Marketing managers have two ways to perceive the ever-increasing number of marketing channels available today. Chaos or opportunity.
From video marketing and gamification to in-person events and blog content, not only are there more ways to reach customers, there are more channels that consumers are accustomed to and therefore are willing to engage with.
More recently, the rapid pace of tech has allowed us to add virtual assistant-based platforms like Alexa’s Skills, and more mainstream use of what was once deemed as futuristic, like augmented reality, to their shortlist. The use of wearables is also shifting the way marketers are using SMS notification and push notifications, making it even easier to engage with customers in a subtle, non-invasive way through these channels. As the martech industry keeps offering up more tools, technology drives forward, and AI gets smarter, the list is only going to get longer in the future.
The CMO challenge is to develop strategies that will wield the most relevant channels for a brand, without wasting marketing dollars or overwhelming customers with too much information. Yet, still be equipped to take advantage of this new multi-channel reality to ensure your brand is there for the right audience, with the right content, when they want it.
How to make this happen?
Use Goals to Determine Your Channels – And Budget
Not the other way around. To create an effective strategy with various marketing channels, you need to identify your marketing goals clearly first. Then, determine what channels can be used to reach those goals. And finally, how much money should be allocated for each resource to achieve your objectives.
The mistake some CMOs fall into, or are pressured into by C-suite’s need for a budget first approach, is to create a marketing budget with only a preliminary plan, not a dynamic strategy, for how to leverage each relevant channel. 20 percent to influencer marketing. 30 for live events, 15 for improving the company app, then the remainder for social media, web content and video production. The inherent flaw with this approach is it neglects the actual channel strategy.
- Which channels are the most relevant for your audience right now?
- How are your goals changing, for example, if there is a need for enhanced customer retention, more engagement, and higher conversions, how can various channels be better put to use?
- Does more of the budget need to be allocated to push a powerful video, influencer, or experiential campaign in the short, medium or long term to reach specific short- and long-term objectives?
- How are market trends shifting regarding social media usage, device preference, podcast subscribers – what story does the data tell about how effective your current channel usage is?
- Are there any unique factors such as predicted tech changes, consumer expectation changes or other elements that call for edging into a new channel in the next X months or X years to maintain market share?
- Which channels aren’t working now to reach objectives? Should more or less be allocated as a response?
Having various marketing channels to use means you have more roads to connect with customers. By evaluating which destinations you want to reach, you can better decipher which roads you want to put more money into with the current budget allocation for the individual needs of your organization.
Identify a Head Strategist
Research by Gartner has found that more than 90 percent of marketers have trouble connecting more than three channels in a multi-channel strategy. To get the most out of marketing channel usage and to be able to successfully manage several inroads to your customers, you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen. One lead strategist should steer the ship and focus on staying on course towards established marketing goals.
Having a social media strategist, a lead for event marketing, email marketing, and other channels will serve to optimize each one. But to operate with a holistic, multi-channel strategy with each channel supporting and being supported by the others, having a designated planner or strategist to oversee each multi-channel campaign is crucial.
This will also help to ensure a targeted, cohesive message is being consistently used across channels. Which is a must to create the seamless experience your customers expect.
Measure and Prioritize
And make your prioritization as real-time as possible. Keep track of which channels are delivering results in both ROI and engagement, and adjust as channel capabilities shift. This is the only way to manage multiple marketing channels effectively. Your organization is better placed to take advantage of opportunities and to eliminate efficiencies when you are constantly watching the data.
As Amanda Nelson, an expert on measurable marketing and Ringlead’s Director of Marketing explains, “…. We always filter channels based on its ability to engage and create action. [Which ensures] every touch point in the ‘journey to customer’ is thoughtful, consistent, and relevant.”
Have your key performance indicators laid out for each channel. Then, don’t just look for when your benchmarks are hit. Pay close attention to how KPIs change over time to track how well each channel is doing with your audience for each period.
Leverage Dynamic Automation
Today, automation can be used for much more than efficient, targeted email campaigns. On-site messaging to help with your lead generation, cleverly timed SMS notifications and even thoughtfully sent direct mail, such as a personalized thank-you card sent out when a customer demos your product or a discount after that first purchase. Automation is what makes multi-channel management possible in the first place. Otherwise, sending personalized, timely, relevant content at scale would be impossible.
So, take advantage of the software that’s out there to support more effective, dynamic marketing. There are your comprehensive software solutions like Marketo, HubSpot, and Eloqua, but there are also more focused, specialized tools to help create, refine, and automate specific channels, such as VIdyard for a more visually focused campaign, Buzzsprout for podcasts and Creator IQ for influencer campaigns.
You don’t necessarily want to head back into the dark ages of marketing technology and juggle multiple platforms. But, if your organization benefits immensely, and your audience resonates immensely, from particular channels, thinking outside the one-platform all-in-one marketing automation box may be a good idea.
Keep Thinking Multi
There are still plenty of barriers to successful multi-channel management from lack of technology to an inability to make sense of the data. This is even more of a problem for mid-level and small organizations who simply don’t have the dynamic teams and technical sophistication, let alone the hundreds of thousands being spent each year at the enterprise level into putting together multi-channel campaigns.
However, by investing in and sticking to a multi-channel mindset, organizations are giving themselves an advantage. Consumers are connected now more than ever before with not just mobile and desktop, but wearables and virtual personal assistants. Multi isn’t just here to stay and what consumers prefer. It’s multiplying. Taking a forward-thinking approach in developing efficient campaigns and smart organizational strategies, measuring, proactively prioritizing, and, of course, staying on top of the technology that’s available, is the only way to create opportunities from the chaos