Throughout the last couple of decades, marketing has been expanding in all directions. New methods and strategies are being deployed constantly, and some of them, like social media for example, have grown to become marketing channels in their own right. However, with this expansion also comes dispersion.
In an attempt to capture the fleeting consumer attention, companies are using multiple marketing methods at the same time, hoping that at least one of them will work. This kind of approach has brought mixed results, to say the least. Some tactics overlap with each other, reducing their combined effectiveness, while others come in direct conflict in their methods or goals.
Some marketing experts have caught on to the fact, and they have tried developing an approach that would harness the plurality of available marketing practices. This new approach is called cross-channel marketing.
In the remainder of this article, we will attempt to explain what cross-channel marketing is, what some of its benefits are, and how it works in practice.
What is Cross-channel Marketing?
Cross-channel marketing is a marketing approach that involves the use of multiple marketing channels at once to create effective promotional campaigns. The term ‘cross-channel marketing’ is often used interchangeably with ‘multi-channel marketing’ and ‘omni-channel marketing’, but we believe that there is an important difference between the three.
What makes cross-channel marketing different from the other two approaches is the fact that it is focused on creating one seamless, integrated b2c or b2b experience. A cross-channel marketing campaign is greater than the sum of its elements, whereas in multi-channel or omni-channel marketing different tactics are pursued independently of each other.
Benefits of Cross-channel Marketing
Cross-channel marketing is still in its infancy, but the results so far show promise. Cross-channel marketing has the following benefits:
Utilizing only a single channel for consumer communication means that you are reliant on very specific forms of consumer behavior (e.g. routine email checks). In contrast, cross-channel marketing enables you to leverage a variety of consumer habits (e.g. looking at advertisements in real life, web browsing on mobile, etc.)
Improved Customer Loyalty
The more someone engages with your brand, the greater their loyalty towards it. Cross-channel marketing gives you more engagement opportunities, which directly translates to more loyal customers.
For instance, a consumer that once purchased your products from their desktop machine might want to do the same from their mobile device, and if you give them the option via cross-channel marketing, their appreciation for your brand will increase.
Better Alignment with Existing Consumer Behavior
Modern-day consumers have grown accustomed to media multitasking. They browse their phone while watching TV, they talk with friends through messaging apps while attending events marketed on social media. Cross-channel marketing is adapted to this sort of behavior by design, which makes it feel more seamless and natural, and thus more effective.
Cross-Channel Marketing Examples
Hopefully we have piqued your interest enough to consider giving cross-channel marketing a try. And to help you get started, we bring you a couple of practical examples on how you can combine different marketing channels to created integrated cross-channel campaigns.
Combining Email and Snail Mail
Promotional campaigns using regular mail leverage the fact that consumers are fairly used to opening and reading mail. Email on the other hand provides ma more convenient way to receive content. By combining the two, you can leverage the benefits of both.
One example would be to send out product catalogs through regular mail, which contain a CTA for subscribing to your email newsletter. This way consumers can browse your products in the comfort of their reading chair, and receive product updates and sale notifications more conveniently via email.
Combining Digital Marketing and Physical Promotion
Digital marketing enables you to collect substantial data on consumers. By analyzing online consumer habits, you can find out a lot about what interests them in terms of products, content, aesthetics, etc. You can then leverage this data to create highly-customized promotional material. For instance, by analyzing intent keywords your website visitors tend to use, you can create more actionable advertising slogans to print on your brochures, flyers, and other kinds of promotional material.
Combining Social Media and Event Marketing
Consumers use social media to get informed about all sorts of things, including finding more about events in their local area. On the other hand, the main benefit of events is that they give your company an opportunity to show its more human side.
And by using cross-channel marketing, you can combine them to achieve a greater effect. For example, you can create a unique illustration and use as a banner for your trade show event, and then use the same design on a banner and leverage online familiarity to attract more visitors to your stand.
Combining YouTube and TV ads
Some channels are uniquely suited for cross-channel marketing thanks to their underlying similarity. TV and YouTube are one such pair. TV is a medium where consumers are accustomed to passively absorbing content. But once they have been satiated, they will want to do something more active.
You can leverage this behavioral quirk by creating a TV content to promote a YouTube livestream, where consumers can engage with each other in chat, as well as ask you questions.
Cross-channel marketing is the logical answer to the proliferation of marketing channels in the modern era. By combining multiple marketing tactics in one coherent, integrated approach, cross-channel marketing is able to address the downside of each separate channel, while harnessing the unique advantages of each.
This new paradigm will take some getting used to, but it is already clear that the way forward for marketing is to proceed across multiple channels at once.