Today’s consumers multitask. They use many channels to discover and research new products and services.
So, marketers must meet target customers where they are.
The answer is multichannel marketing. In this article, we’ll discuss what multichannel marketing is and how you can use it to grow your business.
What Is Multichannel Marketing?
Multichannel marketing is the practice of promoting marketing messages and interacting with customers across many channels.
The goal is to increase awareness of your brand and product. And connect with target customers in more places.
Multichannel marketing strategies can focus on:
- Traditional media like TV, radio, billboards, and print newspapers or magazines
- Digital marketing like online advertising, search engine marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, or display ads
For example, Subway recently launched one of its largest-ever multichannel campaigns in the U.K. and Ireland using a mix of online and offline channels.
Image Source: Subway
The “Two Ways to Subway” campaign uses the following channels:
- Video on Demand (VOD)
- Online Video Advertising
- Outdoor Advertising
- PR and Influencers
- Social Media
Through this process, Subway appeals to more potential customers. For example, the campaign says it will reach 96% of 18-44-year-olds through platforms like TV, VOD, and radio.
Note that Subway isn’t integrating these channels. Integrating platforms to streamline customer experience is omnichannel marketing.
Omnichannel Marketing vs. Multichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing and multichannel marketing span several channels. But the focal point of each approach is very different.
Omnichannel marketing seamlessly integrates your brand’s presence across channels and touchpoints, providing a friction-free customer experience.
The platforms work together, so the customer can move between channels easily.
Multichannel marketing is more brand or product-focused. It promotes on various platforms but places less emphasis on connecting those channels for the customer.
For example, Starbucks offers customers a digital rewards card that adds points whether they buy through the app or in-store. The platform updates in real time so customers can see their points earnings and offers wherever they are.
That’s omnichannel marketing in action.
A multichannel approach might let customers buy products in-store and online, but it wouldn’t connect the two channels under one unified experience.
When to Use Omnichannel vs. Multichannel
Use omnichannel marketing to give customers a seamless brand experience.
Like Disney, which allows guests to book trips, store photos, unlock hotel rooms, and order food on one app.
Use multichannel marketing to broadcast your message to as many people as possible while increasing reach and engagement.
Like CVS, which replicates the in-store experience by letting customers fill prescriptions and make appointments on multiple platforms.
Further reading: Want a deep dive into omnichannel marketing? Read our post, What Is Omnichannel Marketing? Meaning, Tips + Examples.
5 Benefits of Multichannel Marketing
A multichannel marketing approach allows you to reach consumers on the channels they use most. It also helps you target multiple audiences and increases the touchpoints between them and your brand.
Here are the benefits of multichannel marketing.
It Reaches a Larger Audience
You’ll reach more potential customers with a multichannel approach because each audience segment has its preferred channels.
For example, if your target audience spans Gen Z to baby boomers, split video ads between cable TV and streaming services. Although 40% of baby boomers watch cable TV daily, only 17% of Gen Zers do. Instead, Gen Z watches three times as much streaming content as live TV.
Using multiple channels increases the chances of meeting your audience on the platforms when and where they’re most likely to engage.
It Builds Stronger Brand Awareness
Showing up on more marketing platforms means people will see your brand message more often. So they’ll be more likely to remember it, as studies show repetition improves recall.
Similarly, marketing’s “rule of seven” says consumers need to see a message that many times before they act on it.
For example, imagine seeing a Nike ad while reading a sports blog, hearing the product mentioned on a fitness podcast, and then passing a Nike billboard during your morning commute. You’ll likely think of Nike the next time you need athletic wear.
That power of suggestion also shows the power of successful multichannel marketing.
It Helps Achieve Faster Time to Conversion
It takes an average of eight touchpoints for a conversion, but there can be up to 50 for a cold prospect. Touchpoints can be virtually any interaction with a brand, including website clicks, calls, storevisits, and sales.
The more channels you use, the quicker these conversions can happen. So, moving a prospect through your sales funnel with multichannel marketing takes less time.
Think about the Nike example in the previous section.
What if Nike used just the billboard?
You only see the billboard on the way home. So you would see it once a day.
But when Nike also places ads on your favorite blog and podcast, it triples the number of times you notice the brand. This moves you closer to conversion in a shorter time.
It Gives Better Insights into Your Ideal Customers
Using multiple channels gives you more data on the customer journey. That helps you understand the audience’s behavior and maximize future marketing efforts’ impact.
You can also use this data to determine where to ramp up or reduce your marketing spend. Analytics show you which channels are more cost-effective for customer acquisition, which excel at retention, and which aren’t working.
Say your blog content and banner ads garner a lot of clicks, but cold calls and digital out of home (DOOH) aren’t as successful. Knowing this data allows you to adjust your marketing spend accordingly and put more of it toward the successful campaigns or adjusting the unsuccessful campaigns in an attempt to increase their success.
Multichannel Marketing Boosts Campaign Performance
When you use multiple channels, each channel’s success can boost the success of the others.
For example, let’s say you’re running an ecommerce campaign targeting students returning to school. You use Google Ads to attract users to your website or a third party and add a retargeting email marketing campaign for people who abandon their shopping carts.
If Google Ads resulted in a 3% conversion rate, and email brought another 8% conversion, the two campaigns help each other to reach a total 11% conversion.
Each marketing channel offers possibilities for optimization, engagement, and conversion. That has a cumulative effect on your campaigns.
6 Ways to Build an Effective Multichannel Marketing Strategy
An effective multichannel marketing strategy starts with goal-setting. You then follow that up with careful planning and targeted execution.
Here are the steps to get it right.
Start with SMART Goals
SMART goals are a framework for setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives. They help your marketing team coordinate to stay focused, optimize efforts, and measure what matters most.
Here’s how the SMART framework breaks down:
- Specific: Make your goals as specific as possible. Instead of saying, “We want more website traffic,” say, “We want a 20% increase in website traffic from organic search in six months.”
- Measurable: You need to track the progress and outcome of your goals. For example, you want to increase email open rates from 15% to 22%.
- Achievable: You must set ambitions yet realistic goals. For example, if your email open rates are currently at 15%, aiming for a 22% rate in one month is an achievable next step that’ll still challenge you.
- Relevant: Your goals must align with your business objectives. If you’re focusing on retention, a goal to increase repeat purchases would be relevant since it will keep customers coming back.
- Time-bound: Your goals must all have a timeline. Some might be short-term, like increasing website traffic by 10% in one month. Others could be long-term, like achieving a 25% market share in two years.
Understand Your Audience
Understand everything you can about your ideal buyer: their likes, dislikes, pains, desires, and demographics. This allows you to reach more of your best-fit audience, increasing your marketing efficiency and driving higher returns on investment (ROI).
Here’s how to get to know your ideal audience:
Survey Your Existing Customer Base
Ask your clients about their preferences, pain points, and expectations through online surveys or in-person interviews. You can also include feedback forms at various customer touchpoints, like after purchase.
Say your customer surveys indicate your customers are driven by percentage-off deals instead of dollar-of marketing campaigns. You can use this data to shift your advertizing strategy to include more percentae-off offers.
Consult Sales and Customer Service Teams
Sales and customer service teams interact directly with customers so they can provide valuable insights into your customers’ needs. This lets you know exactly what your customers want and puts their feedback into action.
For example, if your managers are hearing complaints about unclear or deceptive coupons being mailed to customers, you can use this information to adjust the campaign to make them clearer and easier to redeem. Or perhaps your customer service team has learned a large portion of customers wish your app offered digital coupons. You can use this data to launch a coupon campaign on the mobile app.
Read customer reviews on Google, Yelp, Trustpilot, and other legitimate review sites to understand what people like or dislike about your product or service.
Even bad reviews can serve a purpose. For example, this restaurant in Iceland turned a negative comment into marketing copy.
Image Source: Quora
These comments, whether good or bad, can inform your marketing decisions.
Practice Social Listening
Use tools like Talkwalker and Infegy to track what people say about your brand on social media platforms, online communities, and forums. That’s a great way to find unfiltered opinions and see what people think about your business in real time. It’s also a marketing tool.
For example, let’s say people online are not speaking favorably about a recent ad campaign. You can use this feedback to adjust the campaign or choose to eliminate it altogether.
A prime example of this was Pepsi’s ad that used footage from the Black Lives Matter movement in an ad starring Kendall Jenner. Jenner seemingly resolved a dispute between Black protesters and police by handing the officer a Pepsi. This ad was denounced across social media for appropriation and minimizing the dangers protesters experienced. This eventually led to Pepsi pulling the ad and issuing an apology.
Create Buyer Personas
Once you’ve researched your audience, create detailed buyer personas for each segment, including your potential customers’ needs, goals, and behavior patterns. Use these personas to inform your campaigns and create resonant content marketing.
For an easy way to develop persons, use Semrush’s free Buyer Persona templates.
First, choose your persona. For this example, we’ll use the one on the bottom right.
Then choose your template. We’ll work with the default template.
You can then fill in the persona’s bio, demographic information, goals, pain points, influences, communication channels, and more. Add fields or tiles as needed.
Once you’re satisfied with the persona, click “Save & Share” on the top right.
You’ll then get a link to share your persona. You can keep the link read-only or give editing permissions.
Through this process, you’ll get a better understanding of your target customers so you can stay on top of their needs.
Further reading: For an even deeper dive into performing customer research, read our post, The Complete Guide to (Effective) Customer Analysis.
Craft Messages that Resonate with Customers
Using your personas’ interests and challenges as a guide, create the right messages for each of your audiences. Marketing messages that educate, entertain, or solve a problem for your target audience show that you listened to their feedback.
Here are a few proven messaging techniques to use.
Address Pain Points
Identify your audience’s key challenges and use tailored, consistent messaging that offers solutions.
Say your persona is a busy mom concerned about healthy meals. A food delivery service could create a campaign emphasizing “Nutritious Meals Delivered to Your Doorstep.” That shows how the business makes life easier for its target audience.
Align with Customer Goals
Identify your persona’s personal or professional aspirations and show how your product or service can help achieve those goals.
For example, if your persona is a career-focused millennial, an online learning platform might create nuanced messages around upskilling or climbing the corporate ladder.
Speak Your Customer’s Language
Use the terminology and colloquialisms your persona understands and relates to. That will make your brand more appealing to its target demographics.
For example, a tech brand targeting everyday consumers must keep industry jargon to a minimum. That way, they’ll appeal to the broadest possible audience.
Hone Your Messages to Match the Mediums You Choose
Communication styles vary inside each marketing channel. So once you know what to say, you must learn how to say it.
For example, when Timberland launched its recent “Built for the Bold” campaign, it used new tactics, like paid social ads. But it also opted for old-school techniques like wheatpasting (putting up posters with paste).
Image Source: 1800 Printing
These outside-the-box ideas ensured Timberland’s campaign stayed in peoples’ minds.
Similarly, ensure your ads are memorable and will attract the desired audience on the channels you want.
Pick Your Marketing Channels
The best channels are those where your target market spends time. Research and test to determine which are best to add to your marketing mix.
If you want to attract a specific demographic (e.g., Gen Z or baby boomers) you need to know where they shop for items and view content. Online, on their phones, in-store, or elsewhere?
You can conduct manual research using statistics like the ones above or use an audience insights company like GWI to help.
Further reading: To learn more about using various marketing channels, read our article,7 Effective Digital Marketing Channels and How to Use Them.
Once you know which channels your ideal customers frequent, consider which channels work best with top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, and bottom-of-funnel marketing objectives.
Here’s how a few different marketing channels stack up:
- Ads on social media, linear TV, digital video, and CTV (connected TV) are great for top-of-funnel goals like driving awareness because potential customers see them while watching their favorite shows
- Email nurturing sequences, case studies, and demos on your website are best for targeting prospects in the middle of the marketing funnel who are interested in your products but need a little more convincing
- Search ads, limited-time discounts via email, and retargeting ads work well to get coveted conversions at the bottom of the funnel who you can retain as customers.
Start with a Few Channels and Build
With many channels available, deciding which to use can be overwhelming. The key is to start small. Only add one or two channels at a time in the beginning.
That keeps campaigns manageable and gives you time to learn as you go. You need to know what you’re looking for, so be clear about your success metrics. For example, do you want to increase email signups by 10% or grow in-store foot traffic by 25%?
Once you’ve achieved your initial goals, you’ll know it’s time to expand.
Remember to use analytics to monitor and track success while attributing conversions properly. You can use technology to do this, but you can also ask customers in the store or send a survey after a purchase asking “How did you hear about us?”
Keep what works and drop what doesn’t. Rinse and repeat as you add other channels. Success will look different for every company, but with metrics top-of-mind and the right platforms at your disposal, you can hone your multichannel marketing campaigns.
Supercharge Your Multichannel Marketing With Semrush
Use these successful multichannel marketing strategies as inspiration for your own. When you’re ready to take the next step, turn to Semrush.
The platform features tools like ImpactHero, which uses artificial intelligence to break down content by buyer journey stages and make your multichannel marketing more impactful.