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How to Develop a Highly Effective Multichannel Ecommerce Marketing Strategy: Part 1

Nathan Joynt
CX Cloud Business Group

Retail and ecommerce marketing leaders have the same ever-increasing goals: capture more attention, generate more traffic, and earn more sales. Marketing teams are busy churning out campaigns, updating product and landing pages, and dreaming up new deals and promotions. All marketing leaders share similar challenges. Increased competition and a plethora of new channels and devices make it difficult to reach the target audience. Marketing teams are stretched trying to accomplish initiatives and maximize ROI with limited resources.

In this three-part series, we'll dig into these common challenges. You'll learn how to identify and maximize current effective marketing activities. You'll also find out how to build a multichannel marketing strategy that will uncover and match the strengths of the business to the desires of the consumer. And you’ll learn how to use content to connect and convert more customers and see examples from industry leaders.

You’re not in control, and that's OK.

As requests to invest in new channels increase every year, marketing budgets get sliced thinner and thinner. Retailers scramble for attention and control of the market while their ability to prove business value diminishes.

The real problem is that consumers have all the control. They get to decide which merchants can interact with them, market to them. Modern consumers know when they’re being marketed to and they’re quick to ignore it.

Power to the Consumer

Directly to the right of my status update on Facebook is an ad for Indochino. To the clothing company’s credit, it’s a timely and well-placed ad—I happen to really like paisley dress shirts. But I still know I’m being marketed to. I’m OK with it, to a certain degree. Besides, I have the option to turn the ad off. I can literally delete the ad in Facebook. Power to the consumer!

Retail apps also empower the consumer. Apps are downloaded by the millions and yet can easily be replaced and deleted on any device at the consumer’s discretion.. A recent study by Forrester Research and commissioned by RetailMeNot says that a mere 10% of users with at least one retail mobile app use the app daily, and 13% say they never use their apps at all.

Retail Mobile App Usage

Source: Forrester/RetailMeNot

Considering the proliferation of mobile apps, it seems logical that the more utilitarian and helpful the app is, the less likely it is to be deleted. But again, this decision lies with the consumer. The decision to invest in mobile application development must take consumer control into account.

Retailers are even losing control over the ability to market effectively through more traditional forms of marketing and advertising. Consider TV advertising. Modern smart TVs and streaming devices connect consumers directly to all the programming they want, commercial free. Think of traditional radio, too. Subscription services such as Pandora and Spotify not only provide every song ever created on-demand, but they’ll also turn off the ads for a nominal subscription fee.

Focus, Focus

It’s a fascinating time to be a consumer marketer. Looking at all the options and channels available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and to think, “There’s no way I can do everything.” And you’re right. Focusing on too many marketing initiatives with poor direction and strategy diminishes the value of them all. Therefore, you have to make some strategic decisions about where to spend your time and money:

  • Paid search has basically become a commodity for most ecommerce businesses. Balancing ROI is critical here, so you can’t pull out too much money.
  • Email marketing has become more efficient and streamlined through modern marketing automation technology. Your subscriber list is one of the most important things to nourish and cultivate, so the budget stays put.
  • People still debate how to prove social ROI, but you’re likely seeing some good results from social efforts, and they’re probably affordable.
  • SEO? Of course you’ve hired a person to do that. You should be outranking Amazon any day now, right?
  • Do you really know the value of PR anymore? Isn’t social marketing and influencer marketing basically the same thing today?
  • What about content strategy and content development? Perhaps you have an editorial manager, or a product copywriter or team of interns. How much emphasis do you put on content strategy, blogging, video development, or even just having unique product descriptions?

You have to know what you have, what you’re good at currently, and what’s working from an ROI perspective. Double down on these efforts at least temporarily while you begin to answer some bigger questions:

  • How well are my marketing efforts (people and processes) working together?
  • Why do we continue allocating budget to certain initiatives if the ROI isn't impressive?
  • Why do I feel like our multichannel marketing isn’t as effective as it could be, and how do I get everything aligned properly?

The answers to these questions typically revolve around an integrated multichannel marketing strategy. It’s not enough to fill marketing roles anymore—one person for SEO, one for email marketing, one managing paid search, and so on. This isn’t a strategy; it’s skill-set hiring without a plan. Each team will create its own, independent strategies, but rarely does anything become integrated.

What you should strive for is a multichannel, multidiscipline approach to combine all these processes and focus attention on a common goal. One way to do this is by creating a buyer-centric multichannel marketing strategy. 

Capture the Attention of the Always-On Consumer

It’s easy to assume the attention span of consumers is decreasing. We think we have to be everywhere because the consumer is everywhere. What if we reverse this belief and build something so useful that the consumer will want to come to us? What if we choose to believe it’s not that consumers’ attention spans are decreasing but that consumers are getting better at filtering the noise? When consumers have more control, you can focus more precisely on exactly what interests them the most.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll outline a way to find this sweet spot for your business. Meantime, consider the following steps to start organizing your thoughts:

  1. Start with a single end goal. I’m a strong believer in SMART goal setting—goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. What is the biggest thing you're trying to accomplish this year?
  2. Outline your strategy to achieve your goal. If you’re using SMART goal setting, you’ll have a time frame to complete your goal. Your strategy needs to include everything necessary to accomplish your goal, tactics as well as resource and technology needs. List everything.
  3. Begin building a timeline. Say you have a goal to grow ecommerce revenue by 25% in 12 months. What must be accomplished each month to stay on track? Weekly and perhaps even daily tasks can be formed from this.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2, in which we'll dig into the details about creating a highly effective multichannel ecommerce marketing strategy.

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