Having a multi-channel marketing strategy refers to the use of many different marketing platforms to get a message across. One channel is no longer enough. Consumers now expect to be able to interact with an organisation in a number of different ways. In turn, organisations that do not facilitate and optimise such interaction can expect this to have a negative impact on customers and, in turn, on your business. Stand still and you are left behind! Some of the different marketing platforms in wide use today are SEO, Text Ads, Banner Ads, Retargeting, Affiliate networks, Social Networks, Emails, Texts, Websites, Mobile, Print and TV. This article explores the benefits and challenges of Multi-Channel Marketing.

Why the need for Multi-Channel Marketing?

The unprecedented technological change over the past few years has impacted on every area of our lives.  Whether at work or home, most activities and processes have been simply revolutionised.  Latest estimates indicate that over 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020.  Along with – and as part of – this sea change, customers expect to be able to interact with businesses wherever, whenever, and however they choose. A marketing strategy ignores this expectation at its peril.

Benefits of Multi-Channel Marketing

There are many benefits of Multi-Channel Marketing, not just in terms of increasing sales but also business growth.  Using a range of different channels enables a much wider reach, making your business potentially visible to new customer groupings. Many of the different platforms provide marketers with a range of analytics to enable their impact to be accurately measured.  This enables marketing to become increasingly more intelligent and informed, targeting specific groups via specific combinations of channels. Longer term, the use of Multi-Channel Marketing is also cost effective. Targeted, measurable marketing ensures that resources are being deployed increasingly effectively and efficiently. therefore keeping operational costs down.  A carefully integrated marketing strategy needs to ensure consistency – and therefore economies of scale – in the content of the marketing message. It can then be distributed cohesively and effectively across various platforms and multiple channels.  One message, many channels. Another key benefit of Multi-Channel Marketing is that it enables businesses to engage with an audience on a frequent and interactive basis.   This interaction can not only supplement and reinforce the key marketing messages but also give more insight into the culture of the organisation – for example through regular Twitter feeds – creating a more personalised face.  This can be invaluable in building up customer following and resulting in increased brand loyalty. Multi-Channel Marketing can also be used in less direct ways. “Retargeting” describes online ad placements or display advertising which works by the use of “cookies”. When a customer clicks on a businesses website a cookie is set. That cookie can then be used as a way of targeting the same customer when they visit other sites. “Remarketing” is a term used a lot in email interactions and during the buying life cycle.   For example, the personalised emails Amazon produce after you have purchased a product. Multi channel marketing strategy: benefits and challenges As we saw earlier, the overall purpose of a Multi-Channel Marketing strategy is to help business growth as well as increase sales. Both Google and Bing rank a business’s website using data collected from social media platforms, meaning that to achieve high rankings in these search engines sites like Facebook and Twitter should be an active part of any SEO Strategy.  This applies to content as much – if not more so – as images, videos and links. Google, for example, continue to push for quality content over quantity.  Correct spelling, the use of proper grammar and longer content pieces are all elements that build higher ratings. As well as being a benefit, this can also be a challenge!

Challenges of Multi-Channel Marketing

As we have just seen, in terms of Multi-Channel Marketing, content is still King!  Each channel brings something different to the marketing mix, potentially targeting different audiences across the multiple platforms. Content therefore needs to be tailored to suit each channel, while still following a core message. By skilful use of marketing analytics, intelligence can be gained about which marketing channels reach which type of customer groupings, and how the particular audience for each channel tends to use it.  This knowledge and information is invaluable when creating a Multi-Channel Marketing strategy.  It is not enough simply to release a message onto as many platforms as possible. The idea is to reach the business’s target market effectively through selective use of the most appropriate and proven channels for that target market. Recognition of the differences between channels will also aid in building tailored content. For example, Twitter needs to be to the point, within the 140 character limit. Tweets should use links to websites or other channels, directing the flow of traffic to your advantage. Facebook , on the other hand, can be much more visual through posting articles, links to blogs, pictures. The more interesting the content is, the more likely it will be “reposted”, “liked” or “shared”; therefore reaching more people. Multi channel marketing strategy: benefits and challenges Content remains one of the biggest challenges within Multi-Channel Marketing!  With an increasing array of platforms and channels available, it is essential to tailor content to the needs and requirements of the intended audience.  It should be varied, informative and engaging, whilst at the same time adhering to the essential core messages and values of your business.   It can be one-way or more interactive but most of all must be relevant to the audience. Whether you are a small business or huge conglomerate, Multi-Channel Marketing provides unheralded opportunities for you to reach and interact with customers, and build brand loyalty and trust.   Managed effectively and consistently, it could grow your business from strength to strength.  If not used, or not used well, it could mean that you lose ground that may then be difficult, if not impossible, to regain. Author bio: Robert Walker is the founder of Xcite Digital, the award winning digital marketing agency that specialises in search and social marketing. You can follow Xcite Digital on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Pinterest. Sources: Econsultancy, Wordstream and Sas.