How to Build a Powerful Cross-Channel Marketing Strategy
Aug 2, 2022|Read time: 10 min.
- Cross-channel marketing helps brands maintain a conversation with customers as they move through multiple marketing channels.
- Cross-channel marketing campaigns allow brands to better track customer touch points and marketing ROI.
- Through cross-channel marketing, brands can create more personalized and meaningful customer experiences.
Today, brands can no longer expect to reach customers through a single channel. We know customers research their problems, discover solutions, and consider their purchases on multiple platforms before they commit to a decision.
That means brands have to be everywhere at once, appealing to customers through multiple communication channels at each stage of the funnel.
Cross-channel marketing helps brands reach today’s customers wherever they are, unifying your strategy across channels and platforms. The results are increased brand awareness, enhanced user experiences, and better engagement.
What is cross-channel marketing?
Cross-channel marketing allows brands to reach customers across several online and offline marketing channels, including social media, email, direct mail, mobile apps, websites, and organic search.
The purpose of cross-channel marketing is for your customers to have a consistent experience with your brand no matter what platform they’re on. It also allows your brand to maintain a conversation with users as they move through the marketing funnel.
Cross-channel vs. multi-channel vs. omnichannel marketing
Although all three terms have to do with customer experience across channels, cross-channel, multi-channel, and omnichannel marketing are all separate concepts.
Multi-channel marketing is a more general term, referring to the use of a variety of channels that carry out different campaigns in isolation. Through multi-channel marketing campaigns, your email marketing strategy may address different topics and have separate goals from your social media strategy.
Through cross-channel marketing, brands will use various channels to address a single topic, goal, or campaign. Each channel is used to maintain a consistent conversation and connect with customers on their preferred platforms.
For example, a customer who orders items off a brand’s website may later receive an SMS push notification when their order has shipped, and another when it’s been delivered. Then, they could receive an email asking them to rate and review the purchase.
With omnichannel marketing, your channels are seamlessly integrated and working together. Channels are so interconnected that customers could use multiple channels at the same time. For example, customers in your store could use their phones to scan QR codes to learn more about specific products. Once they’ve done their research in-store, they’re ready to make a purchase.
Benefits of cross-channel marketing
Customers no longer make decisions based on one brand interaction. The customer journey occurs on websites, mobile apps, and in-store, as customers consider their options. It takes multiple touch points to build brand awareness, recognition, and, ultimately, trust with your target audience.
A cross-channel marketing strategy makes these outcomes possible. Your brand is communicating with your customers everywhere they spend time. As a result, you’ll intentionally connect with more customers on more platforms because you’ve created an integrated experience they want to engage with.
Greater brand awareness throughout the funnel
A key benefit of cross-channel marketing is the brand awareness and recognition you build with customers. When you appear on multiple social media platforms, in their email inbox, and on their TV screen, your brand becomes impossible to ignore.
A robust cross-channel marketing strategy keeps customers in contact with your brand as they move through the customer journey. This ensures customers think of your brand the moment they realize they have a problem, and they continue to form a connection with you until they’re ready to make a purchase.
In this way, it’s similar to full-funnel marketing.
A seamless experience across different channels
Without a cross-channel strategy, you risk sending mixed signals to consumers about who your brand is, the problems you solve, and the products you sell.
If your target audience sees a marketing message about one product on social media, then sees a different product message in a mass email campaign, they may not recognize your brand in both places. A lack of consistency creates confusion and doesn’t help your brand awareness efforts.
But with cross-channel marketing, customers pick up the conversation where they left off from platform to platform. Eventually, consumers won’t even realize they’re interacting with you on different channels, they’ll only see the common thread of your brand.
Personalized touch points to engage customers
Cross-channel marketing is about creating more meaningful brand interactions. People won’t build a relationship with your company based on increased brand visibility alone. And they don’t want generic, one-size-fits-all content. What they want, and will remember, are personalized experiences.
If you cater to your customers as individuals, they will form an emotional connection with your brand. The rest is simple — when customers enjoy coming in contact with your brand, they’re more likely to convert and return for another purchase.
Furthermore, it’s critical to maintain consistency across all customer touch points so your audience feels at home with your brand no matter where they are.
How to create a cross-channel marketing strategy
Creating a sophisticated cross-channel marketing strategy may be challenging, but the results will improve customer engagement and your marketing return on investment (ROI).
1. Gather and unify customer data
Before you can begin executing cross-channel marketing, you need to collect and unify all your customer data. You can’t create meaningful, personalized customer experiences if you don’t have a clear understanding of who your customers are and where they spend the most time.
Once you compile your customer data, you should ensure it is all in one place in order to avoid information silos.
For this step, you can invest in a customer data platform (CDP) or use the capabilities of your customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Centralizing your customer data reveals how your audience interacts with your brand regardless of which channels customers use.
2. Identify customer segments
Compiling your data on one CDP will make it easier to create relevant customer segments. Customer segments are customer groups divided based on demographics like:
- Life stage (single, married, retired, etc.)
Creating customer segments is important to your cross-channel strategy because they help you identify patterns and user behavior trends, and create comprehensive buyer personas. For example, you may recognize the common age of your social media followers compared to which age groups are more likely to convert on your website vs. your mobile app.
After you create customer segments, you’ll be able to identify commonalities to later improve your overall digital marketing strategy.
3. Map the customer journey
After you define your customer segments, gather insights about their behavior.
Analyze how cohorts with similar demographics and interests interact with key digital marketing channels. Then, map the customer journey from awareness to purchase. If you understand who your customers are, and the journeys they take, then you can connect with them more strategically.
They say “timing is everything,” and that’s especially true in marketing. It’s not enough to simply get in front of your audience. You need to be present in the moments they’re ready to make a decision.
4. Develop a cross-channel content strategy
After you map the buyer’s journey from a high level, you begin to think about your entire content marketing strategy. Consider which types of content will resonate with customers at each stage of the journey.
Across all channels, your content should continue the same conversation but take different formats. For example, an influencer marketing campaign on TikTok may discuss the same product as an email with customer reviews. But those pieces of content will look different and appear to customers at different times.
5. Use marketing automation
Utilizing the right technology can help you streamline content and improve the experience for your customers. To do this, you should invest in marketing automation that you can set and forget.
For example, if a customer leaves your website and abandons an item in their online cart, your technology will automatically send them an email reminding them it’s there. In many cases, customers are thankful for the reminder — resulting in a positive interaction with your brand.
Once your campaigns are automated, your team can focus on reviewing and optimizing performance.
6. Set up multi-touch attribution
When you analyze your cross-channel strategy, it’s important to understand how each channel and piece of content performs. That’s where multi-touch attribution can help.
Multi-touch attribution provides insight into how each touch point led to a conversion event. It allows you to look at the customer journey holistically and make decisions. In order to judge whether your strategy is successful, you’ll need to choose a multi-attribution model and set it up.
7. Track and optimize KPIs
Once you have your strategy in place, ensure you’re tracking the best metrics and setting your key performance indicators (KPIs). These metrics help you determine the success of your strategy.
The metrics you track should help your marketing team understand the ROI of your cross-channel strategy. Then, you can make informed decisions about how to further optimize your approach.
Examples of brands using cross-channel marketing
Consider these cross-channel marketing examples to get a better understanding of how these strategies play out in real time.
Cross-channel marketing for SAAS brands
Large software as a service (SAAS) brands have been executing creative and successful cross-channel marketing strategies for years. One example of how SAAS brands may create a cross-channel campaign may go as follows:
Create content target customers will discover through organic search
When problem solvers at your target businesses encounter a problem, they will likely turn to Google to do research. Using search engine optimization (SEO), you can optimize your blog posts or static content to rank for queries related to your solutions.
Then, your target audience will easily discover your content during their research. Even if they don’t convert off the initial visit, you’ve built brand awareness and trust based on the interaction.
Run paid retargeting ads that promote downloadable content
After potential customers come to your website through organic search, you’ll be able to retarget them with pay-per-click (PPC) ads. You’ll also have an understanding of what their pain points are based on the article they viewed on your site.
Your next step will be to set up retargeting ads that offer downloadable content speaking to their initial pain point. After they click on the ad, they’ll need to enter their email address to download the content. Again, you’ll have built trust with the target audience and offered them useful content that addressed their individual problem.
Use email marketing to push them towards conversion
Once you have the email address of your target audience, you can set up email automation to remain in contact. In the email sequence, you can continue to address their problem and explain how your services can solve it. At the end of the sequence, you may offer to set up a meeting to keep the conversation going and further pitch your solution.
Cross-channel marketing for retail brands
Retail brands are also taking the intelligent approach to improve user experience through cross-channel marketing. Below is an example of how retail brands can execute a cross-channel campaign:
Create a content strategy that brings customers to your website
To connect with customers at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, you can create an SEO-driven content strategy. Target customers will turn to Google or another search engine to solve their problems.
If you create content that addresses that problem head-on, you’ll be first in line to meet them. This sets up a trust-worthy experience that target customers will want to return to in the future.
Influencer marketing social media campaign
Customers who discover your brand in organic search may later see your products endorsed by an influencer on social media. Influencer marketing is a powerful tool, and the right influencer can greatly increase the likelihood your target customers will convert. Influencers can offer an affiliate link to your e-commerce site, so customers can easily navigate to a product page and make a purchase.
Offer in-store sign-ups for customer retention
When customers come to pick up their online order in the store or make an in-store purchase, the goal should be to retain their business in the future. To keep them coming back, you can offer a customer loyalty or rewards program that incentivizes future purchases. Then, you can stay in contact by sending special offers, coupons, and more via email or direct mail.
Cross-channel marketing FAQs
Cross-channel marketing is a strategy that helps brands communicate a unified message to customers across several online and offline marketing channels, including social media, email, direct mail, mobile apps, websites, and organic search.
Cross-channel marketing can help improve your brand’s marketing ROI, brand awareness, customer engagement, and user experience.