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Are you keeping up with the expectations of your buyers? The explosion of new digital mediums has significantly changed how we research stuff and buy it.

According to a report by CEB Marketing Leadership Council, B2B customers complete 2/3rd of the journey online before they interact with your salespeople.

Your customers are doing their own research by interacting with content over the web and other traditional mediums. Additionally, the explosion of channels in the digital world means that your customers could be anywhere.

According to Pew Center of Research, nearly 75% of online adults use social media regularly. Half use more than one social network, and half use at least four different social media sites.

Add to this the number of marketing messages they get already. This has made marketing in this dynamic and noisy environment more challenging than ever

They not only expect you to be there but also serve them relevant and personalized content based on their preferences.

Hence, you should be marketing on multiple channels to cater to your prospects’ and customers’ expectations.

What is multi-channel marketing?

Multi-channel marketing, as the name suggests, is the practice of marketing on multiple channels.

This allows your customers and prospects to interact with your brand at the choice of the channels they are comfortable with. They could be traditional channels like print, radio, television, events etc or modern platforms like LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter etc.

While multi-channel marketing technically means marketing across different channels, your prospects and customers expect you to have a cohesive strategy around it. This allows their experience to stay consistent irrespective of the channel they are using.

This is why having a multi-channel marketing strategy is so critical so that you can have the right content on the right platform at the right time.

How to create a multi-channel marketing strategy?

Your role as a marketer is to meet your market wherever they are and speak to them in a way they are comfortable

As discussed earlier, with the growth of the digital medium, there has been an explosion of channels each having its own purpose and type of content which can be published. Add to this all the traditional mediums i.e. print, radio, television, events etc.

Here is a list of platforms available and the type of content that goes on them (Source: Hubspot)

You don’t just need to pick the right channel but also the right type of content at the right time to convert your audience effectively. Once you do that, it is all about optimizing your strategy for conversions and costs. You can follow this 8 step process to create an effective multi-channel marketing strategy:

Step 1: Understand your target audience

Before you start evaluating various platforms, the first step that you should take is to identify your target audience a.k.a make your buyer personas.

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers.

It is extremely critical to have a deep understanding of your buyers before devising any marketing strategy. The question is not whether it is important to make buyer personas or not. It is rather how you can make them?

You can do this by identifying your past customers and understanding the following things about them:

  1. Role in the buying process
  2. Industry
  3. Region
  4. Goals and challenges
  5. Platforms they are present on
  6. Type and topics of content they engage with
  7. Influencers they follow
  8. Existing or new customer

You can find this information by looking at the digital profiles of your past customers or you can even interview them. You can refer to this guide by Hubspot on how to identify and define your target audience

Note: As a business, you would be having more than one buyer persona that you would be catering to.

The needs, goals, drivers, and challenges of all of them would be different. Hence, you need to create multiple personas and detail them out as exhaustively as possible.

Here is an example of a buyer persona for Windows 10 OS customer:

Once you detail out your target audiences, you need to break them into different segments so as to reflect similarity in individual personalities.

Don’t limit yourself to your customers and prospects. It should also include influencers in your space.

As Neil Patel mentions in one of his articles, the number one person you should target is the one who pays you. Next in the list should be the one who influences your customer to pay you.

Step 2: Understand your business goal and objective for each persona

Once you have identified and segmented your buyer persona, the next step is to identify goals and objectives for each segment and correspond it finally with your business goals.

As a business, you might be selling different products to different customers. Each customer and product has its own maturity and growth levels. Hence, you would be having individual goals, objectives, and strategies for each one of them.

For example: Microsoft deals in multiple products and solutions.

For a product like Microsoft Office, its objective would be to drive as much revenue as possible. However, for their artificial intelligence and quantum intelligence solutions, their objective would be to drive awareness. This is only one case where the goals and objectives would be different.

Similarly, marketing to an influencer might just mean convincing him to share your solution with his target audience rather than buying it himself.

Likewise, you need to define your business goals and objectives for each segment individually. This helps you in determining how much money you need to allocate to individual segments and what is the outcome you are looking to derive from them.

Step 3: Identify the platforms which you can use

Once you have identified your target personas and defined the goals for each one of them, the next step is to identify all the platforms that your target audience is available on.

These would be platforms on which your personas are regularly active and engaged.

There could be a plethora of platforms both digital and non-digital which you need to consider. It could be traditional channels like Print, TV, Radio, Events, Roadshows etc. or it could be relatively new channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Quora, Reddit etc.

Does it make sense to be present on every platform? No, every platform serves a purpose in your customers’ and prospects’ life. Additionally, your prospects’ time spent on one platform might be too low to even consider it.

You can create a 2*2 matrix with time on the x-axis and purpose on the y-axis to determine whether it makes business sense to be present on the platform. It should look something like this:

This helps you in identifying the right platforms for you to be active on. You can add more factors like engagement and conversion rates to this matrix to determine the platform’s effectiveness.

Note: This is just an indicative of how you need to identify your platforms. Similarly, you can place different platforms in different quadrants based on your target audience’s behavior.

Step 4: Map the journey of your prospects

Not every channel is used at every stage of the journey. Your prospects refer to specific channels at specific stages of the journey.

They might refer to your print ads, magazines, blogs etc. at the start of the journey when they are trying to identify the problem they are facing. As they reach the decision stage, they might need more high touch engagement in the form of events and in-person workshops to tell them about your solution and ensure conversions.

Example of the cloud buyer’s journey and platforms they follow at each stage:  

Similarly, you need to map the journey of your prospects and identify the platforms used by them at different stages.

Step 5: Identify the right message and content

During this step of the process, you need to do two things:

  1. Identify the message you need to communicate. This would correspond to the stage of your target audience.

For example: If your cloud solution customer has just started his journey, you will communicate the challenges that he would be facing both in terms of IT infrastructure (Cost, Scalability etc) and Business objectives (Productivity, Customer Engagement etc.).

Example of cloud buyers’ goals at each stage of the buying journey:

  1. Once you have identified the platform that you would be using, you need to identify the type of content required for the platform: You cannot post similar content on each platform.

For example: While your blog posts might just require a 700-800 word article, social media might require something in visual form and sales pitch might require something totally different.

Smart tip: It is a good idea to cross-post content on multiple platforms to increase reach and create the multiplier effect.

For example: Your sales presentation can be cross-posted on SlideShare. Similarly, your blogs can be posted in magazines and your social media accounts. This can help you in increasing your content’s reach.

Step 6: Determine how you will measure success

Once you have decided your channels for different stages of the buying journey, it is time to decide how much you need to spend on each one of them and how you will measure the success of each one of them.

Note: Success is not always measured by the number of leads you get from each channel. In case your target prospect is in the early stages of the buying journey, you will measure success by the amount of awareness you are able to create.

For example: Continuing on with the example in Step 2, success metric for Microsoft Office could be the amount of revenue or azure usage. Similarly, success metric for artificial intelligence solutions could be number of initial customers or amount of awareness.

Similarly, you need to identify success metrics for each segment of the target audience for each platform for each stage of the buying journey.

Step 7: Define and select your channel mix

Once you have defined the success metrics for each segment of the target audience for each stage of the buying journey, you need to identify the ideal channel mix.

For example: For Microsoft Office, you have defined your success metric as revenue. Hence, in this case, your budget on awareness channels like blogs and websites would be low vis-a-vis that on conversion channels like e-mails and events.

Apart from what has already been discussed above, this would be based on the following:

  1. Your budget
  2. Capability of the channel in driving your success metrics

You should not only define and select your channel mix. You should also define how much budget you need to spend on each of the platforms basis its capability and amount required to turn successful on the same.

Step 8: Execute, Analyze and Optimize

If you have reached this stage, you have created your multi-channel strategy. It is time to execute it.

Smart tip: It is a great practice to start small and identify which channels are actually working for you and which are not.

Once you understand the effectiveness of each channel for you, you need to continuously optimize your strategy for conversion and costs. This helps you to identify the right channels and re-jig your budget to double down on their successes.

Note: Despite recent advancements in technology, it might be difficult to attribute success to any one channel. A channel like Facebook might not be bringing leads directly but could be instrumental in driving awareness of your solutions.

Here is a great guide on B2B marketing attribution which you can refer and apply to your marketing strategies.

Conclusion

With the advent of the digital medium, the number of channels on which your customers are present has exploded. This has been coupled with an increase in their expectations with respect to relevance and personalization. Add to this the number of marketing messages they already receive and you will have a marketer’s nightmare.

In this context, you need to have a cohesive marketing strategy to engage with your prospects and customers across different channels with the right content at the right time.

Resources:

B2B Marketing Attribution by Bizible

Multi-Channel Marketing Workbook by Marketo