Digital marketers must meet customers on the channels where they are. COVID social distancing restrictions hastened consumers’ move to online shopping. Today, even with most stores open for regular hours, many people still choose online shopping over shopping in-store. According to the US Census Bureau, 2021 third quarter ecommerce sales were 6.6 percent (±0.9%) higher than the same quarter in 2020.
Of course, some consumers still prefer to shop in-store, and many enjoy both the online and in-store experience. How do consumers prefer to engage with brands beyond the purchase? Marketers can keep in touch with customers via email, social media, their website, and even text messages.
Cross-channel marketing allows marketing teams to meet customers on their preferred channel and keep up with them when they switch from one to another. It could be email to a landing page, social media to a virtual event sign-up, text message to a mobile-optimized website, and so on.
What goes into a pleasing cross-channel experience that keeps customers engaged and coming back?
Digital marketers should look at these six best practices.
Before marketing to someone, you should understand and empathize with them as much as possible. This takes gathering and making sense of the customer data on hand to create buyer personas.
Each persona will have different backgrounds, interests, and preferences. Use this data to personalize the cross-channel experience for each persona.
Once you have defined the relevant personas, map the customer journey for each. What channels does a persona prefer to engage with? When do they switch to a different one? What touchpoints, offers, and content might they respond to?
Each person will have different pain points you can address. Content should provide solutions to the problems customers are having. Moreover, the type and format of content should also appeal to customers.
Do they prefer email and the web? Follow a brand on social media? What virtual events do they sign up to?
Their behaviors will dictate the type of content you should target with, the channel to deliver it on, and the format they prefer, such as email, text, tip sheet, video, or something else.
One disruption or moment of confusion and frustration might be all it takes for a customer to drop off their customer journey. According to Statista, the world might see 361.6 million emails sent on a daily basis by 2024. The year 2020 saw 306.4 billion sent a day. In addition, the average person might see 6,000 to 10,000 ads in a single day.
If your marketing gives a customer a reason to drop off, they very well might, as there will always be another offer or brand trying to catch their eye. Missed opportunities are lost opportunities, so you must meet customers on their preferred channels, which can vary from minute to minute and day to day.
Therefore, strive to make the transition from channel to channel as smooth and seamless as possible. Branding and messaging should stay consistent on every channel to make the journey more immersive.
Also, use AI to help with your channel balance. Channel balance refers to which channels to engage customers on and how often. For example, should you send an email and a push notification? An email and then a push notification? Or just an email?
If you get it wrong too many times, your customer might start to get annoyed and unsubscribe.
Luckily, A/B and multivariate testing can show which customers are responding to which channels and help choose the right one.
As the COVID-19 global pandemic has shown, marketers must pivot and change strategies to better connect with customers when circumstances change and different solutions are called for. Flexibility and nimbleness can help companies change gears when a world event happens, a trend emerges, or someone simply has a better idea.
Regardless of the campaign or the circumstances they’re operating under, marketers should aim for simplicity when designing a cross-channel marketing campaign and messaging across different channels. A single, simple, and consistent statement makes a point more powerfully than a series of confused and jangled messages.
Don’t overload a touchpoint with too much messaging or information. Try to put just enough to intrigue and satisfy a customer. If they’re ready to convert, they will. If not, they might still be interested in continuing along the customer journey due to the content's value and relevancy.
Simplicity can help make that journey consistent and engaging across channels and reinforce the main points of your brand’s messaging—and how you can help customers with their problems.
Looking for more information about cross-channel marketing? Check out these resources.
Michael McNichols is a Senior Content Manager for Oracle Digital Marketing. He has over ten years of experience in professional writing and has been widely published.