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Strategy

Multichannel Matters, and it’s Here to Stay

Multichannel brand communications engage more customers, more often. Overcoming segmentation, execution and measurement challenges promises improved KPIs and your brand’s readiness for the IoT

Rebecca Wojno
July 21 2017

Multichannel marketing is the practice of interacting with customers through varied communication channels in order to enhance the brand, reach customers where they are, and achieve diverse marketing goals.

In a study examining the social media habits of beauty, apparel, electronics, big box, and home goods retailers, Pew Research Center found that more than 90% of brands are using two or more channels in their marketing efforts. Within the apparel industry, more than 86% use at least four social media channels to connect with customers. And if those statistics aren’t strong enough, 100% of the home goods brands use multiple channels.

Businesses cannot achieve a full marketing impact using only one communication platform. Indeed, more than 80% of marketers use multichannel campaigns of three or more channels, and 97% of marketing professionals reported an increase in revenue from the multichannel approach.

Why should anyone even care about multichannel?

By 2025, there will be 75.4 billion IoT devices worldwide. While today the average adult is connected to the internet via an average of four devices, this number is poised to rise considerably. Multichannel is really the only way forward.

Let’s take a look at this study by Optimove, a retention marketing cloud. Last January, Optimove sampled 10,000 campaigns (both single-channel and multichannel) to test the effectiveness of multichannel campaigns. Marketers using a single-channel approach, take note:

The multichannel campaigns received a 14% response rate, while the single channel campaigns a mere 10.2%. That’s a 37% increase in response when using multichannel campaigns.

Optimove also specifically tested one-channel (either push notifications, email, or SMS alone) against two channels (email and SMS or email and push). There was an 88% improvement in response rate for email and SMS over only using one of them. When sending out both email and push, there was a 600% improvement in response rate over push or email alone.

Do consumers really prefer multichannel?  

I’m no marketing influencer, but like many, I’m an enthusiastic consumer. As a customer, I prefer multichannel, because while I may love a certain brand, my attention span typically hovers around the eight second mark. 

Let’s take one of my favorite brands: female focused, digital media company, Refinery29. I follow R29 on Instagram, subscribe to their newsletter, and regularly visit their website for their content. If it seems like a brand overload, bear with me. I’ll explain:

Each of their mediums carry a different purpose for my ‘needs.’ Their Instagram is where I find quick bursts of inspiration—a profile of a kickass woman paving the way for herself and others, or a serving of Instagram eye candy (aka colorful quotes, images of beautiful destinations, interior design photos, etc.)–which is exactly why I opened the app in the first place.

Their newsletter is a teaser for their articles, a platform where I can quickly read their headliner pieces, and either click and read on the website, or bookmark it for later. It’s the newsletter that pulls me back into their content if I haven’t visited the site in a few days.

And of course, there’s the website, the heart of R29, and the place where I spend the most time per visit.

All of the platform’s content is aligned with the brand, but features different content. This is multichannel. This is why I’m engaged.

Of course, I’m not the sole proof that multichannel works.

So what are the strengths of multichannel?

Customers get their preference

Customer preference boils down to a brand’s ability to send customers messages where they prefer to be reached. Some may not respond to push notifications, but they will open an email or click on social posts.

There’s more variety

Certain messages work better on different platforms. With multichannel, your brand is more widely spread to the right audience. Social media platforms such as Facebook, are primarily for messages that could go viral or foster a sense of community with readers, while email/newsletters are typically for special promotions, company news, or longer types of content.

Customers expect a multichannel approach. They want to interact with the brand on social media, shop their online store, and receive their emails.

“People are watching television and using their tablet at the same time. They expect the same kind of integration with their shopping experience,”  said Jeremy Gustafson, the vice president at KSC Kreate, a digital commerce agency.

Brands and businesses get more data

Steve Deckert, the marketing manager for Sweet Tooth, a retailer loyalty program provider, points out that multichannel marketing offers businesses access to mire customer data. “By having information available across a variety of channels, the retailer has more opportunities to capture the information, and more of it,” he said.

But what about the challenges?

Multichannel requires 100% commitment. Businesses must deliver cohesive messaging across various platforms. If you’re lucky, this won’t require reorganizing an entire marketing team, but at the very least, it’s crucial that everyone follows the same protocol.

Brands must provide customers with real value at all times

You need to give customers a reason to subscribe or follow your chosen platforms and insist on consistency from your team. Although the copy should differ for each medium, all messaging should be related in some way.

There’s more data to sift through

You’ll have significantly more customer data to parse through. Instead of receiving information from just one source, customers are now providing you with insights from multiple platforms. This is a challenge, but also a huge bonus if dealt with strategically. Multichannel isn’t possible without technology.

All of that extra data requires one platform that consolidates, parses through the information, and constantly updates itself. Companies like Evergage, Optimove, Accelo, or Gainsight offer platforms that automate, analyze, and optimize multichannel campaigns, constantly maximizing customer engagement and enhancing their experience.

You might annoy your customers

Yes, brands risk annoying customers with more noise, especially if you’re not implementing technology. Without a sophisticated software, your marketing efforts will be messier and more irritating for customers. Technology solves this issue by helping you reach out to the right people at the optimum time, on the right platform.

Tying it all together

Multichannel is essential. It even convinces customers to buy 30% more of your products, but you must be committed to staying consistent and knowing your audience or buyer personas so you know which platforms to use.

Multichannel isn’t just about using different channels, it’s about integrating them to give customers the greatest value possible so your brand stays in the forefront of their mind, they remain loyal, and are excited to engage.

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Rebecca Wojno

Rebecca is a marketing content writer, copy editor, and Oxford Comma enthusiast. Aside from writing about the importance of customer retention, she's a big fan of a good book, Mexican food, and living near the sea.

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