A guide to cross-channel marketing (with steps and benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Marketers have many tools and approaches for achieving company objectives. By successfully combining various channels, a marketer can become effective at providing a better consumer experience. If you're interested in marketing, knowing the meaning of the cross-channel marketing strategy can help you work more effectively. In this article, we explain what cross-channel marketing is, discuss how you can implement this approach and list its key benefits.

What is cross-channel marketing?

Cross-channel marketing, sometimes referred to as multichannel marketing, combines several marketing channels to create an effective overall experience. The aim of this is to create a progression of experiences with complementary channels and messaging, all of which are interrelated. This differs from an omnichannel approach, which similarly involves several marketing channels but without a unifying theme or implementation.

Related: Omnichannel vs multichannel: what are they in marketing?

How to implement cross-channel marketing

Here are some steps and practices to consider adopting to enable your various marketing channels to complement each other:

1. Develop buyer personas

A significant aspect of marketing is knowing the people you're targeting. Developing buyer personas is a method used to understand customers and prospects. The persona is hypothetical and represents a type of buyer. Depending on the size and type of the potential client business you're marketing to, you may choose to create a single persona or several. Each persona has priorities, characteristics, buying habits, preferences and communication habits and these are described within it.

You can create personas through brainstorming sessions to identify target consumers and assess data on past customers. This can help you understand your audience better for marketing across channels.

Related: What is a content map? With definition and benefits

2. Outline the customer journey

The customer journey represents the total interactions a consumer has with a business or brand, from first encounter to making a purchase. The buyer journey may extend beyond this with activities like post-purchase customer support. Marketing is relevant for a significant part of this journey, such as alerting the consumer to the business's existence, promoting products and outmanoeuvring competitors. This journey typically differs from one customer to another, so it's crucial that your marketing efforts align with the various habits of your buyer personas.

For instance, customers could have a tendency to browse and then abandon shopping carts, perhaps because they're constantly comparing options. A buyer might therefore have multiple online shopping carts and compare pricing for the same or similar products. A discount code for one store may convince them to abandon another. In this case, you'd want to identify an abandoned cart and quickly email the customer a special offer.

Related: What is a sales funnel? (Definition and how to create one)

3. Consider your platforms

There are numerous platforms which you can use for marketing purposes. Each of these is categorised as a channel, so ensuring you use the right ones in a unified process is crucial. A key aspect of this is understanding how they can be complementary and which channels are the most popular among your customers. For instance, you may be marketing to an audience of people under the age of 25 which may reveal they typically prefer to use mobile smart devices and prefer to receive content online.

For such audiences you could disregard traditional radio and television to focus primarily on mobile, computer and retail marketing channels, complemented by app usage and emails. An example of this is geofencing - a marketing strategy based on location. Geofencing works, for example, by detecting a person's app when they enter a shop, and sending them special discount codes on items they previously browsed on a mobile device at home.

Related: Channel distribution: what it is and why it's important

4. Analyse data

Like anything with potentially unpredictable results, it's vital to gather data to assess the effectiveness of any marketing activities. Having this data in one place on a customer data platform (CDP), for example, is useful. These platforms can help you identify customer touchpoints, which are the occasions and channels where consumers interact or have contact with the brand in some way. Knowing common touchpoints can help you identify the customer journey better and develop more optimised ways of following it.

Data can also help identify useful trends and patterns. For instance, certain types of consumers may buy particular items together. Others may only make a purchase when they have a discount or during sales. This information allows you to develop better buyer personas and better understand the habits of your customers. Unity of data is key, as this allows you to see how your channels complement each other. For instance, you may discover that certain customers started by reading blog posts or engaging with particular social media campaigns before visiting an e-commerce site and making a purchase.

Related: How to use data analysis for marketing (benefits and tips)

5. Use social media

Social media platforms are almost as varied as the channels you can use to market products and services. Each platform has some variation in its user base regarding age, preferences and habits. Different platforms also favour certain kinds of content, such as short-form written posts, images or videos. Knowing which platforms are the most popular among your customers is vital, allowing you to focus on content which matches that platform.

For example, customers may prefer visual media like images and video and when it's video, preferably short-form content. Focusing on social media platforms which favour these content types may yield better results, perhaps combined with online and mobile platforms. Linking these to relevant content and a dedicated app can therefore be an effective approach for a certain type of consumer.

Related: A guide to digital marketing vs social media marketing

6. Integrate seamlessly

One of the primary characteristics of successful cross-platform marketing is its seamless integration. This means moving the consumer from one channel to the next in as convenient a way as possible. Doing so requires a good understanding of the company's typical customer and their buyer journey. The main goal is to get their attention, maintain it and then guide them towards a purchase. Due to previous steps, you now know who your customers are, what platforms they use and their buying habits. For example, assume you're marketing an e-commerce site that sells speakers and hi-fi equipment.

You've used data to identify your consumers as predominantly aged 25 to 50. They like longer-form content on social media and tend to read blogs and reviews before a purchase. They're also more likely to visit a physical shop to test items but prefer to buy online to take advantage of discounts. You would focus on sponsoring long-form review content, including links to pages. You also develop an app with geofencing to detect shop visitors and offer them discount codes for online purchase upon leaving, thereby combining multiple channels seamlessly and effectively.

Related: What is integrated marketing? (And how to use it effectively)

Benefits of multichannel marketing

When you're able to effectively combine and integrate multiple channels for marketing purposes, you may experience some of the following benefits:

  • More touch points: By effectively integrating various channels, you can increase the likelihood of a consumer interacting with your business. Doing so increases the options for new customer journeys.

  • Data collection: The more you're able to utilise and optimise various channels in an integrated manner, the more you're able to get unified data about consumer behaviour. This can be integral to your continuing efforts to improve your marketing approach.

  • Personalisation: If a consumer feels like the brand recognises them regardless of the channel through which they interact, it can make them feel like the company knows what's important to them. This allows for a more personalised customer journey.

  • Customer loyalty: Effective integration across channels usually means a seamless and easy experience for customers. They may remember this and therefore prefer to purchase from that business again.

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