Cross-Channel Marketing Guide for Brands
Now more than ever, consumers hold the upper hand, making it imperative for businesses to find out when and where their customers are spending their time online so that they can reach them wherever they are. The solution to the effects that rapidly developing technologies have across all sectors is to utilise a cross-channel marketing strategy. There is a greater necessity than ever for marketers to have a strategy for dealing with the proliferation of online platforms via which their target demographic now receives information.
Single-channel approaches, alas, are insufficient in the modern business world. Everyone who has ever tried to reach a certain number of leads or customers knows that focusing on just one marketing channel is a surefire way to miss out on a substantial chunk of that audience. If you only use one method to communicate with your audience, you risk alienating your customers and losing potential sales leads.
So, what exactly is cross-channel marketing? How does utilising cross-channel marketing benefit your business, and how can you get started? We’ll discuss this in detail within our comprehensive cross-channel marketing guide.
What is a cross-channel marketing strategy?
Cross-channel marketing refers to utilising various marketing channels to create an integrated customer experience across the various channels owned by a business — whether paid or unpaid. The channels build upon one another to unify the message your customers receive as they journey from one channel to the next.
It is one of the best marketing strategies that a company could utilise. Using cross-channel marketing, you can tailor your message to each stage of the customer’s journey as they interact with your company. By doing so, you may learn more about your customers and tailor your services to each individual, resulting in a more positive, personalised and comprehensive customer experience.
Cross-channel marketing shouldn’t be confused with multi-channel or omni-channel marketing. Although these terms may seem similar and might seem to be synonymous, they are actually quite different in practice and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Let’s take a look at what these different terms mean so that you can gain a better understanding of these different marketing tactics.
A multi-channel strategy utilises all marketing channels within a company’s arsenal, but they do not work together for a seamless journey. These channels instead work independently from one another, making multi-channel marketing rather different from cross-channel marketing. The different channels use different types of messaging rather than hold one unified message for a specific customer. The channels also don’t “speak” to each other, unlike cross-channel or omni-channel marketing.
Omni-channel marketing is very similar to cross-channel marketing in the sense that multiple channels are used, communicating back and forth with one another, but with one big difference. Within an omni-channel marketing strategy, the different channels work together seamlessly — and normally, simultaneously — in order to provide a deeper, more extensive experience to the customer across all channels. While many companies and marketers claim that omni-channel marketing is the best form of marketing, it is also the most expensive and, therefore, not necessarily the most accessible.
While it’s rare to see a company utilise a single-channel marketing strategy, we’ll briefly discuss this to provide more context to the overall world of multi-channel, cross-channel and omni-channel marketing.
Single-channel marketing connects a business with its consumer through only a singular channel — just as advertised. This is a long-redundant form of marketing where companies used a channel like email, their website or mobile app, or maybe even text messaging to communicate with their customer base. But in today’s hyper-connected world, where everything is in the palm of your hand, this method is all but extinct.
Benefits of a cross-channel marketing strategy
Regardless of which marketing strategy you believe is the “best”, there are plenty of benefits that companies can enjoy by utilising them — cross-channel marketing included! From benefitting the business’ bottom line to providing great benefits to the customer themselves, cross-channel marketing is a tool that should never be disregarded.
Let’s go through some of the biggest benefits of utilising a cross-channel marketing strategy:
1. Increased engagement
Due to the overwhelming number of advertisements people are exposed to daily, many of them have become “ad-blind” and will simply ignore your PPC advertising, boosted posts, and marketing emails. While that may seem harsh, we should also consider our own personal experiences as a consumer to put things in perspective. Many of us check our inboxes first thing in the morning and immediately trash the hundreds of generic marketing emails without a second thought.
62% of respondents to a survey by Fluent who interact with retailers across 10 or more channels make a purchase once a week or more, demonstrating the great value of multi-channel clients for your organisation. Consumers are more likely to become loyal to a brand if they have developed an emotional connection with it through positive brand experiences. Cross-channel marketing amplifies this by giving businesses more targeting opportunities and by providing a more streamlined message across channels.
2. Strengthen brand trust
Customers engage with companies across numerous touchpoints; hence, brands that successfully drive engagement must actively seek out these customers rather than relying on customers to discover them. Direct response advertising may be a powerful tool, so consider using strategic hashtags to get people to share your material. Your brand’s engagement will increase with anything that gets people talking about it.
By utilising cross-channel marketing, you are allowing your brand more opportunities to be visible to not just your current customers but potential customers, too. Companies like Apple, Sainsbury’s, and H&M are able to keep their visual identities and messages constant across all of their touchpoints because they strictly adhere to their own brand and style guides. Especially in the case of Apple, each of the company’s touchpoints — from their physical stores to their website — complements the next, and each element works together to immerse their customers within the “Apple experience”.
3. Improve customer journey
Mixed messages from companies to their clients are not uncommon. Customers may feel confused and disorganised if, for instance, one day, they receive a 50% off coupon through email and the next day, they find a 20% off offer on the website. A better and more consistent customer experience can be achieved through the use of a cross-channel marketing strategy, as it guarantees constant contact across all channels.
If a company’s teams aren’t well-integrated, there’s a higher risk of both content-related and frequency-related misunderstandings. If a business isn’t keeping tabs on how each department handles client interactions, it could be sending the same person five emails and two text messages within the span of a week, driving those otherwise loyal further and further away from the brand and closer to the unsubscribe button.
4. Greater customer loyalty
In general, customers want to feel like they have a connection to a brand, especially in this day and age. It’s more convenient for customers to have a single point of contact for a certain problem or requirement than to hunt around for multiple options and try them out individually. PWC reports that consumers are becoming more and more dedicated to the stores, products and brands that regularly meet or exceed their expectations for value, selection and ease of use.
Many consumers would rather pay a little more to continue being a patron of the same brand they’ve been happy with in the past rather than spend the time and energy researching and selecting a replacement. Customers will remember you as an industry leader if they feel you care about them and their success, which you may achieve through concerted marketing and support activities. Remember, the easier you make it for your customers (especially potential new customers), the more likely they are to make a purchase! This leads us to the final benefit of utilising a cross-channel marketing strategy:
5. Generate increased ROI
You may get a more accurate picture of the success of your marketing initiatives by combining your efforts with a cross-channel marketing strategy, which eliminates the silos that remove context from measurements. If you’re using a multi-channel strategy instead, your email marketing team might concentrate on metrics like “open rates” and “click-through rates”. Your social media team, however, is probably concerned only with increasing “engagement” and “reach” across all profiles. Across the hall, your company’s content team determines the popularity of your blog through “impressions” and “views”. There is no sense of togetherness when using a multi-channel approach, especially when it comes to data.
When you utilise a cross-channel marketing strategy, not only will all your teams have a consistent messaging format to follow — from content to social media and beyond — they will also be striving for the same goal: to generate leads. With a coherent goal and consistent messaging, companies have found that their marketing efforts generate increased returns on investment compared to using a multi-channel strategy. This is achieved through the 90% customer retention rate when using a cross-channel approach, as reported by Omnisend.
How to create a cross-channel marketing strategy
Before we get into the process of how to develop a cross-channel marketing strategy, we need you to understand that this isn’t a concrete set of steps. Much like most marketing strategies, a cross-channel marketing strategy needs room to be fluid. A great strategy is one that is continuously evolving and optimised.
If you want your company to enjoy the many benefits of cross-channel marketing that we’ve mentioned before, pay close attention to the process we’re outlining here. All these steps are equally as important as the other, and although they need to be open to optimisation, each iteration needs to be as good as it can be for the time being. With that in mind, let’s discuss the steps needed to create a cross-channel marketing strategy:
1. Define your customer persona
Understanding your target audience is essential for developing a successful marketing strategy, hence why it is the first step to creating a cross-channel marketing strategy. When applied for the optimisation of a brand’s website, marketing personas can increase usability by a factor of two to five.
You should profile typical customers, detailing their buying habits, interests, and preferred methods of contact, in your buyer personas. With the help of social listening technologies, meaning those that keep an eye out for mentions of your brand, you may learn more about your target customers and their preferences. Utilising every tool possible is the best way to gather rich data on your customers — and to create a genuine, accurate persona.
In order to understand customers’ problems, wants, and needs, brands need to perform user research. The trick is to create a variety of potential customer personas. Understanding your target audience thoroughly is the key to developing a successful advertising strategy.
2. Unify your data
Having unified data on a customer data platform (CDP) is the foundation of any effective cross-channel strategy. It’s possible that this information can already be managed by your company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, so you can likely get started by expanding upon what you currently have. You should have the analytics data ready to capture each of your leads’ touch points regardless of the CDP you choose.
In most cases, this will require the use of tracking URLs or browser cookies to link a user’s online behaviour to their contact profile. You should be able to see the emails they have received and how they have interacted with those emails, the social media campaigns that have resonated with them, the blog posts they have read, the PPC ads they have clicked on, and any interactions they have had with your sales or service staff. Your CDP should reflect the full range of marketing channels you have utilised and will employ in the future.
3. Use complementary channels
You need to be picky when it comes to choosing which channels to utilise within your cross-channel marketing strategy. While it may be very tempting to simply use everything at your disposal, it will become progressively more difficult to manage and plan consistently across all of them. The rule of thumb here is to concentrate on the channels that you know for certain that your audience is using.
Here is a list of examples of channels that complement each other:
- Website + Mobile app
- TV + Social media
- Website + TV
- Social media + Retail store
- Mobile + Radio
- Email marketing + Paid Media
4. Outline and track KPIs
Effective marketing campaigns are the result of careful analysis of previous efforts and the incorporation of the lessons gained into future plans — again, cross-channel marketing strategies are no different. However, this becomes difficult when there are no clear-cut goals to follow, and there can’t be any clear-cut goals to follow without a definition of metrics to measure. That’s why key performance indicators, or KPIs, are crucial.
Throughout the many stages of the marketing funnel, businesses should constantly be keeping an eye on a variety of KPIs. The KPIs may vary depending on the channels you decide to utilise for the campaign. The gathered information can help marketing teams gain a valuable understanding of the ROI that may be enjoyed by the strategy and make informed choices about future campaign optimization.
5. Continuously optimise
The ability to track and analyse the results of one marketing strategy’s impact on another is a major boon of cross-channel marketing. The mere possession of such information is sufficient for deducing the ROI that your business will enjoy from the campaign. Plus, you may use this data to improve your cross-channel marketing strategy in real-time.
You can use this information to your advantage by doing experiments, such as split-testing two versions of an email, tweaking your Facebook ad audience, or trying out a fresh location for your calls to action, all in an effort to learn more about your customers. Incorporating the learnings from prior cross-channel marketing efforts into the next round of planning is a great way to improve results.
The power of cross-channel marketing is undeniable. Not only will your team be able to implement effective marketing strategies thanks to the use of cross-channel marketing, but it will also provide you with deeper insights into your customers’ behaviours and preferences. Being able to deeply understand your customers is a superpower with incredible benefits to your company that can last for years to come.