Multi-Channel Marketing 101: How Does Cross-Channel Marketing Work?


Today we’re talking about multi-channel marketing – what it is, why it matters, and how to use it in order to better your business.

multichannel marketing strategy

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Multi-Channel Marketing Definition

Multi-channel marketing is the practice of using multiple channels to reach customers. Also known as cross-channel marketing, multi-channel marketing also makes it easy for customers to complete desired conversions on whatever medium they are most comfortable with. Multi-channel marketing lets the user decide, giving them a choice.

In today’s modern marketing era, there are many channels a business can take advantage of in order to reach potential customers. These channels include:

Why is Multi-Channel Marketing Important?

This huge assortment of marketing channels means that your potential customers could anywhere – and you need to be where they are. As the number of potential marketing channels grows even further (and you can bet that it will), designing multi-channel marketing campaigns will continue to be key for reigning in top-tier customers.

multi channel marketing companies

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Did you know that multi-channel customers spend three to four times more than single-channel customers? Don’t let those valuable users slip through the cracks.

Cross-Channel Marketing: Coordinating Between Channels

While technically multichannel marketing, at its most basic understanding, is about simply marketing across different channels, the greatest success comes from creating cohesive cross-channel marketing strategies. This seamless approach to marketing across various channels guides potential customers towards engagement and moves them down the funnel.

Mashable reported last year that 72% of consumers prefer an integrated marketing approach, yet some businesses are still hesitant to dive into cross-channel marketing. The key is to avoid the silo mentality – your channel campaigns should be integrated together.

multi channel marketing examples

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Which Channels Work Well Together?

Some channels work better together than others. MediaPost released a report earlier this year that examined the most frequent media pairings for adults age 18-64. The most popular multi-channel marketing pairings were:

  • Computer / Mobile
  • TV / Mobile
  • Computer / TV
  • Radio / Mobile
  • Computer / Radio

While Computer / Mobile was the most popular pairing during work hours (9am – 5pm), TV / Mobile rises ahead in the evening (5pm – 11pm).

The research graph below isn’t too well done – it’s difficult to interpret, but you can get the general idea – the top orange line is Computer / Mobile, which peaks in the daytime and then loses ground to the blue line at night, representing TV / Mobile. It’s interesting to note that the Computer / Mobile pairing’s lowest point of activity is weekend evenings.

multi channel marketing graph

As we can see, there’s a lot of multi-device activity happening in a consumer’s life. Taking advantage of multi-channel marketing is the best way to capitalize on these trends.

Let’s look at some further examples of cohesive multichannel marketing.

Multi Channel Marketing Examples

AdWords PPC Ad Extensions: AdWords PPC ad extensions allow for easy multichannel marketing. The Click-to-Call Extension adds a phone number to ads, integrating PPC and mobile activity. The PPC Offer Extension lets advertisers add a coupon to a PPC ad, allowing users to print out the coupon to use at a brick and mortar location, merging physical and online activity.

multi channel marketing tips

Direct Mail Featuring URLs: Some mail order catalogs feature pages that push viewers to the businesses’ website, offering (for example) a 15% discount on online orders using the code: MAILOFFER. This coupling is popular because some users would rather order online, but prefer to browse product offerings in print (just as many avid readers prefer books to e-readers).

Television Hashtags: Many television shows have begun taking advantage of the 2nd screen effect (watching TV while simultaneously using a 2nd, smaller device, like a smartphone or tablet) by adding a Twitter hashtag overlay during shows to encourage Twitter follower discussion online.

benefits multi channel marketing

Image from Twitter

After Nielsen reports that 1/3 of active Twitter users tweet about TV, Bravo started airing “social editions” of their shows, in which Twitter and Facebook comments appear on TV reruns. These socialized episodes are said to have increased ratings and social engagement for Bravo.

This practice of having specific hashtags promoted during TV shows has become so popular that Twitter has a whole guide dedicated to helping TV networks run a successful hashtag campaign.

Here’s a video snippet from the guide (note: the guide actually covers more than just hashtags – it also discusses using @handles, live-tweeting, and other ways to utilize Twitter on TV).

Advertisers have also implemented multichannel marketing promotion by adding hashtags to their TV advertisements, especially for ads that are expected to get a large number of viewers at once, like ads that appear during the Super Bowl.

channel marketing

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crosschannel promotion

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Benefits of Multi-Channel Marketing

More Attention: Having your foot in so many doors means you’ll get more customers and brand recognition. Investing in one channel can increase interest in your business through other channels; for example, we've found that advertising on YouTube can increase regular Google searches for your brand name by 420%!

cross-channel marketing benefits

Customers Can Use Their Favorite Medium: Giving people choices regarding how they will interact with your business means they can use the medium they are most comfortable with, increasing your chances of seeing completed conversions.

More Touch Points: Having more touch points in your marketing funnel allows you to collect more data. This data can help you develop a better understanding of where your promotions work best and measure your success.

Your Brand Stays Consistent: Using multi-channel marketing means your brand can stay consistent across mediums, since you are managing your business’s reputation across all areas.

Difficulties of Multi-Channel Marketing

While providing customers with multiple mediums and channels to interact with your business as a tremendous advantage, there are some drawbacks:

Your Business May Prefer a Specific Channel: There may be one medium that you prefer, but with multi-channel marketing, you lose the control of funneling users to one specific medium. For example, a good salesman can usually obtain more sales with a telephone conversation than a web site can by encouraging cross sales. Many users prefer to order online, but would phone sales get more conversions?

More Moving Parts to Manage: With so many channels and so little time, it can feel overwhelming trying to harness your multitude of mediums. Successful multi-channel marketing also means managing cross-promotions and using integrated marketing so that different channels work in tandem with one another. That’s no easy task to coordinate!

Increased Time & Expense: Since there’s so much more to manage with multi-channel marketing, you’ll likely have to devote more time, and may even need to hire additional staff members.

How to Succeed at Multi-Channel Marketing

De-Silo Your Channels: Coordinate cross-promotional efforts with integrated marketing in which different mediums compliment each other.

Set Control Groups: Test the effectiveness of your multichannel marketing efforts by setting control groups that do not receive the multichannel promotion. This will help you better measure your campaigns’ effectiveness.

Create Multiple Touch Points: As mentioned above, one of the advantages provided by multichannel marketing is the ability to create a large number of touch points, which then provide additional data that can influence future marketing efforts. Touch points can include social media, surveys, email newsletters, mail-in items, etc.

Know Your Audience: What channels will work best for your business? Where does your key audience spend most of their time? This information should greatly influence your multichannel marketing approach.

That concludes our Multi-Channel Marketing 101 Guide. Best of luck in your cross marketing endeavors, and let us know if you have your own multi channel marketing tips in the comments.

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Daisy Coleman
Oct 15, 2013

What a useful article. This information can help any company decide on the best multiple marketing channels to focus on at particular times of the day. With the many many marketing channels available and the cuts in budgets, more careful planning needs to be done to make the best use of the resources available.

Megan Marrs
Oct 16, 2013

Thanks Daisy. Glad this article can be an aid.

Oct 15, 2013

Great tips on weaving in different marketing strategies. I have seen recently shows using hashtags. I also think as an advertiser you needto know your target audience and where the hang out and what they like to do to better understand what to use and if multi channeling will work best.Thanks for sharing Megan.

Megan Marrs
Oct 16, 2013

You're welcome Luis! Yes, I've seen hashtags on shows as well. Sometimes I try to use them and join in on conversations, but most of the dialogue there (and on Twitter in general) to me seems very one sided. There isn't a lot of real conversation. I think that we need to find a medium inbetween Twitter and chat rooms. We'll see where it all goes I guess.

Oct 15, 2013

“…the greatest success comes from creating cohesive cross-channel marketing strategies…” I totally agree. I mean, you can succeed marketing via individual platforms, but you’ll get the most out of all these channels if you use cross-channel marketing strategies. Because a lot of consumers nowadays browse products and services via one channel, and decides to buy through another. If you’re able to follow through the changes(offline to online or mobile for example), you’ll definitely see an increase in sales. The information you gave on which channels work good together is also very valuable. Helps marketers know where to work on the most. 

Megan Marrs
Oct 16, 2013

Thanks Riza. You're spot on - it's pretty interesting to see how consumer behaviors change across devices and how different devices and advertising mediums serve different purposes.

Oct 16, 2013

That is very nice post , also very true :) Thank you for sharing 

Megan Marrs
Oct 16, 2013

You are welcome! Thank you for commenting Zaev.

Mike Cluster
Oct 18, 2013

Excellent tips, glad to read it i like this post very much you describe each & every point very clearly good job.

Kenjie Nathans
Oct 18, 2013

the effective methods creation a multiple channels by joining on social media sites, putting your personal profile or even your business profile is an effective strategy to getting engage to your target customer.

Oct 18, 2013

Hi Megan, I also agree that cross channel marketing really works. But for that you need proper planning for each channel. Thanks for sharing this wonderfull post

Oct 31, 2013

Thanks for the given the important information, Your points are very helpful to make my blog friendly to the readers.  thanks for sharing us.

Michael Bian
Feb 26, 2014

Thank you for sharing such an informative article...

Sep 28, 2014

  Its a great and simple explanation and introduction to best practices. Thank You.

Mikey Jones
Feb 27, 2017

I think lot of innovation is coming in the market and it's very important to stay updated in that matter.

Jul 21, 2017

Nice article overall, thanks for sharing. I would just like to add that, especially for the retailers out there, it is of paramount importance to establish their Multi-Channel Shopping with synergies between marketing strategy and sales. Products might be the same but the audience might better response to a different marketing campaigns from place to place.

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