In my most recent podcast, I spoke about business owners overwhelmed by their marketing, and now I am talking about using multiple channels?! With the right strategy and planning, you can use multiple marketing channels effectively to reach more of your target audience in the best format to engage and win them over as customers. Even if you are a small business owner or a solopreneur, with a clear, achievable omni-channel marketing strategy, you can effectively get those new customers, increase sales and grow your business.
Omni-Channel vs Multi-Channel vs Cross-Channel
The terms omni-channel, multi-channel, and cross-channel mean very much the same thing for small business owners that have a limited number of products or services and target a few different segments of their target audience. The differences are more distinct for large retailers that are offering several products to distinctively different markets. These larger businesses will use multi-channel marketing in the specific sense that they use different channels for different products and segments of their audience. Cross-channel marketing uses different channels in a connected way. Most businesses use cross-channel marketing to send the same message across all of their channels, but without a strategy, the message may reach more people but is not as likely to engage and win them over as customers.
Omni-channel marketing (or omnichannel marketing) involves using multiple channels in a more interconnected strategic way. This may include using email marketing to get visitors to your new blog post about a new product or a Facebook post to move visitors to a specific landing page on your website with a special offer. To effectively utilize your marketing channels and your time and resources, you need to have an overall strategy and specific strategies for each campaign.
Develop an Effective Omni-Channel Marketing Strategy
How to develop an effective omni-channel marketing strategy for your overall business and each campaign:
- Define your goal(s) for your business and/or the specific campaign and which segments of your target audience you need to reach, the “Who” of How to Get in Front of the Right People.
- Determine which channels to include using the information you gathered in your target audience research, the “Where” of How to Get in Front of the Right People.
- Include all possible touchpoints with prospects and customers: your premises, retail shops that sell your products, market stalls, pop-ups, fairs, etc.
- Determine which content and type of content suits each channel, the “What” of How to Get in Front of the Right People.
- Look at what channel, content, and type of content is most suitable to the different stages of the Buyer’s Journey and determine the best times to deliver on each channel, the “When” of How to Get in Front of the Right People.
- Determine the best “flow” of traffic between channels that will lead users to your goal. This could be a newspaper or radio ad to an event page on your website (or a Facebook event) for booking; a blog post on your website about the benefits of a new product, followed by an email and social media posts to bring users to the article, which directs them to the new products page; a demonstration video found on search engines or via social media leads to a product page on your website, etc. To start, use common sense and the results you have seen in the past to determine this flow. In time, you will see patterns and which of these are most effective.
- Schedule and plan the creation and delivery of the content for each channel. Include any “content” needed for in-person touchpoints: an in-person “pitch” when you or any representatives are at meetings, signage in your premises, brochures at other relevant locations, etc., to create a seamless and effective flow.
- Review the results and use the information to fine-tune your strategy for better results in the future.
Tips for an Effective Omni-Channel Marketing Strategy
- When you start, ensure you have specific goals, including what actions a user has to take in a clear path to conversion, from first contact, step by step, through the desired actions to reach their goal, and yours.
- Ensure the strategy is achievable with your available resources: budget, staff, suppliers, and time.
- Even for small businesses and solopreneurs, the strategy should include allocating resources to ensure that the expected ROI is sufficient.
- Schedule non-negotiable time for strategy development and the tasks within the strategy.
- When creating your overall strategy, develop a template strategy for campaigns.
- Hire a web developer or technician experienced in setting up analytics to track multichannel traffic, events, and conversions with reports automatically generated for you. Otherwise, it won’t get done! In the early days, when I was doing web development myself, I could set these up; now, I use a developer who does this regularly.
- Planning and scheduling to deliver at the most effective times is key, especially if you are outsourcing digital marketing or using print channels, like newspaper or direct mail. Ensure that the outside supplier can deliver at the times needed to get in front of your audience at the right times for the flow of your campaign.
- As noted above, include all possible touchpoints with prospects and customers. Don’t forget to include in-person meetings as channels in your strategy. Time delivery of content around scheduled meetings and events.
- I was recently told, “If you aren’t annoying people, you aren’t marketing enough.” I agree with this to a point. To avoid appearing pushy or annoying, ensure that the timing, tone and content you are delivering are suitable to your audience. Use your target audience research and the results of your previous campaigns to determine this.
A Strategic Omni-Channel Marketing Plan allows small businesses to market like larger businesses. Using multiple marketing channels will not only get you in front of a larger audience it will also amplify your message for those who see your message in different formats on different channels.
As always, I suggest you start by defining your goals, then identify your target audience and gather all the necessary information to market to them effectively — then get to work on your strategy!
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