How to Build a Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy

Although marketing has never been simple, one could argue that it has never been more complex than it is today. Modern technology has revolutionized the way that businesses and consumers interact. Platforms like social media and smartphones allow customers and brands to connect more than ever, while technology has turned marketing strategies upside down by making every decision data-driven.

Thanks to all of these changes, it is now necessary for every brand to adopt a multichannel digital marketing strategy. It has been estimated that up to thirteen separate interactions with a brand are needed before a consumer can even become a potential sales lead; therefore, businesses should be making the most of all possible marketing avenues in order to generate more touchpoints with consumers.

However, casting a marketing wide net and hoping something sticks is not exactly the most effective method. Not to mention that digital marketing campaigns can be costly, so businesses should be wise and strategic when it comes to multichannel methods.

Today’s consumer wants more value from the brands they engage with. This higher expectation is both the product of and the reason for the success of content marketing. By focusing on and prioritizing those channels that live up to our customer-centric reality, you can put your efforts into boosting the quality of the channels that count the most rather than spreading your marketing out. This also gives your strategy an end goal – the ultimate brand destinations – for the other marketing channels to feed into and support.

So, how can businesses establish a smart multichannel digital marketing strategy?

Quick Takeaways:

  • Don’t get on any digital media platform just because it’s gaining traction. Dig deeper to see if there is ROI.
  • Identify the tools and solutions that will help you set up and automate digital processes.
  • Don’t spread yourself too thin. Master one area first and then move on to another.
  • Always keep an eye on your KPI dashboard.

Why is Multichannel Marketing Important?

Because you need to be in all the places where your customers are searching for information and help them find it…

Because more and more, our customers are using multiple channels to find the information they need. They are relying less on your website and the relationship with your sales representative than they used to. And they are increasingly finding the information they need to make business decisions on their own.

Is there a gap? Heck yeah! According to Mary Meeker, there is a $20 billion digital channel spending gap made evident by the % of advertising dollars spent on internet and mobile channels vs. the amount of time spent in those channels by today’s digital consumer.

In other words, businesses don’t spend enough money on the channels where people are spending increasing amounts of time.

And that is why Forrester called their report “The Multi-channel Maturity Mandate.” According to Forrester:

Today’s customer has much more control over the buying process than today’s marketer does. Now that the Web and social media are part of virtually everyone’s daily life, buyers have more choices (more sources, more outlets, more offers) and more opinions (from pundits to peers) to consider.

Multi-channel marketing is the new reality of how businesses can better meet the needs of customers in the wide array of choices and content they use.

And to me, multi-channel marketing is the 2nd core piece of content strategy which seeks to provide the content our audiences are searching for, in all the places they search.

The study concluded that achieving maturity in multi-channel marketing can deliver significant increases in business benefits, mainly from the expanded reach achieved through an optimized marketing mix.

This supports the evidence from content marketing best practices that demonstrate how you can achieve higher levels of engagement earlier in the buying process with effective content targeted by buying stage.

Interestingly, the study also showed increased customer satisfaction from those companies who were identified as more mature! So with a focus on multi-channel marketing, you can engage with more people and improve their satisfaction with your brand at the same time!

The five key findings:

  • Marketers are familiar with multichannel marketing as an area of focus for improved marketing ROI with 40% of those surveyed assessing themselves as mature practitioners of multi-channel marketing.
  • It’s not a matter of will, but of skill. Skill gap was identified as the main obstacle to more efficient, integrated marketing.
  • Those marketers who identified themselves as mature have demonstrated significant business gains in overall campaign performance and ROI.
  • Mature multi-channel marketers were more likely to be early adopters of innovative technology, more likely to have a good relationship with their colleagues in IT and more likely to have a closer alignment with sales.
  • Even the mature multi-channel marketers considered their marketing programs to lack true integration and believed that further optimization was possible.

Elevate the Company Website

The brand website has the potential to serve as a lot more than a company’s digital face to the world. It’s an opportunity to create an experience in itself with a strategic selection of website content, including blog posts, videos, case studies, and more. 44 percent of consumers rate brand websites as the best marketing channel for understanding product benefits.

But, if you want your website to stand out, you really want to make the most of this marketing channel, giving consumers a destination they want to come back to, just for the content.

Those organizations who have more sophisticated content marketing strategies have already mastered the content hub, either on-site or as a separate branded site. This is one step above a basic website with content. It creates a place for all your best content to reside, making it easier for visitors to access what they may be interested in. And, for you to expose them to more of what you have to offer, keeping them engaged and hooking them with a ‘what’s in it for me’ that blows their expectations out of the water.

Here’s what Equinox’s hub, Furthermore, looks like. This luxury fitness company offers more than information, exploring a way of living that their target aspires to.

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Aside from a hub, another method for elevating the company website is to build an ultimate learning resource destination – a sort of Library of Alexandria for your niche. Going beyond the well-organized content of a hub, you can offer courses and educational tracks that give your visitors something to strive for. This also helps to guide them along a particular learning track instead of just bombarding them with a vast library of content. For example, a video series and set of eBooks can be turned into a comprehensive learning module for potential buyers.

HubSpot Academy is a great example of this ultra-useful educational website experience.

You get a sense that there is an endless well of information to tap into – because there is. And, it’s all free. That’s a remarkably compelling reason for stepping into HubSpot’s online brand world.

These methods of leveraging the company website to create extreme value aren’t just practical in terms of lead generation and establishing thought leadership. They are also part of creating a brand world buyers want to become a part of. It is a stage beyond usefulness and quality, invoking a lifestyle that B2C consumers aspire to and a level of success and efficiency that B2B buyers strive for.

Identify Your Audience and Determine Their Preferences

One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make in digital marketing is assuming that they need to utilize every single platform to reach their customers. The truth is that not every marketing channel is appropriate or necessary for every business. Not every business needs to market on Snapchat and LinkedIn. Some would do well with blogging content, while others should put their focus on video or audio content like vlogs and podcasts.

In order to ensure that your digital efforts are going to have the biggest impact, you need to first clearly define and understand who your audience is. Demographical factors play an important role in audience preferences. Take social media use as an example – according to a study by Pew Research, platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are preferred by younger consumer groups, whereas Facebook and YouTube are used more widely by older generations.

Consequently, if your audience is primarily made up of consumers that are above the age of 40, Snapchat wouldn’t exactly be the most effective marketing channel to utilize.

Take a look at your audience makeup and see only where they are consuming the most content and advertising and where your brand can meet them. Be sure to pay attention to how they are consuming content as well. Do they read blogs or would they rather watch YouTube tutorials? Are they more likely to engage with visual posts or do they want informational content like case studies?

You may need to conduct your own market research among your target audience or survey a few focus groups in order to obtain this information. Do also take a look at industry reports and benchmark studies to give you a general idea of consumer behavior in your niche.

Strengthen Your Martech Stack

You need the proper tools to help you establish a presence, track results, and keep track of important metrics and customer accounts. But creating a great martech ecosystem that supports your efforts doesn’t happen by accident.

As you start to develop your multichannel strategy, pay attention to the areas that will benefit the most from technology. While there are tools for nearly every aspect of digital marketing, you may benefit from utilizing tool “suites” or “solutions” that can be applied to multiple channels and have use cases across industry verticals.

For instance, Marketo offers different products called Engage (for brand building), Bizible (for revenue attribution), and Adobe Experience Cloud (for improving CX), which between them, enable organizations to automate email and mobile marketing, manage and nurture leads, implement ABM practices, create and distribute content with predictive analytics, find appropriate influencers on social media, and track important metrics all of these channels.

Start with a Pilot and Expand

One of the major pitfalls of a multichannel marketing strategy is the lack of focus. When numerous new channels are introduced, it can be extremely overwhelming and have a negative impact on the quality of your team’s efforts.

Sadly, a major mistake that many digital marketing teams fall prey to is trying to implement too many changes at once. This can lead to some costly mistakes as teams struggle to keep track of all the new strategies and approaches.

There is no need to overwhelm your marketing team with tons of strategies all at once. Start with simple but effective marketing, such as building an email database and creating a solid email trigger-based system. Then move on to SEO focused content, like blog posts, videos, and external links. Expand into other paid sources like social ads, PPC, or even televised commercials.

Again, the order of the most effective methods is dependent on your business’s specific audience, so researching their preferences and behavior is critical in order to determine which methods will be likely to have the biggest payoffs.

Track Things Closely But Give Them Time

Great marketing strategies do not happen overnight, so you shouldn’t expect the results to occur that quickly either. Marketing is a nurturing process that helps to move customers down the sales funnel through influential content. If you aren’t seeing immediate results from these new digital channels, don’t quit. It can take time for these marketing strategies to really bring about conversions.

The most important thing here is that your team has access to real-time tracking programs to keep an eye on KPIs. Again, give these strategies time to cultivate and develop, but look for signs of growth or stagnation over long periods of time to see where changes are needed. If a method is not bringing about results after a few months, then look for ways to improve rather than scrapping it altogether.

The questions you need to ask yourself for each channel are:

  • Which consumer segments will you target?
  • How will you position your product?
  • Will you set sales targets? What if you fall short?
  • How much will you spend on advertising?
  • How will you retain customers you acquire from that channel?

Connect to Buyers with Live Experiences

The other marketing channel that has the greatest potential for influencing your consumers is event and experiential marketing. 41 percent of consumers rate live experiences as number one for helping them to understand what a product is all about, making events a must for a marketing strategy that creates real value for consumers. Events are also important if you want to drive substantial revenue and brand-boosting benefits.

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In order to get the greatest impact out of event and experiential marketing, the goal is to integrate the in-person experience with the wider content marketing strategy.

  • Interview event speakers for your blog posts, podcasts or videos before or post-event
  • Leverage your social media channels to post live updates of the event for live streaming and to engage participants at the event
  • Use event tools to help measure the value of your event and to ensure you’re maintaining your brand’s signature level of customer service
  • With enough participants, you use surveys to collect data to use for future white papers
  • And, of course, align the tone, messaging, and goals of your experiential campaigns and live events with the rest of your content marketing strategy

Events and other experiences don’t just offer value. They also provide the foil for digital content, putting a human face on your brand and fostering a much deeper perception of authenticity than digital content alone can create. This is true even for people who may not have been direct participants. Those who indirectly engage with the experience through exposure to videos, photos, and other repurposed content still get some of the impact, seeing there are real people, real passions, and real ideas behind a brand.

Dig Your Tentacles In

The bottom line is, if you want your products or services – as well as the brand story itself – to resonate with your audience, make sure you are connecting with your buyers through the channels they respond the most positively to.

Since the modern world is more connected through technology than ever before, businesses have the opportunity to connect with consumers at nearly every digital turn. A strong multichannel marketing strategy is far and away the best way to cultivate relationships and convert customers – if it is done correctly.

In order to get things started off on the right foot, you need to

  1. Really understand who your audience is and how to best connect with them.
  2. Look into all of the data sources you can get your hands on to gather demographical and behavioral data to see where you need to focus your efforts.
  3. Identify the most profitable channels and look for tools and technology that will help your team the most.

Remember too that there is no need to rush and dive in head-first to multichannel. Instead, use your data to find the areas that will make the biggest impact – whether it’s targeted email marketing or a stronger social presence. Start to slowly integrate other channels and methods, while constantly keeping an eye on your revenue.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content that’s published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today–and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.