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An integrated approach to multichannel digital marketing.
In this post we will look at the link between traditional and digital marketing models, how these can help us decide which digital channels to use when and explore the end result – an integrated multichannel campaign which increases conversions.
Brands are looking to a more multichannel approach to digital marketing for a number of reasons. It could be to break out of the silos which have been built in digital marketing over the last few years – for example with channels like PPC or SEO being managed separately even by separate resources; in house or by external agencies.
Or a digital multichannel approach could be under consideration to help channel shift investment from traditional offline campaigns to more measureable and accessible online channels. This could be to help exploit key seasonal or topical trends and uplifts in demand, or for always-on year round marketing activity to drive conversions.
And on the subject of conversions, multichannel could be under consideration to improve outcomes which could be in the form of online ecommerce transactions but also enquiries for lead generation, online bookings, sign ups for the purposes of CRM data collection, or content downloads such as technical specs for manufacturers.
The Basics of Integrated Multichannel
Let’s breakdown exactly what we mean by an integrated multichannel approach.
- Multichannel is fairly obvious; we are referring to different digital channels which can be used to communicate with your different target audiences, or the same audience in different ways. Numerous channels now exist, but some key principles surrounding their usage remain
- Integrated means that your channels are integrated with each other rather than being used in isolation, but also crucially integrated with the different stages of the user journey towards conversion, or the conversion funnel as it can also be called
Let’s look at the basics. In summary, repeating your message across multiple channels, integrated with the different stages of the user journey, can increase results and conversions.
Or to put it in even simpler terms….
Traditional theory for the digital age
But all this theory is nothing new. I first studied marketing formally back in the mid 90’s, studying for Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications at evening classes. At the time, much of our reading and studying seemed to be around models, as anyone else who has studied marketing will surely testify.
In particular, communication models were used to identify the different stages that the consumer goes through, from blissful ignorance of a brand or product, through to parting with their hard earned money and purchasing (in those days most likely from a supermarket shelf in an offline retail context). Two of the most common communication models were as follows:
Then the choice of (mainly offline) marketing channels was overlaid onto these models, or variations of them, to show which channel to use when. High visibility above the line channels like TV and press advertising would be utilised earlier in the model to raise awareness and educate consumers, while more direct methods like the emerging discipline of direct mail would be used to drive consumers towards purchase, with final tools like in store and sales promotions used to seal the deal and create Action.
So that was the theory 20 years ago. How is this traditional basis of marketing communications still being adopted in the digital age, where the channels have changed and proliferated?
Well you may be surprised to learn that many of these principles overlap with some of the latest thinking from tech giants like Google. For several years Google offered an online tool which aggregated attribution data from Google Analytics to identify the role if digital channels – in the online consumer journey towards conversion. Sadly retired from service now, the tool mapped digital channels into very familiar phases:
As you can see, the phases of the consumer mindset are still highly relevant even in the digital age. The same decisions around which channel to use, when and for what purpose still need to be made.
In fact one could argue that mapping channels to the consumer journey (or user journey as we might now call it in the digital age) is even more essential than ever. That’s because there are so many untested channels available and user journeys online are potentially so much complicated. The average online user may bounce around numerous touchpoints on multiple channels as they browse entertaining, educational or inspiring content, or actively research possible products – and all in a highly distracting environment where distractions can take the form of new email or message interrupting the customer experience, or even losing a wifi connection.
Which Channels When?
So the eternal question still stands, which communication channels should I use when? And in fact; in which order, how should I use them, with what messaging, and how much of my budget should I spend on each?
Before answering these questions lets clarify the channels which we are referring to. These can be broadly divided into two types, paid and organic (free).
Paid Digital Channels:
- Paid Brand Search
- Paid Product Search
- Paid Social Media
- Display Advertising
- Native Advertising
Organic Digital Channels:
- Organic Search - SEO
- Social Media
Then the big question is how these channels should be used. This is where we turn to modern updated versions of communication models, such as the example below.
This represents a multichannel digital marketing strategy fully integrated with the online booking process of a travel website selling high value holidays – however the principles can still apply to any ecommerce website selling higher value good or services which might entail a longer lead time or consideration phase.
A range of introductory channels are used to draw consumers in to actually engage with inspiring and educational content, not product. Then a range of retargeting and relationship building channels progress the user through the stages of product discovery and then enquiry. Paid search is used to bring more active and motivated users directly into products, part way through the process. Once a user has enquired, marketing activity continues to maintain brand profile with reassuring messages and increase the chances of final booking.
The benefits of joined up multichannel
There are a number of key benefits to this approach we have discovered across numerous clients and campaigns, including several which have then been nominated for prestigious marketing awards:
Improved results – possibly the single most important outcome is an improvement in outcomes. The evidence shows time and time again that a more joined up approach integrates efforts with one another to push more users towards conversion more efficiently.
Repetition – one of the reasons for improved results is that repetition of message across channels can maintain interest or regain interest following interruption or distraction, while key messaging may also be more likely to sink in and have an effect.
If you’d like to find out more about how an integrated multichannel approach could help you drive more conversions, or would like to get a second a opinion on how effectively you are integrating your channels already, then please pick up the phone and give us a call on 01233 467800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org!