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A Beginner’s Guide to Cross-Channel Advertising

Wilson Lau

Sr. SEO Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

The digital marketing world is fast-moving and highly competitive, especially for newer ecommerce brands trying to get off the ground. Audiences worldwide are accustomed to a high level of execution when it comes to advertising and customer experiences — today’s shoppers are well-informed and well-equipped with tech that makes it easy for them to get what they need from the brand that’s best positioned to take advantage. Consumers today know how to navigate the shopping experience across multiple devices, communication channels, and content types, and they’re absorbing advertising content from all corners of the marketplace. That’s why cross-channel advertising is so important.

Cross-channel marketing is about meeting your target audience with ads, content, and experiences that feel natural and intuitive to the consumer. It’s about communicating in the ways that work best for your customers, whoever they might be. Because shoppers in different industries may navigate the conversion funnel in unique ways, your brand’s cross-channel approach is also likely to be unique. It all depends on your brand, product type, and the customers who make up your primary audience.

In this article, we’ll explore what cross-channel advertising is, why it should be a part of your marketing strategy, and how you can get started with cross-channel advertising for your business.

What Is Cross-Channel Advertising?

Cross-channel advertising is a strategy in which you develop marketing communications and content to provide a unified, cohesive customer experience that spans all the potential ways your customer might interact with the brand. It involves a high-level approach that builds connections between social media, email, content marketing, display networks, search, and other digital marketing avenues.

An effective cross-channel advertising strategy presents audiences with a consistent message that persists across all customer journey stages. The idea is to create a stepwise process that helps the user navigate from channel to channel without losing the core message until the shopper arrives at the final point of conversion — and beyond. That means your channels need to work in concert — not as separate, discreet tactics that function on their own.

How is cross-channel advertising different from omnichannel marketing?

This is one of the most common points of confusion for digital marketers hoping to build a cohesive brand experience.

Omnichannel marketing is similar to cross-channel marketing in that it involves creating content and messaging for a range of marketing channels, including those listed above. However, with omnichannel advertising, your tactics for social media, email, blogs, and other channels are built to perform on their own. You’re covering all the channels your audience uses, but those channels aren’t unified in a way that deliberately directs the user through different touchpoints to the end of the funnel.

Cross-channel marketing is about cohesion in your strategy.

What Are the Benefits of Cross-Channel Advertising?

A cohesive cross-channel journey leads to increased conversions and ROI

One major benefit of cross-channel marketing is that it tends to appeal to high-value customers — one survey showed that 62% of shoppers who engage with more than ten channels are likely to make at least one purchase per week. These customers are comfortable navigating a diverse digital ecosystem and recognize a strong customer experience when they see one.

A cross-channel strategy also helps brands deliver more personalized ad content, which delivers better engagement and more revenue than standard non-personalized ads. As the customer moves through your cross-channel experience, you’ll learn more about them and be able to direct them to content that’s immediately relevant to their needs and interests.

Plus, having a consistent and personalized customer journey will keep shoppers coming back for repeat purchases. Better customer loyalty means more revenue for your brand.

Improve findability and brand recognition

The more channels you can market through, the more customers will find your brand and interact. For instance: an ecommerce brand that advertises only through social media might be able to introduce new shoppers to the brand, but if the journey ends there, the audience will fall away. On the other hand, more shoppers will see the ads if a brand is marketing with consistent messaging and voice on social media, email, and other channels. They’ll also know that your brand is reliable and developed enough to be trustworthy.

Track and refine your campaigns

Data is essential to any marketing strategy, and brands need to isolate trends and figures both within specific channels and in context with the larger brand experience. Cross-channel advertising makes it easier to examine the entire marketing strategy from a bird’s-eye view. You’ll be able to see which areas feed effectively into other channels and advance the customer down the buying funnel and channels or tactics that seem to cause bottlenecks in the customer journey. Knowing which channels and tactics turn a lead into a conversion will help you focus your marketing efforts on things that you know are effective.

Getting Started With Cross-Channel Marketing

There are a couple steps you should take as you devise your cross-channel advertising strategy. Following these suggestions will help you build a successful approach from the start.

1. Develop clearly defined audience segments

Also known as buying personas, audience segments are key in helping you cater your marketing to the subsets within your target audience. Before you can design a cross-channel strategy, you need to understand your customers: why they need your product, what drives their purchasing decisions, how they navigate the web, and simply who they are. You’ll want to create at least one or two personas clearly defined by variables like:

  • Demographics: Age, gender, marital status, income level, geographic location

  • Psychographics: Interests, beliefs, values

  • Behavior: Preferred device type and browser, preferred communication channel, length of the conversion cycle

Every brand will have unique personas depending on the product. Once you have these defined, you can start applying what you know.

2. Assemble your data from all sources

Before launching your cross-channel marketing strategy, collect all the data you have on your customers. Usually, this involves utilizing a platform like AdRoll, which will synchronize your various first- and third-party data sources into a single dashboard where you can visualize information and use trends to inform your decisions.

3. Define the customer journey

This is where you’ll decide what channels you want to use and how you’ll design content that pushes users along the funnel. Choose your channels and start assigning budgets to them based on your available resources and what you know about your audience.

4. Create your ad content

Most marketing platforms will provide tools that let you trigger new ads and content based on a shopper’s behavior. That means you can provide the logical next step for the customer’s journey based on what they’ve already done, ensuring a consistent experience and cohesive messaging that will follow the user across channels and devices. This type of ad is often called “smart content.”

To Wrap Up

Cross-channel advertising is a crucial ingredient for growth for most ecommerce brands, helping you meet the customer where they are with content that’s directly relevant and useful in promoting conversions. By creating a holistic strategy and working to optimize it with the data you collect across channels continually, you’ll be growing your audience, improving engagement, building loyalty, and generating revenue that will take you to the next level.

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