I’ve heard the terms multi-channel and cross-channel bandied about as interchangeable concepts. Let’s get something straight—they’re not.
Let’s start off with a few definitions:
Multi-Channel Marketing – creating and launching campaigns (non unique) across multiple channels. E.g. sending emails that emulate a flyer in the post and backing up the message with a similar looking landing page and then just for good measure launching an SMS campaign with the subject line of the email. Straightforward recycling of identical content across channels.
Cross-Channel Marketing – the creation and promulgation of campaigns that take into account customer preferences and engage recipients on their chosen platform and via their preferred medium.
E.g. an email campaign is targeted to those that have opted into email to begin with, and not to those that have received flyers in the mail. For users who have indicated use of a mobile device, a unique email version was created based on specific user preference and optimized with offers that appeal to mobile audiences. For social advocates and fans, offers were launched via a Facebook company page and a promoted tweet was used with a different and unique offer catering to the rapid pace of the channel.
Casting Too Wide A Net
You can argue that the more touches you leverage in a communication, or the more channels you use to reach a customer, the more likely they are to respond as you’ve created a visible digital brand presence. That’s just it—you created a digital presence that casts such a wide net that it’s easy and desirable to ignore it all together. Although marketers struggle to attract new users and retain existing ones, carpet bombing prospects and loyal customers doesn’t increase brand awareness. Quite the contrary it creates deafness, apathy and desensitization.
Think of it this way: if you open your mail and see a flyer with a 30% offer and one of those card board looking credit cards to redeem in store or online you may slip that into your wallet for use when you go into the shop. You finish dinner, walk upstairs, sit down at your desk, open your email and voila, the same message is waiting for you, urging you to print out the flyer you just tucked into your wallet. A quick scan of your twitter feed shows the same offer, and in your Facebook timeline there’s matching one. Just then your phone goes off with an SMS further reinforcing the fact that the marketer doesn’t know you in the least.
Ask yourself, did you just show concern and understanding for your customer’s needs or did you show them you have no clue what platform, device and method of engagement they prefer? I’d venture to say the latter, no to mention you spent unnecessary money sending paper when digital would’ve sufficed. Also, did you happen to see if the consumer preferred SMS? No? Well that also incurs a higher cost than leveraging Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and cost effective email.
Determine Channel Utility
Channel utility is an important consideration when creating a messaging plan that is truly cross-channel. Mobile users tend to scan emails on their mobile devices and get back to them later on a laptop or click on them in moments of downtime. Twitter moves very quickly, take advantage of that medium by creating more compelling, time-sensitive offers that will encourage careful monitoring of the channel by customers—like a native scarcity factor. Facebook is driven by quality offers linked to images that help them stand out from the clutter of a given wall or news feed.
By learning the preferences of your customers and measuring the impact of each channel you’ll be able to determine the number of touch points required to attract and sustain a customer’s interest without exhausting them through over zealous campaigning. Remember, less is more.
Not long ago I was asked a simple and direct question: when do you know that you need a social media strategy? The answer is yesterday. The reason for this is that you don’t have a choice of engaging on social networks, your customers are engaged with your brand whether you’re an active participant or not. Therefore the time has come to get creative with your brand’s social media presence.
This is no longer a grocery bag; this is a veritable billboard of brand presence. This bag represents analog and digital messaging across multiple social channels and leveraging mechanisms such as QR codes, websites and more.
This bag demonstrates how a brand can use an unlikely source, a mobile one by the way when you consider that you walk around with this billboard and carry it from store, to car to house, can be a vehicle for unique offers and further engagement.
Let’s face it, this is a grocery store, but someone at the shop has realized the potential of generating interest through unique offers only accessible via unique social channels. Even if they haven’t cross the mundane to unique chasm, this is a good representation of a cross-channel tool and promotion where analog becomes a digital calling card.
Determine the right channel for your messages and don’t rely on every channel having the same impact on everyone; you can’t be all things to everyone, but you can offer the right thing to the right person.
Quite the contrary as the preponderance of your messages increase, if there’s no escape from the message, or no uniqueness to them they will ultimately be ignored. Engage your customers across the channels and mode of communication they request through either spoken or unspoken actions that you determine based on observing their browsing and buying habits.
It may take a leap of faith to turn down your messaging fire hose but chances are that when you do you will find your audience is more attenuated to what you have to say, rather than avoiding too much of the same thing.
Product Marketing Mgr.
IBM | EMM