Actionable tips, community conversations, and marketing inspiration.

What Is Multichannel Marketing?

Wilson Lau

Sr. SEO Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

Multichannel marketing is a marketing strategy that includes more than one channel or touchpoint. Mobile apps, emails, print ads, social media, retail stores, promotional events, product packaging, and more can all be part of a multichannel marketing plan. Companies that adopt this strategy create a well-integrated plan that leverages the power of various channels to engage as many customers or prospects as possible and stay in front of them to maintain TOMA (top-of-mind-awareness). 

More importantly, these companies use data to determine how best to market each channel. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Years ago, you might have seen the same ad on Facebook as you would in a print magazine. Marketers now understand that ads need to be optimized for each channel as they are consumed differently depending on the platform or location. 

There was a time when companies might have sent out a newsletter, excited to analyze how many people opened it. However, they could not see how many people downloaded the app after opening the newsletter. Without the appropriate technology or cross-communication between teams, silos formed. The newsletter team saw opens and clicks, and the app team saw downloads, but there was no way of knowing how many of the app downloads could be attributed to the newsletter. Without this information, marketing teams could not measure the newsletter's effectiveness correctly.

Now, an umbrella strategy is required to ensure all teams work together to share data and strategize how to improve the marketing metrics. A multichannel marketing strategy enables marketers to plan together and share the same insights. It also allows customers to purchase your product or service when, where, and how they want to. A successfully executed multichannel marketing strategy will present a consistent brand experience across all channels.

Today, another shift is taking place. Brands build on the multichannel strategy to create an omnichannel marketing strategy. The latter uses the advantages of targeting customers on multiple channels but takes it further by focusing less on the channel and more on the customer.  

Leveraging Data

We know that most people jump from channel to channel before making any purchasing decisions. But one study has found that those same customers who interact with multiple channels drop two to five times more money when they buy than single-channel customers, increasing your bottom line.

Using a multichannel marketing strategy leads to expanded reach and an increased possibility of finding potential customers on their preferred channel. For example, if you're on the phone ten times as long as you're on Instagram, you're much more likely to engage with an SMS than you are on a company's social media.

Continuing with this example, consider this: 90% of people read new texts within three minutes of receiving them. Using a multichannel marketing strategy, how could we use this information to benefit your brand? Maybe sending time-sensitive offers as a text will create urgency. Geo-fencing would be a great way to implement this insight. If you can send a deal to someone physically near your store, there is a chance they might stop in when they might otherwise have walked by.

If your target customer lives in a city and commutes to work, why not put up some QR codes on city buses that lead to a social media challenge or exciting information about your product? The key is to know your customer and be creative in reaching and engaging with them. Commuters have anywhere from ten minutes to an hour available on their way to work, so this is a terrific time to capture their attention and make the commute more enjoyable. Show them why they should spend their commute time engaging with your brand.

The Challenges of Multichannel Marketing

Efficient management

Forming and managing a cohesive strategy across channels is challenging. It takes careful planning, testing, communication, and adaptability. For multichannel marketing to become effective, members of teams in charge of different channels have to share data and work together to implement the plan.  

Without good communication, each channel becomes a silo and doesn't contribute to the overall strategy. Many companies trying to expand their channels focus on the numbers without paying attention to the strategy. Simply having more touchpoints doesn't make an impact — it's the overarching plan that links them together.  

Did the person who used the QR code end up on the website? Did they decide to investigate a product on social media? That's actionable information if shared with the right teams.

Proper marketing attribution

One essential part of any strategy is knowing when and how to measure the results of a campaign. The tricky part is knowing how much credit to attribute to each touchpoint, especially when customers average seven interactions with various channels before purchasing. Keep in mind that messaging should be consistent across all channels.

Leveraging marketing analytics

With so much data at our fingertips, it can be hard to determine what conclusions can be drawn from it. Sometimes, the best way to take advantage of the available information is to hire experts to do it for you.  

Expertise in finding the story in the data is vital to any multichannel marketing plan. It needs to be organized and understood before it can be valuable.

Keeping up with innovations

Another challenge is the speed at which new technology and ideas take hold. Remember when TikTok came out? It was initially kids making dance videos. Now marketers are using it to engage potential customers.  

New social media channels, location-based marketing, smart TVs, etc., must be researched before being incorporated into the overall marketing strategy to ensure they make sense for your customer base. Learning how to present yourself on a new channel is challenging, and it requires a significant investment of time and other resources.

Targeting messages

Targeting customers starts with segmenting them. Who are they? Are they busy young moms who are married with full-time white-collar jobs? Or are they inner-city teens who spend more time on their phones than on any computer?  

The more you know about your customers, the better you can tailor your messaging across your brand. Look at demographics, psychographics, purchasing history, etc. What is their favorite channel to interact with? How can you make your message more memorable based on that information? 

Explore Next