Multi-Channel Marketing – The Keys to Making it Work

As we all know, marketing comes in many flavors from television and newspaper ads to direct mail and email. So how are today’s top marketers leveraging these and other mediums to drive incremental return on investment (ROI) from their marketing spends and contributing to company profits? The simple answer: through effective multi-channel marketing integration.

When deployed as channel-specific efforts, marketing pieces deliver only a fraction of their potential value. This results in a mediocre ROI at best. A two-year study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) confirmed that utilizing a variety of media vehicles in a thoughtful and strategic way have a higher likelihood of making a connection with your target market. By embracing a holistic approach to marketing, professional marketers can out-pace their competition by delivering an effective consumer experience while building a loyal customer base.

So what could it look like when we pull it all together? Perhaps something like this…

A cosmetics company wants to target new customers for their recently launched facial moisturizer. Using all of the collected data about their current and prospective customers, the organization puts together beautiful full-color brochures that utilize graphics and photos appropriate for their well-defined target market. The call-to-action in an introductory direct mail piece is a visit to a custom landing page within their website announcing the new addition to their product line with a special purchase offer.

The printed direct mailing is coordinated with an email campaign to their current opt-in customer base with identical branding and messaging and a link to the same URL. They include a “Live Chat” feature on the webpage to answer any visitors’ questions (and an opportunity to up-sell online customers). The new products can be conveniently purchased right there through the web page.

Two months later, about the time the newly purchased moisturizer would typically get close to empty, the email application (based on purchase date) automatically sends out a friendly reorder reminder and includes an online coupon with a link to the website shopping cart and the discount already applied to the customer’s purchase. The email also extends this special offer to any “friends” to whom the original recipient wants to forward it and then encourages those “friends” to opt-in for their own future mailings.

In this example, sales can easily be tracked online given the unique landing pages for each marketing campaign. Marketers can easily gauge the effectiveness of the campaigns and optimize them in real-time based on the formatting or messaging that proves the most effective. In addition, they can more effectively track marketing expenditures (and therefore ROI) with the sales generated from specific campaigns.

The IAB’s Cross Media Optimization Study found that an integrated approach can lift brand awareness and image by 8% to 34%, and purchase intent can be affected even more… from 5% to 1,000%. It is important to recognize the tremendous multiplier effect from the employment of multiple, coordinated marketing channels. Companies in a wide variety of industries – both business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer – are taking advantage of this effective method of running multi-channel marketing campaigns.

So what are the keys to successful multi-channel marketing campaigns?…

Get all of your marketing people and service providers working together. The most successful marketing campaigns come from diverse teams that work together from start to finish. This means agency partners must work together with your internal marketing team (and with each other if you work with more than one agency) to closely collaborate to define strategy, develop creative ideas, and plan the execution.

Really know your target customers. Understand your target audience at a deep level. Give them names and personas. Learn their preferences and personalize your communications to and with them. The more personalized, timely, and relevant your communications, the more effective they will be (but that’s a topic for a whole separate column).

Define all customer touch points. Identify in detail all of the opportunities you have to interact with your customers and define how all your employees should speak with them, how to ask for their permission for further communication, ask for their preferences, and learn more about them at every opportunity. Lay out the process of your customers’ experiences with your brand. Each customer touch point should fully support the brand image you wish to convey… it is all about the complete brand experience.

Test, test, test. You always need to test the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, however the testing of each channel individually is a bit different than testing the overall multi-channel campaign as a whole. Define your success metrics up front to ensure that you get a holistic view of the campaign results throughout the campaign.
The days of disjointed marketing campaigns are certainly numbered… If you work to integrate teams across your organization (including your vendors), you’ll be able to engage your customers in new and unique ways, build greater loyalty and brand awareness, and achieve a higher return on your marketing investment.