What is Cross-Channel Marketing and Why You Need It
Any idiot can tell you that you need multiple marketing channels if you want to succeed in today’s marketplace.
Last year, the average American consumed 721 minutes of media per day—that’s more than 12 hours! Your audience uses a staggering number of marketing channels across multiple media types. You can market your product on the channels that your customers use the most. It’s called multi-channel marketing because you as a marketer or business owner select multiple channels to send marketing messages and offers.
Unlike marketers, customers perceive no barriers between different channels they use. They would see your ad on Facebook, do their research on Google, read your reviews on Yelp, and buy your product at a brick-and-mortar store. They like to do it all seamlessly enjoying one continuous and smooth experience. Your marketing should not interrupt, rather complement that experience.
That is why it is important to not only reach your audience on many different channels, but also to send them timely, personalized, and cohesive messaging based on their behavior. Your content should correspond to the buyer’s journey. Your messaging should be tailored for the media type and channel and customized for each individual customer. This is cross-channel marketing.
To go multi-channel, you can just cherry-pick the channels and start filling them with content. But to go cross-channel, you have to select the most productive channels and deliver a high-quality, consistent and seamless customer experience on any channel and any device every time.
Easy? Probably not. So let’s see how you can tame this beast.
But first, the bottom line!
How (Much) Does Cross-Channel Marketing Increase Sales Revenue?
Don’t get me wrong. Multi-channel marketing will pay. And pay well. But cross-channel marketing will pay more.
Shopify claims that on average, multi-channel marketing boosts revenue by 38%, 120%, and 190% as channels are added.
According to LeadForensics, companies with a strong multi-channel marketing strategy (read cross-channel) increase their annual revenue by 9.5% and decrease their cost per contact by 7.5% year on year. Their ROI is continuously going up!
AutoPilot reports that segmentation of customers and precise targeting (cross-channel tactics) can increase multichannel revenues by 781%.
As to why and how the jump in revenues happens, there are numerous factors responsible. Expanded reach, multichannel synergies, increased recall, decreased cost of marketing, a stronger brand image, and many others all play a major role.
The jump in revenue is there when you add more marketing channels. Your added revenue, however, will depend on how well you build and execute your cross-channel marketing strategy.
Select the Best Marketing Channels to Attract More Customers
Major online and offline media types today include:
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
Mobile (apps, games, ads, etc.)
Online (email, SEO, blogs, etc.)
TV (cable, broadcast, and streaming online)
Print/press (traditional and online)
Radio (broadcast and online).
In-store media (posters, displays, props, LED, etc.)
Out-of-home media (billboards, kiosks, neon signs, etc.)
Snail mail (brochures, catalogs, etc.)
Direct marketing (agent visits, cold calling, etc.)
Now, multiply them with the number of channels in each type, and you can figure why CMOs don’t sleep so well. It gets even scarier when you’re going cross-channel because you need to synchronize, harmonize, integrate, and unify marketing efforts across all the channels.
Fortunately, marketing technology can make your life easier. But we’ll come to that later. First, you should select the channels you want to target. That should be easy!
See what others are doing. According to a survey of more than 1000 small business owners, almost 70% of small businesses use a website and social media accounts. Less than 30% use digital ads, offline ads, conversion pages, or blogs. That’s an opportunity for you!
>Graphic Source: Drip
Social media is hot. MarketProfs reports that 58% of businesses plan to increase their spending on social media, whereas 56% plan to invest more in their websites. Here’s the complete picture:
Know your customers. Essentially, your choice of channels depends on your audience. To select the best channels, you must understand the media habits and buying journey of your customers.
Use historical data. You should also know the results of your past marketing efforts on different channels. Marketing technology is a huge help at this point.
Integrate online with offline. Do not neglect offline marketing channels like events and exhibitions, pop up stores, IVR, video, traditional mail, and others. What happens after a customer uses the ‘click-to-call’ feature on your mobile page or visits your physical store? Your staff must be prepared to deliver a consistent offline experience as well.
Select as many channels as possible. There are more channels out there than you can probably find on your own. Fortunately, there’s a list of over 100 channels to choose from, and you should select as many as you can handle within your resources.
Bring in the Gadgets (aka Life-Saving Technology)
Don’t go cross-channel with Excel as your only tool—it’s not going to happen. But if you’re serious about your business, you’ll need a thought-out cross-channel marketing technology stack.
Cross-channel marketing requires you to monitor customer behavior across all of the marketing channels you’re using. You need to have answers to many questions, including:
Which channel is performing better than the others?
Which type of content is delivering more leads and getting more engagement?
What content you should serve to different groups of customers based on their behavior?
Which products aren’t doing well and why?
Besides, you also need some level of automation to avoid repetitive tasks and make your life easier. Your marketing technology (“martech”) stack should do all of it and more.
Here are a few tips for selecting your cross-channel power tools.
At the very least, you’ll need a CRM integrated with marketing automation software, traffic analytics, and a retargeting solution.
Depending on the needs and scale of your business, you might also need to have business intelligence (BI) software integrated with your CRM.
But, if you don’t have the time or the brains to pick and choose and try, it’s better to go for a ‘done for you’ or pre-compiled marketing software suite like HubSpot, Salesforce or ConversionLogic.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are changing the game for cross-channel marketing tools. Look for a stack with AI/ML capabilities for a more accurate lead attribution analysis.
Understand Your Sales Funnel and the Buyer’s Journey
The “sales funnel” is the elusive path along which you lead your customers, taking them from the awareness stage to a sale (and ultimately to repeat sales). It’s called a funnel because it is wider at one end, into which customers or leads pour, and narrow at the other end, from where they exit as paying customers.
People don’t buy your product the instant they know you exist. They go through several stages before they finally part with their money—awareness, interest, evaluation, decision, and post-purchase behavior.
To succeed with cross-channel marketing, a business must help its prospects transition from each stage in their buying journey to the next by providing appropriate marketing assets. These assets can include ads, landing pages, blog posts, emails, and many of the other techniques we’ve mentioned.
Together, the arrangement of these marketing assets constitutes your sale funnel. If you haven’t designed a sale funnel, don’t worry. You’re just one out of the 68% companies that have never attempted to understand or measure their sales funnel.
But that is no justification for not starting now.
Discover your customers. What benefits are they seeking? What features would they like? Where do they come across your business for the first time? Where do they go next? Here’s a list of questions you should ask your customers at every stage of their buying journey.
Learn more about your customers through surveys, polls, questionnaires, interviews or other customer discovery tools and resources. This information about their buying journey will help you design your sale funnel and improve your product and services.
Track your leads. You can tap into your CRM or Google Analytics or just ask your customers where they heard about you. Was it on TV, Google, Facebook, on the street, email or somewhere else? Track their journey with Google Analytics. See what they do on your website or in your physical store. Do they look for more information, ask for pricing, or ask any other specific questions?
Nurture your leads with the right content. Your sales funnel can be divided into three imaginary segments.
Top of funnel (or ToFu) is the wider end of the funnel where the customer first discovers you and decides to know more about you.
Middle of the funnel (MoFu) is the next segment—where it’s getting narrower--where the customer considers your product and compares it with alternatives.
Bottom of the funnel (BoFu) is the base of the funnel where the customer decides to buy and needs to be eased through the actual transaction.
To nurture your leads and convert them into paying customers, you should provide the right kind of content at each stage.
ToFu content generally consists of blog posts which lead the prospect into further marketing opportunities—for example, an email signup in exchange for a free eBook.
MoFu content warms up the lead by beginning the process of introducing your company. Examples include advanced eBooks, whitepapers, videos, case studies, etc.
At the BoFu stage, the customer already knows you and is ready to buy from you. However, there might be a specific pain point you need to kill or a little more reassurance you need to provide. A customer story or a testimonial can deliver the confidence while live chat or a demo video can answer customer questions. Sometimes, however, no content is required in the BoFu stage. A free trial or a discount code can work nicely.
Here’s a bit more—including video—to help you understand the concepts of ToFu, MoFu and BoFu content.
Standardize and automate content delivery. Once you have figured out what content you need to deliver at which stage, create that content and put it on autopilot. Marketing automation makes your life easy and creates a 10% or greater increase in revenue within just 6 to 9 months!
Ensure consistency and tailor your content to the channel you are designing it for. In addition to the stage in the buyer’s journey, you should also match the content to the channel you are targeting. One size doesn’t fit all in cross-channel marketing.
Build your mailing list and unleash email marketing. Your ToFu content might—and your MoFu content must—include an email signup form. Offer a free download or another incentive for subscribing to your mailing list. Use email marketing to pitch qualified customers with new offers they’re likely to be interested in.
Use retargeting software. Finally, there will be lots of people who won’t give you their email—they don’t subscribe to your newsletter. You need to retarget them on the internet and remind them about your product or make a special offer hoping that they will come into your funnel. Retargeted ads are 70% more likely to convert. Neil Patel discusses remarketing and retargeting solutions in-depth.
Understand, Optimize and Create Customer Touch Points
Customer Touch Points are the points of interaction between your brand, products, business and customers. A Channel is where these interactions take place.
The customer’s journey starts the moment a prospect becomes aware of your product. It passes through several interactions, physical and mental. Seeing your ad, speaking to a friend or salesperson, reading your products reviews, passing by your store, calling your business, comparing your product with alternatives, and creating a mental picture of your price vs value proposition.
Some of these interactions will not be under your control. To deliver a good and streamlined cross-channel customer experience, however, you must identify and optimize as many of them as possible.
Make a list of all customer touch points. Catalog all repeat interactions that may influence customer experience, including the channel in which they take place. Website visits, phone calls, social media posts, PPC ads, billboards, cold calls and store visits are all customer touch points in different channels.
Match touch points with the buyer’s journey. Remember that each journey has five stages—awareness, interest, comparison, decision and post-purchase. For each customer touch point, identify where the interaction is encountered during the buyer’s journey, as well as the channel they take place in.
Write down the operational purpose of each touch point—e.g. identify prospects, ease a conversion, solve a problem, or trigger a repeat purchase.
Define the customer experience role for each touch point—Some may alter perceptions or capture attention. Others may build loyalty or encourage a repurchase. Each point must correspond to a customer experience.
Assign the internal ownership for each touch point—Each point is someone’s responsibility. The customer service helpline falls under Marketing, invoicing under Accounts, and cold-calling under Sales.
Assess the importance of each touch point. Bad customer experiences during some of the interactions may be more detrimental than others.
Optimize touch points based on their value. Invest in them based on their operational value and role in customer experience.
Measure the performance of different touch points using your martech stack and identify and establish new touch points. Because as far as touch points go, the more the merrier!
Do not ignore offline touch points. Offline or physical interactions such as phone calls and store visits are an important part of your buyer’s journey. Staff training is critical!
Optimizing customer touch points requires you to break down the silos that exist in your organization—everyone will be on the same page.
Break Down the Silos and Create a More Cohesive Work Culture
Cross-channel marketing requires quick decision making and seamless value delivery on several channels. Departmental silos and bottlenecks can complicate the coordination of multi-channel campaigns, making your efforts less fruitful. Breaking down organizational silos can boost customer engagement by more than 800%.
Break down cultural silos
Cultural silos exist because people in different departments are used to playing “in their own sandbox”. They aren’t incentivized to communicate across departmental boundaries to resolve issues affecting the multi-channel customer experience.
For example, your Facebook customer service team comes under Marketing while the Technical Department’s Complaints desk uses a phone for registering customer complaints. A silo mentality can cause complaints coming in through Marketing to be neglected.
Cultural silos are usually accompanied by a resistance to change. People abhor the idea of giving up their old work habits and adopt new techniques and technology. As a business leader, it’s your job to identify cultural silos and break them down before they break down your cross-channel customer experience.
Break down technology, data and process silos
Silos or isolated pockets can also exist in Data and Technology. Each department has its own KPIs, processes, and reporting systems optimized for its own needs. Software and hardware integration across departments, adoption of big data technology, and a comprehensive organization-wide vision are the tools to break down these silos.
You’ll probably need the services of a big data provider or a digital transformation consultant to reengineer your business processes and optimize your value delivery chain to provide a uniform and seamless customer experience across all marketing channels.
For small and medium businesses, cloud based martech can provide an affordable solution to bring down the barriers in technology and processes. For example, managed work solutions such as Office 365 or MS Teams allow all users from across departments to hierarchical levels to collaborate on a single document or project. Cloud solutions are managed by the provider and come with a pay-as-you-go pricing model, which is more suitable for small and medium businesses.
Achieve Single Customer View (SCV) for a Seamless Cross-Channel Experience
To personalize marketing across multiple channels, and to reach better decisions, you need to create a single view of each customer. This means all the data about each customer should be consolidated and stored as a single record.
Customer data may include:
Web and mobile behavioral data provided by your analytics tools.
CRM and offline data such as address, phone number, email, and social media accounts, provided by CRM.
Transactional data about online and offline purchases, subscriptions, and abandonments, gathered through CRM and analytics.
Why have all the data at one place?
Single Customer View (SCV) allows you to connect data points from multiple channels. It helps you draw a more complete picture of your customers so that you may offer them a richer and more coherent brand experience on any channel.
Your customers transition seamlessly between devices and channels. SCV allows you to keep the customer in focus and create targeted, individualized cross- and up-sell campaigns. You can personalize content and use email marketing and paid ads more effectively and seamlessly across devices and channels.
Companies with a robust cross-channel customer engagement retain 89% of their customers on average. Those with a weaker cross-channel engagement retain only 33%. This fact alone means more revenue.
According to Experian, “Achieving the SCV is a complicated and painful process, but it is so critical that the pain has to be endured”.
Track Cross-Channel Performance for Continuously Increasing Revenue
Measuring the performance of cross-channel marketing is not easy. Most marketers use six or more tools to collect multichannel insights.
With so many metrics and software to juggle, it’s no surprise that 46% of marketers struggle to gain actionable insights from the deluge of data. One of the common misunderstandings about measuring cross-channel performance is that you need to follow the same approach as when you follow a single channel. This can lead to confusion because not every channel has the same goals or metrics.
Take the following steps to stay on top of your cross-channel performance.
Select your objectives. Discuss with your team to set your goals for each channel as well as the overall objectives of your cross-channel efforts.
Select your KPIs and metrics. Different metrics will be required to measure progress towards different objectives. For example, the metrics for tracking the objective “Creating brand awareness” will be different from those for tracking “Creating more conversions”.
Focus on lead attribution. One of the biggest issues in cross-channel marketing is to determine which particular touch points and channels lead to a more successful performance than others. Your marketing attribution software should be able to show you the complete picture of customer’s journey including all the channels and touch points on the way to a sale.
Measure each channel individually. Keep a close eye on data and determine which channel performs better, which one brings the highest ROI, and how each channel contributes to a specific objective.
Monitor your complete sales funnel. Keep an eye on data and decide how you can make your cross-channel strategy more effective.
Have all customer data at one place. Use your martech stack to collect all customer data at one place and achieve single customer view as discussed in chapter 7.
Back to the Bottom Line (aka Show Me the Money!)
Businesses using multiple channels are more profitable than those using a single channel. That’s what they teach at Harvard Business School. However, as you might have guessed, cross-channel marketing is not a walk in the park.
You’ll need to obtain and coordinate the resources, take advantage of your IT department, coordinate and orchestrate channels and steps in the funnel—in short, you’ll work your ass off. But then, it’s a matter of observation and success.
Don’t do multi- or cross-channel marketing and you’ll remain an underdog.
Do some of it and you’ll be encouraged by the results.
Do it all and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
This brings us to the end of our cross-channel marketing guide. Did we miss something? Would you like to add anything? Let us know in your comments.