Gone are the days of old-school marketing where business ads were limited to billboards, radio, and print. In today’s digital world there are more channels than ever you can use to reach your customers, but multichannel marketing has its own pros and cons that are worth considering.
Pros of multichannel marketing
1) Diversify your audience reach
This one is a no-brainer: The more channels featuring your ads, the more people you’ll reach. However, an even greater benefit of multichannel marketing is the ability — as they say in both advertising and psychology — to meet people where they’re at. For example, if you run a local Italian restaurant, you could invest in paid search to get in front of people searching Google for “Italian food near me,” while also using Facebook to build more general awareness in your community.
2) Tailor your marketing campaigns
Multichannel marketing helps you fine-tune your campaigns to better align with your business goals, and the overall customer journey.
One way newer companies can use multichannel marketing best practices to fine-tune their campaigns is to first run a Facebook campaign to promote your business to an in-market audience. Then, you can retarget your marketing to prospects who clicked on your display ads, while also offering an email discount code to those who reached your landing page and signed up for your newsletter.
3) Give potential customers more avenues to convert
Your customers will very rarely be ready to buy your product or sign up for a demo after their first marketing touchpoint with your company. But with multi-channel marketing, you can give them multiple avenues to convert when they’re ready. They may first hear about you through word of mouth, do a Google search to learn more, and then convert when you serve them a Facebook ad a week later.
Cons of multichannel marketing
1) Adds marketing costs
More marketing channels means that more resources will be needed, both in terms of money spent and hours worked. Generally, it’s pretty easy to see at a glance whether a new channel fits within your budget or spending limits. That said, some channels aren’t as easy to asses because they require so much time-intensive work.
Content marketing is a great example of this — to save on budget, many companies have internal team members write content, which cuts away at the time they can devote to other marketing efforts. Rather than spreading yourself too thin and overloading your personnel, you’re usually better off focusing your efforts on just a handful of channels.
2) Makes in-depth customer research necessary
Being able to tailor your marketing to the customer journey is both a blessing and a curse. The benefits are vast, but the customer research required to earn those benefits is an undertaking unto itself. Companies that have the resources to conduct extensive user and customer research will always achieve vastly better results with their multichannel marketing than those that don’t.
3) Requires more advanced analytics
There’s no good in doing multichannel marketing if you can’t track what’s working and what’s not. Unfortunately, multichannel marketing is notoriously complex from a data and analytics standpoint. While it’s certainly not impossible to succeed at multichannel attribution, it does require much more advanced analytics tools and know-how.
Is multichannel marketing right for me?
We live in a highly digital world, so chances are your company will benefit from being present in multiple marketing channels. Rather than asking whether or not you should be doing multichannel marketing, you should instead be asking yourself how many channels you should invest in.
That number ultimately comes down to your business’s needs, and how many resources you have to play with. For example, a startup apparel company that targets Gen Z would be wise to prioritize their small marketing budget for Instagram advertising and influencer marketing, not Facebook ads. (Recent data shows that demographic uses Instagram more than Facebook.)
Alternatively, a highly profitable B2B software company could afford to advertise with LinkedIn, paid search, and Facebook, in addition to event and trade show sponsorships. They could also invest in SEO and content marketing to gain new customers organically. Most importantly, they could (and should) invest more heavily their analytics and A/B testing capabilities so they can be more strategic with resource allocation to each channel.
A good rule of thumb? Only invest in as many channels as you have the resources to fund and track. To return to our hypothetical t-shirt company, let’s say they’re planning a modest increase to their marketing budget. If it came down to choosing between adding another channel or adding an efficient analytics tool, the latter is a better long-term decision. Otherwise, they’ll keep adding new channels with no way of knowing whether they’re actually working.
It’s also important to understand that having a bigger budget doesn’t mean you should take a scattershot approach to choosing marketing channels. Your apparel company may someday have enough money to afford trade show sponsorships, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good investment for businesses in your industry. Do your research before adding new channels so you can be confident that you’re using your marketing dollars wisely.
But regardless of the kind of company you run, it’s always critical to figure out which of your marketing channels are working, and which ones aren’t. By making careful use of your data and analytics, your company can get the most out of multichannel marketing.