Cross-channel marketing may be a buzzword, but it’s always been a best practice. Even when a product clearly lends itself to a certain channel, customers are — and always have been — cross-channel.
Take cars. Yes, there’s a reason you hear so many radio ads about automobiles: You usually listen while you’re driving one. That’s probably not the only time, though, that your mind turns to cars. Don’t you feel at least a little jealous when your friends show off their new wheels on social media? If the hero of your favorite show drives a Camaro, aren’t you tempted to get one, too?
Cross-channel marketing is the key to keeping your product top of mind among an increasingly busy customer base. But with so many moving parts, cross-channel campaigns can confuse even the most experienced of marketers.
Non-Negotiables in Cross-Channel Marketing
Before rolling out your next multi-channel marketing campaign, be sure it has:
Ask your customers what they mean by authentic marketing, and they’ll likely tell you that it is content created by people like them — in other words, user-generated content. By a three-to-one ratio, consumers consider UCG more authentic than that created by brands. In fact, 57 percent of them think less than half of brands create content that comes across as authentic. But even if some of your consumers see your brand as part of the other 43 percent, authenticity is so subjective that you can bet many don’t.
That doesn’t mean, however, that brands can’t guide UCG. To promote its iPhone 6 release, Apple asked consumers to photograph everyday moments and share them on social media with the hashtag #ShotOniPhone6. The tech company then turned its favorite submissions into print and television ads, which earned it a whopping 6.5 billion media impressions. By making the lives of its marketers easier, Apple also made its campaign more authentic and effective.
When you create a cross-channel marketing campaign, you want each channel’s messaging to reinforce the others without copying them directly. If a consumer watches a branded YouTube video that promotes travel experiences with the hashtag #GetOutThere, they should see tweets using that same hashtag. If they pull up Instagram, they should see vacation photos tagged with it, too.
That might sound like overkill, but rarely are a company’s users on only one platform, influencer marketing agency Mediakix points out. Although no marketing agency is good at everything, a partner should take into account the other channels that the campaign will cover. If they can’t share examples of their own cross-channel campaigns, ask to see assets created through external collaborations.
Don’t let the term “cross-channel” give you the wrong impression: Multiple channels are required, but so are multiple voices. When people of different backgrounds show that they’re on board with a product or service, it creates credibility that’s greater than the sum of its parts. In fact, the bandwagon effect is so powerful that merely viewing opinion polls can change voters’ choices.
With that said, brand-influencer alignment is a must. David Goldsmith, WEGO Health’s chief strategy officer, suggests that too many marketers fall for influencers who are merely passionate about their product or service. Even if a white supremacist is crazy for a certain soft drink, for instance, the beverage brand probably doesn’t want to be associated with his racist views. That’s why Goldsmith recommends digging into influencers’ past posts and checking sites like indaHash and HYPR. Use them to confirm an influencer’s tone, reach, demographics, and audience.
Online and offline components
Yes, it’s true that marketing is more digital than ever — but it’s also true that audiences want to hear from brands through offline channels. Although 82 percent of marketers decided to increase their digital spending by nearly half last year, 74 percent of consumers say meaningful experiences make them more likely to buy. What’s more, consumers trust television, radio, and print ads more than they do those on social media or elsewhere online.
If you’re not sure which channels to choose, try this: Each time you plan an online campaign — be it an influencer campaign, a series of banner ads, or a content marketing push — pair it with an offline channel. If you’re trying to drum up buzz for a product release via social media influencers, for instance, why not add an experiential element? You might fly out a few lucky followers and influencers to a central location for a meet-and-greet.
Cross-channel marketing has always been challenging, but the explosion of digital media has made it more so. Choose your channels wisely, get customers themselves to help with the content, and make sure your messaging is consistent. That’s a tall order, but customers won’t accept anything less. Would you?
Find out how you can guide your customers across every touchpoint in their journey and drive positive results with “Multichannel Fluidity.”
Serenity Gibbons is a former assistant editor at the Wall Street Journal and a New York University alumna living in California. She is the local unit lead for NAACP in Northern California with a mission is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. She enjoys writing and interviewing people who are making a difference in the world.