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6 Steps to Implementing a Performance-Driven Cross-Channel Strategy

These days, the average customer will use more than four channels (i.e. social/SMS/messaging apps/voice/chat/email/etc.) to engage with your business before making a purchase. This fact alone underscores how critical it is for your business to engage with, and be accessible to, customers across multiple channels. However, in the event you need to be thoroughly convinced of the important role cross-channel marketing plays in your current and future success, consider these proven benefits:

Cross-Channel Marketing Boosts Your Bottom Line.

  •  287% is the increase in purchase rate for campaigns that use three or more channels
  • 30% is the increase in customer lifetime value (CLV) gained when using multiple channels
  • Cross-channel campaigns lead to a 250% increase in purchase frequency
  • Companies that leverage cross-channel campaigns to engage customers see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue and a 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per contact

Cross-Channel Marketing Increases Customer Satisfaction.

  • Customer satisfaction is 23x higher for businesses that leverage cross-channel campaigns
  • 90% of customers expect consistent interactions with your brand across multiple channels
  • Customer retention rates are 90% higher for companies that implement a cross-channel strategy
  • 72% of customers prefer to connect with businesses using multiple channels

Challenges of Cross-Channel Marketing

With so many proven benefits to running marketing campaigns across multiple channels, you would think every marketer in the U.S. would be pursuing this tactic with all that they’ve got. However, as with all things there’s more to it than simply adding a channel and pressing play. A shortage of time and resources (money and humans) makes it difficult for nearly a quarter (23%) of all marketers to effectively run cross-channel marketing campaigns. In addition, while 95 percent of all marketers confess that they understand the impact a cross-channel strategy can have on their success, only 73 percent have a plan in place to make it happen.

Planning a Cross-Channel Strategy That Delivers

As Ben Franklin once wisely noted, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” In order to use cross-channel marketing to your advantage this year, here are a few steps you should take in developing your plan to implement or expand your cross-channel campaign repertoire.

Step 1: Map Your Current Customer Journey

Before you think about adding new channels, it’s imperative to take a look at how you are currently engaging with customers and what that process looks like—both for them and you. When you map a customer journey, you want to chronicle their process from first touch to purchase. While this idea may seem like it could get complex in a hurry, there are several great templates out there that will guide you through the process fairly quickly and allow you to group customers according to the segments or personas that make sense for your business. A few of the things you should be able to glean from this exercise are:

  • Events that trigger actions—an example of this is an email that leads to a webinar registration
  • Pain points and motivations—note which campaign messages are producing desired results  
  • Friction areas impeding the experience—identify the places customers are dropping off in the funnel and what the likely causes are

Besides learning what it’s like for customers to go through your sales process, outlining the customer journey is a great way to take a fresh look at what this process is like for your marketing operations team. Look for opportunities to enhance efficiencies, optimize processes and eliminate redundancies.

Step 2: Inventory Your Current Channels and Their Integrations

While it may take you all of two minutes to list all of the current channels on which you are running marketing campaigns, you will likely need to spend some serious quality time with your marketing operations team to chronicle how all of these channels are connected and sharing data. After all, in order for your customers to have a seamless experience with your company, your channels and data need to be seamlessly connected.

This step should afford both you and your team an opportunity to get real about the integrations that are working well, and the ones that are creating more work than they are worth. Nowadays, there are tools solely dedicated to making integrations between diverse tools and systems get along like a house on fire.

Step 3: Take a Long Look at Your Data

The role data plays in ensuring your customers have an engaging experience across all channels cannot be underscored enough. Obviously, you can’t send high-performance SMS and MMS campaigns if you don’t have the correct mobile numbers. You also cannot follow-up via email with a promising prospect with an old address that’s no longer in service. Your expensive thank-you gift will not arrive in time if your current data has not accounted for your customer’s new remote-work address. The good news is keeping your data clean, complete and enriched is not only easy, but economical. Moreover, there are loads of third-party data providers that can equip you with the information you need to begin using both current and new channels successfully.

Step 4: Choose Channels That Make Sense

Even if every respected marketing blog on the planet is touting the manifold advantages of whatever the latest social channel is, that doesn’t mean that channel is right for you or your customers. Always look at the demographics and firmographics of a channel’s typical users and make sure they line up with the segments you have created based on your ideal customers.

The ultimate goal of a cross-channel strategy is to reach your customers where they are with campaigns and content that are relevant to them. Look again at your current customer journey and select areas where adding a new channel presents an opportunity to make the customer journey better. Make a list of the channels that you want to add. Next, write down what you need to have in place to add each channel. Be sure to include all additional tech tools, staff required to operate each channel, any training or cross-training necessary, integrations you’ll need to have in place, and the projected budget you have to spend on each channel.

Step 5: Dream Big. Experiment Small.

Adding a new channel to your marketing mix is exciting in that it has the potential to drive engagement with current customers, revive dormant accounts, and introduce your products and/or services to new markets. It also has the power to make customers angry and turn people off of your brand with lightning speed if done poorly.

Always give your marketing ops team plenty of time to become comfortable with running campaigns on a channel before using that channel with your entire list of contacts. A good rule of thumb is to only add one channel at a time and run a few small test campaigns first to make sure there are no problems waiting in the wings to thwart your success. Once everyone is confident that they can run integrated campaigns that leverage the old channels and the new ones—without issues, then you are ready to begin experimenting with the next channel on your wishlist.

Step 6: Pay Attention to Preferences and Get Permission

Your team of creatives may have developed the most amazing cross-channel campaign in the history of your marketing department, but if you don’t have permission to send it to the people on your list, and you ignore that fact and do it anyway, you won’t like the results you get. Annoying customers by contacting them on their mobile phone with a glossy MMS message when they noted in their preferences that they prefer you email or mail them is never a good idea. It can drive your bounce rates, get your company listed as a spammer, and worse—lead to a customer cutting off all communication with you. Whatever channel you add, make sure you have a strategy in place to get permission and then honor the boundaries your customers and prospects set. When you do, they’ll know that you are actively listening to what they want, which is the hallmark of every customer experience that leads to a rich and rewarding long-term relationship.