Through my research, I noticed many individuals are using the terms cross-channel marketing and multi-channel marketing interchangeably, when in reality, they are two different concepts.
MULTI-CHANNEL MARKETING VS CROSS-CHANNEL MARKETING
Multi-channel marketing means using more than one channel or platform to market products or services while extending your brand’s reach. It is a compound approach: using any combination of web, email, print and in-person marketing to connect with the audience you need most.
Like multi-channel marketing, cross-channel marketing uses a variety of channels interchangeably to market products or services, but goes one step further by creating one singular brand experience in a multi-platform world. Unlike multi-channel marketing where messages can be siloed with no coordination between the channels, cross-channel marketing messages work interdependently with each other. Meaning, throughout the buyer journey, users can expect a seamless transition from one channel or platform to the next.
The goal of cross-channel marketing is to provide customers access to the same products and services in the same way across all channels at any time. No matter when and where a customer interacts with your brand, that buyer will receive the same personalized offerings, recommendations and purchasing experience across platforms.
Given the rise of the Internet of Things, cross-channel marketing outshines multi-channel marketing by providing marketers the opportunity to deliver the most comprehensive customer experience to advance the buyer decision process.
CHALLENGES OF CROSS-CHANNEL MARKETING
As with any marketing technique, cross-channel marketing comes with its very own set of challenges. These challenges include:
- Messages: Creating customized experiences (i.e. specific content and message functionality) for each channel while staying consistent in brand messaging and recognition
- Mediums: Overseeing multiple mediums at once
- Expenses: Managing the high cost of designing specific content and messaging for each individual channel
- ROI and Analytics: Tracking the direct impact of cross-channel marketing campaigns
SOLUTIONS TO CROSS-CHANNEL MARKETING CHALLENGES
Wherever challenges lie, there are also opportunities. Cross-channel marketing applies to all stages of the buyer’s journey. Customers expect an experience tailored specifically to their own preferences and needs, and cross-channel marketing provides marketers with the tools they need to deliver this customized experience.
Cross-channel marketing does require customizing dynamic messages for each channel and buyer. The challenge is maintaining continuity with brand messaging and design, while optimizing highly personalized experiences for each target buyer. Sending inconsistent marketing assets can confuse prospective buyers and damage brand recognition. Each message needs to clearly tie back to and reinforce the brand you want to instill in your customers.
Create a clear marketing strategy that includes the overall brand messaging and a design style guide. Define how to keep messaging personalized and consistent through all channels to avoid confusing your target buyers. Speak the right language as it pertains to each business segment and role.
Cross-channel marketing can become difficult when you are required to manage multiple mediums at once. It is important to know your audience and what business tools they use in order to correctly determine when, where and how to deliver communications with buyers. For example, your audience may be using websites and mobile apps for research, but making final purchase decisions via desktop. Knowing when and how to engage with your audience will help you drive deals to the closing table.
Before you launch your next marketing campaign, make sure to create buyer personas. By doing so, you have the opportunity to alter any aspects of your campaign that are keeping it from performing to the best of its ability. Buyer personas save time and money, and ultimately lead to greater business success.
According to a recent study by HubSpot, Skytap, a self-service provider of cloud automation solutions, used buyer personas to help create a targeted content marketing campaign and saw the following results:
- 124 percent increased sales leads
- 55 percent increase in organic search traffic
- 97 percent increase in online leads
- 210 percent increase in North American site traffic
One of the easiest ways to stand up to the financial challenges of cross-channel marketing is to take advantage of free campaign management tools. Tools like HootSuite, Buffer and Sprout help reduce time spent on organizing and disseminating brand messages.
It is also wise to use the 80-20 rule of customizing your message to the business segment. This means setting up your messaging so that 80 percent of the content speaks to the message you want to deliver and the other 20 percent speaks to how that message impacts the specific audience. This will cut down greatly on development and execution costs. Developing all the campaign messaging at one time will open the door to create better project economies.
ROI AND ANALYTICS
Here is what every company is dying to know. How can you measure the results of a campaign that plays out across multiple channels? Because return on investment analysis across channels is still very new, it is difficult for some companies to determine the full numerical calculation of ROI.
For example, when tracking the performance of print ads, marketers usually analyze audience reach and demographics. When tracking the performance of emails, marketers review open, click through and unsubscribe rates. But what should one look for when examining the overall impact of the two channels operating together?
Look for any drops or incremental lifts in conversion rates. If your goal is to increase branded content downloads, examine how many downloads occur after a prospective customer receives personalized ads through one combination of channels verses another. This analysis will let you know which combination of channels is most effective for each buyer persona. Collecting customer data at a medium level (at the very least) will allow you to analyze activity and optimize the campaign. Also, be sure to establish benchmarks so you can measure the success of the overall campaign.
Remember, do not give up right away. Most marketers tend to throw in the towel far too early. Assuming you have the right message, frequency is the key to conversion. Your ultimate marketing success comes down to the experience you are able to create for your customers, so make sure you are equipped with the right platform and skills for cross-channel marketing.
Here is a case study of how Elevation Marketing helped identity-theft service provider LifeLock achieve 30 percent year-over-year growth with a dynamic multi-media strategy.