Published: 01 April 2019
Savvy marketers have long used a mix of online and offline channels to reach their audiences, but the most successful start one step ahead.
Even though we know that today’s customer exists both on and offline – the lines are blurred so they’re almost indistinguishable – when we hear the phrase multi-channel marketing (MCM) it’s still easy for our minds to jump immediately to a blend of PPC and display ads or paid social activity.
But we should be thinking more broadly than that.
I spoke with Oliver Carding, who works in our Experience Optimisation team, and he stressed that if we start out thinking about channels, we’re missing a trick.
"Brands need to start with a clearly defined campaign strategy to improve performance and then choose the most appropriate channels that will help deliver it. As simple as this sounds, we still see many marketers under pressure to carve up budgets and therefore attribute a set spend to channels too early in the process."
Without the overarching strategy to tie everything together, you’re left with siloed activities that are confusing customers, wasting money and not delivering that return on investment you should be seeing.
So how do you get started?
I sat down with Ian MacArthur, our Global Director of Experience Optimisation to talk through his strategic approach to setting up a multi-channel campaign. The quotes below are his.
1. Identify your brand’s objective‘Make sure you can articulate what good looks like and why – if you can’t measure it accurately, stop now.’
Did that pull you up short? It did for me the first time I heard it. But after I sat with it for a few minutes, it started to make sense.
If you don’t know what success looks like and if you can’t measure it, you are wasting time and money and no amount of multi-channel or omnichannel activity will have the impact you desire.
This is about more than raising awareness or driving traffic or selling more products. This goes to the very heart of your brand and why you exist for your customers. Go back to your brand’s value proposition and map that directly to the problems your customers have that you can solve.
Put metrics in place so that you know when you have met their needs. Then link your campaign activity to those metrics so that what you’re measuring links to what’s really important for your brand.
2. Identify your audience. Hint: less is more.‘In a commercial environment, your audience is the key ingredient to achieving your objective. So, choose wisely and stay on target.’
For the past few years, Seth Godin has been talking about the minimum viable audience - the fastest way to matter and make a difference is to focus in on the smallest group of people that will sustain you.
He says: 'When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story and your impact will all get better. And then, ironically enough, the word will spread.’
When you’re considering your next campaign, this is precisely what you need to do. Refine, segment, narrow your audience.
Select the type of people who desperately need the product or service you’re providing to solve their problems and take their pain away.
Don’t go broad, go deep.
3. Articulate the context and environment of your audienceAs a savvy marketer, you’ve probably filled out your fair share of SWOT analyses for your annual strategy documents, but do you ever go back and review them when it comes time to start a new campaign or marketing initiative?
It’s worth doing. What you’re looking for is anything in the Opportunities and Threats boxes when thinking about the wider context your customers are operating in. It’s the things outside of your control that may have a negative or positive effect on them that you need to prepare for.
When your message lands, will they even see it or hear it? Or will it be drowned out by the latest headlines, emerging trends, competitor activity and personal dramas? Alternatively, what’s happening in the marketplace and wider world that you can use to highlight your product or service in a new and relevant way?
If you understand the news your audience is consuming, the platforms they’re interacting with, the challenges and tasks they’re juggling, you’ll have a better chance of positioning yourself in a way that will capture attention.
4. Review the messages and assets you have at your disposalYour creative has to have maximum impact and a hook that will disrupt the status quo long enough to get your target audience to look up from their phone, step away from their 25 browser tabs or pull out their earbuds and tune in to what you’re saying.
And then it needs to produce the desired effect in your audience. Will it inspire or persuade them to do what you want them to do?
If you’ve done enough research into your audience and their ecosystem, you should know what type of message and asset is going to capture their attention and move them to the next stage in the customer journey.
Perhaps that’s a keynote speech at an international conference or a well-timed phone call from your sales team. Maybe that’s video content or high-quality imagery that plays out on social and display. Or perhaps it’s out-of-home advertising or an article published in a trade magazine.
This is the art and science of marketing wrapped up in behavioural psychology, and it’s one of the most exciting parts of the process (in my opinion!).
If you don’t already have the assets you need, create them.
Remember, MCM needs to be a joined-up effort, not siloed between departments within your organisation. It’s essential that the look and feel, branding and messaging across the entire campaign is consistent.
Consistency builds trust, which builds relationships, which leads to loyalty. That’s where you want to be.
5. Match channels to the needs, behaviours and context of your audienceAs your customers move through the multiple stages of awareness, consideration and purchase, the channels they use and the messages they see need to be specific to their context.
We use the phrase 'journey mapping’ for this process because it’s the correct mental model for what we’re trying to achieve. We are taking our customers by the hand and leading them one step at a time to the final destination where the conversion can happen.
The channel and message you use must be relevant to the stage in the journey.
Offering a free trial of your product or service to someone on social who isn’t fully aware they need it is a waste of time. But if they’re ready to buy, you don’t want to drop them onto a long-form sales pages and go over old ground educating them on the features and benefits of what you’re offering.
When your customer is ready to purchase, you need to clear everything out of their way and make it quick and easy for them to do so.
6. Be realistic about your constraintsIt’s easy to dream big in the planning stage, to get excited about the potential for ROI. But the truth is, few marketers have the time, money or people to do as much as they want. But the key is not to stretch yourself too thin.
Trying to do a little bit of everything means not doing enough of one thing.
If you don’t have the ability to do it all well, look at the customer journey again and the moments that will have the most impact for your brand. Those are the moments you’ll want to double down on.
For example, if your conversion rate is strong, put more effort into getting more customers into the early stage of your campaign. If you have decent numbers coming in, but they’re falling out before conversion, review your landing pages as well as the cadence and timing of your nurture email or retargeting ads to bring people back.
Constraints can lead to a renewed focus and determination. It’s still possible to have an impact but be sure you and your senior team are realistic about what you can achieve with the resources you have.
7. Test, refine, repeat'Engagement is a living breathing thing. Now you have your map, expect to dial up and dial down certain aspects until your plan is deliverable and SMART.’ – Ian MacArthur
I don’t need to labour this point. You know that even with extensive research and meticulous planning, you can always optimise a campaign, always push it further.
Put a process in place to regularly check in with the results and continuously improve.
If you have questions or would like to speak with the team about how we can support your next campaign, we’d love to chat. Contact us on 0208 070 7820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org