Creating Success In Multi-Channel Marketing

In the past, multi-channel marketing meant linking newspaper, magazine, and television ads with billboards, store promotions, telemarketing, and direct mail initiatives. However, since the advent of the Internet, multi-channel marketing efforts have shifted to include various forms of digital content as well. Videos, blog posts, and podcasts can be shared across multiple platforms, including social media, websites, and email.

Successful multi-channel marketers can quickly identify the channels their target audience uses, allowing for a greater understanding of how to optimally move from one channel to another, creating robust consumer marketing experiences. Through WSU’s Executive MBA program, students have the opportunity to learn about today’s complex business challenges to better understand multi-channel marketing solutions from an executive-level.

Benefits of Multi-Channel Marketing

A successful multi-channel approach results in a seamless, personalized experience for consumers. Online shoppers prefer the seamless experience because disjointed marketing can appear sloppy and unprofessional.

Citing a recent MyBuys report, a post, “Shoppers Want Integration, Retailers And Marketers Not Delivering It,” said, “72 percent of consumers want an integrated marketing approach, yet only 39 percent actually experience one.”

Since multi-channel marketing makes shopping easier and more pleasant for consumers, it often leads to higher conversion rates. Retailers that successfully used multi-channel marketing were able to attract and retain more customers than competitors who used only a single medium, a Harvard Business School study found. Thus, marketers should be motivated to deliver a multi-channel personalized experience to online shoppers.

Below are highlights from several well-known brands that have properly built fully functioning multi-channel marketing plans:

• Walgreens found that 82 percent of customers who chatted online to a pharmacist filled their prescriptions at the store. These in-store visits highlight the multi-channel conversion from online shopper to brick-and-mortar consumer.
• Disney incorporates all facets of multi-channel marketing, from trip-planning apps and direct mailers to the Disney Parks Moms Panel (an online forum that provides hints and tips for traveling families) to MagicBands, waterproof wristbands that provide instant access to theme park tickets, credit cards, and hotel-room keys.
• Starbucks allows customers to order remotely (online) for a quick in-store pickup and also provides rewards cards that allow customers to pay via a smartphone app while earning points toward free items.

Building A Winning Strategy

According to a recent study by Experian, 89 percent of companies cite difficulties accomplishing cross-channel marketing plans. Problem areas include poor data quality, the lack of technical tools, and the inability to link various types of technology.

At the same time, consumers are moving faster than some companies can keep up. Google found 90 percent of people who own multiple devices move between screens before deciding on a purchase. Businesses have to keep pace with these changes to ensure brands connect through varying channels.

Four tactics that can help create and guide a winning multi-channel strategy are:

1. Focusing On The Customer

A marketing message that encompasses the company’s value is something customers look for first when moving from channel to channel. Conducting research on previous campaigns, customer feedback, and demographics will allow marketers to identify how customers view their brand and adjust their marketing assets as necessary.

2. Tracking Automation

Collecting user data to develop unique customer profiles for marketers is extremely valuable for retargeting. Also known as remarketing, retargeting helps brands keep their ads in front of people who visited their company website, but didn’t make a purchase or otherwise interact with the site. A well-known example of retargeting are the ads for products/services that appear on customers’ Facebook pages or Twitter feeds after they previously browsed them on companies’ websites.

Salesforce, Tune, and Mixpanel are three of the tracking services that allow companies to turn their data into customized experiences that follow consumers across multiple platforms. With a customer relationship management (CRM) program businesses can keep all of their client interactions in one easy-to-use location and implement a consistent multi-channel marketing approach.

3. Using A Consistent Approach

Creating a consistent customer experience across all channels of marketing is imperative. Whether the brand is presented online, in person, or over the phone, customers view the business as a whole. To gather valuable customer data, companies must use consistent marketing plans across all channels to assess what works.

4. Redefining Customer Value

In business, the word “value” often means finances, but in the world of multi-channel marketing, customer value can be measured in a variety of other forms, including positive reviews or comments on social media. Shoppers who connect with a brand are more likely to buy from the brand – and prompt others to do so as well, acting as brand advocates.

Four tactics that multi-channel marketers can use to engage shoppers and turn them into advocates for the brand are:
• SEO: Search engine optimization uses keywords and narrowly focused content to drive organic (unpaid) and paid traffic to a site. The right keywords provide a direct path to a site.
• Social media: Effective social media promotion can make brands appear more human and creates trust among shoppers, encouraging more sales. At the same time, customers who share positive opinions about an online shopping experience drive up sales by increasing interest in the site and promoting a positive reputation.
• Email marketing: Personalized emails can make people more receptive to direct sales, according to Larry Freed, president of Forsee Results, a customer survey firm.
• Optimization for mobile usage: Larger call-to-action buttons and images that automatically resize to fit mobile phone devices offer customers a pleasant experience and encourages them to share their opinion with others.

The Multi-Channel Marketing End Game

To truly succeed at multi-channel marketing, a marketer must make sure all channels offer customers a uniform look, feel, and experience. Channels must be easily connected so customers can quickly move from one to the other without getting sidetracked, leading to the loss of a potential sale. Consistent brand messaging across channels acts as a unifying factor that can keep customers coming back.

Once the various channels are running effectively, and key data is being tabulated and retained by the tracking software and placed into a personalized CRM, the marketer can optimize the results for delivering strategies and content development that retain value and provide overall results to the customer.


Contemporary marketing strategies, including multi-channel marketing, are an important part of the curriculum at Washington State University. With courses delivered from an executive's point of view, online Executive MBA students study the advanced practices and principles that guide today's most successful business leaders. For more information, visit WSU’s online EMBA degree website.

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