OK, so there’s yet another marketing term out there that’s been taking the headlines for the past year or so: Cross-channel marketing, otherwise known as multi-channel marketing, cross-media or omni-channel marketing (which are basically just different ways of saying the same thing).
What is cross-channel marketing?
According to Oracle, cross-channel marketing is “all about engaging with your customer or prospect across every digital channel and any device”. In a nutshell, it’s making sure your brand is present wherever your potential buyers are, regardless of whether that be on social media, their email inboxes, through paid online advertising … and your content delivered needs to be optimized across platforms whether they be laptops, tablets or smartphones.
More and more prospects in the B2B space are mimicking what consumers in the B2C one have been doing for years — that is to say, moving seamlessly from one device to another, and expecting the brand to provide an utterly integrated experience. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense; exclusively using one channel to promote your brand is like putting all your eggs in one basket (and then running out in a minefield hoping that by the finish line, they’ll still be intact). It’s logical to seek presence across channels since now more than ever, potential buyers expect it; plus, you’re likely to lose out on potential business if you don’t.
The key to cross-channel marketing is being visible. Now more than ever, customers move between several devices and channels. I have so many in fact (work mobile phone, personal smartphone, work laptop, personal desktop, smart TV, a Kindle and two personal tablets) I often get flagged by automated security checks making sure it’s really me connecting! Being connected is an increasing fact of life — we spend more time looking at screens than ever before, and often do so while we’re in the process of doing something else entirely (eating, walking down the street or sitting in public transportation). In addition, there is now much less of a separation between one’s professional life and one’s personal life than in previous years — my husband often brings work home and continues doing research on work-related projects on his free time, for example — that cross-channel marketing makes sense in order to cater to the never-disconnected user of today.
In order for cross-channel marketing to have the highest impact on sales, precise measurements on multiple customer touchpoints is key. Being able to see how your content is doing is just as important as having a variety of different types of content (from blog posts to videos, case studies, infographics and e-books) available for your audience to choose from. The true marketing guru’s motto should really be “any content, anywhere, anytime.” And from my perspective, the process can’t be entirely run online either. Making sure offline tactics are an integral part of what we consider to be cross-channel is essential, even if they may at times be considered old school by some marketers.
Cross-channel marketing has the highest impact on a successful sales process because it’s focused on the buyer. It inherently says to prospects, “You are here, so are we.” Since potential customers can’t know who you are unless you are present where they are present, it’s the sure-fire way to make sure you are covering all your bases when it comes to brand awareness. Plus, it enables them to use the platform they prefer (instead of the one you’ve chosen). So, it really does put the potential customer first. Because of this, it should also help you to reach more people than you would if you used only one channel.
Here are our top tips to remember when implementing cross-channel marketing:
Be consistent across different channels
There always needs to be a certain consistency in your theme across channels so that people can make the connection between your message and your brand. So while you are going to use different formats adapted to each channel, you do need to be sure that your brand can be easily recognized and doesn’t go undetected by your target audience.
Use relevant content
Remember, this isn’t as much about marketing as it is about your potential customers. Offering them valuable solutions puts you one step ahead your competition, so you want to showcase that. I think that there’s a lot to be said for niche marketing, since hypertargeting really works to show your audience, “what’s in it for me?”
Leverage your data
Accurate information is essential for personalization and targeting. Data analytics tools can help get the insight you need to see if what you’re doing is working. It’s an essential way to follow the trends and to keep up with your audiences’ expectations.
Personalization is vital
Your audience is not an algorithm. While tools may help you gain insight into your target audience, they cannot replace the human element. Engaging your target in a two-way conversation is absolutely necessary if your goal is to positively impact sales. Reaching out by phone and following up with an email is a great way to ensure that you really get to know each prospect, and that your message is tailored accordingly.
Successful cross-channel marketing is sometimes easier said than done. Many different elements need to be studied in order to do it well. Taking the time to conduct a thorough audit to understand your competition’s key messages, as well as how and where they are present, will help you to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd. Outlining a content calendar will also help in the planning phase to ensure that you know what to post, where, when, why and how. All of this takes careful preparation and timely execution in order to have a positive impact on sales. In the end though, it will be worth the effort!