In a perfect world, we would be able to read our customers’ minds and fulfill their every desire at the touch of a button. This button would enable us to interact with and convert leads into customers, and track our efforts as we created the perfect customer experience.
Sadly, no business exists in a perfect world, and using a single channel for the full spectrum of a business’s marketing operations will only lead to failure.
With economies worldwide currently in the balance, we need to come up with recession-proof business ideas and exceptional marketing strategies to back them. To create a unified customer experience, we need a powerful, interconnected approach — which is where cross-channel marketing comes in.
In essence, cross-channel marketing enables you to connect with your customers (or prospects) across every single digital channel, from their preferred social networks to email, across multiple connected devices with relevant and personalized content crafted to their tastes and preferences. The benefits are staggering.
What is cross-channel marketing?
Today, our customers move across a variety of channels not only while they’re making their buying decisions, but also during the buying or purchase process itself. We need to understand our customers’ preferences and put ourselves in the position to communicate to their preferences.
In order to do this, we need to have clear customer segments across our chosen channels. For example, the same information for “Jack Smith,” should be available on an email system, a POS system, a customer service center, and any other chosen communication channel. Every known touchpoint should be integrated as well.
With an integrated view of who your customers are, you can tailor your marketing across all available channels, and make sure that you present a consistent and effective brand image. This is known as cross-channel marketing.
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The value of cross-channel marketing
There’s a massive jump in sales revenue when you use a strong cross-channel marketing strategy. One study found that cross-channel B2C email campaigns realize a 24 percent higher ROI, while another found that companies with strong cross-channel marketing strategies increased their annual revenue by almost 10 percent.
Cross-channel marketing can also boost revenue by 38 percent, 120 percent, and 190 percent respectively, with each new channel added to the marketing mix. A strong cross-channel marketing strategy will continuously increase annual revenue while boosting your ROI.
The American economy had been growing rapidly in the last few years, with personal income crossing $100 billion for the first time, but small businesses are now taking a huge hit as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Finding ways to boost revenue is more critical than ever.
To increase your company’s revenue, take into account the expanded reach, stronger brand image, multichannel synergies, and decreased costs you need to budget for. A good cross-channel marketing strategy can also assist you in preparing your digital marketing budget while increasing your ROI.
The three principles of cross-channel marketing
Implementing cross-channel marketing in the average business rests on three key principles. First, you need to develop a marketing strategy that can be effectively applied across all the available channels. Second, you need to understand the way customers interact with each channel, also known as your “sales funnel.” Finally, you should use customer segmentation reports to assess your marketing performance across channels.
Let’s take these principles one at a time.
1. Cross-channel marketing strategy
Any effective cross-channel marketing, and in fact any effective marketing, needs to be informed by a thorough marketing strategy. When approaching marketing from a cross-channel perspective, you need to ensure that all of your marketing staff and all of your marketing materials project a consistent brand image to your customers.
This is particularly important if you’re planning to use social media platforms as part of your strategy, which you definitely should. Social media platforms allow you to communicate and engage directly with your customers. Unfortunately, marketing staff can sometimes (accidentally) undermine your brand image by trying to be overly friendly with your customers.
Cross-channel marketing strategies should outline communication and customer interaction policies alongside your content strategy. These policies should include clear guidance on how staff should communicate with customers, whether they are contacted through social media or email.
2. Understand your sales funnel
The sales funnel is the path your customers follow from initial awareness of your services or products to buying (and hopefully repeat sales). There are many online marketing strategies that you can adapt to meet your specific goals and targets, but to be successful, you have to understand and make use of your company’s sales funnel.
Your prospects go through several stages before making a purchase. To succeed in your cross-channel marketing efforts, your strategy should help your prospects transition from each stage in their buying journey to the next by providing the appropriate content and assets.
These can include B2B outreach marketing tactics, video, ads, blog posts, landing pages, and even SMS or email marketing tactics. In fact, outreach marketing is one of the best strategies to convert visitors into buyers.
To understand your sales funnel, ask yourself the following:
- Who are your customers? What are they looking for? What products or features do they need, and what would they like? Where do they see your products or services for the first time, and where do they go next?
- Find out as much as possible about your customers through polls, questionnaires, interviews, and surveys. The more information you have about their buying journey, the better you can design your sales funnel and improve your services or products.
- Track your leads. If you can’t ask them directly, make use of Google Analytics or your chosen CRM to find out where your online visitors came from. Did they find out about your services or products on social media, email, Google, or somewhere else? Track their journey on your website to determine their needs. Are they looking at pricing or asking any specific questions?
- Nurture your leads with the right content at each level or segment of the sales funnel. At the top of the funnel, you should supply blog posts or other content that leads them to further marketing opportunities — for example, a newsletter signup in exchange for free samples. In the middle of the funnel, the content will introduce your company and may include videos, whitepapers, case studies, and so forth. At the bottom of the funnel, you can add testimonials or even a nice little discount into your strategy.
When deciding which channels to use for your chosen message or marketing campaign, email is an excellent place to start, as it can be seven times more effective at generating sales than all social media platforms put together. You can then expand your message across web pages, direct mail, social media platforms, SMS, etc.
3. Segment your customer base
Finally, though cross-channel marketing relies on communicating with customers across all available channels, it doesn’t mean that your message to each customer should be the same. Customization and personalization are just as important for cross-channel strategies as any other digital marketing tactic.
Start segmenting your customers by looking at the data on how they interact with your brand. Your customer data platform (CDP) should be able to supply you with reports that aggregate your customer data and give you a clear idea of the shifting segments within your customer personas.
Even if you don’t use a CDP, you can easily define your customer segments on your own by analyzing the touchpoints within your customer data. These touchpoints can involve browser cookies or other tools to connect your customers’ online actions with their profile.
Try to identify the types of emails they’ve interacted with in your email marketing campaigns, the social media campaigns that influenced them, and whether they’ve read blog posts or clicked on your pay per click (PPC) ads. Consolidate and store all the data you collect for each customer as a single record.
Look at your successes, failures, or any trends that you can identify. You’ll quickly notice that the leads that turned into customers have something in common. It may be the average time they spent interacting with your marketing efforts or a minimum amount of interactions before they converted. By analyzing these segments, you can determine which channels to prioritize and which type of content your customers prefer.
With this strategy in place, you can begin to implement cross-channel marketing. If you’ve taken the time to understand all of your marketing channels, and how you can use them together, you can begin to tailor content for each one.
Most businesses will use, would like to, (at least) seven channels for marketing outreach:
- Retail storefronts
- PPC and other online advertising
- Website (including content marketing/blogging)
- Direct mail
- Email marketing
- Mail order catalogs
- Mobile marketing
Though the basic approach of cross-channel marketing is to ensure that you’re marketing across all of these channels — or at least as many as are suitable for your business — cross-channel marketing is really about recognizing where these channels can naturally overlap and strengthen each other. Mashable reported last year that 72 percent of consumers prefer an integrated marketing approach of this type, even if it only covers a couple of these channels.
There are some natural pairings when it comes to marketing channels — types of marketing media that go well together and across which you can use the same kind of content. Mediapost has even done research on which of these pairings are the most effective, and report that the following are best:
Looking at this list, you’ll recognize that these different types of marketing are effective at different times of the day. The efficacy of computer/mobile, for instance, peaks in the daytime, but is less effective than TV and mobile in the evenings. To make the most of your marketing spend, you’ll need to make your content as multi-device as possible.
Cross-channel marketing examples
When it comes to the nuts and bolts of making your marketing cross-channel, there are a number of systems and techniques you can use:
- Google Ads is one of the most popular marketing platforms and comes with cross-channel functionality standard. You can use the click-to-call extension to add a phone number to your ads, which allows you to integrate your digital marketing and phone outreach. Other extensions, such as the PPC offer extension, allow you to present customers with a printable coupon for use in a physical store.
- Television hashtags are also gaining popularity as a way of integrating TV and mobile marketing, two forms of marketing that have historically been difficult to integrate. This type of cross-channel marketing takes advantage of a relatively recent trend in customer engagement, in which many people are also active on a second screen while watching TV. In fact, almost a third of Twitter users will Tweet about TV.
- A more direct form of cross-channel marketing, and one that has been around for quite a while now, is offer codes. You can give these to customers across all your marketing channels — whether physical billboards or direct email campaigns — and improve your marketing efficacy by directing customers to your business website with the promise of an exclusive product or cost savings.
The insights you gain from your marketing campaigns will ensure you know which improvements to make in order to optimize your cross-channel marketing strategy. Whether you want to create brand awareness or drive sales, a powerful cross-channel marketing strategy is the most effective and sophisticated way to achieve your goals.
Be sure to test your strategy on a variety of control groups to continually refine and polish it until it’s perfect.