Multi-channel marketing is interacting with your customers using a combination of direct and indirect communication channels such as websites, retail stores, mail order catalogs, direct mail, email, mobile, etc. and enabling customers to use those channels to buy your product. To put it simply, multi-channel marketing is all about giving your customers choices. Marketers today are evolving and they need to implement multi-channel marketing solutions for customers who are in more than one place throughout the day in order to succeed.

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Multi-channel marketing is important because you simply have to be where your customers are. Nowadays, your customers are everywhere. Being that there is more option, multi-channel customers spend three to four times more than single-channel customers do. Today, customers have more control over the purchasing process than marketers do. Thanks to the rapid increase of available channels, customers have a lot more choices than ever before when it comes to how they want to get information. As the amount of channels continue to rise, the need to embrace multi-channel marketing will become a critical strategy for your company.

There are a four major types of channels in multi-channel marketing:

PRINT

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Print marketing is still very much relevant in this digital society. All we ever hear now, if it’s even mentioned at all, is how dead Print is. However, print is actually adapting in ways that coincide with the digital world. The infamous QR code allows customers to scan a physical piece of marketing which can take them to a desired (and trackable) website or social media page for further engagement. Augmented reality is another fantastic way Print and Digital marry up. What may appear to be a regular print advert in a magazine can suddenly spring to life by placing your iPad over it, greatly increasing the advert’s appeal. 

TV

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The way consumers watch TV is gradually shifting from cable to streaming. Younger generations may graduate college and purchase a TV solely for the purpose of binge watching entire seasons of series. While television itself will never die, it’s becoming easier than ever to online stream on your TVs, tablets, smartphones, and PCs. The industry is adjusting to accommodate the changing technology. In other words, the distinction between traditional television and streaming media is disappearing, to viewers and advertisers alike. As a result, marketers have a better chance than ever to reach customers.

Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus assume most online streamers go straight to their sites, and many of them do. But when a customer is interested in finding a TV show that doesn’t immediately come up in that service’s own search, that customer will often head to Google and enter the search terms, “Watch [Name of Show].” This search effort will typically put an ad for paid options at the top, followed by a variety sites featuring the show available to stream, with plenty of junk results mixed in. It’s a frustrating experience, as anyone who has ever searched for a TV episode or movie online can attest to. As the demand for streaming content continues to grow, and consumers set their sights beyond a handful of top streaming content providers, new aggregators are coming online that strike a balance between a search confined to a single provider like Netflix, and a search engine like Google that can deliver millions of results with varying degrees of relevancy.

DIGITAL

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Technology is changing quickly, and as a business owner, you need to be one step ahead. 2015, in particular, was a momentous year for companies and marketers. According to trends, the top 10 digital marketing developments that are going to be game changers from 2015 to 2016 are mobile SEO, wearable devices, Periscope and Meerkat, visual ad platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, buy buttons on social channels, Google adwords for small businesses, mobile in-feed promotions, targeting for custom and lookalike audiences, and machine learning for marketers in Twitter and Google integration.

OUTDOOR

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Outdoor marketing is simply advertising on billboards or signboards outside of a building and often by the roadside. Outdoor marketing is something you probably see every single day but you don’t realize it. Billboards are huge, especially in cities and major stretches of highways. When taking public transportation, you also see outdoor marketing because most stops now have signs with advertisements on them. It’s quite interesting to follow technology because even now, outdoor advertising is making a digital transformation. If you’re familiar with New York City’s Time Square where almost everything you see is a digital advertisement, you’re probably not going to think twice about seeing a digital advertisements on a bus stop.

Digital displays improve capacity utilization by increasing the number of advertisements that can be shown in one location. This allows companies to allocate and price advertising space/time more efficiently. For example, a retailer might be willing to pay more for an advertisement during the day when it is open and a nightclub might pay more through the night. Digital displays can also dynamically respond to the environment around them. For example, an advertisement for WalMart might show umbrellas if it is raining, shovels if it is snowing, and sunglasses if it is sunny. The process of changing static displays is highly manual – a crew needs to physically change what is on the display. The labor is expensive and the pre-planning is cumbersome. Digital displays, on the other hand, can be changed with the click of a button.


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Learning how to measure these channels is essential for your business. Direct mail is usually measured by response rates. Other metrics for this include qualified response rates from people that are serious about purchasing, order rates and customer acquisition costs. Email marketing’s common metrics include open rates, click-through rates, rates for delivering, earnings and forwards and unsubscribers. With event marketing, many marketers employ metrics to evaluate actual versus expected attendance, cost per lead, quality leads generated, conversions, and survey completion and abandonment. Website marketing is often sourced through Google Analytics, metrics for this tactic include total visits, new sessions, channel-specific traffic, and many more.

Multi-channel marketing online includes search engines, blogs, social networks, email and more. Offline includes print, TV, and radio, among others. Just being present on these channels does not make you successful. Marketers need to address their multi-channel marketing in several areas to be successful. You must clearly define your buyer persona(s) and get it as specific as you can. This will help marketers decide which channels to focus your efforts on. Marketers also need to be useful and helpful by sharing relevant, consumer-first content instead of pushing marketing messages.

All channels that marketers decide to use must work together. It’s not enough to just set up and use Twitter, Facebook, email, a website, and a blog if they don’t work in harmony to attract and convert business. The same consumer will move across all of these places quickly, so you strategy and your analytics need to adapt similarly. Given consumers use multiple platforms (social, email, blogs) and devices (desktop, tablet, smartphone) to get their content, marketers implementing multi-channeling efforts will need a responsive website so that their audience will have easy and uniform access to all that the marketers have to offer them.

Your end goal in this consumer-first world is to step beyond just being present on multiple channels and start connecting them all together into one, thriving, multi-channel approach to marketing.


The Walt Disney Company is a huge example of how to utilize multi-channel marketing to its finest.

Disney gets multi-channel marketing right down to the smallest details. It starts with your initial experience on the entertainment giant’s beautiful, mobile-responsive website. Even their trip-planning website works well on mobile. That alone is something you don’t see happening very often.

Once you’ve booked a trip, you can use the My Disney Experience mobile app to plan your entire trip, from where you’ll dine to securing your FastPass+. In the park, you can use the app to locate the attractions you want to see, as well as view the estimated wait time for each of them.

The imaginative company takes it one step further with the release of its MagicBand program. You can use your all-in-one MagicBand to access Disney theme parks, unlock your Disney Resort hotel room, check in at FastPass+ entrances for previously selected attractions and entertainment, store any pictures taken of you with Disney characters, make payments at shops and restaurants and more. Plus, as a Resort hotel Guest, you can even customize a MagicBand with your name and choice of 7 colors!

That’s a truly multi-channel marketing experience, and it’s a privilege to see Disney leading the way!

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One of Disney’s greatest examples of multi-channel marketing is when they were getting ready for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The marketing push was so big that it was virtually impossible not to realize a new Star Wars movie was on the way. The team at Disney has masterminded this campaign from the moment they announced the film.

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With video, they were relentless, both online and on television. It started with the 88 seconds of footage they first teased more than a year ago (a year ago!), then the longer second teaser that dropped in April. The official trailer debuted in October and it was playing on countless TV spots. It seemed like every few days there was a new version released with just a few seconds of exclusive never-before-seen footage. With each version, the anticipation and excitement only grew, and of course it left you wanting more, hoping for the next few seconds in a few days. The cast made the rounds on the talk show circuit and timed it all perfectly.

In print, they fed the machine first with original content by way of new novels and comic series that told the story of what supposedly happened in the 30 years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Many of the comics focused on single characters with exclusive series dedicated to Vader, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and Lando. On top of that, Disney has controlled and timed the releases of exclusive interviews and photos with publications like Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Fortune, Empire and Time. Each new set of photos has given us something new to talk about.

The force was strong in the digital and mobile space, where the content plan ran at a different speed. It was much faster, much more conversational and fluid. With starwars.com as the hub and social platforms —yes, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but also a super cool Tumblr blog and even a well-managed presence on Google+—as the spokes, there were new pieces to the story revealed multiple times a day. We shouldn’t forget that brands have to earn their way into users’ social feeds. Star Wars earned its way into those feeds and the right to stay by publishing and sharing great content. A new app was launched, games arrived, and all feeding elements of the overall story Disney was telling.

They even used events like Comic-Con and Star Wars Celebration to further feed the frenzy. Disney streamed live on YouTube, revealing cast members and characters, teasing future films, and essentially bringing fans into the experience as if they were family. They launched toys before the movie release and before the critical holiday shopping season, making that an event in and of itself by labeling it  “Force Friday,” and bringing key partners like Amazon, Target and Toys “R” Us into the mix, then mistakenly (perhaps?) revealing minor plot details on some of the toy packaging.

The brand partnerships were big and bold and really pinned their only hopes for holiday marketing campaigns on Star Wars. Covergirl, Duracell, General Mills, HP, Subway and Verizon launched major efforts and timed those launches in a way that engaged consumers and fans with products and ads that provided as much unique new content as some of the official work coming directly from Disney.

The content was atomized incredibly well. Disney remained true to the brand through all of this, threading storylines that built upon each other and easily created even more content. But what’s most interesting here is that it seems that Disney subscribed to the “two-speed marketing” theory. Of course there was an ad campaign to promote the movie. That is a well-orchestrated time-bound effort. But the real difference here has been what they accomplished with continuous, more organic effort online and on social platforms in particular. That ran at a much higher speed, and the two speeds worked in perfect concert to amplify the entire effort, and that’s really what Disney did right. Perhaps the most amazing part is that they managed this without really revealing the main storyline of the movie. This is such a fantastic case study in modern marketing.

Multi-channel marketing is vital for your company and for your customers. You always want to give your customers the best experience possible and that should be through all types of media that your company uses. Experiences are key to the success or failure of your business. Giving a great experience to a customer ensures that they will spread the word about your company. There are plenty of theme parks and coffee shops out there but the reason why Disney is the top of the list is because of their use of multi-channel marketing. They provide the easiest methods to guarantee a positive experience. Using technology as well as in-person aide not only allows a person to have a positive experience, but also provides the greatest convenience to plan future activities and trips. This ensures that they have a larger return rate.

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