Multichannel marketing may sound like another buzzword, but it’s an important one for retailers to pay attention to. The marketing experts at ThriveHive define multichannel marketing as “a game plan for guiding your efforts across multiple channels of outreach, used to ensure that your time, money, and energy are well-spent and directed toward achieving the goals you define.”
Multichannel marketing is a way of using online and offline strategies to effectively target and communicate with customers. Many business owners or marketers struggle with integrating the two, or feel like they can only focus on one. However, marketing is not an all-or-nothing process. A hybrid approach to online (like social media marketing) and offline methods (like print marketing) can be easy to manage, while providing you with more effective marketing opportunities.
Implement these tips into your strategy to easily build multichannel marketing into your business.
1. Understand Your Customer Profile
The first step to multichannel marketing is a thorough understanding of your target audience, and where/when to reach them. To create customer profiles, complete a situational analysis, which can be as simple as asking yourself a few important questions. For example, this is how a modern office furniture retailer might do this:
- What type of audience are we trying to reach online? Young, millennials business owners and entrepreneurs, that need home-office items.
- What platforms and methods are most effective to reach those online prospects? LinkedIn as a platform and invest in content marketing via thought leadership articles and paid ads.
- What prospects do we hope to reach offline? At local-level networking events, (mixers, chambers of commerce, business fairs), we hope to reach small business owners with physical business locations.
- What strategies or marketing materials can we create to reach offline prospects? Invest in business cards to distribute contact info and brochures that clearly explain our products with a call-to-action (CTA) and social proof.
- What are our competitors doing? With some research, we found our competitors are also attending local events, but they print materials aren’t exciting and they don’t have a strong digital presence.
This quick analysis can be informal, yet extremely useful to identify your target audience and build a multichannel approach to reach them where they pay the most attention. Most importantly, pay attention to how you can outperform your competitors in one area or another, which is how you can outshine them.
2. Develop Cohesive Branding
Comprehensive branding provides a consistent customer experience, especially as potential customers move from digital to offline experiences. Whether someone visits your website, connects with you at an event, or stops into your store, they need to experience the same messaging to make your brand memorable.
To do this, develop a brand guide for images or graphics, and a tone of voice for all content, from social media captions to blog posts. For a deep dive on how to create a brand guide, refer to Thrive Agency’s guide. When all channels are in harmony, you’ll represent a seamless brand image, which will increase customer recognition and overtime, trust.
3. Leverage Print Marketing
Print marketing may not seem necessary, but all retailers—both national and local—can benefit from this traditional format, using direct mail campaigns to reach local audiences or distributing brochures at events. In Marketing Materials Every Business Needs Year Round, Jason Frueh, founder of MyCreativeShop, suggests that critical printed materials include:
- Business cards: for networking
- Brochures: for conferences and local events
- Flyers: to promote seasonal events or promotions
- Postcards: for direct mailing within your community
- Branded envelopes and letterheads: for invoicing and working with vendors or VIP customers
Make a list of the materials most important to your business and start designing them, keeping your branded colors, fonts and messaging in mind. This is when your brand guide will be most helpful to maintain the seamless experience from in-person to print and online.
4. Use Social Proof
Potential customers trust a brand or retailer more when others follow them or highly review their products. For example, 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses, and on average they read ten online reviews before they feel they can trust the brand, according to a survey from Bright Local.
Social proof can be any type of content that proves your brand’s worth or shows that you have a dedicated fan base, like testimonials or social posts from customers.
Include this content on all your channels, website and marketing collateral where possible. Don’t forget to link to your social platforms from your website, allowing potential customers to quickly navigate to your pages, and see your followers and branding and testimonials.
5. Nurture Leads from All Channels
Engagement, both offline and online, is the best way to drive and nurture leads. While it’s important to encourage people to engage with you, it’s even more important to see those who are engaging as potential leads—which means you need to nurture the relationships as they develop.
For example, if you have someone comment on a LinkedIn post, thank them in a comment. Conversely, when you exchange business cards at a networking event or trade show, you need to send a follow-up email.
Focus on building sincere connections both online and offline, even if someone doesn’t feel like a slam-dunk potential customer. You never know where it will lead, who they’ll know or what value they can provide. Build out your network and genuinely engage to harness the full potential of your multichannel marketing campaigns.
Bonus: Don’t Forget to Go Omni
With your multichannel marketing strategy in place, you can’t forget about integrating them all so the shopper’s experience is seamless, whether they’re in your store or online. Branwell Moffat, Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce contributor, says:
“I don’t see a retailer’s stores and website as different companies or silos, but often my experience across one channel is completely separated from another channel. I want to be able to interact with the brand online, through social, on my mobile, or in-store, and I want each of these interactions to be unified.”
Moffat gives examples of being able to order online inventory in-store or using “click and collect” to buy online and pick up at a local location. The challenge: there are many barriers to going fully omnichannel, including cost, technology, and culture—if the company leaders don’t see the value, it won’t happen.
One way you can start pulling these pieces together is by using a tool like Music Shop 360, that brings many touch points into one place where you can manage them all. By stepping into this mindset, and learning how omnichannel works for your business, you can begin to build a strategy that allows for a seamless customer experience, between all channels.
Implement MultiChannel Marketing Into Your Business Strategy
Multichannel doesn’t mean you have to be everywhere at once. Instead, you want to genuinely connect and share your brand with a broader audience, reaching potential customers through all possible channels, from events to social media and print marketing.