level, marketers need to overlay customer demographics and behavior across marketing channels. Rather than just measuring email opens, clicks, and conversions, are you able to go a level deeper and understand what demographics are engaging the most with your emails? Or are you able to cross-reference with purchase behavior and understand whether people who made a purchase in the past 60 days are more or less engaged in your emails? How do customers who have made a mobile purchase compare to primarily in-store shoppers?
Yes, these are extremely targeted segments, but this detailed level of understanding translates into a better understanding of your target customers. It’s no longer enough to define your target audience by a gender and age bucket. Beyond just demographics, what are the behaviors and purchases that define your best customer? Once a marketer knows that it’s up to them to create engaging multichannel marketing campaigns that resonate with the right demographic and engage them in the desired behavior.
2. A more unified customer view
Historically, direct mail and in-store marketing efforts remained separate from the digital and e-commerce efforts. But with multichannel marketing, traditional channels and digital channels must be brought together in an integrated approach so that they no longer operate independently of each other.
In order for this integration to be successful, however, a unified view of your customers is essential. Luckily for marketers, many customer data platforms are designed with this capability in mind. CDPs are able to quickly and efficiently match and merge your various data sources and create detailed records of each of your customers. These records can even be updated in real-time, ensuring the most accurate information possible. However, if you’re considering a CDP to enhance your multichannel marketing strategy, it’s important to keep in mind that vendors have varying levels of support for different channels, and many, unlike QuickPivot, don’t even support direct mail.
3. More personalized messaging and outreach
Personalized marketing is the key to a more lasting connection with both longtime customers and those who have just started shopping with your business. Personalization is in fact so effective at engaging consumers that they’ve now begun to expect it. The challenge though is that consumers are starting to become numb to it given that most brands incorporate it into their outreach, albeit potentially in a very “basic” form, i.e. the inclusion of a customer’s name in an email subject line or mail flyer.
Today, truly impactful personalization requires marketers to engage with customers across multiple channels in an interconnected manner. Examples include sending product recommendation emails following an online purchase, or a tailored coupon offer incentivizing a future in-store purchase following a curbside pickup. But without accurate customer data and meaningful data segmentation efforts, your multichannel marketing efforts won’t reach the level of personalization that today’s consumers now demand.
Establishing a multichannel marketing approach at your organization isn’t an overnight process, but it doesn’t need to be a difficult affair if you have the right things in place to make it happen. Like all marketing strategies, it will likely take a bit of trial and error before you ultimately settle into a groove and establish
To help your transition to a multichannel marketing approach make things go as smoothly as possible, here’s a look at the things you absolutely must-have for success.1. Total Visibility of Your Customer Data
This is probably the most critical aspect of any marketing strategy, not just a multichannel one. Without knowledge of who your customers are and how they engage with you, an effective multichannel marketing approach simply isn’t impossible.
Many multichannel marketers end up employing a number of different technologies (CRM, ESP, social media management, etc.) and therefore critical data is often spread out across multiple systems. While using these systems is necessary, having data spread out around them can hamper your ability to create a unified customer profile and lead to misguided campaigns.2. A consistent messaging strategy and clear brand identity
In order to create engaging marketing campaigns and stand-out, it’s essential to establish a brand identity and brand voice that your customers associate with your business. These separate you from your competitors and hopefully leave a lasting impression on first-time shoppers.
Just think of some of the TV, radio, or web jingles you’ve heard over the years. Even if you’ve never purchased a single item from any of those companies, odds are you still remember what they sell and every word of their catchy commercial tunes. The same goes for logos. There are likely many brands you’ve never bought from whose logo you instantly recognize.
Establishing your brand as a household entity is every marketers’ dream scenario, but it’s one that requires careful planning and commitment. But if you’re able to become the next “Golden Arches” or “Swoosh,” the time and effort will have been well worth it.3. Analytics and tracking
The only way to truly know how your ongoing marketing campaigns are performing is to track a variety of KPIs – such as engagement rates, click-through rates, promotional code redemption, and more – and benchmark them against previous campaigns you’ve carried out. This is especially important for a multichannel marketing approach, where analytics on these KPIs are critically important for determining which channels, content types, and messaging to prioritize in both ongoing and future campaigns.
Much like with customer data, the more the better. The more in-depth you go with your analytics, the more informed your future campaigns will be. Just make sure to constantly be evaluating these metrics to ensure that your campaigns are performing as you intended.
Every marketer knows that they can’t rely on a single marketing channel to acquire new customers and engage with existing ones. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone is successfully executing multichannel marketing campaigns. It takes more time, planning, and preparation to create a cohesive campaign that also integrates personalized messages – but it also ensures that you’re reaching the largest audience possible.
Marketers are under more pressure than ever to create campaigns that engage with consumers across a wide range of channels and in ways that the consumers feel are personalized and demonstrate their value. It’s frankly no easy task, but with a sound strategy and the right technology, marketers can set themselves up for success. To find out how QuickPivot can help you plan and execute better multichannel marketing programs, learn more about our Customer Data Platform.
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"With QuickPivot’s segmentation capabilities, we can easily and quickly create targeted email lists that utilize specific data attributes and defined Persona segments. This allows us to test content options within these targeted segments and better understand who is engaging with our content."
Lauren Wright Senior Manager, CRM at Allen Edmonds