Many businesses beginning to ramp up their marketing efforts may find themselves asking the same question: Which marketing strategies are right for me? Should I focus on driving traffic with SEO, SEM and display advertising? Or should I worry about developing valuable content? Should I focus on building a strong social media presence? Or should I launch an email marketing campaign?
The answer is all of the above. According to a Harvard Business School study, retailers taking advantage of multiple channels were more profitable than those employing only a single channel. But its not as simple as it seems.
Users interact with different channels in different ways, and each channel has something unique to offer your marketing campaign. By playing to their various strengths, you can create a far-reaching marketing strategy that users can truly engage with.
But before diving in to how you can leverage each channel, you have to make sure you have an overall strategy. What weve covered thus far is simply multi-channel marketing. That wont set you apart in 2012, but creating a cohesive strategy that leverages each unique channel to reach the same goal will. Think of cross-channel marketing as telling each user the same story in several different ways.
Step one of launching any campaign should be to make sure you have a strong sense of the message you want to send. To develop a strong marketing message, you need to ask yourself some big questions. What type of company are you? What is your unique value proposition?
Your customers are likely to interact with your brand across more than one of your marketing channels, and they will find inconsistent messaging forgettable at best, and potentially even confusing or misleading. After repeated exposure across channels, your customers will have a stronger sense of what your company is about and will be more likely to remember you. If youre inconsistent, they wont.
One helpful way to think about cross-channel marketing is as a way of targeting the same users through different parts of the engagement funnel:
- SEO is key to driving new traffic. Paid search and display advertising are equally important elements that you can fully control.
- Its also crucial that, once you get people to your site, they discover something of value. Here is where content strategy comes in.
- Retarget users after they leave your site to make sure your brand isn’t forgotten.
- You can use social media to make your brand appear more human and build trust. You can also take advantage of the power of the social graph by making it easy for your users to share your brand content with their friends. After all, people trust their friends more than they trust any brand.
- Have you heard anyone say social media has killed email marketing? I have, but I take apocalyptic statements like this with a grain of salt. Social media is great for sharing your own content or curating valuable content from across the web, but social media users generally dont want to feel like theyre being sold to. Email marketing may be a more appropriate channel for being directly self-promotional, as studies suggest users may be more responsive to direct sales in this medium.
In addition to which marketing channel your users engage with, you also need to think about how your users engage:
- Are you strategically timing your blog posts/ads/social media updates? Do you know when your users are most likely to browse the web? Or when they are most likely to make purchases? Check out our post on dayparting to learn more about how you can develop a dayparting strategy to more precisely target your users.
- Are you optimized for mobile? How does your site render on a tablet? Just as your users are reachable via many different channels (email , social, search), they are increasingly using many different devices to consume media. Non-computer traffic (primarily mobile and tablet) comprises nearly 7% of total internet traffic in the U.S. That number is too big to be ignored, and its getting bigger by the day.
An important final caveat: there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all strategy, even within channels. Are you an ecommerce company with a strong consumer brand? You may find it easy to build a strong following on Facebook where you can showcase pictures of your products. Are you a B2B software company? You should definitely use social media, but it might make sense to focus more on your LinkedIn profile than on your Facebook page. Always think about what is best for your company, not someone else’s.