Multi-channel marketing is a concept business owners often shy away from, and understandably so. With everything there is to do when you’re managing a small business, it’s easy to let marketing—let alone multiple channels of marketing—take the back seat sometimes. In this post we’ll cover why a multi-channel marketing strategy is important for your business, and perhaps more importantly, how it is possible to attain and will actually make things easier for you in the long run.
Multi-Channel Marketing is Meant to Help—Not Overwhelm
Between the day-to-day whirlwind that many business leaders find themselves in, how are you supposed to handle one, five, ten, or more different platforms, email campaigns, and social networks? Moreover, why bother?
Maybe you have pages for five different social networks and you post the same content on all of them once a month, or maybe you post on all of them and aren’t always really sure why you’re doing it. What if your audience is only on one social network, and not another? Or, maybe you only have a website, and you’re having trouble even figuring out how to use that effectively, forget about social media.
Each channel can be a huge undertaking on its own, but that’s in fact why a strong multi-channel marketing strategy is so important. Having multiple channels doesn’t necessarily mean having more to juggle. It means that each channel supports the other toward common goals. In a way, your channels do the work for each other so you don’t have to.
Arriving at a Multi-Channel Strategy
Do any or all of the statements above resonate with you? Most business owners have, at one time or another, gotten caught feeling like there are so many options and opportunities for digital marketing that you could drown in them. If so, what you need is a multi-channel marketing strategy—a plan that organizes these opportunities into efforts.
Consider the following two statements:
1. Each platform available for marketing your message has its own strengths and weaknesses, so you should utilize them all.
2. You should pick one platform and do it well rather than trying to do them all and doing them poorly.
These both sound like they could be right, and there’s some truth to each of them. A big part of the stress surrounding marketing channels is feeling like you can’t do multiple channels of marketing well, so you have to choose, but this isn’t true. Without understanding multi-channel strategy, you’ll always be at a loss to reconcile the two facts.
However, with a properly-executed a multi-channel strategy, you can have your cake and eat it too. You can pick several social networks for their various strengths, and do them all well in their own ways, as long as you understand clearly what you’re trying to achieve with each one.
Defining Multi-Channel Marketing
So what is multi-channel marketing, exactly? Stated plainly, a multi-channel marketing strategy is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a game plan for guiding your efforts across multiple channels of outreach, used to ensure that your time, money, and energy are well-spent and directed toward achieving the goals you define.
Related eBook: Marketing Goals Pocket Guide
The Outcomes of a Multi-Channel Strategy
When a multi-channel strategy is implemented properly, you’ll have a clear understanding of things like:
- Whether that blog post should be shared on Twitter, Facebook, in your newsletter, or all of the above
- How the same content can, and should, be shared differently between different channels
- Whether your target audience is more likely to engage with your posts on Facebook or Twitter
- Why that matters
- Other general but high-value information to make sure you’re effective in your efforts.
What Channels are Used in Multi-Channel Marketing?
Channels, for clarity’s sake, are any medium of communication you use to reach your audience. Common marketing channels include:
- Google Ads
- Your website
- and more
While most of these channels are online marketing channels, a multi-channel marketing strategy does include offline channels like television and print.
Indeed, the customization of your strategies for the various social networks is often the most difficult part of a multi-channel strategy, yet it’s absolutely vital for your digital marketing success. If you don’t cater your strategies to your specific business strengths, weaknesses, and goals, and simply and try the same cookie-cutter approach for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, like we said before, you may as well not be doing them.
This touches on another key reason putting together your marketing strategy. Much of your audience is going to engage with your brand on two, three, or more platforms, and those numbers are growing all the time. Beyond email and your own website, more people every day are assuming they’ll be able to find their favorite businesses on Facebook, and if they don’t see you there, they’re definitely seeing your competitors there.
The experience you create for your customers should be robust and expand across all your channels, rather than funnel a portion of your audience to the single channel you prefer. At every opportunity, a strong multi-channel presence will:
- Provide your audience with the information they need to know about you
- Create a consistent experience for those who choose to engage with your business across multiple channels
- Add unique depth and value for each channel you’re utilizing
Benefits of Multi-Channel Marketing
So what can the ultimate benefits be when you develop an effective multi-channel strategy? For starters, having an overall idea of your goals with all channels, and how they all relate to one another, gives you a focal point for all your content, offers, and calls to action. For example, let’s pretend you sell shoes on an online store that you host on your website. You might decide your overall digital marketing goals are to:
- Drive more sales from new purchases
- Encourage new purchases from existing customers
- Increase your brand’s influence, measured by total increased engagement with your website
With these goals in mind, you might develop content for each unique platform and channel based on one or a few of the goals above. For example:
- For Facebook, you could set up regular live streams from a brand spokesperson which showcase your inventory and increase your brand’s awareness.
- On Instagram, you might schedule regular posts of your inventory-favorite footwear for that month, and
- In your email campaign, you might put together a newsletter showcasing the most popular shoes from your Instagram page.
- Your posts and emails can (and should) all lead back to your website, preferably through tracked links or to a landing page
Altogether, you’ll be creating an integrated strategy which builds off of itself, creates a unique audience experience, and is much more likely to help you achieve your goals than a one-dimensional strategy.