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- Cross-channel marketing is a strategy that uses various marketing channels to create a more cohesive customer journey and expand reach across multiple touchpoints.
- Brands should determine which marketing channels make the most sense for them and make engaging content for each channel while maintaining a consistent and coordinated brand voice.
- A cross-channel strategy should incorporate best practices like automation, A/B testing, and personalization.
- Brands should utilize data and analytics to understand their customers and the success of their cross-channel customer engagement.
Cross-channel marketing is a strategy that combines multiple marketing channels to create a more cohesive customer journey for your target audience. Implementing cross-channel marketing allows you to optimize your customer journey, improve engagement, and expand your audience reach.
However, cross-channel marketing is a bit more involved than your typical marketing strategy, so it requires a detailed plan that allows you to align your messaging across multiple channels and create a seamless customer experience. To make the most of this plan, you will need team collaboration, targeted outreach, and the right metrics to measure success.
Understanding your target audience
Maximize cross-channel marketing’s benefits by conducting audience research through avenues like customer surveys, buyer data, and focus groups. As you research, aim to understand audience demographics, like age, gender, and geographic location, as well as their psychographics, like values and interests, so you can gather a well-rounded customer view.
Once you understand your audience, create detailed buyer personas. These personas provide a complete view of your different target customers and allow you to sort similar personas into the same groups so you can better focus your communications.
Selecting the right channels
Be sure to choose channels that are most effective for your brand and your target audience in order to maximize impact.
Analyzing channel effectiveness
Not every channel works for every brand. It’s important for any brand to consider whether a channel is right for them based on their audience and their business strengths. Factor in your audience’s preferred communication methods and styles, as well as each channel’s benefits and drawbacks:
- Social media – Social media can be volatile with algorithm changes, policy updates, and intense competition. However, it also offers great potential for reaching new audiences when you’re able to create a tailored strategy for a given platform.
- Email marketing – Email marketing reaches consumers directly. When done properly, this channel can provide the opportunity for direct engagement and offer a high return on investment. However, you must create engaging emails so customers open and engage with them.
- Offline channels – These channels include print media, like newspaper ads, and experiential marketing, like events. These can be great ways to engage consumers, especially if they are not active on social media, but they may be more limited in their reach.
Multichannel vs. omnichannel approach
Consider whether you prefer to take a multi-channel or omnichannel approach to your marketing. These two can be easily confused, but they are two different strategies for reaching and engaging your customers:
- Multichannel – Multichannel marketing involves using multiple channels to reach and interact with customers. These channels operate independently and may not have much coordination between them. This approach allows businesses to have a presence across many channels but may not have the same consistency.
- Omnichannel – Omnichannel marketing focuses on a seamless connection and integration between all channels, creating a consistent experience for customers no matter which channels they use. Although this approach can be more complex to implement, it can streamline the customer journey.
Crafting your cross-channel engagement plan
To put your cross-channel marketing plan in a position to succeed, you should take the following steps.
Set clear objectives
A good plan starts with clear, thought-out objectives. Following the SMART model allows you to develop objectives that are meaningful and productive.
SMART goals should meet the following criteria:
- Specific – What success looks like should be clearly defined.
- Measurable – You have clear metrics and indicators you can use to monitor your progress and determine whether you’re successful.
- Achievable – It’s important that objectives are reasonable and can be achieved within a reasonable timeline.
- Relevant – Any objectives you set should be part of reaching a greater goal while aligning with your overall brand strategy.
- Time-bound – Goals should have a deadline, which will help you track progress and provide motivation for reaching the goal by a given point.
Develop a content strategy
Your ability to reach your audience is one thing, but if the content isn’t strong enough to seal the deal, your outreach will fall flat. Interesting, high-quality, unique, engaging content will improve engagement with your efforts across all marketing channels. A content strategy should include how often you’ll post, what topics you’ll cover, and what audiences you will target.
Some types of content to consider include:
- Social media posts
- Blog posts
- Video content
- Informational guides
Be sure to tailor content for each platform you use, taking into account what fits the platform and your audience’s expectations. Each platform has its own character limits, layout, ideal video dimensions, and trending memes to consider.
Still, there should be consistency. Brand colors, voice, tone, and style should all remain the same across channels so your brand remains recognizable.
Integrate data and analytics
As you start to expand your efforts across channels, reliable data and insightful analytics become even more important. Tracking user behavior with elements like tracking pixels, URLs, and account history can help you capture each touchpoint.
A customer data platform (CDP) can store and analyze data about your customers’ engagements. Some customer relationship management (CRM) platforms can often do this while providing other valuable information like emails customers have been sent and engaged with, social media campaigns they’ve interacted with, and blog posts they’ve read.
Many CRMs will also be able to provide useful analytics about engaged sessions and customer journey maps. From there, you can analyze your campaign performance to better understand your reach. Rely on key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics, like:
- Click-through rates
- Customer lifetime value (CLV)
- Customer acquisition cost
- Overall ROI
- Engaged sessions
- Social media shares
- Sale conversions
With this information, you’ll be able to understand which channels grasp the most attention, which ones convert the most, and what customer journey your audience takes. These insights will allow you to adapt accordingly—you may find that you should invest more in certain channels or alter your current creative content to make it more engaging.
Cross-channel marketing best practices
A few best practices can help your brand maximize the impact of your cross-channel efforts.
Coordinated messaging and campaigns
Customers should be able to identify your brand, no matter where they interact with it, so even with different channels, your communications shouldn’t be fragmented. Coordinated messaging and campaigns are crucial for maintaining consistency across the different channels—unity and collaboration between your marketing teams will be crucial.
Messaging across channels should always fall under the umbrella of your greater brand purpose and overarching goals. Align campaign messaging across blog content, social media posts, and email marketing to hammer home your messaging, concentrate your efforts, and achieve your goals.
Personalization and segmentation
Personalizing content helps you separate your marketing campaign from just any other campaign audiences will see. Seventy-one percent of consumers prefer to see personalization, like personalized messaging, targeted promotions, and relevant products as they interact with a brand.
Audience segmentation helps you maximize the opportunity for personalization while reaching large parts of your audience at one time. Segmenting your audience involves grouping your audience by common interests, demographics, and psychographics.
Once you have your omnichannel campaign in place, you must be able to sustain it, from maintaining manageable workflows to testing for campaign effectiveness. Build a sustainable campaign by considering the following tactics:
- Automation and drip campaigns – Automation allows you to encourage cross-channel engagement. For example, drip campaigns send automated emails to people who have had interactions with your business, like placing an order or abandoning a shopping cart, allowing you to consistently create potential touchpoints for leads.
- A/B testing and optimization – Improve campaign effectiveness by comparing different marketing materials against others to determine which ones perform better so you can maximize the reach of each campaign with the best materials and content.
- Compliance and data privacy considerations – Be sure to manage concerns around consumer data protection, data sharing, and social media user privacy. Brands must abide by increasing data regulations, store data securely, and be transparent about how they use data so they can sustain audience trust.
Case studies and examples
Several brands have been able to use cross-channel marketing strategies to experience great success. The following are some of the best examples of brands putting cross-channel marketing into practice.
Apple uses both multichannel and omnichannel marketing, ensuring a large footprint and a seamless customer experience. In the multi-channel sense, you’ll see advertisements from Apple on TV, on billboards, on social media, and in your inbox. Even the iPhone launch was available to watch on multiple channels, like YouTube, Apple TV, and social media.
The brand also leans into omnichannel marketing by tailoring online and social media advertisements to products you’ve purchased or looked at on other channels. If you visit a physical store, you can even expect to receive personalized recommendations based on your device and purchase history.
Starbucks creates a seamless experience across channels for its customers. For example, if customers visit a location in person and use the location’s Wi-Fi, they’re entered into its email list so they can receive communications and promotions.
If customers become rewards members, their in-person purchases can be logged through the Starbucks app and turned into personalized offers and promotions through email and on the app itself. By using multiple channels, Starbucks maintains several potential touchpoints with customers and keeps them engaged with sweet opportunities.
Implementing your cross-channel plan
Once you have your plan in place, it’s time to put it into practice. To maximize the impact of your plan, consider the following tips during implementation.
Creating a Project Timeline
A timeline helps you develop an actionable, consistent plan with a clear and measurable goal to work toward.
As you develop your timeline, consider points like:
- Which channels you’re going to establish
- By when you’ll have each one in place
- When teams will meet with each other
- How often you’ll post content on each channel
- When you’ll report on channel performance
- How you’ll keep each channel consistently engaged
Allocating resources and budget
It’s the nature of the game that certain channels will perform better than others—this should factor into how you balance your people-power, resources, and budget across them for maximum impact and reach.
If your audience is more present on one platform than another, it’s better to concentrate your efforts in that direction as you begin. However, your resource allocation may change as you learn what works for each channel and how much energy you need to put into each.
Measuring and adjusting
Your cross-channel strategy should never take a “set it and forget it” approach. You’ll have to remain ready to adjust and adapt to ensure that your plan is effective based on tangible measurements.
Monitoring key metrics
Choose metrics that are meaningful to your campaign and provide insight into the success of your efforts. Consider the following key metrics, depending on your channels:
- Social media engagement rates, such as likes, comments, and followers
- Conversion rates
- Email marketing metrics, like open rates and click-through rates
- Return on investment from individual campaigns
- Customer satisfaction and loyalty
Identifying areas for improvement
Look at your cross-channel plan with a critical eye. Your chosen metrics can tell you where customers are engaging with your efforts and where they’re falling out of the funnel so you can adjust accordingly.
Use these insights to make changes to your current plan or inform your efforts for future campaigns. As you roll out your plan, you’ll begin to find areas that could use improvement, like content quality, budget allocation, and audience targeting.
Future trends in cross-channel marketing
Cross-channel marketing is a rapidly changing field with frequent advancements, so brands must stay on top of trends to avoid falling behind.
Emerging technologies and tools
The rise of new technologies and tools is inevitable. As your brand develops a multi-channel approach, consider the following emerging technologies:
- Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) tools that can assist in content generation and responding to customer feedback
- Voice search through smart assistants will require optimized content for the medium
- Virtual reality may provide a new avenue for marketing
- Internet of Things (IoT) devices will provide new customer touchpoints and opportunities for gathering data
Evolving customer expectations
Brands face a catch-22 when facing customer expectations for cross-channel marketing. On one hand, customers continue to expect more convenience and personalization in their interactions with brands. On the other, they also have reservations about their data being shared for ad targeting.
These customer expectations point to future challenges for gathering data for ad targeting, like the fall of third-party cookies. Brands will have to be ready to adapt and balance both.
Staying ahead of the curve
Channels are constantly changing, so marketers need to be ready to do the same and keep pace with trends. Social media algorithms change frequently, AI and automation offer new ways to connect with customers, and short-form videos continue to dominate social media.
Brands that remain on their toes to leverage new technologies and meet customer expectations will be able to avoid falling behind the competition, maintain strong relationships, and more easily engage new customers.
Build a strong cross-channel marketing plan with PETERMAYER
Cross-channel marketing helps you expand your reach across multiple platforms and increase the quality of consumer interactions. You can maximize the impact of your plan by developing engaging content, setting measurable goals, and using metrics to monitor your success.
Our team at PETERMAYER will help you develop an impactful cross-channel marketing plan and facilitate joy along the way. From creative services like content marketing to support with social media management, our agency helps you maximize your impact in the channels that matter the most to you.
Schedule a discovery call with us today to learn more about how you can integrate joy into your marketing efforts and increase the quality of your customer connections.