This post is part of the #JUMPchallenge, a blogging competition designed to raise awareness of how to join up online and offline marketing, launched to support Econsultancy’s JUMP event.

Start Placing Emphasis on Multi-channel Marketing

I’ve been involved in online marketing and the wider web industry for around 4 years now, it was during this time I got the opportunity to work at a integrated full service marketing agency specialising both offline and offline.  It was here I learned about the true power of multi-channel marketing.

Wikipedia defines Multi-channel marketing , as marketing using many different marketing channels to reach a customer. This could be web, direct mail, e-mail, text or mobile.

The ‘customer is king‘, in todays digital age it is often expected for brands to expand their traditional marketing efforts to a dedicated online channel to reach their customers in the easiest and quickest way possible. However, should a brand invest all their time in just solely online channels or offline channels?

The answer is no, your customers expect to have a choice wether they prefer to engage with your product or services in an offline or online channel, choice is the key to delivering a true multi-channel offering.

There are some customers who still don’t trust using their credit cards to purchase products or goods online, there are those who would much prefer to pick up the phone and talk to someone face to face about their interest.

Other customers are quite happy interacting with a brand through e-mail and text and are conformable buying products online through mobile devices. This is why we need multi-channel, because our customers want to engage with brands in multiple marketing channels, not just one.

Marketing is going through significant changes

  • Big drive for accountability and return on investment. This is being driven by constrained budgets due to the recession.
  • Technology has changed the way we can now accurately measure data and the speed we can now reach a consumer.
  • In today’s digital age there is growing innovation in targeting, analysis and measurement.
  • The boundaries between offline and online channels are blurring.
  • Technology has significantly reduced the cost to advertise and acquire new customers

It is certainly clear that the growth of digital channels over the last decade has had a significant impact on both marketing and the end customer.

Nearly 2 out of 3 consumers (64%) have made a first purchase from a brand because of a digital experience. No other medium has so impacted—or altered—the traditional marketing funnel this way. Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Study as cited by Bazaarvoice.com,December 2009

Key Advice for Brands involved in Multi-channel Marketing

In an interview with Alison Lancaster, Head of Marketing and Catalogues at John Lewis Direct on the Multi-channel marketing blog, she gave this key advice to other businesses thinking about multi-channel:

  • Understand and stay close to your customer. Watch how your customers behave.
  • Be consistent in your style and message across all channels
  • Apply the lessons from each campaign to the next one – refine and evolve.
  • Give customers what they want

I would also add the following:

  • Measure the success of each channel and segment your website traffic to learn what you highest converting traffic source is
  • Spend the majority of budget in your highest converting channels
  • Analyse each customer differently and try and cater for each individual
  • What existing products does your business offer that can be digital extended to generate new revenue streams online
  • Setup specific landing pages for each online/offline advertising channel to drive customers to action and to increase conversion rate

Analyse your Website Data and Apply it to your Offline Marketing

Web analytics is God’s gift to marketers worldwide.  Never has it been easier to track a visitors actions on your website. It’s exciting just thinking about all the in-depth data out there that could be acted upon to improve business decisions and provide a return on investment for your  marketing campaigns.

Web analytics can help you understand the following about your website and marketing efforts:

  • Analyse segments of website traffic
  • The highest converting sources of traffic
  • Track your enquiries, sales, including phone calls
  • Track your search engine performance and how customers search for your brand
  • Learn where your customers are located

The great thing about online, is that you can direct customers acquired in an offline channel and track your results and return on investment for that marketing channel.

Let’s say you run offline campaigns, that might be a TV ad or a printed advert, you might be considering how to measure and track the campaign ROI.

For any offline campaigns you can refer that reader or viewer to a specific URL (normally a landing page). This URL can be tracked using web analytics to measure the success and return on investment for that specific campaign.

Online E-commerce is Showing Healthy Growth

UK shoppers spent £5.3bn online in November 2009, with sales up by 25% on October’s, and by 11% compared to November 2008. IMRG as cited by “Xmas 2009 online retail stats round-up” eConsultancy.com,December 2009.

Consumer confidence with the Internet is increasing and retailers are embracing online e-commerce, however retailers could be doing so much more to increase the number of sales and their engagement with customers.

If your moving into an online space it’s important to get your website right from the outset.

  • 80% of consumers say they would be less likely to return to a retailer’s website after a negative online shopping experience. [Source: Allurent via MarketingCharts, Feb 2008]
  • Nearly 40% said a frustrating online experience would make them less likely to shop at that retailer’s high street store. [Source: Econsultany 2009 Internet stats compendium]
  • 60% reported that a frustrating shopping experience online negatively impacts their overall opinion.[Source: Econsultany 2009 Internet stats compendium]

The Growth of Social Media

With the growth of social media in the last three years brand are increasingly moving into this space to find new customers and offer products in an entirely new communication channel that is constantly evolving. In my blog post ‘Round up of the Top 50 UK Retailers on Twitter‘ analysing UK retailers involvement in this new marketing channel, the stats were quite conclusive.

  • 80%, 40 out 50 retailers had official Twitter accounts for their businesses
  • Only 35% of retailers promoted their Twitter presence as a link or call to action on their website homepage.
  • 41% of retailers choose not use a Twitter client, professional or otherwise, to update and manage their Twitter account. Instead, preferring Twitter’s own interface to update profiles.

Conclusively, I could make a good assumption that many of the 41% of retailers who used Twitter’s own interface don’t track and measure their marketing activity as best they could. We have still got a way to go before the people involved in managing this marketing channel understand how to effectively measure and report on their activity and how this could be best integrated with other marketing channels.

Popular UK Brands are Embracing Multi-channel

Let’s look at some great examples and stats from some popular UK brands who are using Mutli-channel successfully to reach customers in different marketing & media channels.

CSL Sofas

Recently CSL Sofas, the major Sofa retailer in the UK has been pushing its ‘3 ways to buy’ TVAdvert.

  1. Buy in store
  2. Buy online
  3. Buy through your mobile (iphone app)

To make sure they don’t miss the huge online video audience, this advert has been upload to CSL’s own Youtube channel.

This is a very interesting advert, they show clips of customers surfing the online store on a laptop and using their iPhone to access the CLS iphone App. They also let viewers know the iphone App is available to download on the Apple iTunes store.

This is multi-channel advertising at it’s heart, they are trying to offer customers choice by answering the question how would you like to buy your sofas from us. It is great to see a brand publicly advertising their iPhone app on a TV advert. This is a great way to get quick exposure to the mobile app.

Halfords & Argos

Both Halford’s and Argos have increased their sales by the successful delivery of their ‘buy online and reserve/collect in store’. “Halfords is a company that has fully embraced the notion of a multi-channel strategy, serving customers both in-store or online with great success,” said Allen Scott, UK managing director for Manhattan Associates.

The figures speak for themselves:

Halfords “Reserve and Collect” proposition continues to be a resounding success with Halfords customers; driving 90% growth in multi-channel revenue in the year to 3 April 2009, source IMRG

The same can been said for Argos, on the Econsultancy blog it was stated that multichannel sales reached £1.9bn for Argos in the last financial year, 43% of the retailer’s total sales. The latest addition to this strategy is a new Check & Reserve iPhone app.

Dominos Pizza

I recently blogged about Dominos using Foursquare, a location based social media app, that allows you to check into real locations. Domino’s has had huge success online throughout 2009 and 2010 their E-commerce sales grew by 61.4%, compared to growth of 38.9% at the same time last year. They certainly are one of a small few UK business who are using Foursquare as a marketing tool.

This use of social media especially their Facebook fan page and the re-design of their online ordering platform are two of key success factors in their online sales performance.

I hope this blog post has convinced you that multi-channel marketing is more important than ever to businesses, customers now expect to engage with your brand in any channel they wish.

With the right implementation it can have huge payoffs for sales and revenue. I also expect the use of mobile & social media to continue to grow rapidly with UK retailers in the next 5 years.

Published by Illiya Vjestica

Illiya Vjestica is MD at Smartdog Digital, who specialise in Web Analytics, Social Media & Search Marketing. Illiya is passionate about helping his clients to understand the value of digital marketing, helping them to measure and improve the performance of their website traffic and digital marketing campaigns.