Having the ability to connect with consumers across various channels (i.e. physical retail stores, ecommerce, mobile, and social media) isn’t just a “nice to have.” It’s an absolute must.
Make no mistake: your customers are using several channels to research, browse, and buy. Brands that want to stay competitive need to engage consumers at multiple touch points to make an impression and earn their business.
Industry data supports this. A survey by SAP found that organizations that implemented a multi-channel strategy experienced “increased sales (74 percent), increased consumer loyalty/acquisition (64 percent), competitive advantage (62 percent) and better consumer experience (57 percent).”
The benefits of having a multi-channel approach to marketing, sales, and customer engagement are clear, and it’s something that every brand must strive to do.
In this post, we share 4 best practices for implementing cohesive multi-channel campaigns.
Tip #1: Implement your brand standards guide
Running a multi-channel campaign requires the involvement of several participants within (and likely outside) the organization. CPG marketers, project managers, retail partners, and in some cases, agencies and contractors, will likely all have a stake in the campaign.
To ensure that your initiative runs smoothly, keep everyone on the same page — literally. Bring out (or create) an updated brand standards guide that details how your brand should be presented, and distribute the document to all the project’s stakeholders.
This brand standards guide should outline the different components of your brand identity, and include detailed information on it visual elements.
“If your internal and external teams have your brand standards guide available, there’s no excuse for inconsistencies across campaigns,” says Tyler Sickmeyer, CEO at Fidelitas Development.
“We often run across brands where the brand standards guide went the way of the last CMO and the company has been running their campaigns without anything more than loose guidelines — which is why their campaigns are only loosely consistent.” Tyler Sickmeyer, CEO at Fidelitas Development
Tip #2: Be where your customers are
Don’t just go multi-channel for the sake of it. A successful initiative isn’t about being on all channels; it’s about being on the ones that matter to your customers.
Identify your target audience’s preferred shopping methods, devices, and platforms, then get to know how they’re using them. Do most of your customers buy from brick-and-mortar retailers? If so, what is their in-store behavior? Are they big on digital channels such as ecommerce and mobile? How often are they on their phone and what social or messaging apps do they use?
These are just some of the questions you should ask when you’re ironing your campaign plans. Once you’ve identified the right places, apps, and networks to use, get creative and come up with initiatives that leverage each channel’s unique capabilities.
Check out what Uniqlo did, when it wanted to increase its presence in China. To accomplish that, Uniqlo launched “Style Your Life,” a multi-channel campaign that involved its brick-and-mortar locations and WeChat, the most popular social network and messaging app in the country.
Here’s how it worked: Uniqlo installed monitors inside its stores, which generated different backgrounds for people trying on clothes. Shoppers using the monitors would then use the devices to check out different outfits and to generate various backgrounds that made it seem as though they were in places like Tokyo or London. Customers were also able to use the monitors to take photos and then share them via WeChat.
The results? According to AdAge, Uniqlo “more than double its number of WeChat followers, from 400,000 when the campaign launched… to 1 million when it finished six months later.” Not only that, but the effort also increased sales of key clothing items by 30%.
Focusing on WeChat was one of the things that made Uniqlo’s campaign successful. The company knew its target consumers used WeChat heavily, so it launched an initiative that involved the app’s key strengths — photo sharing and social networking.
Strive to reach that same level of creativity and focus for your own multi-channel campaigns.
Tip #3: Remember that consistency is key
Each channel is unique, so execution on different places and platforms will vary. That said, your campaign must still have an element that ties the entire initiative together.
It could be a particular palette or theme. It could be a certain narrative or story. Whatever it may be, you want the campaign to feel familiar across different channels. This not only makes the brand experience a lot smoother, but it also makes the campaign more memorable.
Consider the case of Clinique, which launched a cohesive multi-channel campaign by repurposing the same imagery for different platforms.
Clinique had recently launched a print ad campaign for its Chubby Plump & Shine plumping gloss. The brand wanted to take the campaign digital, but instead of reinventing the wheel and coming up with an online ad from scratch, Clinique worked with Google’s Unskippable Labs team to create ads based on existing creatives from Clinique’s print and point of sale ads.
They came up with three 6-second ads for the campaign:
First, was an ad called Balloons, which opened with the print ad and simple animation. According to Google, “of the three bumpers, this version most closely resembled the print ad on which it was based, and what the consumer would see in store at point of sale.”
The second version was called Tribe, and it featured four different colors of Chubby sticks.
The final version was called Lips, and it “featured the Chubby Plump & Shine product alone, imposed on a digitized background. Of the three bumper ads, this one was least reflective of its original print creative.”
The Unskippable Labs team tested viewer response for the ads and found “a relative ad recall lift of 69.4% and product awareness lift of 26.1%, which Clinique considered best in class for the beauty category.”
Here’s where it gets even more interesting: Balloons — “the version that most closely resembled its original print ad, was the top performer of the three, driving 42.8% relative lift in product awareness.”
In other words, the online ad that closely resembled Clinique’s offline print ads performed the best. Clearly, consistency can make a big difference in campaign performance, and, ultimately, product awareness.
Tip #4: Track and measure your results
Once your campaign is live, be sure to track and measure its performance. How should you carry out this step? That depends. If your campaign has an in-store component, then you’ll want to conduct retail audits to ensure that your products and collateral are displayed correctly.
You may also want to work with your retail partners when collecting data. See to it that you have access to POS data and stock levels so you can have a handle on how sales are doing and the speed at which your items are selling.
On the digital side, metrics such as click-through rates, traffic, form submission, and app installs (for mobile) should be tracked.
If you’re running multi-channel ads on a network such as Google, you should also look at cross-device conversion. Ninety percent of consumers start an activity on one device and finish it on another. Tracking conversions across different devices (i.e. desktop, smartphone, tablet) will help you gain more insights into how your customers move from one channel to the next.
“Multi-channel” and “omnichannel” are no longer considered trends. These things are now the norm for modern consumers. Simply put, your customers are spending time (and money) on different channels, and you should be doing the same thing.
Hopefully, this post brings you closer to doing just that. See how you can apply the best practices above to your own initiatives.
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