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Multichannel marketing: How it works & steps for success in 2021

12 min read
Katie Oberthaler

Marketing to today’s customers is different than it was just a few years ago. Technology has given customers numerous ways to find, research, and interact with brands. It’s no longer about closing the sale for many brands and businesses, but instead about the customer journey. 

Multichannel marketing lets you meet your customers right where they are, right now. Buyers often journey across devices and across platforms before converting, and the right multichannel marketing strategies will let you provide consistent messaging at each step along the way.

From gaining a basic understanding of the multichannel marketing definition to strategy implementation to ongoing analysis with the right tools, learn about what it takes to successfully usher customers down the sales funnel with cross-platform marketing.

What we'll cover

What Is Multichannel Marketing?

The multichannel marketing definition is fairly simple and refers to the process of connecting with customers across multiple communication mediums. Multichannel marketing can be both direct and indirect and might include the use of platforms such as:

  • Websites
  • Print catalogs
  • In-store messaging
  • Social media
  • Targeted advertising
  • Direct mail
  • Email 
  • Text and SMS

Many businesses and marketers have found that using many channels of communication in their marketing improves the quality of leads and increases conversions. Customers might be more likely to make a purchase when you reach out to them in ways that fit their lifestyle, preferences, and unique consumer needs.

What’s the Difference Between Multichannel Marketing and Omnichannel Marketing?

Your customer’s journey begins at the very first touchpoint. The customer experience might zigzag across platforms, taking them from email to website to retail store and beyond. The use of multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing can make the experience seamless for consumers in each stage of the sales funnel.

Are multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing different? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Let’s look at the multichannel marketing definition and the omnichannel marketing definition to see the differences.

mutlichannel omnichannel graphics comparision fitsmallbusiness

Source: FitSmallBusiness

As mentioned above, multichannel marketing refers to how businesses get their messages to potential and existing customers. It might include marketing across various platforms and include multiple customer touchpoints across a single campaign.

You might think of multichannel marketing using a hub and spoke model. The center hub is your product or service. The spokes are channels you might use to reach your customers, each offering a separate path down the conversion funnel.

On the other hand, omnichannel marketing refers to a customer-focused experience. The goal of omnichannel marketing is to make the consumer experience as simple as possible and provide consistent engagement regardless of how a customer is interacting with your business.

Think of omnichannel marketing as a more immersive experience. Think of the hub and spokes again. Omnichannel marketing puts your customer at the center of the hub and connects them with your product or services down a single and integrated spoke, resulting in a merged approach down the sales funnel. 

Why Is Multichannel Marketing Important?

There are a number of marketing strategies you might use to connect with your customers. Multichannel marketing strategies let you do just that — and give you many paths to grow customer connections, leads, and conversions.

It’s a fact: multichannel marketing works. Recent statistics from Invesp, a conversion rate optimization service, indicate that 52% of all marketers used three or four platforms to reach consumers in 2020, up from 44% just five years ago.

The growing number of marketers adopting multichannel marketing strategies shows the importance of meeting consumers across multiple platforms. Multichannel marketing is important because these strategies can help your business:

  • Find new customers
  • Maintain interest from existing customers
  • Gain an understanding of customer demographics
  • Analyze customer interactions
  • Focus spending and advertising budget

A multichannel marketing strategy is also important because it meets customers where they are. Your business’s audience is likely varied. Some might scroll social media streams all day; others might only use the web for work. Some prefer to shop online; others might lean toward browsing brick-and-mortar stores. You’ll find that the best multichannel marketing strategies are designed to reach each of these consumers in one way or another.

Your business or service will likely remain at the forefront of your customers’ minds when you take advantage of multiple marketing platforms. Remove doubt and worry about being overlooked by focusing your marketing strategy on multiple mediums. Content, ads, and messaging across varied platforms can diversify the way you approach customers and can even show your product or service to a whole new audience. 

What Are the Main Marketing Channels? 

Today’s businesses have a number of marketing channels to choose from. Each channel can let your marketing strategy hone in on a unique audience and might depend on your focus. For example, those providing B2B services might reach out to decision-making executives and agents on LinkedIn, while a fashion retailer might show off styles best on visual platforms like Instagram or Pinterest. 

As your multichannel marketing strategies grow, you’ll want to hone in on which of the main marketing channels will help you reach your goals. Each channel comes with its own value, and it is important to understand the benefits of each. Audience insight and analytics can help your business decide which channels perform best for you.  

Let’s break down a few of the main marketing channels your business can use in a multichannel marketing strategy.

Digital Marketing Channels

Doing business in 2021 means that your customers are online in astounding numbers. Data from Oberlo shows that around half of the world’s population, 3.9 billion people, use email. Additionally, an estimated 3.5 billion Google searches are performed per day, which adds up to 1.4 trillion searches per year.

What are the most effective channels for a digital marketing plan to include? - Website, email, social media, organic search, paid search, mobile, display ads bar chart

Source: Neil Patel

Taking advantage of digital marketing channels can be a boon for your business. Channels and strategies to focus on include websites, content marketing, email newsletters, paid search ads, and display ads.

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A promotional email from Pep Boys

Social Marketing Channels

Social media lets people interact in all kinds of ways and provides opportunities for your business to interact with consumers. More than 3.6 billion people worldwide used at least one social media platform in 2020, and this number is expected to expand to 4.41 billion in 2025.

There are many opportunities to connect with customers via social media marketing channels. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms can help connect businesses with consumers. Many of these platforms allow you to specify the audience that sees your ads or content, allowing you to truly create targeting marketing campaigns.

Facebook sponsored post - Jaspers market woman in a grocery

A local, targeted Facebook ad. Source: TechCrunch

Broadcast Marketing Channels

Even as the number of cord-cutters grows, broadcast marketing channels remain a strong option for today’s businesses. Advertisers are expected to spend more than $65.7 billion on television advertising in 2021. Broadcast media is often localized and can be used to reach consumers in a specific geographic area or marketing, often with far reach.

Another thing to keep in mind: there’s more to a broadcast marketing channel strategy than just traditional television and terrestrial radio. Consider marketing on streaming internet radio stations, podcasts, and other broadcast marketing channels.

Spotify advertising - streaming radio and podcast service spotify offers audio and visual advertising options

Streaming radio and podcast service Spotify offers audio and visual advertising options.

Print and Static Marketing Channels

Print and static marketing channels use printed or visual mediums to reach consumers. Businesses might use these channels on a broad scale or in many forms. Examples of print and static marketing channels include direct mail, flyers, billboards, magazine ads, newspaper ads, and brochures. These are proven channels, as more than 70% of all individuals are reading newspapers regularly.

You might find that taking advantage of print and static marketing channels can reach consumers in ways digital platforms cannot. Print advertising can be targeted to reach a specific demographic. Newspapers and magazines compile information about readers, and billboards are visible to a certain population. However, it might be difficult to personalize content and analyze user data from print campaigns.

Here is to the brave in all of us - an award winning prind ad from Bank of America

An award-winning print ad from Bank of America. Source: The Communicator Awards

How Do You Implement Multichannel Marketing?

There are several key factors to keep in mind before launching a multichannel marketing strategy. In doing so, your business should understand buyer personas, develop an aligned presence for each channel, consider how to strategically link each medium, and much more. Implementing multichannel marketing means being aware of brand reach, messaging, consistency, and compliance.

A successful multichannel marketing strategy also comes with a few keys to success. You’ll want to truly understand your consumer and create a cohesive experience across all involved channels. You’ll also want to determine the best platform to reach your customers, whether that’s social media, web content, or even print media. 

With the above information in mind, let’s break down six steps to implementing multichannel marketing.

Create Customer Personas

The most basic process in implementing a successful multichannel marketing strategy is identifying your audience or customer persona. What is a customer persona? It’s a detailed profile of an individual who represents your target audience. The profile might include demographic data, behavioral traits, interests, pain points, buyer patterns, and more.

For example, an online athleisure wear boutique might create the customer persona of a single thirty-something woman named Jill with an annual income of about $75,000. She might enjoy both active hobbies like frequent barre classes, as well as more laid-back interests such as blogging and dining out. Jill might struggle to find leggings that work for both athletic and loungewear and regularly shop at Lululemon and Athleta.

Pick the Best Marketing Channels

After identifying your customers and creating their personas, think about what mediums and platforms they might use. You might gather information about this based on what the competition is doing, as well as perform your own research based on analytics and other factors.

For example, nearly half of all United States-based Facebook users are between the ages of 25 and 44, according to April 2021 statistics. This means Jill, mentioned above, falls in this group. Facebook might be a good marketing channel to reach customers sharing her persona. Most adults check their phones about 100 times per day, so since Jill is also among this group, SMS or text marketing might be another platform to consider in your multichannel marketing strategy. (Make sure you brush-up on laws that apply to SMS messaging, and create a compliant opt-in process).

Define a Goal

All multichannel marketing strategies need a clearly defined end goal. You might set a goal to increase your email newsletter database by 20%; see online sales rise 5%; grow your number of followers on Facebook by 15%; or even increase sales of a specific product or service.

A clearly defined intention for your multichannel marketing campaign will help you craft a perfect call to action for consumers and encourage them down the sales funnel toward conversion.

Develop Content

All campaigns, regardless of platform or channel, need great content. You might need to create: 

  • A new landing or product page when using a digital channel
  • Visual advertising content for a print or static channel
  • Images and hashtags for social media channels

Even though the content may vary based on the channel you’re using, make sure it consistently conveys your branding. The best multichannel marketing strategies create a continuous experience across platforms. Content tone, colors, and visual images should be consistent for all mediums.

Get the Right Technology

As with any other campaign, make the most of your multichannel marketing by analyzing results. You’ll need the right tools to measure your outcomes. Many marketers working on multichannel strategies use CRMs, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Semrush, MailChimp, and other tools to make sure the strategy aligns with the end goal.

If you’re working with a client on your multichannel marketing campaign, you’ll also need a tool to gather feedback and get approval along the way. Ziflow is a tool you can use to streamline and automate the content review and approval process, allowing teams to ship content faster, and avoid compliance risks. 

Ziflow version management - V1, V2, V3 online proofing creative collaboration

Source: Ziflow Content Feedback Management Platform

Continuously Evaluate Your Strategy

Are your multichannel marketing strategies pushing you toward conversion success? Look at your campaign performance frequently and evaluate your strategy as you go.  You might need to revisit personas, focus on different channels, or adjust budget and spend, if your end result isn’t what you anticipated.

A SWOT analysis of your ongoing campaign will point out areas in which you excel, as well as areas for improvement. Use the insight gained through consistent analysis to ensure goals are being met and the correct strategies are in place.

What’s Your Multichannel Marketing Strategy for 2021?

Multichannel marketing gives your business multiple pathways to success. The right multichannel marketing strategies will let you engage customers and prospects across many platforms both online and offline. This lets you get your message in front of prospects, leads, and existing customers, wherever they are.

From understanding the multichannel marketing definition to implementing the perfect cross-platform campaign, your business can thrive when you meet customers where they are. Many consumers crave a seamless experience across various platforms, and the right multichannel marketing strategy will provide just that.

Customer expectations are constantly increasing, and technology is always evolving. Agencies, brands, and marketers need the right tools to stay on top of emerging trends and report strategy performance. Ziflow can help you stay ahead of the curve by automating and streamlining the approval process and creating actionable feedback to shift gears as needed.

Make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to strategy, content, and more with Ziflow. With robust markup features, status tracking, insight reporting, and other great tools, Ziflow will allow you to make the most of your multichannel marketing strategy. 

Work across multiple platforms quickly and efficiently by streamlining and automating the review process. Get started with Ziflow’s free trial now and effectively manage your next campaign.

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