Today’s consumers are moving targets. To stay competitive, your message much reach them where they truly live—online, offline and on the go. Direct mail, click-through ads, social media marketing and mobile experiences can no longer stand alone as separate consumer experiences. And none of them can be ignored. Why?
Let’s look at some recent research insights:
- Over 52% of companies—i.e., your competition—are planning to increase their mobile advertising spend next year.
- Email is still the most effective online channel for lead generation.
- And in a recent Marketing Sherpa study, 76% of surveyed consumers said they still trust traditional offline advertising like direct mail over online channels like pop up ads, banner ads, video posts and social media marketing.
That’s quite a bag of mixed messages. Consumers now expect brand engagement across all media—and on their terms. In other words, the age of multi-channel marketing has truly arrived.
What is multi-channel marketing?
Have you ever walked into a store and handed over a coupon at check-out, just to be told it’s only eligible for online purchases? The experience likely left a bad taste in your mouth, especially if you went out of your way to shop that specific store. This is a classic example of multi-channel marketing gone wrong. Unity is the name of the multi-channel game.
When done correctly, multi-channel marketing is the act of communicating with and spreading your message to consumers and prospects by using a combination of digital and offline channels: direct mail, mobile, email and social, to list just a few.
Consider your own busy day, with your attention toggling between your phone, your laptop, your TV, the morning paper, the daily mail—even the billboards along your commute. Content is everywhere. We consciously—and subconsciously—consume hundreds of pieces of content a day.
With consumers being oversaturated from all angles, it’s hard for brands to successfully cut through the noise. Those who implement a multi-channel approach are better able to reach their target audience through the channels they prefer and gain valuable insight into the journey they make from one channel to the next.
What are the keys to multi-channel success?
While brand recall can be boosted by repetition across channels, the key to making multi-channel marketing successful is creating a relevant, engaging experience for the customer. The fact is, 72% of consumers are looking for integrated marketing experiences, but only 39% report receiving them. They don’t want to be forced to call a number, visit a site, or speak to a representative for more information; what they want is the ability to choose any one of those options, and engage on their own terms. With that in mind, consider the following when creating your multi-channel approach:
Consumer engagement is a two-way street.
Multi-channel marketing works because it not only communicates but delivers feedback opportunities as well. Tracking and refining your message and the channels used to deliver it will enable you to fine-tune your campaigns to deliver high-quality, highly-targeted content.
Sales speak can cost you credibility
By opting for promotional, self-serving speak over consumer-driven content, you’re setting your efforts up to fail. Share helpful and relevant content that will resonate with your target audience. Think of it as applying the inbound marketing approach—creating quality content that naturally pulls visitors into your sales funnel.
Consumer expectations don’t change from channel to channel
These days, we like to transition seamlessly between devices and media without interruption. Make sure access is easy and uniform across your channels, starting with a user-friendly and responsive website.
Consumer channel use DOES change from moment to moment
Media pairs are most commonly used at different times of the week among adults ages 18-64. For example, computer and mobile use peaks during work hours, but slowly fades into the night as the combination of TV with other devices rises. As we pointed out earlier, there’s a lot of channel-changing that occurs over the course of an average day. It’s important for multi-channel marketers to keep watch over these trends as they plan out their efforts.
Multi-channel marketing is a smart strategy because it empowers the consumer, letting them choose the preferred marketing channel for engaging with your message and your brand. The more integrated your programs are, the more convenience and value you provide to your prospects.
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Editor's note: This blog post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated with additional information.