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How to craft an effective multichannel marketing strategy

Multichannel marketing strategies enable a company to reach target audiences on their preferred channels, as well as provide a competitive edge compared to other businesses.

Consumers can engage with brands in many ways and on multiple devices, so marketers should have a strategy that helps them reach customers no matter how they choose to communicate.

Multichannel marketing is becoming more common within organizations as the number of channels a prospect engages with increases over time. Seventy-three percent of consumers regularly use multiple engagement channels to interact with a preferred retailer, according to a Harvard Business Review study.

Because consumers often use multiple devices in a day -- frequently switching between cellphones, tablets and laptops to complete a single task -- marketers should take advantage of a multichannel marketing strategy.

What is multichannel marketing?

Multichannel marketing goes further than running campaigns on different channels. A true multichannel marketing approach uses multiple channels for the same campaign. This keeps the user experience consistent throughout their engagement with a brand, regardless of the platform they are using, and casts a wider net to reinforce the campaign in the customer's eyes. For example, a single campaign would use the same offer, creative elements and copy across social media, email or paid ads.

Interacting with prospects across a combination of direct or indirect channels enables buyers to engage on the platform of their choice, delivering a positive customer experience. Today, customer experience is taking over product and price as a key brand differentiator, and most consumers crave a more personalized shopping experience with only about 25% feeling as though they get it. By putting the right content in front of the right user at the right time, marketers are more likely to convert target prospects into leads for their brand.

Benefits of multichannel marketing

A multichannel marketing approach enables customers and prospects to have a consistent user experience across interactions with a brand, so one benefit to this approach is reinforcement of the message that the brand is marketing. This enables marketing teams to not only ensure that the target audience sees the message on the channel they often engage with, it also enables marketers to combine traditional and emerging channels to create a cohesive online and offline user experience.

B2B campaigns that use a multichannel marketing approach see a 24% increase in ROI, and businesses that use more than four channels see a 300% increase in performance over their single or dual channel campaign counterparts.

Companies increase their chances of prospects seeing their messaging by spreading their marketing campaign across many channels.

Other benefits of multichannel marketing include:

  1. Increased visibility. Companies increase their chances of prospects seeing their messaging by spreading their marketing campaign across many channels. By having as many touchpoints within a campaign as possible, brand awareness may increase and lead to higher conversion rates on future campaigns.
  2. Wider variety of channels to reach customers. Using multiple channels enables marketers to meet their target audience on the channel of their choice. Spreading out the messaging across channels could combine offline and online marketing efforts and result in a wider targeted audience.
  3. Improved ability to outpace competition. When looking to increase market share against the competition, a head-to-head approach does not always win. It's important to identify gaps in the competitive landscape and fill them. When promoting a singular campaign message across several channels, businesses may fill a gap that their competitors leave when not taking advantage of the same opportunities. When a competitor is not using a particular channel, that presents the chance for a marketing team to approach their customers where the competition isn't.
  4. Integrated strategy. Spreading a campaign across multiple channels shows a company's inclination to have an integrated marketing strategy. Using all the channels available to a company, and meeting customers where they are, improves organization of marketing campaigns, but also builds future efficiencies and repeatability. By continuing this methodology, brand awareness continues to rise as marketers use those channels to cross-promote additional products or services.

What to include in a multichannel marketing plan

A multichannel marketing campaign isn't meant to be a quick hit or one-and-done approach to campaign management, but rather a long-term strategy built on the foundation of establishing brand awareness and a relationship with prospects. Marketing teams can run many short-term individual campaigns but being consistent about using all channels available to them will continue to reinforce that campaign over time, especially in businesses with long sales cycles such as real estate, finance and automotive industries.

Some of the typical elements found in a marketing campaign are:

  • websites or physical storefronts;
  • print;
  • email and print mail;
  • TV;
  • text messaging;
  • blogging and other premium content, such as white papers, e-books and case studies;
  • sponsored media and other paid ads; and
  • social media.

An effective multichannel marketing strategy uses a combination of all those elements to deliver a consistent message to the target market. This connects multiple channels together into a well-rounded campaign.

Outside of the specific content or channels, the multichannel marketing plan must consider the foundations of being able to execute these types of campaigns. The multichannel marketing campaign requires:

  • detailed customer and buyer persona profiles;
  • specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals for new customer acquisition, as well as customer retention or repeat purchases;
  • marketing tactics that combine an inbound and outbound marketing approach using content and sales alignment;
  • the marketing team's ability to track and collect data on integrated channels for any potential optimization; and
  • an understanding of how the marketing team will measure results for effectiveness.

By having this foundation in place, marketing teams can identify where sales are coming from and how -- or where -- to allocate resources and budget in future campaigns.

Many companies also integrate other organizational plans -- such as digital marketing plans, an overall marketing plan and an individual campaign plan -- into their multichannel marketing approach. An effective integration of these plans can yield a long-term integrated communications strategy to attract, nurture and convert leads and exceed sales targets.

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