You may hear a few different terms for the idea of using multiple channels to interact with people and to build leads; integrated marketing, multichannel marketing strategy, omnichannel marketing. Other marketers may disagree with me, but these are all essentially the same thing, with very slight differences if any. Basically, the idea is to use multiple channels with a consistent brand image and message across them. These channels need to work together in one cohesive strategy to maximize lead generation. I think the hang up is that there is a difference between simply being present on multiple channels and having an overarching consistency and strategy across channels.
With the changes, fueled by technological advancement, in how people interact with businesses over the last 20 years, it has become a necessity to have a presence on multiple channels. People expect to see businesses they want to do businesses with in multiple places across the web and being there can help you build trust. It’s important to not give people mixed messages across channels, this can actually damage your image and make your company seem less trustworthy. This makes having a cross-channel strategy crucial to lead generation.
Another reason it’s important to have a multiple channels for lead generation is that a lot of these channels are governed by outside forces that can make changes that we aren’t prepared for. If we rely too much on one source and something happens that adversely effects our ability to create leads, we are in for some trouble. For example, in 2016 Google had an update that removed the sidebar ads. This significantly reduced available ad space on search queries and consequently caused CPC’s to substantially increase. Those who relied solely on Google Ads for lead generation were blind-sided. Creating a multichannel lead generation strategy creates a safety net by allowing us to adapt quickly when things that are out of our control happen.
So how can we build an effective multichannel presence to give potential customers a cohesive and quality experience? This will look different between industries and even between businesses within an industry. Here are some questions to ask yourself before developing your strategy:
- What sets your business apart from your competitors?
- What does your ideal customer look like?
- How do you want to present your business and what will be your overarching message?
The answers to these questions should give some insight into what channels you want to focus your efforts. There will be some overlap, but different channels attract different demographics. You want to key in on where your ideal customers hang out. Having a one size fits all approach to how different channels are treated is a mistake a lot of companies fall into. Different channels require different strategies, however they should all tie back to your unifying brand image and message. For example, content that works great on Instagram could not be applied to search ads, but you can deliver the same message in both channels.
Here is a list of some of the more common online marketing channels
- Search Ads
- Display Ads
- Email Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Social Media
Whichever channels you choose, remember that repetition legitimizes. This means that the more people see your brand, the more legitimate your brand is perceived. This also means that the message you choose is really important because you will want to use it repeatedly. The trick, which is easier said than done, is to ride the line of familiar and new. For example, Snickers has used the “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” message for 10+ years. They have used this message to create lots of content that presents the same message in new and interesting ways.
There are a few challenges that you need to think about for your multichannel strategy. The first would be attribution. You’ll want to figure out a way to assign credit for conversions to determine which channels are performing and which are not. This is related to which key performance indicators you want to use. The KPI’s you choose should be directly tied to your marketing objectives. You will also want to figure out cross-channel remarketing. Having people who have checked your business out on one channel see you on other channels. Determining how to set up your funnel so that leads across all of your channels can collect and work their way into becoming customers is another thing to think about. What path will your leads take to conversion?
One of the best ways to get insights into doing this right is to study those who are already successfully marketing across channels. A lot of the bigger companies have this nailed; Coca-Cola, Disney, Apple, etc. Definitely go check out the way they are doing their marketing. It is important to note that these companies have vast resources that most companies do not, but we can still learn from them. Just apply what you see working into the 2 or 3 channels you have chosen to focus on.
One brand that I think is doing a really good job is Old Spice. They have a consistent look across platforms and channels, from their Instagram to their website. A number of years ago they wanted to change how people perceived their brand, which was mostly thought of as a product for old men. They began using humor in their advertising that was targeted at a younger demographic, millennial men. A lot of their commercials and content became a lot weirder, which appealed to those they wanted become their new demographic, and it worked. This style has presented itself in all of their channels.
Really when it comes down to it, knowing your ideal customer will determine how you set up your multichannel strategy. You will want to focus your attention on the channels that will help you reach them, your message and image should be designed to appeal to them, and the rest of it is structural and analytical.
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