Today’s typical consumer researches and shops across many channels and devices: social media, web, catalog, in-store, mobile, laptop, etc. In fact, studies show the average consumer uses as many as three to five channels or devices in the course of making their buying decision and completing a purchase. More than 92% of shoppers say they prefer to shop in more than one channel. As such, it's no surprise that an effective marketing strategy must have a cross-channel approach.
With cross-channel marketing, all of your marketing channels work together to take your customers on a journey from one channel to the next in a seamless fashion that ultimately drives them towards a purchase. But in order to optimize that customer experience and get the most out of your marketing campaigns, make sure you follow these five critical cross-channel marketing best practices.
1. Align your company's departments
The first step toward cross-channel success is eliminating silos and getting everyone on the same page. All departments – marketing, sales, customer support, product, and finance – must be unified around the same set of goals, and in agreement about cross-channel campaign execution. Siloed customer information prevents successful campaign planning. When marketing teams have access to relevant customer data collected by various business departments, they're able to gain better customer insights and make more advanced segmentations.
2. Unify all your customer data
Successful cross-channel marketing requires a clear and centralized understanding of your customers' habits, preferences, and engagements across your organization. Marketers must have actionable knowledge of how customers are using each channel, and this requires using accurate and unified historical and real-time customer data. But unified data is only as good as your ability to act on it. Building an infrastructure where the data is trusted and actionable reduces potential misalignment of messaging to your customers when they have buying intent. A customer data platform (CDP) is one of the most effective technologies for unifying customer data for cross-channel marketing (more on that below).
3. Create a cohesive customer experience
Customers must be at the center of your cross-channel marketing strategy. From their perspective, every one of your channels is part of their larger buying journey, so you must maintain a consistent voice and provide them with a consistent experience anywhere and everywhere. Build buyer personas and use analytics to fully understand your customer journeys to help create a cross-channel marketing roadmap that suits their needs yet feels aligned and cohesive no matter where they are in their journey.
4. Personalize content so that it aligns with buyer journeys
No two customers are alike and acknowledging and understanding that lets you provide each customer with individual attention, depending on where they are in their journey. The best brands know that customer loyalty is about connecting operational data with experience data to make deeper connections with customers. When marketers are able to target based on channel, content, product and messaging preferences, it provides customers with the personalized content they want, where they want, when they want – and contributes to a better customer experience with a higher chance of purchase.
5. Have the right technology in place
It may feel like one of the few things more overwhelming than the sheer volume of customer data available, is the number of technologies possible for utilizing all that data. For marketers, the idea of purchasing another technology platform may seem daunting. However, a marketer-centric CDP like QuickPivot can connect and integrate all of your customer data sources to give you a unified view of your customers, and help you bridge the gap between your online and offline channels for simpler and more successful cross-channel campaign execution. And with built-in data analytics features, the QuickPivot CDP also makes it easy to track campaign performance, identify deficiencies in real-time and ensure your campaigns are performing to their fullest potential.
Cross-channel marketing is the best way to reach today's consumers
A cross-channel marketing strategy is an effective way to reach your audience, especially in 2020 when customer needs, expectations and preferences are changing dramatically because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Jake Hall, QuickPivot's VP of Solutions Consulting, says COVID-19 has highlighted the need and importance of effectively managing cross-channel campaigns.
“A rapidly changing environment tends to favor the nimble and informed," said Hall in a recent Q&A. "This all comes down to the fundamentals: know your customer and understand how their needs are changing. This could mean providing different offers or services regionally depending on the local situation, identifying which customers may be on the front lines vs. those that are stuck in their homes, and how does the ‘new normal’ change your customers’ needs and how can you meet them where they are now.”
In effect, the major reasons for using cross-channel marketing as a key retail strategy (better customer targeting, increased consumer engagement, greater customer loyalty, and increased ROI) are now layered on top of the fact that consumer buying habits have changed due to the pandemic, and retailers need to meet potential buyers where they are now more than ever. From creating brand awareness to generating leads and driving more sales, a well-planned and executed cross-channel marketing strategy can help the bottom-line.