Breaking Old Habits to Create an Effective Multichannel Approach

The questions that will get you on that journey

7 hands; each hand is a different color; each hand has a different symbol on the palm of the hand
Too many marketers overlook the tools available to help them connect with their audiences. iStock

I hesitate to distinguish multichannel marketing as something that needs to be contemplated, somehow separate from—what? Monochannel marketing?

When every element of media is one click away on a device that’s in your pocket or hand every waking moment of every day, the notion of channels is quaint. Media consumption is inherently multichannel, from app to site to social media and back again, offline to online, simultaneous phone cuddling and TV watching. And, therefore, so is all marketing.

Makes sense, right? So why do we as marketers still look at channels one at a time? Why is there a disconnect between what we know about marketing across channels and what we actually do?

Habit. I even catch myself doing it, almost every time I ask about ROI.

To clear my head of this monochannel myopia, I turn to a trusted recipe for using multiple channels to connect with prospects, convert prospects to customers and keep them coming back for more. Let’s walk through it.

What is your business objective?

What so many people miss is that marketing CRM systems can give you insight into what channels are best for reaching a particular target.

Get clear about what you want to achieve and how marketing on multiple channels will come into play. Do you want to build your brand and increase consideration when a need is triggered? Or do you engage when your prospects shift into shopping mode and are evaluating features and benefits versus the competition or across the category? Or place a down payment on the loyalty that you hope to earn after a purchase? When reconnection presents itself, how will you ensure that you’re well-positioned to benefit from the connection you’ve built?

Put another way, before you get started, zoom out to what your marketing investment is supposed to accomplish from a business perspective. Then you’re ready for the next step.

What is your target segment?

If you thought the next step was to pick channels, you’re not alone. This is where a lot of marketers tend to go astray. We jump right into an assumption about which channels to use before we’ve landed on a specific target segment.

Why does that matter?

What so many people miss is that marketing CRM systems can give you insight into what channels are best for reaching a particular target. If you can determine a segment, you can then use your marketing CRM to analyze which channels are most relevant. That along with some level of understanding of how prospects and customers might use a particular channel can help you make a more informed decision before you’ve invested any time in marketing tactics.

What channels work for the segment, and how will you handle attribution?

Analyze performance for all prior campaigns against a specific objective for a specific target. Do you have any prior campaigns that would be instructive for deciphering what works and what doesn’t?

Invariably, for all businesses, the tricky part is how to think about attribution when you’re building a multichannel campaign. While you might learn something from last click, first click or some other method, but I’ll let you in on a secret: Instead of focusing on the holy grail of attribution by channel, something that will never be clear or easy to find, it’s easier to think about the presence or absence of touchpoints along the journey.

Finally, with these insights in mind, you’re ready to develop a campaign across numerous touchpoints or experiences with a degree of confidence.

How will you evaluate success?

When you build a customer or prospect experience out of multiple channels, you’re really creating a recipe to drive conversion. You can evaluate business performance using ROI or CLV. Rather than evaluate channels individually, it’s best to evaluate them based on their presence in successful conversion journeys rather than on a stand-alone basis.

Marketing is all about making genuine, engaging content that connects with your audience. Each channel should be handled with care, but with a focus on the overall result or experience. A little bit of this channel and a little of that—you know, kind of like fine tuning ingredients to make a good cookie.

@tomklein Tom Klein is CMO at Mailchimp.