Americans are exposed to an average of 7,000 advertising messages per day. That’s double the amount identified in 2007, and five times as many ads as a person saw in the 1970s, according to Ibis. And that only takes into account advertising, a subset of overall marketing.
In other words, we are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages every hour.
This means brands must continually optimize their marketing efforts to stand out, and they can’t rely on just one or two channels like a television commercial and magazine ad the way a brand may have done decades ago during the days of single-channel or dual-channel marketing.
Ah, how easy it must have been then - put a commercial on during General Hospital and an advertisement in Soap Opera Digest to reach your target audience of stay-at-home moms with your latest soap and detergent lines.
Today so much has changed regarding marketing channels. Hundreds of TV stations are consumed primarily through streaming services; there are thousands of physical and digital magazines; and dare we say, innumerable marketing opportunities on the internet. Oh, and while it used to be easy enough to target the average stay-at-home moms, now the same soap company mentioned earlier would have to consider every type of parent—whether full-time, part-time, or stay-at-home, and be sure to do so in a non-gender-specific way. Phew, this is getting to be a lot.
It would be torture for any sales or marketing team to try and manage all of these marketing strategies one at a time... And that’s exactly why having an overarching cross-channel marketing strategy is critical, now more than ever.
What is Cross-Channel Marketing?
Cross-channel marketing is a proven method for using several marketing channels to influence a customer journey, connect with audiences, and convert audiences into sales. It combines various marketing channels to deliver a consistent brand experience and achieve a common goal. The result is a more cohesive customer journey and higher consumer engagement.
With cross-channel marketing, different channels can integrate to guide the customer journey. For example, if a potential customer receives a marketing email, then engages with a piece of content on a blog and purchases via the company’s eCommerce website. As a result, a successful cross-channel goal has been accomplished.
Cross-Channel vs. Omnichannel Marketing
Some articles might tell you that cross-channel and omnichannel marketing are the same because they deal with a marketing strategy involving multiple marketing channels. However, there is a difference. With omnichannel marketing, there can be many goals with different campaigns pushing customers to different outcomes. With cross-channel, all the various channels move a customer to one primary goal.
In omnichannel marketing, a team may implement a good strategy that involves a social media promotion, followed by an email sequence, as well as publishing a series of articles. Despite this being a proven strategy, these individual efforts are treated as independent entities containing their topics and agendas. For example, Microsoft may promote its Microsoft 365 online product to a variety of audiences at once using messaging like “Whether you have school work to do, business data to analyze, or captivating sales presentations to design....”
In cross-channel marketing, a team may use the same tools to create a customer journey, but success is measured if there is a conversion, that is, the customer takes a specific action. If the Microsoft marketing group chooses home and family users as its target, a better message might be, “Keep your family’s information safe and secure while using familiar applications your kids will be learning about in school.”
In the example of cross-channel marketing, these multiple channels work in unison to specifically target their home and family market, using specifically chosen target words and images in PPC and social media campaigns, email marketing, content marketing, and landing pages. They might create a public relations campaign to garner news and media attention about how families who use Microsoft 365 are more productive at their tasks and assignments, so they can spend more time doing other things together. These multi-channel marketing campaigns work in unison with each other to sell the prospect on a Microsoft 365 Family subscription.
Benefits of Cross-Channel Marketing
Cross-channel marketing allows brands to communicate with their prospects and existing fans on the user’s preferred channels, be they email, SMS, social media, or wherever. Every effective cross-channel marketing strategy ensures the buyer’s journey is a seamless experience, resulting in these four key benefits.
Increase Customer Engagement
Cross-channel marketing works because customers who see brands they are familiar with in the places they frequent and, using innovative technology, often visit the exact message they need to see for their personal needs. For example, someone who is searching online for holiday cards may start seeing Hallmark card ads on their social media feed.
You might find that your customers also engage with online influencers, so the first step on their journey might be an affiliate referral from one of your channel partners. Likewise, if you ordered a 60-day supply of vitamins from VitaminWorld, don’t be surprised if you get a reminder to order more in about 45 days. Automation is part of cross-channel marketing, too.
Strengthen Brand Awareness
While it is true that digital marketing channels have gotten more complex, they’ve also adapted to the current brand-flooded culture allowing microtargeting based on prospect demographics. These will enable you to take your customer avatar and precisely target their characteristics, so your ads appear only to those who are the best fit.
Like the “Hallmark” example in the previous paragraph, the more a prospect or customer sees your brand, the stronger an image it creates in your customer’s mind. This is especially true when using social media, which gives a brand a rare chance to interact directly with its customers and drive brand engagement and awareness.
Create Customer Loyalty
If a brand is a promise wrapped in an experience, encountering your brand should activate an emotional connection. You want to be the brand they consider whenever specific triggers go off, such as in earlier examples, when the user needed a greeting card (Hallmark) or was running low on vitamins (VitaminWorld). Consistent, connective brand exposure creates loyal customers. Even when your marketing sources are different channel customers who joined the customer journey at a different entry point, the result of so many touchpoints results in new customers.
Boost Sales and Revenue
Of course, the ultimate result of any marketing effort is to either retain current customers or boost sales and revenue by engaging prospects and upgrading customers. The multi-channel approach helps customers build a more robust familiarity with your brand, so when it comes to making a buying decision, there is a higher comfortability. For some brands, this results in an eCommerce conversion or new account sign-up; for some, it results in an offline activity such as attending an event or visiting a showroom.
How to Start with Cross-Channel Marketing Campaigns
Creating a successful cross-channel marketing strategy requires buy-in from product development to sales to service. Leads will come into your company at various points along the customer’s buyer journey, and you need to ensure everyone knows the desired goal and how to get the customer there. The foundation of a successful cross-channel campaign is understanding the target audience and building solid customer personas, determining their ideal customer journey, using customer data to support your theory, and optimizing each system.
Build Buyer Personas
Start by creating rich customer personas for your ideal customers. What are their preferences, behavioral, demographic, geographic, and psychographic segments? What are their buying habits and preferred communication methods? What or who are their influencers? Invest plenty of time creating your customer personas or avatars and figure out what your customers like and don’t like. You can use social listening tools if you already have an excellent social media presence. You can also use focus groups, surveys, and user testing to determine your customer’s ideal journey. Speaking of social media, what platforms are they on? Do they react well to email campaigns, Facebook ads, and/or direct mail?
Develop Marketing Balance
What marketing tools will you combine to complement each other’s efforts during your buyer journey? Will you use customer relationship management (CRM) automation and optimize for touchpoints along the trip, such as sending a white paper the day after a customer watches a webinar followed by a phone call? Will you advertise your financial software on CNBC, followed by a follow-up ad in the Wall Street Journal and a direct mail letter? You’ve figured out your customer journeys, and you know your budget. Get your marketing team to determine the channels you will use to streamline the customer experience. Remember that placing customers in marketing silos goes against the “cross-channel” method.
Unify Customer Data
For this to work well, you’ll need to look at customer data. For each customer segment, your data collection should be able to tell you:
- Which of your blog posts do your customers read most?
- Which social media campaigns have they engaged with?
- What channel partner did they come through?
- Which emails did they open, and which links/downloads did they click on?
- How have they interacted with your in-person staff or support team?
- Using A/B Testing, which marketing messages worked the best?
- Which touchpoints along their journey did they engage with the most? The least? Skip?
- How did they respond to customer satisfaction surveys around overall customer experience?
You’ll need a strong customer data platform (CDP) that can help you figure all of this information out so that it’s easy for you to understand but detailed enough to be powerful when analyzed by the technology.
Optimize Customer Segments
Remember that the first time you’re moving through this process, you’re using your team’s experience to guess how your customers will interact with your campaigns based on the best data available. Every time you complete a campaign, you have more data to optimize and refine any variables within your plan. You may want to spend more on Facebook and less on Instagram if that’s where you see the highest return. You may decide to micro-target further or broaden your target market. At this point, regular optimization is critical!
Bonus Tips for Your Cross-Channel Strategy
As you continue to optimize and refine your strategy, here are some bonus ideas for the next steps along your cross-channel marketing journey!
Marketing and Communication Channels
Marketing channels are how you reach your target audience, while communication is what you say to them once you have their attention. TV sitcom gold happens when a character spends an entire episode figuring out how to get to meet their favorite celebrity to meet them and becomes tongue-tied and says something silly. Be sure to figure out the ideal message and how to get that message to your customer.
Acquisition and Retention
When creating your marketing funnel, you’ll see that once leads and prospects convert to customers, their journey doesn’t stop. You might ask them for referrals, testimonials, and reviews, and their journey begins again as your marketing resources help retain them as ongoing customers. This customer journey could be similar to their sales pathway, but the content and intent are updated to be helpful and consultative.
Exploring New Channels: Real-Time & Mobile
The 2009 iPhone commercial “There’s an app for that” comes to mind when we discuss the latest marketing channels. Sure, we’ve covered a variety of channels like email, social media, and traditional media advertising, but it’s a good idea to look at the integrated experiences that mobile apps provide. Using the functionality of your customer’s smartphones and tablets, they can send push notifications in real-time and provide you with immediate metrics on exactly who took action, opened a message, watched a promotional ad, or ignored it altogether. With in-app advertising, some of you may even find your channel partners are placing advertisements for your stuff in their apps.
Building a solid cross-channel marketing plan allows you to create a consistent customer journey across any marketing platform, from traditional TV, Radio, and Print advertising to modern social media platforms, SEO, and mobile apps.
Creating ideal customer personas, devising customer journey pathways, and using data to measure accuracy are the first steps to building this plan. Using data to optimize and fine-tune it is the next step. Reaping the rewards of a well-executed project is the final and most exciting step!
As you continue to build multi-channel pathways, Relevize comes into play. As a trusted solution in cross-channel marketing and a top producer of channel sales revenue for companies of all sizes around the world, Relevize can provide all the tools you need to plan, test, and optimize your channel sales program. Check out Relevize.com and request a free demo to see how the complicated nature of cross-channel marketing can be simplified with the right tool.