Cross-channel marketing takes full advantage of the marketing channels you have at your disposal
Rather than just limiting yourself to a single channel — or set of channels, like online marketing — a cross-channel approach allows you to coordinate campaigns and materials across all the channels your audience will likely engage with.
However, this style of advertising isn’t always easy. You’re working with multiple channels that may each have their own particular challenges while also trying to coordinate advertising that’s just as effective and consistent as a much less complex single-channel campaign.
These five pitfalls are some of the most common challenges marketers run into when they attempt a cross-channel approach. If you can avoid them, you’re much more likely to succeed with cross-channel marketing:
1. Disconnected Tech
Modern approaches to marketing produce huge amounts of data. One stream alone — like a social media page or website — can produce a massive volume of data points. This info can help you work out everything from what interests your customers to what may be drawing their attention away from your marketing.
Data works best for your company when it’s easy to analyse and comprehend.
Unfortunately, it’s easy for data to get siloed off with a multichannel or cross-channel approach. Data from one platform or channel may get segmented into its own dataset — making it hard to combine with other information from the cross-channel campaign.
Organizing your data collection scheme before launching a cross-channel campaign is the best way to ensure your data sets are structured, accessible and comprehensive. In some cases, this may require an upgrade in tech — like a data analytics platform that can gather information from multiple sites or tools.
With cutting-edge tech, you could go even further. Some retailers, for example, are adopting artificial intelligence (AI) to help them process the massive amounts of data they collect with cross-channel marketing and an omni-channel approach.
2. Inconsistent Voice, Style or Design
The more channels you involve in your marketing campaign, the harder it can be to maintain consistency.
Consistency is key for any kind of marketing, but it’s especially important in cross-channel marketing. If the language, look or design isn’t the same across channels, your branding may not stick in your customers’ minds. You can even risk confusing your audience if details about a particular promotion vary between channels.
Cross-channel campaigns require careful coordination and pre-planning. If a design will work for one channel but not another, you’ll need to carefully adapt your marketing materials to keep them as consistent and on-brand as possible.
Yard signs, for example, are an extremely valuable communication tool, and their portability and visual appeal mean that marketers continue to use them alongside digital media materials. However, a print sign may not be as easy to update as a digital ad. If you use physical marketing materials, you may want to plan for how you’ll adjust or update them if some element of your advertising changes.
3. Customer Segmentation Across Channels
Not every potential customer gets information in the same way. Many probably rely on the internet, but some customers — especially older ones — may still base their purchasing decisions on local publications or word-of-mouth recommendations instead.
Effective cross-channel marketing will focus on how customers move across channels. Not every customer, for example, will go from a word-of-mouth recommendation to their smartphone to a purchase.
Because different customer segments may respond to different campaigns better than others, a one-size-fits-all approach to cross-channel promotion isn’t necessarily the best strategy.
Understanding your audiences’ various buyer journeys will help here. If you know which audience segments tend to use a certain channel or group of channels, you can tailor your marketing to better fit their needs and interests.
4. Bumpy Cross-Channel Flow
Confusing or bumpy movement across channels is another common tech problem with cross-channel marketing.
Some customers, for example, may begin their buyer’s journey on a smartphone. They might investigate a product, add something to their carts or make an account before moving on to the web to finish their purchase.
Certain design oversights can make this a jarring transition. Major interface differences between a mobile and desktop site can confuse customers, for example. If certain information is missing from one version of a site — like details on discounts or shipping — you may also run into problems.
Ideally, you should design every element of your online storefront and marketing to facilitate an accessible flow. For example, you may keep the interfaces of your desktop and mobile website as close as possible to avoid the risk that a mobile user gets lost when browsing with their laptop.
You can smooth out the cross-channel flow if you know how customers engage with your business. With the right data, you can see how people tend to move across channels. This information can help you decide what steps you can take to keep their journey as frictionless as possible.
Uniting your offline and online channels can also yield big returns. However, you may need different strategies to manage this kind of cross-channel marketing.
5. Big Expenses
Coordinating a cross-channel campaign can get expensive, fast. If your data tells you your customers are engaging across a wide variety of channels, you may end up overextending yourself if you try to reach them everywhere from the very beginning.
This is especially true if you’ve never run a cross-channel marketing campaign before and need to upgrade your data collection tech or processes as a result.
If you’re experimenting with cross-channel marketing, slow and steady is a good way to start. Building up from a few channels to an omni-channel strategy or highly complex campaign is a good way to ensure you and your team don’t end up in over your heads. It will also help you keep expenses low — or, at the least, predictable enough to manage.
How You Can Overcome These Common Cross-Channel Pitfalls
With cross-channel marketing, a little preparation and research can go a long way. Often, if you know about these pitfalls, you can see them coming — whether you’re planning a company’s first cross-channel ad campaign, or if your business has a history of cross-channel marketing.
Lexie is an aspiring Olympic curler, a web designer and IoT enthusiast. She enjoys hiking with her goldendoodle and checking out local flea markets. Visit her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.