A no-nonsense guide to getting the most from your channel combinations
Businesses now have a two-way relationship with consumers, and brands that are stuck in the push marketing era are finding that their campaigns are being received like spam. Consumers’ expectations demand unified marketing across touchpoints, as well as superfluidity — an ability for your brand to move quickly to participate in and influence your own brand’s narrative.
To successfully combine traditional and digital marketing methods you'll first want to design a consistent brand narrative across touchpoints. You don't want your marketing to feel like marketing, you want it to feel like a story - a story your market can participate in. This story creates a structure or theme that tells the world about your business.
Step 1. Articulate Your Brand's Story
When you set out to build your business it was for a reason. You may have seen a gap in the market, a problem that needs solving, or quite simply, a way to bring in the dollars. Whatever your business is about, a story captivates our brains and creates a structure that makes it easier for us to understand and remember your product or service.
Nike's logo, for example, is a play on the wing of the Greek Goddess of victory. While the average punter may not recognise that, they will recognise the theme, 'if you have a body, you're an athlete. Just do it'.
What makes a compelling brand narrative?
- A hero
- Problem (empathise)
- Guide (demonstrate authority)
Does that sound like writing a novel? Don't stress. Many brands are able to wrap this into a sentence or theme that can then be teased out across mediums. Branding strategists are experts at this. You'll need to be able to articulate your brand narrative in order to integrate traditional advertising methods with digital ones.
Step 2. Maintain A Consistent Brand Narrative
Brand stories play out across channels — social media, magnified by journalists, video interviews, or simply humour. These narratives shift with reposts, retweets, and views, and are capitalised on by the likes of savvy political marketers. The democratization of information means that consumers’ opinion of your brand is no longer so easily shaped by a branded campaign or settled by traditional mediums. A newspaper’s opinion piece or a shock jock radio host might ruffle some feathers, but ultimately brand perception is shaped by a combination of consistency and the most dominant opinion.
“...brand perception is shaped by a combination of consistency and the most dominant opinion.”
As touchpoints continue to grow and segment, brands that fail to prioritise engagement across channel combinations, are captured in a spiral of evasion. One where clientele either avoid or critique your branded conversations. Conflicting messaging feeds uncertainty, distrust, or indecisiveness. For example, political party members may voice conflicting ideas, or a power company may claim they are moving to renewables in their communications, but their board pursues coal. Consumers notice. Over time this inconsistency impacts sales.
Consistency breeds trust and a trusted brand is more likely to be the consumer’s brand of choice.
Pursue harmony across your channels and you'll build confidence in your brand. To create alignment, we’ll begin with a holistic map. One, that is not centered on a marcomms channel, such as organic search, or an upcoming campaign period like Christmas, rather, a map that centers on your prospective customer — a customer journey map.
Create A Prospective Customer Map
Prospective customer maps, also called customer journeys, simplify complex marketing ideas into digestible marketing priorities and confront gaps quickly. They're one of the first steps to building a cohesive brand experience — aligning both traditional and digital channels so that, they, in turn, deliver a higher return for your business.
Customer journey maps are commonly used for user experience (UX) but they are also for —
- Improving customer experience (CX)
- Finding market orientation
- Building organisational empathy
- Aligning customer and business objectives.
- Creating a deliberate and more linear path to purchase
- Maximising digital and traditional touchpoints
Creating a customer journey map will help your brand flex while traditional sales funnels can leave customer touchpoints on a whim. A disconnect can complicate your clientele's path to purchase. For example, the sales team designing an alternative path to purchase compared to the marketing team. The smoother the path to purchase, the faster the sale is closed, the better your overall Conversion Rates (CR), and the better your Brand Experience.
McKinsey & Company has performed extensive research on the Return On Investment for companies that work to better their customer experience. Their research found that companies that work to offer consistent best-in-class experience tend to grow faster and more profitably.
Once a business reaches the stage that they recognise customer journey mapping may provide a substantial payoff, they often begin by outsourcing the process.
Sync Your Voice Across Touchpoints
Integrate digital and non-digital marketing by syncing your brand voice across your touchpoints. If you use a map of your prospective customer's path to purchase it will help you see where consumers' activities cross mediums. Notice where your prospective customers are more influenced: for example, by campaigns or by evaluation studies, Google reviews, or product influencers. This should, in turn, influence ad investment choices and your budget allocations.
Maximise Dual Screen Use
Traditional mediums such as radio and print advertising have been going out of style, but the research is extensive: dual-screen use is common, and adopting an omnichannel approach magnifies brand exposure and channel performance.
- An analysis of over 2 billion campaigns found using 3 or more channels in marketing campaigns earns a 90% higher customer retention rate, and 250% higher engagement and purchase rates.
- Neuro-Insight research has found that when your audience sees your ad on TV first, and then online, they are 40% more likely to remember it.
- Twitter research has found that there is an immediate 2 to 10 times increase in the number of backchannel tweets created about a TV show when an onscreen hashtag is included in the broadcast.
- Customers that interact with multiple channels have a higher Average Order Value (AOV)
Combining traditional and digital media increases campaign performance, making your brand more memorable. The additional exposure it creates helps keep your brand top of mind so customers keep coming back for more.
Ways to create a multi-screen experience:
- TV ads and YouTube ads
- TV ads and website display retargeting
- Campaign hashtag on traditional mediums and paid Google ads for the same hashtag
- Time social media ads during PR exposure periods eg. if your CEO will appear in the news this week, time ads around news o'clock.
- Promotional emails, and direct mail
- Radio and podcast advertising
Unify PR & SEO
Uniting Public Relations and Search Engine Optimisation has mutual benefits. Some call it human-centered SEO, and it combines techniques from both fields to maximise results for the business. SEO benefits from links from domains with high authority such as news websites, and PR can foster these in a more natural manner compared to old-school link-building methods.
Ways to combine PR & SEO
- Choosing social influencers based on their blog’s domain authority, not just their social audience reach
- Offering better content than what is currently published online
- Encouraging online discussion about your brand — it’s an indicator of search relevance, and does not have to have links back to your site to support ongoing traffic growth.
- Your SEO expert/s can create a domain targeting list for your PR experts
Get Your People On The Same Page
One of the most common marketing mistakes, is marketing, sales, and customer service falling out of step. Create rules of engagement and collaboration opportunities. Arrange regular meetings to discuss organisational challenges, and reward performance based on some shared performance metrics.
Step 3: Monitor Return Over Time
The benefits of creating an integrated channel experience for customers can be monitored annually. Metrics tend to be monitored over extended time periods simply because brand growth is not a quick-fix process. Measuring your return on marketing spend in this way will paint a more honest picture compared to measuring solo channel performance.
Benefits of building an integrated Customer Experience:
- Reduce your Acquisition Cost (COA)
- Increased Average Order Value (AOV)
- Improve Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Increase Customer Satisfaction Score (CSS)
- Lower Customer Effort Scores (CES)
- Increase Retention Rates (RR)
- Reduce Churn Rates (CR)
- Increase your Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV)
Blending traditional and digital media is not an exclusive pursuit of big business. Smaller entities can play a more agile game as they're not usually as stuck in sluggish processes or evolved hierarchies that can slow the momentum of large organisations.
Use this 3-step process to integrate your channels and grow your brand over time.