Business Leads From Multi-Channel Marketing Strategies
In the pre-internet days of advertising, a multi-channel marketing plan consisted simply of a television or radio commercial and a print ad in either the newspaper or a magazine, brochure or flyer, or maybe even an occasional billboard. Sure, there were some general demographics guiding the placement of these ads, but they were more general, such as female vs. male, adults vs. kids. Advertising was a little more simplistic. The media choices were few, so the question primarily a matter of when to advertise to these general demographics. What comes to mind is the number of at-home moms with the television playing in the soap opera heyday – perfect time to advertise tv dinners and cleaning products. Or what about those commercials served up during sporting events? Cars and beer, trying to appeal to generally a male demographic.
Today, as we know, there are so many more options on what medium to use to reach your target audience. Today we have not only print and television and radio, but direct mail, social media, search engine optimization, websites, email, live chat, and content marketing, among other media. No longer is it just a matter of something as simple as male or female, or even age, race, and geographical location. Now we’re looking at spending habits and correlations between habits, customer devices, and you following the customer rather than vice versa. The customer is now in the driver’s seat when it comes to buying. In other words, they decide how and where and when they want to hear your message.
According to a 2014 survey, multi-channel marketing results in more engaged customers and an increase in revenues. At a simple level, this makes sense. You are meeting your customers where and when they are ready to shop rather than trying to entice them to buy before they are ready. Customers are looking for personalized experiences, so when you meet your customers where they are experientially, they are more likely to engage with you and spend some time tuning into what you have to say to them and offer them. Multi-channel marketing can increase customer loyalty over time. Customers perceive businesses that use multiple channels as more progressive, as well as responsive to customer needs. By using multiple channels, you are more likely to hit upon the preferred channel or combination of channels that your customers prefer you use to communicate with them.
We like statistics, so here are a few interesting findings about multi-channel marketing that you might want to know:
? In just a 2-year span from 2015 to 2017, the number of marketers using multi-channel marketing strategies has increased from 44% to 52%.
? Research indicates when you communicate with customers via multiple channels, they spend three times as much as those who heard from you on a single channel.
? 72% of consumers say they prefer to connect with their brands via multiple channels.
? 60% of mature multi-channel marketers reported increases of more than 10% in revenue.
? 40% of mature multi-channel marketers reported increases of more than 15% in revenue.
? Multi-channel marketing makes you more visible to customers. Engagement generally increases by 24% when you publish content on two or three channels.
These are just a few numbers, but we think they’re convincing enough to encourage you to implement a multi-channel marketing plan, if you haven’t done so already. You know that leads are the lifeblood of your business. With all of the options available, however, just the thought of putting together a multi-channel marketing plan can be dizzying. For one thing, you have to think about both inbound and outbound strategies. Here’s a tip to help you simplify the initial thought process. Think about your outbound strategies as ways to connect with customers, and use inbound strategies to cultivate the customer relationship.
For example, on your website, you might offer a white paper download for customers who fill out your contact form (outbound strategy whose purpose is to make that initial connection and encourage customers to share some of their contact information with you). Maybe they receive the white paper via their email. Here?s where the relationship building begins. You deliver the white paper, and then offer something else of interest to your customer, including your expertise. Timing is everything, so be cautious about trying to close the sale before strengthening the relationship.
So how do you develop a multi-channel marketing plan that will develop those business leads for you and get them to engage with you? It’s a challenge for organizations and their marketers to find the most effective combination of those options, and you should anticipate it being a trial and error process. Here are some basic steps to consider.
1) This is undoubtedly the number one step that could make or break your marketing plan. Know your customer and his or her spending persona. We’ve talked about this in other blog articles. In addition to the standard demographics like age, sex, gender, income, and so on, you need to know your customer’s preferred devices. You also need to know your customer’s preferred medium. You want to find your customer when and where they work and when and where they play. Once you’ve got this, you’ve mastered the where and when of marketing to them. Now you can focus on your what, that is, your message.
2) As you design ads and deliver content, remain consistent. For example, maybe I visit your website to conduct some research on your product or service. I download a white paper or subscribe to your newsletter while I’m there, but I don’t make a purchase. The next step in your strategy should be to retarget me. You serve me up an ad while I’m browsing on my Facebook page. If you’ve got my email address, you can send me a special offer on the same product. When I see your ad, I should be thinking, “Hey, here’s that item I was looking at on the ABC website.” You can tweak your advertising, but breed familiarity to encourage the sale.
3) Likewise, stay consistent with your strategy. You can’t execute a multi-channel marketing campaign, then sit out a few months before you start with your next phase of your marketing plan. Keep putting something out there, but remember that quality counts.
4) Whenever you implement any kind of business strategy, in this case your multi-channel marketing strategy, it is important to assess and review your results so you can change and tweak your plan as needed. Don’t fall so in love with your strategy that you’re blindsided the day it no longer works. Stay connected with your customers and make adjustments as their spending habits evolve.
Some specific factors to consider as you design your multi-channel marketing and ad campaigns:
? We know that customers are sometimes using multiple devices at the same time. They may be sitting in front of a computer, but their cellphone is within an arm?s length. They’re checking email on one device while researching something on another. Or browsing on their tablet while watching tv. Or texting while listening to the radio.
? There’s also the factor of time. For example, a customer may spend part of the work day researching an item they plan to purchase, but wait until they get home from work and review their findings or discuss it with their partner before buying the item. Be alert to these patterns.
? One of the benefits of employing a multi-channel marketing plan is the ability to track your customer’s movements and use that behavior to make adjustments in your targeting, as well as effectively retarget those customers. For example, if you can track that I frequently make my Amazon purchases using my iPhone in the wee hours of the morning, that gives you valuable information about when and how you should serve me up ads for the products that I have been browsing.
? Multi-channel marketing doesn’t mean just digital means of reaching your customers. You can combine an online ad strategy with a direct marketing campaign. For example, if you notice that you have customers that have engaged with you digitally but notice that this has slowed or terminated, you might consider using a direct mail piece to re-engage with those customers.
? Studies have been done to measure which channel pairings work well together. For adults ages 18-64, the most popular were: Computer/Mobile, TV/Mobile, Computer/TV, Radio/Mobile, and Computer/Radio. Computer/Mobile was the most popular pairing during work hours of 9AM-5PM, followed by TV/Mobile from 5-11 PM.
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself asking, why is my multi-channel marketing strategy not working?
1. It is possible that you are choosing the wrong combination of platforms. This is the time to go back to step one, where you must learn where your customers are hanging out digitally. Don’t expect them to switch devices or platforms just because you want to lead them to your Facebook page or even to their own email account. As in any good experiment, you can designate some customers your control group. These people would not receive your multi-channel marketing messages. You can then compare your multi-channel customers to your control group and draw some conclusions to help you make your campaigns more effective.
2. Maybe you’ve got the where and when right, but your message is falling flat. Reexamine your ad and its call to action. Is this something your customers are truly interested in, enough to cause them to either make the purchase or fill out the contact form for more information? Are you asking them to do too much too soon?
3. Another reason is if you have not compiled all of your results and examined them collectively. You must have a way to measure all of your channels, whether digital or non-digital. Better yet, compile them into a single comparison report. A platform like Google Analytics is a good starting place. You want to be able to accurately measure which series of events triggered a purchase, including the order in which they occurred.
4. It’s going to take more time and money, but it’s worth the investment to hire an outside service or additional employees to help you implement your multi-channel marketing plan. With so many combinations of the wheres (platforms), whens (days and times), and whats (your message), and deciding what customer demographics are important, it will take more than a few people devoted to multi-channel marketing to stay on top of implementing and improving your strategies.
In addition to multi-channel marketing to attract leads, you should also pay attention to multi-channel customer service. Not only do you need to be where you customers are, but customers are looking for you to – actually, they expect and demand this – that you respond to them in real time. If they’re doing online research and either are looking for specific information about or have questions about your product or service, they’re not content to wait until it is convenient for you to get back to them. By then, they may have moved on to someone more responsive. Multi-channel customer service can increase your customer satisfaction rates and subsequently your retention percentages. Here again you need to stay consistent with how you serve your customer. For example, if a customer emails you a question or complaint, your follow-up should appear as a seamless continuation of the conversation. Don?t make your customer repeat their question or concern.
Provide a number of ways for your customers to contact you. These include phone, email, live chat, a help desk, social media, and self-service. In addition to giving your customers a number of options to communicate with you and strengthening the vendor-customer relationship, you will also be able to collect data on customer preferences for communication. You can then use this to target these customers with new ad campaigns or retarget them using the form of communication they most prefer.
Multi-channel marketing offers so much more than marketing through a single channel. The benefits of growing brand awareness, increasing lead generation, and ultimately increasing revenues makes multi-channel marketing a strategy worth implementing in your business.