What is multichannel marketing?
Multichannel marketing refers to marketing efforts utilising multiple communication channels to engage with customers and prospects. The way it’s enacted varies but there are two general approaches:
- Channel-led approach: seek to optimise performance by executing best practices on each channel used
- Contact-led approach: build out audience segments for contacts, then send individuals messages designed to drive actions across different channels.
The predominant approach was historically channel-led multichannel marketing, given that it’s the most straightforward. To optimise, marketers simply look at past performance in each channel then analyse whether new campaigns fare better or worse. The downside is that channel strategy is disjointed, making it hard to deliver a cohesive experience to individuals who engage across multiple channels. It can also make it hard to work out which channels really drive performance.
An increasing number of businesses now leverage contact-led multichannel-marketing thanks to advances in supporting technologies. This approach allows marketers to align messages to key moments among customers and prospects, improving the chances of driving actions.
How to begin with a contact-led approach
Establishing a contact-led approach begins with data work. It’s impossible to garner the insights required to send timely, relevant messages to contacts without connecting datasets.
This normally involves one or more martech platforms that streamline the process for marketers and data technicians. Look into what platforms enable you to deliver campaigns with more focus on audience segments. Using Customer Data Management Technologies for Better Customer Experiences (clients only) is a great starting point if you’re trying to work out which route to take with your martech stack.
Once you’ve done that, investigate options for multichannel marketing hubs (MMHs). Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Multichannel Marketing Hubs (clients only) is the best resource available for that.
Beyond the technology, there are a lot of pitfalls to avoid as you make the switch, given this will eventually result in a large change to marketing processes. It’s worth reading Optimize Your Approach to Personalization: Crawl, Walk, Run (clients only) for a really good overview of considerations to make progress.
Moving beyond basics: how to execute excellence
Among other things, Gartner’s 2021 CMO Spend Survey (clients only) highlights how CMOs are increasingly focused on leveraging first-party data. To increase your contact list, identify why an individual would want to give you their data in the first place. To nurture contacts over a longer period, the key is why they would want you to keep it.
Moving beyond the basics means not just thinking about data you capture initially in a contact interaction, but what other data you can use to improve your ability to deliver relevant messages.
Put another way: if you’re aiming to drive a competitive advantage through a contact-led multichannel marketing strategy, you need to think through not just how to execute campaigns to contacts but how to continuously improve and utilise contact data. Without doing that, you may be able to send well-timed messages based on occasional events but with a limit to how well you nurture contacts.
There’s a great example of Bank of America in our 2021 Email Benchmark report of how they’re using their AI chatbot to collect data on users’ requirements to deliver service recommendations and how this feeds supplementary messages in a virtuous circle. It’s not a one-and-done approach, but a holistic approach that utilises mobile and email touchpoints together.
That’s the real skill here – not just delivering messages across channels, but creating a strategy that leverages the best aspects of different channels and combines them to deliver an excellent customer experience.