You need a new car. Where do you start? Google first, from there you check out Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and review websites before, if they are lucky, heading to the manufacturer’s website and leaving your details for them to send you more information.
This is probably a familiar route to many of us when looking for something to buy. And it’s why interest in multi-channel marketing has exploded over the past couple of years. Customers seek out information when they are ready, not when we want to publish it to them and that information needs to be instantly available.
While eight out of ten senior marketers rank multi-channel marketing as their number one priority, achieving it is harder than it sounds. Only one in five businesses is able to deliver multi-channel marketing effectively. So what’s the problem?
A key challenge is managing complexity. Today’s marketing environment is a constant stream of never-ending conversations happening across an ever-growing range of platforms, where a business cannot expect to have full control over the entire customer experience. As a result, it is essential to organise the business around the customer journey, and to concentrate resources on the most relevant touch points.
Speed of response is a vital factor. Digital technology has raised customer and brand engagement to new levels, with customers now expecting instant acknowledgement in the event of problems or grievances. Failure to address a complaint on Facebook can easily spill into Twitter and explode into a very public, global conversation, all in a matter of hours. On the other hand, this can be seen as a great opportunity. A disgruntled customer can often be transformed into a brand advocate just as quickly, with the right communication. By being aware of this dynamic environment and staying engaged in the dialogue, even when conversations start negatively or with a complaint, a company has the potential to enhance its public reputation, while simultaneously improving its customer retention rates.
Channel relevance is vital too. Customer interest and loyalty is also easy to lose when faced with incongruity or irrelevant messages, or the right content in the wrong format. Any entry points such as a Twitter feed, a mobile app or a website banner can lead to interaction and while businesses must apply a joined up approach to their brand and their voice, they must also ensure that content is fit for purpose. The efficiencies of a joined-up approach should not come at the expense of suitability.
Multi-channel marketing needs to go beyond simple integration. It requires a committed brand focus that can target customers through every relevant discipline, from advertising and PR, through to email and event marketing. It must also allow for continual adjustment of the overall marketing plan based on customer feedback in real-time. In other words, it must create one cohesive brand message that can reach customers at all touch points, at all times.
Barriers between platforms don’t exist anymore and this provides marketers with a real opportunity to connect them. Multi-channel marketing requires a single strategy – a joined up strategy that links all relevant platforms together and presents one strong, unified message. When marketing is built on a solid brand foundation, all the relevant customer touch points can naturally feed into one another and become connected in a complementary web of dialogue.
To be effective, multi-channel marketing requires structural change that delivers the visibility, skills, speed to keep up with today’s customers. The question remains: is your organisation agile enough to implement it properly?