With the plethora of platforms available to marketing professionals, sending a unified message across each communication channel seems like a no-brainer approach. However, while channel synchronicity can be effective, it comes with a big risk: your message growing stale.
Cross-channel marketing, conversely, revolves around telling a unique story in each channel. It’s about assessing the strengths of every platform and determining the best way to capture that all-important “yes” from the consumer. In turn, cross-channel marketing can help shift your focus to bigger goals: getting more consumers in the door and holding on to them.
Pervasive vs. Persuasive
Successful cross-channel marketers understand that an effective strategy doesn’t just rely on multiple mediums. They don’t send emails, flyers, or tweets with a one-size-fits-all message and pray it reaches the right people. Instead, these messages must all converge into a cohesive whole. Striking that balance is the art of an effective cross-channel campaign.
Truth be told, cross-channel strategies existed before the wide array of platforms that are commonly used today. For example, back in the ’90s, AOL made its mark with installation discs. The cross-channel approach of sending discs through the mail and activating offers online found great success. At the time, AOL was logging new subscribers every six seconds.
Recently, Mercedes-Benz developed an equally effective cross-channel strategy. The company ran an ad for its CLA model during the Super Bowl, along with a series of Facebook ads connected to related video content. This led to Mercedes-Benz attracting 82 percent of prospects who had previously patronized the competition.
Marketers at AOL and Mercedes-Benz understood that a compelling cross-channel strategy utilizes each channel in the best way possible.
5 Steps to Decide Between Cross-Channel and Synchronous Strategies
Consider the following to help you decide whether the traditional, synchronous strategy is best or you’re ready to take on the challenge of cross-channel marketing:
1. Think Long Term
Before you get too attached to your marketing preference, don’t forget about the long-term commitment that’s required to see it through. It takes around 45 days for someone to retain new information, and you’ll need to deliver the message to your base the entire time.
Make sure to test your plan. Have you thought through every contingency? Check yourself with this simple question: “What’s the situation we don’t want to find ourselves in?” In addition, think about replicability. If a marketing approach works, what will be your next steps? Keep in mind that a limited, overly specialized plan is more likely to struggle over the long haul.
2. Consider the Context Long Term
In the past 11 years, media’s effect on sales has risen from 15 to 36 percent. This means snappy taglines and eye-catching images aren’t enough anymore. However, connecting your creative to the cultural zeitgeist of your industry can help you determine the most effective marketing tools.
Find a team member who can sense-check everything your company sends out, specifically focusing on tone, voice, and deliverability. Then, test your creative through pre-launch initiatives, such as a usability study that helps ensure you don’t have to rescind the offer due to poor message execution.
3. Monitor Your Competitors
Your optimal strategy might have been in front of you the whole time. Knowing what’s attracting your competitors’ customers, for instance, can give you as much insight into their world as possible. That’s what Cisco did to earn a 281 percent ROI. After monitoring customers’ reactions to certain keywords and events, the company predicted a new wave of future trends.
4. Plan Ahead
Even if your strategy works, the battle will have only just begun. Remember, you’ll need to deliver on the promises you made to attract your customers in the first place. At this point, consumers are through the metaphorical door, and it’s time to make a “second sale.”
Consider how AOL evolved into its own “second sale,” expanding far beyond the original premise of an email service. Look at your company and identify its innovation schedule. Are you at the AOL disc phase, the service phase, or the reinvention phase? Take notes of your progress, and create action steps for the future to encourage your own evolution.
5. Align Your Team
Hatching the perfect vision for your prospects is one thing, but getting your team to agree is another. It doesn’t help that 44 percent of workers are subpar at transferring information across teams.
Resolve this alignment issue by asking, “Is collaboration a dream or a reality in your organization?” If team collaboration could use some work, don’t just send an email about it. Talk with your team leaders and, most importantly, listen to what they have to say. Your perfect vision might be lost in translation.
You can spend hours debating the differences between cross-channel and synchronized marketing, but all that matters is that your customers respond to your message. Don’t take this marketing decision lightly, but also don’t dwell on it so much that you find yourself stuck in analysis paralysis. By using the steps above, you can be confident in figuring out which strategy works best for what’s ahead.